Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Have you ever seen that old classic movie? I remember watching it once long ago, but my hubby loves that movie. He also loves A Christmas Story, A League of Their Own, Shawshank Redemption, Murphy's Romance, and The Jerk. There are a lot of others he will watch over and over but I can't think of them off the top of my head. For Christmas, we don't buy big gifts for each other. Our kids are all grown and out of the house...well, except for our three cats. So, what we do is buy things that will fit in our stockings. Each year we try to find something different and small enough that we can get several items inside. It's fun and an inexpensive way to surprise each other. This year I want to find a copy of The Jerk for his stocking. I'm not sure if they even make it any longer. A few years ago I tried to find Finnegan, Begin Again. He loved that movie, too. They quit making it a long time ago and I haven't even seen it on television recently so I can tape it.

I did hear something fun yesterday though. A friend at work said they have those great big stockings, really huge, at the dollar store. I thought about buying one of those for myself. See, that way he could buy me the digital camera and video recorder in one and it would fit!

I am truly in the mood for Christmas this year. Not the commercial aspect, but the actual season...the celebration of the birth of Jesus. I remember the tradition we had when the kids were little. After candlelight service we'd come home and light candles on the cake I had baked and sing happy birthday to baby Jesus.

Since our kids are grown, we always have a family get together at our house on a weekend before Christmas. This allows the grandchildren to be home on Christmas day. Our date this year is the fifteenth. In some ways, I wish we could hold our get together on Christmas Eve so we could all celebrate the birth of Jesus together.

Do you have any Christmas traditions? Do you know where I can purchase a copy of The Jerk?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Another Random Act of Kindness...

So, is this a new movement against the evil stalking our land? I hope so! I'd like to imagine people doing one random act of kindness a day. And then the receiver feeling so blessed that they in turn do an act of kindness. This could snowball exponentially! Can you imagine it?

So, here's the story for today. My husband told me that he was in line at McDonald's to get his breakfast on the way to work. When he pulled up to the window, they handed him his food and said he didn't owe a thing! The lady in front of him had asked what he had ordered, and then had paid for his breakfast! Is that not unbelievable!

It's so true that we can believe the doom and despair we hear about all the time, but when something like this happens, people tend to disbelieve.

I'm convinced there is an underground movement, headed by angels, to change the random act of kindness at a time.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

An Act of Kindness to Pay it Forward

I heard a really sweet story today. A lady I work with told me that she had forgotten to stop at the store on her way home. She remembered a couple hours later that she needed eggs because she's fixing deviled eggs for our pot luck at work tomorrow. So, she had on sweat pants and a t-shirt, slipped into sandals and headed to the nearest store. While she was standing in line she began talking to the man in front of her. He was tall and thin, around her age, and they talked about how the weather would be changing, and other nonpersonal topics. When the line grew shorter and it was this man's turn, he told my friend to go ahead and get in front of him since she only had a dozen eggs. She thanked him and told him how much she appreciated his kindness after the rough day she'd had. She put the eggs on the belt and the man spoke up. He told the cashier to put the eggs on his bill. She was so astonished!

There are so many good kind people out there, but we never hear of the acts of kindness. Why doesn't the media talk about the things that lift our spirits instead of all the doom and gloom news reports?

This simple act made me think of how much better the world would be if we all would remember to perform just one random act of kindness each day. And when we receive an act of kindness, we should remember to pay it forward. God blesses those who do as Jesus would do.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Medicating the cat has become a pure battle. Last night hubby wore his thickly padded jean coat to protect his arms and body from injury as we tried to force the meds down Templeton's throat. I didn't realize a cat had so many muscles in their neck and head! Finally we managed to get some of the meds into him. Of course, whenever hubby and I are in the same room now, Templeton runs and hides. He knows that two means a sneak attack.

Tonight hubby had to work late. I worried about how I would medicate the demon cat with no help. I decided to try tricking him. Every night after work we give the cats one can of Fancy Feast divided into three equal parts. So while they were lined up eating their portion, I filled the syringe and aimed it into the corner of Templeton's dish. He glanced up at me and then went back to eating. Success! He ate every smidgeon including all the medication. Woo hoo! Now if only we had tried that a week ago.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm Signing My Cat Up to be a Wrestler... seriously! Those who have followed my blog know about my cats: Charlotte, Wilbur, and Templeton. Each have very different personalities. Templeton is the most unique. He greets guests and insists on having their attention. If they ignore him, he's been known to leap to their shoulders or do a tight rope balancing act on the railing which runs along our living room (we have a bi-level home). He knows how to open cabinet doors and annoy us by banging them over and over to get attention. I could go on and on, but I diverse from my topic.

