‘Twas the Friday ‘fore Christmas

‘Twas the Friday ‘fore Christmas

and all through the house

the only thing baking

was one angry spouse.

From window to door

the woman would scurry,

hoping and praying

the repair guy would hurry.

But wait! What sound would float

to her listening ear?

A large diesel engine

drawing ever so near.

The repairman stepped down from

the cab with a smile.

He heard her concern,

then frowned for a while.

“Replacing the oven

would be so much cheaper,

but we can repair it

if you want to keep ‘er.”

He told her the price

and looked in her eye,

and though she winced,

she didn’t reply.

Then he looked at the schedule

and told her the date.

The repairs would be made

way too late.

She covered her face as

she started to cry–

the cakes! the cookies!

Mom’s favorite pie!

He strode to his truck

and put it in gear.

“I’m sorry ’bout this,

but I’ll see you next year.”

What do you do when your seven-year-old oven goes out just before Christmas? You laugh and write a poem about it.

The idea of replacing it seemed a good one, until I remembered what we went through replacing our old one. Let’s just say carpenters were involved. It wasn’t pretty. In the long run, I think it’ll be cheaper just to fix this one.

So, we’re off to Plan B. No baking for me this year. Bring out the candy thermometer.

Posted in Writing | 11 Comments

Merry Christmas to Me!

Open gift box and magic light fireworks christmas vector backgro
I had the best surprise yesterday, and I’m so excited I could just bust right open and splatter America with bright red confetti!

But I’d better settle down. Between my excitement and Cuddlebug using my computer as a scratching post, the first paragraph of this article got published and sent out to my followers before I could finish. Now, everyone has an email that ends with me splattering America with bright red confetti. (I’m not sure about WordPress’s new posting format. If it’s that easy to prematurely post something, then it’s not good. Not good at all.)

Anyway, yesterday The Man came home from errand running and told me he’d found a building for us. He retires in three years, and we’re going to move back to central Texas, closer to our family. We have the land, but we’ll have to build a house. Actually, we’ve had the land for quite some time, and I’ve been itching to put at least a cabin on it, but time and money have never been quite right.

MSB has been talking about putting a high shed out there for the tractor we bought a few years back and just blocking off part of it for us to use while we’re there. He had in mind a large metal shed with garage-style doors that he could drive the tractor through, and an enclosed space that would serve as a one-room apartment for us until the house got built. He priced his idea at different companies and wasn’t happy with the results.

When he came in yesterday and told me he’d found a building, I wasn’t expecting to like what he found. I figured it would be functional and tolerable, but not anything I would’ve chosen myself.

Boy, was I in for a surprise!

What he found was a great deal on a cabin shell with a front porch. The interior of the cabin is unfinished, so I can fix it any way I want–and my mind started rolling with ideas almost immediately. The way the porch is inset in the front of the building naturally divides the cabin into three rooms, the kitchen/dining area will be on the right, the bedroom on the left, and a small living room in the center.

I wish I could find a picture of it for you, but believe me, I’m certain to take several once it’s ours. MSB put a deposit on it yesterday and, if everything works out right, will pay it off before the week is out. Then it’s just a matter of moving it out there and setting it up. We’ll have three years worth of weekend visits to finish the interior before we move in while our house is being built.

I don’t know what’ll happen to it once we move into the house. It’s too large to be a writer’s cabin and too nice to be just a shed. Chances are it’ll be guest quarters. May even use it as a B&B. That would be fun!

Want to come visit? Mark your calendar for 2018!

Posted in Writing | 18 Comments

Disorganization

I need a tour inside the brain of an organized person, followed by a YouTube how-to video and a guidebook. Maybe then I could understand how to do everything in a calm and orderly fashion and actually get it done. I’m not organized in the best of times, and when a holiday is added, things around here are more scrambled than eggs for a frittata, and usually the results aren’t nearly as good.

Between my natural inclination for procrastination and this being The Man’s time of year, I find I’m scrambling to get things done. Business activities, such as keeping up with my blog posts, are sacrificed for holiday activities and MSB’s vacation days. We’re gone as often as we’re home, and when I get those few precious days to myself, I don’t always use the time wisely.

Add to that all the things that go wrong because some little demon doesn’t believe this time of year is stressful enough. Like, just this morning, I discovered that the display on my oven is out, and without it, I can’t tell what the temp is or set the timer or see the time. Why would they put a digital display on an oven anyway? Whatever happened to just painting the numbers on the dial–whatever happened to dials? This double-oven we bought not five years ago is yet another one of the items adding to our ever-deepening sense of buyer’s remorse. But that’s a whole other story. Let’s just say that baking is going to be quite the challenge until I get that sucker fixed.

Malfunctioning oven-displays aside, the primary problem I have at this time of year is simply not using my time effectively.

