Am I too lazy to come up with a new post? Maybe, but really I don't want some of these posts to get buried away. I enjoyed a good laugh from a few of these, and from others I remembered a difficult season of life. So, here is what made me laugh and cry last year (in chronological order). Click on the title to visit that post yourself.
1. Why I Do What I Do
This is a post that explains why I continue to pursue a career as an author even though I make virtually nothing in terms of a wage from it.
2. Why Daddies Make Better Coaches than Mommies
This past spring, I was the assistant coach on my daughter's softball team. (The head coach was a daddy.) This post goes through some of the trouble I dealt with in balancing all my duties this past spring after adding coaching to the list.
3. The Cross Didn't Save You
I look at focusing more intently on Jesus Himself, and not necessarily Christian symbols.
4. Top Ten Foods I Know Are Doing Me In
A somewhat humorous look at food I love to eat, even though I know it is so bad for me. I had many responses to this - mostly looking for where the foods could be found!
5. What Percent of a Person is Good?
I was inspired to write this one by a controversy on another site. I really needed to make my convictions known about the reason we really need to be saved… from ourselves!
6. Top Ten Courtesies I Hope to Pass on to My Children
We're struggling to get by in a selfish world full of people who only think of themselves. (I'm guilty of it too, so often.) But if we can train our next generation to look beyond themselves, hopefully it will become natural for people to look out for one another.
7. Position Primmer for Newbies
I know so many people who do not enjoy watching sports, and it's because they just don't understand the sport enough! Some are in committed relationships with someone who does love the sport. What a great way to show someone you love them - taking an interest in what they enjoy. In this series of articles, I give you the basics of baseball and American football.
(This link will take you to the rest of the Primmers.)
8. We Thought It Was a Virus
My most-visited post to date. Here, I detail my journey with my daughter to the diagnosis of her Type 1 Diabetes and her brush with death. Reading this, you will find signs and symptoms to look for in this disease and see just how bad it can get if left undetected.
9. I Painted My Nails (and Didn't Feel Too Guilty About It.)
The first step to removing myself from my daughter's care and thinking about going on with life as planned.
10. Why I Like Pretty Dress Day So Much
Being me. This was a tough one to write, because I actually reveal that I have selfish thoughts.
Next week, I will go further back in the year. If you have a favorite post you would like me to share, be sure to let me know! New posts will resume soon.
A fresh new year is creeping up on us. I'm quite excited. I can't wait until the end of next year to look back at the year and see what I have written. I don't have any big, new ideas at the moment, but I'm brewing a formula for some fun work. Feel free to adopt any of these ideas yourself.
1. Develop Characters Who Draw Sympathy
Your main character, especially, should garner sympathy. When readers feel for the character, they like him and want to find out what happens to him.
You don't necessarily need empathy. (Remember, sympathy is feeling badly about someone's circumstances; empathy is relating to someone's bad situation because you've been there yourself.) It challenges you as a writer to dig into the psyche of a person plagued with problems you've never experienced. Honestly, it's a bit of a relief when you can put those problems aside, too, and give thanks that they are not yours to own.
And it's a great way to bring your readers to the point of saying, "Wow, I've never thought about what that would be like." Writer points!
2. Give Those Characters Some Tough Circumstances
Because having it bad, just isn't enough. (At least in the fiction world.)
This is what provokes a reader to say, "Oh no, how can that happen to that poor person?" Again, the reader connects to the character. Then, "How on earth will he get out of that mess?" Reader must continue reading.
This is a hard one for me because I am not a risk taker. I want to play everything safe. But then again... doing awful things to my characters is therapeutic on a bad day and saves my kids some fear.
3. Create More Supporting Characters with Strong Connections to the Main Character
Because the reader already feels a connection to main character (thanks, Sympathy!), they can relate even more to the supporting characters. As a matter of fact, supporting characters are a help to the reader by acting out what the reader wants to do for the main character.
You don't want to go overboard with the number of supporting characters because that could get confusing. But if you have a few, who react differently to the main character, you can cover several different emotional levels of the readers.
4. Complicate Relationships
You have to do this just to emulate real life and make secondary characters as real as the main characters. When a character is too forgiving, or not selfish enough, they are nothing more than 2-dimensional paper dolls. The readers will throw them away like a used tissue. A book about a main character who gets everything they want won't be more than 10 pages long. Your story arc requires problems, and most problems in real life (read: relatable in your book) come from other people, don't they?
The secondary characters must have wants and needs to be real enough for the story. And of course, it has to be difficult to get these needs to line up with those of the main character. Figuring out how to handle those other problems is just another stepping stone for the main character's growth.
5. Force Characters to Make Difficult Decisions
These decisions should be complicated enough that the audience doesn't know a right answer. (Think: Sophie's Choice, though it doesn't necessarily have to be that depressing.) The solutions to the problem should have equal consequences, whether they are positive outcomes, negative, or a combination. There should be room for readers to argue among themselves about what the character should have done. Look at that - you've just created a book club for your novel! (Or at least a discussion on Goodreads.)
By the way, the characters MUST choose. Enforce some kind of time limit on them to heighten the stress. They can't run away from their problems, or else the reader will run away from the book.
