Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
|Is this the picture of Christmas that you embrace?|
This is when I am thankful for my upbringing. We never had much in the way of gifts growing up. Being a family of six kids, it was enough to keep us fed and in clothes. Christmas developed into a time with family. As adults, we have never exchanged gifts. Instead we get together to eat, play games and visit.
Now that mom is no longer with us, there are only three generations that gather. This year we plan to check our smart phones and iPads at the door. That will avoid the familiar scene of a room full of people all looking down at their personal devices, fingers flying. We saw that dastardly picture at Thanksgiving. Even seventeen-month-old Cyrus locked his attention onto an iPhone.
Do you feel the essence of Christmas? Revisiting the nativity story when the God of the universe became a helpless baby in a humble manger. Putting into motion His plan to bring redemption to a lost and waiting world. Have you taken the time to stop and embrace the peace and calm of resting in the Christ child? It's your choice.
Friday, December 10, 2010
|Enjoying lunch next door at Ironside Restaurant (Denise Aspinall with me).|
Once we received our time slot, we settled in to practice our pitches. They arranged the room with tables and chairs assigned to areas of publishing at Chronicle books, such as Lifestyle, Art & Design, Stationary and Children. There were one or two editors at each area with a large clock displaying the time. We had ten minutes to pitch and get feedback.
Denise had the first slot and received an "interested" response for her book Dogspirations—a book of inspirational short stories about her two dogs, Sammy and Benji. They asked her for a book proposal—Yay!
|Trying to keep the manuscript dry|
|E. Marie, me and Stephanie|
It was a fun day, but also a time that steels the mind of a writer to head back to the keyboard, revise and move-on. What is my top take-away from this experience? It's been whirling around in my head—I want to develop an iPad app of a picture book. Well, I am now focused on making The Prisoner of Carrot Castle into an iPad app. It'll be fun. I have a developer who will do the programming. I just need an illustrator. Do you know of anyone who wants to do the art for an iPad picture book app?
Monday, December 6, 2010
For the first time ever Chronicle is holding a Pitch for Charity. We pitch our books and toss a donation to Habitat for Humanity. Good deal for everyone. The children's publishing group will be reviewing picture books only. Good for me and Stephanie who have PB's to pitch.
I will be pitching The Veggie Chronicles: The Prisoner of Carrot Castle. Like a typical kid, Aiden didn't like veggies and his overactive imagination often transported him from dinner table to far away places. On one occasion he found himself a prisoner in Carrot Castle. Dazed and confused, he made a startling discovery. This fun story follows Aiden as he attempts to escape before he has to face the angry king of Carrot of Castle. Will the ugly, scary guard chain Aiden to the prison cell wall? Does he get found out as he hides from guards searching for him in the castle? Will Aiden have to face the angry King? Does Aiden eat his vegetables?
Those of us who labor at writing know it's not often we get an opportunity to submit our work to publishers much less get a one-on-one chance to pitch a book project to an editor. I'm practicing my pitch and hoping for success for our intrepid band of writers. Stay tuned...
Thursday, November 25, 2010
The object of the pilgrims thanks was God and He is the receiver of the thanks I feel. I am thankful for so many things in my life, naming a few:
- I thank God for my husband
- I thank God for my sons (Nur and David)
- I thank God for my daughter-in-law Tonya and my grandkids, Caeli, Riley and Declan
- I thank God for my siblings, their spouses, their kids and grandkids
- I thank God for Bob's mom and dad
- I thank God my mom and sister are in heaven.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Look at this! Amazon is already advertising The Dog Next Door. You can pre-buy the book. Release date is June 1, 2011. Make sure you get your copy so you can read my story inside.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
|Greg sitting on the steps of the Little Brown Church,|
which plays a part in his novel, Saving Grace
I met Greg at one of the critique groups sponsored by Inspire Christian Writers. The group had been critiquing his work in progress, a tender story of a Great Lady and a mysterious child in her court, taking place in medieval times. The economy had taken its toll on the Cochran family since Greg lost his job in the pharmaceutical industry earlier in the year. Besides writing, Greg had turned his frustrations toward training the many young athletes he was responsible for coaching at Bradshaw Christian School.
Greg had made an obvious impression on the kids he coached as evidenced by the large number attending his funeral. I remember Greg speaking of his "kids," how they enjoyed reading his novel, Saving Grace, and found it hard to picture Greg as the author.
Saving Grace developed a fan base since its debut in 2008. In fact book sales started to pick up this past summer as word spread about this intriguing novel of angels and time travel. Greg talked about fans who made trips to Pacifica, California and snapped photos in front of landmarks that play a part in the book.
