Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ladies, Don't Get Lazy!

Shame on me, shame on you, shame on us if we don't vote and we don't care.

I recently came across an article, a little-known tidbit of American 20th Century history. The "Night of Terror" occurred on November 17, 1917, just one of the consequences for women in the suffrage movement wanting all women to be heard.

(AP Photo/Stephen Savoia)

If we sit home and make excuses, Lucy Burns and Alice Paul would wonder if their suffering and torture here in the United States had been worth it. They and other women were those Iron Jawed Angels who refused to give up.

Should we go back 100 years, when women were not given a voice, and not allowed to share an opinion: "Stay at home ladies. Mend clothing, cook meals, play the piano forte, raise children, but don't ever think about wanting to express your rights as full American citizens."

The women's suffrage movement was not against stay-at-home moms, so don't all the SAHM's be upset with me for thinking I don't believe domestic duties are beneath us. What I'm saying is that women, no matter what their career, have equal rights as citizens. We are capable of thinking and reasoning and, yes, even leading. And we can still mend clothing, cook meals, etc.

This election is historic in many ways. We have the rich and powerful running for office, as well as those from "regular" backgrounds. Laugh at McCain's foible about all his real estate, but I can guarantee you Sarah Palin knows about where she lives. Some might criticize the rich for being out of touch, but when a regular person stands at the brink of something big, those same critics demean the regular person's humble roots. Does being rich equal qualified yet clueless? Hmmm... Does being middle-class equal unqualified and clueless? Does that mean the middle-class are incapable of making decisions or leading?

What I liked about Sarah Palin were her words dealing with being a servant. Leaders are put in place by the intent of the people, to serve us. Ladies, those people are in office because we put them there. I like what she said about rooting out corruption at the highest levels in government. The bigger the organization, the more capacity it has for corruption to go unnoticed because of all the "busy" work. I think that happens no matter who is President, and whichever party holds the highest office.

I also liked her gracious words about the women who paved the way for her: Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton. Like them or not, it takes tough women who won't go away that make the idea of citizens' equality stick in our minds. We're reminded of possibilities, not obstacles.

This is a plug for us women to get off our duffs and start caring. Because if we don't care about what Lucy and Alice and other women like them strived to get us, will we care if rights ever get taken away? Our Constitution gives us rights, and it's up to us to be informed.

And by informed, I don't mean by reading and believing every anti-Obama or anti-McCain e-mail as gospel. (That's for another post one day.)

Ladies, let's must exercise our right to vote intelligently and prayerfully.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Last First Day

Last First Day

There he goes
walking out the door
time flew by
can't I have some more?
Senior year
how can it be true
his life was brand new

A young man
where once was a child
tearfilled eyes
raw emotions not mild

very last first day
all year long
last things celebrate

Thanking God
joy watching him grow
mother's heart
holds while letting go

~Chandra Lynn Smith, 8/27/08
You can check out more of her poetry at: ChandrasPlace
Like Chandra's son, my son had his last first day of school on Monday. I'm so proud of who he is and who he's becoming. Like all families, we definitely know each other's faults and areas we need to improve. But he's doing great.
This is why no post from me so far this week. Getting back into the school schedule, then my DSL was down nearly all day Monday. My company sent me a new work PC, and I had to get that back on line, plus work on making up my lost time from Monday. Life sort of snowballs!!
I could use a snowball or two--can you believe Labor Day weekend is coming? It's still in the 90s here in Texas. Whew.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Safety Net

Life is delicate. No matter how we think we can see what's coming around the corner, life can change faster than we blink.

This summer has been an up-and-down journey for me. God has a way of exposing fears in our lives. At least He does in mine!

Our overactive imaginations can paint horrible scenarios. Maybe it's the writer in me or the flair for the dramatic, but it happens. Sometimes my imagination races along. (Oh, if only I could find that brain setting to use when writer's block kicks in.)

I realized as my imagination kept up its journey, I was still trying to remain in control. Because, really, we want a backup plan, don't we? We'd like to have some assurance that although our world gets shaken to its foundation, there'll be that happy ending.

When all is well, do we find ourselves praying to God, "Don't let X happen to me." I found myself making a bargain. "Well, if X happens, then I would like Y to follow." I wanted a backup plan, a safety net. But what if Y doesn't follow?

Like my crazy imagination, our very real lives can be shaken and altered forever. So what then? If like Job, that which we fear most comes upon us? Where is our faith? I find it is easy to trust God when life runs smoothly with only occasional hiccups and bumps in the road.

We do have a safety net, and we don't hold onto it while we fall. I know I don't hold mine. You don't see the highwire walker making sure their net is secure while they're performing their routine. It's impossible. And the victim in the burning building must trust that when she leaps from the window, the firefighters will catch her.

We have one guarantee to start with: We are not alone.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

Jesus said: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Now, I just need to keep reminding myself that and start using my overactive imagination for my books.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'm A Guest

Today I'm posting over at my writing buddy Kaye Dacus' web site. For those of us who've gone to writers' conferences, I'm talking about dealing with conference nerves. Gulp. Check it out here.

And here's a sneak peek at my next book, The Wiles of Watermelon, releasing this fall through the Heartsong Presents: MYSTERIES! book club. I love it. The artist captured my dark and stormy night perfectly. Andromeda Hartley is a newlywed and now she has two murders to deal with. Her hubby, the longsuffering Ben, is rarin' to go about starting a family. Andi can barely find time to keep a kitten fed. And there's so much that can go wrong when raising children, no matter how hard you try to keep 'em on the straight and narrow. Look what happened to her beloved Aunt Jewel. Enough said about that right now.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

All That Glitters...Coming in 2009

News flash! I've received a contract for my first historical novel. All That Glitters is set during the Gilded Age in Newport, Rhode Island, and will be published by Heartsong Presents, the romance line of Barbour Publishing.