It may be too early to start a list of New Year’s resolutions (something I swear every year I’m not going to do), but it doesn’t hurt to think about it (because I know I’m going to regardless of what I’ve sworn), and I think #1 on the list is to keep a more comprehensive calendar. If I had absolutely everything pertaining to MSB, Mom, family, church, and business all on a single event calendar, maybe I’ll be better at anticipating trouble spots and planning for known events–events that simply don’t cross my mind when I’m looking at a different calendar. This should be an easy resolution to keep. During 2014, I actually kept up with my calendars. That’s the first step, isn’t it? (Feel free to applaud.)

I have no idea why I didn’t think of this earlier, other than the fact that this is not the kind of thing I think of. Being organized occurs only in July, when I know that we’re going to have a semi-truck load of family over here expecting to be fed. It’s an annual event, as are the winter holidays and MSB’s vacation days, so why I can prepare for July 4 but not for November 1 through December 31 is beyond me.

What’s fun, if anything about being disorganized can be classified as fun, is discovering that I’ve actually accomplished things in the midst of all the chaos. I actually have done almost all the Christmas stuff I meant to do, except for the baking, which will come closer to The Day, assuming my oven gets fixed. I guess if it doesn’t, I’ll just have to wing it. The cards are sent, the presents are bought and awaiting gift wrap and bows, and the hubs has his list of stuff to do. In fact, virtually everything having to do with vacation and holidays is done.

The business end of my life, however, is suffering. Witness the tardiness of this post, though I should be accustomed to not having my Monday post up by 6 a.m. like I’m supposed to because I’m not organized enough to preschedule it. And to think, in 2015 I’m planning to contribute to more blogs and start a new one dedicated to women with elderly parents.

So, New Year Resolution #1 is to get organized, but to make it an achievable goal, #1(a) is to coordinate my calendars. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Posted in Writing | 11 Comments

Christmas Card Frenzy

Do you send Christmas cards? I decided to this year–first time in a long time. I decided if I wanted to get any (and I do), I need to send some out.

But I wondered if people send them anymore. Americans are tending more toward the quick and easy, like electronic communications, or toward eliminating what stresses them. And having a huge number of cards to send out can be stressful, not to mention expensive.

This week, I asked my Facebook friends whether anyone still does cards and whether they prefer traditional or electronic. Among the responses were 28 definitive preferences. So according to my not-so-scientific poll, here are the results:

21 of 28 preferred traditional cards

5 preferred electronic (some of these were crossovers from traditional; they liked either)

7 didn’t bother with them

Many of those preferring traditional, i.e. “snail mail” cards, offered the alternatives of photo cards and newsletters. A few overachievers (you know who you are!) made their own cards.

So what does this mean?

Well, Lisa Grace told me Wednesday that we reach only 15% of our Facebook friends, so 15% of around 2500 is around 375. I got roughly 28 responses to this poll, so 347 people either didn’t see it or didn’t care to respond. Of the 28 who did respond, only 7 don’t bother with cards at all, so 21 of 28 send some kind of card that assures their recipients that someone somewhere is thinking of them at Christmas.

But what does it really mean?

It means that this post was written Wednesday and scheduled for Friday because this is Mom week and I’m gone and needed something to go up today. This is subject is as good as any. ;)

So, do you send cards?

Posted in Personal | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Quick Note about the Facebook Hustle

FB

Just read Edie Melson’s post on The Write Conversation, “Social Media Monday—How Facebook Changes for 2015 Could Affect Authors,” and I have to admit not being happy with my favorite playground. If you haven’t heard yet, Facebook plans to charge businesses a monthly fee to advertise on its site. According to Edie, this practice will begin with organizations that have a physical site, like stores or offices, but it could extend to authors, since FB is the one who determines what an ad is. Authors definitely advertise on social media, Facebook included. It’s how someone like me, a Texas housewife, can make a sale as far away as Washington state, or even overseas.

If you’re an author and haven’t read Edie’s article, I suggest you do, then figure out how important FB is to you. Like I said, it’s my favorite playground, and I’m reluctant to give it up. Not that I would–we can still use the site just to have fun with our readers and fellow authors. I’d just have to be more careful about what I posted pertaining to my books.

Still, I can’t help wondering whether it would be worth the fee, whether I may as well just go ahead and figure it into my marketing expenses.

Most people swear by Twitter, as well they should, but I feel at home on FB. One of the complaints about FB is that we don’t reach everyone we’re supposed to, but there are ways around that. Every time someone shares one of my posts, they reach someone I may not have. And if the shares continue, there’s no telling how many people are reached.

Which leads to the question one of my fellow PBG authors asked: Will it be considered advertisement if we promote other authors?