6. Have the Characters Make Some Bad Choices to Highlight Their Flaws
It makes the characters real. Readers will put down a book when the character is so perfect that they (the readers) feel bad about themselves.
When a character makes a mistake, a reader sometimes feels that they are smarter than the character and would never have made that mistake themselves, leading the reader to make judgments about the character, and thus involving them more greatly in the story. (Think of the stupid people in horror movies. As soon as you, the audience, say, "I would never have done that. I would have done this instead," you have inserted yourself into the story.)
It's also important to use this strategy to prolong the story and make the story arc lumpy enough to succeed.
7. When It Seems the Plot is Just About Resolved, Throw in a New Complication
The goal here is to make the reader get angry at you for not ending the book. You should hear screams of, "Nooooo!" all around the world. The only thing better than getting readers to feel strongly about your characters, is for them to feel strongly about you, the author. Oh, don't worry, they will SAY they hate you for what you do to them, but those readers are hiding their secret addiction to your work and will count the days until your next book. (I think.)
And once again, the flow of your book depends on that lumpy story arc. Readers may be surprised, but they are actually expecting a wrench in the plans as part of the rhythm of the story. You just caught them off-guard, and that's okay. They'll get over it when they finish the book. As a matter of fact, that point where they screamed cuss words at you? Their favorite part.
8. Show the Reader the Answer at the Beginning, But Make It Disappear Along the Way, So That When the Answer Shows Up Again At the End, the Surprise of It Is Almost Comical
I love doing this. As a reader, you know what's going to happen - you were told flat out in the beginning, before you had any emotional attachments. But then, as you keep reading, you grow so close to the character, that you can't imagine the author would actually do what she said she was going to do. And then she does it.
Go ahead, Readers, hate me! Bring it on. I love playing with your emotions.
9. Make Them Cry
The ultimate goal. Manipulate readers' emotions to the point of physical response.
I discovered the joy of this each year when one of my children turned a year old. I loved to write poems reflecting back on their babyhoods. But I loved it even more when relatives would complain how I made them cry when they read it.
It's the sneaky way we fiction writers are going to take over the world. When we get into readers' heads and control their emotions, we become the overlords. Now, if only we can get them to read our books in the first place…
10. Do Something New
Sometimes you need a break from what you've been doing. I have been writing, editing, and sending out for publishing the books in my Angelmen series for the past 3 years now, but since I am pretty much through with the idea, I need to keep fresh thoughts coming in. So I have several other stand-alone books begun - some are just ideas - to work on when I need a break. A writer needs to write, so we just can't stop!
I'm eager to get back to my books and put these project goals to work. I'm also eager to get to other ideas to improve my writing too, so if you have anything to add here, I'd love to steal it! (Oops! I mean read about it…)
Happy New Year to one and all!
I've been a bit of a downer lately. I've also been a great big ball of stress and worry, thanks to my daughter's diabetes. But no one should know better than me - a confirmed optimist - that it's time to look at the positives God has given me in my life.
There's a meme going around that says something like, "Dear Naps, I'm sorry I hated you growing up." Well, I was always a nuisance as a child about making sure I got my sleep. (My lucky parents!) So while that letter does not apply to me, there are a few other things I'm slapping my head about.
1. Christmas Taking So Long to Come
Noooo! Slow down! I would like to breathe. I would like time to take in the season and think about the Reason. All of a sudden, we're in the middle of December. Maybe because when I was a kid all I had to do in December was open a window on the Advent calendar. Granted, I get my cards & presents done early, but there are cookies and food to plan and prepare. I would like to just sit back and look at our tree or drive around looking at lights, thinking about how they reflect the true meaning of Christmas.
In our family of 5, I am doing laundry more days than I am not. Yes, I am glad we have an assortment of clothes to choose from, but this point goes beyond that. Time doing the laundry is time that I can stand up and get away from my computer, putting my hands to another use. Also, I tend to use that "brainless time" to make phone calls. So, doing laundry is almost like taking a break.
3. Cleaning Out the Fridge
This chore used to make me gag. I didn't keep up with it as much as I needed to. Now that I am better at throwing out expired items, I can take the time to see how blessed we are to have what we have. (It also feeds my inner need to organize things the best way I can. Like Tetris!)
4. My Body
I have a new motto- I do my best with what I've got. I live with the consequences, good or bad. No excuses. Age is going to happen, but it happens to everyone.
5. Nothing on TV
To me it seems like there IS never anything good on TV anymore. (Other than sports, IMO.) As a child, this was a problem, because I wasn't much of a reader. Now, it's almost a relief that there isn't anything on TV that I want to watch. Every night, I can relax with my computer and write books and wonderful blog posts like this. (Taking a break on Sundays and Monday nights for football, of course.)
When you aren't happy with your job, it's hard to get up in the morning. I had a few jobs like that. But now, I love all the jobs I have. True, I only work part time, and so I get to sleep a little later than most people do, which is a big plus. But beyond that, Mondays make me very happy now.
7. School Days
Mondays make me happy for another reason too. My kids go to school. Don't get me wrong - I love my children. But I am excited about the opportunities they have in school. You see, I loved school in the early days, and I am glad they get to experience that too. Of course, as I got older, and school got harder (and earlier), I started to complain. No more. (Added bonus - peace and quiet at home to get MY work done.)