While I'm trying to get another proposal out the door--the first of a contemporary series--I'm also looking forward to making the story of Francesa Wallingford and Alfred Finley come to life.

The Gilded Age came about during America's era of industry. Long before the era of Donald Trump, giants named Vanderbilt and Astor became the new elite. In this age of opportunity, these families spent money and lived large like no one else had thus far in our country.
No matter what their station in life, young women had little choices then, and such a golden environment often transformed itself into a gilded cage.
Then for me came the magnificent what if that we writers love stumbling over: What if a young woman raised in her family's burgeoning wealth, grows tired and bored with the confining opulence? And what if a young woman's childhood friend returns, and he's the very man her mother doesn't want her to marry?
I don't have a release date for this book yet, but I expect it to be available to book club members in late 2009, and in the general market in 2010. Eventually All That Glitters will be offered in a compilation book set titled Rhode Island Brides along with two other novels written by Darlene Franklin and Tamela Hancock Murray.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Longing for Maine...

I've lost count of how many consecutive days that it's hit 100 degrees or higher here in our area of Texas. Tuesday I spent some time in the pool at twilight, exercising in the tepid water and trying to vacuum it, too. Our local news station says that the utility commission is asking Texas residents to turn their air conditioning setting up to 80 degrees tomorrow between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., which is the hottest part of the day here.
And so my thoughts drift back to November, when we were in New England for my sister's wedding. After the wedding, my other sister took us on a day trip to Maine's southern coast. We visited the Nubble Light House, and froze. We walked the entire Marginal Way and froze. My cheeks were numb, my leather coat felt like paper. The wind chilled my ears. Oh, how glorious! Can't you see from the pictures how cold we were?
NOTE: Since I wrote this post, we received the leftovers from tropical storm Edouard. Which was only a little bit of rain, and it only got up to 91 today. But we had 11 straight days over 100 degrees! Whew.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Writer Fun!

Being a writer sounds like it can be glamorous. Book signings, photos, seeing your name in print, and maybe in lights. Those are the scant few moments produced by hours, and hours, and hours of writing, deleting, crying, praying, writing, deleting, writing, deleting, doubting, praying, get the idea.

We drove to Houston in my hubby's truck and the air conditioning quit working. Niiice for a 3-1/2 hour drive. And it's been over 100 degrees for I don't know how many days around here. Anyway, what little makeup I'd put on had melted. I kept sticking one of my arms out the open window so the air rushing by could cool my, um, underarms.

"Honey, I sure hope my deodorant doesn't give out," I told CJ on the way there. I'd tried to style my hair before we left town and ended up yanking everything up into a clip. We arrived in The Woodlands at my author friend Kathleen Y'Barbo's house, dumped off our suitcases, and primped (at least I did) before we headed to Rico's for an early supper. We had over a dozen writers and authors around the tables. Why is it we writers love to talk and eat so much?

So at dinner I met the lovely and sweet Dannelle Woody, a jewelry artist and author as well. The restaurant was noisy (we authors can be loud), and I kept thinking her name was JA-nelle all night...until I signed one of my books for her at the end of the book signing. (Sorry, Dannelle!!!) At least I figured that out before I signed the book!

During the book signing, I was seated between the sweet 'n sassy Martha Rogers, and author Cathy Messecar--I knew Cathy's name sounded familiar to me, and then I saw the assortment of her books. I realized I subscribe to her e-mail newsletter! So that was fun, putting another face and in-person personality with a name.

I also met new author Rene Morris. Her books aren't out yet, but I know she's excited to see them in print soon. She attended the book signing with one of my co-workers that I've only corresponded with by e-mail. Lots of fun to meet new friends and writers.

Book signings typically don't earn writers a lot of money. But it's fun, and important, to see the people who matter most as an author--our readers. I need to get over my shyness though. For some reason I sometimes feel as though I'm at a yard sale and people are trying to buy my "stuff!"

Friday, August 01, 2008

Don't Forget to Say I Love You...

I love pizza.

I love Saturday morning breakfast.

I love the full moon.

I love swimming at twilight.

I love my kitten.

I love my husband.

I love hearing the still small Voice.

One word and so many different meanings. Love is a word that can be cheapened and tossed around glibly. I don't love pizza like I love my husband.

So when I say, "I love you," what does that mean? Love you like pizza?

Sometimes our words don't mean much. I'm not posting to criticize our words. But it's easy to clap a friend on the back and say, "Love ya," and go on our way.

Check out 1 John 3:18. My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

(Irony: My next book proposal is based on verses 19 and 20, but that's for another post.)

We can say I love you by what we do. The people in our lives, I've discovered, pass through so quickly sometimes. The younger we are, we think that our current situation will last forever. But then you wake up one day, and months or even years have passed. And so people move along as well. Either they leave this life, or leave our lives and move away, or people get too busy and grow apart.

I think back to the times I've told a friend I loved them, or assumed they "just knew." Lately I've realized how it's more important to do simple acts of love, those unexpected little things that will show someone that I love them. Not just telling them "love ya," or figuring they already understood that.

What would mean something special to someone you love? A card or letter? An afternoon together? A cup of coffee, made just the way they like it? A verse you read, that you know they'd appreciate? A listening ear?

Deliberate demonstrations of love might make someone uncomfortable, though. When we acknowledge how truly important someone is to us, they may be embarrassed. But maybe it's exactly what they needed.

My new promise to myself: no more regrets, no more holding back, no more thinking, "Oh, they already know I love them."

Don't forget to say I love you...Love out loud.