Wednesday, October 30, 2013

When Friends Get Published

One of the nice things about being a hopeful writer and getting to know other hopeful writers is that some days you get to see good friends get published. Being not yet published, I'll admit there's a twinge of jealousy. However, there's a much stronger emotion in play. Your friend got published. There's hope for you as well.

So I greeted with great joy last year my friend, Melissa Jagear's, announcement that she had sold her book A Bride for Keeps.

I only know Melissa on-line, having met her at a wonderful blog for readers and writers of Christian fiction, Seekerville. However, since her announcement, I've done what any writer friend would do...follow the details. Rejoicing at a friend's contract is only the beginning. It's watching the process unfold on-line and taking mental notes on editing and publishing that interest the writer in me. Then, you see the pictures on FB of when the books arrive at your friend's house and your excitement for your friend grows exponentially.

But there's one part of the process that tops everything else. It's the day of publishing, when I stop being a writer and be what drove me to writing in the first place. I become a reader. Reading a good book is one of the greatest joys in life. It's a joy I hope I never lose.

My review of Melissa's book is below. I hope you enjoy it. 

Everett Cline has a complex. If you endured what he did, you’d have one as well.

A Midwestern farmer with a small, growing farm, Everett needs assistance (i.e. a wife) So, like many men in his time, he seeks a mail-order bride. It’s just that every bride ends up leaving him for someone else. One left him for someone moving back east. One died on the train. One met another man on the train and decided to marry him instead of Everett. One saw Everett’s farm and decided to leave him for a man with a bigger farm. It’s gotten so bad that the town can’t stop making jokes about it. An unknown female disembarking at the train station is likely to be asked if she’s in town to marry Everett Cline.

So when Julie Lockwood appears in town set to marry him, he doesn’t know what to think. Another mail-order bride hadn’t even been his idea, but the idea of a friend who thought he should give it one more try. So when the friend’s efforts actually lead to the altar, one would think Everett’s troubles are over. However, it’s one thing to have a wife in name only, like so many arranged marriages in that time. It’s another thing to make that person your partner for life.

Author Melissa Jagears does a wonderful job of showing the difference between making a marriage and making a marriage work. Her hero and heroine are stubborn. They are determined to do things their own way. However, in a marriage, you do things for the benefit of each other. Watching this change occur makes the book an enjoyable read, and one I would recommend.

Disclosure: Writer did receive a copy of the book free.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

For Want of a Jacket…

                                        Picture of the bus that passes our house ever morning.

“That’s your bus.”

My teenager walked toward me where I sat on the couch. “No, Dad. That’s just a car. They pass all the time. Have you seen my band sweater?”

I told him I hadn’t but suggested he hurry. I hadn’t been looking outside when the bass diesel engine roar had passed several minutes earlier than expected. Still, I was convinced I was right. If so, my son had five minutes to get outside and up the street to his stop before the bus would hit the back of our subdivision, turn around, and reach the cross streets where he boarded each morning . My son demurred and continued his search.

“Forget your band sweater,” I said. “We’ll find it later. It’s time to go.”

He pushed the argument (he is a teenager) but gave in. Sighing, he headed upstairs as if he had an hour and returned wearing a light jacket, protesting as if it was a neon puke-green jumpsuit. He slung his backpack over his shoulder…then watched stupefied through the window as the bus passed the house.

I was a little miffed but not mad. My usually conscientious son has only once missed a bus since he started high school. Not a big deal, until he started looking for band jacket.

“Forget the band sweater,” I said. “You’re missing the point here.”

“What is the point?”

“You were so focused on finding your band sweater you ignored the fact that you possibly out of time. Had it been a car, you’d have been fine. But with the possibility that it was the bus, you needed to get moving.”

He said he understood. I know he did.

And, as I drove him to school that morning, I did enjoy the few minutes we had to chat…and where I reminded myself that he’s no different from me.

What kind of things do you see in your kids that remind you that they inherited their annoying traits from you?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Not So Itsy-Bitsy Spider

About a year ago, my wife found four yellow spiders around the hedges in our front yard. Hating spiders, she killed all of them. Later she looked them up on-line, finding that they were garden spiders. She discovered that the spiders were helpful to have in the garden and has regretted her actions since then, hoping the spiders would return.

Admittedly, I don’t like spiders myself. I occasionally find them in the basement and get rid of them when I do. However, I’ve been looking for them in our hedges, hoping to brighten her day. (OK. Only a husband would think of spiders as something one’s wife would like, but it is what it is.) So far, no luck.

In my search for spiders, though, I’ve become fascinated with some really intricate webs I’ve seen. My 11-y.o. and I were pitching in the driveway about two weeks ago when we noticed a huge spider web stretched between a tree in our yard and a tree in our neighbor’s yard. It was high enough so you could drive our SUV under it without taking it out. My son debated throwing his glove up to knock it out, but I told him not do it. The web wasn’t hurting us and it was probably keeping away bugs we didn’t want. The web survived three days before weather took it out.

The other day, my 11 y.o. and I noticed two separate webs strung between one of our trees to the bushes in the front. (Yes, we were pitching again.) I tried to take pictures with my phone but couldn’t get the camera to center on something that small. After the pitching session, we looked spiders up on-line, finding out that the yellow crablike spider was known as the star spider. I told my son not to mess with it, like I had the other web two weeks before.

Then I thought about my lesson. Spiders still gross me out. However, a year ago I would have taken the webs out. Now I leave them be and I’m teaching my kids the benefit of the same.

How about you? Have you changed in the way you treat things that used to disgust you?

Spider pictures obtained from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Feeling Helpless

I told my kids the bad news this morning: that Atlanta led 3-2 in the 8th before the relief pitcher gave up a two-run homer. Given that every batter in the Dodgers line-up seemed to be batting above .400 while only two Braves (Johnson and Gattis) seemed to be making regular contact with the ball, it had seemed like a matter of time. However, I held out hope, until that helpless feeling when Uribe’s ball traveled over the left field wall. However, that was sports. The day moves forward.

Unfortunately, I feel more helplessness staring at the current goings on in Washington, D.C. In D.C., nothing moves forward these days. It hasn’t for a while. Even prior to shutdown, the vitriol being exchanged was disgusting. It was hard to imagine it getting worse.  However, when you compare people you disagree with to terrorists, jihadists, and people with bombs strapped to their chests, you blow any semblance of respect and civility.

This isn’t a column to disparage one side or the other. In my opinion, they’re all at fault for the situation we have. Most members of the current Executive and Legislative branches seem interested in protecting their own self entitlements, rather than doing the business they were elected to do.

Even more helpless, we elected these jerks.

It’s our fault as Americans that we put these idiots in office.

It’s our responsibility as Americans to vote them out.

I can’t pitch or hit my Braves into the World Series, but there’s got to be a way to change the dysfunction and malfunction that is the current political class. We have to vote them out. We have to remind this group of people that thinks they’re above that they’re one of us.

Or we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Does the current situation in D.C. make you feel helpless?