Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Ready for Some Fun? Here's a Contest For You!

It’s that time of year. Back-to-School time. Want to have a little fun?

Thank You Pixabay!
Well, remember when you entered your high school English class and saw a writing prompt scrawled across the blackboard? 

Okay, maybe that wasn’t all that much fun. You knew your teacher was going to make you write about your summer vacation, right?

But the simple truth is this: Getting your brain muscle active with any sort of writing exercise engages your thinking in a new way. It can help you reset your the ol' mindset, get you refocused on problem solving, and give your brain a much needed rest from other work or issues. I have an idea but I would never ask you to write about your summer vacation. I am so beyond that. Never would I ask my readers to write something so lame.

So…the teacher in me coupled with the writer in me came up with something a bit different.

I love Yankee Candles. The store selling them smells wonderful. One thing I’ve found myself doing from time to time when I shop there is to think of stories to go with the interesting names of the candles. 

I’ve often thought I should tell the Yankee Candle Company some of my ideas, using the candle names as the titles of the stories. Of course I never have. Which brings us to this back-to-school type post.
Picture By Pixabay

Writing prompts can take all shapes and sizes. I selected a few names of Yankee Candles for us to use. Here’s an example: Coconut Splash. I’ve decided this is a sweet romance that takes place one summer at the ocean. A girl from Ohio goes with her family to West Palm Beach, Florida to spend time with her grandparents. Life in the retirement community is not exactly all she hoped for when the family started out… until the tall and good-looking grandson of one of the community residents comes to help his grandfather. Of course in my story he and the girl meet and date (at least for the summer) before school starts and both have to head home. Okay, it may have a “Gidget” sort of feel (if you’re old enough to remember her), but you get the idea. 

Here’s where you come in…
I’m going to give you a few Yankee Candle names from which to choose to use as the title of your story. Craft a short story: No more than 1500 words. The story must be a “clean read” (family friendly) and at least mention some sort of candle in it. Make every word count to tell your story. You have two weeks. Send me your story by Friday, September 6th. I’ll choose one story as a winner. What will you win? An Amazon gift card and I will publish your story on my blog along with your bio. Anyone can enter, both novice and experienced writers. Note: I reserve the right to edit but if I do, I’ll send any changes to you for your approval if you are selected.

Rules:
1.        Choose one of these Yankee Candle Names as Your Title 
A Calm and Quiet Place 
Midnight Jasmine
Seaside Woods
Garden by the Sea
Lemongrass and Ginger

2.        Craft a clean read story in any genre you like. (sweet romance, suspense, mystery, historical, sci-fi, etc.)

3.        Your story must not exceed 1500 words.

4.        Be sure you include a candle (of any sort) in your story.

5.        Proofread and edit your work before submitting.

6.        Send your story to me at rwaters.author@gmail.com on or by Friday, September 6.

7.        The winner will be notified by email at which time I will ask for your author bio.


8.        Most of all...have fun with this!

Ready…Set…Write!

By the way, if my teacher had given me a few different topics for my summer vacation?  Something along the lines of...

"I found a Genie in a bottle on the beach and she granted me these three wishes." 
"The most boring week of my summer vacation was..."
"If I had my summer to relive, I would..."
or
"My alien encounter..."

Want to Become a Published Author? Check out this ebook from the Writing to Publish Series: Writing With E's. Available on Amazon CLICK HERE.











Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Mark Time...It's a Band Term...and Life

This boy. This man. My oldest grandson will graduate from high school this year. I was privileged to tag along with him and my daughter to a photo shoot for his senior pictures. 

J.T. 
The “T” is after his grandpa, Thomas. He’s like him in many ways. He’s thoughtful and kind. And he’s smart. Both of J.T.’s parents are like that, but when I see this man-child, I see bits and pieces of Tom. 

J.T. was the first of our grands. Tom and I couldn’t stay away. We would head to our daughter and son-in-law’s house the minute we were off of work. It was J.T.’s arrival that revealed Tom was a baby-hog. He never changed. As each little one arrived, he was quick to grab the baby out of my arms or whoever was cuddling the child when Tom came on the scene. I understood. And while J.T,’s parents had to worry over feedings and diapers and such, Tom and I took our job of  “drinking in the moments” quite seriously.

