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.

Writing From the Trenches

Now, here is a fabulous concept – I know many of these authors, and if you need a self-help book for your writing, here you go.

How Writing from the Trenches was Born

By MaryLu Tyndall

Who in their right mind would attempt to create a writing instruction book with nine other authors? It’s hard enough to co-write anything with two different personalities. But nine? Especially because most authors—well, how do I put this gently?—we are an eccentric bunch. It goes with the creative territory, I suppose. We all tend to hear voices in our heads, and most of the time we aren’t even present in this world, but drifting in another time and place, constantly creating worlds and characters in our minds. Try to corral ten people like that and get them to focus on a single task!  Honestly, I don’t know what came over me.

The truth is, I’ve read many writing instruction books over the years from many different authors, and I’ve learned a great deal. But I noticed that everyone’s advice, style, and instruction was different. Sometimes they even contradicted each other. So, I thought, why not get a bunch of fabulous authors together to give their own advice on a variety of writing topics and put it in one book? A one-stop shop for the best advice out there on writing!

Hence, Writing From the Trencheswas born. Then, to gather the authors, which ended up being much like gathering and leading cats, I might add. I wanted to get a variety of authors—some successfully published in the traditional market, some who’d made a success as Independent authors, some who did both, some with name-recognition, some without a whole lot, but ALL great writers who had won awards or been on best-selling lists. Those were my criteria, so I went about sending out recruitment emails!  Surprisingly nearly everyone I contacted was excited to be a part of this book.

Working with nine other people is never easy, but I was fairly surprised at how great this group got along, how quickly we came up with the topics we wanted to cover and who wanted to write which ones. We divided up the tasks we needed to accomplish—writing, editing, formatting, printing, cover design, marketing, etc—and then set a timeline. I have to say, everyone has been wonderful to work with, everyone got their chapters done on time, and everyone is contributing to the final product. Truly a miracle has occurred!

Since I was the one pulling all the chapters together and creating the book, I had the privilege of seeing how it was all coming together through the entire process, and the more I saw, the more excited I became. This book is like no other writing book out there. Nowhere can you get ten different authors’ advice on how to write a best-selling novel. No other book provides you with ten different perspectives on the best way to plot or what marketing techniques work the best. We start the book with plotting your novel and end up with marketing, including a section on whether to traditionally publish or go Indie. Each chapter is written by an author who is an expert in that particular area. This is a rare jewel in the writing instruction treasure chest, and not one to be missed by any writer serious about taking their writing to the next level!

ABOUT THE BOOK:

TEN-HUT! Gear up for your writing with tried-and-true tips from the trenches. Ten award-winning authors share invaluable tips and secrets they’ve gleaned the hard way, offering a broad range of insights and opinions on the best way to tackle subjects such as the following:

Plotting Techniques
Research
Characterization
Villains We Love to Hate
Dynamic Dialogue
Sigh-Worthy Heroes
The Right Heroine for the Job
Hooking Your Reader in the First Chapter
Scene Endings to Lead Your Readers On
Creating a Movie Set
Making your Readers Cry
Deep POV
Copyediting your Manuscript
Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Marketing for Those Who Hate Marketing

At last … a writer’s tool that provides the experience and expertise of ten authors who’ve been on the front lines of publishing and lived to teach about it: Connie Almony, Lynnette Bonner, Hallee Bridgeman, Louise Gouge, Michelle Griep, Julie Lessman, Elizabeth Ludwig, Ane Mulligan, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch.

 

 

 

Hurry up and Wait

We’e been enjoying cool nights and mornings in northern Iowa, with more rain than the usual late August-early September. The morning glories are in their glory, climbing all over our weary clematis vines.

I’ve been remiss in blogging, but definitely not in researching and writing. And this week, I became familiar with a new word: festinate.

This word’s early recorded use was by William Shakespeare. He used it as an adjective pronounced \FESS-tuh-nut\ in King Lear, “Advise the Duke where you are going, to a most festinate preparation.”

The Latin proverb festina lente means “make haste slowly.” Shakespeare also used the adverb festinately in Love’s Labour’s Lost: “Bring him festinately hither,” Don Ariano de Armado orders. The verb festinate, meaning “to hasten,” occurs later.

So…is autumn festinating, or will we still have some hot days? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, I’m still working my way up the Italian boot with my heroine Dorothy, a real-live WWII nurse. She’s about the go to the hideous battlefield called Anzio, otherwise known as “Hell’s Half-Acre.”

It seems the Allies hurried up and landed, but then made haste very slowly in claiming the hills around the beachhead. My husband always says, “In the Army, it’s hurry up and wait.” But oh, the suffering the survivors of Anzio endured…

Until next week…don’t forget to smell the flowers still peeping their heads out before the first frost. 

Save Your Sanity, Authors!

Welcome to Elaine Stock, and congratulations on your recent writing award!