Templeton has an allergy to something. The vet isn't sure what it is. Hubby and I think it could be the Frontline that we used to prevent our indoor cats from contracting fleas from our outdoor feral colony. (That's another story as well).

So...we took Templeton to the vet and she sent us home with a liquid steroid medication. Problem--have you ever tried to give medication to a fifteen pound lion? I swear that's what our sweet loving cat turns into when we "attempt" to give him the meds. The vet gave me a "syringe" to measure the medicine. Hey, first time wasn't too bad. Templeton didn't know what to expect. Though he fought against being restrained in hubby's arms, I managed to get the syringe between two teeth and push the plunger sending the liquid straight down his throat. One time!

Catching Templeton to administer future doses has posed a huge problem. He knows what we're up to when we sweet talk him. This morning hubby managed to capture Templeton and I forced his head up. Have you ever tried to pry open a cat's lips when they don't want you to? After a few struggling moments, I managed to secure him long enough to press the plunger and voila! I sent a stream of pink steroid meds across the top of the cat's head and onto my wall. Not a pretty sight. Sticky stuff.

Templeton's head now sports a spiky do. All he needs is an eyebrow ring to be in vogue.

Tonight another near success. Only lost half the measure of meds onto hubby's arm.


I'm sure there has to be a better way to do this. I'm thinking of chaining each of his four legs to a different stake while he's on his back. Maybe a U-clamp around his neck bolted to the floor to hold his head in place. Then hubby can work on pulling a couple teeth to make a hole for the syringe. That should make my job a little easier.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Come Out, Come Out, Where Ever You Are!!

Oh where or where has my muse gone? She keeps hiding from me and she won't tell me why. I think it's because I'm struggling with which direction to go. I just can't seem to let go of the 153 pages I'd written for SAY GOODBYE. It can be saved, but it will take a lot of editing. That's something I hate to do. When I stare at all these pages and know that I'll have to go back and read page by page and make major adjustments to get to the point of being able to's so daunting that I push it aside. I started rewriting it from a different angle. What I've written is good...but knowing that 153 pages of words cranked from the heart are sitting there and will be trashed is keeping me from moving forward. So, I started something brand new. It's not working. I'm forcing the words and the scenes are so unnecessary.

So, where are you hiding, muse?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Night of Music

I'm taking the night off to enjoy the CMA Awards. I love country music! This year there have been some really moving performances. The best so far was Sugarland, who also ousted Brooks & Dunn's long string of wins for Duo of the Year. Wow. I had goosebumps. Just the lead singer and a guitar. That gal can sing...or in the words of my hubby "She sure has a great set of pipes!" Carrie Underwood has won two awards so far. This is her second win as Female Vocalist of the Year. And how great to see George Strait win Album of the Year. That guy is so smooth.

Right now one of my favorite voices is singing...Josh Turner. Man, that deep voice gets me. And he's pretty good eye candy, too!

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you had as great an evening as I've had.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Hard Part is The Beginning

When people learn that I am a writer, many tell me that they have been thinking about writing a book. Thinking and doing are worlds apart. If you are serious about writing that book, then you have to take the big leap and get started. The beginning is the hardest part of writing.

In the first chapter, you'll need to introduce your main characters and the main conflict of the story. By the end of the first chapter your reader should be able to tell what type of book you are writing (i.e. romance, suspense). And you will need to start the book with a hook. Make your reader WANT to read the book to find out what is going to happen.

Avoid backstory. Many new writers want to dump a bunch of backstory in the first chapter. Backstory stops the forward momentum of your story. Instead, show the backstory in little pieces throughout the book. This keeps the reader wanting to know more.

For example, I'll use an example from my novel FOXFIRE.

My first chapter has two parts. The first is in the heroine's point of view. The second is in the hero's point of view. The characters meet in the first chapter (necessary in a romance). Here are the last few lines in the heroine's point of view:

Grace rolled over and punched the pillow. She hadn't been a prostitute. Well, not exactly.

Get your attention? Make you want to keep reading to find out what happened in her past? This is what creates a page-turner.

Okay, now jump to the second part of the chapter which is in the hero's point of view. These are the last few lines of the first chapter:

Tyler couldn't bring back his wife or their baby, and he'd live with that loss the rest of his life, but he had an opportunity to avenge their deaths. He might spend the rest of his life feeling guilty, but he'd bring Max Clayton down, even if it meant using Grace Wilkins to do it.

