Thursday, October 22, 2009

In Loving Memory...

Two weeks ago our family suffered a great loss. WB's grandmother passed away. She was 94 years old and up until a few weeks ago in very good health. We are so thankful that in the end she passed peacefully, had her three children with her, and was able to converse with them.

With our sadness comes great joy in knowing this woman, Mary Catherine or Mary C. as she was called by friends. Mom, Grandmommy, and Great-Gram by others. I could tell you she was a wonderful knitter, needlepointer, huge Dallas Cowboy fan, faithful follower of our Lord, wife, mother, sister and the list goes on and on. But I'd like to tell you what she taught me in particular.

I first met Grandmommy over 16 years ago when WB and I stopped by her house before a date. She and her husband lived in the same house they had lived in for over 40 years. As I met them at the door I couldn't help but smile at the very petite woman with the big brown eyes who stood beside her towering husband. Later I would be told she was the tallest of her sisters, hard to believe. But although small in size her heart and personality were enormous.

Being only a couple of hours away from where we went to college, and later just an hour from where we would live, I enjoyed many afternoons and evenings at their house. Grandmommy always had a warm meal and even a warm bed ready for me whenever I needed it. Being so far away from my own family I treasured the home-cooked meals and the afternoons spent watching football with her. She always muted the commercials, "Nonsense", she would say. Instead she preferred to spend the commercials chatting or sitting quietly as she needlepointed in her chair.

I watched as she buried her husband. Family crowding around to offer her support, yet it seemed as if she was really the pillar for everyone else. Her no-nonsense attitude combined with her strong faith saw her through the difficult times. I went into labor with my oldest child while visiting at her house. I felt overwhelmed, but she just nodded and said "Everything will be alright" which showered me with a sense of calmness.

There are so many stories to tell about this neat lady. She and her husband walked the floors of the hospital where they had volunteered for many, many years with a book cart. Granddaddy was 92 with braces on both legs as they both went room to room asking patients if they'd like a book or magazine to read from their cart. She made knitted blankets, caps, and slippers for a local charity every Christmas. She supported her church with whatever Father asked of her. She truly had a giving spirit.

But the one thing I will never forget is the way she taught me to pray. She was often given prayer intentions for it seemed she had a direct line to Heaven. One time when she was asked to pray for a particular thing she chuckled. "Well," she said, "I'm not in the business of telling God what to do, but rather I'll ask him to watch over you and guide you and to give you wisdom." So now whenever I pray I remember that. I don't tell God what to do but rather ask for His strength and guidance and that His will be done. It was a very powerful lesson she taught me that day.

You will be greatly missed Grandmommy, but I have no doubt you are resting in a most beautiful place. Godspeed!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Excuse My Absence Please

I'm sorry I've not been around. On Sunday my husband's grandmother passed away and as we were making plans to get to the funeral 3 out of my 5 family members came down with the swine flu. The funeral is this weekend and I hope to be back soon. I just need to take care of my precious ones at the moment and it is taking all I have.

Can't wait to catch up with everyone soon!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Strom Clouds Are Brewing

I love the wide open Texas skies that surround my house. At any given time I can view miles and miles of sky in any direction. Even when I am in town I can see a storm front on the horizon, one that might not even arrive here until evening.
At night I can watch the spectacular lightening show of an impeding storm. No sign of its presence for hours except for the jagged streams of light that dance across the sky on the horizon. Sometimes I can walk outside and just wait for the signs that the storm is almost upon me. I can sit unseen, darkness my cloak, as I listen for the distant sounds of thunder. Slowly, the wind begins to whirl around me with sounds of rumbling growing louder overhead giving me plenty of warning before the first drops of rain splatter against my upturned face.
No storm has ever snuck up on me while living in the Texas Panhandle. Some move quicker than others, but you know they are coming. That is why as a writer it unnerves me to read someones description of the Texas skies, whether it be the present or one hundred years ago, as some sort of silent stalker. It's difficult to stalk across hundreds of miles of open sky without someone noticing. Even if that storm builds right over you there is no missing it with no trees or tall buildings barring the view.
It kind of reminds me of those Hollywood movies where the setting is supposed to be Montana, yet when the actor drives along the highway you see Palm trees dotting the road. This drives me crazy. Who are they fooling?
Which brings me to my point. Whether you write historical or in the present what are some things you do to research your setting to make sure it come across as authentic? I myself tend to stick to writing about places I've been, but maybe not everyone does. Is there ways to get around that or will your reader not be fooled and know right away you've never walked along a crest in the Scotland Highlands?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

One Way To Promote Your Book...

I've told you all about my mother-in-law Pat and how she self-published a book a while back. It was about her childhood and growing up in the Texas Panhandle. One thing many people worry about when self-publishing is how are they going to promote their writing. Getting it out there. Actually, there are no guarantees even if you get published with a big publishing house that they will spend a lot of time or money on promoting your book. Much of the responsibility will fall on your shoulders either way you go.

My mother-in-law has done a great job of getting her work out there. She's given copies to local libraries, museums, and even where the hair salon where I get my hair done. It just happens to be in the same small town that many of her stories are about. Even though all of these books were given away they helped to spread the word about her book. Eventually, this form of networking will pay off.

One such way it has paid off for her is NPR (National Public Radio) called her and asked if she would agree to an on-air interview and reading an excerpt from her book, Growing Up In The Texas Panhandle. She agreed and came up one week to tape her segment. My oldest daughter decided to go with her to check out the workings of a radio station. Lucky for her because she ended up being interviewed too. What fun she had!

It pays to get yourself out there and spread the word about your book. You never know where it might lead.

What are your ideas about self-promoting your works?