May Your Blessings be Bountiful

For the past few days, I have found myself in the middle of an Iroquois village.

What better time to learn about the Native American culture than a time like this.  Not only has it given an opportunity for a mother to spend time with her child, but it has opened an opportunity to bring a much deeper understanding of today’s feast to a generation still filled with questions and curiosity.

While the Indians that shared their meal with the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock may not have been Iroquois, they too, were part of a nation of tribes. I don’t know if there is truly a “pure American” other than we were born here, because many of us trace our heritage back to other countries, and some of us to those Indian Nations that were here long before Christopher Columbus discovered our new homeland.

As I write this, I can hear the sounds of kids helping prepare dishes, and soon the turkey will burst with flavor from the oven.

Thanksgiving was the gathering of the first yield of crops that had been harvested.

This day was prepared for long in advance.

It started with the sowing of seeds.

Like the planting of those first crops, many of us tend our families rather than our gardens.

And on this day, your home may be like mine.

My home doesn’t look like something out of the cover of a magazine, it appears lived in.

I haven’t attempted to replicate any thing from Pintrest to impress our family. One of these days, if I ever have to cook a turkey, that should be impressive enough.

Why?

Not because I’m a bad mother, or a bad hostess.

Because like that tribe of Indians and those first pilgrims that came to the new world, my family works together to provide for our family.

There is a sock at the end of the couch in our living room. One of my kids is walking around with one foot bare. There are books and crayons on the floor near the television. Another child of mine has been creating art. There is a timer beeping and feet tromping down the hall– another dish is ready.

I hear the voices containing questions and laughter.

As I type, I smile. Not because I’ve once more escaped the duty of having to cook a turkey,but because the Indians who sat down with the pilgrims didn’t have timers or microwaves or ovens to help them prepare their meals let alone for this day.

They didn’t have a grocery store to collect their bounty for their meal, they hunted. They worked the land, and they survived the hardships of the land.

As I watch the last bit of paper tacked on the paper lodge created for my child’s model Indian village, I am thankful that the meaning of thanksgiving has become of one centered around bring families and communities together.

I’m sure there is another side to the stories of the day the pilgrims invited the Indians to dinner. Perhaps the Indian Nations saw it differently, especially after we over took their land–or so my child has pointed out to me after our many days of working on this model village.

I do not have permission to show you the model village, at least until it has been teacher approved and graded.

But on this day of feast and gathering, I am thankful for those first pilgrims that came to settle here. I’m thankful that throughout the generations after that first feast we are still able to access the bounty of resources our nation uses to provide for the needs of our people. I’m thankful for those who have come into our lives and those currently in our lives that grace us and bless us with their presence. And while not all of us may have yielded abundant crops this year, we are able to survive much better today as they did coming over on the Mayflower.

May your bounty of blessings continue to be bountiful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

What Can You Do With A Handful of Twigs?

twig vase

Last week, I needed to come up with a center piece on the fly.

Not only did I need a quick idea, I needed something that cost close to nothing and for a group of boys to put together for a Thanksgiving gathering.

I ‘m so thankful for Pintrest. Without out it I wouldn’t have thought of this. Granted, I’m pretty creative, but even the best of artist look at other work for inspiration.

When I say this I thought, twigs… boys like sticks right? And, they can gather them in their back yard!

Needless to say, a handful of sticks, a recycled vegetable can, some scrap burlap and raffia from my scrap box and TADA!

I found the red berries at our local dollar tree for just a buck.

Best centerpiece I’ve made on a budget yet.

Together with a group of cub scouts we made four additional center pieces for their Thanksgiving gathering.

Boys and sticks, you just can’t go wrong.

Other than the turkey, what’s gracing your table this Thanksgiving?

It’s a Piece of Cake, Really!

I’m an avid reader. I like a lot of genres. While I love a great adventure, I’m always a shoe-in for a good romance – including western and historical romances.

They tell us in the industry to write what you read. Write what you know.

So I put my pen to work and dived into my first historical romance.

