Friday, October 31, 2008

No Halloween Candy for You!

Fictional Friday Challenge for October 31, 2008:

Write from the point of view of a child who went trick-or-treating, then had their parent take away all their candy so they wouldn’t get fat.

Why did she bother letting me go trick-or-treating, when all she would do later is take away my candy? This has been happening since I turned 6 years old. I spend all evening tracking through the neighborhood in my sparkly or spooky outfits, only to have my reward snatched from me after only one piece of ooey-gooey sweetness.

I may be 11 now, but I am not fat! In fact, my pediatrician keeps telling her I'm in the lowest 10 percentile for height and weight, but does she listen? Nooooooo. Just because she spent the majority of her teens and 20s as overweight and dumpy, doesn't mean I'm going to do the same thing. But she is so afraid that I will end up like she did. She keeps saying, "You are not going to end fat and unpopular the way I was!"

But this year, I've got a plan. This year I will get my candy and eat it too! My friend, Susie, is going to help.

After several weeks of pleading and begging, Mom finally agreed to let me go trick-or-treating with Susie and her mother, IF Susie's mom made sure I didn't eat any candy. Susie's mom promised to take my bag of candy as soon as we finished trick-or-treating.

Only mom doesn't know we have a plan - mom won't get away with it this year!

Susie's mom is really sweet, but she doesn't hover around as we go door to door. She waits on the sidewalk like most of the other parents, so this allowed us to pull off our plan. Susie was carrying her trick-or-treat sack, but she also had another sack hidden inside. After every house, I would put a few pieces into my hidden sack and one piece in the sack I was carrying.

By the end of the night, Susie's bag was overflowing because my hidden sack was also full. My regular sack was only half full and I promptly gave it to Susie's mom.

"I'm sorry you can't keep your candy, dear. But your mom will give you a few pieces at a time." Little did she know, that the candy would end up in the trash compactor!

Mom picked me up, and promptly took the sack from Susie's mom. When we got home, she allowed me to eat one piece before throwing the sack away. She did seem a little surprised I didn't kick up more of a fuss, but I told her I was just happy because I got to go trick-or-treating with Susie.

For the next few months, everyday after school I ended up at Susie's house. I ate Halloween candy until I thought I would be sick. It was the best Halloween ever because it kept on giving and giving and giving.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Write On Wednesday

This week's Write on Wednesday concerns National Novel Writing Month:

Although I’m taking this year off from NaNoWriMo, I’ll be here on the sidelines cheering on all the participants as they pound the keyboard in their race to the finish line.

So, how about you? If you’ve done NaNoWriMo, what was the experience like for you? If you’ve never done it, do you think you could? Do you have a novel residing in you somewhere, waiting to get out?

This will be my first year participating in National Novel Writing Month and I am very much looking forward to it. I may be moaning and groaning by Thanksgiving, but I'm going to give it my best shot.

Although I have written 50,000+ words before, it is always a daunting task. I currently have several novel residing in me, it's just getting them out and onto paper.

In the Writer's Workshop I am getting ready to complete, my teacher says the most important thing is to get the words/book onto paper. Once you have the basic idea written, then you can go back and begin the editing process. He says everything you write should go through at least 3 different editing processes. So, my goal for November is to write the novel that has been poking at my brain for over a year.

Last year, there was a story in my local newspaper - The Harrodsburg Herald - about a baby skeleton found in a trunk a woman's attic. This woman had been a Registered Nurse for over 40 years, but was now suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. She had been moved to a nursing home and her family was cleaning her home out when they found the skeleton.

For months I have had questions about this skeleton: Where did it come from? Was it her baby? Was is a stolen baby from the hospital nursery? It was later determined that the skeleton was approximately 45 years old, but no other information was available.

This lady has since died, so the secret has died with her, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about the skeleton. My objective is to write a fictional novel and try to answer these questions. I may be way off base, but it has been fun thinking of suituations to add to the story.

With any luck, by the end of November, I should have the first rough draft. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Totally Optional Prompts - Elections

Totally Optional Prompts:

This is a good time to reflect on elections in general and this election in particular. You don't have to say whom you're going to vote for (or have already voted for), but feel free to. Or you could reflect on the importance of elections. Or the lack of importance, if you happen to feel that voting doesn't make a difference. Discuss the process. Comment on particular races.

The 2008 Presidential election will be the most important election so far in my life. I am 46 years old and I can't imagine our country being in a worse shape than we are right now!

We are in the middle of 2 wars, with no end in sight. We are in the worst ecomony that I can remember, with maybe an exception for the early 1980s. We are losing our financial base as it is sliding over the abyss. And after thinking that racial tension was a thing of the past, it comes back with a vengence to bite us in the ass.

I am a registered Democrate, although I have been known to vote for a few Republicians. I try to judge the person I vote for on their merits and not their political party. However, I will be voting for Obama. I agree with his ideas, I agree with his tax plan, I agree with his green policy and I agree with his goal of health care. I think he will be a steady President who is able to think the problems through and then gather advice and recommendations from trusted people around him.

I, personnally, think McCain may be too old to be President, and with his health issues, I do NOT want to see Palin become President. Although this election is not about her, I feel she would sink our country even lower than it is right now. I don't like McCain's temperment, I don't agree with his tax plan, I don't know what his economnic policy is, and he has no plans to end the wars.