It was like that at this photo shoot. My youngest daughter was the photographer. While she was busy framing the shots, my other daughter was attending to details like straightening J.T.’s collar. My job was to keep an eye on two of my granddaughters while their mother worked behind the camera. And capture a few moments of my own.

Like this one…



J.T. was taking a break. I look at him and see that little baby I once held in my arms. Then he was looking at my face. Now he is looking forward to a new chapter in his young life. In a few days he will start his senior year of high school. It’s a milestone and he knows it. On the other end of the platform is my youngest granddaughter. She’s gearing up for first grade, happy to finally be in “real school” like her sister. And the distance between the two? Not all that far…or long, actually. Not in space...or time.

And there were other “behind the scenes” shots I’ll treasure. J.T. is tall, like his grandfather; taller than his mom and aunt. He’s taller than all of his family. I watched as my oldest daughter supported her sister resting halfway up a wall like spider woman to get a better angle for a picture.


And I watched as my oldest granddaughter helped my youngest granddaughter learn how to play a game to keep her entertained. Sisters supporting sisters –it’s a theme of family life. 


J.T. was a good sport as we fussed over him, had him change his shirt, hold his trumpet, shift his weight, look one direction then the other. It was a good day. A day filled with laughter and memories. And I couldn’t help but think as we piled back in J.T.’s car for him to drive us home that getting your first car and losing your first tooth have a lot in common. 

For some, the events simply mark the passage of time but for most of us they mark the beginning of new adventures. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Reinvent? Redefine? Revise? Refine?- Living Life to the Fullest

I’m often asked to speak for church events, women’s organizations, and book clubs. This next month I have two local speaking engagements. One group has asked me to offer a talk about living in Kosovo. I love to talk about my stint in the Balkan country. 


The other group has asked me to speak about how I’ve reinvented myself after age fifty-five. I’ve been giving that one a lot of thought. I suppose I see myself as an unfinished novel. Like the characters in my books, my life is always being revised; sometimes by choices I make and other times by events I never saw coming.

I know the group’s leader, Connie, wants me to share how I made a decision to become a published author. We talked about it. I’ve often shared on this blog how I researched the writing world and how I created a rather crude business plan to move from being a professor at a college to a novelist.  I had prayed about what I would do when Tom and I left our jobs. The decision to move to Kosovo was more a part of the healing process God had in store for me after Tom died. Not so much a piece of reinventing myself as it was a part of refining me in my new role as Tom’s widow. Through that move, God showed me I still had something to offer. 

Many people think of retirement as a time to slow down, Sleep in late, and play more golf. But we’re not wired that way. We are happiest when we are productive and when we are able to contribute. Even Tom, who claimed he was going to golf and fish everyday once he retired, taught a biomechanics class each February in Trinidad, acted as a consultant to others, and continued to author research papers. He couldn’t help it. It was something he loved to do. 

My brother-in-law who worked for the telephone company works harder now that he’s retired. He helps rebuild homes and serves on mission trips. He is at this very moment (as I type this) in Panama City Beach, Florida, assessing damage remaining from Hurricane Michael. He’s helping make arrangements for a team of volunteers to serve the people still devastated by the storm’s destruction. In his “down time” he helps my niece with her business.

I have friends at church who spend more time volunteering than they ever did at work. They learn new skills and stretch themselves. And then there’s Charles and Debbie. They’ve kicked this attitude of service up a notch. Charles is the pastor of my Florida church. He was a year behind me in high school. He and Debbie have raised their family, served the church and worked in various areas. Now, yes, now as they are approaching retirement, they have become foster parents. We all know parenting is a 24/7 endeavor. 

As Charles explains it, there is a crisis in the foster care system. He and Debbie have the energy, experience, and time. They’re investing themselves in toddlers who need to be loved. These little ones need care –physical and emotional care.

Reinventing? Refining? Revising? Redefining? Whatever you call it, life is an ongoing process. And those who are the happiest are the ones not standing still in the middle of it.