Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What I Want to Hear

I've been contemplating a few things this season. It's been a difficult time. In life's roller coaster, this has been a plunge month. I fought it the whole way, railing against the status quo. I have wanted things to be different for a while. But if you expect different outcomes from doing the same thing, you're kicking holes in your own boat. Sometimes you have to come out of your Happy Place and let real life people step up to the plate.

So this is the thing I've been thinking about today, along with the ordinary feelings of annoyance at getting four hours of sleep on Christmas eve and cleaning up from the pageant and feast by myself:

What I would love to hear:

From my Husband:

-I want to hear that he can't live without me--that life would be empty and color-less without me.
-I want to know that he thinks I'm pretty in at least some way.
-"I'm so proud of you! You are so talented and you make our home glow with love and warmth and interesting things."
-"You add so much more to our lives than anything you do that is annoying."
-I want to hear that he understands me and cares about what I have to say.
-If I was down, he'd ask me how he could help.

From my children:

-"I love you, Mom. I appreciate all you do for us."
-"I've cleaned my room. Is there something else I can do to help?"
-"(Sister or Brother) and I are going outside to toss a ball (or practice a song together or any number of other things.)
-"Mom, you're right."
-"Can you show me how to do__________?"
-"I'm thankful for the things you teach me."
-"I'm so proud of my mom!"

From others:

-"That Heidi Murphy is a truly decent sort and a great friend."
-"Wow! That was a FANTASTIC book! I'm buying a few to give away and telling all my friends."
-NOT "I never knew you could draw, paint, write, or sing" (which is what I get all the time).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Camera

Elder Jones had never been what you'd call middle class. His father had died when he was little, leaving his mom with eight children to support alone. The farm work had been endless and excruciating.

Cade Jones had had to rise before the sun even thought of climbing out of the mountains. There were rabbits to feed and water, goats to feed, water, and milk, chickens to feed and water, and eggs to gather. Then he started in on the horses: feeding, mucking stalls, forking in hay and bedding chips, blanketing and un-blanketing.Then there was seminary and school. After school and homework, the farm work began all over again.

It had been a small miracle that Cade's mother could even afford to let him go on a mission. She'd had to go without almost every non-necessary purchase to save the money. Being without her eldest son for two years was going to be a huge trial.

I'd had everything: a nice car in high school, a full-ride scholarship to Yale, and my mission paid for in full by my grandfather. I'd never had to work a day in my life if I didn't choose to. I'd helped my dad out sometimes for fun, but when the guys got together to play football or go to the movies, I was out of there.

I'd come on my mission mainly because that was what was expected of me. It was just something we did in our family. So when I got my call to Chile, I went, wearing my designer suits and carrying my designer luggage and a really nice camera. I had it made, gear-wise. Every month or so, my mom sent care packages full of money, goodies and fresh clothing.

When I met him, Elder Jones was one of those quiet Idaho farm boys who said next to nothing, but had a ready smile. He had a heart the size of his home state. I could feel his spirit rising to the surface every time he bore his testimony of the divinity of Christ. His quiet assurance put my weaker testimony, gained in the mission field, to shame.

His one fervent wish was that he could save enough money from the pittance his mother sent, to buy himself a little digital camera. To this end, he decided to forgo every extra snack. I thought he'd never be able to last long enough. When I went out for ice cream, he'd just smile and wait patiently while I polished off my snack. He even put newspaper in his hole-shot shoes to stave off the need to buy another pair, so he could add that money to his camera fund.

Slowly the jar filled with coins until at last there came a day when he felt he had enough to buy his much-longed-for camera. His eyes gleamed with joy as he filled a bag with his hoard of money. We were going down to the shop to buy his camera! There was a spring in his step as we walked along. He talked glowingly about all the people and places he'd photograph to send back to his family. They were going to get a proxy treat to be able to see lands and faces they'd probably never see in real life.

On our way to the shop, we decided to stop in at an investigator's house to see how his family was doing. Elder Jones thought at first we should go there afterwards and he'd take their picture, but something changed his mind.There was a tense set to his shoulders as we turned into their yard.

We stepped into the darkened little hovel, finding a much-subdued family.
"We just found out our little boy has a very bad disease," Senor Mendoza stated sadly. "He won't live until the end of the year if we can't get an operation for him." We looked at the emaciated little body of their son and I had to agree. He was obviously very sick.

"Will you give him a blessing?" Senor Mendoza asked. I didn't think it would help, but Elder Jones was quick to agree.
"It'll make all the difference," he said.

I looked around their tiny tin-roofed house. There was no way they would ever be able to afford that operation. I couldn't even see how one blessing would work. But I dutifully helped him bless their son. Afterwards, we left, giving them as much encouragement as we could.

We walked down the street towards the shop. Now and then Elder Jones stopped and stared at his bag of coins. Just as I was going to nudge him back to action so we wouldn't be late to our next appointment, he turned and walked back up the street.
"Where are you going?" I asked him, aggravated at his pace.
He didn't say anything. I followed him clear back to the Mendoza house. When they opened the door, he gave them his bag of coins.
"This is for Frankie's operation," he said quietly. And then he turned and we walked home.