It started with a piece of cake. No really, it did… Fruit cake.

ap fruit cake

How could anyone resist a piece of fruit cake?

Did you know that fruit cake wasn’t just a holiday tradition? What if I told you it was wedding cake?

Truly, I wrote a paper on it in college. If I can find it while I’m searching for my Christmas decorations in the attic, I’ll share it with you in the coming days.

But for now, I’m elbow deep in revisions. As I’m working through this story of cake and falling in love I’m finding maybe my historical novella is more of a western and I’m thinking I just may twist it up a bit with a little western steam punk.

I admit, since attending the Realm Maker’s conference last spring and becoming introduced to to the steam punk culture, I like it. It’s an interesting mix when you throw the old west together with steam.

And so I’m thinking…

An old mining town, a coal miner’s daughter, and a piece of fruit cake….

hummm… the gears of creativity in my mind are turning.

What do you think?

Do you want to read it?

 

Emma’s Dilemma is on Kindle

Publishing is a long journey.

There is a long stretch of learning and discovery of what kind of writer you want to be.

For years, I’ve taken that road. There have been pot holes, detours, and dead ends.

I’ve been told that the pursuit of a writer is a silly one that you shouldn’t ever try to make a living writing stories.

For a moment, I almost believed it.

I almost gave you.

You’ve been there, too. I know it. there something you always wanted and never could have. Why? Not because it was unachievable, but because society or a group of people told you to stop trying, stop dreaming, stopped lifting you up when the next step to reaching it came closer.

While success comes in many different forms, let me say this.

DON’T EVER GIVE UP!!

As a child, I was extremely head strong.  NO was not one of those words in my vocab. (Shhh.. don’t tell my oldest this, she’s a lot like me).

If a stop sign came up ahead, I never stopped. I kept going straight.  I was going to reach that goal no matter what.

But what happens when you come to a dead end?

There is no where to turn?

If you’re like me, you forge ahead and make a new path.

While forging ahead, a certain wisdom resonated with me.

I don’t just write stories.

I inspire. I create that new path. I go on the adventure and I want to take you with me.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can open a world and bring meaning where otherwise you may still find yourself lost.

I believe Neil Armstong said, “One small step for man, one giant step for mankind.” 

So here is one small step into publishing, and one giant step for me as a writer.

 Emma’s Dilemma is now available on Kindle.

The story:  There’s only one thing that could disrupt Emma’s date with Tim — her horse going into labor. Only Emma doesn’t know what to do when the horse is born breech and her boyfriend would rather be at the drive-in. How will Emma decide between the horse she loves and a boy she likes?

 Download it NOW!

Putting your work out for the world is a little scary. If you like it, please leave a review here or on Amazon.

I appreciate you following and supporting me this far in the journey.

 

 

Please Enjoy the Music While Your Party is Reached

I love it when I call one of my nephews. I get this message: “Please enjoy the music while your party is reached.”

Then I get to listen to hard rock music.

Some days I feel like calling just so I can listen to the music.

While I don’t have the feature on my phone, I’m sharing it with you today.

I guess you could say my foot is back in the stirrup again.

As I finish pulling myself back up into the saddle, enjoy the music.

 

 

Thank you to all of you who inspired and encouraged to me to do what makes me happy.

For those who missed me. I missed you right back.

It’s only been a few months, but it feels like an eternity.

And now your party has been reached.

 

Preparing to Return

At the beginning of summer I made a plan.

I went back home to the farm. I wanted my kids to experienced what I had thought was an awesome childhood growing up on the farm.  I wanted to hear them laugh. See them ride their bikes in more than a 10 foot square space of our driveway. I wanted them to build relationships with their cousins and have cherished time with their grandparents.

I planned to finish editing and revising a novel that I’ve been working on for about two years now.

I planned to go exploring, hunting, and come back refreshed and ready to tackle the next chapter that life brought my way.

Only I got lost along the way.

Coming back to my childhood home, reminded me of who I used to be. It brought back memories of the way thing used to be and a little spark of hope ignited inside me that it could be that way again.

