Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter On My Mind

Easter is one of those occasions that marks milestones in our lives and is rich in memories and emotions. Christians (and some non-Christians too) will be celebrating Easter this weekend.  Some will make their once-a-year trip to Church.  Some will go all out for the Easter Bunny and commercialize the day as they do Christmas.  Most people I know with small children will find an egg hunt for their children, be it at the city park, some club or lodge, at a church, or in their own back yard and there will be Easter baskets Sunday morning. There are many still who will pause to think about Christ, their Savior, and the events that led up to His crucifixion and His victory over death. Most Christian denominations will hold special services Easter morning to celebrate, not His death, but the miracle of His coming forth from the tomb.

Dying hard boiled eggs has always been a part of my Easter tradition.  I've never been too sure what the connection is between fancy eggs and the serious events of the resurrection though I've heard a number of theories.  As one of eight children the procedure often got a bit messy around the kitchen table as we competed to produce the most beautiful or most original masterpieces.  A few years ago some of my daughters brought their children to my house to color eggs together.  That resulted in one of my chairs receiving a dye job too, but it also became a cherished memory.

One Easter we were in Washington DC visiting our son-in-law who was a patient at Walter Reed Army Hospital when a veterans organization held an egg hunt for the children of the wounded soldiers.  Our two-year-old grandson quickly figured out the object of the game and had a grand time racing all over the huge lawn collecting eggs filled with toys or candy. The event was well organized and included refreshments for the soldiers and their families and stuffed plush animals for all of the children.  There was something particularly poignant about watching men and women in wheel chairs, leaning on crutches, or wearing thick casts cheering on their children, laughing, and enjoying this family oriented outing.


As a farm child I always equated Easter with the arrival of boxes of new chicks, new goslings waddling after their mamas, a new colt in the pasture, and a wobbly calf in the barn.  Frequently a new litter of kittens took up residence in the loft of the barn.  The Easter Bunny didn't play a part in my childhood.  Mama didn't believe in mixing this commercial gimmick with what she considered the most important religious holiday of the year.  We had Easter baskets which we knew came from our parents and often my sisters and I had new dresses which we watched Mama sew for us. She told us the new life on the farm was a reminder of Christ's new life and the gifts of Easter baskets and new Sunday best clothes were a reminder that she and Daddy loved us just as God loved His Son and each of us. 

This Sunday I'll attend church and hear the story of the terrible events leading up to the resurrection of our Lord. I'll listen to the music that celebrates the hope given to all the inhabitants of the earth of eternal life.  I'll be particularly cognizant of new life all around me in the green of grass, flowers long hidden by mounds of snow, and the happy giggles of small children.  My family will enjoy ham and all of the trimmings along with the love and pleasure just being together brings.  There will be a special egg hunt for my grandchildren with eggs filled with a year's accumulation of coins.  As I always do I will reflect on a long ago Easter morning when with a group of other young people I climbed a small hill to watch the sun rise over the mountains.  I'll remember the testimony of His divinity that filled my heart with assurance that morning that Christ lives.  And I will rejoice because He is risen.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Books to Movies

I'm sure we all have bucket lists--things we'd like to accomplish before we mosey on to the next phase of existence. One of my bucket list items was to write a book. Check. And, to get it published. Check. Those two items are grand accomplishments, and to have them checked off my list fills me with amazement and gratitude. Never is my fantasy filled brain did I think one of my books would be made into a movie. That dream was so far beyond considering, that it wasn't even on my bucket list. Well, it's happened. Over the past month, they have been turning the characters and story of my book, Christmas for a Dollar, into a movie.


I've been on the set a couple of times, and the experience is surreal; especially since the story is based on my dad and his brothers and sisters as kids growing up during the Great Depression.

I'm going to post a couple of the pictures I've taken while on set. The screenwriter has posted on facebook if you'd like to see more. Just go to Christmas for a Dollar and "like" the site. You'll get an update on the daily shots.

