October Days

The cold has come, the sun has gone…it’s time for pumpkins! The other day I cooked one and made pumpkin bread, a perfect break from editing a manuscript.

Topped with melting butter, savored with a mug of hot tea. Oh my–the simple joys of the season. I’ll get back to my work soon, but the enticing aroma of pumpkin bread baking is calling me…

On Walking and Autumn

It’s the loveliest time of year here. Last night’s rain brightened the colors, making today perfect for a walk into the countryside. But if you trek down our front steps, beware!

While I long for a several-mile hike, my regimen of icing my leg after very short ventures may remain for some time. Someone who remembers her own post-surgery frustration reminds me, “The doctor said inflammation and swelling is actually a good sign…it means there’s healing.”

I wish this knowledge automatically made me more patient with the process, but something I read recently gives me food for thought. Soren Kierkegaard, a nineteenth century Danish philosopher, wrote:

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day, I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, & the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”

This has been my m.o. for decades, and I doubt I’ll ever lose the desire to walk. But right now, I’m stymied. The one thing my doctor advised, “Walk, walk, walk!” and which I really want to do, brings considerable pain.

With the weather so gorgeous, venturing out for brief periods helps, knowing my ice awaits me. Viewing the golden/persimmon/chartreuse/scarlet-orange spectacle all around our home helps, too. Normally I’d be out there raking away, but this is my year to sit back.

We’ve all endured some “sitting back” during 2020, haven’t we?

Meanwhile, one Danish philosopher’s life instructs me . . . he lived to be only forty-three, yet contributed to the world of thought long after his passing. Things may not be exactly as I wish, but lovely day of life can take first place on my gratitude list.

To Everything A Season

The word Rambunctious first appeared in print at a time when the fast-growing United States was forging its identity with optimism and exuberance. That era, the early half of the Nineteenth Century, also birthed words like  rip-roaringscalawagscrumptioushornswoggle, and skedaddle. Did Americans alter the largely British rumbustious because it sounded too stilted? Rumbustious, which first appeared in Britain in the late 1700s just after early Americans signed the Declaration of Independence, was probably based on robustious, a much older adjective that meant both “robust” and “boisterous.”

This week Lance sent me some shots of a normally rambunctious animal, but right now, cold has settled over our area. This plump specimen seems ready to rest. Our courtyard, our best attempt at an English garden, provides ample place for that, especially this year when I cannot get out there to trim and haul away summer’s faded bounty.

In more rambunctious seasons of my life, I might’ve run out and clapped my hands, yelling “Shoo! Shoo!” to avoid having to deal with a passel of baby bunnies next spring. But now, I look out the window in search of beauty, and find incredible creatures like this hidden away.

Perfect Shot

Sometimes, a little maneuvering provides a gorgeous perspective. My husband does this all the time with his photography. Behold:

Here, he squatted down, I think, to snap a photo through the leaves of the pin oak sapling in our courtyard. His long-range objective? To capture an outrageously adorned tall maple on the north side of our house.

Ah….perspective! I find myself writing about this often. Perspective can make all the difference as we go through life. In times when we’re limited by physical or emotional boundaries, seeing things differently comes in so handy.

What may seem a limitation can open up whole new worlds of thought and ingenuity. Suddenly we understand the way someone reacted in similar circumstances, or grasp a fresh nuance in a person’s choices.

Ah…perspective!

Christmas In September

Welcome to Diane Tatum, who writes in several genres. She’s here with her Christmas novella, Dreaming of a Wedded Christmas, and offering a free copy to a commenter.

Dreaming of a Wedded Christmas is my tenth book but my first free-standing Christmas story. This tale begins in the boardroom of Wycroft Booksellers. Grandpa Jay is cleaning his glasses while the young people around the table argue over the future of the company. I wrote this much at a writer’s conference. Then it sat in my journal until I was interested in writing the full story when I received the opportunity from my editor to write a Christmas novella.

This story is part of a set available this Christmas, called MISStletoe Romances. Each story is centered on nearly missing something. My story is a triangle love story. Jaymie is engaged to Dave Garrett. During their search for a house, Jaymie meets Kyle Mason, their real estate agent. Literal sparks fly. The closer they all get to Christmas, the more stress they experience and the more Jaymie feels confused about the wedding.