So I stayed beyond the summer.

I watched the leaves turn and change and realized that nothing ever stays the same.

They say you can take the girl from the farm, but you can’t take the farm from the girl.

These past few months have been a time of change. That little spark of hope I mentioned above has blew out and the winds of perspective have blown around me.

While I believe we would all like to hold on to things of the past, to step back into hometowns and settings and pick up where we left off, we’re simply not meant to do it.

Life is all about change. About exploring. Getting Lost. Growing an appreciation for those in our lives presently and those who have been in the past. My best friend from high school isn’t the same best friend I have now. Yours may not be the same either.

Places we like to go back an visit are held more dearly when we visit them rather than try to move back into them.

Some heartfelt findings I suppose you can call them from a farm girl who misses living in large town.

But the summer was not a complete waste. I may not have finished my revisions/ editing, but I went exploring, hunting, and what I found was so much more valuable then any words I could have written in a manuscript.

In the following posts to come, I’ll share some of those findings.

This weekend we’re heading back to the city.

I’ll post when we get there.

 

 

 

Where Dreams Grow

The kids and I are back on the farm this week.

It’s raining. Tornado watches have been in effect for hours, but not even the rain can damper the joy of this view.

 

rainy drive way

See between those trees? That’s the field where I once rode my horses around the outer edges with cousins so many times I’ve lost count. We talked about boys, horse shows, dreams, and life.

The field is still there. Here, I can hear the rain. I like the rain. It helps things to grow.

Especially dreams.

It can also plant seeds–the type that grow inside us.

There is just something about being home. The longing that arises, the dreams that stir anew, the absorption of peace and joy of your surroundings….

There is nothing better to get the creative juices flowing again then to fertilize a dream with a little farming, fishing, and troll hunting. Yep, troll hunting. Over the next few weeks, you’ll understand what I mean. I’ve already contacted the locals to let them know if they see a strange woman stumbling down the old trails of her youth that it’s me, hunting for signs of trolls.

I think I’ll start with the out skirts of the fields, if dreams can grow there, trolls can, too, right?

 

 

 

 

Have We All Strayed From Reality?

I recently read that as we mature our brains become more able to separate what is real from what is fantasy. The information I found also said that it takes a community or an environment to help train our brains to recognize the difference.

When I was a tween, I remembered watching a Conan the Barbarian movie, you know the one where the bad guy’s head gets cut off and rolls down the stairs, and it gave me nightmares for weeks.

credit via entertainmenteveryday

So of course, my parents wouldn’t let me watch any more movies like that for quite some time. But they and my brother also did something else, they explained to me that everything I’d seen on that television was made-up, pretend, it wasn’t real.

Then came the Highlander series and by that time, I had no problem watching movies with people getting their heads cut off. There wasn’t any blood, and I knew by then this was all made up for entertainment purposes. I not only watched all the Highlander movies, but sat and watched the series on TV with my brother. It was cool.

credit via weapons-universe.com

Back then, what we saw on television was fictional. What was real came in the form of news and talk shows. Even then, most of the sitcoms we watched were created to promote family values. Anyone remember the Cosby’s? How about Family Ties or Home Improvement or Third Rock from the Sun? (I know I just further aged myself here.)
Where have all those shows gone?

Now, what we see on television is more reality than fantasy. We see television shows about cake contest and climbing the corporate ladder, but we also see crime scenes, cops and violence, and many sit coms filled with vulgarity and dysfunctional families.

Then a few days ago, I came across the horrific story of the two students that stabbed a fellow student and blamed it on a fictional character named Slender Man. I’m not sure what distressed me more, this violent act, or not knowing this character existed and my kids did.

The questions that arose from this was: Can you blame a fictional character for your actions? Whose fault is it – the media or the parents?

To which I’ve had some time to think on this. You may agree or disagree, but this my personal thoughts on this subject.

All of the above is to blame. Not one of these factors is individually responsible for the actions our youth take when influenced by what they have been exposed to at home, at school, or in our communities (internet communities included).