8. Things Not Placed at Right Angles
I am still OCD about things being organized in a neat and orderly fashion. But it has rubbed off on the offspring. I noticed it as my daughter threw a fuss at a restaurant when her chair had to be pulled crooked to let a few people through. She needed it to be straight. I can understand her discomfort, but trying to keep up with her compulsions as well as mine is keeping me quite busy. (I should have kept that complaint to myself.)
9. Being Bored
Oh what I wouldn't give for a little boredom! (Read: Time to myself with nothing pressing on my plate.) I'm trying to remember why boredom was such a dreaded circumstance when I was a kid. Why didn't I take more naps?
I'm not sure how or why this changed, and of course, it does not hold true when I am on vacation. But now, I treasure time sitting in my chair with a warm beverage, looking out the window. And how relaxing it is to snuggle up under the covers, listening to to the caress of the raindrops on the roof above my head. (Another reminder that I have a cozy bed and roof over my head.) Sleep is never really a problem for me on such nights.
This list was actually tough to compile, because I usually feel justified in my complaints. Don't we all? But finding what I did helped me realize that God has blessed me more than I tend to think, as long as I'm looking for it. How about you?
I turned 40 this year. Although I don't feel old, I am aware of fewer options available to me in my life. Most notably:
1. Start a professional athletic career -
This is the one that hurts the most, most likely because I watch a lot of sports. I want to be able to do what they do! Of course, it is always encouraging to follow Adam Vinatieri (Colt's kicker) who is still a year older than me. However, he did start a long, long time ago.
2. Be considered "cute"-
If all fairness, this will probably come back to me in another 50 years. I know I will be that 90-year old lady, sitting in front of a window at the nursing home with a smile on my face. Everyone will walk by and say what a cute old lady. Just like they would to a baby. That middle part? Those are all the awkward years.
3. Eat crackers for dinner and expect to lose 5 lbs.-
A week before I got married (at age 23), I thought I wanted a little extra room in my wedding dress. So, for a week, I ate crackers with peanut butter. It did the trick, and everything was nice and roomy. If I were to do that now? I would likely blow up from the carbs and eat all the pancakes the next morning.
4. Squats (without stretching)-
Any exercise done at this point in life needs a little consideration before it's begun. Muscles at this age have been around long enough to understand what exercise REALLY is- the breaking down of muscle in order to rebuild it. They don't want to go through that, so they resist it. But, if you break into it gently, you might be able to coax them into the idea that it isn't so bad.
5. Ignore certain health issues-
Oh, the foods I used to eat. The fat-laden, carb-rich dinners. And then dessert. I'm not a total health nut at this point, of course. (That will take the pleading of many doctors and use of the phrase, "Do you have a living will?") But, every doctor visit brings up the question of my cholesterol. Also, my family medical history is brought into the picture. "How many of your relatives have high cholesterol? And how many have had heart disease? Oh, you had a grandmother die from this condition? Hmm."
6. Read in the dark-
I still have 20/15 vision. But blurrier days are ahead. I have no need to rush them. I like being able to see. So, as much as I want to finish the next chapter, I'm going to grab a book light to do it.
7. Go to a restaurant and throw sugar packets over at another table-
Mostly because the kids are watching. Guess I'm not in college anymore, hard as that seems to believe.
8. Do the cup game in public-
You break one glass. Sheesh.
9. Smile a lot-
As a catcher, I used to make my pitcher crack up because I was always smiling behind my mask. (Honestly, that was just how I had to position my chin to keep the mask sitting properly on my tiny little head.) But smiling did continue to be my norm though out each day. Now? Wrinkles. Blah. Okay, world, it's not that I'm not happy anymore, I just don't want my eyes and mouth to look older than they are.
10. Complain about having such thick, beautiful hair-
OK, I never complained about "beautiful" hair, but now when I look back at it, I see that I never noticed the beauty that was thick hair. When I see it all going down the drain in the shower, I miss the necessity of conditioner.
Come to think of it, there are a lot of things which I didn't notice when I was younger. As I get older, I'd like to think I am seeing more and appreciating more. More than anything, I hope for many more years to look around. I'll use the book light if I have to, though.
My last blog post, telling the story of the discovery of my little one's Type 1 Diabetes, became one of my most highly viewed posts. That tells me that many of you are concerned about the health of our children - mine and yours as well.
So, I'd like to help you even more. Here, I am providing you a list of ten symptoms that could be clues that you are dealing with Type 1 Diabetes. After reading it, you might be able to get a step up on this disease, should it happen to you or your child. (Type 1 Diabetes does not ONLY affect children. For this reason, it is no longer called "juvenile diabetes.") If you see a combination of these symptoms, contact your doctor. If you suggest you suspect diabetes, a glucose test would be a very simple way to get a better idea.
Before I list the warning signs, first I want to explain how a non-diabetic (Type 1) body functions. Your body takes in sugar (mostly through carbohydrates) to get energy. In order for the sugar to get into the cells, it needs to be delivered to the cells with insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas for that purpose only. Without insulin, the sugar sits around waiting for it to be taken to the cells. The longer it sits waiting, the higher the level of sugar in your blood.
