"" Writer's Wanderings: June 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

New Note-Taker

I try to get in a 30 minute walk every morning. It gets me out in the fresh air for a few minutes of the day at least and helps with the calorie-burn problem that sitting in a chair at a computer most of the day creates. While I walk, I use the time for prayer, reflection, plotting (novels--not crimes, unless of course they are in my novels), planning, praising, listening to the birds sing. I always get a few good ideas. Sometimes they stick. Sometimes they are forgotten by the time I've arrived at the mailbox, pulled out the morning newspaper and poured my second cup of coffee.

This morning I had at least three good ideas for blog posts. Pithy stuff that I was sure everyone would benefit from reading. I'm sure those ideas are stored somewhere in the gray matter but I've lost the file. Anyway, I got a brilliant idea. Since it defeats the calorie burning issue to stop and jot notes with pencil and paper and talking into a tape recorder just looks a bit ridiculous, I thought I would carry my cell phone with me from now on. No one ever calls on it. I use it mainly for emergency purposes. Perhaps it's time to put it to good use by calling home and leaving myself a message when my creativity is sparked.

I can see problems there too though. While everyone who sees me will just think I'm having a conversation (talking into a phone is more commonplace than a recorder when you're walking), what happens when my husband gets home and plays the messages? I can see him calling a therapist to make an appointment for me. "She's not only talking to herself, she's calling herself on the phone to talk!"

All brilliant ideas have a few kinks to be worked out.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wading into the retail waters. . .

The distributor for A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts is beginning to list our book on retail websites. Amazon and Target are two already. I didn't even know Target sold books online. They are being made available for preorder. The listings are a little rough yet. We haven't resolved how you get six author names on a site that only allows for three. And the picture of the cover is the old one but we're probably the only ones who would notice since the changes were minor. Also, it's listed as paperback when it is really clothbound.

As I post here, the book is being printed and hopefully the first copies will be in our hands to see by mid-August or so. It's kind of like that last month of pregnancy and I'm sure just the calm before the storm as our marketing kicks into full gear and the "baby" grows.
Our special Christmas blog will start on July 6th but more about that later!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Grandma, Read Me Jesus

As I tucked my granddaughter into bed last week, she surprised me with her choice of a bedtime story. Off of her shelf of books that contained stories of childhood wonder, she pulled out a children's Bible and handed it to me.

"Grandma, read me Jesus," she said. "when he died for me."

Now try and keep a dry eye on that one! I quickly found the place and read of His crucifixion and then of His resurrection. I wanted to be sure she knew that not only did Jesus die for her but that He lives for her as well.

It reminded me of the times I sang her father to sleep with the hymn, "In The Garden." The words always give me encouragement and I wanted my children to grow up knowing that "He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own." It is true joy to be shared.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Meet the Man

So where would you take your parents for lunch when they come to visit? How about an old automotive garage under a freeway?

When we recently visited our son and his family out in the Seattle area, he took us to the place where all the Microsoft geeks get together, Dixies Barbeque. It's actually a very popular tourist attraction and known for it's very, very. . .did I say VERY hot barbeque sauce.

When we pulled into the place, I figured he was just turning around because he'd missed the restaurant. But no, he parked the car and we all got out and ambled past the back porch--or maybe it was the front porch--that stretched across the facade of an old automotive garage. The porch had a couple of long tables covered in vinyl cloths with an eclectic collection of chairs including a rocker, some computer chairs, and various wooden kitchen chairs. Could this be where they put together the idea for VISTA?

We entered a tiny room brimming with smells of barbeque sauce. The limited menu included pulled pork, pulled pork over sausage, BBQ chicken, and side dishes of beans, beans and rice, and corn bread. You could purchase plain or sweetened tea or go to the vending machine near the exit door to buy your soda.

The lady I assumed was Dixie sat at the end of the serving counter pouring tea and taking money and all the while kibitzing with the customers. But the big question of the day was "Do you want to meet the man?" The man is how they refer to their hottest BBQ sauce. My acid indigestion was churning up just smelling it but my son said he couldn't go back to his office without "meeting the man."

Only a few drops on a small section of his sandwich was enough to redden his face, cause his neck to sweat, and send his father back in to get a second glass of tea hoping that would cure him. Once he could talk again, we sat back and enjoyed our sanwiches which, by the way, could have fed an army of computer techs, and wondered how in the world anyone would think to come here to eat. It just proves the power of word of mouth advertising and finding the right mouths to spread the word--that is if they can still talk after meeting the man.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The International Youth Beach Project

Yesterday we visited a beach on a lake near where our grandchildren live in Washington. The weather was sunny but a little chill was in the air. It didn't stop several kids who were in bathing suits from wading waist deep into the cold water. I shivered to watch.

What was truly fascinating however was the international beach project that took shape in a matter of minutes. I say international because there were Asian, Hispanic, Caucasian, and Indian children involved in the rather spontaneous construction of a river that began at the edge of the grass and ran through the sand about 50 feet to the lake. Several children started the dig and curiosity drew others. As the project escalated, some became dredgers, some supplied water (they owned buckets), and still others banked the sides to keep the water from flooding over.

One enterprising young lady formed a square with her fingers and proceded to interview the others on the project. Questions such as "What is the importance of this river?" were tossed at the workers who answered with surprisingly intelligent responses like, "It will help the lake."

One young boy must have been the ecologist of the group as he shooed the ducks away to keep the project from injuring them. The ducks obviously thought it was a feeding trough.

As the dozen or so children worked for a good hour on keeping the river running, I saw what gives us hope for our future--young people who can come together and work so well to "improve" the beach will certainly grow into adults with the same capabilities to improve our world. I pray no one spoils their enthusiasm.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Word Origins--White Elephant

I'm not sure where I picked up this book, Curious Word Origins, Sayings and Expressions, maybe at the Friends of the Library book sale (a place I need to avoid like I do the Godiva chocolate shop). But on occassion I pull it out and have a look at some of the common phrases we banter around. I opened it to "white elephant" this morning. How appropriate since we have a "white elephant" Christmas story in A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.

The saying or phrase usually refers to costly but useless possessions--some of those things you get as wedding gifts, perhaps, that are non-returnable. White Elephant has it roots in Siam. It was the custom for many centuries that a captured rare albino elephant would automatically become the property of the emperor and thereafter be sacred to him. Only the emperor could ride or use the elephant and it could not be destroyed without his permission. Because of that last caveat, whenever the emperor wanted to bring about the ruin of someone who had displeased him, he would gift the elephant to him. The cost of feeding and caring for the huge animal that he could not use or destroy would usually lead to his financial ruin.

Apparently Charles I of England received such a gift once and it so severely cut into his budget that the queen had to forego her usual spa treatments as a matter of tightening the purse strings. The keepers claimed that the elephant, in addition to his usual feed, also needed a gallon of wine a day.

Are you clutching any White Elephants?

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