RELEASE DAY…SENDING MY BABY OUT…

A fellow writer recently sent me this photo of his newborn calf, a Saler-Hereford.

SO cute! Look at all that curly hair, and a face any mother could love!

How does this tie in with today being RELEASE DAY for Kiss Me Once Again? Very clearly.

Sending a story into the world after such a long process of drafting, writing, editing, re-editing, re-re-editing (you get the picture) shares several parallels with birthing an infant.

But when that infant grows up, they’re out of your hands…well, actually quite a while before that point.

So off you go, Kiss Me Once Again, my first World War II novella…out into the cold, but hopefully not cruel world. It’s been joy-laced hard work to bring you to this moment. May you touch hearts and faithfully reveal the incredible era of World War II.

My publisher tells me this novella debuted at #56 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases chart in the World War II Historical Fiction category.

Reviews

Kiss Me Once Again is a sweet novella that will make you feel like you are in the WWII era. I loved how Gail crafted Glenora, I could really feel her tough exterior filled with grease and less-than feminine features, but she also captured “Glen’s” tender interior. Hank is everything you want to read in a 1940’s hero. Affected by war, yet lacking confidence due to everything he’s been through. It’s a novella, so it’s a quick read. I definitely recommend!  

 “Kiss Me Once Again is a heartwarming story of love, sacrifice, dreams deferred, faith and family. I always appreciate the historical research that underlies author Kittleson’s stories. 

Purchase Kiss Me Once Again HERE for Amazon

Purchase Kiss Me Once Again HERE for Barnes and Noble

 

Pearl Harbor Day and After…

In this photo from long-ago. yours truly is the shortest baby boomer

Julie Arduini, http://juliearduini.com,a fellow author, reviewed my new Pearl Harbor day release this week on her blog. Positive words to warm an author’s heart. Thanks, Julie. For those who like short reads, or need a gift for someone who loves this time period, but prefers something less exacting than full novels, this novella might be just the ticket.

 

Kiss Me Once Again is a sweet novella that will make you feel like you are in the WWII era. I loved how Gail crafted Glenora, I could really feel her tough exterior filled with grease and less-than feminine features, but she also captured “Glen’s” tender interior. Hank is everything you want to read in a 1940’s hero. Affected by war, yet lacking confidence due to everything he’s been through. It’s a novella, so it’s a quick read. I definitely recommend!

 

Purchase Kiss Me Once Again HERE for Amazon

Purchase Kiss Me Once Again HERE for Barnes and Noble

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas…

My husband sent me this photo, not one he took himself, and it it launched the Christmas season for us. With our store of books, we could easily fashion two or three of these inventive trees. I bet many of you could, too.

It’s fun to try thinking of something new this year, although we’re creatures of habit and usually change very little around the holidays.

But before I seriously think about that, I have several book talks coming up–I’ll be at the Cresco, Iowa library on December first at 11:30, and at the Kirkendall library in Ankeny at 11:30 on the seventh, Pearl Harbor Day. That’s RELEASE DAY also. (:

Speaking of Kiss Me Once Again, I want to say a big thank you to all my writer and reader friends who made this book’s launch party so memorable last Monday…it’s good to know you all care enough to share in this stepping stone on my writing path.

 

Thanksgiving

When President Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving in the midst of the American Civil War, a series of editorials written by Sarah Josepha Hale inspired him. This commemoration of gratitude was to be celebrated on the 26th, the final Thursday of November 1863.

Interesting…do you recall hearing that Sara Hale’s writing created such an effect on the President? I didn’t…and it’s one more example of how our writing can be used. Maybe she intended this, or perhaps the outreach of her writing surprised her.

Tomorrow I’ll be in Story City, Iowa with a group of hearty souls undertaking memoir writing. We’ll be crafting a Christmas memoir, and of course, each participant’s will be unique. Our own personal take on life is so vital…we share our perspective.  And as Sarah Josepha Hale instructs us, who knows how much that viewpoint may affect others?

My books arrived last week…and that brings me to gratitude. Ah, yes. For the desire and determination required to research stories, and for the joy involved. For my husband, who pays the bills, for the easy availability of facts and stories from World War II, for a cousin, sister, and friends who encourage me, for my publisher, and for readers who allow my characters into their lives.

