Tuesday, August 9, 2022

A Revisit to "RESET"

 A Revisit to “RESET”

 

Every year I choose a word for the year. I know many people who do this and it is always interesting to see how it plays out in our lives. Generally, in June or July I try to revisit the word and assess how it is working out for me at that point in time. Here it is August and I am only now getting to that place of self-evaluation.

 

My word for 2022 is RESET. (You can read the original post HERE.

 

The word had implications of changing, adapting, adjusting, revising, or redesigning my life. I wasn’t sure how I felt about doing that. I was happy. I wasn’t accomplishing all I want to do, but I wasn’t living with regrets, either. 

 

One thing I wasn’t doing was getting the books in my head down on paper. Or a disk. Or whatever. Oh, I finished a manuscript and sent it off. The publisher was interested but the book needed work. REVISING. Hmmm… I started the task, but started down a rabbit hole that took me through February and into March. And COVID.

 

The bottom line? For choosing to “Reset,” I wasn’t doing much in that direction. I certainly wasn’t doing the writing I expected of myself. I figured it would come in time. 

 

Then that word stared me down one day as I sat at my desk. 

 

RESET

 


“How can I press the reset button on my writing?”

 

I pulled out the ad for the Write-to-Publish Conference in Wheaton, Illinois I had tucked in my calendar. I registered.

 

I researched the classes and teachers. I read their books. I read their blogs.

 

And… I re-engaged in writing daily. I set a word count goal for each day.

 

I finished a sweet romance novel. 

I edited a book I wrote earlier.

I spent hours on the revision of my romantic suspense novel. (More to come.)

I’ve started a split-time short story for an anthology.

 

The RESET button for my writing has definitely engaged.

 

But “RESET” has come to mean more to me. 

 

It has been the opportunity to reevaluate other areas of my life:

 

RESET means setting aside my agenda to help a friend move.

RESET means overlooking an offense.

RESET means trying something new.

RESET means getting the rest I need.

And…

RESET means taking stock of the many blessings God has poured over me. 

 

How are you doing with your word for the year?

A New Day...
A New Beginning


 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Call Me Dory

 Just Call Me Dory

When I was a little girl, my mother would send me off to clean my room. After a while of “cleaning,” my mother would open the door and say “Becky, stop reading and clean your room.”

 

I would agree to do so saying, “As soon as I finish this chapter.”

 

I haven’t changed. If you’ve ever seen the movie Finding Nemo…I’m the real life Dory. I am easily distracted and I seem to have the memory of gnat.

 

Most people don’t believe me when I say that. I think it’s because I tend to get things done. I’ve always been active at church and work and in our community. I take on projects, write books, and when I was young, I managed to keep up with three busy daughters. 

 

Yet here I am typing a blog post late at night…okay it’s past midnight and my readers expect a post in their newsfeed in a few hours. I post on my blog every Wednesday. I maintain lists of ideas I want to write about. 

 

For example, I considered writing about my recent outing to the Fernald Reserve. It is one of Ohio’s best-kept secrets. Literally. Fernald was once home to a top-secret uranium processing facility during the Cold War. It is now home to protected wildlife and has a state of the art museum that is so interesting, I spent several hours there with a friend.

 

I digress. 

 

This post is about techniques I’ve used to compensate for being distracted. While I was still a young mother, I discovered the use of a day planner. Only by writing everything down and not relying on my memory am I able to stay focused. 

 

Here’s a picture of my July planner.

 


 

Church on Sunday.

Bible study on Tuesday mornings. 

Euchre on Tuesday evenings.

Pinochle every other Monday and every Friday.

 

Some activities happen every week so I’m pretty good about keeping up with them. If I remember what day it is…

 

In July, I had several activities that don’t happen on a regular basis:


I attended a baby shower, took my car in to the dealership for a new battery, took care of some household business and managed to squeeze in a week at the beach with my daughters.

 

There were a few unexpected elements, the biggest being that my air conditioner crashed on the hottest day of the year so I had to get that repaired. I was on a wait list so I was without cool air for four days. It was stinking hot out there so I moved to the basement to sleep!


I digress. Back to the day planner.

 

I use my planner to record everything I schedule or do. If you can’t read my scribbles, don’t worry. Sometimes I can’t even read what I wrote. 

 

I plan everything. I block times to write and include goals for my writing in my planner or I’d never write a word. In July, I also blocked time to research Harriet Beecher Stowe since my writing group was getting together for a tour of the Harriet Beecher Stowe House here in Cincinnati. 

 

That research was helpful, but now I’m digging even deeper. Our group is crafting stories linked to writers featured on the Ohio Literary Trail. I chose to write a short split-time story featuring Harriet Beecher Stowe. I’ve never written anything like it, but it is shaping up to be a fun project. 

 

A split time story is one where two characters living in different time periods follow a similar path and there is a connection between the two. They need not be related or do some kind of strange time travel. The connection could be an object or something. In this case, one element could be the house. My contemporary character visits Harriet’s house with her writing group. Sound familiar?

 

Oops, I promise not to digress again. 