I write romantic fiction in several genres. My first book is Gold Earrings, an historical novel. I’m writing a Main Street Mysteries series. The next installment of Dorie and Ross’s story is called DNA Secrets, and my Colonial Dream series is historical fiction. The fourth book in that series will be A Time to Create. I have two other free-standing novels: Mission Mesquite, and Oxford Fairy Tale, part of a set Romancing the Billionaire.

I began writing in elementary school. My first degree was in Accounting so I could support myself while pursuing my dream of writing. God intervened by bringing my husband into the picture. I finished my degree and we started our family. I started writing youth Bible curriculum for Lifeway and articles for magazines in the early ‘90s and finished Gold Earrings, my first novel begun in high school. After finishing a master’s degree in teaching Language Arts, I taught full time for eleven years. My husband asked me to “come home and write my stories” in 1989, so I did.

I’m living my dream and enjoy my novels. God inspires my stories and gives me the opportunity to publish them. I’m giving away Dreaming of a Wedded Christmas to one reader of this blog. Please leave a review on Amazon for me.

Website: www.dianeetatumwriter.comAmazon page: amazon.com/author/dianeetatum

blogs: http://tatumlight-tatumsthoughts4today.blogspot.com/http://tatumlight.wordpress.com/   email: tatumlight@gmail.comFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/tatumlighttwitter: @DianeTatumPinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tatumlight/
Gold EarringsMission MesquiteColonial Dream: Book 1 A Time to Fight,                            Book 2 A Time to Love                           Book 3 ATime to ChooseMain Street Mysteries: #1 Kudzu Sculptures                                    #2 Gemini Conspiracy                                    #3 Attic VisitationsOxford Fairy Tale
Watch for:Colonial Dream: Book 4 A Time to CreateMISSletoe Romance: Dreaming of a Wedded Christmas

Dad’s birthday

I’m a little late, but a week ago was my dad’s birthday.

During WWII, he served with the Army Air Force in North Africa, and after four years returned to his father’s Iowa farm. He was still hitching up horses when he left, but after training in Washington, D.C., spent three years sleeping in tents and driving Army trucks.

Like most veterans, he rarely spoke of his experience, but once he described an airplane loaded with soldiers headed back to the States. Something went wrong and the plane exploded on the runway. Who knows what else he witnessed?

After the long trip back across the Atlantic by ship, coming back to the farm must have seemed like heaven to him. No more freezing in the desert at night, no more standing in line for rations or meals if he was lucky, no more waiting days for a shower.

Thanks for your service, Dad.

Sunflowers and Hope

In August 1945, the world was lifting its head in hope, like this sunflower. We’ve been waiting all summer for the tightly closed blossom to open and shed its brightness on a corner of our property.

Over the past few days, the plant has shown signs of being the bright spot we expected. But in ’45, our nation had been at war four long years. Over 400,000 American GIs had sacrificed their lives, and at least 75,000,000 people had perished worldwide. Seventy-five MILLION!

It’s difficult to imagine the scope of the devastation, impossible to comprehend the gargantuan changes this war caused. But in August of 1945, the U.S. Navy was preparing to receive the formal Japanese surrender on board the USS Missouri. September second in Tokyo Bay–V-J Day.

The war truly had come to an end. What a riotous celebration occurred that day all around the world, profound loss mixed with tears of relief.

In a few days, our blossom will be fuller, more complete. But sometimes it’s good to think about preludes to a culmination. Last night I completed my latest novel, about a British citizen who emigrated to Texas Hill Country before World War II. Seeing the war through his eyes as his homeland suffered so much gave me fresh insights.

Always more to learn about this rich, intriguing era!

Three Reasons to Love Historical Fiction

Welcome, Marie Sontag. I’m already an historical fiction lover, but really appreciate your take on this topic. The idea of a “sliding glass door” that helps us understand others different from us…whoa! Do we ever need this today!

Readers, please see below for Marie’s offer of THREE free copies of her novel.

What happens when Daniel Whitcomb, a fictional thirteen-year-old, meets twelve-year-old Virginia Reed, an historical member of the Donner Party, on a wagon trail to California?—a friendship Daniel doesn’t think he needs, mentorship from the man who leads whites into Yosemite Valley, and an historical fiction story that shows how what we want is usually not what we need. 