If so, then we’d be in a mess. There’s no point in advertising when we can’t reach the numbers on our own, and there’s definitely no point in advertising when the post can’t be shared without costing our readers money or getting them zonked by the Facebook Police for advertising on their sites.

Edie said she’ll be making a follow-up post pertaining to all this Monday, so I’m anxious to see what she says. Meanwhile, I’ll continue on Facebook the way I always have until I’m told otherwise.

Posted in Promotion/Publicity/Marketing | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Scrambled

To Do List

Do you know how it is when you’ve been gone for a while and everything that was neglected during that time has piled up so high you can’t see over or around it and now it’s Monday and you have to tackle that pile but you only have a few days before you have to be gone again and you just know that you don’t have time to do everything you neglected last time before everything that will be neglected while you’re gone again piles up and you’re stuck in a vicious cycle because it’s too close to Christmas to really get anything done so everything is just going to pile up even higher and wider and longer and you want to hide in the closet and wrap your arms around your middle and rock yourself?

Yeah. I’m there.

Like I’ve said before, this time of year doesn’t belong to me. Not that I’m complaining, exactly, because I have fun with MSB and Mom and the rest of the family. But it gets annoying when what I think is going to happen doesn’t. Like, we were going to be gone a week, so I scheduled my posts to show up at what I thought were all the right times, but they didn’t. Or, I thought I could work my blog through the app on my so-called “smart” phone, but I couldn’t. Or, I thought I’d have time to write more posts during those few hours I’m home, but I don’t. Or, I thought I could handle all the things that need to be done at home, but I can’t because something unexpected always happens–like the TV deciding it isn’t going to work,  so we needed to shop for a new one; or one of MSB’s acquaintances passing away, so we had an unexpected trip to make; or Mom being sick for much longer than she let on, so I have another unexpected trip. (Would it be too much to ask to go through one holiday season without one of us having to visit a doctor?) And I’ve barely begun all the Christmas things that need to be done.

How do people do it all?

So, it’s Monday, and instead of having my head on straight and being ready to get back to work, my brain’s scrambled with the idea that nothing’s going to get back to normal until sometime in 2015. I’m sitting here, rambling through my fingertips, flubbering my lips, and feeling overwhelmed.

Bear with me.

Better yet, pray for me. My sanity was questionable to begin with . . .

Posted in Misc., Personal | 6 Comments

Still on Vacation

This time of year belongs to MSB. Always has. In our 23 years of marriage (we just had an anniversary on November 30), the bulk of November and December have belonged to the man. I thought I had this week all planned out and had all my posts lined up, but I’ve been gone longer than expected, and my one attempt at working on the blog using my phone app resulted in a reprint of last Friday’s book review.

Anyway, the man is still on vacation, and time is still not my own, so I don’t have much to write about right now. Instead, tolerate an advertisement, okay?

The print version of The Cat Lady’s Secret is on sale for $2.99 on Amazon!

cover full size

 

Give the Lady a Ride has picked up 59 reviews, 41 of them are 5-star! Not too shabby, if I say so myself!

GtLaR Front Cover Final

 

Oh, and The Simulacrum is getting some great reviews, too. They vary, but we expected that. It’s what happens when we publish something controversial. Grin.

The Simulacrum

 

And of course, there’s always the Christian writer’s guide, Writing in Obedience. Want to know how to incorporate your faith into your writing? This one can help.

Writing in Obedience

 

So, if you’re still looking for Christmas presents or want to round out your library, check these out!

Hopefully, everything will be back to normal for a little while starting next week. Won’t last long, but maybe I can start posting regularly again. Maybe.

Posted in Promotion/Publicity/Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Murder on Edisto, by C. Hope Clark: a Review

I mentioned in “Three *Very* Different Books” that I expected big things from Hope Clark, and she didn’t disappoint me. Book One of her new series, The Edisto Island Mysteries, held me captive from page one.

More than a mystery, Murder on Edisto is a stunning example of expert characterization. Former Boston detective Callie Jean Cantrell has lost too many loved ones in too short a period of time. She was dangling by a thread after her husband was murdered. The thread frayed when her childhood friend was murdered. And when her father died under questionable circumstances, the thread snapped.

Battling the headwinds of a freefall, Callie struggles to discover who is behind all this.