My jaw almost hit the ground. He'd saved so long for that money! There was no way he'd be able to save enough by the end of his mission. Suddenly I felt like I'd seen one of Christ's disciples walking at my side. I felt like I was unworthy to be anywhere near him. I, who had so much, had never even thought to open my wallet. I looked over at Elder Jones and wondered how he could have done such a thing. How could he have been so selfless in the face of his own want? I knew I'd never be the same again.

When we got home, I went and got my expensive camera with the bag full of extra lenses. It was such a tardy offering--small and shameful. Somehow the sacrifice wasn't nearly like the Widow's Mite his was. But it was a start. I gave it to him, almost wishing it wouldn't be so easy to replace as I knew it would be.

He almost wouldn't take it.
"No. You've earned this a hundred times over," I told him. "It's yours. You've taught me something worth far more than this ridiculous camera."

PS. The operation came just in time to save Frankie Mendoza's life. Their entire family joined the church because of the selflessness and love of Elder Jones.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Buying American

I think this year I'm going to do all in my power to buy (or make) American. The people who work so hard to write books will love my business. Or those on Etsy or other such sites who make such interesting items. I'm going to find things like music lessons for my daughters, or give handmade goodies of my own design.

There will still be a few things I can't find or make, but I'm going to limit those this year. This is my way of putting a finger in the dike. I know there are a bazillion other holes bleeding our country dry, but if I say something, it'll be one other way to plug a hole.

My ideas: Go to Pinterest, or Etsy or any other of a plethora of interesting blogs and find cute things to make yourself. Do something kind. Recognize those who serve you with service. Shorten your Christmas list. Realign your ideas of what Christmas really is. Drop a huge dollop of serenity into the swirling vortex of craziness which goes with this modern Christmas season. We don't have to be bullied into spending more than we should.

Remember whose birthday it really is. What kind of present would Christ want?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thank Heavens For...

photo by incite-realty.com

It's November, a month I love to fill with thanks. We spend so much time during Christmas running around like chickens running, buying, decorating, wrapping, eating, drinking, singing, celebrating, wishing, plotting, and regretting. November is the calm before the storm.

Sometimes I think I'd just like to celebrate the real birth of Christ after all the stores have gasped through their last holiday advertisement, their last grand push to entrap the wallets of the masses, during that black hole right after the twenty fifth when people are lying around bemoaning their thickening middles and thinning wallets.

Somehow I feel Christ fits there better. He is the calm joy, the serenity.

Perhaps it was the Lord's design that a day of thanks was placed just before all the wildness of the Christmas season so that we can take a breath to really think about what we already have, partly because they may not be around soon. We of this generation have grown up feeling we were owed these things we take for granted. We don't understand those things our grandparents fought for, sweated for, died for. 

We've never had to cut the honey with water. We've never had to fill our shoes with newspaper because they're full of holes and let in the snow. We've never had to walk twenty miles to school (six, yes). Many of us have always had music playing right in our ears, computers at our finger tips, and a vast choice of programs to watch on TV. We haven't had to wait for anything. We haven't had to wish for something so badly we could taste it. And we're spoiled. We think we're owed all that. But we aren't. Someone had to pay for it all.

It chaps me greatly to see Christmas trappings already adorning the stores along with Halloween costumes. While we should treat people like it's Christmas all year round, the trappings are out of place before we've had that chance to think, to count the blessings He's already bestowed on us all year around.

So here are a few things I'm glad were in my life this year. I'm thankful for so many things. I'm thankful for manatees and bubble wrap, well-working can openers and velcro. I'm thankful for soldiers who give their lives in service to their country. I'm thankful for missionaries who give their lives in service to God. I'm thankful for mint chip ice cream. I'm thankful for (in no particular order):

my family
my church

photo from theatrehouse.com
striped socks
fingerless mitts
heated swimming pools in the winter
my husband's job
good health
lemon meringue pie
photo from lebanair.com
apple pie
foreign languages
a good voice
art erasers
pens that work
wing nuts
duct tape
rain on the sagebrush
the freedom to worship
the right to bear arms
the right to vote
warm blankets in the winter
shade in the summer
cars that work
photo from thislifeisacinema.wordpress.com
cheese enchaladas
the Constitution of the United States

the ability to travel

the planet Pluto
the color indigo
computers that work
my home
and shoes

There are many other things I'm grateful for, but I'm running out of time before I have to go prepare the delicious food our family is blessed with. I'm definitely glad for that.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Doing Difficult

I've been thinking about DIFFICULT today. So many times we choose to forgo something we think is difficult to do. I do this all the time. It's difficult for me to bite the bullet and send my books out to publishers. So I have a backlog of FOURTEEN books in various stages of readiness to publish and a husband who doesn't think I'm a writer because I haven't published anything but one book, and that one struggles because of my decision on which publisher to use.

It's difficult to keep my house clean while I'm trying to pump out 50,000 words this month, so I let things slide and the house starts looking like the Clampetts live here. There are smudge marks on the doors and cupboards. My fridge is full of schmutz--a perfect germ haven. There was once a vacuuming and loads of dust bunnies emigrated to the book shelves.