I think it is every American's right to vote for our political leaders. I don't remember a time when women or blacks were not able to vote, but I'm glad we are past that time in our history. It doesn't matter who you vote for, just get out there and vote.

Remember, if you don't take part in the election process, then you don't have a right to complain about how things are run.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Musing Monday

Today's Musing Monday asks the questions:

How has the economy impacted your book buying? Do you think it will change the reading and book-buying habits of the country. Will it increase your library visits? Will it make you wait for the paperback edition instead of buying the hardcover?

Let me start by saying, I am already a heavy library user. I currently do weekly book reviews for my local public library, so it is not unusual for me to check out 5 to 8 books every week. Although I sometimes miss out on reading the "latest" best seller until months down the road, I am loyal to and support my library.

That being said, for the past 5 years, I rarely buy brand-new books, choosing instead to buy used books through Amazon, eBay, or library sales. Of course, there are exceptions to that rule ...

I have several authors that I truly adore, so I must have their hardcover books for my collection: Laurell K. Hamilton, Stephen King, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Silas House, just to name a few. These are books I plan to keep, and I ocassionally like to go back and re-read them. I recently added Stephenie Meyer to that list; even though I read her books first through the library, I enjoyed them so much, that I had to own the hardcovers.

I have never been a fan of paperback books, although many new authors I read are only published in paperback. If I have a choice between hardcover and paperback, I will choose the hardcover every time. The main reason I don't like paperbacks is because the printing is so small, and the older I get, the harder it is for me to read small print - even with my glasses on.

However, a funny thing has happened to me over this past year. I started a book review blog back in the spring - mainly to remind myself of books that I've read and enjoyed. As more people started to visit my book review blog, I started to receive review copies of books in the mail to read and review. Now, it is not unusual for me to receive anywhere from 5 to 12 books every week. My TBR pile is growing by leaps and bounds - almost to the point that I'll have people waiting months instead of weeks for me to post a review. Because I am a book whore, I love and treasure these books and my home library continues to grow, without me having to spend a dime!

One word about eBooks and the new Amazon Kindle: although I think it is wonderful that you can store books like an MP3 player, for me, nothing will change the sensation of holding that book in my hands, feeling the pages and smelling that sweet aroma of paper. Books may be a thing of the past in a distent future, but they are something I will always cherish.

Visit my book blog at Bobbi's Book Nook.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cafe Writing - Ghostly Moans

Cafe Writing
Halloween Project (October/November 2008):

Option Six: Pick Three

A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently;
there is a whispering in distant chambers,
an unearthly hand presses the sill of the window,
the latch rises.

Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night.
~ J.M. Barrie

Pick at least three of the following nine words, and write a paragraph, scene, flash-fic, essay, blog entry or poem using them. It’s fine to change tenses, or pluralize if you want to, but please bold the words you choose.

awoke, chamber, distant, ghost, house, listen, still, whisper, window

Ghostly Moans

The ghosts whisper all through the of the home,
Chilling, cold and still;
So listen intently at the window sill,
To their distant wailing moan.

We're here, we're here, is the muted call,
From the chamber up above;
Wake up, wake is the cry of a dove,
As it bounces off the wall.

*Photo courtsey of

Cafe Writing - 7 Things That Scare Me

Cafe Writing
Halloween Project (October/November 2008):

Option Five: Seven Things

Where there is no imagination there is no horror.
~ Arthur Conan Doyle

In improvisation, one of our exercises is a game called “Seven Things,” in which we go around in a circle giving each other the challenge, “Give me seven things that [whatever].” We are not going to go around in a circle here, but if you’re drawn to lists, this prompt is for you. So, give me either seven things that scare you OR seven of your favorite horror films. You are not required to provide any explanations, but it’s more interesting for readers if you do.

1.) Clowns - To me, all clowns are scary - all that white face paint and red, gaping mouths - ick!!!! I think my phobia of clowns began in my childhood when I used to watch the old soap opera, Dark Shadows (Dark Shadows is still one of the programs I love to watch; I own all the DVDs). There was one episode where the young character of David had a nightmare where he was trapped in a fun house. A large, scary clown was one of the images that kept popping up, and my parents said I had nightmares for weeks. I've been scared of them ever since. To read a blog post on my fear of clowns, go here.

2.) Someone sneaking up behind me - I'm sure I'm not the only one with this fear. I don't know when it started, but for as long as I can remember, I have hated for people to sneak up behind me. When I was younger, my younger brother and sister used to chase me up the basement steps and it always terrified me, even though I knew it was them!

3.) Severe thunderstorms - Again, I'm sure other people have a fear of storms. There is just something about loud thunder and bright lightening that makes my heart race and that fight/flight instinct takes over.

4.) Drunk drivers - Need I say more? I hate to eat out in restaurants anymore because it infuriates me to see people at the table next to me, or at the bar, drinking several drinks with their meal, and then leaving the restaurant and getting behind the wheel. I have three daughters, the youngest just turned 16 and is starting to drive - I don't want my children to meet these irresponsible people on the road.