9 Ways to Crunch Time While Saving Sanity by Elaine Stock

In all honesty, this is a fairly wonderful time for me. I can say this without bragging because I’m praising God for His blessings. On top of Life 101 and the day job, I’ve just won a national writing award and am trying to share the news, I’m about to launch my next novel, Christmas Love Year Round, and after a 30-year wait, I’m ecstatic to say that my kitchen is getting remodeled (which means, of course, I’m living with packed boxes all over the living room and no longer have any kitchen counters or cabinets until the new ones are up—and this is the way of life 2 weeks ahead of time because the floor has to be refinished). Lots of craziness, but I’m rejoicing. As one who has seen one too many upheavals through the years that I’d rather not have seen, and who knows what awaits ahead, I’m enjoying these good but chaotic days. Each day I awake and remind myself that I’m in God’s hands. It will all be okay for me.

It will all be okay for you.

Here are some tips I’m sharing to save your sanity:

1)Praise God. Whisper. Say thank you, Father, out loud. Think silently while others are talking to you. Say in prayer as you drift to sleep…while you shower…while you inhale your first mug of coffee. God has the world in control, and yep, that includes you. You are His beloved daughter or son. He doesn’t want you to suffer.

2)Befriend Your Constant Companion. As a continuation of #1, realize and accept that God is not only your Heavenly Father, but also your friend. Your companion. He is with you 24/7. It helps to make life less scary and overwhelming.

3)Consolidate Errands and Chores.  Map out your weekly strategy ahead of time and consolidate time and days. Sure, it may mean you might have to leave for work on the earlier side or arrive home later, but try to run errands on 1 or 2 days rather than 5 or more a week. Trust me—it’s a nice sense of breathing room when you have an extra 30 minutes to yourself here and there.

4)Use Daydreaming Creatively. When did I come up with this blog post? While at the day job yesterday! #ThankfulForBoringWork. You may want to reconsider if you’re a brain surgeon, childcare worker or…you get the picture, I’m sure. However, even if your work or personal demands are more attention-oriented than mine, there must be some downtime, like breaks, that you can constructively ponder away book scenes, uncooperative characters, or writing the next blog post.

 

5)Allow Off-days and Off-moods. Face it, sometimes it’s just plain okay to stress or be moody. Actually, get it out of your system and then quickly move on. This happened to me a few days ago when I woke up and things just felt off-kilter no matter what I did or thought. It happens. This time though, with everything going on, I remembered the above #1 and #2 and sure enough this mood passed rather quickly and I got back into the proverbial swing of things.

6)Ask for Help. What is it about us humans that we tend to be reluctant to ask for help? I may have asked for how-to help before my novels were published, but it wasn’t until my 3rdbook was released did I start a Street Team. These ladies have blessed me with their time, support, and most importantly, their friendship. Another thing I’ve been late in doing (albeit, I admit I don’t participate enough due to time constraints) is joining a few select Facebook groups to see and to share what others know.

7)Accept that You Can’t do it All. This is a hard one for me, mainly because I want to do it all. I’m like a child with one toy who wants more. Creativity gives me a happy buzz! Yet, financial restraints dictate my limited time; writing desires dictates my social media involvement. It’s a matter of…

8)Prioritizing. Yep, you saw that one coming didn’t you? Daily, prioritize. Family. The day-job. Friends. Obligations. Commitments. Vacations. Kitchen-remodeling. Ah… it’s back to #7. Speaking for myself, I’m slowly but surely realizing that I cannot do it all. And this brings me right back to…

9)Praise God. Thank you Father, that my life is in Your awesome hands. You can handle it. You want to handle it. And I surely cannot.

 

Elaine Stock is the author of the novels Her Good Girl, winner of the 2018 American Fiction Awards in the Christian Inspirational category,andAlways With You, which won the 2017 Christian Small Publishers Association Book of the Year Award in fiction. And You Came Along, a novella, released in December 2017. Her novels fuse romance, family drama and faith in a clean fiction style. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association. In addition to Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, she hangs out on her active blog, Everyone’s Story, dedicated to uplifting and encouraging all readers through the power of story and hope.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Elaine has now been living in upstate, rural New York with her husband for more years than her stint as a NYC gal. She enjoys long walks down country roads, visiting New England towns, and of course, a good book.

You may connect with Elaine here:

Website:http://elainestock.com

Everyone’s Story blog: http://elainestock.com/blog

Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/ElaineStock

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/AuthorElaineStock

Goodreads:http://goodreads.com/ElaineStock

And here’s a summary of Elaine’s latest release, Christmas Love Year Round:

Cami Richardsonis good at chasing away the men in her life:first Gavin Kinkaid, a former classmate she’d helped to bully, and later, her husband who left her widowed and a single mom. Now all she wants is to bring a smile back to her eight-year-old son. What she doesn’t expect is for Gavin to become her new neighbor.

Gavin wants to settle down after serving in the Air Force and mend the separation between him and his dad. What he didn’t count on is his changing feelings when he sees Cami as a kind woman instead of his former adversary.

When Cami’s son blindsides them both during the Christmas season, is their reunion at risk or will it grow stronger?