It's difficult to talk to the people I love, so I just don't. I let things stew and simmer until they're boiling over and spreading goop all over the floor. Opportunities disappear, appointments go out the window, and our children grow up like they were raised by wolves. And then the others get lax too, and pretty soon I have no idea what's in the hearts and minds of anybody around me. Lonely!

It's difficult to clean out the shed and walk-in because of triple digit heat and the chewing out when the MAN gets home (he complains that he can't find his stuff in my carefully labelled boxes) so it's impossible to find anything or climb in there (you have to know how to chimney) or go camping with any speed. We've even had to do battle with two hives of bees and countless wasps because of the state of the shed.

All of these things involve choices and the payments for those choices (ie. consequences). What many people don't understand is that there are consequences for the things they choose to do, and those choices are cumulative. If a person chooses to vote for a certain person, they are, in a sense, responsible for some of the things that person does. I won't get into politics more than that.

When I think of people I greatly admire, it's those people who have done difficult things. Edward Pistorius was in the 2012 Olympics as a sprinter. Olympic-level sprinting is incredibly hard even with two sound legs. Pistorius has to run on blades. He ran in several sprints, even into the semi-finals. He was on his country's relay team...with stumps for legs. He's a beast, as my kids would say.

I've related in a previous post about the movie, Touching the Void which is done from a 1988 book by Joe Simpson, recounting his and Simon Yates' disastrous and nearly fatal climb of Siula Grande (6,344m) in the Andes in 1985. Simpson ended up climbing most of the way down that mountain with a broken leg. His friend had given him up for dead. Simpson had to make continuous choices to grasp life instead of lying back and caving to oblivion. He has my undying respect.

One of the leaders of my church once wrote that he never remembered his mother raising her voice. When I read that, I harked back to all the yelling I have done. How could she have gone his whole life without yelling once at her son? That idea amazes me. But each scenario, each annoyance or bad choice on his part she greeted with a choice of her own. She chose to meet his poor decisions and mistakes with grace and understanding. To me, that would be almost as difficult as climbing on a broken leg.

Many people have felt they've gotten away with ducking consequences for their actions. That simply isn't true. Even if it's unapparent on the outside that you've made poor decisions, those choices in the inside form who you are. You are making a groove with each choice you make. We all are. If we choose to repeat that action, the groove gets deeper. It becomes a habit and then an addiction.

We can whine and holler until our eyeballs fall out, but we're still the one who dug that ditch so deeply that we have a terrible time getting out. It was our own actions and choices that brought us heartache and misery, to a great extent. We made each decision to carve the rut deeper, or to hop out of that ditch and strike out on a different course. 

When I was small, I lived in a town, which had a little ski area right in town. I learned to ski on Calico Hill. It boasted two rope tows, one for the little hill and one for the big one. A rope tow is wound in a set of giant pulleys. When you want to go up the hill, you situate yourself correctly (or risk face planting in front of your jeering friends), grab tightly to the rope, and it pulls you as far up the hill as you can hold on.

As the day grows later, usually it cools off and the snow gets icy. The rope tows also get icy. But also the ruts get deeper. You'd better hope you get into the right ruts as the day wains, or you'll find yourself plowing into the ice with your nearly frozen face. Not fun. Or, you might hope you can do a standing jump in your skis. Not easy or fun. Either way, the rut you have carved all day will guide you where you'll go.

Even if the difficulties are not our fault, we can decide how we will think and act. One of my favorite books is by Corrie Ten Boom, called THE HIDING PLACE. She and her sister were incarcerated in a concentration camp because of their choice as Christians to help people escape from Nazi Germany. While in that camp they could have bowed to the incredibly hideous odds--something most people did in there. Corrie and her sister chose not to. They made their minds up to do the best they could. And they did it.

I've been reading a wonderful book by a gifted, successful, and insightful man named James A. Owen, called DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS. It's all about the choices he's made and the forthcoming consequences he's suffered or enjoyed. He says in his book, "If you want to do something badly enough, you will. And people will help you. And if there's something you don't want to do, nobody will be able to help you."

It's all cumulative choices and decisions, weaving and interweaving to make a grand tapestry of life. You are the weaver. You are the doer of deeds. You can do difficult things. I can carry off those things which I never thought I could. I just have to make the decision to start, and then proceed to the finish.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Marsha Ward Blog Tour!

Spinster's Folly is coming out! 
Marie Owen yearns for a loving husband, but Colorado Territory is long on rough characters and short on fitting suitors, so a future of spinsterhood seems more likely than wedded bliss. Her best friend says cowboy Bill Henry is a likely candidate, but Marie knows her class-conscious father would not allow such a pairing. When she challenges her father to find her a suitable husband before she becomes a spinster, he arranges a match with a neighbor's son. Then Marie discovers Tom Morgan would be an unloving, abusive mate and his mother holds a grudge against the Owen family. Marie's mounting despair at the prospect of being trapped in such a dismal marriage drives her into the arms of a sweet-talking predator, landing her in unimaginable dangers.
This fourth book in the Owen Family Saga is infused with potent heart and intense grit.
Marsha Ward is an award-winning poet, writer and editor whose published work includes four novels in The Owen Family Saga: The Man from Shenandoah, Ride to Raton, Trail of Storms, and Spinster’s Folly; and over 900 articles, columns, poems and short stories. She also is a workshop presenter and writing teacher.
Interview with Marsha Ward:

Q: Tell us about when you first started writing and a little about your writing journey.

