Thursday, January 31, 2008

What Time Is It?

I've used this photo before, but it just works for how I feel right now. I didn't mean for it to be this long before I made a post! I have When I Was Just a Kids interviews piled up and they are good ones. Tonight was the first time that I have had a chance to even look here.

Besides some responsibilities at home and school that took a lot of time, I also took over duties as ACFW Indiana Chapter President 2008 and have had quite a few things to take care of immediately. It's been awhile since I have been an officer in such an organization. I was editor of the Ft. Wayne Christian Writers and each month we had a newsletter that took some time. I was vice chairwoman and education chairwoman of a school executive board, and I interviewed teachers, amongst many other duties with that. And there have been other officer duties in organizations I have been a part of--but it's been awhile. And I'm older. Can we say fatigue? Plus, tonight we are supposed to get a lot of snow. Ugh.

So, all of my goals were tossed over the side like ballast. I feel like a failure. I did accomplish many things--just not with my own interests and writing. I turned in several reports on manuscripts for my bosses, but nothing with my own writing.

Anyway, it sort of depresses me. I hope to get my footing again, but tonight I don't feel as optimistic as usual.

I did get another comment from N.J. Lindquist on my color dilemma and that was actually quite helpful. I am pink, I think. I wouldn't have thought so, but I held my wrist/hand and arm up next to my sister-in-law's and she is quite yellow/warm and is an autumn. I looked very light and pink next to her. I was wearing a blue red scarf that matches my purse exactly--which I love, and I remembered that red used to be one of my favorite colors. I also really like plum makeup colors. She thought the scarf was a great color for me. I always thought it was just because I liked it, not that I look good in it. I still need to be draped, but I've been getting out what few summer colors I have and trying them out.

Now, another thing that was discussed on a recent writers' loop that I'm on is branding. If you are in business, in writing or just watching TV, you are aware of branding! People do not like to be put into a category, it seems, with writing. But if you want to be successful in it and find your readers, you need to think about it. If you go to this site, you can take a test to see just how aware you are of brands. Even if you are a casual observer, these brands are pretty powerful.

Think about your favorite fiction authors. Would you be upset if you picked up, say, a Stephen King novel, and he had decided that he had always wanted to write sweet romance--wouldn't you feel cheated not to get the usual Stephen King fare? What if in the middle of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling had decided that she was tired of Harry and wanted to instead write nonfiction chess moves?

I have been thinking about this, as well. What do I love to read? Write? I've been looking at the novels I pick to read (and what I'm writing,) and realized that I have narrowed my choices. It's something to think about at this point. I've also wondered how the things I write on my blogs dovetail with the fiction I write.

What is your favorite genre to read? (And how did you do on the brands test? I did rather well, surprisingly.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fun Is as Fun Does

Ok, not quite a Forest Gump quote, but hey.

I 've been cleaning out my wardrobe. Do you know how many mistakes I've made both in style and colors? It's not pretty. But where I donate some of the nearly new clothes means someone will benefit from my mistakes, which means it is alllll goooood. I'm an optimist, but a realist, too. I waste money on clothes and that's not good.

I've been talking to a real color consultant about "my colors." She would like sometime to drape me and I can hardly wait.

I was diagnosed a spring a long time ago, but the woman who draped me ( was in my mid-twenties,) took forever to decide. I think she finally just flipped a coin. (Between summer and spring.) Another color consultant declared me a winter! And finally, another one said I was an autumn. Ok, I can't be all colors. In all of this, I also have a lot of makeup that doesn't work.

I would love to have a nice, color-coordinated wardrobe and makeup. When my friend, Linda,was close to 50, she completely gutted her wardrobe, got rid of every single thing that wasn't in her Deep Autumn palette, and lined up everything according to style, colors, etc. I loved her closet and she could always get dressed and always looked radiant no matter how she felt. I have stood in my closet putting on one thing, then another, throwing things into a pile. And you know what I do? I put on the same outfit I always wear, which doesn't make me feel that great.