 

The Awful Business That Goes On…

Believe me when I say that laughter up at the front lines is a very precious thing—precious to those grand guys who are giving and taking the awful business that goes on there. . . . There’s a lump the size of Grant’s Tomb in your throat when they come up to you and shake your hand and mumble “Thanks.” Imagine those guys thanking me! Look what they’re doin’ for me. And for you.—Bob Hope, 1944

This week marks no patriotic holiday, but I don’t think it hurts to once again say thanks to the men and women who earned Bob Hope’s admiration. He knew the difference between the adulation of stardom and the devotion of giving one’s life for one’s country.

But reading his history of entertaining the troops all over the world in several wars reminds us of his bravery too. He and other entertainers risked life and limb going to places fraught with danger. Wonder how many of our modern “stars” would be so courageous.

 Bob Hope with troops near D-Day, 1944

Back in the forties, a long list of actors and actresses, singers, and sports stars not only entertained the troops, but served in the military…Jimmy Stewart, Charlton Heston, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Glenn Miller, and Joe DiMaggio, to name a few. Picture Charlton Heston as a REAL aerial gunner and radio operator.

These professionals joined in “the awful business” that defeated Naziism and liberated hundreds of thousands of people–and it was a horrible process.

So what is my point? Just a general thank-you for what all of these “Greatest Generation” folks sacrificed, since I’m deep in WWII research right now. Gratitude is the key word here, since I’m deep in research right now, learning more about the battles in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and Southern France–campaigns that led to a costly Allied victory.

Because of thousands of unselfish acts, we can enjoy life today. Including photography, and  voila! Your weekly view from our little corner of Iowa. (Hummingbirds do actually sit still once in a while!)

Kindred Spirits

Last week I had lunch with another author, and we exchanged horror stories from writing conferences where we presented our proposals to an editor or agent. Marie told me how she burst into tears right in the VIP’s presence when they made a critical comment…not once, but twice.

Of course, this was years ago, when we were just beginning to believe in our work–and boy, could I ever identify. Once, an editor looked over what I had prepared to win her heart to my heroine’s saga. She sat back and said, “I don’t see any story here.”

For once, I found myself speechless.

Many of us write in obscurity and relative isolation, as do artists in other fields. We get so glued to our WIP (work in progress) that it seems more real than the actual physical world around us. Then to face rejection of what we’ve poured our hearts and souls into…it’s pretty tough.

Because I’m writing about the very real, TRULY tough world of war, I can’t feel sorry for myself for long, though. But it does help to have some camaraderie, someone who understands you’re just coming up for air when you appear out in public. Your pulse may still be racing from what happened in an LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) like this, just off the coast of Sicily in 1943.

It’s a writer’s life–it is what it is, but I’ve learned how much we need each other. I’m grateful for how easy it is to reach out to another writer these days…just type a quick e-mail and write, HELP!

Today, I’m not even going to try tying in Lance’s great photo with what I’m writing. I’m constantly making connections, integrating this into that…This time, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but add a hearty, “Thank you, Marie, for taking the time to meet me for lunch!”

August activities, and…comparing

My FB page report for the week says activity is up by 1,450 percent. That sounds great. The trouble is, I have no idea why.

I traveled to Ames this week to meet potential students for my September OLLIE memoir writing class, and had fun chatting with some writers. Ahh…my favorite folks–looking forward to getting to know them and their stories better in a few weeks!

Friday night we saw “Annie” performed by Cedar Summer Stock. All of their 2018 performances featured incredible voices, choreography, costumes, and scenery…what more could anyone ask? Watch for them next summer.

On Saturday, we went to a cousin’s house for a family picnic. Oh my, what a spread. My gluten-sugar-lactose free offering turned out fine, but compared to the other great fare, well…actually, another one of our granddaughter’s quotes says it best: Comparison is the THIEF of joy. 

So there you go–why compare? And that brings me to flowers: observe.

Specimen one, an amazing geranium.

Specimen two, Gerber daisies in full spread.

And last, but not least, this year’s spectacular yellow begonias. I can’t get over how from delicate pale yellow clamshells (lower right), such incredible blossoms emerge.

So what’s to compare, right? Three lovely floral beauties, each with so much to offer. Yet, we compare things…and people… constantly.

Merriam-Webster defines compare as to examine the character or qualities of especially in order to discover resemblances or differences or to view in relation to.

I’ve been comparing the manuscript I’m working on with its predecessors. Why would I do this? Maybe because this story  has given me lots of challenges from the get-go. The research  leads me deeper into comprehending the vast effects of World War II…but how can I possibly do this topic justice? Does comparing help? Not so much.

I’ve grown as a writer since the last one, so maybe I expected the process to be easier this time. Yes, maybe that’s it.

Yet this is a whole different flower. Yes, it’s that THIEF at it again! Just get back to this story unfolding right now. Forget about the others…seize the joys and frustrations of this one.

It’s healthy to have little self-chats like this from time to time, don’t you think?