A: I've been a writer all my life. My sister tells me that when I was of pre-school age, I covered pages of notebook paper with scribbles and said it was my novel. I have no idea how I knew what a novel was. I do know I excelled at English and composition classes throughout my schooling. The teacher of the English class I took during my junior year of high school told me I should be teaching the class. Whoa! That blew me away.

I began what became my first novel, The Man from Shenandoah, in 1965. At the time, my goal was to write “The Great American Novel.” Soon I had a manuscript of twenty chapters that I carted around with me for years, but I didn't seriously work on it again until the 1980s, when I began to consider sending work out to publishers. I'd been reading certain books and told myself I could write as well as any of their authors. I dusted off my “Great American Novel,” realized it was only a summary, then studied creative fiction writing with several teachers and through reading many instruction books.

In the meantime, I started writing commercially for LDS newspapers, so feature and news articles were my thing for several years.

After learning what commercial fiction writing really entailed, I began to hone what natural talent I had, and bit by bit, after throwing away a lot of chaff—such as too many characters—and adding the good stuff—like sensory details and emotions and actual plot—I had a manuscript to send out. That I did.

I was getting good remarks from editors (but no offers yet), when I had a health crisis in 2002. It looked pretty bad. I wanted to leave my work behind in fixed form so no one would throw it out upon my death, so I looked into self-publishing. After some intensive study and thinking about what form of self-publishing I wanted to engage in, I chose to go with iUniverse. After a terrible false start on the cover, I provided them with a photo to use. I was so delighted with the quick turn-around and then the great response to The Man from Shenandoah from readers, that I decided to use the same method of publishing for the follow-up novel, Ride to Raton.

When word leaked out that my third novel, Trail of Storms, was finished at last, I was encouraged to submit it to a couple of publishers. I knew it wasn't right for them, but did so. I regretted wasting those eight months until rejection when a reader came up to me in a grocery store and begged for the new book. Why delay what clearly had a ready market? I went back to iUniverse for a third go-around.

After the success of my electronic books, I decided to go in another direction to publish the print edition of Spinster’s Folly. It is published by WestWard Books, my company.

Over the years I've won national prizes for poetry, and published columns in several periodicals. I've also written chapters for non-fiction books on writing and publishing. All of my novels include romantic elements. There may come a time when I'll write a mystery.

I had an epiphany several years ago when I realized that I write to let people know there is always hope, and to show them through the experiences of fictional characters that they can get through hard times, even really, really terrible times, and find happiness at the end of it all.

One of the hallmarks of my fiction is fast-paced adventure peopled with believable characters. Readers tell me when they're forced to put a book down they worry about my characters until they can read about them again. If I can take people out of their own worrisome lives enough to be concerned about fictional folks and see them through to a satisfying ending, then I've done the job of relieving some of their day-to-day stress. Isn't that what books are for?

Q: Tell us about your novels and where we can find them.

A. Actor Tom Sellack once said there should be a shelf in bookstores labeled "Darn Good Reads." I like to think my novels go there. My fiction works are historicals set in the 19th Century West. That broadly classifies them as Westerns, but if you think all Westerns are about outlaws and lawmen, or cowhands and sheep-herders, guess again. The Western genre has grown and evolved into many sub-genres, including my action/adventure/sweet romance novels dealing with Western Migration and post-Civil War angst.

My novels have evolved into The Owen Family Saga, with more books to come. The Man from Shenandoah, featuring son Carl, introduces the series and the family in post-Civil War Virginia, and starts the group moving west. Ride to Raton tells the other side of the coin to Carl's happiness, as it details his brother James's travels to get away from an unhappy situation, and his growth through some really interesting events. Trail of Storms goes back to Virginia and brings neighbors of the Owen clan out of the beleaguered South. A stop on their trip to Albuquerque brings new turmoil into the life of Jessie Bingham, the protagonist. Spinster’s Folly recounts the harsh adversities Marie Owen endures because of poor decisions she makes in her desperate search for a loving husband.

The first three books are available in print at iUniverse.com; and at retailers Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and other online booksellers. Spinster’s Folly is published by WestWard Books. It is available from my website, marshaward.com; at CreateSpace.com; and at the above online retailers. Autographed copies of all my novels can be purchased at MarshaWard.com.

Electronic versions of the novels in The Owen Family Saga may be found at Smashwords.com, BN.com, and all the Amazon Kindle stores. I also have various collections and short stories available as ebooks.

I’m in the research stage for the fifth Owen Family Saga nove, Gone for a Soldier. Since it deals with the Civil War experiences of oldest Owen son Rulon, I suspect I’m in for some intensive study to get the details right.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to new writers?

A. Do your homework and learn how to write well. Then don't be afraid to check out the freedom and almost instant readership being an independent self-publisher can give you. If you are the kind of writer who wants to connect with readers, you may want to do an end run around the very time-intensive and very limited traditional publishing world and check out the electronic and print self-publishing arena. If you are the kind of writer who needs the validation of gatekeepers and has plenty of time to spend chasing down an agent or a publisher, not so much. Over all, have faith in a bright future!