All these gifts shower upon me, and I’m so thankful…

“…we plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land, but it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand…” Matthias Claudius, 1782, translated by Jane M. Campbell, 1861. Thanks to these two people for unleashing their creativity. I wonder if they thought their words would still be sung by churchgoers in 2018…

Who knows how our gifts sent out into the world might be used? Our task is to simply keep sending them. 

A week of Thanksgiving lies ahead–may yours be full of good memories.

Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg

Welcome to Char Jones, one of my favorite book reviewers. Here, she reminds us how FaceBook, while not perfect, has changed our lives.

This Thanksgiving I am especially grateful to Mark Zuckerberg. For his genius creation, Facebook, has enabled me to reach 60 countries in just two months as a literary reviewer! 

Using Facebook as my platform, I started blogging exclusively as a book critic in July, when, through a combination of sweat equity, alchemy and social media mastery, I was able to reach the maximum number of Friends — 5000 — in two and a half weeks.

My Friend mix is heady, including authors of two favorite historical fiction series — Susan Elia MacNeal, who writes about WWII spy Maggie Hope, and the mother-son team Charles Todd, who spins tales of Great War nurse Bess Crawford. 

Other esteemed friends include President Ronald Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis, a fine writer herself, and the CEO of Kensington Publishing based in London, England.

My world expanded exotically the night I discovered I had a Friend in Casablanca, Morocco, site of one of my all time fave movies.

And the path through the global thicket became even clearer through connection with Canadian author/illustrator Hélène Desputeaux, whose charming children’s picture books I had reviewed. 

Hélène and I became Facebook Friends, and one evening looking at her FB page I decided to check out her array of Friends, who turned out to be …. no surprise … illustrators! And not just Canadian artists, but artists from across the globe. I extended many Friend requests and to my great surprise and delight, many accepted. My world reach grew quickly from there.

The illustrator world seems an especially small one, so as I add another Friend from that amazing clan, I search for new Friends in countries I’ve not yet reached. 

This week alone I added Friends in Austria, Columbia, Costa Rica, Finland, Iceland, Jordan, Syria, Thailand, and Wales.

My Facebook Friends offer joy daily. Aussie author Anna Campbell suggests fine music. Writer Riham Adly from Giza, Egypt, and I share a weakness for books with medical themes and Anthropologie fashion. Malcolm Roscow from Bournemouth, England, serves as my Facebook Knight in Shining Armor ever since an online dweeb became a detractor. And so it happily goes. 

During this season of gratitude, therefore, I give thanks for my glorious global friends. Mr. Zuckerberg, I count you among them!

Char Jones blogs about books, movies, music, fashion, and life on Facebook as Literary Soirée. A past entertainment writer and healthcare executive, she can be found plinking away on two Apple devices simultaneously, Bose headphones atop her curls, cat Gracie snuggled against her, while her patient husband calls her for yet another missed meal. Her Facebook blog can be accessed at

https://m.facebook.com/profile.php

Clouds

My friend Jane posted this fascinating cloud photo from her home in Colorado:
I could study the play of light and shadows for hours –notice those lower dark clouds extending upward, too. Makes me think of a verse I memorized long ago for our sixth grade science fair… “When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained…”
Obviously, that was back in the day when science and Scripture cohabited without rancor. A simpler time, some say.
Not knowing the appropriate technical term for this phenomenon, I turned to Wikipedia and found another photo with a description:

Mammatus clouds in the Nepal Himalayas

Mammatus (mamma[1] or mammatocumulus), meaning “mammary cloud”, is a cellular pattern of pouches hanging underneath the base of a cloud, typically cumulonimbusrainclouds, although they may be attached to other classes of parent clouds. The name mammatus is derived from the Latin mamma (meaning “udder” or “breast”). According to the WMO International Cloud Atlas, mamma is a cloud supplementary feature rather than a genus, species or variety of cloud. They are formed by cold air sinking down to form the pockets contrary to the puffs of clouds rising through the convection of warm air. These formations were first described in 1894 by William Clement Ley.[1][2][3]

So interesting, especially when I’ve been researching the weather of 1944-45, when brutal storms made such unspeakable misery for American troops in the Battle of the Bulge. Picture young men in summer uniforms trapped in those freezing foxholes under enemy fire. Supply lines created a terrific challenge, and without vital winter clothing, their bodies paid a heavy price.