The pancreas of a Type 1 Diabetic has stopped functioning. It no longer produces insulin, so the insulin needs to be injected into the body to get the sugar into the cells. If you don't get the insulin into the body, the following could be seen:
1. Frequent Urination
This is one of the most common symptoms of diabetes - one that should not be overlooked. I should have known something was was wrong when my little one had to visit the restroom 4 times at a baseball game this summer. I thought she was just bored.
Why does this happen?
When the sugar in your body does not go into your cells as it should, it has to go somewhere else. Some of it stays in your body, seeping into your blood, rotting and turning acidic, but some of it is washed out with all the water you are drinking.
2. Unusual Thirst
It was summer. Even though it wasn't too hot, she was going through several water bottles each day. My only thought was, Water is good. I'm glad she's drinking.
If the body is dehydrated (from the frequent urination), it will do whatever it can to compensate. Unfortunately, this is a losing battle until the body gets the insulin needed to make it work.
3. Fruity Breath
I didn't specifically notice that it was fruity, but I did notice a strong smell.
When the ketones (protein in the blood) break down, one of the byproducts released creates a fruity fragrance.
4. Stomach Pain/Vomiting
One way we knew we were not dealing with a virus was that vomiting did not make my daughter feel any better, as it often does with a virus. She felt worse. If this ever happens again, I will know it is a very bad thing.
Vomiting is the body's last resort to get rid of something. In this case, sugar.
5. Shallow (or Deep) Breathing
This was the one symptom my daughter had that helped us realize something was really not right, even when she seemed to be doing okay. It sounded like she had a stuffy nose, but she didn't.
Respiration is another of the body's defenses - a way of trying to get those acidic byproducts out of its system.
For almost the whole summer, my little one seemed to be in a bad mood. Some days she stopped talking altogether, resorting to just screaming and growling. It was terribly unpleasant, and I was tired of making excuses for her. Now that we see a direct correlation between her bad moods and high blood sugar, I feel a lot better knowing the reason for her (now less frequent) grumpiness.
No clue. I actually haven't read anything about this being common. But it is a given in my daughter, maybe just from not feeling good.
I didn't believe my daughter was dehydrated. She had been drinking plenty. Looking at her, however, I could see what the medical professionals meant. Her eyes were very sunken.
It doesn't even out. As much as the body might be taking in by drinking, it gives it right back through urination. Throw in any vomiting whatsoever, and there is now an unbalance.
8. Weight Loss
My daughter was just about 60 lbs. at her well visit in June. At the ER in early September, she weighed just over 40. Through the summer, I noticed she looked thinner, but I assumed it was a growth spurt, and that she was growing taller to stretch out her baby fat.
Your body's cells still need to get energy from somewhere. Since they are not getting it from the sugar ingested, they start to eat away at fat reserves and muscles. (The consumption of the muscle leads more quickly to the drop in the pH level of the blood, because it is getting protein from the muscle and giving off an acidic byproduct.)
No wonder my child wanted to be carried so much more than before. By the time we got to the ER, she couldn't even walk anymore.
Remember- energy comes from the burning of sugar. The sugar that doesn't get into the cells cannot be burned.
We had gone out to dinner the Saturday before my daughter went to the hospital. She didn't want to tell us that her stomach hurt because she was so hungry and afraid we wouldn't let her eat.
Again, sugar is not getting to the body's cells. The cells are sending a message to the brain that they want food/energy!
It's my hope that you do not have to go through this yourself or with any of your children. But if you do, it is much less taxing on the body to catch it early. Here's hoping that a hospital visit can be avoided for any possible diabetics who see these symptoms.
Feel free to pass this information on to those you care about.
There are some things that feel good, and then there are the things in your life that feel good. The moments that you look forward to the whole day and make your whole week. The events that you post and tweet about. It might have been something you spent a year looking forward to, or something that took you pleasantly by surprise.
The things that keep you from being depressed and remind you that life is indeed good. That God is a good God who provides good gifts. Little things that mean maybe more to you than someone else, but that doesn't make it any less important.
Here are my "soul soothers":
1. Singing along with good worship music
Nothing gets me to church with more excitement than knowing I get to sing. Sing to God. To God. Where else can you let your voice go free in a room full of people who feel the same thing? Singing causes a release of some very important brain chemicals, and I would swim in them if I could. I am thankful to our faithful worship leader at church who seems to guide me to that place each week.
2. A chiropractor appointment
Ahhh… then the other body changes. A release in pressure on certain nerves. Sometimes I don't even realize how bad it is until I finish my appointment and come out walking straighter. I am thankful to have good health care all around.
3. Hearing my kids laugh
Basically because it means that they are not fighting or complaining. It means the joy of success. They are alive and should stay that way for the next few minutes. I am thankful for each one of my three kids, no matter what their mood.
3b. Hearing my kids sleep
This goes with the previous statement, but there is something else that goes along with this one. The repetitious pattern of their breathing calms me down as well. They are resting, so I can too. I am thankful that there is night.
4. Seeing my husband be playful
First of all, I know this means his stress level is going down. It also always leads me to giving thanks for the husband He gave me.
5. The first down stroke with resistance on a bike ride
I don't understand this one at all, other than the thrill over overcoming resistance, pushing through what is pushing back. And winning. Also, it propels the bike to go faster - another exciting thrill. I'm thankful for a body that can exercise.