Links to her author pages at Smashwords and Amazon:
And links to her Social Media sites:
Online Book Release Event at Facebook on November 10:

Thor Lives on My Street!

Thor lives on my street! I'm convinced it's him because there are signs up all over the neighborhood asking if anyone's seen his hammer. I even have his phone number. Unfortunately, I doubt he looks like Chris Hemsworth.

I'm pondering what it would be like to have a superhero living nearby. It seems like every time you see one, lots of infrastructure is getting ruined. You see them crashing into buildings all the time and they never toss off a "Sorry about the loss of your skyscraper" or anything. They just merrily go about the business of offing the bad guy as the shards of glass and drywall shower to the ground.

And the bullets. Bullets are flying everywhere. Never mind that bullets rarely kill the bad guy even though every bad guy known to man is a sucky shot. Bullets fly around and tag total strangers. Mostly those strangers are running for their lives, granted.

It's all about collateral damage. I'm wondering if, on the scale of life, that particular bad guy was worth taking out a whole section of town. Was he worth three city buses and a baby in a buggy? Is there a list somewhere of what a villain is worth in the way of damages wreaked?

I suppose it would be nice to have the crime gone from my section of town. But it seems like crime seeks out these superheros. This means my section of town could become not safer, but a target for more crime.

Maybe I'm going to go find that stupid hammer and get Thor to move somewhere else. Or buy him another hammer.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Woo Hoo!!!

I'm so going to have a huge party when I'm done with NaNoWriMo because at some point last week this blog got its (Doot doo doo dooooo) one hundredth follower! There will be jubilation and perhaps a spiffy prize to ensue.

Meanwhile I am ten yards deep in words (half of them Spanish) and ideas. The wading is getting prohibitive. I fear when it gets above my waders. (And not THAT kind of wading.)

I also finished some great books lately:
Austenland by Shannon Hale (I can't wait for the movie!)
Evangeline's Miracle by Lisa Buie-Collard
Behind Jane Austen's Door by Jennifer Forest
Twin Souls by DelSheree Glad(something)
and Unlovable by Sherry Gammon
All of which I've greatly enjoyed.

I'm halfway through Ali Cross's Become. It's proving an interesting read. Reviews to come shortly. And now, back to LETTERS TO STEPS!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Nano Neurosis

It's NaNoWriMo month. This means that I'm writing a novel in a month. At least that's the idea. I did this last year with Psyquake and made it to the end as a winner. The book I'm working on this year is LETTERS FOR STEPS, a book about a missionary in Ecuador and one of his contacts, a girl from Colorado, USA, who is living in Ecuador for a lark. She's a photographer and lives above the restaurant she works in.

For much of it, I'm depending a lot on my daughter, N. for her mission experiences and knowledge of the area and people. I am taking other stories and anecdotes from other friends and relatives. The rub has been in trying to make it an engaging story without having Elder Holloway unlock his heart. N. is adamant that he can have not a smidgen of romantic regard for her.

On the other hand I have several examples of people who went back later and married people from their mission. So I'm really having to be careful as I tell this story. It's a tightrope dance.

It's taking lots of research on Ecuador--people, habits, clothing, population counts, etc., which slows me down a bit, along with tightrope part. My first visit was to Chimborazo volcano, the highest mountain near the equator. From there I went to llamas and alpacas and thence to street food of Guaranda. Soon I'll be looking up info about monkeys and the Colorado Indian tribe.

I love writing! You learn so much while doing it!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Time Out For Writers

ANWA’s 21st Annual Writers Conference
Mesa Hilton, February 21-23, 2013
Welcome to the registration site for the ANWA Writers Conference, “Time Out For Writers.” This conference is held annually in the Phoenix area and is open to the public. Attendees can participate in a query/pitch workshop, attend two full days of classes with industry professionals, enter our “BOB” contest (Beginning of Book) and win fabulous prizes, and pitch their work to both national and local agents and editors. EARLY REGISTRATION BEGINS OCTOBER 15th. 
*There will be wonderful classes on all phases of writing and publishing.
*BOB contest--First five hundred words of your Work In Progress
*Breakfast with the 'Stars'
*A Protagonist Ball
*Query/pitch workshop
*Pitch sessions
*Wonderful faculty

Come and be filled with inspiration and knowledge! Knowledge is power.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Reviewing Ride the Rainbow Home

I just finished enjoying RIDE THE RAINBOW HOME and wish I had more book. Susan Aylworth almost made me appreciate the desert. The fault is not hers. I LIVE in the desert and long for the green of home. I've performed in Holbrook, a small town in the book, plus driving through the reservation regularly. Susan makes that area come alive as it hasn't before, for me. She paints a gorgeous picture of the northern Arizona wilds.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book. I've got friends like Little Jimmy, who were there for me in my ugly duckling days. When I go back to Colorado, they're still there, ready to blaze through my life like comets. There are just people like that, who don't care that you have to wear glasses, and dresses below your knees all the time. They look beyond the surface and love you for who you are and who you have the potential to become.