I was just shy of 50 when published books, book signings, book clubs, and movies became part of my life. It's never too late. Keep dreaming. Keep believing.

Friday, March 22, 2013

When the muse disappears

What happens to a writer when the inspiration and excitement of creation vanishes? How do you recover the desire to fill the page with all the wonderful things that used to come so easily to your mind? How do you dispel the wonderful feeling of freedom that comes when that forbidden thought sneaks into your mind: "I don't have to do this anymore!" Is there a time that it is finally okay to say "Enough"? Does a serious writer ever really get to that point? Or is it just a temporary lull in good judgment, or a time of exhaustion of mind and body that brings it on? So many questions. Does anyone have any answers?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March Madness Sale

Covenant Communications has placed a lot of ebooks on sale. They're all $2.99 or less. The link below will take you to a listing of the books on this sale. It goes to a flyer with more details.

Included in this sale are books by Betsy Green, Lynn Gardner, Kerry Blair, Jennie Hansen, Stephanie Black, Michele Bell, Gregg Luke, N.C. Allen, and many others. Kindle readers, this is your chance to stock up on some great new and older books!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Marriage - My Thoughts

An American friend, visiting from the very heart of faithful Mormon Utah, was shocked to discover just how many people in Britain live together as couples without being married. I assumed that her objection was due to her religious sensibilities. Whilst I share her belief in the sanctity of marriage and importance of the law of chastity I live here so I'm used to other opinions. I have many friends who say "Marriage is just a piece of paper", or "I don't need a ring to tell me we're in love" and I'm quite happy to accept that as their view and let them enjoy their chosen lifestyle, even though I disagree.

I was surprised, then, when my friend told me her real objection to the idea of living together. "They are setting women's rights back years!" she protested. I naturally asked her to explain.

"What they are saying to those men," she said, "Is 'I will pay your mortgage with you, do your housework, have your children and raise them, but I expect no commitment from you in return.'"

I was shocked by what a good point she made. Because ultimately, that is true. And when those relationships break down, it is always the woman who comes off worse. A recent case perfectly illustrates this.  A wealthy couple had lived together for fifteen years but when the man decided he'd decided he'd had enough of his "common law wife" she was out on her ear and entitled to exactly nothing. She is taking him to court, but she isn't his wife and never was, so legally he doesn't have to provide for her.

If you think that case is sad, it's nothing to the women who readily engage in a sexual relationship only to find themselves pregnant and the man who professed to love them disappearing over the horizon in a cloud of dust. Their hopes for an education, a career or even a little time to develop their hobbies, interests and skills are subsumed as they struggle to cope with the life of a single mother, wondering whether the CSA will ever be able to get any money out of the feckless individual they once trusted enough to sleep with.

Do they ever think how different things would be if they had insisted the man married them before they jumped into bed with him? Either he would have disappeared over the horizon in a cloud of dust right then, before pregnancy was even a possibility, or he would be legally obliged to be at her side, helping with childcare and actually showing what real love is.

The fact is that there is no such thing as common-law marriage. In the eyes of the law even if you have lived with someone for fifty years if you are not married you are no more than two random strangers. You are not next of kin for medical purposes. You have no rights to the other person's property. If you have children in common, then they have only one parent - the mother. A friend's father found this to his cost when the woman he had lived with for over forty years developed Alzheimer's Disease. Although he wanted her to remain at home with him and was fully prepared to care for her, the woman's son (her legal next-of-kin) not only insisted she go into a home but ordered that her octogenarian "boyfriend" be denied visiting rights. She died within months. Had they been married it might have been a very different story.