Trench foot and dysentery marked these soldiers, largely 18-22 year-olds from farms and towns all across the United States. While supplies lines halted, they froze. While commanders wrangled, they froze. And when they could no longer function, they arrived at field and evacuation hospitals, where nurses and doctors did their best to care for them.  Some of these medical personnel, like the heroine of the novel I’m working on, had already given several years of their lives to the cause, across North Africa, through Sicily, up the Italian boot, through France and into Germany.

Imagine performing everything from amputations to brain surgeries, back-to-back, for eighteen hours in a row…or longer–in tents. That’s just it, we CAN’T imagine. Maybe that’s why their stories grip us. We want to comprehend how much they sacrificed for freedom’s sake.

Another friend shared an equally spectacular photo of sunset in Mesa, Arizona. Thanks, Machelle! This one adds more brightness and cheer:

 

World War II did finally come to an end, so I have to remember that even as my heroine slogs through the winter of 44-45, a future spreads before her, with love and laughter, good times with family and friends. In fact, two of her comrades from the nurse corps will remain BFFs.

On Skipping a Post, Autumn Joys, and Essential Details…

Boy, is it tough to get back into a routine, even when I’ve only missed one post. So here we go, after a week in the Deep South. Well, deep for me, anyhow! Being with my friend Patti was a joy, not to mention her family…such CUTE grandchildren! My expectations of the weather were fulfilled, hot and muggy, and that proved true of my time in Columbia as well.

But I mo tell ya, honey, the weatherman lied about the temperature in Nashville. It was nippy down there at the Nashville Book Fair! But getting to meet my publisher at Wordcrafts Press and his wife (Mike and Paula Parker), plus several other authors with this company, was worth it. Making new contacts among those who braved the cold and rain to attend the fair–doesn’t get better than that.

So now, it’s back to Iowa,  where it SNOWED while I was gone…not typical for mid-October. Today, though, it’s in the sixties, and the glories of fall are visiting us once again.

A day like this calls for some rich vegetable soup simmering on the stove. OOPS that was before I added the zucchini…

Notice the color difference? This morning our writing group met at South Square here in St. Ansgar, and one discussion point fits here…the difference one small detail can make in our creativity. The addition of zucchini in this pot brightens the whole stew…gives more of texture to the overall dish. I could add some corn, which would also have its effect.

Now that I’m hunkering down with my World War II nurse’s story again, this principle applies. In the first drafts, I may not have taken time to add all of the “small” things…the seemingly insignificant quirks about locale, habits, or sounds and sights. But these elements become vital to the overall picture for a reader.

This type of editing equals fun for me…how can I make each scene stronger, each character more vivid, each challenge more of an obstacle? On Tuesday evening, I traveled to the Nora Springs Library for a book talk, and readers reminded me of some details I’d forgotten I included in the first book of Women of the Heartland. But they remember them…those details make a difference! (Click below for a peek at the series.)

Women of the Heartland

So many readers of In Times Like These agree on one point: Harold, Addie’s recalcitrant husband, should be shot! (His personality must shine through clearly!)

Creating believable characters–that’s what writing fiction is all about, and here I am, happy to be at it again.

NO SMALL MOMENTS

Stacey Pardoe has such inspiration to share…enjoy.

There Are No Small Moments

I’m on my knees, camera lens inches from a dwarf ginseng, its tiny snowflake head bobbing in the breeze, when I realize we’re not alone.  “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” the khaki-clad elderly gentleman greets, and I’m drawn from my small moment with the ginseng.

“Sure is,” I say, somewhat embarrassed by the black dirt on my knees and elbows.

“Did you see the trout lilies?” he asks, and I notice the camera strapped over his neck.  I’m less embarrassed.

We talk for a long while about trillium and bluebells, and he finally meanders off along the path. Returning to my photo shoot with the ginseng, I remember the way I once looked at thirty-somethings with cameras and wildflower books.  At twenty-two, I kept track of miles logged and elevations reached, not dwarf flora, like violets and ginseng.  At twenty-two, I mostly lived for big moments – summit moments, and the thought of bending low for small moments seemed nothing short of condescending.