6. Pumping through a heavy set of weights at the gym
I think this might be another sensation of "winning," of conquering another weight set. Of knowing that although I have worn out my muscles today, I will wake up stronger. Or maybe it is something secreted by my glands to make me feel that good. I'm thankful for those hormones.
7. Stepping into my best friend's kitchen and realizing it's time to talk
There's a reason she's my best friend. And when I get to her house and smell that coffee, I know it is the beginning of down time. It helps that our kids love to play together, so I know we won't be bothered (too much). But this is where girlfriend talk therapy is at it's finest. I am thankful for lasting friendships.
8. Finishing a good run
This one I know is chemically-related. (natural chemicals, of course.) Not every run is a good run, and because of that, I must treasure and make the best of the ones I get. So when I finish, it is the joy of having it in the past. I am thankful for finishing.
9. The first bite of something really good
I love food. Especially sweets. Because what I love is so bad for me, it isn't something I can eat every day. Again, I know I need to take the time to enjoy it. Cheesecake. Premium ice cream. Rich brownies. The texture of such yummy food leads to the slow sinking of my teeth against the smooth delicacies. And that's just enough time to think, "Oh, yeah." I'm thankful for chocolate.
10. Cool sand enveloping my feet
The beach at night… ahhhh. Maybe it's just the location and the fact that it means I am on vacation that makes this event so savory. Or maybe the cool temperature against warm toes soothes my feet, and those feelings travel all the way up to my heart. God was good to make sand so plentiful. I'm thankful for escapes.
Hitting every green light.
This one doesn't feel good right down to my soul, but it sure makes me happy. I would tweet about it, but by the time I got home, too many other events have gotten in the way of my mind.
Getting really close to Grandma's house, after the 3 hour trip.
The completion of this long trip always ended in the sweet smell of Grandma's house and hugs to go around. What's not to love about getting to Grandma's house?
Please share below what soothes your soul. I'd love to hear!
You've read the lists of questions writers hate. Now you want to avoid us. But, no, no, please don't go away! We really DO like you, and we need you as readers. Allow me to invite you into a discussion where your author friend does not bite your head off. Here are the questions we are dying for you to ask us.
1. "Why do you write?"
Sometimes the reason we are writing is more important to us than the actual book we are writing. Sure, some authors just have a story they want to get out. But usually, they want to get it out because they want someone to know the story. It's that someone that's important to us. We really want to tell you about them.
2. "What kind of books do you write?"
Asking "what kind" might be better than asking, "What's your book about?" Our books are usually at least 200 pages long, and we know you don't want to hear more than a sentence or two. We could never sum it up that consisely. But if we mention a type of book you like to read, we will happily direct you to a catalog or website that tells you about all of our books.
3. "Where can I find out about your book?"
Ah, phew. You have again let us escape that oh-so-difficult question of "What is your book about?" Most authors have gone to painstaking lengths to get their wording precise on their website. Usually, their website will tell you everything you ever needed to know about their books. I, for one, am terrible at composing words on my feet. I need time to sit down and type it all out. I need to SEE what I'm saying. (I guess that's why I'm a writer! Don't ever try to call me on the phone.) We try to consider you, the reader, as much as possible by linking our information to popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest, etc., and we also try to make the names of these links as easy as possible to remember. (I thought www.tcslonaker.com was pretty easy.) Reading about our books on our websites also helps drive other traffic there as well by boosting our Google rating.
By the way, to read more about the YA Christian fantasy books I have written, click here. (after you finish this post, of course.)
4. "I usually find out about the books I like from [this blogger]. Have you ever heard of him?"
Maybe you have no interest in our books. That's fair. We can't please everyone. But you still want to help us out? Thank you! It is so hard to track down people who might like our books. The best way to do that is to go where the readers go. Getting us connected in any way to other potentially interested readers is just as good as getting the book yourself.
5. "Where can I get your book?"
Please ask. If you are asking, I'm sure it's because you want to help me out. Some well-intentioned friends will buy the books I have on consignment at book stores as a way to support me. Unfortunately, I only have those book in stores to give exposure to people who have never heard of me. I am selling them for less than I paid for them and am losing money on them. But hopefully I will gain a fan from it. Others have bought lots of print copies of my books, just because they thought I got more royalties from a print book since it is more expensive. In actuality, I make more royalties on ebooks, because they cost much less to produce. The bottom line is we want you to get what you like. But if your goal is to get more money in our pockets, ask us how to do that. And thanks in advance for that!
6. "Is there a way I can get your book for free?"
Don't be shy! I am always a little embarrassed to ask people to spend their hard-earned money on anything. (Did I mention what a terrible salesperson I am?) We might not be able to give you a free copy, since authors do have to buy their own books, but we might have ideas for you. For example, ask your local library to order it! Most libraries take requests from their patrons. Then, not only do you get to read it for free, it can be there for others to read, too!
7. "Should I leave you alone for a little bit?"
Tell the truth. Your impression of a writer is someone holed up in a room, finger thoughtfully poised on their chin, waiting for ideas. That isn't too far from reality sometimes, except that it is far from peaceful. While we are waiting for ideas, waiting for our brains to get in "the zone", we are getting nervous that the idea will never come. And while we are waiting and getting nervous, we are terrified of those brain waves getting interrupted. It happens. Life … happens. So, we understand your desire to hang out and talk with us. But if we could get just an hour of silence, we would probably get that idea and be so thankful.