5.) Religious zealots and extremists - I was raised in a Southern Baptist church, but for the past ten years, I have been exploring other religions. I feel religion is spiritually good for everyone, but the zealots and extremists just scare me. When you are killing someone in the name of your god, how does that make you a good person. I believe in an almighty creator - be it God, Buddha, Muhammad, the Goddess, Ali - but I will never believe that our creator approves of the murder and violence that goes on in our world today.

6.) The year 2012 - Although I don't think I am a superstitious person, the Mayan calendar is supposed to end in the year 1012. According to The End of the World website:
"The Mayan calendar comes to an end on Sunday, December 23, 2012. Only a few people will survive the catastrophe that ensues."
Although the logical part of my brain doesn't believe that, another part of my brain says the Mayans were highly advanced, so it may come true. I guess we'll all see in 4 years!

7.) Losing my hubby, my girls or my parents - I know I can't constantly worry about losing a loved one, so I've put my worry in God's hands and trust him to watch over my family. But the greatest fear of my life is to die before my parents (who have already lost one child), my hubby or my children. If God must take someone, please let it be me and not them.

Cafe Writing - The Howling Moon

Cafe Writing
Halloween Project (October/November 2008):

Option Three: Fiction

There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.
~ George Carlin

Write a flash-fic, scene, or short story involving a night when the moon is howling.

They say the moon can't howl, but I swear it isn't so. I've heard the moon, its painful wails and it chills me to the bone.

On the night of a very full moon, when lightness colors the dark, the animals become restless and serenade the night with ghostly howls. But when the animals are all cried out and settling down to rest, that's when the moon really comes alive.

It whispers and caresses with promises of joy. It conjoles and teases with promises of more. It argues and pleads for your promised love and loyalty. It finally guarantees your very wildest dream, promising to always be there, but running away with sun's first light.

Cafe Writing - Witches and Ghosts

Option Two: Poetry
Cafe Writing Halloween Project (October/November 2008):

Witch and ghost make merry on this last of dear October’s days.
~ Author Unknown

Using the quotation above as your inspiration, write a poem (any form is fine) about witches and /or ghosts.

Of Witches and Ghosts

The witches feel the uneasy air,
Of people all around;
The turmoil and the rising fear,
A world comes tumbling down.

The ghosts all float to energy waves,
Of all the scared and lonely;
The negativity electrifies the space,
Where warm thoughts should be sparking.

*Photo courtesy of Arty Smarty Me.

Sunday Scribblings #134 - Bragging

This week Sunday Scribblings: bragging.

"I don't like myself. I'm CRAZY ABOUT MYSELF!" -- Mae West

What's awesome about you? You can pick one awesome thing, or list as many as you can. Don't be shy!

I've never been good at bragging about myself - bragging about my children, that's a big YES! But bragging about myself is hard. Although I dabble in any number of things, I wouldn't say I was profeccient at any of them.

One thing I am really proud of is the monthly column I write in the Mercer's Magazine, a subsidiary of our local newspaper, The Harrodsburg Herald. I have been writing personal essasys in the magazine for over 12 years, with no signs of slowing. Although I get much positive feedback from my family and other readers, I mainly write the column for me. It is a personal way for me to relate the memories of my past.

Recently, I've become involved in a writing workshop at the local public library. The gentleman leading the class has been very informational and he has helped me improve my writing tremendously. Last night, I was invited to attend a meeting of his personal writing group - a group of writers from the community who have been meeting together for years. After much soul searching to overcome my anxiety, I made myself attend. I'm so glad I did.

I have never been much of a social butterfly, but in the three years since my baby sister died, I've been hiding away more than usual. I realized this summer if I was ever going to break out of the comfort zone I have surrounded myself with, then I was going to have to become social again. This has been a slow, agnoizing process for me.

I first started my blogs, mainly to get my work out into the universe of the world wide web. By doing this, I was moving out of my comfort zone, but not far enough for me to interact with people face-to-face. After a few months of blogging, I joined my first face-to-face book club. I had been reading the monthly books all year, but hadn't the courage to attend. One month this summer I challenged myself to go, and I have been attending for the past four months. Each month, my comfort level grows and grows.

My next step was signing up for the afore mentioned writer's workshop. I had tried this several years ago, but dropped out after the first class. This time I was determined to stick with the entire 8-week course. I am proud to say I am 6 weeks into the course and loving every minute of it. I have become comfortable with the other participants and we are starting to share ideas.

So you see, attending the writer's group last night was another big step for me. I wasn't totally comfortable being with people I didn't know (although I did know about half of the people), but I will continue to attend. It may not be bragging, but I'm proud of the efforts I have made this year, and I plan to continue working on putting myself into the public eye.

Who knows? Maybe I can make myself participate in a poetry/short story reading that will be taking place in our community the weekend after Thanksgiving. I couldn't make myself attend the last public reading, but with the encouragement of my new friends, I may give it a whirl.

Pride in myself is a hard pill to swallow, and bragging just makes the pill much harder to go down.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Write on Wednesday

This week's question for Write on Wednesday:

Do you make time to write everyday? Don’t you think everybody should?

Since I was 13 years old, I have made time to write everyday, even if it is only for 5 minutes. I have always kept a diary or journal and I have dozens and dozens of them in a box in my closet. No one may ever read what I've written, but I know they are there. Occasionally I will pull one out from a specific time in my life and remember what was going on at that particular time.

