Saturday SitRep

We returned from Craig’s mom’s house Thursday evening. She’s doing much better, but the rest of the family will continue keeping an eye on her for the next few days. They’re also signing her up with a life alert service, so next time she falls and can’t get up, she won’t have to lie there for twelve hours.

Today, we’re off to Virginia. The new grandbabies are arriving on Monday. Many challenges lie ahead, but the sooner they get here, the sooner we can begin the adjustments. It sure will be interesting.

I’ll have an internet connection at my daughter’s house, but I don’t know how much time I’ll have for blogging, so I won’t try to get back to my Monday/Wednesday/Saturday schedule until after I get home. I may have a chance to post between now and then, but I don’t want to promise anything.

Have a great week!


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A “Duh” Moment

Rather than discovering some new truth, I merely understood something I’ve always known.

We can’t do much to avoid physical decline. Yes, we should keep active and avoid destructive habits like smoking, excessive drinking, and bad diet. But even when you do everything right (at least, “right” as the current medical establishment claims at the moment), if you get old enough, your body’s going to fall apart.

Bodies are one thing. But can our habits today have an effect on how our attitudes age? Hoping it will help me grow old gracefully, for the past decade or so I’ve made a conscious effort (not always successfully) to avoid the behaviors I find so annoying in others. I tell myself not to complain about circumstances, find fault with others, have a negative viewpoint of unfamiliar things, etc.

It recently occurred to me, though, that I’m approaching it all wrong by focusing on the negative instead of the positive. Isn’t negativity what I want to avoid? Well, duh!

So here’s my updated list of resolutions, to take effect yesterday:

Instead of telling myself not to complain, I’ll make it a point to compliment.

Instead of bemoaning what I’ve lost, I’ll express thanks for what I have.

Rather than criticizing others, I’ll try to put myself in the other’s position.

Instead of allowing my problems to absorb me, I’ll make an effort to help others whose difficulties are worse.

I intend to smile when I feel like frowning, chuckle when I feel like moaning, and shout Hallelujah! when I want to scream.

As experiments go, it’s not scientific. Only my family will be able to tell you if my efforts pay off in the long run. Moreover, we never see ourselves as others see us; what I think is gracious, others might call obnoxious.

Do habits of attitude we consciously cultivate in middle age reap a sweet harvest in the autumn and winter of our lives? For my kids’ sake, I hope so.

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Saturday SitRep

Returned home from mom-in-law’s last night. Have been trying to get caught up on things at home in preparation for leaving again tomorrow night for another week of Mom-sitting.

She’s improving steadily, and all’s well on that front.

Meanwhile, tonight is the ACFW Conference banquet at which the winners of the Carol Awards will be named. Because it’s broadcast live online, I plan to watch the drama unfold on my computer. If I don’t fall asleep before they get to the Speculative Fiction category (the presentations don’t begin until after 9:30 Eastern; Spec Fic is one of the last to be announced; and I’m the early-to-bed type), I’ll find out if The Story in the Stars is an award winner.

Back to Mom’s on Sunday night, where I’ll be separated from my beloved internet. I’ve scheduled one blog post for later in the week, but chances are, that will be the only opportunity I’ll have to post until next weekend.

Then, on to Virginia to meet the new grandkids! Woo hoo!

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Saturday SitRep

My mom used to say, “It never rains but it pours.” Probably your mom did too! Well, guess what? It’s pouring!

We now have a date for the adoption. The children will leave the Congo (accompanied by a courier) on September 30 and arrive in the States on October 1. Our daughter and son-in-law will fly to Cincinnati to meet them on October 1 and bring them home to Virginia the same day. My husband and I plan to arrive at their house on September 28 or 29 and stay with the other kids while they’re gone, and then I expect to hang around a while afterward to help out during the adjustment period.

However, our son’s wedding is October 13, so I can’t be gone too long.

And, just to keep things interesting, my mother-in-law is having some health issues and, at least until she gets her strength back, she needs 24-hour care. She’s still pretty self-sufficient. But, since she’s been hospitalized twice for falls in the past two weeks, it’s apparent she can’t be left alone. So between now and the time we leave for Virginia, we’ll be spending most of our time at my mother-in-law’s house, an hour and a half from home. Because Craig is retired and the other kids in his family are all still working, we’re the logical choice to stay with her during the week.

She’s never owned a computer and has no internet service at her house. So, rather than drive myself nuts trying to post to my blog on schedule, I’ll take a little break from my usual Monday/Thursday/Saturday routine. For the next few weeks, I’ll post when I get a chance and can get to a hot spot, and not sweat it the rest of the time.

Hoping I’ll have a chance to get some writing done during all this, but I’m not setting any lofty word-count goals.

And that’s the situation!

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Thursday’s Thoughts: Maturity

I once read that in the wild, wolf puppies bark like domestic dogs, but an adult wolf doesn’t bark. That is, in wolfdom, barking is a sign of immaturity.

A person could do a lot with that thought.

One might, for instance, compare domestic dogs to the welfare culture. Because they’re dependent on people for their survival, they never grow up.  But I won’t go there today. I’ll talk about barking instead.

This subject recently came to mind after an email discussion with a writer who participated in the Launch Pad contest. This is a contest for unpublished novelists sponsored/conducted by the Novel Rocket blog. I’m the contest administrator, so all correspondence concerning the event goes through me.