8. "I read your book. Now what can I do for you?"
We aren't sure what to say when you tell us, "I read your book." Hopefully, you will also say that you liked it. (If you didn't, we KNOW you wouldn't have brought it up.) But we are bursting to say, "Then please tell someone about it!" We will be happy to explain ways you can do that. Don't be scared of the word, "review." We aren't looking for a whole blog post (unless that's what you do). A review could be as easy as going on Amazon and saying, "I really liked this book. The main character was very believable." Done. By just doing that one little step, you told Amazon that you believe other people should read the book, and they will "recommend" it to others for you.
9. "Will there be another book coming after this one?"
This is a kinder variation than, "When's the next book?" I am learning that it is hard to get a release date nailed down. There are more variables involved than even I know about. I had no idea when my last book was going to be released. So when I was asked - almost daily - "When is your book going to be out?" I started avoiding all people. Trust me, we won't be shy about letting you know when our next work is out.
10. "Would you sign my book?"
You aren't a bother! We love to feel like a celebrity, even if we have only sold less than 100 books in total. And hey, we can use the practice in case we ever do make it big. You can say you got one of the first signed copies. And if we never make it big? Well, you still made us feel good. Thanks.
So now that I have put these questions out for you, I'd love to answer them for you! Which conversation would you like to have with me?
There are wars going on in the world right now; should I really be concerned if my kids say please and thank you? Will it make a difference?
Well, imagine a world of adults living by the Golden Rule, thinking of others first and more highly than themselves. Something tells me the world could be a better place.
Of course, I mostly want my kids to grow up loving Jesus, but if I need to pass something else on to them as well, I hope it would be one of these:
1. Don't Make Others Wait If You Can Help It
This means don't sit a a traffic light and play on your phone while people wait behind you. Don't tell the waiter to go away because you haven't looked at the menu yet, since you were busy playing on your phone. Don't check the football scores while your family is waiting in the car to go somewhere. (I'm not saying I'm not guilty of some of these - we all need help practicing consideration.)
Application for my kids to practice:
When Mom or Dad asks you to do something, don't say, "Just a minute." Get up and do it.
2. Do Something Helpful Whenever You Can
Even if you don't know the person. Even if they don't deserve it. Even if you don't want to. Don't just open the door for the elderly person behind you (but absolutely do that!), also open it for the person who is not paying attention to where they are walking. They may never see what you have done for them, and that's okay. And it doesn't matter who you are, someone else might be more tired than you. Please stand up and give them your seat on the subway.
Application for my kids to practice:
Open doors for others, give others your seat, pick up what someone else has dropped for them, and always look out for way to make life easier for others.
3. Always Indicate Your Plans to Others Who Need to Plan Around You.
So if you plan to make a turn, use a turn signal in your car or on your bike! If you always eat dinner together as a family, be sure to give notice when you aren't. If you are calling out sick, give your supervisor as much notice as possible.
Application for my kids to practice:
Make sure Mom or Dad knows about any schedule changes that your coach tells you about after practice.
4. Don't Be Fashionably Late to Events with a Definite Starting Time
The people who arrived on time are wondering why they bothered. Why does someone else get to stay home a few extra minutes and get things done, when they have to sit around and wait? They had things at home they wanted to get done too.
Or, if no one waited for you, your entrance could make a disturbance. If you come into church when it has begun, someone who was trying to focus on God is now focusing on you. You are not God.
Application for my kids to practice:
If you have a long term project due at school, don't wait until the last minute to get it started.
5. Don't Be Overly Early, Either.
Think about planning a party. There are cold hor d'oevres that you don't want to get out until just before the guests arrive. You have just pulled out the knife to slice those veggies when... the doorbell rings. Now, you have guests you need to entertain AND work to do. Tough one to juggle without being so rude as to ask your guest to start slicing.
Don't be that guest. Just remember that other people have their time planned out carefully, sometimes.
Application for my kids to practice:
Give Mom time in the bathroom before assaulting her with questions.
6. Assume the Best in Others Before Jumping to Conclusions
Maybe the woman with the screaming child at the supermarket is ignoring him because she's refusing to give in to a temper tantrum. Good for her! But the person who just suggested she do something different made her second guess her effort.
Maybe the person who parked in the handicapped spot just forgot to put their placard up on their windshield. I'm sure they have plenty of other things on their mind.
Application for my kids to practice:
Remember that not everyone is out to get you. We're all in this together.
7. Don't Leave a Mess
Even if it doesn't seem like a big deal, SOMEONE is going to have to put your cart back in the cart corral. And yes, it may be someone's job to do it, but there is no need to make someone's job harder than it has to be.
And people who look into shopping baskets that already have a bunch of trash in them are making judgments about the condition of the store.
Application for my kids to practice:
Put away what you get out as soon as you finish.
8. Use Kind Words
Let's go beyond please and thank you. Important, yes, but I am tired of everyone harping on those two phrases as if a child who says "please" has just graduated to the world of the civil. It goes beyond that. (And "Please shut up" is still not very polite.) How about "Excuse me?" Or, "Can I help you?"