We walk farther down the trail, kids running ahead in search of toads and moths, and I consider these changing seasons.  When did small moments begin to take on such an authentic kind of glory?  It must have been before I dug the wildflower books out of the dusty boxes in the attic of the garage.

I remember when I started taking pictures of tiny mushrooms and sphagnum moss.  I believe that was the moment.  The moment I pulled out the camera and committed to capture the miracles I miss every day when I brush past in all my hurry, with my large-moment focus and my desire to prove something.

What if we could all live like we have nothing to prove?  What if we never again needed to prove our worth through demonstrating our intelligence, beauty, humor, and talent?  What if these things were simply gifts with which we blessed others, and we were fully content to live in the midst of our quiet moments in utter contentment?

Have I really learned the secret of being content in any and every situation?

What if there really are no small moments – just quiet moments . . . And what if the quiet moments are worth every bit as much as the loud moments performed before the multitudes?

I think long on it, while the kids build castles along the sandy creek, and I’m sure of it: These quiet moments of walking with children in the woods, baking cornbread, stirring scrambled eggs with a rubber spatula, folding tiny T-shirts, and wiping down dusty furniture are the moments that will make up the bulk of our lives.  There may be loud moments, platform moments, and moments that are broadcast before the world, but these big moments won’t make up the majority of our lives.

So what are we doing with our quiet moments?  Because the quiet moments are the ones that seem small, but they’re really the ones that comprise the essence of our lives.

Sitting along the water, I commit to live with more gratitude.  I commit to recognize the gifts that surround me and magnify God through naming them: dwarf ginseng, blue phlox, garlic mustard, and wild geranium; sandcastles at the creek, lunch on a hilltop, holding hands along the road; the mounds of dirty laundry that remind me of the gift of my family, the meat simmering in the crock-pot, the green crayon on the living room wall.  I won’t write these things off or roll my eyes.  I’ll embrace them and give thanks.

I commit to speak life.  I commit to ask direct questions and bite my tongue when I’m in a bad mood.  I remember to tell the kids that I love them just because they’re mine, that their mistakes will never define them, and that they make my world a better place.

I commit to live intentionally.  We role play the whole way home from the creek, and Bekah thinks of responses to every playground dilemma I can conjure up.  We read Bible stories before Caleb naps, and I pray specific prayers over each of them before he sleeps.  We turn off the TV and dive into imaginary play on the carpet with our assortment of mini characters.  I make some calls and send some cards.

When the sun sinks low that evening, Bekah and I put together a pocket guide of wildflowers from our sanctuary at the Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area.  We find Latin names and study the history of each plant. It all feels a bit small, but when she looks at me with dancing blue eyes, filled wild with life and passion, I know for sure that none of this day was small at all.

Bio: Stacey is the wife of a handsome lumberjack, mother of two blue-eyed beauties, a freelance journalist, mentor, and certified special education teacher.  She writes weekly at www.staceypardoe.com

 

 

 

 

 

September Slips Away

Already. Anybody else feel the transience of the months…the seasons? In our ISU OLLIE  Life Memories class, I’ve been privileged to meet many talented, inspired writers. And what inspires them? All sorts of topics…intriguing people, events that shape the course of lives, family traditions, methods of making-do… In a word, experience.

I dislike saying good-bye to these folks from various walks of life and backgrounds. We were just getting to know each other, but I’m hoping some of them stay in touch. I’d like to see how their memoirs develop and blossom as they nurture words and phrases.

Such a short season together…only three class times, but thankfully, richness knows no timeline. Perhaps that’s true of nature’s seasons, as well. This year’s vivid yellow begonias may wend their way, through memory, into a story. So might the purple potatoes our daughter planted this year…

This variety boasts lovely inner designs, like paisley patterns.

Such natural wonders all around us, and so are the stories we live day-to-day. As Annie Dillard writes, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Viewing our life as memories of specific days to record gives us one story at a time to digest and share with others. I’m grateful that yesterday, our helpful granddaughter spent time with me transferring an enormous walnut crop into pails…would you believe large garbage cans? And here she is, highlighting the spectacular pumpkin in her mother’s garden.