I enjoyed the journey Meggie Taylor takes from wounded duckling to finding herself in the arms of Jim McCallister. I think of it as symbolized by their visit to the Hopi Snake dances. I loved how she emerged from her child-fearing shell more and more as the story played out. It was almost as if there were several journeys going on--Meg's to find a family and learn to live within one; Meg's from California to Arizona; Jim's to get Meg to realize he'd loved her since they were in junior high.

Jim is such a vibrant character. I enjoyed how he dug himself into the Navajo mindset. I'm guessing he'll even have their bed facing north. I wanted to ride along with them further. I enjoyed the fact that he let Meg conquer her fears for herself. He didn't just step in to rescue her. Conversely, he didn't abandon her when she was sick or needing something. I enjoyed how strong he was mentally and morally. I wanted to know his side of things. How did he become so strong?

Basically, I'd love to read more about these two. I'd love to know if they had a traditional wedding or if they had a Navajo wedding or both. I'd have been right there in my velvet dress, drinking their health with some lovely cran-raspberry juice.

I give this book RIDE THE RAINBOW HOME by Susan Aylworth two thumbs way up.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Do I Shovel or Do I Write?

Some would argue that writing is sometimes very much like shovelling manure. It can get messy and annoying, but when you get the crud out of the system, everybody feels better. Sometimes your verbal excrescences can even benefit the wider community.

Tomorrow my son goes in to have his wisdom teeth removed. He'll be sitting in the oral surgeon's chair instead of shovelling manure at the stables he works for. He's tried exceedingly hard to get someone to take over for him for Thursday and Friday so he can stay home and lie on the couch and moan a bunch.

Do I rescue him in his hour of need, or do I let him get yelled at for not lining up a work force to fill his space? I'm torn. While I do need the exercise and he needs the pittance she pays him, do I want to spend my recovery time (from bronchitis) horking up manure dust and garnering blisters?

Can I leave this smelly problem at the door of the owner of the stables? She doesn't pay minimum wage, let alone recover the amount I spend on two 27 mile round trips a day on a pot-hole-plagued dirt road through construction. She works my boy to the bone. (But then, it's good for him. Makes him strong and capable and teaches him staying power.)

I'd much rather write. But what's a loving mother to do?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Red Monkeys and the Summit

I read another blog by a young man who had been divorced twice and was re-hashing his failures and foibles in an attempt to make a better relationship with future prospects. 

The information was valuable. I could see so many areas where I've got room to improve. Some of the premises didn't apply to our situation, but are good ideas. Some of them seemed like ant hills to me. "Oh, that's a simple thing," I told myself. Little snowball. But the little snowballs are where the avalanche begins.

We forget or neglect to do the small things and pretty soon the big things seem like looking at K2 from the foothills. What we seem to need are a couple of sets of climbing gear so that we can clamp onto the cliff and endure to the summit. And the gear needs to be used quickly so that he doesn't see how far above it is and decide to wait in the car.

The other day I watched Touching the Void, a movie about a couple of British guys who went climbing in mountains in South America. As they were coming back off the summit, one of the men slipped and shoved his leg bone up through his femur, badly breaking it. 

His friend did his best to lower him down part of the mountain, although it was excruciatingly painful. Since their ropes weren't long enough to really work well, they'd lower him down to the knot between their ropes. The broken guy would find a foothold and stand on his good leg, and then the one above could untie and then re-tie the knot around the carribeaner.

 They both wondered how they would make it. After a while, it got dark and they both were exhausted and dehydrated. 

And then it happened.

The broken guy was lowered past an overhang, making it so that unless he climbed back up the rope, he couldn't take the pressure off so that the man on top could re-rope. The one above had no idea what was wrong and began to slip. All he could surmise was that the man below had fallen and was dead. In order not to get pulled off the mountain, the one on top made the fateful decision to cut the rope.

The broken one fell into a deep crevasse and became wedged. He tried to climb out, but dropped one of his two Prussic knots (a system by which one can climb back up their rope). He thought all was lost. But here's where the heroism comes in. That man worked his way successfully off the mountain and is alive today.

He had to do unspeakable things such as: let himself fall further down the crevasse, hop on a false floor hoping not to hit a weak spot, drag himself over miles of boulders and treacherous snow bridges, drink from mud puddles, warm himself with his own urine, and time himself to get to little goals of a few yards.

My estimation of that young man hit an all-time high. Nothing in my life has been that difficult. To me, that young man had a spectacular reason to whine, to give up, and to make excuses. I do not.

What that young man didn't have in his equipment was prayer. He didn't have a belief in God which could sustain him and buoy him up. He had a spectacular will to survive...alone.

Which is also what the young man in the blog post was missing--a relationship with God. I think that neglecting that one imperative piece of equipment can be like dropping your Prussic knot. Or worse, cutting your own rope. Why not ask for help from the Being who made the crevasse in the first place?

So recognizing that this marriage is a three-way relationship is something we've sort of done, but not really. We're kind of allowing Him to be our roommate. I personally want a deeper relationship with both of them, because the whole expedition will work much better if God is the one belaying us.

My first marriage crashed badly. It was as if he'd cut the rope for no apparent reason at the time. From where I stand now, I realize I was surpassing naive,  lacking in confidence, and afraid to stand up for myself and for what's right. I let him drag me through several things I'll never allow again.