No matter what your role is to the youth in our community, we are all responsible to help those youth learn to differentiate reality vs fantasy and wrong vs right. A parent’s role in mentoring their child is much greater.
Parents, you are the defender of your child, the one with the sword and the shield, and the one with the wisdom to guide them on their journey from birth to adulthood. When the quest becomes difficult, you can enlist the help of family, friends, and other experienced elders in your community.

Youth, you are the ones on the journey. Living in a world all of your own is a great escape. Your quest today is much more difficult than those who have come before you. Oh, the tangled vines that have woven behind us that you must face.

What do you find most scary about our real world?

I Once Was A Troll

If you search the internet for the word ‘troll’ you will find lots of sites that talk about internet trolls, who stalk other people. I was not that kind of troll.

If you play World of WarCraft, one of the characters you will face is a hideous troll. I was not that kind of troll either.

I was a troll that lived under a bridge.

Photo credit: Doug Wildman via Flickr CC

Shortly after getting married, my husband and I moved to Michigan. If you look at the state of Michigan on a map, you will quickly see that Michigan is shaped like a mitten. What many people don’t realize is that there is a second part of Michigan that sits horizontally above the mitten.

The second part is referred to as the Upper Peninsula. People that live in the Upper Peninsula are known as UPers (pronounced “you-pers”).

Between the mitten and the Upper Peninsula Michigan is connected by the Mackinac Bridge – the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world.

People who live in the Upper Peninsula called us, the people who lived in the lower peninsula, trolls, because we lived below the Mackinac Bridge.

So that my friends is how I once was a troll.

Have you ever been given a nickname based on your situation in life? Please share about your experiences in the comments below! I’d love to read them.

 

More on Realm Makers 2014

I know you were expecting another fiction excerpt today, I apologize for this unscheduled interruption in that story feed today.

As I promised more photos and updates on the Realm Makers Conference I just attended, I wanted to get these photos and share this experience with you. I originally had planned to post this on Sunday, but I was so tired and after driving home and having the kiddos needing my attention, I didn’t get it done. Forgive me, I’m a busy mom who gets tired and sometimes forgetful.

steam punk galsAs you can see, Friday night was a bunch of fun at the awards ceremony. Its not every day we authors get to dress up in a fun way and celebrate speculative fiction. I’m looking forward to seeing what new awards and new entertainment is created in the coming years as Realm Makers continues.

Ben Wolf Realm Makers Splickety Magazine Avilian at Realm MakersBoth Ben and Avily from Splickety and Havoc Magazine had a try of my time warp goggles that were a part of my steam punk costume. What do you think, do they look better on Ben or Avily?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see there was a lot of interesting characters / authors attending Friday night’s awards.

Jeff GerkeRealm Makers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Realm Makers

Realm Makers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Ben, Avily, and even Author and Director of Realm Makers, Rebecca Minor and her husband Scott, we were well entertained and had many a laugh through the night.

During Saturday night’s author signing, I caught up with the sci-fi author who helped me fix my flat tire only five minutes from the college to reach Realm Makers– Kerry Nietz.

Amish Vampires in Space

While, I’m not big on vampires, I picked up several interesting books by many of the authors, including Havah, by Tosca Lee – this year’s keynote speaker for Realm Makers. Tosca was kind enough to sign my copy. I, too, was able to catch a photo opportunity with Tosca and will share it in a future post.

I received some great feed back on my WIP Troll Hunter and it looks like editing will have to wait, as I know the revisions I’m about to go back and make are going to make this novel even more awesome than I thought it could be before thanks to the advice of a couple of editors.

Well, I’m off to celebrate being 29 again. One of these days my kiddos will do the math and catch on, but hopefully not today. Not until at least I’ve gotten my birthday cake and been able to eat it, too.

There are two things I enjoy getting for my birthday: 1. being able to share it with my family. 2. a birthday cake. (it’s just not a celebration without a cake.)

How about you? How do you celebrate your birthday?