The Porch Light is On

I recently started drafting a post on the subject of “coming home.” It was appropriate, considering that’s the title of the new novella collection in which one of my stories appears with six others.

Each story takes place in a different location (Texas, West Virginia, an island in Lake Superior off the coast of Wisconsin, Indiana, Georgia, one of the Carolinas [sorry, Kimberli, but I don’t remember which one!]*, and Ohio) all with the unifying theme being tiny houses. I don’t usually write contemporary fiction, but it’s been fun working with my friends on this project, and I enjoyed writing the story, which I set in the community where Craig and I lived for 30 years.

*[Note: Kimberli just contacted me to say: “This is one of the few stories I’ve written that doesn’t take place in the Carolinas. Like Linda’s, mine is set in Texas, only North Central Texas where it’s hot and dry and the town has been suffering a long drought. That part was based on an actual event. It was so dry in the real town my fictional town is based on, they pleaded with people to pray for rain. In the story, they got it. In buckets.” Sorry I mis-remembered, Kimberli, and thanks for the correction!]

And now, back to our regularly-scheduled broadcast:
Another reason “coming home” is so appropriate is because we recently moved, and when I return to this place after being away, I don’t quite feel like I’m “home.” This kind of surprises me, because when we moved to Maryland in 2013, my husband and I both immediately felt like our new house was home. Why don’t I now? I’m not sure, but it’s different this time.

Here’s a portion of the post I started drafting earlier but never finished:

Coming Home is the title of the novella collection a group of us recently published. In a way, it’s also the theme of my contribution to the book, though it was someone else who came up with the title.

It’s also what I felt like this past Wednesday when I went back for visit to the area of New Philadelphia, OH. That’s where my husband and I lived for 30 years. All four of our kids grew up there, graduated from high school in the area, and were launched into the world from that home base.

When driving back to T-County this past week, the closer I got, the more I found myself anticipating my arrival there. I felt like I was going home.

I dropped off copies of the book at both the New Philadelphia and Dover public libraries. I also delivered several copies to Dayspring Christian Bookstore, where they are now available for sale. I went to Swiss Village Bulk Foods and Sugar Valley Meats in Sugarcreek. I had lunch at my cousin’s house. The whole time, I drove around with a smile on my face.

I don’t ever expect to live there again, but it sure is nice to visit.

I got that far and then couldn’t think what else to say, so I put it aside. Until now.

This morning as I read in the Gospel of John, I got to the first verse in chapter 14 and pulled up short.

I’ll share that with you in a minute, but first, let me fill you in on something that happens in my novella. The main character has been going through a very difficult time. Her marriage has fallen apart, she’s moved out of her long-time home, she’s left her career, and is trying to start over in the community where she lived when she was a young girl. Subconsciously, I suppose, she hopes to recapture something of the hope and happiness of her youth. But she can’t find it, because those days are gone. She prays, but can’t seem to feel the connection with God she once did. She feels lonely and adrift.

At one point in the story, she’s out walking the dog after dark and gets a little scare. She looks toward her tiny house, and the lights beckon to her to come back to safety. As she and the dog move into the protective glow of the house’s deck light, she asks herself, “Stepping into the light of God can’t be as simple as walking back to the house, can it?”

That analogy came back to mind when I contemplated John 14:1. Here are the thoughts I recorded in my journal. (Please forgive my long, rambling sentences; I write these notes only for myself, not for publication!):

What the disciples were about to face—they didn’t know it yet, but Jesus did—was a horror of unprecedented magnitude. They were about to see the long-awaited Messiah, whom they knew to be God in the flesh, whom they had seen exercise supernatural power over everything (sin, death, disease, demons, storm winds, human authorities, physical laws), and in whom God would fulfill all His glorious promises to Israel—this One in whom they had willingly placed their lives, their hope, their faith—would soon be arrested like a common criminal and taken away, subjected to unjust trial, physical torture, and the most horrific execution mankind had ever devised, all without lifting a finger or a word to defend himself. It was more appalling than can possibly be described. And on the eve of this, Jesus tells them, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”

There is no difficulty, no trauma, no heartache we can possibly face in this world that falls outside that assurance: Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Jesus.

Jesus knows what we’re going through; this is not a trite platitude. He knows full well, for he’s experienced it. Indeed, he goes through it with us. When we know Jesus, we know the way through it, because HE is the way (vv. 5-6).