In the past few years, I have started blogging more and more. This in no way replaces my journaling, but it is an extention of my writing. Blogs are a place for me to store my newspaper columns, the book reviews I write, or the answers to prompts I get from Musing Mondays, Write on Wednesday, Fictional Friday, and Sunday Scribblings. These prompts help to keep my imagination running and keep me away from some of the everyday worryings that pop up in my journaling.

I really wish everyone would take time to write every day, but just like with reading, I realize that will never happen. My youngest daughter keeps a journal, but right now her goal is to write at least once or twice a week. However, I hope she will gradually increase her writing time, especially after watching my journal day after day. My hubby is not a writer, but he does keep a journal in his truck to mark his gas mileage: actual miles, where he buys gas, what he pays for gas, how much he puts in, etc. It's not my kind of journaling, but it's what he does - he can tell me how much gas was 10 years ago and where we bought gas in 2000 when we drove to Washington, D.C.!

Writing is a part of me, but I totally understand there are people who never think about or have any desire to write. Writing is my way of artistic expression and it is something I hope to do until the day I die.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Musing Monday

This week's Musing Monday concerns an article on NPR, Why Women Read More Than Men.

The quote I found unbelievable was:

Among avid readers surveyed by the AP, the typical woman read 9 books in a year, compared with only 5 for men. Women read more than men in all categories except for history and biography.

Well, I consider myself an avid reader, and I've already read over 100 books this year! For that matter, so has my 16 year old daughter. My hubby loves to read, but he doesn't come near the number of books we read because he simply doesn't have enough time - but he does listen to books on tape during his daily commute.

Of all the book reveiw blogs I read, the majority of them are women - but I do subscribe to several male blogs. Whenever I go to a book store, there are usually near equal amounts of men and women. Although the survey this article refers to is very unscientific, I think they should have been able to get a better sampling of readers. All they need to do is check the web - WE ARE EVERYWHERE!!!

And in my daughter's words: "5 to 9 books is just wimpy! 50 to 90 is more like what an AVID reader can do in one year!"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sunday Scribblings #133 - My Style

#133 - My Style

The prompt this week is:

My Style. Do you know what your style is? Or you have you ever said, "That's not my style!" Do you have a personal style? What do you think about style? It's a weird word when you look at it. What do you make of style?

Photo courtesy of Star Seed Gathering.

I honestly don't know what my personal style is, but I do know what I like or don't like. I have never been a person who runs with the herd. I've never gone in for the latest fashions or the latest gadgets. I am more "down to earth", than "living in the fast lane."

I guess the same can be said for what I like to read. In this day and age when it is more "hip" to read books on climate change or global economics, I'm still clinging to my fictional books that will help me escape from the everyday worries of living in the 21st century. Instead of requesting ARC or review copies from famous or popular authors, I normally request books from smaller publishing houses or independent publishers. By doing this I have discovered some interesting new authors.

Now, this is not to say that I don't enjoy a good Stephen King or Patricia Cornwell book, because I do. But King and Cornwell, as well as Anne Rice, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Sue Grafton are not the bulk of books I like to read. I have realized over the past few months, that the book reviews I do for Bobbi's Book Nook has been more mainstream book reviews - so I've decided to make a change.

For the next few months, I will only have infrequent posts on my book blog so that I can build the type of book blog that more reflects my style, or lack of style, as the case may be. In trying to compete with other book bloggers, I have lost my true voice; so this is going to change.

The same can be said for my writing. For the past 12 years, I have written a column for the Mercer's Magazine, which is a subsidiary of our local newspaper, The Harrodsburg Herald. These columns are usually first person narratives or memoirs of my life. I am more comfortable writing these types of stories and articles. But again, for a little while I decided to run with the herd and I've been giving a hand at more contemporary writing. Want to know what I discovered? I don't like writing things out of my comfort zone. I enjoy writing first person narratives.

For the next few months, I have taken on a new writing project - a project I hope will help me find my true voice again. Not only will I be participating in National Novel Writing Month, but I'm going to be editing a book I wrote several years ago. This book has been in a file drawer awaiting the editing process, so I'm going to dust it off and get it finished. It may not be worth publishing, but I get it into a form I enjoy reading.

As I read back over this post, I realize I have finally learned what my style is. I can't sum it up in one word, or even in one paragraph, but I do know what I like. And from this day forward, I'm pledging to get back to my authentic self and spread my style around

Friday, October 17, 2008

Under the Weather

I have been waiting for the first cool days of autumn for many long months now. When the weather changed Wednesday night, I was so happy! I am just not a hot weather person and I've been looking forward to working in the gardens again and enjoying the fresh air.

That being said, I now have my first cold of the season and I have no one to blame but myself. I made the BIG mistake of sleeping in front of a open window with the fan still blowing on me and viola` - now I'm sick and I can't even enjoy the cooler weather.

Like my granny always said, "Be careful what you wish for!" Hopefully by Monday, I'll be back up to snuff.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Write On Wednesday

This week's Write On Wednesday asks the questions:

"Or- to put it another way - what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Go skydiving? Become a doctor? Take up ballroom dancing or acting…hockey or figure skating?

What’s your wildest writing dream? Penning the biggest blockbuster since The DaVinci Code? or winning the Pulitzer Prize for a finely crafted work of fiction? And what’s stopping you from going after it?"