In a grocery aisle the other day, I stood waiting for an incredibly long time as person after person strolled by while I stood bunched up against the cereal waiting for them to pass so that I could move. One person in the middle of this line looked at me and said," Excuse me." I really appreciated that. Something about another person recognizing your inconvenience makes it more tolerable.
Application for my kids to practice:
Learn the right words to say at the right times. And always try to use words to build another up, never tear down.
9. Keep Your Anger Under Control
How many public service attendants or retail sale associates or customer service representatives go home crying every night?
Mistakes happen. And sometimes company owners are greedy and know they are doing something they shouldn't. But yelling at the part-time girl who can do nothing about that doesn't always change things.
Application for my kids to practice:
Don't raise your voice at another. When you are angry, settle down with a deep breath before you speak.
10. TRY to Put Others Before Yourself.
If walking isn't a hardship, don't take the closest parking space. If someone came to visit you, give them the time of day!
And sharing is sometimes just hard for adults as it is for kids. We tend to have an attitude of "I deserve this." (With TV commercials bombarding our brains with that message, it's no wonder.) But the truth is, we don't really deserve any more than someone else. Why not make their day a little better however you can?
Application for my kids to practice:
If a friend asks to play, play with them. If someone else wants something you have, let them have it.
Speak When Spoken To; Don't Speak to Someone on Your Phone if You are in Someone Else's Presence.
I have a daughter who very often does not like to acknowledge others when they say hello to her. She claims to be "shy," but I don't think I am doing her any favors in this world by allowing that in her. As she grows, she will have to speak to others. (So if you have encountered this in her, don't worry - we're working on it!)
As for the second part of my statement, please save me embarrassment! How many people have I spoken to and answered questions for in a store when I did not see the Bluetooth in their other ear? If we keep this up, our society is going to learn to never speak to one another in person - only on the phone.
Application for my kids to practice:
Speak when spoken to and don't speak to someone on your phone if you are in someone else's presence.
Yes, I know there are bigger problems in the world than people pushing to get in front of someone else or making people wait. But think about the heart of the attitude behind it. If we can teach our kids to put others first, maybe the next generation will have one less thing to worry about.
Would YOU add anything else to this list?
Summer. A good time to read. And I LOVE characters. Sometimes, the best characters are the ones that suffer the most. As long as they have enough normal, human (or whatever race they may be) flaws to make them believable, I am happy.
So here's a fun place to discuss some of the characters I've come across - from books, movies, and other shows. I'm not putting these in any kind of order, and I list the name of the book from which the character comes under the character's name. If you are really afraid of spoilers, you might not want to read what I wrote about that character. Don't say I didn't warn you.
From The Hunger Games.
This guy loses even when he wins. Normally, I feel for the underdog, but characters who are almost completely helpless do not appeal to me. When he gets what he wants, he can never know if it is real or not.
The Cowardly Lion
From The Wizard of Oz
The Lion felt like he was supposed to be brave. But was there really a need for that in his everyday life? The mere nature of being a lion made sure he had no predators. What's wrong with being a mild-mannered lion? Peer pressure, apparently.
Anyone who had to be around Annie
I'm an optimist, and pessimists really bring me down. But there is a limit to how much perkiness even I can stand. Seriously girl, get a grip on reality. You are an orphan and bad guys are out to get you! It's okay to not sign about it.
from Mary Poppins
Obviously, Bert - a sweet gentleman - is in love with Mary Poppins and waits for her arrival at every unannounced time. There is nothing more he can do, but Mary always leaves him. Sure, this book/movie isn't about their romance. It isn't even technically there. But beyond his Mary issues, Bert is a talented, handy guy with impeccable manners, and yet he appears to be homeless.
from Star Wars
Another guy who got the short end of the stick. There was only one way to save his true love from death - by destroying everything good in the universe. Not a great plan. And really, it's not best to take the word of the most evil being in the universe. Might there have been a chance he was lying?
from The Fellowship of the Rings trilogy
He went through quite a lot, didn't he? Just to solve a problem that wasn't really his to begin with. Did he ever wish he had never picked that ring up off the floor of his house?
from Les Miserables
Even when she had the upper hand, so to speak, as a child, she still had crummy parents and lived in the gutter. The man she loved didn't even notice her until she got shot.
from The Book Thief
Poor Rudy. (If I had a nickel for every time I said that while reading the book...) He had such a promising life ahead of him. And all he wanted was one little kiss.
from Little House in the Big Woods
In actuality, I mean to say that I have no envy for any pioneer mother. Even though kids took on a big part of the chores at an early age, Ma was still expected to completely care for the home and family, help Pa with some of his chores, give birth in her own bed, keep her hair up and petticoats down. All this without running water or a microwave to heat heat up the coffee.
from Malachi of the Angelmen
Well, you all have no idea about this one, because the only one who has read it is me! So just a little background here - Malachi is desperate for the acceptance of his father, until he accepts the fact that he will never get that. The life of this 22- year-old could have been promising, had he not committed to supporting his dad by dropping out of school and taking a store clerk job. His human life, anyway. His calling as the commander of the angelmen army is a different story.
This is a fun topic! I'd love to hear some of your favorite or least favorite characters. Comment below.
The other day I was run off the road while driving my kids to the pool. The driver of the other car was driving in my lane at full speed. After I pulled to the side, I quickly glanced in my rearview mirror to see that the other driver was continuing in the wrong lane, so s/he was oblivious to the fact that s/he could have just taken the lives of me and my three kids.