Perhaps sixty years hence, she and her brother will say, “Remember that gigantic pumpkin Mom grew? What summer was that, anyway…?

Humbling Moments

Welcome, Ellie Gustafson! I love when people share their foibles with the whole world, especially with self-effacing humor. Thanks for this gift–makes the rest of us feel we can be transparent, too. For readers, Ellie is giving away an e-book to someone who comments.

 

I was always the smart kid on the block. My first block, though, wasn’t all that big. Branchville, population 900, had a four-room schoolhouse with eight grades and kindergarten. After a half year in the latter, I was pushed into first grade and quickly learned that I that I wasn’t thatsmart!

Later on, in fifth or sixth grade, Miss Havens, the principal and seventh/eighth grade teacher, came in to teach a history lesson. You did not mess around with Miss Havens. She was one of the few souls who could hit a softball across the brook. She called on me for an answer, and I had to confess that I had not done my homework. That I still remember shows how sharply it impacted my ego.

I graduated from high school as valedictorian and as one of the best players in the school band and orchestra. I hauled my trombone to Wheaton College—and proceeded to flunk out of band.

The Lord surely notices kids too smart for their britches. The pattern continued into my writing years. First novel—sold well; people liked it. Second novel—ambiguous ending; readers confused. Third novel—hardly anybody liked it.

Then came The Stones,a novel on the life of King David. Everybody liked it. Had TV and radio interviews—and that’s where it all broke down. I write well, read aloud well, but can’t think fast enough to speak well. Had a couple of phone interviews that were absolute disasters.

My latest fiasco came through misreading an email from my publisher that clearly said that Amazon would sell ebooks for .99 all through July. I advertised to hundreds of people that the sale applied to hard copies. I’m still reeling from the impact of that stupidity.

When served by God, humble pie dramatically prunes a person’s ego. It also points us to the crux of humanity’s true function. “Christ does not simply want our compliance. He wants our heart. He wants our love, and he offers us his. He invites us to surrender to his love.” (David Benner)

  • Abraham had his moment in Egypt, as he tried to pass off Sarah as his sister.
  • Joseph’s brothers had to bow before the man next in rank to Pharaoh.
  • David got his comeuppance when the prophet Nathan trapped him with a sheep story.
  • The Apostle Paul not only got knocked off his high horse, but was blinded, as well.

These heroes’ humiliation gives me hope. Do our humbling moments spell out God’s invitation to surrender to His love? The God who knows ALL our faults LOVES us—passionately.

  Ellie grew up in Branchville NJ, in a county with more cows than people. She attended Wheaton College in Illinois as a music major, then married a pastor/college professor/tree farmer/organist and writer. Together, they have three children and eight grandchildren.

 

Ellie’s early writing attempts saw friends—and even her mother—advising her to stick to music as a career. She pushed manfully along, though, and An Unpresentable Glory is her sixth novel.

 

You may connect with Ellie in these ways:

Email: egus@me.com

Website:  www.eleanorgustafson.com/

Blog www.eleanorgustafson.com/

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/eleanorgustafson

Twitter: @EgusEllie

Facebook: Ellie Gustafson

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/elliekgustafson/

Amazon link to An Unpresentable Glory: https://tinyurl.com/y9lpft6a

 

And here’s the Back cover info from her latest novel: 

“I trusted you, and some day, you may know just how much you hold in your hands.”

Linda Jensen leads a relatively quiet life in Westchester County, New York, as the owner of a highly acclaimed garden. Inherited from her parents, the garden is her pride and joy. It is not so joyful finding a strange man sprawled near her delphiniums! The mysterious man is sick, unable to do anything more than drink water—and beg for secrecy. Ignoring all alarm bells, Linda sees to his needs, but her caring act takes on unexpected significance, and unpresentable glory.

Seeds of trust, and perhaps love, are planted in Linda’s garden haven. But as secrets are revealed and scandal hits the headlines, the act of caring for this man threatens to tarnish both of their reputations. Like weeds in Linda’s garden, circumstances threaten to choke out their fledgling relationship, and small moments prove to be the biggest influencers—on a national scale.