Greg's best friend would say he was a steadfast guy who trusted God. Though large in stature, he projected a gentleness of heart and quiet spirit that calmed the room he occupied. Indeed, his favorite verse laid the foundation for a life which evokes the question, "Why does God take all the good ones?"
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
That being said... it's better late than never... Tah... Dah! Lunch box in hand… er, paw… Charlie, a golden retriever leaves for work everyday eager to bring home the bacon. Wait… not exactly! But Charlie does have a job—a job that makes him happy because he was born to do it. All dogs do.
Work and Wag (by yours truly), about jobs that dogs do, occupies spread 6/7 in Clubhouse Jr. magazine with a cute intro at the bottom corner of page 5. Beautiful photos spotlight each dog and their job. If you have kids or grandkids that are 4 to 8 years old, you ought to subscribe to Clubhouse Jr. It's wonderful. Packed with age-appropriate puzzles, activities and stories they will enjoy. The Members Only pages highlight the readers of Clubhouse Jr. showing submitted letters, photos of smiling faces and colorful pictures.
I can't wait to see the drawings readers are sure to send in of their dog doing the job that makes it happy. Do you know what your dog's job is? And chasing your cat does not count.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
|Monica J. Getchel|
4/17/1929 - 9/27/2010
|Patti's Visit 2009|
In 1980, after a divorce, Mom moved to Cameron Park, California. She worked as a cashier for Good Chevrolet in Sacramento and later became one of the first employees at Intel in Folsom. Soon her children and their families began moving to the area. We moved to El Dorado Hills in 1989 when our son, Nur, was seven.
|Mom's Children with Spouses and Grandkids|
Cameron Park Lake, 1989
By 1997 the last of Mom's children moved to the area. She proudly declared five of her children and their families now lived in El Dorado County within 12 miles of one another.
As a family we seized any occasion to hold a BBQ or dinner, enjoying lively conversations while the kids played. We enacted our own version of Pictionary, and evening games became legendary among friends who may have experienced a game or two. As soon as the kids could read and draw, they played Pictionary with the adults. Now we play us against our adult children. Guess who usually wins that match?
Meeting for coffee every Saturday became another family tradition that put a few coffee shops in the area "on the map." Unless we are out of town or at some function, we are at coffee on Saturday. In addition to family matters, we often discuss the condition and direction of our country and how it affects our lives. Six of Mom's nine grandchildren are now married—four have children—but all who can, are at Saturday coffee.
Mom occupied the center of all these family gatherings. Following her diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, we sold her car and moved her into assisted living. That action tore at our very beings and broke our hearts. Did we do the right thing? Should we have let her stay in her own place longer? Time assured us we did the right thing. Mom got picked up for coffee every Saturday until she could no longer walk and became confined to a wheelchair.
|Family Reunion Cruise|
Mom's legacy not only includes a happy, close-knit family that loves being together and doing fun things, but friends who wanted to be her child and even called her "Mom." To which she replied, "Greg (or other name inserted here), my favorite son!" No one could resist my mom's infectious love, warmth and wit. Indeed Mom left a legacy that few could duplicate.
|Coffee at Gold Country Health Center with Mom|
|Mark and grandson Bean at Great-Grandma's|
Over a month ago a glimpse of genius inspired us to have a BBQ at my brother's and arrange for a wheelchair transport to take Mom out of the nursing home for one last time. The past year Mom endured two trips to emergency and another two illnesses. Noting that her heart showed a marked slowing, her doctor placed her in hospice care. We felt her struggle with the disease that stole her life away would soon be over. That Saturday with Mom—family surrounding her—will remain a sweet remembrance.
Goodbye for now, sweet Mom! You live on in the legacy you left behind.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
While others tasted cheese, I talked to the dogs... obviously needing my dog fix. I called them Chocolate, Licorice and Salt & Pepper. Chocolate looked remarkably like our Brandy. What is it about chocolate labs? They all seem to look and act alike. Gave him a pet on the head and he muzzled into my crotch wanting more.
As our group headed back to the car, a cow stuck her head through the milking shed fence and barked like a dog. It caused us to pause and look while she did it again. We laughed as we puzzled over why she would do such a strange thing ...or how she would make such a strange sound? Maybe she thought she was just another cheese dog.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
sister Steph, brother Mark and husband Bob
"Aren't they cute!" Mom would say as she watched Drew (3) and Kenan (2) greet each other with a hug.
Our traditional Saturday morning coffee extends three generations now with many of our kids married and having their own children. One Saturday a month, we pick up our coffee drinks and breakfast of choice and meet at the nursing home where Mom lives. Since breakfast for the nursing residents is done, we wheel Mom to the dining room and have it all to ourselves.