I think my biggest dream is to write a young adult book series. As I've gotten older, I realize that I love young adult books. When I was a child, this was a no-brainer, but as I got older, I tried to distance myself from such childish books, thinking that I was above them.

I have come to understand that children/young adult books play a vital role in the education and upbringing of a child. Books are one of the first forays into the imagination a child has - from having a parent read them a bedtime story to picking up that first independent reader. A child's imagination can be sparked with just the right character or setting.

In recent weeks, I have been revisiting my childhood friend, Trixie Belden. When I was 8 years old, at the urging of my babysitter, I read my first Trixie Belden Mystery and became totally hooked. This babysitter had a daughter who was 5 or 6 years older than me, and she had several of the books I was allowed to borrow. I read these books over and over again, relishing each word and page. When my mother realized how much I enjoyed reading these books, she started buying them for me.

All through my childhood and teenage years, I cherished these books and proudly displayed them in a prominent place on my bookshelves. As I had children of my own, I tried reading Trixie to them, but because the stories were somewhat dated, my girls didn't have much interest. They also had no interest in Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Three Investigators, or Betsy. However, my girls did find new interests in the Sweet Valley High, the Babysitter's Club and the Goosebumps books.

As I have already mentioned, I have been re-reading the Trixie Belden Mysteries for a special Way Back Wednesday posts on my book blog. Just reading and writing about these books again has opened my eyes to the thrill and enjoyment I once had as a child. I want to be able to give that same kind of thrill and joy to a new generation of children.

I already have rough drafts of two children's books I have worked on in the past, but I never followed through with the editing process. I believe now is the time to re-examine these pages and make a concerted effort to edit them into a proper book. Who knows? Maybe I will have the next great thing that children will read and cherish.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday Musings

Monday Musings' asks the question:
"Can you narrow down your reading to a favorite genre and author? Why or why not?"

It would be difficult to narrow my reading choices down to one favorite author or genre, because my reading tastes differ depending on my mood. Clearly when it comes to fiction, Laurell K. Hamilton and her Anita Blake vampire series and Merry Gentry series are near the very top of my list, but I also enjoy reading other things.

I'm currently on a young adult craze, devouring young adult series like popcorn. The Dreamhouse Kings is a new series by Robert Liparulo that I am thoroughly enjoying; he also writes adult books, so they are on my TBR list. I've been enjoying the City of Ember series by Jeanne Duprau, the Evernight series by Claudia Gray, and the House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast. I am also re-reading the original Trixie Belden Mysteries from my childhood - I'm doing Way Back Wednesday reviews of these books on my book blog.

I also enjoy non-fiction books and I'm currently interested in paranormal books: ghosts, predictions, tarot card readings and anything on the Wicca religion. But I also enjoy political non-fiction, especially recent books on President Bush and the Iraq War.

Kentucky authors are another one of my passions: Silas House, Bobbie Ann Mason, Ann Gabhart and Sue Grafton, just to name a few. The wonderful Bluegrass state is home to many wonderful writers, and I try to stay current with all the new works.

With the onset of autumn and the upcoming Christmas season, I am checking out more holiday books from the public library: cook books, home decorating, homemade gift ideas and useful traditions. I also have a tendency to "nest" during the autumn and winter, so this is normally the time I buy the most books, stocking up for cold winter nights.

For me, picking a favorite author or genre would be like picking a favorite from my three daughters - impossible! I love them all equally, and because of that I feel I am a more rounded reader.

Creative Writing is Alive and Well - Even in Teenagers

For the past few Thursday nights, I've been taking a creative writing workshop at the Mercer County Public Library. The class is being taught by a man I've known most of my life, and I'm really enjoying the atmosphere of other writers.

Yesterday, was the first class of a Teen Writers Workshop he is started, to encourage younger people to write creatively. He feels some kids are stifled by the rules and regulations of classroom writing and thought this class might open up a whole new world for them. My daughter was one of the participants, and I was the female "chaperone" in the class (the teacher is male).

I was amazed at the kids who showed up for the class! We had a total of 8 children - there are more signed up, but the kids are on fall break, so many are on vacation. Of the 8 kids present, 4 were homeschooled - I thought that was wonderful! One young lady was in the 9th grade and had plans to go to Harvard University and study to become a forensic anthropologist - can you say Bones?

These young people were so impressive. At first it was difficult for them to open up, but the teacher has a way of speaking on their level, and before the end of the class, each child had read out loud what they had written during class. He has told these kids that each one should have a completed story by the end of the workshop (it lasts 8 weeks), and he plans to print them in a booklet so library patrons will be able to read them.

So, I learned yesterday not all children are absorbed with video games or television. Many of these children are already writing creatively at home, and they brought many plans and ideas to this wonderful class. As an old dog who has trouble learning new tricks, I was awed by the creative talent surrounding me yesterday. Creative writing is alive and well - even in teenagers!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Scribblings #132

Sunday Scribblings #132:

"Here's one of those imagination games that I find so much fun. The exercise this week is to decide what era in history you would choose to live in if you couldn't live now. Not just when, but why? While you're at it, how about where? What do you imagine life would be like?"

