Book Signing

I’m a bit late getting this on here, but such is life when one is so busy!

In two nights, I will be having my first book signing. If someone had told me this time last year that I would be a published author in a well-known book series and having a book signing, I would have laughed in their face. To me, only those who are expert writers could ever boast about such things.

It just goes to show that one should never doubt oneself.

Persistence pays off.

May you be inspired today to persist with your dream.

Shadow

Interestingly enough, my blast-from-the-past story for today is synonymous with how I’ve been of late-in the shadows. Life has been busy as usual, but I have to admit, my lack of social media presence has been nothing short of just simple lack of organization and motivation. I’m one of these people that, if I have a lot on my plate, I tend to stare at the plate and try to figure out what to do first. Whatever screams at me the loudest is usually what gets my attention. Writing tends to be the quiet student in the classroom. It wants attention, but the writer is distracted. I think there is an element of fear as well. A fear of failing. Yet, if I never tackle keeping up with blogging and social media then it is certain to fail.

Here’s to one blog post per week, reading and commenting on two blogs a day, and following a new blog once a week. I think I can do that. Now back to the plate and the priority I will make most important for today. I hope you enjoy!

Shadow

My first attempt at capturing the skinny, black and gray tabby cat was with food, a cardboard box and my own two hands. She took to the food quite readily, but when I picked her up with my bare hands and tried to put her into the box, she let me know very quickly that that was unacceptable. I walked away from her dilapidated barn home with two bloody streaks down my left arm. I was going to have to be a bit sneakier.

It took a while for her to trust me again but, as I knew it would, hunger eventually overcame her fear. This time, I brought a cat carrier to the barn, set it on the ground just outside the entrance, placed some food in the carrier and left the door open. I sat and watched. For three days I repeated this pattern until she, unhesitatingly, went in and out of the carrier to eat.

Day four, I squatted a short distance from the carrier. She approached it, sniffed a moment, then went inside. Stealthily and quietly, I reached for the carrier door. As soon as the latch was in my fingers, I swung the door rapidly into its closed position. Like lightning, she whipped around and began to frantically claw at the door, but I had already snapped the latch into place.

The five-minute walk down the driveway to my home was serenaded with yowls, hisses and frantic clawing. No amount of talking could settle the girl; she was mad. I really couldn’t blame her. I set the carrier down on the porch and called for the kids to come see the new cat. Eagerly, they bounded down the stairs, sat beside the carrier and stared at her. She stared back; her pupils large with fright.

What should we name her?” I asked the kids. My daughter suggested a name, I came up with a couple, but none of them seemed right. Then my son spoke up.

Let’s name her Shadow,” he said.

Why Shadow?” I asked.

Because she looks like a shadow with her gray and black colors,” he replied.

Somehow, the name seemed perfect. Skinny, gray and black Shadow became a forced new member of our home.

Time would reveal the significance of her name.

She was the typical cat story-unwanted female dropped off and left to fend for herself. She wasn’t completely wild; I could tell she had enjoyed companionship with people before, but it took a while for her to relax.

Time also revealed that she was pregnant. Five kittens and a spay later, we finally settled into a routine with Shadow. After the birth of the kittens and her surgery, she became a loving, loyal family member and she had a unique way of showing it- she followed me like a dog. No matter where I went, she was right behind me. Pitiful meows greeted me if I was too far ahead for her liking. When I paused, little Shadow would come running in her eagerness to be close by my side again.

Our hearts knitted together tighter and tighter as each month passed. Then the unfortunate happened; she disappeared.

Vacation time came and plans were made for a neighbor friend to come over twice a day to feed Shadow. Partway through the vacation, I texted to see how she was doing. All was well. I relaxed and told myself that Shadow was a tough girl and she was going to be okay.

Five days later, we arrived home and as soon as the vehicle stopped, I hopped out and began calling Shadow. I was puzzled when no response came, so I called louder. Still no answer. I texted the neighbor. What she told me shocked and upset me. She had brought her dog with her and as soon as the dog saw the cat, she lunged, yanking the leash out of her owner’s hand. Shadow, terrified at the sight of a dog lunging at her, flew up the closest tree. The neighbor lady took the dog back home, came back and attempted to coax Shadow down from the tree, but she would not. The lady left, thinking that Shadow would eventually come down and eat.

But she never did come eat and when we arrived home, she wasn’t up the tree. She left no trace of her whereabouts. I called and called for her the rest of the day, but no answer. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I realized that I might never see her again.

One week passed by and still no Shadow. Each night I faithfully called her. As the next week rolled around, I began to give up. We were surrounded by woods. Very likely a coyote had caught her, or she was too scared to come back.

Late the second week, I was busily making dinner when the thought to call Shadow again, came to my mind. I brushed the thought aside and told myself I was being silly. It had been two weeks, there was no way she could be anywhere close. Besides, we had lost a cat before and our neighbor had as well. What made me think that it would be different with Shadow? But the thought persisted. I descended the stairs and exited the front door.