Many people protest that marriage is an outdated and meaningless institution. I think they are wrong, and I think that the wider society also thinks that they are wrong. I cite four points in support of this:

  1. Weddings. Everyone loves the idea of getting a big dress and having a grand wedding in a fairytale castle. There seem to be hundreds of wedding programmes on TV at the moment, from "Don't Tell the Bride" to "Battle of the Brides", and one I've forgotten the name of about the Beverley Hills Bridal Salon. I love them all, and they are popular precisely because weddings are wonderful. A wedding is the affirmation of love and the happy formation of a new family. Marriage may be less popular these days, but somehow weddings are definitely not outdated or meaningless.
  2. Gay marriage. Across the world, gay people are fighting for the right to get married rather than just be part of a "civil partnership". Whatever your view of this (and this post isn't about the issue of gay marriage), the point it makes very clearly is that marriage is not just "a piece of paper" or "an outdated or meaningless institution". Marriage either is meaningful and special, or it isn't. And I think thousands of gay people are fervently telling us that it is. Society can't have it both ways by devaluing marriage on the one hand, and demanding it on the other.
  3. Divorce statistics. Yes, a lot of marriages end in divorce–although the levels are dropping–but more than half don't. Statistics show that couples who live together and then get married are much more likely to divorce than couples for whom their honeymoon is their first experience of sharing a home. And couples who live together unmarried are 40% more likely to split up than married couples. The most secure home, still, is that where the mother and father are married to each other.
  4. Study after study has shown that married people are happier, they live longer, they and their children achieve more and they enjoy better health.
I don't think marriage is outdated or unnecessary at all. I think it is wonderful and needs to be celebrated and protected. And I, for one, intend to do both.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I have always loved musical productions. I suppose I inherited this trait from both of my parents, who also enjoyed this type of entertainment. They were both musically inclined and as a family, we often performed together, singing some of our favorite ditties from productions like "The Sound of Music," "Mary Poppins," "Lost Horizons," etc. "Fiddler on the Roof," has always been one of my favorites. I especially love the song, "Tradition!" My dad would often mimic Tevye, singing that song at the top of his talented lungs.

There is wisdom in the lyrics of that tune. For me it is summed up as follows:

" . . . how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: Tradition!"

I believe that concept with my entire heart. Traditions are sooo important. These are the family beliefs and customs that help us maintain our identity, and pass on important cultural treasures. We celebrated many important events during my formative years, something I have tried to pass on to my own children. One of those yearly milestones took place yesterday: St. Patrick's Day!

It would take me several years to catch on that I have a rich Irish heritage. (Yep, I'm a mutt--I'm also Scottish, English, Danish, and in recent years we learned that we possess Jewish and Native American bloodlines in our leafy family tree.) Before I understood that my mother's paternal line came from Ireland, I grew up thinking that everyone commemorated St. Paddy's Day with the traditional corned beef and cabbage feast, and by wearing that all-important color, green. For the longest time I thought we wore that color to keep from getting pinched. The fun leprechaun doll that an uncle had brought home for me from Ireland was a cool gift and a reminder of the folklore of the little people. I think I was about ten years old when I finally caught on that our Sibbett line was of Irish descent. When that finally clicked for me, this holiday took on a whole new meaning.

I've always loved history and I began devouring books about Ireland. I also began listening more closely when our Sibbett clan gathered together for reunions, weddings, and the like, gleaning important tidbits about our Irish ancestors. They were hardworking, fun-loving people who were passionate about life, loyal to their beliefs, and among the first to offer a hand when help was needed. Those traits were manifested in the way my Grandpa Sibbett lived his life. His example has touched my heart in numerous ways and I have tried to honor his memory by building on the foundation he set for those of us who would follow.

It does my heart good to see those same traits surface in my offspring--and to know that important holiday traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation will continue. Yesterday, after my husband and I had enjoyed a traditional Irish feast, we heard from one of our sons, He called to share what my young granddaughter had to say about the corned beef and cabbage he had prepared for their dinner that day:

"Daddy, I love this cow!" =)

We enjoyed a good laugh over her interpretation of corned beef. It's tradition--we Irish types tend to find humor in things others miss. It's part of our heritage, and something I will always treasure.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I watched the sun rise this morning.  It was lovely, but I'd already been up for almost two hours.  I've no problem with going to bed in the dark, but I really hate getting up while it's still dark.  Getting up before daylight reminds me too much of long ago mornings when I stumbled in the dark to dress without waking the younger kids, making my shivering way to the barn, and too many early mornings picking fruit, berries, potatoes, etc. while the plants were cold and wet.  Early morning cold and dampness is different from winter cold, somehow it feels more miserable.  For those of us who dislike morning darkness, but enjoy the shadowed coolness of evening, Daylight Savings Time is a disaster.  I think some of us come into this life preprogrammed for dawn to dusk; we're not ready to start our day before the sun comes up and we're not ready to sleep until the night is dark and cool. 