So, what are my best colors? I don't really know. I don't even have my hair color right, I think. What I have done lately is try to live in one palette for a week, and see if I get any compliments on how I look. (This is not reliable. ha) I have mostly black and denim in my closet--and I know black is not a good color for me.

I don't even know for sure what my favorite color is.Over the years I've lost my color sense for myself. I don't really like spring colors to wear. I think this is why over and over I am at a loss at what colors look best on me. I know what I don't like, though. I dislike wearing peach, camel or the warm peachy pinks. I dislike the makeup colors of peach, coral, too. So, spring can't be my colors, can they? I know I like saturated colors. I'm not crazy about super bright colors. I've gotten compliments when I wear royal blue, spruce green, purple, light blue, a sort of raspberry color and jade.

Here are some famous people by seasons. Of course, there are variations within each season:

Cool Seasons

Winter Colleen Coble(I think all of the Girls Write Out girls are winters.)


Warm Seasons



This is what I know about myself. Maybe you "see" something:

I have translucent white skin-you can see my veins very plainly.
I have blue eyes, but they have some strange color around the pupil.
There is a dark rim around my iris.
My lips have faded to a pale mauve color.
I have no eyebrow color or eyelash color.
I was a towhead as a child.
I have colorless cheeks without makeup.
Light colors wash me out.
I don't think I have much melanin in my skin or eyes.(Even eye doctors have said I have no color in the back of my eyes.)
I burn easily, and have little tan, even if I do tan.
My hair darkened significantly when I was about 31.
I don't like a lot of the spring colors, like peach and camel.
My friends try to put me into blue gray, and I do like that color--especially denim.

So, do you know what season you fall into?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Heartsong Readers Present Awards to Authors

Each year, members of the Heartsong Presents book club vote for their
favorite authors, books, and covers. I am a reader of Heartsongs (yeah, I have a romantic heart!) and I even interviewed a couple of these with some of these on my list for future. Congratulations to the authors, designers and editors (and the team at Barbour on Heartsong Presents. By the way, my favorite stories are the prairie themed stories, but I like them all.

The winners of the 15th Annual Heartsong Presents Awards are:

Favorite Author:
1. Cathy Marie Hake
2. Kelly Eileen Hake
3. Yvonne Lehman
4. Susan Page Davis
5. Pamela Griffin
6. Terry Fowler
7. Linda Ford
8. Lynn A. Coleman
9. Irene B. Brand
10. Janet Lee Barton

Favorite New Author
1. Jennifer Johnson
2. Rhonda Gibson
3. Mary Connealy
4. Kathleen E. Kovach
5. Anita Higman

Favorite Historical Romance
1. To Trust an Outlaw by Rhonda Gibson
2. The Lumberjack's Lady by Susan Page Davis
3. The Bounty Hunter and the Bride by Vickie McDonough
4. A Place of Her Own by Lynn A. Coleman
5. A Bride Idea by Yvonne Lehman
6. Golden Dawn by Cathy Marie Hake
7. A Time to Plant by Kelly Eileen Hake
8. Adam's Bride by Lisa Harris
9. A Time to Keep by Kelly Eileen Hake
10. Broken Bow by Irene B. Brand

Favorite Contemporary Romance
1. Christmas Mommy by Terry Fowler
2. Double Blessing by Debby Mayne
3. In His Will by Cathy Marie Hake
4. Photo Op by Lynn A. Coleman
5. Love by the Yard by Gail Sattler
6. Darcy's Inheritance by Linda Ford
7. Wedded Bliss by Kathleen Y'Barbo
8. Red Like Crimson by Janice A. Thompson
9. Except for Grace by Terry Fowler
10. Sweet, Sugared Love by Pamela Griffin

Favorite Historical Cover
1. A Bride Idea by Yvonne Lehman
2. To Trust An Outlaw by Rhonda Gibson
3. Mountains Stand Strong by Irene B. Brand
4. Golden Dawn by Cathy Marie Hake
5. The Lumberjack's Lady by Susan Page Davis
6. Wyoming Hoofbeats by Susan Page Davis
7. Sharon Takes a Hand by Rosey Dow
8. A Place of Her Own by Lynn A. Coleman
9. Broken Bow by Irene B. Brand
10. The Bounty Hunter and the Bride by Vickie McDonough