We conduct a different genre contest each month, with each monthly winner moving on to be a finalist for the Grand Prize. This past Monday, we announced the winner of the latest round, Middle Grade/Young Adult fiction.

Afterward, one of the entrants who didn’t win sent this lovely thank-you: “…I’d like to voice my appreciation of the incisive and immensely helpful critiques by the judges. I don’t think I’ve ever had such pertinent and useful feedback. Absolutely game-changing. …  I may not have won, but thanks to those critiques, I feel like I won anyway. Huzzah!”

I passed her appreciation on to the judges and asked her if we could quote her when we promote the contest next year. She gave her permission, saying “I’m sure there will be plenty more nice comments from other happy contestants.”

True, we did get other positive feedback. But most months, we also receive the occasional murmur from a writer who feels his or her creation didn’t get the credit it deserved. The fact is, though, this appreciative writer received two extensive critiques in which the judges marked up her manuscript liberally. Though they had positive things to say, most of their comments pointed out weaknesses and made suggestions for improvement.

All our entries get the same treatment. Some writers thank us; others complain; many make no response at all, so we don’t know if they found the critique helpful or offensive. As I told the writer whose thanks were so effusive, not everyone is thrilled to have her pride and joy cut to ribbons. The fact that she thanked us demonstrates her maturity as a writer.

Maturity doesn’t mean you’ve arrived; it means you realize there’s much to learn.

It means you’re less concerned about how others feel about you than you are about others’ concerns.

It means you don’t bark at every perceived threat.

It enables you to be patient, because you’ve seen enough yesterdays to know there will be a tomorrow.

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Monday’s Musings: Coffee or Tea?

Writers are famous for their love of coffee.

I love coffee, but I don’t mainline it. In fact, I usually limit myself to two cups a day. (Long story why — long and dull. I won’t bore you with it.) I do drink it black, though. And I savor every sip.

Sometimes, nothing hits the spot–mentally, I think, more than physically–like a steaming hot beverage. So if I’ve already met my coffee quota, I’ll drink tea. Green tea, usually. It’s supposed to be good for you, right?

I never used to like tea. At all. But after forcing myself to ingest green tea for a while, I’ve gotten so I don’t mind it.

When I was little, my mom gave me hot tea with sugar and milk when I’d come in from outside on a cold day. I thought it was wonderful. Nowadays, I drink my tea like I do my coffee — no sugar, no cream. A few years ago I tried drinking that sweet, milky tea that I enjoyed as a kid, and I couldn’t choke it down.

It never occurred to me to wonder why Mom didn’t give me hot chocolate, like a normal mom. I always gave my kids hot chocolate when they came in from playing in the snow. I guess she thought the tea was better for me than the chocolate. But with all the sugar I used to put in, I doubt if it would have made a difference.

Oprah says if you drink green tea, you’ll lose weight. How long must you maintain this green-tea regimen before you see results? Because I’ve been doing it for several years now and haven’t lost an ounce.

I used to crave a cup of tea when my stomach was upset. It seemed to settle it. However, that was black tea. Whenever I drink green tea on an empty stomach, it makes me extremely nauseated.  I have to get something to eat to keep from throwing up.

Hmmm… do you think that might have something to do with my lack of weight loss success?

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Saturday SitRep

Tuesday evening, we had an enjoyable time at the book signing at the Dover Public Library. With only eight people in the audience, it wasn’t remarkably well attended. But since only three had registered to say they were coming, it was almost three times the turn-out we expected. (“We” being the librarian who organized it, and me.)

The library saw to it that the event was well publicized through library channels, newspaper, and radio. Craig, listening to the radio as he cleaned the garage that day, heard it announced several times. (Must have been fun to hear his wife’s name on the radio!)

Everyone who showed up was either a relative (cousins Lola and Kathy Mowry), a friend (hello to Cathie Adams, Marty Knight, Dianne Skelley, Jennifer Kneuss, and Kim McKnight), or a friend of a friend (it was nice to meet Cheryl, friend of Cathie, Marty, and Dianne). With only eight attending, I sold eleven books. So, as my son Art pointed out, the percentages were good even if the numbers weren’t.

Also in this week’s writing news: I did a guest post on the Speculative Faith blog yesterday, in which I contemplate the value of words. This, of course, is in conjunction with the release of Words in the Wind.

Speculative Faith is an interesting site, by the way. It’s for and by writers and readers of Christian speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, and the like), and some good discussions go on there. One of the coolest features is the Speculative Faith Library, in which they’re making an attempt to list every Christian Spec-Fic book out there. That’s quite an ambition!

It’s not just a list, though–readers can comment on the books and post reviews. So if you feel so inclined, hop on over and exercise your right to free speech as you comment on my two offerings there: The Story in the Stars and Words in the Wind. Especially Words, since the first book has been there longer and has a few comments already.

And, to wrap up the week: on Thursday, I had the pleasure of spending quality time with my future daughter-in-law, Jennie, helping her address wedding invitation envelopes. Her bridal shower is today, where I’ll get to meet more of her family.

Ah, yes. Good times. It’s not just a bridal shower, but a shower of blessings!

Have a great weekend, all.


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