I tried to depict this through my story, but John said it better. Jesus is the Light (John 1:1-5 and 8:12) that draws us to God. When we hear things bump in the night, when we see disturbing shadows in the darkness around us, when we’re filled with fear—and indeed, there are plenty of legitimately scary things in this world!—we can come into the Light. He’s always near.

This is not to minimize the dangers. Our troubles and fears may be horribly real, but they are not eternal; they’re not all there is. When we walk in Christ’s light, we can see the end of them.

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We Have The Winner (times three)!

file0001699656351As I’ve been promising for the past three days, I put all the entrants’ names into a plastic bucket this morning and pulled out three.

(Insert drumroll here)

The winners are:

1) C. P. Bialois (who entered by tweeting)

2) Brenda Pace (who entered by leaving a comment)

3) Jil Getner (who also left a comment)

I’ll be contacting each of these directly to see which book they’d like and where to send it.

Meanwhile: thanks to all the others who entered. And I mean that; I truly appreciate your interest in Gannah and your support for my writing addiction.

If you’d like to try again, I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway during the month of June. That involves only Words in the Wind and Ransom in the Rock, and because Goodreads is huge, there will be a lot more competition for the five free copies I’m giving away of each of those titles. But you’re certainly welcome to hop over there and enter there, too.

There’s also the option of buying them from Amazon, of course. If you’re in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, you’ll find all three titles for sale at Dayspring Christian Bookstore on West High in New Philadelphia. Both the Dover and New Philadelphia public libraries have the first two books available, and if you ask, they’ll probably buy the third for you. (Please do, in fact!)

Congratulations to the three winners, and thanks once again for helping to keep Gannah growing!

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Win a Trip to Gannah (times three)! DAY 3

DSCN5865What  a peach of a deal! A free trip to Gannah for three lucky winners!

Tomorrow, I’ll draw three names. I’ll contact them to offer any of the three titles in the Gateway to Gannah series they’d like to receive.

If the winner lives in the US, he or she can choose either a print or e-book; otherwise, only e-books are available. (Sorry, but those shipping costs are a killer.)

You have three ways to enter:mf679

1) Comment. Leave a comment on this blog, and be sure to include your email address. You’ll receive one entry each day you do this.

2) If you’re on Twitter, tweet about it. The easiest way to do that is by clicking on the “t” symbol under “Share This” at the end of the post. When the automatic Tweet comes up, delete “I like” and instead write: “Win a #FREE #book on @yanderson101’s blog.” (Make sure you leave the link to YsWords.) This gives you another chance to win — one entry per day that you do this (not one entry per tweet!).

3) Tell your Facebook buddies, making sure to mention me so I’ll be able to reward you. (You can use the Facebook button on the “Share This” bar at the bottom of this post.) You’ll earn one entry per day that you do this.

The first day of this three-day giveaway, I provided a brief description of each book. Yesterday, I gave you a paragraph from each to whet your appetite. Today, I’ll share the first sentence and the last word of each:

 

Stars cover

First sentence: Dassa trudged through the Ayin Forest across a crusted snow, her weary steps fueled by the nearness of her goal.

Last word: smiled.

 

 

Words cover

First sentence: “End.”

Last word: end.

 

 

 

Ransom in the Rock

First sentence: Her chest tight with dread, Lileela opened the closet.

Last word: belonged.

 

 

I hope these little snippets have enticed you. If you’re interested, make sure to leave a comment so you’ll at least have one chance to win. Telling your friends about the giveaway will increase your odds.

Good luck! I’ll draw the names and announce the winners tomorrow.

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Win a Trip to Gannah (times three)! DAY 2

three windowsThree windows of opportunity!

Well, the first one’s closed, but there are still two left. That’s right, two more days in which to enter to win a free book.

You heard me right: today and tomorrow, you have the opportunity to win a free trip to Gannah. On Wednesday I’ll draw the names of three lucky winners, each of whom will be able to receive their choice of the three titles in the Gateway to Gannah series.

If the winner lives in the US, he or she can choose either a print or e-book; otherwise, only e-books are available. (Sorry, but those shipping costs are a killer.)

Three books will be given away, and you have three ways to enter:file000185159942

1) Comment. Leave a comment on this blog, and be sure to include your email address. You’ll receive one entry each day you do this.

2) If you’re on Twitter, tweet about it. The easiest way to do that is by clicking on the “t” symbol under “Share This” at the end of the post. When the automatic Tweet comes up, delete “I like” and instead write: “Win a #FREE #book on @yanderson101’s blog.” (Make sure you leave the link to YsWords.) This gives you another chance to win — one entry per day that you do this (not one entry per tweet!).