He'd never learned how to climb safely, as his mother had been married and divorced some six times or so. The Ex eventually had his own three or four more marriages. I'm not certain if he's finally found a way to keep from cutting his companions free because I haven't talked to the chap in about twenty four years. I don't miss him. Off belay.

So I've also been trying to re-apply some of the principles I learned in the other blog. One of them is putting fun back into the relationship.

My ice breaker for getting back into these ideas is a monkey. The other day I found one from my kids' Barrel o' Monkeys. For days, now, we've had a great time trying to tag each other with that monkey so the other person will hopefully get out of the house and later find it. He found it in his pajama pocket once (why do we need pockets in pajamas anyway?) and I found it in my hair this morning after he kissed me good-bye. I almost did it today hiding it in his wallet (but the dang thing was too fat so the wallet didn't close well). What that little red monkey has done is start bringing the playfulness back into our marriage. 

Now to get him to go walking with me. Or any other fun thing away from the computer. 

We're pretty good about kissing and saying we love each other. But I'm horrible about talking about him to my friends. I'm torn. In one book I read that we need to never talk about our spouse to our woman friends. But in all the rest of my experience, I note that we have a web of woman-type friends for a reason. They help you figure out what you're doing wrong so you can fix it.

I also note that many men just DON'T talk, and mine in particular. He doesn't have the capacity to sit there and speak deeply to me. There is no pillow talk arena. I'm not sure if that is totally a dead end, or if I'm just not realizing how I can acquire the key to that particular door.

Here are some great ideas that come from me and from other people who have been through it. Hopefully I can re-apply some of the ones I've let slip in my life:

1. Keep God in the middle of your relationship. He knows His stuff.
2. Don't stop doing the things that you did during dating just because you've snagged your spouse, like dancing, or working out, or wearing deodorant and nice-looking clothing, or cleaning, or holding hands and making out. It's dishonest and lazy.
3. Don't diss him/her to your friends just to diss him/her (I wish there was an IT you could use in English to include both sexes like there is in German.). It's disloyal and counterproductive.
4. Fight fair. Don't dredge up instances from the past, because it's likely they'll have forgotten all about that instance and feel like you're putting them on trial. Unless you both like affidavits, don't muckrake. If you have a beef, handle it when it first rares its ugly head.
5. Don't say stuff you wouldn't like said to you, even if it's true. Come on, this is the person YOU MARRIED FOREVER! You made a vow before God and others to love and cherish this person you're calling names. Cut it out!
6. Making your spouse read your mind is a bad idea. It's a good bet you aren't married to a mind reader. Expecting them to do so is not only folly, it means you don't respect them enough to talk to them.
7. Never disrespect your spouse to your children. The best present you can ever give your children is to love their parent.
8. Don't get lazy and stop doing the things you like to do together. And if you do stop for health or other reasons, find something else to do together. Love that person enough to do a few things they like that you don't care for.
9. Don't always expect the other person to repent first. They're probably expecting the same thing, and soon you'll expect yourself right down to the lawyer's office.
10. Not talking so you won't fight isn't going to cut it. You have to communicate. You have to have enough love and respect for your mate to make time to talk to him/her, and you don't make them 'pay' for wasting your time talking. It's a privilege and a duty and a right. They are your spouse, after all, not your roommate or your handyman/maid. You MARRIED that person across from you.
11. Finally, forgive the spouse. There is no way you are perfect. That means that at some point in your life you're going to do (or have done) something so stupid that you'll count yourself lucky if it goes unnoticed. So why would you think that your spouse, another flawed individual, should be perfect at all times? Cut them some slack. They do that for you all the time. (Mine does every time he opens the fridge and the black hairy goop that used to be cauliflower tries to lynch him.)

So that's a rough list for now. I'm certain I've missed important ones. I have more than many of them to work on. I'm determined to make it to the summit safely this time.

On Belay! And where did I put that little red monkey?

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Chain

Shelly Brown, author of Fall of Cliff Castle chained me to this The Next Big Thing Blog Chain. 

Shelly Brown has linked me into the Next Big Thing Blog Chain.

My W.ork I.n P.rogress that I just finished yesterday is A Terrible Majesty. 

Where did you get the idea for your book?

It just came to me in a dream. I seriously saw the big scene and woke up crying.

What's the genre of your book?  

It's a science fiction book about a pilot and a systems specialist on the navy starship the Intrepid. 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in the movie?

Alexis Bledell-Vari Faro
Sam Clafin-Kit Bondi 
Zoe Saldana-Forbes-Samia Vorholt
Paul Walker-Mal Severin
Mark Strong-Captain Kendall  
Richard O'brien-Ypres Vealit

My elevator pitch: 

Together Kit and Vari must battle the unknown enemy The Scythe to bring their starship safely home. 

Will your book be represented by a publisher or self-published?

I'm pitching it to publishers.

How long did it take you to write the first draft? 

About two months. Yeah. It went fast because I was in love with it. This one flew out of my fingers like sparks from Hermione's wand.

What other books compare to yours in your genre?

Louis McMaster Bujold wrote love and families and flawed characters into her sci fi. This could compare to hers. 
Who or what inspired your book?