I have currently been re-reading the Trixie Belden Mysteries from my childhood and these books were written in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Oh, to go back to that simple care-free time!

I miss the simpler days before Internet and the world wide web, before cell phones and text messaging, before video games and DVRs (well, maybe not the DVR, because I love my DVR). Today's society has become a hurry up society, a throw away society and an instant gratification society. Whatever happened to "good things come to those who wait?"

Don't get me wrong, the Internet is a wonderful way to keep informed, to educate yourself on certain issues and a way to communicate with those far away, but my god! We spend so much time in front of the computer screen! No more family meals with face-to-face conversations, no more reading the newspaper as a family activity, no more personal interactions with loved ones - everyone is glued to their own 15 inch section of the world.

Personally, I hate cell phones - of course, I hate landlines as well, but because I live in a rural area, a land line is an essential. I hate walking into the grocery store or discount store and seeing customers with the phone stuck to their ears - or worse yet, those ear thingys that make them look like they are talking to themselves! And people with cell phones have lost all sense of personal space. When I'm in a theater watching a movie I've paid $10 to see, I don't want to hear about someone's hateful boyfriend or conniving best friend while the person in front of me yaks into her phone at the top of her voice.

I miss the simplier times when families worked together to make their homes sancutaries. Or when families did activities as a group. Or when families read aloud to each other instead of watching the TV. I feel like my family is moving backwards in time, because I'm trying to do more things the way we used to. We have quit eating out in restaurants (my birthday, August 6th, was the last time) and we are cooking more as a family. I am also canning and preserving more food from my backyard garden. We use the DVR to record programs we want to watch instead of aimlessly watching what happens to be on the boob tube. We are reading together and talking together, and even though we all still have a few computer hours each week, we are no longer glued to the computer screen during family times.

I may be old fashioned, and many people may not agree with me, but with our country and economy in the shape it is in, I think we are all going to have to re-think the way we live our lives. Spending will have to decrease and I want to continue moving my family back to a more relaxed atmosphere instead of the hurry-hurry, me-me, throw away society we have become.

Photo courtesy of American Feast.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Autumn Again

Autumn Again

All the year I wait for this,
The autum air and chill;
A joyful time I hate to miss,
The fall just fits my bill.

Pumpkins, squash and gourds abound,
With fodder shocks and pears;
And apple cider to go around,
For anyone who cares.

A pot of chili, a crackling fire,
The harvest moon hangs low;
The damp rainy days can make you tire,
With thoughts and dreams of snow.

It only last a very short time,
I cherish each passing day;
Through leaves and other garden grime,
Wishing it would stay.

The Phoenix

The Phoenix

I can safely say, the person I used to be has died;
And out of the ashes, a new life is blossoming;
And piece by piece, replacing the wretched squalor
That was once my life.

Discover the Autumn Days

Totally Optional Prompts

"Discoveries ... Discoveries of what? Places, perhaps - although one often finds, when one gets there, that others have been there before. Ideas - though some claim that the same is true of ideas. What discoveries in history do you think have been important?"

Discover the Autumn Days

Discover the pears that litter the ground, wilted and aging - calling to the Pear Gods, "Please turn me into butter or jam."

Discover the goldenrod, way past its bloom - but still it stands tall, waving in the breeze, calling to birds and to bees.

Discover the spiderweb daintily dangling from each window eaves - delicate patterns of exquisite taste, built by the orb masters of every late fall.

Discover the frost asters dancing above the fields of grain - looking like snowflakes from far away, but mimicking a daisy when each bloom is held close.

Discover the pumpkins - fat, round and orange - delighting the fancies of all young and old.

Discover the cider, all spicy and warm - it touches that something deep down in our souls.

Discover the autumn leaves - broadcasting on trees and littering the ground - Mother Nature's own firework display.

Discover the cool nip in the air - burning your lungs, but opening your senses - your breath coming out in frosty whispers.

Discover the autumn days, don't let them slip away, because in the blink of an eye they're all gone, sleeping away until another year has gone by.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Write On Wednesday

Becca at Write on Wednesday has overdone the typing this week, causing her much pain when using the keyboard. So this week's prompt is a quote for us to think on:

"Words are a form of action, capable of producing change."

-Ingrid Bengis

I realized several years ago that word can produce change. From letters written to my employer, my state legislator, the governor, even the president - I feel like at least one or two of my ideas make a difference.

This past August, I had problems with my daughter's high school, and it finally took a letter to the editor of our local newspaper to finally get any action. My 16 year old is an honor student with plans to attend college when she graduates in two years. However, when her class schedule came in the mail ten days before school started, I came home to a child who was broken hearted and crying.

My honor roll student - who had requested all honors and AP classes - had been put into all the "regular," lower requirement classes. I don't mean to make assumptions about other children in the lower level classes, but wouldn't you think an honor roll student with a 3.7 GPA, ranking number 36 out of 274 students, deserves to be in the honor classes?

I immediately got on the phone with the school system, only to be hindered by the rudest receptionist I think I've talked to in a long time. I'm a Church secretary, so I think I know a little about phone etiquette, but obviously the school receptionist and I were not on the same page. In her condescending tone, she informed me that juniors could not make changes to their schedules until next Friday (this was exactly one week away, and three days before school was scheduled to begin). I tried in vain to tell her this was more than a simple schedule change, but she became hostile and said there was nothing she could do. When I asked to speak to someone else, she said there was no one else there and then hung up on me. I tried several more times to call the school that afternoon, but all I kept getting was a busy signal. I also tried calling the board of education, but they weren't answering the phone either.