3) Tell your Facebook buddies, making sure to mention me so I’ll be able to reward you. (You can use the Facebook button on the “Share This” bar at the bottom of this post.) You’ll earn one entry per day that you do this.

In case you haven’t had the opportunity to visited Gannah yet, let me give you some little snippets to whet your appetite. I’ll keep the theme of three and provide a paragraph from the third page of each book:

Stars coverThe sun still shined undimmed by clouds, but the shadow in her heart drew darker the closer she drew to the palace. Fear knotted in her chest, though she smelled no dangerous animals near nor sensed treacherous changes in the weather.

 

 

Words coverShe flopped backward onto her bunk. Deep weariness, the inevitable result of separation from her planet, made her bones ache. This was so pointless. Why had Pik insisted she come?

 

 

 

Ransom in the RockLileela pouted, a feat that never failed to impress the blank-faced Karkar. Especially when she managed to produce a few tears in the corner of her eyes, like she did now. “Why should that worry them? They’re rich, they own all of Gannah, but people there don’t use money. It wouldn’t burden them to keep me on Karkar the rest of my life.”

 

Interested? Make sure to leave a comment so you’ll at least have one chance to win. Then come back tomorrow and do the same thing. Telling your friends about the giveaway will increase your odds.

 

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Win a Trip to Gannah (times three)! DAY 1

DSC_4150_Iván_Melenchón_Serrano_MorgueFileThree doors of opportunity!

Today, tomorrow, and Wednesday (that’s June 16 through 18), I’m running a book give-away.

Because I never do things the normal way, I’ve decided against using RaffleCopter for this. (Are you familiar

Three? One for each of us?
Three? One for each of us?

with RaffleCopter? Do you despise it as much as I do, or am I just weird?)

So here’s what’s happening this weekend: I’m giving away three (3) books. The first three titles in the Gateway to Gannah series. And yes, meercats, that’s  one for each of you.

Moreover, you’ll have three ways to win.  To-wit:

file0001538344361) Leave a comment on this blog, and be sure to include your email address. You’ll receive one entry each day you do this.

2) If you’re on Twitter, tweet about it. The easiest way to do that is by clicking on the “t” symbol under “Share This” at the end of the post. When the automatic Tweet comes up, delete “I like” and instead write: “Win a #FREE #book on @yanderson101’s blog.” (Make sure you leave the link to YsWords.) This gives you another chance to win — one entry per day that you do this.

3) Tell your Facebook buddies, making sure to mention me so I’ll be able to reward you. (You can use the Facebook button on the “Share This” bar at the bottom of this post.) You’ll earn one entry per day that you do this.

Simple enough, right? For you it is. As for me, I have to record all the entries, print them out, and cut them up into little individual slips of paper. Yeah. ‘Cause I’m too stubborn to use an automated system.file1421235566707

Then on Thursday, I’ll put all the entries into a hat — okay, not  a hat, but a plastic bucket — and draw a name. Then I’ll draw another name. Not satisfied with that, I’ll draw a third. Each winner will receive his or her choice of the three Gannah books currently available. These can be print (for those who live in the US) or e-book (these, I can send anywhere). In fact, in keeping with the pattern of threes, I think I’ll offer those ebooks I mentioned in one of three formats: PDF, .MOBI, or EPUB. Does that suit you?

So, in case you’re not familiar with the three books I’m talking about, I’ll tell you a bit about them.

Stars coverBook 1: The Story in the Stars

Ancient Gannah was well on the way to taking over the whole galaxy, until the people of Karkar engineered a virus that stopped them in their tracks. Now, eight centuries later, the plague has struck again. When the League of Planets receives the distress signal, Karkar-born doctor Pik is ordered to find a cure, despite his hatred of the whole Gannahan race. By the time he arrives on Gannah, it’s almost too late; Dassa is the only survivor. And she has a mission of her own.

Dassa and Pik survive a pirate attack, unsafe starcraft, food poisoning, vicious beasts, and a plane crash. But the hardest part is enduring one another’s company. The Creator who wrote the story of redemption in the stars has commanded her to share it with her reluctant savior. That’s not all He expects of her, but the rest is unthinkable.

Words coverBook 2: Words in the Wind

Dassa’s landing craft crashes on Gannah 10,000 kilometers from the settlement just as a blizzard sets in. Injured, she takes refuge from the storm in Ruwach Gorge. In the ancient Gannahan language, ruwach means both “wind” and “spirit,” and Dassa’s not sure which meaning applies. Seeking food and shelter, she stumbles upon an old stronghold she recognizes from ancient legends—stories she’s been taught were myths. As she explores, she uncovers indisputable evidence that many things she thought she knew are in error.