Okay, now I have your interest. How do I drop backstory?

Here is part of Chapter 9. Grace and her Dog Tiffany have gone to collect the mail. She finds an envelope with no return address. I've left off pieces of this portion for brevity:

Curiosity got the best of her and she pulled the strip to open the envelope. Peering inside she saw a silk ivory scarf.

"What in the world?" She pulled it out and a piece of paper fluttered to the ground. The scarf draped luxuriously across her arm. The silk shimmered in the morning sunlight. She ran her hand down the length, its simplistic beauty mesmerizing her. She loved the feel of silk.

Tiffany sniffed at the paper that had fallen at Grace's feet.

Grace stopped and picked it up. The words scorched her vision. Printed in block letters was a name that made the bile rise in her throat. Gracie Jo. Only one person had called her that--the man she'd been hiding from for three years--Max Clayton. She read the note again. Gracie Jo. I know you like silk. This is for you. A gift. Like old times. How did you like the roses? Weren't they pretty? Such a vivid shade of red. The color of fresh blood.

She wanted to run back to the house, lock herself inside, and cower under the bed. She had thought she'd be safe here, but nowhere was safe. Not even Foxfire. And that meant...tears stung her one was safe. Not Brad, nor Harri, nor Tiffany. And God forbid, not even Tyler.

Grace actually tells Tyler the story of how she met Max, and what happened between them, in Chapter 9. This is done in dialogue. The stakes have raised and in order to find Max, they will have to be honest with each other. However, if I had dumped all this in the first chapter, there would be no surprises for the reader.

So, what are you waiting for? Take those characters you've developed and that story that's buzzing in your head and take the plunge. Write the first chapter. Once you've accomplished that hurdle, the rest will be much easier.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Purple is My Favorite Color

Saturday my daughter brought over the jacket she hand knit for my birthday. It is made of really fine, really lightweight, really warm wool. And it's my favorite color...purple!! It fits perfectly, too. Check it out.

Isn't it beautiful? I wore it to church yesterday and everyone loved it. Likewise, all my co-workers oohed and aahed over it today. It's the perfect weight to wear in the office and so professional looking. This weekend I'm going shopping for a purple skirt. Yes!! An excuse to go shopping.

Have a wonderful day. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Success of Failure

All the items on my mental "to do" list were swirling through my mind as I drove to work one beautiful April morning. The last thing on my mind was the possibility of being terminated due to downsizing, but that was the reality I faced.
In less than a heartbeat my salary dropped to nothing. Tears held at bay, I stuffed years of my life into a cardboard box and made the journey home to break the news to my husband. My job had entailed a healthy salary that allowed him to take early retirement. Now how would we pay our bills? We had no savings and no retirement “nest egg.” And I had two major strikes against me in looking for a new job. I was a woman and over the age of fifty.
For the first time in my life I drew unemployment to survive. My severance pay allowed us to fund the costly Cobra insurance for both of us, and by tightening our belts, we managed to meet our monthly obligations while I searched for a new job.
It was a time for introspection and reflection. Had I been happy with my career direction? Was the salary worth the time sacrificed or had I traded happiness for financial freedom? I turned to prayer and asked God for direction. Instead of asking myself what I wanted to do with my life, I asked God what plans He had for me. I knew God would get back to me in His own time. And I settled down to wait. Over the months that I searched for another position, I enjoyed the laughter of our grandchildren, and wonderful relaxed conversations with our children. My husband and I became closer as we spent time together in our home. I found I had missed so much on the career treadmill I’d taken.
This led to a rethinking of my goals. I'd been happiest years earlier when working in a support role where I didn't take work home at night, and didn't spend outrageously long hours away from home and out of state. Being a mother of eight, and finishing college at the age of forty-three, I knew a lot about organization. And I loved handling a variety of duties.
With that in mind, I changed my resume and focused on looking for an Administrative Assistant position. It wasn't long before I was hired into a company only six miles from home.
Since then, my health has improved and my outlook on life has brightened. Oh, I’ve given up a lot, such as working long hours into the night, missed family get-togethers, driving sixty plus miles a day, and high blood pressure.
Looking back, I believe God intervened in the career path I’d chosen to get my attention. Sometimes we need a good kick in the pants when we’re going astray. God got my attention and He answered my prayer. No, I didn’t verbally hear His voice telling me what to do, but He set me on the path I believe He wants me to walk.
I'm grateful for God’s intervention. Had I continued in my managerial role, I would have missed so many wonderful blessings in my life. I'm not looking back. Though my salary is less than half what I used to make, I am so much more blessed. I go through each day with a smile on my face and peace in my heart, and the knowledge that God always provides what we need, when we need it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

What Are "The Good Old Days?"