1. Historical Fiction Creates a Web of Meaning

I love historical fiction. It brings the past to life as it touches readers’ emotions within an historical context. This wedding of narrative and history creates a web of meaning that helps readers relate to and remember what they’ve read.

California Trail Discovered, my latest middle grade novel coming out this fall, places my fictional protagonist alongside historical figures, providing a context to help readers relate to the trials of the trail in 1846—when pioneers left family and friends to move into the unknown. 

2. Historical Fiction Can Create Empathy

I also enjoy historical fiction because it provides a window into people’s lives and cultures. Good historical fiction provides readers with a safe way to move in and out of their own experiences and into those of others. This kind of “sliding glass door” can promote empathy for those different from us. 

Jim Savage, a historical figure and member of Daniel and Virginia’s wagon train, warns a member of the Donner Party to return a buffalo fur the man stole from a Lakota Indian’s burial site. Jim had once lived with Indians. At first, Keseberg refuses. “The Indian is dead. He won’t need it.” Jim fires his pistol into the air. He tells Keseberg,“It’s not open to discussion. This is how Lakota honor their dead, and there will be consequences for stealing it. Put it back.” 

3. Historical Fiction Provides Insight into Our Own Lives

Like all good stories, historical fiction teaches us something about ourselves. We all have wants, but it’s often difficult to discover what fuels those wants. 

In California Trail Discovered, Daniel doesn’t want to move with his guardian to California. He wants to get back to Illinois and find out who murdered his parents. One afternoon, Daniel walks beside Virginia as she picks flowers. She comments, “Friends are like flowers. They add sunshine and color to your life. Don’t you agree?” 

Daniel shrugs. “Sometimes, I think friends are like mosquitos. They buzz around in your ear, waiting to take a bite out of you, then leave behind an itch you really shouldn’t scratch.” 

Through the friendships Daniel makes on the trail, he discovers that wanting to find out who killed his parents has masked his real need to connect with others and to become part of a new family. 

Take It Home

What historical novel has helped you better remember factual events? How did it do that? Did it help you relate more with those from a different culture? In what ways? How did the plot help the characters better understand their wants, and reveal the needs behind those wants? Did it give you any insight about your own wants and needs? In what ways?

Feel free to share any of your answers in the comments below, or send me a note on my Facebook author page. One week after the posting of this blog, I will hold a drawing for those leaving a comment. Make sure to provide your email, or PM my on Messenger or my email. Three lucky winners will win a copy of California Trail Discovered.

Marie Sontag enjoys bringing the past to life, one adventure at a time. Her fifteen years of teaching middle school and high school have given her insight into what students find entertaining, and her B.A. in social science and M.A. and Ph.D. in education provide her with a solid background for writing middle grade and young adult historical fiction. 

Born in Wisconsin, she spent most of her life in California, but now lives with her husband in Texas. When not writing, she enjoys romping with her grandkids, playing clarinet and saxophone in a community band, and nibbling red licorice or Tootsie Pops while devouring a good book.

mariesontag@mariesontag.com

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BEGONIAS and WWII

Once you start researching this war, the word OPERATION keeps coming up.

Operation Overlord, (The D-Day Invasion), Operation Market Garden, and on and on.

But did you ever hear of Operation Begonia?


British special forces carried out Operation Begonia in 1943 after the armistice with Italy. Six SAS men paradropped on the Italian Coast to locate and evacuate POWS who had escaped from Italian camps when the fighting still continued.

I never dreamed so many flowers would have connections with the war, but there you go!

The Potato Bug Wars

July brings so much beauty. We’ve been enjoying all the colors of the spectrum in our courtyard garden.

Hollyhocks’ velvety petals woo us to their side of the garden.

Tomatoes drip after a sudden shower.

And something we’d rather not see. Potato bugs, gnawing an incredible amount of leaves. We’ve picked them off, smashed them, and applied de-bugging powder. We’ve sprayed on some nasty stuff guaranteed to rid the poor potato plants of these varmints.

But underneath some leaves, there’s another color: orange. It’s potato bug eggs. ARGH!

Masses of them, and out of focus, but you get the idea. Will we ever win this war? This one is nothing at all compared to the war I research, fought back in the forties. Women working in the Women’s Land Army, though, may have battled insects like these.

At this point, I have my doubts we’ll win our little battle. But that’s July…not everything is roses. Still, the world is definitely full of color!