At the settlement, her husband, Pik, must not only try to find her, but he also must take charge in her absence. Rebellious settlers and a wayward daughter make it difficult enough. But when the animals threaten to break the ancient treaty and resume the old Wildlife Wars, Pik’s hard-pressed to hold things together. He’s afraid that if he ever manages to find Dassa, she’ll have no home to return to.

Alone in the mysterious canyon where reality and fairytale are flipped, Dassa wonders the same thing. Though separated, she and Pik learn together whom to trust and what leads to death.

Ransom in the RockBook 3: Ransom in the Rock

How much is a life worth? And who will pay the price?

Fifteen-year-old Lileela returns from the planet Karkar, frothing with bitterness over what she perceives as abandonment by her parents. Why do they want her back now? And why does Karkar demand such a huge payment for delivering her? Neither she nor her family suspects that Karkar’s true motive is revenge. The tiny New Gannahan settlement has no hope of repelling an invasion – no hope, that is, except for One the Karkar can’t see.

file000817447890

Okay, so there you have it. Make sure you leave a comment — tell all your friends about this give-away — and come back tomorrow and Wednesday for more chances to win!

 

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Six-Month Check-In

We’ve been in our new digs for about six months now, and it’s time for me to give you an update.

Our backyard Thursday morning
Our backyard in February

Our first winter here was wintry, as noted earlier. The weather in Ohio was much the same, though, so that had nothing to do with our relocation.

We’ve been (more accurately, Craig’s been) doing a lot of clearing out of old, overgrown vines, shrubs, etc. and cleaning out flowerbeds. Flowers are pushing up here and there, and it will be interesting to see what’s planted in the yard. There’s still much work to be done out there, but we’ll leave that subject for now and move back to the topic of it having been a hard winter in Ohio as well as here.

IMG_1097
Some of the firewood we left behind.

One of the reasons we moved to a smaller house was because the utility bills at our drafty old house in New Philly were ridiculous. We had no water bill there, as we didn’t have city water or sewers, and we didn’t have natural gas. But even though we have water and gas here, our utility bills are significantly lower than they formerly were. When I think what it would have cost to heat that old house this cold, cold winter with the price of fuel oil being what it is, I shudder.

We left plenty of firewood for the new owners, but apparently at first they didn’t realize the expense of heating without it, because they didn’t start burning it until winter was well under way. If they burned nothing but fuel oil during December and January, I estimate it would have cost them about $2000 to keep the house at 68 degrees. That’s just for the fuel oil; add the electric bill, and you can figure close to $2500 for those two months. Ouch!

I’m happy to report that we’ve paid considerably less than that in utilities in the entire six months we’ve been here. We’ve also saved money on gasoline, because living in town as we do, everything is nearby. Saving money on utilities is just one of the many reasons we’re glad we made the move.

Before...
Before…

Several weeks ago we finally got rid of all the stuff in the basement. I don’t think I ever took a picture of it all, because it’s not the sort of thing I want to remember. But there was a lot of junk left in this house when we bought it. We threw away/recycled/Goodwilled several truckloads, and filled half the basement with the rest, hoping to make a little money selling it. I won’t bore you with the whole story, but the end of it is, last month someone paid us $100 for the whole mess and hauled it away for us. We spent the weekend cleaning walls, floors, etc., and getting the area ready for our son and daughter-in-law to move in, and now they’re living there temporarily.

Did I tell you all this already? The reason they’re here is because he got a job in the area, but they’re not sure yet where they’ll

...and after.
…and after.

be living. In the meantime, they’re our resident cellar dwellers. And it’s not a bad arrangement. In fact, they have more space there than they did in their apartment in Ohio.

Some of you have expressed interest in our kitchen remodel, and I said I’d post photos when it was complete. Well, it’s not done yet, but almost. All that remains is the back splash behind the stove and in the area between the counters and the upper cabinets. Because the kitchen is fully functional as it is, completing that last detail is pretty far down

Before #2...
Before #2…

on our list of priorities. Therefore, I’ve taken some photos of the kitchen to share with you now before so much time passes that it needs to be remodeled again.