I've read a freighter full of sci fi books starting in fourth grade with Ray Bradbury and proceeding to Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Ann McCaffrey, Elizabeth Moon, Louis McMasters Bujold, and a whole fleet of others. Thank you, oh giants upon whose hefty shoulders we try to stand.

What else about this book might pique a reader's interest? 

I wanted to write a sci fi that wasn't just cold fighting. I am personally a fighter and greatly enjoyed Louis McMasters Bujold's space fight scenes. But, like Louis, I wanted a human element in my sci fi too. I wanted to be truthful to my story. After all, you aren't going to spend your entire life on a navy ship with both sexes and not have a little romance. This is a WHOLE story. I hope you like it.

Now to fling the link out to someone else:

Michael Young
Anna Buttimore 
Wendy Knight 
Joyce P. Smith

36 Review

I recently read a lovely little book called Thirty Six, By Daron D. Fraley. I really got into this book because I could so fit myself into the man's shoes. This MC is pretty much the guy I married. He's a complete and unrepentant geek but brilliant and kind. My Sweetheart once tried to pry a gecko out of a glue trap intact. He nurses baby doves back to life. He once lent an online friend money he never got back so the man could eat. Yeah. Just like Aaron, he's that kind of man. 

So when I read about Aaron who befriends and defends friendless little boys and their waif-like mothers, I knew what Daron was talking about. These are men who would go clear across the country to save a friend from an abusive boyfriend or feed homeless guys in the park. 

And these are the kinds of things the Thirty Six will need to do in order to keep God from utterly fire-storming the Earth. I found this book engaging and sweet. I wanted to see what happened to Aaron and Mandie and whether they would end up together. I wanted things to be right for Aaron, even though in real life that will often not be the case. Some people make incredible sacrifices without any visible payback in this life.

So. I've read Thirty Six, enjoying the  delicious mystery and adventure of it. Now I want to read the sequel. Hurry up and write it, Daron. I'm impatiently waiting. 

Phlegmatic Dilemma

I ask you, how does the human body produce such a prodigious amount of phlegm and not lose at least a half ton of weight?

I have had bronchitis and a cold for well over a month by now and I am beginning to wonder. Is there some kind of black hole leading into my sinus cavity accessible only by legions of phlegmbots? Have I angered some kind of Fairy Godmother of Snot? Are there Oompa Loompas in charge of refilling my bottomless tanks of goop? Call in Dr. Who. There are blobs to destroy.

Seriously. With this much nose blowing and horking up blobs of greenish goo, there should be some kind of weight loss. I suppose there isn't because it's being off-set by not working out due to being SICK. Sigh. I have things to do. I don't want to spend all my nights sitting upright in the easy chair in the living room. 

(By the way, who called it an easy chair? It's not easy sleeping in it! It's Hard!)

I have to get back to saving floating space men. There are enemy ships to explode. There are children to beat (okay...haul around) and force into servitude (in their own rooms, cleaning up their own junk). There is a mountain of filthy clothing to tackle (I shall conquer it anon). I'd like to be able to sing in the Stake choir soon. And at some point I've got to quit putting off dinner with the missionaries. So, things to do, now. 

I've done the echanasia (Spell check keeps coming up with euthanasia. Do you think they're trying to tell me something?) thing and the sleeping loads thing and the blowing my brains out thing, to no avail. I'm still so full of goop that my jaw ached last night. I'm thinking sinus infection. Yay. 

Anywho, this is my excuse for not being much on the computer these days. Snot and the fact that I just finished writing my book A Terrible Majesty yesterday!

Friday, October 12, 2012


I am STEAMED! My son's school demands that they buy a gym suit from them, which is over-priced but necessary. This year B. took weigh-lifting, so I was alright with buying the thing, happy that my son would finally be getting some exercise. 

The other day he wanted to do something, so as per my usual method, I went to his online grade report to check whether he had all his assignments in. To my horror, he had an F in weight lifting. "How does one flunk weights?" I wondered. You go, you pick the things up, you put them back down. Voila! So I wrote to his teacher.

Turns out my boy didn't have the right color of t-shirt one day. That's all the explanation I got. I nearly swallowed my tonsils. Who flunks a kid because his t-shirt is black? So I told the guy his grading methods were draconian and to give B. some extra homework to pull his grade back up.

Then today hit. B. came home smelling like a wet dog. I said, "What happened to deodorant?" 
"Mine got stolen," he said. "The same time they stole my gym suit and the locked lock from the locker."

I boggled. "You got everything stolen? Why didn't you tell me?"
"I don't know. I forgot. That was the same day I got that F."
My eyebrows nearly climbed up off of my head. "Say what? You mean your gym clothes disappear out of your locked locker and you get an F because you aren't dressed out? Your teacher didn't even mention that when he was making excuses."

Did I say draconian? I meant something far beyond that. This calls for flaming bags of manure on his porch. And if I ever find the thief, more like a ton. Seriously! Who does that? What was the kid supposed to do? Dredge one up from thin air? Call the gym suit fairy? Even if he'd had a spare (which he doesn't since we aren't made of cash) that would have been ripped off as well. I am stinking sure that I'm never going to provide another juvenile delinquent with a gym suit again.

Now to remember to pick up a load of fresh muck the next time I take my other son to work (in a stable, luckily...:o).