It was nighttime and darkness cloaked the woods around me. Anything outside of the glow of the outdoor light was imperceptible to my unadjusted eyes. I called. No answer. I called again; no answer. I argued with myself that this was ridiculous; I needed to just go back inside, but I could not move. I stood there, still trying to see into the darkness, hoping that what I had been impressed to do was not a figment of my imagination.

I mustered up one more effort to call for Shadow as loudly as I could. As the echoes of my voice faded into the darkness, another sound greeted my ears. Ever so faintly, the obvious meow of a cat pierced through the quietness. Eagerly, I called Shadow’s name again. Closer the answering meow came. My eyes filled with tears and I began to tremble all over. I called the third time, my voice quivering. The nagging doubts still hung around, suggesting that maybe it was another cat but, somehow, I knew it wasn’t. The third reply came loud and clear. Looking eagerly in the direction of the meow, I spotted a movement just outside the glow of the light. All doubts fled away as out of the shadows of the woods and into the circle of light came my little Shadow. Over and over I called her name and just as many times she responded eagerly, both of our voices fraught with emotion. Her little legs didn’t seem quite long enough to get her to me as quickly as we both wanted, but soon, her starved little black and gray body was in my lap. She rubbed against my hands and purred loudly as I stroked her dull fur.

Out of the shadows, my Shadow had come, eager to be home and by my side.

Angels All Around

Check out the Chicken Soup for the Soul Angels All Around Twitter block party happening tomorrow, September 4 from 1:00-2:00 ET. Meet Amy Newmark and some of the contributing authors of this book. Some authors will be posting pictures and you will have a chance to tweet with them.

Come join the fun!

https://mobile.twitter.com/chickensoupsoul/status/1167860900247638018

Continue reading “Angels All Around”

It’s Here…

Today is a day that I never imagined could be a possibility. Ever since I was a teenager, I dreamed of one day becoming an author.

Today, I can officially say I am a published author.

Check out my story “Your Daughter Is Alive” on page 242

I have many thanks to give to many people but first and foremost, I thank my Heavenly Father. It is only through His guiding hand in my life that I am seeing this day come to fruition. In a time in my life when so much was happening and changing, He showed me that truly He cares about the desires of our hearts and that “…He will never leave us nor forsake us”. He has also taught me that He “…owns the cattle on a thousand hilltops”. He has provided in every way possible-way beyond what I could ever have done on my own!

Next, I want to thank my family-Dad, Mom, my sister and my extended family. They have supported, encouraged and shown their love in many ways; I couldn’t do without you guys.

And my friends-you guys have been amazing! Joining in by critiquing this story, expressing enthusiasm for this momentous event and encouraging me. I appreciate every single one of you guys!

I also want to thank you, my blog followers, for your awesome support!

Some of you may wonder how I came to be published in a Chicken Soup book. It was, quite honestly, not planned. I was actually scrolling through Facebook and I saw a call-out for story submissions to Chicken Soup for the Soul. I clicked on the link, read through their guidelines for story submissions. The story of my daughter’s miraculous save from death came immediately to my mind and I knew that that would fit well with the Angels All Around book title. I wrote the story, had a friend critique it, submitted it and then forgot about it. Until this summer.

I was casually looking through my emails when I spotted the header-Chicken Soup for the Soul in the inbox. With my heart thumping and the memory of the submission flooding my mind, I eagerly opened the email. My story had made it to the first selection round. I squealed and started dancing around, which scared my kids and they came dashing into the living room to see what all of the ruckus was about. When they realized what I was saying, they, too, shared in my excitement. About two weeks later, I received an email saying that the story had made it into the final selection round. Another fit of dancing and shouts ensued. About two weeks later, I received the ultimate email-“Your story-‘Your Daughter Is Alive’-has been selected to appear in the book”. Words cannot express how exciting, yet surreal and overwhelming this news was to me. This was something that I had dreamed of for years and now I could officially say I am a published author.

It has really been an amazing reminder to never give up. You never know when that one step might be the one that leads you to something more than you could have ever imagined. What will come of this for me? I don’t know. My goal is to continue writing, continue contributing and continue the dream of inspiring others and pointing them to Christ.

You can listen to an interview with the editor-in-chief and author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Amy Newmark here.

You can also find the book Angels All Around here.

Thank you for joining me on this exciting journey!!

Coming Soon…

Five more days to go and the countdown has begun! It still seems so surreal. An opportunity, a choice to seize that opportunity and here I am. I have to admit, I have had to pinch myself over and over. In fact, more times than not, I have told myself that it is no big deal, that it was just a fluke; I don’t have what it takes to keep the momentum up. Despite the negativity that keeps knocking, there is a part of me that is still getting revved up with excitement. Imagine the possibilities this could open up! The doors that I can finally walk through that I wish I had walked through twenty years ago. My imagination is filled with dreams and ambitions…my heart is full of prayers for God’s plans to be upmost.