Over the weekend, I had phone calls from numerous parents who were also upset with the school system. Apparently, ALL of the class schedules had been screwed up, not just a few. The parents I talked with decided to band together and go to the high school on Monday. We had planned to meet at school at 10 AM.

When we got to the school, the parent lines were outside the door with people waiting to get in and change schedules. I waited patiently in line from 9:45 until 12, inching ever so slowly to the guidance counselors office. Then low and behold, at 12 o'clock sharp, BOTH of the guidance counselors locked their offices and said they would be back at 1; it was lunch time. There was practically a riot! We asked why both of them had to go at the same time, but we never received a satisfactorily reason.

I was so upset, I finally left the school - there was no way they would be able to get to all the parents waiting in line that day. I had already missed three hours of work, and I couldn't afford to miss any more that day. So, I went back to work and decided to try calling the school again. This time I got a different receptionist, but she explained that nothing could be done over the phone. I asked her how long the line was (this was maybe an hour after I left) and she said there was still many people waiting.

My next plan was to go to school the next morning and be there when the doors opened. So I arrived at 7 and waiting about 20 minutes before the first person arrived. Then I waited and waited and waited, as more and more parents began to arrive. By 9:30, no guidance counselors had shown up. When I asked to speak with the principal, I was told he was not in the building. What the hell was going on?

Upset and angry, I left the school and went in to work. By this time I had already lost 6 hours of pay for the week! I decided to write a letter to the editor of our local newspaper. If the principal, guidance counselors or school board were not going to help, maybe a public plea in the newspaper would do the trick. So I wrote, had several people read it to make sure it wasn't too angry and only contained the facts.

The letter appeared the following day in the paper, and by 6 o'clock that night, the principal was calling me at home. Hmmmmm ... he's too busy to talk to parents in person or on the phone, but shed negative light on his actions and he's riding to the rescue. He told me he didn't appreciate the letter I wrote, and that's when I let him have it. How dare he call MY home and lecture me, when I'd been trying to take care of this problem for three days? He wanted to know why I didn't call him at home, and I told him my reasons: 1.) School was not even in session, so I did not feel right interrupting his family time; 2.) I hate when my hubby's boss calls him at home, so I hate bothering someone else on their time off; 3.) I thought it was more appropriate to take care of the matter at school were all the student's records are kept.

Needless to say, my daughter's schedule was fixed the very next day. So, all in all, my little letter to the editor did more to change the situation that three days of phone calls and standing in line. It's amazing how the written word had more power than the spoken word. Since the Principal's phone call, I have received numerous phone calls from teachers at the high school - all praising me for writing the letter. They were all upset with the management of the school, but feared for their jobs, so they never spoke up.

It's nice to know that in this day and age of the world wide web, letters in local papers can still promote action in every day lives.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday Musings

This week's Monday Musings:

"How has your reading changed over the years? Have you started reading more “meaty” books (books with more substance)? Or, have you gone to more “fluffy” reads? Perhaps you’ve done neither, and you’ve just always read the same type of thing! If that’s the case, why? Are you willing to step out of your reading ‘comfort zone’ and try something new? What would you recommend to someone who needed to “branch out”?"

My reading taste have flucuated over the years, bouncing between fluffy works and meaty works. Currently, I feel like my tastes are right down the middle.

When I was in grade school, I enjoyed reading serial books because I loved following the same characters through different adventures. I loved following Trixie Belden and her friends on each new mystery adventure, the Three Invesigators as they worked through a case, or Betsy's adventures with her little sister, Star.

In my teenage years and early 20s, I was into the paranormal, especially the vampire and horror genre. Stephen King was the author I read the most. Salem's Lot was the first vampire book I ever read and I was totally hooked. I also loved The Shining, Carrie and the extended version of The Stand. I also enjoyed Anne Rice's vampire chronicles, especially Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat. I was also hooked on Rice's witch trilogy: The Witching Hour, Lasher, and Taltos.

During my early adult life, I was all about the romance novel - devouring 5 to 6 books a week. Johanna Lindsay's A Pirate's Love remains one of my favorite books and I've probably read it several dozen times. Kathleen Woodiwiss held me captive with her first book The Flame and the Flower. Although I never got caught up in the Harlequin Romance craze, I have read a few of these, but I always considered them candy for my sweet tooth instead of nurishment for my soul.

Then in my 30s, I turned to self-help books and inspirational reads. Dr. Phil to help me with my "Relationship Rescue", Bob Greene to help me "Get with the Connection", Susan Powder screaming at me to "Stop the Insanity" and Rick Warren telling me to live "The Purpose Driven Life."

Now that I'm in my 40s, I am reading more non-fiction - recently books about the Iraq War and President Bush. The Secret White House War: 2006-2008 by Bob Woodard and The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder by Vincent Bugliosi have been two books I've recently read and reviewed and they have made a huge impact on my life.