Someone must profit from the time change or it wouldn't still be thrust on us twice each year. Every legislative session someone introduces a bill to end the practice, but it never makes it out of committee.  Not many people like it; golfers seem to be the exception.  It costs my state over a million dollars each year, and almost every year some school children are injured or killed walking to school in the dark or pre-dawn hazy light. Farmers hate it--cows can't tell time--it leaves students and employees dragging for a week or two of adjustment, and people like me who never quite adjust, grumble a lot and get cranky. 

Daylight Savings Time is my one complaint about spring.  I love almost everything else about spring.  I love seeing the early crocuses bloom, sometimes before the snow is quite gone.  I eagerly watch for tulips and daffodils to poke through the ground, the grass to turn green, and that faint aura of green that precedes leaves on the trees.  I celebrate being able to wear a sweatshirt instead of a coat. Spring even smells different and I'm so ready for it this year. The past couple of days have been wonderful after such a long, cold winter. I just don't want to force myself out of bed while it's still dark outside.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rand Paul

It was impressive to watch Senator Rand Paul filibuster in the Hall of the U.S. Senate, Wednesday March 6, 2013. He was standing against unlawful drone strikes on American citizens, on American soil without due process. He spoke eloquently and with great candor and knowledge on the subject, and how such an act would tear the fabric of the Constitution. He spoke for thirteen hours, being spelled only briefly by other outstanding Republicans and one Democrat.

Senators Mike Lee (Utah), Marco Rubio (Florida), and Ted Cruz (Texas), planted their feet in the precious soil of principle and raised their voices for the Constitution of the United States. It was thrilling to watch, for it is rare to see such commitment from those in the Federal Government--men willing to stand for something imperative to the well-being of the American people.

It is time for "We the People" to wake up and be aware that the brilliant structure, power, and safeguards provided by the Constitution are being challenged and eroded. Read the Constitution, read "The 5000 Year Leap", get involved with a group studying not only the founding documents, but the issues of the day, and let your voice be heard! Look up your Senator's and Representative's phone numbers in Washington an put them on speed dial. Then, when an issue or a bill comes up, on which you have a studied opinion,  you can call them quickly.

You may also want to call Rand Paul's office in Washington, DC--(202 224-4343) and thank him for his courage and love for this country. (His office has been flooded with calls so be ready to wait to talk to one of the aids, or leave a message)

Just like the voice of Rand Paul, your voice matters!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The New Adult Market

The big phrase to use when submitting a novel to agents or publishers these days is, apparently, "New Adult". It's been identified as an emerging market, and apparently one that savvy booksellers are falling over themselves to cater to.

New Adult  bridges the gap between Young Adult (teens) and true adult books. It's for the 19-24 year olds who are not quite ready to read crime thrillers and heavy literary works, but also don't want to be seen browsing the "teen" section. Young people apparently like to read books which feature protagonists they can relate to easily (i.e., who are their age) whereas adults tend not to mind what age the characters are. So when two seventeen-year-olds (ala Twilight or Hunger Games) isn't quite cutting it, new adults look for books about people like them. People who are just staring out in their careers, or completing college, looking for lasting love or furnishing their first flat.

