Writing Wins and Woes:Birthday Blessings

I’ve had another birthday. At this stage of my life, I almost don’t want to have a birthday, except for the cake, ice cream and presents. I’m losing a lot by having a birthday. I’m losing another year of my life, my knees are failing, my heel hurts, I’m getting more gray hair and I put on weight for every indulgence. I’ve lost my children because they have all moved out. One of them I haven’t seen in almost two years.  I’m a lot more tired, but I don’t sleep well. I’ve never worn make up so I can’t cover up my aging. I think me and my house are deteriorating at about the same rate. I wonder which will last longer. I look at my husband and he is no longer a young man while I think I’m still a young woman. Until I look in the mirror and say to myself, who is that older woman? I look at all my friends and see that they are getting older and wonder why am I hanging out with all these old people?

This is all meant to be facetious. Actually, age has many benefits. You gain experience. Some of that experience comes through hard times but hopefully, you learn something. If you’re smart, you don’t make the same mistakes you made before in life. You grow more loving and less abrasive. In other words, you mellow out. I’m not as rigid. I once wrote a poem about how I used to be very black and white, and straight and narrow but now I bend. I do bend more now, and it’s actually a good thing. I have more compassion for people. I don’t judge as much as I used to. I have a grandchild. You can’t really have a grandchild without growing older. Having a grandchild is one of the best experiences of my life. I like the saying that says if I knew how much fun grandchildren were going to be, I would have had them first. But also, I get along much better with my children now. I stopped bossing them around. I have no control over them anymore and they know it. Now, I just give a few bits of wise advice and watch them not take it. I don’t really suffer the repercussions because it’s their life now and they need to make mistakes to learn just like I did.

I’m growing closer to God. How can I not? Each year brings me a year closer to meeting Him. Sometimes, I even think I may look forward to it when I’m a little older. So happy birthday to me. We never really grow old in heart, just in body. My body is not who I am. Someday I will shed this encumbrance and fly away. For now, I’m thankful for everything God has given me, and for what He’s allowed me to accomplish. I’m looking forward to what this year will bring. The success story is up to me.

Writing Wins and Woes: Valentine’s Day

I know Valentine’s Day is over and some people don’t like the day at all. I’ve heard it called  a Hallmark holiday. But I think it’s a day to remember people we love and care about. I intended to do this blog last Friday but I missed my blog post that day and I really wanted to do a post on Valentine’s Day.

There are many stories on how Valentine’s Day began. One story says that Valentine was a priest during third century Rome. Emperor Claudius II  made marriage illegal among his soldiers because he believed them to serve better without encumbrances. Valentine continued to perform marriages for them in secret. He was discovered by Claudius and ordered to be killed.

Another story says that Valentine helped Christians escape Roman  prisons where they were being starved and tortured. For that he was imprisoned himself. While in prison, he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter.  There is even a legend that he prayed with her and healed her of some sickness. In jail he sent a valentine to her. He signed it “From your Valentine.” The ending of this story isn’t pretty. Valentine was put to death in a three part execution of beating, stoning and decapitation.

Neither of these stories end as romantically as you would want unless your idea of romance is Romeo and Juliet. However, they are infinitely better than this one.  There was a Valentine’s celebration in Rome but it certainly wasn’t corny and romantic with flowers and a box of candy. It was called Lupercalia and it was a pagan celebration where men sacrificed goats and dogs then whipped women with their hides to make them fertile. It was so sweet.

I prefer to think of Valentine’s day as a day to honor those we love and care about. Maybe it is a Hallmark holiday. Maybe it was rooted in a pagan ceremony. Maybe it began with a martyr who sacrificed all for love. Whatever the case, I believe Valentine’s Day is a lovely way to say “I love you.” Those three words can make a world of difference to someone in your life. So say it and show it and maybe even write it in a valentine.


Writing Wins and Woes:Movies and TV Shows I Love and Hate

This is more of a fun blog, because I couldn’t really think of a topic I wanted to write about.  Recently I’ve been perusing a lot of movies and TV and I shouldn’t be. Writers never should because it takes time away from writing. Yet, it’s so easy to watch stuff now with all the different ways of streaming stuff. Also, I love going to movies at a theater. Seeing a movie on the big screen is still magical to me. My husband and I have two favorite theaters. One is the Allen in Annville, PA. If you are from the area we live and have never been there, you should go. This theater is beautiful and reminiscent of old time theaters. They have an organ, red velvet curtains and an adjoining coffee shop. It’s a great theater to see movies in. We recently saw La La Land there. If you haven’t seen this movie, you should. It’s a musical and it’s very old school, much like the musicals of the 1950’s. If you love old movies, particularly musicals like Carousel, Oklahoma, State Fair and many others, you will love this movie. It’s getting a lot of hype and it deserves it. Ryan Gosling who stars in the movie, learned to play jazz piano just for this movie and I think his piano playing is amazing.