I can't believe it is November already! Soon we'll have to get used to writing 2008. I can remember when I thought the year 2008 would find this world full of robots and all kinds of techy things...wait! All those things are here already, aren't they? I suppose in the year 2058 the teens of today will be remembering 2008 as "the good old days."

So many things have changed over the years, but mankind remains the same. The same struggles that went on in the old testament are the same ones we face today. Sure we have nicer houses, many modern conveniences, luxuries our grandparents never imagined would exist...but battles are still fought between brothers, between cultures, between countries. Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 NLT says it better than I can:

"Everything is meaningless," says the Teacher, "completely meaningless!" What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, "Here is something new!" But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don't remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.

When I read this, I feel a bit depressed. But then I go to Ecclesiastes 3:11-14 and I smile again.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a beautiful day!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

More Wonderful Gifts...

I couldn't have asked for a better birthday! Being born on Halloween has always made me the center of many jokes, all in fun, and all taken in that light. In a way it's a perfect holiday for a birthday. It begins the season of my favorite family-centered holidays--Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The sun shone brightly yesterday, the weather mild in the mid 60s, and a light breeze blowing. Hubby left for work before me and wished me a happy birthday while I still snuggled beneath the covers for another fifteen minutes before my alarm sounded. The evening before we'd brought our cat home from the vet, where he'd been under care for feline urinary tract blockage for nearly six days. Waking up with him snuggled beneath the covers with me was a great present. When I opened the refrigerator a few minutes later, a card fell out. My hubby is so cute, hiding my cards where I'll find them after he leaves. It was a beautiful card and the words fit us perfectly. Probably the best card I've ever receivd from him.

I wore a brand new teal sweater that my fried from work had given me for my birthday. My youngest daughter called to sing happy birthday to me. We talked for about a half-hour. Okay, I'm allowed. It was my birthday!

For break, I always meet with four of my friends. One had baked cupcakes to celebrate. How sweet! I allowed myself this one treat without feeling guilty. I received a birthday card from my ex-boss! He's a workaholic and he hated when I left my position with him to take this one I'm in now. But he's always been really friendly.

Then, the biggest surprise of all, my boss heard a co-worker wish me happy birthday and...

Well, first let me say I've worked for this man for three years and he's never given me a card or acknowledged any special days, not professional admin day, not birthday, not even Christmas! He called me and asked if he could take me out for lunch to celebrate my birthday! We had a really nice lunch and I got to know him a lot better on a personal level. Wow! He kept complimenting me on how great he thought I was, how he appreciated someone he could trust to always get the work done, and said if I ever needed anything to be sure to let him know.

My middle daughter was going to visit me at lunch, so I had to call and tell her I wouldn't be there. We talked and she wished me happy birthday, and actually she called later to tell me a really funny story about her boys. That girl should write a book.

After work I went to Applebee's for half-price happy hour with my girlfriends. We bought five different appetizers for half-price and pigged out. My hubby joined us because we had decided not to pass out candy to the trick or treaters. Our children are all grown and there are so many negatives attached to the tradition today.

We hurried home at 7:30 because my son, who lives in Indiana was in town opening a new store and planned to stop by to visit. I haven't seen him in a couple years, os it was a wonderful birthday gift to see him! While we were talking my brother called from Texas. I listened to him sing happy birthday and told him I'd call back after my son left.

Had a great visit with my son. There's a possibility he could be transferred to Ohio or to Northeast Indiana, which would put him closer to us. Another phone call came in but it showed unknown caller and I didn't recognize the number so I didn't answer.

After my son left, I called my brother and chatted for about a half-hour. By this time I was really sleepy and anxious to get out of my work clothes. I saw we had a voice mail message. It was from my oldest daughter! Rats! That was her cell phone number I'd seen ringing in earlier.

She made me a beautiful hand knit sweater jacket. I've seen pictures and I can't wait to get it! She's said she would try to bring it this weekend. Unfortunately it was too late to call her, but she wished me a happy birthday.

What a wonderful, blessed birthday!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a beautiful day!!!