Favorite Contemporary Cover
1. Double Blessing by Debby Mayne
2. Picket Fence Pursuit by Jennifer Johnson
3. Christmas Mommy by Terry Fowler
4. Photo Op by Lynn A. Coleman
5. Wedded Bliss by Kathleen Y'Barbo
6. Family Reunion by Janet Lee Barton
7. Love by the Yard by Gail Sattler
8. Sweet, Sugared Love by Pamela Griffin
9. Bay Hideaway by Beth Loughner
10. Red Like Crimson by Janice A. Thompson

Favorite Theme
1. Prairie
2. Family Oriented
3. Western

I think; therefore I am

I have always been interested in learning styles and evaluating how people learn. I studied this in depth in college both at the undergraduate and graduate levels and plain just read anything published about it. I like to figure out how people think. That is why this fun little test caught my eye.

What kind of thinker are you? Here I am: (and can you believe it? They even swiped my photo!! I was shocked.) (ha ha)

Your Dominant Thinking Style: Exploring

You thrive on the unknown and unpredictable. Novelty is your middle name.
You are a challenger. You tend to challenge common assumptions and beliefs.

An expert inventor and problem solver, you approach everything from new angles.
You show people how to question their models of the world.

Friday, January 11, 2008

One. Word.

I swiped this from my friend, Delia, at Gatorskunkz and Mudcats. (I knew you'd be back! Missed you!)

Can you do it? Play this game.

You. Can. Only. Type. One. Word. (not as easy as you might think!)

1. Where is your cell phone? on
2. Your significant other? hot
3. Your hair? blonde
4. Your mother? heaven
5. Your father? too
6. Your favorite thing? book
7. Your dream last night? bizarre
8. Your favorite drink? Coke
9. Your dream/goal? published
10. The room you're in? hallway
11. Your ex? none
12. Your fear? none
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? alive
14. Where were you last night? home
15. What you're not? young
16. Muffins? lemon
17. One of your wish list items? editing
18. Where you grew up? Indiana
19. The last thing you did? email
20. What are you wearing? jeans
21. Your TV? on
22. Your pets? Lizzie
23. Your computer? Mac
24. Your life? Sweet
25. Your mood? Blue
26. Missing someone? Mom
27. Your car? Jeep
28. Something you're not wearing? watch
29. Favorite Store? jewelry
30. Your summer? motorcycle
31. Like someone? hubbie
32. Your favorite color? spruce
33. When is the last time you laughed? afternoon
34. Last time you cried? forget
35. Your favorite animal? dog
36. Last thing you ate? walnut
37. Dream vacation spot? Michigan

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Golden Girls--Happy Birthday, Stoff

(Me and Stoff in my college dorm room)

Today is my friend, Stoff's, birthday. She is too busy these days homeschooling, married to a farmer and being a grandma, but I have to say, Happy Birthday! The last of the Mighty Women Foursome to hit 50. Four of us girls got together last month because we were all turning 50. It was a blast--as always--with Jill"olga", Linder Woman, Stoff and me, (Beanpole ha, right.)

Stoff, Linder Woman and Beanpole in a photo booth

Jillolga, who was named as such because she was this tiny little redhead who was on the gymnastic team, is now a nurse and a nursing professor at a major Christian university. She cracked us up, first by bringing her scrapbooks from high school (outrageous!) and then by talking about her daughters--one of whom loves horses and competes. Jillolga said in a voice reminiscent of Indiana Jones as he was lowered into his hated pit of snakes, "Horses. Anything but horses."

Stoff loved horses in HS and she finally got horses when she married her husband who farms. She ended up homeschooling and has 6?, I think 6, kids (I forget because she also has grandkids.) In fact one of her boys who is grown up and married was having his second child as we sat there at breakfast. We got to hear the Stoff "squeal" that we remembered from high school when she got the call.