I also love a lot of TV shows. I am a big fan of murder documentaries. It seems a funny thing to watch but I love ID channel and one of my favorite shows is  about missing people. This show is called Disappeared, and hardly ever ends well.  One documentary I recently watched was on HBO and it was recommended by another writer friend, and it’s very well done. It’s called Beware of Slenderman. If you have never heard of Slenderman, I’m not surprised. Neither had I. Apparently he’s a fictitious character from Creepy Pasta, which is an internet website, who preys on kids. He’s tall, wears a suit and is faceless and if you do his bidding, he’ll let you live with him in a mansion full of other creeps like you. The Slenderman documentary is about two young girls who stabbed their friend to get Slenderman’s approval. The story defies imagination. Watch it if you can.

Okay, lastly, here’s a movie I loved to hate. I love creepy stuff as you can see. I recently watched a movie called The Visit. This movie came out in 2015 and is a M. Night Shyamalan  movie. I like his movies but of course, none have matched Sixth Sense. This movie is about two kids who go to visit their grandparent’s house in PA. This movie is entertaining, I grant you, but undeniably stupid. Here are some nonsensical things about the movie.

  1. There is no cell phone reception at Grandma’s house. Okay, I’ll buy that, but why then is there Skype reception? And it’s crystal clear. I skype pretty much every week with my daughter in Iowa and the Skype reception is as crappy as can be. I just can’t accept this.
  2. Apparently there is no 911 either. When the kids finally tell their mom over Skype that they are in danger, the Mom calls the police. The line is busy at the police station. The police arrive only after the kids have to save themselves. Apparently nobody heard of 911 in this movie.
  3. The kids are going to stay with grandparents they have never seen in person or even seen a photograph of. This will become very important in the movie. ha. This is very difficult to fathom. Sorry kids. I don’t own a picture of my parents. Never have. Never will.
  4.  The kids are sent off by themselves to visit said grandparents. What? No exchange of secure hands? Are you kidding? You’re entrusting your kids to people they’ve never seen without a trusted person to ensure their safety.
  5. The kids stay the whole week. ha ha. The grandparents get creepier and creepier but hey, let’s stick it out. Old people are weird, right? Uh, not that weird. They don’t ordinarily stand around buck naked clawing the walls. A little spoiler alert there.

I’ll give this movie a B minus for its surprise ending. I didn’t see it coming. But for all other purposes, this movie does not supply the credulity it needs to satisfy watchers.

Writing Wins and Woes: Why do writers quit?

I’ve been writing for a few years now to get published, and during this time I’ve seen quite a few writers quit along the way. It made me ponder the theme question, why did they quit writing? What is it about writing, though so beneficial to the soul, also is depressing and discouraging? I came up with a few answers.

  1. They never or rarely ever are able to be published. Why is this? Lots of reasons. They’re not good enough. They need to perfect their skills. They are writing to the wrong audience. They are writing to a wrong genre. They are applying too high in the field. What does this mean? They are trying to get into more prestigious magazines in the beginning that are more designed for known and experienced writers. They don’t edit enough. I could go on and on  but I won’t.
  2. They have low sales for their books. Why is this? Many reasons. Books don’t sell because they aren’t that good, they’ve had bad reviews, they’re not reaching out to enough people, people don’t know the author so they don’t buy the books, and some of the above reasons for number one as well.
  3. They get jobs. This has been a big detriment to me. When I first started writing, I didn’t work. I was a home maker. I had oodles of time to write. Then I had to face the music. I needed more money, and my kids grew up so I got a part time job and now I have two part time jobs, trying to shy away from full time work. Honestly I believe if I worked full time I’d probably rarely write. Working drains energy and it makes you want to play after you’re done, not work some more.
  4. Writing is a passing fad. Let’s face it. Writing is fun for a while, like painting. It can be a hobby and that’s nice, but once the thrill is gone, it’s easy to want to quit. One has to be dedicated to write seriously. It’s not that much fun really. It’s hard work.
  5. They have some early success and then failure. This is one I’ve dealt with personally. I did much better in the early days than I am doing now. Here I am a more experienced, more published writer, but I’m still in the novice position of writing. Why? Because I am staying with easier publishing places instead of moving on to higher ground. That’s because I lack confidence and skill to reach that goal. That’s a hurdle I have to jump yet.
  6. They are not making money. This could fall under the same category as not making sales, but the point is the same. Money makes the world go round. Money is a reward for a job well done. It’s more than paying the bills. It’s saying “I’m a good writer because I can make money at this.” Not many writers can say that, though.

I’m sure there are many more reasons for why writers quit but these are some I have found to be true. Let me know if you can think of some more. Maybe it would be more advantageous to write a blog on reasons to keep going as a writer. It takes dedication to be a writer. Don’t quit for any reason.

Writing Wins and Woes: Yay! I wrote a story.