This mainstream mystery is definitely Hope’s best book yet, but it’s not for my more sensitive followers. The language can be rough, and the sex scenes, though far more tastefully done than others I’ve read, are a bit too explicit for some readers. Still, it deserves each one of the five stars I award it.

~~~~~

Next on the list:

Billy Coffey

wings of glass

Posted in Reviews of exceptional books | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Dog Tales at Thanksgiving

How was your Thanksgiving? Memorable, I hope. Full of the triple-Fs: family, food, and fun.

My sister-in-law usually holds Thanksgiving at her house, but they’re having some work done on it, so her daughter stepped up to the plate–or stove, to be more accurate. Amber and her husband and two kids have a lovely two-story, so there was plenty of room for all of us, including the dogs.

Family gatherings with our clan include more than just parents and kids. All the dogs get to have a reunion too. MSB and I have cats, so they stay home, but they wouldn’t feel safe anyway. There’s Cash, the old, super-sized Catahoula who’s getting a bit arthritic now; Bosco, the Boston Terrier and the star of last year’s Thanksgiving; Steadman–if I’ve remembered the name right, but don’t bet on it–the spastic Maltese Poodle mix (MaltiPoo); Lucy, the sweetest deaf Border Collie you’ll ever meet; and Toby, the Pomeranian. Toby is a tiny thing, and everyone is confused about whose dog he is. He’s supposed to be Susan’s, but he’s always in her husband Carlton’s arms.

Now, this is something you’ve got to see: Carlton is not a small man. He’s tall and broad and commanding. His natural features seem gruff, like he frowned a lot at his job. He has a deep line trenched between his brows. His voice is soft and low, and sometimes menacing. It took me forever not to be afraid of him. But seeing this lumberjack of a guy go soft over a tiny little Pomeranian warmed me up to him. There’s no doubt in my mind. Toby is Carlton’s dog.

pomThe dog in the picture is a bit more cream colored than Toby, but he looks pretty much the same. Toby isn’t a yapper, like you’d expect from a small dog, but he does love greeting everyone. He’s very much a people pup. When we first got to Amber’s, he danced on his hind legs, wanting me to pick him up, and he stayed my buddy for quite some time before someone else caught his eye. Then he remembered his job as official greeter and took off.

Before he left, though, I realized he’d lost a leg. I’d been holding him all that time and didn’t notice. According to Susan, she had taken him and  their other dog Lucy shopping somewhere with her, and he’d gotten excited about seeing all the people. He felt responsible for greeting everyone and jumped out of the cart. Bad move for such a tiny dog. His leg snapped.

They did everything they could to save it, but they couldn’t, and now he only has three. He endures the nicknames with a smile and a lick–Tripod, Yardstick (because he’s a three-footer). He’s very good natured about it.

At one point, he went upstairs with me to check on the kids, me holding him, him watching every move we made and grinning. He always grins. I put him down once we got up there, and he sniffed everyone to make sure he hadn’t missed greeting them. When we were going back to the family room, though, he didn’t want me to carry him. He stood at the head of the stairs looking down like he was hesitant, but he skittered away when I tried to pick him up.

“Can you get down the steps?” I asked, as if he could understand English.

Well, apparently he could understand. He glanced at me with that cute little grin on his face, then ran ploop, ploop, ploop down to the first floor faster than you could say, “Watch your step, Trio.” He looked back up at me from the bottom with a satisfied smile, then took off in search of Papa.

It’s amazing how resilient animals are. Toby lost a leg. Not his love for people or his enthusiasm for life or that sweet grin he always wears. Some things may be a bit more challenging for him, but he manages. This after-Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for him and the lesson he taught me–how to handle the cards life deals with the grace of a pup.

Posted in Misc., Personal | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

So Much to be Thankful For

happy thanksgiving

We live in a land of plenty here in this country, and though my family isn’t rich, we have a comfortable piece of the pie. We have a roof over our heads, food on our table, and gas in our tanks. MSB has worked for the same company for over forty years, and I had the blessing of entering a new career path seven years ago, at the age of fifty. All this is possible in America, so along with the house, food, vehicles, and jobs, I’m thankful God put me and my family in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

I still have my mom on this side of Gloryland, and she’s reasonably healthy for her age. I’m blessed to be able to visit with her a few days each month. I’m married to an amazing man who gave me an amazing family–five kids, seven grandkids, and one brand new great-grand. Although miles separate us, I still love them all and am so grateful to God for those I can call my own.

My health has held out for a solid year–long enough for me to get fat and sassy again. I’m thankful for every extra pound I haul around because my doctors were afraid I’d never be healthy again. According to some, I should’ve been getting my nutrition through a vein. But that wasn’t God’s plan for me, and I’m so grateful.

We’re to give the sacrifice of thanksgiving on a daily basis, but during the Thanksgiving holidays especially, I take stock of how much I have and how little I deserve. When the Lord has been so good, giving thanks isn’t a sacrifice. From His gift of His Son to the gifts of my everyday life, He has blessed me beyond measure, and I am thankful.

And I’m thankful for you, the readers of this eclectic blog. I pray each of you will have a wonderful holiday, and that you will stop for a few moments to consider how much you too have to be thankful for.

Posted in Writing | 9 Comments