Linder Woman was my roomie from college. She now is a whiz at Sew Biz and knows everything there is to know about sewing and Viking machines. Her hubbie and boys are all wonderful people and her extended family are in some of my best memories (she grew up across the road from me--in fact, her dad built our house!)

These girls will always be my "forever" friends--girls I went with to church, youth group, Campus Life, school, ballgames, sleep overs and even to Jillolga's family weekends at Quaker Haven camp. We were in each other's weddings and until life got in the way, kept in touch regularly.

Birthday party in Linder Woman's and my dorm room

first row: Fox, Jules, Beanpole, Jillolga

second row: Linder Woman, Cindy, Stoff

(Only Jules isn't 50 this year...)

So, Linder is the oldest hitting 50 in October; Jillolga in November; Me in December; and finally Stoff in January. I guess you can call us The Golden Girls now!

Books, Food, What's the Difference?

The first book I ever remember having was a Little Golden book (and I still have it) called The 10 Commandments. I think I got it before I ever went to school. It was beautifully illustrated and was given to me by my Aunt Adeline who loved books.

Her kids (all five) were readers and I can remember being at their house a lot, (her daughter, Mary Beth was my best friend) and half the time kids would be eating at the table with their noses in books. That didn't happen at my house, even though my mother was an avid reader.I remember reading Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories and I still have that book and a book called Jennie about a nurse. There were Bess Aldrich books and lots of historical fiction books.

My dad was functionally illiterate and my brother would rather be doing something(ANYTHING) rather than read, and my dad didn't like seeing me lying around reading. My brother just hated reading. I can remember one time he wrote his book report totally from using the back copy and flipping through it to find quotes! I was appalled. He missed the whole thing. Sometimes I wondered if we were even related.

One thing that I did get from my dad--he wanted me to go to college and he helped me all he could. I remember after I got my first teaching job, he called me an "Old Maid School Marm" and his memories of school were all bad, but I heard through others how much he bragged about me to his friends. I was the first of his family to graduate from college (and several followed me thereafter--including that brother who didn't like to read! And he got two degrees!ha)

I have a minature set of Little Golden books in a small cardboard bookcase thing. Someday I'm going to photograph it and show you. I read those tiny books so many times. My mom, too generous, gave away some of them, so it isn't exactly complete but there are quite a few. Very few books from my childhood survived because like I said, my dad's wife after 3 weeks of dating her,(he married her after my mother died. My parents had been married 46 years,) threw them out. What I had were books that I had already swiped from mom and dad's house after mom died. (I figured Dad didn't care--if I had known, I would have taken more!)

Young Aaron Pierson

I did manage to save my Grandfather Aaron's(a Swedish immigrant) Bible that was in English.When his family came to America, he learned to read English and made his children learn English--forbade them to speak Swedish at home so they would do well in school. He encouraged my mother's family to become educated. Many of them were very well-educated--doctors, artists, nurses, teachers, librarians, business owners, managers. He would have been proud.

So, back to my favorites. When I went to school, there were tons of books to read in my two-room Christian school! I read an entire series of biographies of famous people as children. I loved those books. Then, of course, I read Little House on the Prairie books. Most of the books were somehow Christian in nature and a lot were Bible stories. I read Louisa May Alcott and those kinds of books. But my favorites were Native American stories or mysteries. One story that combined both was Key to the Treasure by Peggy Parrish. I loved that book! I didn't get to read the Nancy Drew/Hardy Books until I was in junior high when I went to public school, but man, I loved Key to the Treasure.

Key to the Treasure

When we moved in my sixth grade year, my new teacher was a Jewish man in a decidedly Friends (Quaker) rural community. It was the first time I was in public school and in a school with more than two rooms for eight grades. Only sixth graders in this room. That was the year we could order Scholastic books for something like 95 cents each. Cheap paperback books, but so awesome. I think I ordered a book every time. I loved that! I got Mark Twain books, classics, and my favorite was My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber. That was also the year that Mr. Rosen, my teacher read to us Edgar Allan Poe books to us after lunch. Wow. Loved that stuff! I read all the classics and by HS we had been exposed to all the best books ever written.Not only did I work in the library for 3 years, I took every English class they had in my HS.