I’m giving myself props. We give props to kids all the time and I’m glad to see that now. I think it’s a little over done, because kids are getting participation awards now, not just awards for winning, but overall I think it doesn’t hurt to build up a child’s self esteem that will most certainly be ripped to shreds by the time they get in high school, if not before. I love to tell a child thank you for good behavior. I really think that encourages them to do more of the same. I often use this technique in my preschool class at church. When a child does what I ask him to do, I don’t just ignore, I praise. Kids eat up praise.

So, I’m praising myself today. It’s kind of funny, but I’m hoping it encourages me to do more good work. Because I’ve had a few months off of writing, and I really needed the pat on the back to get me motivated to write again. It’s so easy to get out of the habit of writing and say, “I just don’t have time anymore”, and after awhile you just don’t.

I wrote a story this week. Actually, I started the story last week, and my goal is to write a chapter or story a week every week of  this year, but that may have been a little ambitious, as it took me two weeks to write this story. I don’t know if it will be accepted or not. Most stories don’t and that is just a fact. But, at least I began the steps to writing again. I’m proud of myself. Here’s to future writing successes. Join me in some goals of your own and do your best to follow through, and then give yourself some applause. You deserve it!

Writing Wins and Woes: Tooting the Horn of a Little Known Writer

Once a month, I really would like to focus on a writer I really like. I am very eccentric in my writing tastes. Sometimes I like teen fantasy, children’s books; especially if they’re classics, classic literature, science fiction, anything literary, Christian fiction, etc. I really like a variety of books. A little gem that I discovered from frequenting book sales is a writer named Miss Read.

Miss Read is a pen name. Her real name is Dora Saint. I love Miss Read books. She writes about village schools in England from the long ago time. This is a time where all the kids schooled together in one room classrooms. At this time there were actually two classrooms, one for babies, they call them which would be the littlest ones, and the older group of ones able to read and write. But Miss Read is more than about the chronicles of school life. Her books focus on the peculiar personalities of village folk, from the parson to the gossipy neighbors.

My favorite character in the Miss Read books is Mrs. Pringle, who is the school custodian. Being a school custodian myself, I love when she complains about the children muddying up her freshly clean floors, or her daily aches and pains, brought about by her persistent efforts to spit shine everything she touches while she shares all the goings on of the village with Miss Read.

If you peruse the bibliography of Miss Read books, you’ll find that she has authored about 50 or more books in her lifetime. She lived to a ripe old age and wrote for most of those years. Her books are serialized, and if you’ve read one, you’ll want to read more. My besties are the Fairacre series, which center around a single lady school teacher named, of course, Miss Read. There is also the Thrush Green series, and some novels that were written by her also. I’ve really enjoyed everything she’s written.

These books are gems. But if you’re into the more action packed type books, don’t read these books. They are for people who like little folksy anecdotes, and a chuckle every now and then. They are perfect books for people who like to read right before they go to bed. This is my favorite time to read Miss Read.



Writing Wins and Woes: Revamping

As I so often do in my blog, I’ve looked over my progress and goals for the last year, and I’m renewing my efforts to write again. I have to admit I’ve floundered miserably the last few months in my writing. To be perfectly blunt, the only writing I’ve been doing since October has been my weekly blogs. You may have noticed that my blogs have gotten progressively more informational/personal. That’s because I had no progress to report because I wasn’t writing. Some of this is understandable. I had a rough year. Refer to my last blog. I had an injury. My mom got cancer. My boss died, increasing my work hours. But these are all excuses and I don’t want to blame everything on circumstances. You make time for what you want to do in life, and I chose to focus more on family, and I’m not sure that’s all bad.

So, how did I do last year?

  1. Three submissions a month. I didn’t achieve this goal. I had 20 submissions for the year, which is a little less than two submissions a month. Only two months did I actually make this goal; March, where I had three submissions and August, where I had four. From October-December there were 0 submissions. So, It’s probably amazing I made 20 submissions last year.
  2.  Finish my novel. No, I did not achieve this goal either. I didn’t finish my novel. I almost finished it but not quite.
  3. Read 20 books, two of them writing books. I did not read any writing books. However, I did read 22 books, so I did accomplish that goal, sort of.
  4. Re-evaluate publishing my book. Since I didn’t finish it, that was put on hold, too.
  5. Write 4-5 hours a week. This is a hard one. I can’t even begin to figure out how I would be able to be accountable to this goal because I didn’t keep track of my writing hours. This goal definitely needs to be changed so I can track my writing.

New Goals for 2017

  1. 25 submissions this year. I’m changing my monthly goals to yearly ones because this is easier to attempt and I can work at it when I feel the most inspired and when I have the most time to do it.
  2. Finish my novels. I have two and I want to finish both of them this year. I mean really finish at least the rough drafts of them.
  3. Read 40 books. I think I can do this goal because I now listen to audio books at work on my kindle. I have more time to read now.
  4. Write a story or a chapter every week. I’m not going to care if they’re good or not. I’m working on practice and I need the practice.
  5. Publish my children’s book, even if I have to do it myself. We’ll see about that one. I’ve been “hankering after” this goal for years.

Here are my goals and here I go. Wish me luck, everyone and God speed.