Five more days to strategize on how to make the most of this opportunity. Five more days for the excitement to build.

Are you curious to know what’s going on?

In five more days, I’ll let you know…

Until then, thanks for joining and supporting TLC!

The Heart of Grandma

Every Christmas, I unwrap the tiny nutcracker on his tiny prancing horse from his paper cocoon. Every Christmas I’m reminded of the special lady I called Grandma.

Loving, warm, quick to hug, quick to smile with her sparkling eyes, she was one who touched the hearts of many around her. I was proud of her-and I was proud that out of all the grand kids, I was the one who had the honor of decorating Grandma’s Christmas tree, for a time.

For many years, she had lugged the tree and boxes of decorations up from the basement into the living room by herself. But as time has a way of doing, she became more feeble. With a stent in her heart, hip replacement surgery, and knees that desperately needed surgery themselves, she could no longer bring the Christmas treasures up the narrow stairs of the basement and stand on the ladder she used for placing ornaments at the top of the tree. Since we lived within walking distance, she naturally turned to me for help. I happily agreed.

The first Christmas that marked the beginning of our tree decorating tradition was fraught with meaning for me. I was used to going to her house each year and seeing aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins, eating delicious food and noting the beautiful tree, but never had I experienced such a personal connection with Grandma and Christmas. There in the living room, she and I talked and laughed. As we pulled the Christmas tree out of the box, I noticed the branches with remnants of icicles from many Christmas’s before. As I attached a branch to the metal pole and spread it out, my thoughts took me to the previous Christmas’s in which Grandma had done the same. Carefully, I attached and spread each branch until there were no gaps in the tree and all was symmetrical and full. It had to be just as good as Grandma did it. I wrapped the strand of large colored bulbs, the kind that were hot to the touch, around and around the tree.

Next was the box of tree ornaments. I thought I knew her ornaments pretty well, but this Christmas showed me differently. As I picked each one up, unwrapped it, and hung it on the tree, Grandma shared stories of how she came to have that one, or how old another one was. There was the ornament made from olive wood that she had brought home from Israel and the little mouse with its fabric guitar that had been on the tree for as long as I could remember, and my favorite, the tiny little nutcracker on the tiny prancing horse. So many ornaments, so many memories.

I then pulled out the tree topper, a tall angel in a white dress that had aged to a cream color, her wings spread on each side of her. Gingerly, I placed her on top of the tree, ensuring that she stood straight and tall. Lastly, I draped the icicles evenly and carefully on every branch, making sure that all branches were covered appropriately. With pride, Grandma told me that it was beautiful; I had done a fine job. She plugged in the strand of lights and the angel. The beauty of the colored lights reflecting in the icicles and the dancing white lights surrounding the angel took my breath away. Now it wasn’t just a tree that I noticed at our Christmas gatherings; it was the expression of Grandma’s heart. I was humbled that I had had the privilege of being the vehicle for her expression that year.

The next three Christmas’s saw the two of us gathered in her living room, listening to Christmas music, relishing our time together. Then life happened. I moved and for whatever reason, our tradition ended just as quickly as it had started. She downsized to a ceramic tree sitting on a table since all of us grand kids were grown. It was never the same.

Many years later, in 2007, she passed away after a long, tiring battle with congestive heart failure. As my eldest aunt divided Grandma’s belongings between the siblings, she remembered our years of decorating the tree together. She wrapped an ornament, the one I loved most, in a square piece of paper and sent it, along with a Christmas cameo pin, to my parents to be given to me.

I don’t recall my initial reaction when I first received it but later that year, at Christmas time, I strategically placed Grandma’s ornament front-and-center on the tree. Tears spilled onto my cheeks as the memories of our four-year tradition filled my mind.

The tradition is still continuing, year-after-year, each time I unwrap the tiny nutcracker on his tiny prancing horse from his cocoon and place him on my tree; for it brings a flood of memories each season and, once more, I am back in my grandmother’s living room-talking, laughing and looking into her sparkling eyes.

How to Write a Great Blog Post: A Beginner’s Guide

Excellent tips for beginner bloggers. Check them out!

The Art of Blogging

There are more blogs in existence than ever, yet more and more people are seduced by the idea of sharing their thoughts and ideas with the rest of the world.

As a matter of fact, it does seem as if there’s a war out there. Everyone is fighting for attention, there are so many things to learn and master. So many social networks, marketing techniques. There’s even an awful lot of content on blogging itself, which makes it even more frustrating.

How do you write a great blog post?

I wouldn’t be asking if I didn’t know the answer. Or would I …

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