Then, back to the next summer after sixth grade (when I had turned 13)-- my mom let me read some of the books she read. Two books stood out: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I read James Michener books and any number of Phyllis Whitney books, and basically anything I could get away with in the library.

When my Aunt Adeline died, about a year after my mother did, her kids got her books that were stacked in her homemade book cases--boards separated by bricks. She had tons of books and she had given away some before she died--I have a couple of those, which were Reader's Digest books. But my mom's books were mostly destroyed, except for the few I had foresight to swipe.

But there was something that no one could ever destroy--the love of reading that my mother and Aunt Adeline had given to me. I still read the newspaper every day, just as I did with my mom when I was growing up. She would be amazed that I now get paid for reading books (manuscripts.)

I love talking about books and finding out what everyone is reading. Last night, one of my students from when I was teaching P.E. who is now a grown up with a job, instant messaged me. She still keeps in touch with her (now) old teacher. We got to talking about books we have read recently, and exchanged favorites. Our common bond now is books.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

No Electricity, Internet Problems

Well, obviously, I have internet connection and electricity(for now,) but it could go out any time! And hey! I don't even live in a third world country! No, worse. I EXPECT to have electricity, running water, internet connections because I live in Indiana of the United States of America. We the people and all that. But many times my electricity goes out. And when that happens? Guess what? I have no water or bathroom. Yup, my well pump runs on electricity. My septic system runs on electricity. Lately I've been thinking of doing away with it all. Build me a little cabin in the woods. Go back to grinding my own corn meal and shooting rabbits for dinner. I live on this back country road by a river. The Miami Native Americans used to live here. In fact the road that goes past our road used to be a main path for the Native Americans here to travel. It was a Native American highway.

Anyway, I never liked camping that much. When I was a kid every summer we spent 3 weeks on the Tennessee River on my Uncle Pat Warren's land. We had no running water, no permanent structure and uh, no potties. Yup, I learned the fine art of digging trenches and learning about proper sanitation. I also learned to "hold it" because hey, ok, there were rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cotton mouths around camp. No one was ever bitten, but my German Shepherd was as he killed it--right before it got my mother. Good ol' Rin. He suffered around for a few days, but lived to fight another day. He was perhaps the best dog I had as a kid, and that's saying a lot.

While everyone else lived it up by fishing day and night (and napping during the sultry hot days,) I would read. I liked hikiing around exploring the area, wondering how people used to live there, but I wanted to go home each night, take a hot shower, eat something besides catfish, brim and hush puppies. So shoot me. I was beginning to think that I wasn't actually related to those people who were raising me.

My youngest son was bitten by the survivor man/fisherman bug and I see a lot of my "people" in him.(I must be related to them, afterall.It just skipped me.) He would have loved those summers on the river! Too bad everyone who could've taken him, and enjoyed every minute of it teaching him, are all dead or too old now. (My grandmother, age 93, certainly loved fishing. She could gut a fish with the best of 'em!) But Max has to be stuck with a mom who screams when her electrictiy goes out, and would rather read--and not by candlelight, thankewverrymuch.

I was going to tell you about those books I read back in the day, but my electricity could go out any second. I feel like Lisa on Green Acres.

Uh, oh......back to building our campfire with Max's Survivorman flint striker. (It works, too.) Waiting by my computer....Stay tuned for more books. I loved everyone's lists of books, by the way. I told my husband I want a generator for our anniversary--or to move to town.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

This photo shows a few of my favorite things:

Thanksgiving Dinner
My Brother (Whitey)
Little House on State Road 26

I can't remember how old I was here, but I'm guessing that it was shortly after we moved there when I was in 6th grade. Maybe when I was in junior high. Normally, we didn't have Thanksgiving alone (my dad took the photo) but for some reason that year none of our extended family was there. We celebrated, anyway.