People have been going through those new adult years forever, so I wondered why the market is only now being recognised. I think, as with so many other things, the worldwide recession may be partly to blame. I did my degree in English literature, graduating in 1990. It involved reading a lot of very difficult and dry books, from Piers Plowman and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to The Bell Jar and Vanity Fair. I was "all read out" by the end of it, and had no desire to pick up a book for about the next decade. Not that I hadn't always loved reading, but there was so many other things. I enjoyed going to the cinema, visiting interesting places and staying in nice hotels for a weekend or longer, and eating out at wonderful restaurants. Throw in TV too, and I didn't really feel the need to read.

Enter the recession. I have, in the past, credited it for the huge numbers of book clubs which continue to spring up. The fact is that people can no longer afford to eat out at fancy restaurants, go to the cinema weekly or have a weekend away at the Eden Project or Windsor Castle. They need cheap entertainment, and books (especially Kindle books, many of which are free or cost under £1) fit the bill nicely.

Our new adults completing college now have huge student loans to pay off (University education was free when I did my degree) and can't afford to go to the pub each night. Those starting out in their careers are generally not earning well and can't stretch to visits to theme parks. Those furnishing their flats are paying rent or a mortgage and finding that furniture doesn't come cheap, so the weekly cinema trip has to go. Books (and book clubs, the social side of reading) are good entertainment at a very low price.

I have come to this conclusion largely because it has been my experience. Pre-recession I used to go for a curry every week, the cinema at least once a month, and enjoyed driving around visiting pretty villages, castles and far-flung friends. Who has money for petrol at £1.40 a litre ($9.53 a gallon)? So now I'm loving reading again, my Kindle lives in my handbag and I'm back to a book a week.

Whether I am right or wrong about the reason, there is a new demand for "New Adult" books, and we authors would do well to jump right on that bandwagon and cater for it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Writing--a Healing Balm

I'm an odd duck in the creative writing world. For starters, I had never planned on becoming a writer. I've always been an avid reader and have enjoyed books for years. They are indeed among my treasures.

I was an honor student in high school and enjoyed advanced English courses that made my friends wince. They always thought I was weird for taking classes like that, but it was something I relished. So much so, by the time I became a college student, I majored in English, with plans to teach high school English, French, and drama.

Halfway through my college goals, I met a nice young man named Kennon, and we were married a few months later. Instead of becoming a teacher, I focused on surviving the recent diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, and being a wife, and eventually, a mother. All plans of becoming a teacher faded to the background.

After my husband and I had been married for about a year and a half, my father passed away in a tragic manner. This is when I entered the world of writing. During the nights when I couldn't sleep, I would sit in the kitchen and write out everything I was feeling. Then I would shred those pages . . . and I experienced a bit of peace. I didn't realize I was taking care of my own therapy. ;)  It was one of the ways that I survived the trauma that went along with losing my dad.

I became hooked on writing--I just felt better when I sat down and wrote things out. Eventually I began writing the story of a young woman who was trying to come to terms with her father's death. It was my story, but I changed a lot of the details to make it a lighter version.

I've never forgotten the peace of heart I experienced the night I typed the final sentence in what would become my first manuscript. Writing had helped me find a pathway to healing.

In the years since that time, I have often turned to writing things out when I'm upset. These emotions are usually expressed in poetry, songs, and stories. I find that I do my best writing when something is bothering me. I suspect there are many others out there who can relate to this.

A relative of mine who went into psychology told me years ago that writing out what we're feeling is considered a healing form of therapy. We've always been encouraged to keep a journal, and I suspect that is in part to help us work through the challenges and difficulties that come into our lives. I find that it's good to go back and read past journal entries when life takes a painful twist. I usually find something that gives me a boost and the courage to keep moving forward.

I think writing is something we can all benefit from, whether it's reading someone else's work, or composing our own. And I'm convinced that some of the best writing is contained in what we refer to as the standard works. There are times when an inspiring scripture will bring me peace of mind not found in any other book.

People have been writing since the beginning of time. I think it's something that is instilled within most of our hearts--a desire to somehow translate life experiences into words that not only help us deal with challenging trials, but may offer hope to someone else who is looking for a glimmer of light in a darkened world.