As you can see from the before-and-afters, everything in the kitchen is new except the woodwork (which I’m not in love with, but it’s not so bad that it needs to be replaced), the microwave, and the refrigerator. I rather like the ‘fridge,

...after #2.
…after #2.

because it’s a side-by-side. I’ve always wanted one, but because they’re more expensive than the kind with the freezer on top, I couldn’t justify the additional expense. This one is old, but it works, and we’ll keep using it as long as it keeps ticking.

Two more things I’ve always wanted and now, finally, I have: a gas stove, and an exhaust hood. You can see them both in this photo below, which I took to show the Kitchen 2louvered bifold doors we put up in front of my spice cabinet-which-most-people-would-probably-call-a-pantry-but-I’ve-had-a-real-pantry-and-this-isn’t-one. Formerly, there was a dilapidated wooden accordion door there, and it was annoying. It didn’t want to open and close, and when it was open, it blocked your view of the contents of far left portion of the shelves. We took the old door down before we moved in, but the shelves were open until yesterday, when we finally hung a new door.

Note the tea kettle on the stove. That represents one of the few things I don’t like about the house: the hot water heater doesn’t get the water hot enough for washing dishes, even though it’s cranked up as far as it goes. Y’see, my dream kitchen doesn’t have a dishwasher. Why not? Because, due to the lay-out, I had to choose between a dishwasher and an exhaust hood. And with just Craig and me here, that was an easy decision. I raised four kids, had a huge garden and did lots of canning, and have always been a serious cook, and I got by without a dishwasher all that time. Why would I want one now that I have a fraction of the dishes to wash?

2013-09-24 11.15.46
Last fall’s onion crop.

Though I’ve never had a dishwasher, I do like to wash my dishes in scalding hot water. So, since the water heater is such a wimpy little thing, I boil water on the stove to add to the lukewarm water in the dishpan.

Though we’re both very happy in our new home, I do have one sad thing to report. This evening I used the last of my Ohio-grown onions. Remember those?

The reds (in the back rows) are still growing nicely
Some of the same onions, last summer.

Though I’m pleased I was able to make them last until April, it’s sad that they’re now gone for good. We do plan on having a small garden here eventually, but I doubt we’ll ever be able to grow onions like that again. And I do love my onions.

Other changes to the house: we pulled up all the carpet in the living room, dining room, and hallway to expose the near-pristine hardwood floors beneath. They’re beautiful! Why would anyone want to cover something so nice with nasty, filth-collecting carpet? We don’t like carpet, but we did leave it in the bedrooms (one of which serves as my office). For now. Its days are numbered, though.

bathroomupWe’re also working in the main floor bathroom. Its biggest problem is its miniscule size. But addressing that issue would require us to knock down walls, and we’re not prepared to do. We also don’t like that weird tile floor, but again, that’s a bigger deal than we want to tackle at present. What we’re doing now is removing the wallpaper on the upper half of the walls and replacing the medicine chest, because the electrical socket in the chest was bad, and I need to use it on a daily basis for my curling iron. (Looking at the “before” photo above, I realize you can’t see the wallpaper. But trust me; it was bad. Not just ugly, but peeling.) We’ll deal with the awful floor and the amazingly dated pink tile on the lower part of the walls on another occasion. Oh, BTW, we got rid of the window and shower curtain a long time ago.

So that’s the news on the home front. In the writing news, we’re nearly done with the final edits on Ransom in the Rock, and I expect to begin the publication process later this month. I can hardly wait to release it, because I think you’ll love it. Want a sneak preview? Click on the “Gateway to Gannah” tab above and scroll down to the third book. There you’ll see the cover (don’t you love it?) and find a link to click to read the first chapter. I hope it whets your appetite for more!

 

 

 

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Fly Through the Gateway to Gannah for Some Serious Sci-Fi Adventure

CBL Hop Welcome to my stop on the Christian Book Lovers Blog Hop!

June 25 through 30, Y’s Words is joining the sites listed below to give away a bunch of good stuff.

Each giveaway is different, depending on the blogger. Y’s Words is giving away free trips to Gannah. Want to enter? All you have to do is leave a comment. Then, on July 1, two names will be drawn from the pool of commenters. The first name drawn will receive his or her choice of Book #1 (The Story in the Stars), Book #2 (Words in the Wind), or a copy of The Gospel in the Stars by Joseph A. Seiss–the book that started it all. The second name drawn will receive all three! So make sure you leave a comment.

And while you’re feeling lucky, hop on over to the blogs listed below to meet other writers and see what else you can win. Don’t wait too long, though, because all these offers expire June 30.

Like this blog? I invite you to subscribe so you won’t miss any of Y’s wise words.

Thank you for visiting!

 

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