 

As a matter of fact, it is time I post this and head off to bed. Or maybe…I'll read just one more chapter…

 

 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Passion, Purpose, and Persistence

 Passion, Purpose, and Persistence

 An Excursion on the Ohio Literary Trail: The Harriet Beecher Stowe House

 


This year, our chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) made a decision to visit some of the sites listed on the Ohio Literary Trail. Yes. It is a real thing. There are seventy sites identified in Ohio marking contributions to literature including homes of some of America’s most honored and beloved authors. A few writing festivals are on the tour as well.

 

Ohio has been home to many authors. Remember Erma Bombeck? James Thurber? Toni Morrison? Robert McClosky? Rebecca Waters (Oops, sorry about that. It’s late. I’m dreaming as I write.)

 

The latest excursion took place in my neck of the woods. Six of us met for lunch then headed to the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Cincinnati. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Stowe authored numerous books, plays, and articles. She penned poems and lyrics to hymns. I knew all of that. Hey, I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin in school. 

 

I wasn’t looking to learn more about her publications. I wanted to know more about Harriet Beecher Stowe, the woman and the writer. 

 

I knew from a preliminary search on the internet that after graduating from the Hartford Female Seminary in Connecticut, the unmarried Harriet Beecher moved to Cincinnati and lived with her father, stepmother, and siblings when her father was named president of the Lane Theological Seminary. As such, she was privy to the famous Lane Debates on slavery. Harriet’s experiences in Cincinnati proved to be powerful in shaping her course in life.

 

Harriet Beecher Stowe started honing her craft while living in Cincinnati. 

 

She was part of a writing/literary group called the Semi-Colon Club. Being a part of a writing group is powerful. Writers gather to share ideas, critique each other’s work, brainstorm, edit, problem solve, and applaud each other. The Semi-Colon club members included Salmon P. Chase who would later become the Chief Justice of the United States, James Hall who became the editor of the Western Monthly Magazine, novelist Caroline Lee Hentz, and Daniel Drake who founded the first medical school in Cincinnati. There were of course others, but I find the mix of men and women for that era to be interesting and the caliber of people in the group is amazing. 


Calvin and Eliza Stowe were also members of that group. Eliza and Harriet became great friends. A little over a year after Eliza succumbed to cholera, Calvin and Harriet married.


In the parlor of the house we visited in Cincinnati, Harriet Beecher became Harriet Beecher Stowe.


The Stowe's had seven children together. SEVEN. I don't know about you, but I think continuing to write articles and editorials as well as books, plays, and short stories is a fairly great accomplishment for a woman with even one or two children. And she didn't have a computer. Go figure.


So what did I learn?


Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote because she was passionate about what she believed and had something to say. She learned early on the power of the printed word. And...she never gave up.


PASSION. PURPOSE. PERSISTENCE.


Funny, but as it turns out, its what we all need to succeed as authors. 




We posed for a pic with a
Life-Sized cutout of
Harriet Beecher Stowe.
And yes, she was a mere 4'11" tall. 



Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Family Time at the Ocean


My Girls...

Allison made us shirts
to commemorate our trip.


Last week I attempted to craft a blog on a life lesson I learned from the ocean. It wasn’t all that deep…if you’ll pardon the pun…but you are welcome to check it out HERE if you missed it.

 

Although I’m a writer, I cannot fully express what that time with my daughters meant to me on a personal level. My heart is full.

 

We returned from our week at the beach on Saturday. Usually, after a family vacation I am in need of another one. I can remember coming home exhausted from the long drive and needing to immediately jump back into a routine. After doing laundry and going to the grocery, that is.

 

This trip was different. We played games in the condo and rode the waves in the ocean. We walked along the shore to a restaurant for lunch by the ocean. We laughed until we cried. I don’t remember turning on the television even once. 

 

We fell into a rhythm as comforting as the steady sound of the waves out our door.

 

These weren’t “my little girls.” These were women I love and respect. These were adults with opinions and ideas with a great sense of fun and humor. These were people I can enjoy as friends and equals. 

 

I know the girls texted their husbands during the week. They likely talked with their children. They are good wives and mothers. But those moments didn’t consume our time. In part it’s because my girls chose incredible men to wed. They are good husbands and fathers. They value their wives and recognized how important this week was for us.

 

This wasn’t a week of trying to recreate memories. It was a week to make new ones. 

 

This was a week to appreciate each other. It was a week to celebrate the individual gifts each woman brought to the table. 

 

God blessed me with three daughters who grew up to be three of my favorite women in the world. As I said…my heart is full.

 

Thank you Allison, Danielle, and Kendall for sharing this time with me. Thank you David, Tim, and Scott for making it possible.


Photo Album:








 

 

 

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Girls' Week 2022

Girls' Week 2022

For years I have longed to have all three of my daughters to myself for a week at the beach. Girls’ Week 2022 emerged from that desire. The girls arranged their schedules and their husbands worked with them to make it happen. I love all of them for indulging me this way.