Of course, I still love reading serial books, but the subject matter has changed from my childhood. Laurell K. Hamilton's two series, Anita Blake Vampire Hunter and Merry Gentry are my current favorite series. I also enjoy Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series, Sue Grafton's Alphabet Mysteries and Janet Evanoich's Stephanie Plum series.

So all in all, even though my taste in reading material has varied over the decades, I still enjoy reading the same types of books. I do read books recommended to me, especially if they are out of the "norm" for me. I would also recommend to other readers to branch out; if you only read fiction books, try reading a non-fiction. If you only read non-fiction, give fiction a fair shake. I realize someone who reads Christian fiction may not want to read something from the vampire genre, and vice-versa, but there are so many different types of books and authors that it's a shame not to give a few of them a chance.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Emerald Necklace

I pulled the camel hair coat out of the closet - I haven't worn this coat since Amy died. I had put it away, thinking I'd never wear it again. But it's been over three years and my wounded heart is finally starting to heal.

This coat is the perfect thing to wrap myself in - it is warm and full of happy memories. As I slid the heavy coat one, I'm amazed at how the coat - which was once skin tight, now has extra room for me to move around in.

As I button the huge brown buttons, my hands automatically go into my pockets. In the left hand pocket, my fingers come to rest on a cold object. As I pull the object into the light, I notice it is a green stone.

This is the emerald green stone Amy found on our last trip to the Smoky's. We had been prospecting for minerals in one of those tourist traps and she had discovered the stone. Knowing emeralds are my favorite stones, she gave it to me.
"Always remember me when you look at this stone."
I haven't worn the coat since just after that time. I had totally forgotten the pretty green stone.

As it lays in my hand, my eyes well with tears and memories assault my brain. I miss you so much - you were pulled away too young. As the rock warms my hand, it also begins to warm my heart.

I will take this stone to a jewelry store and have it turned into a necklace - a necklace I can wear every day to remind me of the baby sister I lost.

I miss you Amy. You live in my heart and in my soul. You are now a part of me that will never grow old, never grow tired, and never go away. Fall was your favorite time of year - Halloween your favorite holiday.

As the weather has cooled and I finally pulled out the old coat that had once belonged to you, I again feel closer to you. Now the rock is in my hand - once long forgotten, but now truly welcomed. It will hand around my neck as a reminder of my love for you.

Fictional Friday

This week's Fictinal Friday:

"Write about 8."

Eight if the number of siblings in my father's family.

Eight o'clock in the morning is when I wake up.

Eight o'clock at night is when my hubby is usually home.

Eight years is how old I was when I read my first Trixie Belden Mystery book.

Eight years is how old my middle daughter was when my youngest daughter was born.

Eight o'clock every night is when I watch Countdown with Keith Olberman; except on Wednesday nights when I DVR Countdown, and watch the FOX TV series Bones first.

Eighth month - August - is when I was born.

Jon & Kate Plus 8 never cease to amazes me!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Write On Wednesday

This week's Write On Wednesday prompt asks the questions:

"Do you find yourself moving too fast through life? What’s your favorite way to moodle and make the mornin’ last? How does slowing down affect your creativity?"

As I've gotten older, I do find myself slowing down. In my 20s and 30s I was always in constant motion - working full time, caring for the home and trying to manage 3 daughters. Those years have passed by in a purple hazed blur. I realize now that I missed out on many of the smaller things in life, the things I have now come to love.

When my children were younger, I hated mornings! I was an RN working the night shift, so I always came home to a house full of chaos. Clothing issues, bathroom meltdowns, screaming and crying, and persistant nagging by my hubby for them to eat breakfast. The 30 minutes before I had to drive them to school were the worst 30 minutes of my whole day. There were many, many mornings when I would drop the girls off and we would all be mad at each other. Looking back, I realize that was no way for a loving family to act, but at the time, we were all stuck in the same rut.

My older two girls are now grown with homes of their own, and morning rituals that now suit their new lives. I retired from my nursing job three years ago, so mornings with my 16 year old daughter have changed. As a matter of fact, many things in my life have changed. Without the added burden of having to prepare for a stress-filled day of work, I can enjoy the morning with my daughter.

We now watch the morning news over breakfast and talk about what's going on in the world. We discuss any homework or school issues she may have, or I may talk about what my day will be like. (I currently work 9-12 at a local church, so even though I still work, it is much less stress.) Gone are the tears and yelling on the 5 minute car ride to work. Gone are the sleepless days when I was sure my children hated me (remember, I worked nights, so I tried to sleep during the day). Both my hubby and I have come to appreciate the calmness that has taken over our household.

As for my creativity, I have noticed a huge difference since my retirement. I see ideas all around me, instead of going through the motions with blinders on. Sometimes I'll write a few lines before work, other times it will be an afternoon writing marathon. My hubby has also noticed a change in my writing; he says I'm more clear and my writing isn't filled with the gloom and doom of everyday life.

I've always been a writer, even when the girls were little, but now I find myself falling in love with the art of writing. My passion has returned and my productivity has increased a hundred-fold. I have finally learned what my granny told me years ago, "Life is too short to run around like a chicken with its head cut off!"

Slowing down and taking the time to enjoy my surroundings has been the best thing I have ever done - for my hubby, for my family and for myself. I feel like I have another lifetime ahead of me to do the things I enjoy and to continue with my writing. Now, I finally have time to stop and smell the roses.