My Mom and Dad are gone from this life. I had to sell the house for their estate as the executor. The books are either destroyed or mostly gone (I still have Gone with the Wind but the cover is torn off.) I didn't even get the china in this photo because the woman my dad married a year before he died took it all. (She threw all the books away without asking me if I wanted them.) She's dead now, too.

The house has changed quite a lot. The young family who bought it have done amazing things to it, including adding on a second story and more room on the ground floor. It was completely built of Indiana limestone on top of concrete blocks! It was a sweet little house, operative word being on LITTLE. You could barely turn around in the only bathroom.

I listened to the people who posted comments on what they liked to do in the Dark Months of the Year. I got out my Mom's recipe files. Looked up recipes that she saved. She was a farm girl, so the kinds of foods she fixed were just good, wholesome homecooking type foods. But while I don't remember what we ate that much (or special dishes she made,) I DO remember the feast of books she bestowed on me!

Do you remember books from your youth? What were your favorites? Tomorrow I will list the books I remember and loved from the time in this photo. My favorite thing to do in the summer was to take a book, pull the California red cedar lounge chair under the willow by the creek and read all afternoon. And really? If I had my chores done, my Mom didn't care. She loved to read, too!

In the winter I was busy with school, but I did curl up in my bed on Saturdays to read and to sketch (I did a lot of drawing back then.)

So, maybe that will work right now. And maybe I'll write about those days, too.

On When I Was Just a Kid

Kids Who Grew Up to Write for Kids...Bonnie Bruno

I didn't get to finish my list of kids who grew up to write for kids and today Bonnie Bruno is on the hotseat. This little cutie got a lesson in honesty early, at age 3 and her favorite book is featured here. She has written a lot of children's books, articles and books--she is one of my heroes! If you have kids, you most certainly want to check out her books. If you love photographs, do check out her photo buffet (see the teaser widget in my sidebar.)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Are We There Yet?

I've been having internet issues. I get this great computer and I can't even get on the internet reliably. Can we say "move to town!" ? (Not going to happen--at least in my lifetime, it seems.)

Anyway, if you have checked my blog, I have missed you.Tonight I can't even upload any photos. Sorry.

It gets dark here and the weather isn't ideal this time of year. Right now is when all I want to do is curl up into my bed and sleep. I have a lower frustration point. But for a couple hours this afternoon, I felt like doing something heroic--or writing something heroic. I saw the latest National Treasure movie and I loved it. It reminds me a bit of Indiana Jones, only set in our time period. It gets me to thinking about my passions--do you have a list of passions? Today I feel like, "I used to." What are my passions these days? I don't know.

I pick up a novel--put it back down. Nothing is enticing me. People are making lists at this time of year. "What are your top 10 books you read this year?" You know, I'm having a tough time thinking of what I read--much less what my top 10 are. I had a friend who was a doctor and he used to keep a list of every book he read. Why don't I do that? I have written over 500 published book reviews and I can't even remember what stood out (at least today I can't.)

I was thinking that in order to get revved up about reading and writing again, I must tap into those passions that are under the blue funk quilt right now.

Tell me what your passions are. What makes you want to stand up and cheer? What keeps you breathing in and out? What is something that makes you run through your chores just so you can do that thing? Now, I have no problem finding things I love doing in the spring, summer, fall. But here's the kicker to this inquiry--it must be in January, February, March? It has to be in those three months. What are the things you do in those months to keep you going? Especially if you live in the dark, cold climates?

Maybe tomorrow I'll have an answer to my own questions and will have found something to tap into. (Besides eating. Last night I ate a piece of the richest chocolate cake I've ever seen--and I felt ill afterwards! I had been saving this chocolate cake (in the freezer) since my 50th birthday in December. It did nothing for me and probably caused me to gain weight--which this time of year I don't need to do!

I need my humor back. And something to work on. I notice that when I don't have something to work on, I fall into this state. (I do have a manuscript coming my way to work on, so maybe that'll pep me up some.)

I'm hoping I can get my issues resolved so I can finish my Kid Interviews I have, too.