 

This week we’ve laughed and played in the ocean. We’ve shared memories and food and played games. We’ve taken long walks by the water. I took pictures but the real treasures are those indescribable moments of shared history and deep affection for family. 

 

While walking in the sand in front of our condo, I watched a little one put her toes in the water’s edge. Two little boys were out trying to ride the waves in to shore. They were knocked down several times but managed a few successful rides. It was enough to keep them going.

 

First steps into the ocean are a bit daunting. The water is cold. So different from our  “normal.” The sandy bottom shifts with the rise and fall of waves. With each spray of water you can feel the adrenalin surge through you.

 

My daughters and I decided it’s a bit like life. Most often we don’t know what is just beneath the surface and all too frequently events in our lives crash over us, throwing us a bit off balance. But we keep getting up and trying again. 

 

That's resilience. That's determination. That's success.

 

Success isn’t guaranteed by controlling the waves of life, it is determined by how we adjust to them. We realign and recalibrate our plans. We can try to tackle challenges alone, but  “Life is better done together.” I love my family.


My  Girls...

Left to Right
Youngest to Oldest
Kendall, Danielle, Allison


 

 

 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

It's Not a Dog's Life

 It’s NOT a Dog’s Life

 

I looked up the meaning of “It’s a dog’s life.” What I found surprised me. 

 

 


Difficult?

Boring? 

Unhappy or miserable?

 

I always thought our pets had a great life. In my mind, they had it made. We loved them, fed them, cared for them, entertained them (though not as much as they entertained us) and did our best to make them happy.

 

This week I have spent a lot of time with my “grandogger,” Kiwi. Her life isn’t difficult. Oh, sure, she sleeps in a cage, but she feels secure there. She has great food and lots of love. She has a big yard to explore. And toys. The dog has a ton of toys. That's okay. She enjoys them all.

 

Kiwi is like a baby who loves to be cuddled. A toddler who needs attention. A child desperately wanting to do grown-up stuff, but is not quite ready. 

 

Kiwi was a shelter dog. She’s is a great companion to my granddaughters. While they are vacationing, she is now a great companion for me.

 

Max Lightening the Wonder Dog, Max for short, was the best dog I ever knew. He cared for us. I was convinced he could read our minds. He was obedient and loving and smart. He was part of our family. 

 

After spending a bit of time with Kiwi, I’m ready to dub her Kiwi the Wonder Dog. She’s still finding her way, but a dog who is loved is a dog who will be a lifetime friend.

 

Do you have a dog story? Please share!






Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Little Garden


 The Little Garden

 

I come from a long line of farmers, so I usually plant a garden. On occasion it has been fairly large and produced enough to round out our meals with fresh veggies through the summer and supply us with canned or frozen veggies in the winter. Other times, when we lived in places where there was little room for a true garden, we planted a few tomatoes in our flowerbeds.

 

The year I returned from Kosovo, my mother had tomatoes planted near my deck for me to enjoy all summer. And I did. I picked a handful of those little “tommy toe” tomatoes every time I made a salad.

 

Because the new house where I live didn’t have good soil, my cousin found a couple of old bales of hay for me the next year and I planted my small garden in them. 

 

During the pandemic, I planted a few tomato plants from seed inside and put them out in my makeshift garden when the weather was nice. I cut up some potatoes that had started to sprout, planted those and enjoyed several meals featuring potato dishes that summer and fall.

 

My garden hasn’t always been big, but it always brings me joy and a bit of good food.

 

Then 2022 came. I had a very busy summer planned. I was attending a major writing conference in Illinois in June. I wanted to finish the book I started crafting before the conference. A garden would have to wait. I wrote furiously during those early spring days. 

 

I made a stir fry meal one night and saved the seeds I cleaned out from the peppers.

 

I came across a few tomato plants on sale at Jungle Jim’s so I scratched out a small area and planted them. It was a start. Of course some critter bit one off. I’ve never had that happen before, but I babied the stem sticking out so I have three small surviving plants. Out of the four I planted.

 

The conference was at hand. Gardening was low on my priority list. I packed everything I needed and set about making sure my house was clean. I had a few potatoes starting to sprout in the pantry so I quartered them and planted them near the tomatoes. I didn’t have time to plant the peppers. I know I could have frozen the seeds, but instead, I took the dried seeds and put them in a planter I fully intended to host colorful annuals in front of my house. 

 

By the time I returned from the conference I had what looked like a million pepper plants sprouting and a flourishing row of potato plants pushing through the earth. My tomatoes looked a bit sad but after a good watering, they bounced back.

 

My mother enjoys gardening as well, but didn’t put one out this year. She had a few cucumber seeds she planted in pots and I took her some peppers. We put them in a variety of flowerpots and set them on her patio table. We can almost literally watch the cucumbers and peppers grow as we look out the window. A little sun, a little water, and the plants grow a bit more each day. 

 

The cucumbers are leafing out now. The peppers are getting taller and stronger. 

 

My mom and I sit in her family room and watch. We joke about our “farm.” We look forward to getting the plants into the ground. 

 

It is a “little garden.” But even a little garden grows hope.