My dad dreaded the day he had to teach me to drive. He took vehicle usage very seriously and passed that awe down to me. Rule number one was always to drive defensively. "It's not you; it's all the other idiots you have to watch out for."
Some people today, it seems, are missing some of the fear-of-what-can-happen-in-a-car attitude. Do they not remember the driver's ed. videos showing detailed accidents? Too many people today treat their cars like an extra appendage rather than a 2-ton trap of combustibles, glass, and steel.
Probably the most dangerous thing you can do in the car (other than not pay attention to what you are doing by using a phone or texting!) is to get angry. Anger leads to hate... hate leads to the Dark Side... wait, wrong movie again.
So rather than get mad on the road, I will just tell you what some people do on the road that make me angry.
1. Handicapped Turn-Signal Users:
I will assume these folks are handicapped, and that there is some legitimate reason for not letting others know what your driving plans are. Because I really hate surprises.
Why it drives me mad: I've been taught to be overly-cautious. You know, never assume that what people indicate is really their intention, or vice versa. Case in point, if a person is driving straight along a road, I will wait for them to pass me before turning onto the road. It would be rude of me to pull out in front of them. Only, it seems that half the time, the person changes their mind (or whatever) and turns onto my road instead. Really? I just waited for you so that I wouldn't be the rude one, and you gave no indication that it wasn't necessary. Consideration, please!
2. Timid Mergers:
This is the person in front of me on a highway entrance ramp who literally stops before merging in.
Why it drives me mad:
There is sometimes a need to stop before merging, most especially in high traffic. But frequently, you come across folks who just see the triangular "yield" sign as a "stop," even when their lane is wide open. The person behind has already made their merging plan, found the spot where they will fit, and ... oh no stop the car! The guy in front isn't moving!
3. Forceful Mergers:
Now we have the opposite. Those who don't see an opening and decide to make one anyway.
Why it drives me mad:
I drive a smaller car and lack much of a spine when it comes to playing it safe. When a car is coming at me, I move over! But sometimes I can't. I guess the other driver just figures that's my problem. (A problem I wouldn't have if s/he didn't create it for me.)
4. New People:
Again, I am assuming these folks are either new, blind, or 90 years old. These are the people who stop at intersections when they do not have a stop sign. You find them often in those horribly designed mall parking lots. But there are a few in my neighborhood as well.
Why it drives me mad:
Not only does it throw off the person behind them, who was planning on following the traffic pattern by not stopping (who then needs to slam on brakes), but it throws off the other people who DO have the stop signs. "Wait, are they letting me go? Or are they just clueless? Should I go? Does he even know I'm here? If I start, is he going to go anyway? Is it some crazy game of chicken?"
5. Overzealous Honkers
Not the biggest problem, but any honking makes me jump and wonder what I've done.
Why it drives me mad:
It can also cause me to go, even if I am sitting at a red light. This is also the worst when I am on a bike - the wind from the passing car is hard enough to deal with, but the noise from the horn can put me on edge enough to lose my balance and fall off. Horns are in cars to warn another that you are there because, possibly, you have not been seen, not to let others know you are angry, or to try to make cyclists jump.
SO many categories of people fit here. I have addressed a few. But how about those who tailgate at 70 mph? Or those who are keeping you out of their lane at all costs, including running you into a median or off the road.
Why it drives me mad:
No one likes a bully. I've been run into and off of things. Although it wouldn't for me, this kind of behavior could incite deadly occurrences of road rage.
7. Multi-Tasking Red-Light Waiters
It has become so common these days I rarely see someone with their head up during a traffic stop.
Why it drives me mad:
OK, it's better than texting or calling WHILE driving, but if I am not involved in your conversation, I don't see why I need to wait for yours to end before I can go through that green light.
Also, I have noticed that these people often don't pay attention to where they have stopped. They might be taking up more than one lane, or more often in the crosswalk. While trying to cross in a crosswalk the other day (when I had the light), I had to knock on the window of a car preventing me from using the crosswalk. The teen girl driver jumped a mile and nearly dropped her phone.
8. Non-Observant Lane Changers
I'm talking about the guy you see floating between lanes, doing everything he can not to be stuck behind a slower driver. You usually see him just pull into any lane where he thinks he fits. (Much like the Forceful Merger.)
Why it drives me mad:
Well this is obvious; it's dangerous as there will be high-speed braking involved. And since many people don't keep a safe following distance... you can imagine the rest. (I'd rather not!) I'd like to know what happened to the rule that said you need to see both headlights in your rearview mirror before pulling in front of someone. (And use your turn signal.)
9. Lane Drifters
How is this different from the one above? This is the person who doesn't commit to a lane. H/she makes you think s/he is pulling into your lane, but really is just drifting. I wouldn't think it's not a conscious decision (unlike above).
Why it drives me mad:
You know it's safer to be in front of this person. S/he could throw on the brakes at any moment. But is isn't quite safe enough to pass either. You're stuck.
What? I have only included nine? This is my gift to YOU, so that you can even it out with the 10th annoying driving habit. I know you have one; I left plenty. Comment what YOU would include for number 10.
Because I love even numbers and lists!