The highlight of the day and the delight of Mom centered on the installation and enjoyment of a tire swing. Imagine Mom's amusement as she watched her kids and great grandkids tackle the tire swing.
Enjoy the humorous videos and photos of the afternoon. Although the memory for Mom likely won't "stick," it made for a memorable event for the rest of us.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Sunday, August 1, 2010
I am passionate about writing for children. They are our future. It is our job to nurture them to become independent, caring and productive adults. Writing books for children is one way I can have an impact on the growth and character of children.
Those of you who follow my blog will remember my grand-nephew Drew. I featured Drew in my post Precious Moments of Independence. His mom recently bought him "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein. After a few readings by mom and dad, Drew could read for himself... with a smidge of help. Drew is a very bright four-year-old despite his autism. A diagnosis of autism does not preclude a child from learning. Check out his "reading" skills on the video.
Reading to children is the best way to get your child to be a good reader. It opens up new worlds and experiences for their growing minds to soak up.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
|Everyone Is Talking About WriteOnCon|
There are a number of authors, editors and agents involved in this effort. It will be an interactive experience designed to give attendees similar features to a live conference, but in an online environment. The conference promises to be informative as well as entertaining.
With an eager intent to pay it forward, the founders of WriteOnCon have put together what looks to be a great online conference. So what are you waiting for? Go to WriteOnCon and register. Click on the Forums button at the top then click Register to get started.
I hope you'll look for me there.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
On the Fourth of July we celebrate the July 4th, 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence. It marked our separation from England following a period of struggle with the British monarchy of King George III.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
In one of my writing groups, we are studying Nancy Lamb's book "The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children." Taking one chapter at a time, we discuss it through our group blog called Wruffed Writers (writers getting buffed as we work to build our craft).
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
This short story follows a thrilling lava-viewing, ocean adventure on the Big Island of Hawaii. Relax and enjoy a front row seat to creation in process.
It was dark and raining when we arrived at our meeting location. Rain pounded the roof as we waited in the car and peered out the windows into the blackness of the parking lot. It was 4:30 a.m. As headlights came into view, I studied each vehicle… No boat. Not him.
On a Hawaiian vacation to the Big Island with friends, Dave and Lu, we booked a once in a lifetime excursion to see lava flow into the sea from the Pu’u ‘O’o crater of Kilauea volcano. Family members took the trip two years earlier and highly recommended it.
We stayed in Kona and were scheduled to rendezvous with the boat skipper, Shane, at 4:30 a.m. in Pahoa on the other side of the island. The meeting time required that we leave Kona at midnight. Ugh!
“Do you think he’ll call and cancel the trip?” wondered Dave.
“I doubt he’s willing to give up the steep fee he charges. No, he’ll be here.” My husband, Bob, saw things with a fiscal savvy.
We discussed how trusting we were to give our credit card information to a complete stranger who says he’ll meet us in a small town, in the middle of a rain forest, at an outrageous time. Not to mention, to do a crazy thing. It did feel a little unsettling.
It was 4:45 a.m. An attendant arrived at the gas station across the parking lot. Soon lights illuminated the station. He’s late!
At 5:02 headlights swooped into the parking lot… boat trailing. The truck and trailer pulled into the gas station. The driver jumped out and put gas in the truck. It was Skipper Shane.
We followed Shane to the launch sight at Isaac Hale Park and climbed into his 22-foot fishing boat with only a padded hatch cover to sit on. Crashing waves heard in the pitch dark stirred a twinge of fear as Dan, Shane’s deckhand, backed the trailer down the boat launch into the restless water. Shane started the engine as Dan jumped into the boat and the fishing vessel roared away from the tiny harbor, pushing through breaking waves. The boat heaved with the ocean swells and I felt my fingernails digging into the hatch cover. The rain lightly pelted us.
“By the way,” yelled Shane over the engine roar. “Life jackets are inside the hatch.” We exchanged uneasy looks and held on tight. Removing the cover to get life jackets would not be happening. Despite the easing storm, the rolling waves continued while the dim light of a pending sunrise shone in the East. It was 5:30 a.m.
Skipper Shane was a swashbuckling 28-year-old—“I’ve done this for twenty years" type. As we forged ahead on our adventure, I allowed my shoulders to relax, releasing the tension in my neck, and began to trust his ability to navigate the waters. We clipped along at 30 knots (about 35 miles per hour—56 km/hr) for 45 minutes through the swells—lurching and bumping—often crashing hard against the water.
The sun appeared above the horizon and I saw smoke trailing down the mountainside—lava burning up the jungle as it oozed its path to the ocean. We arrived at the first area where lava added land to the island—a front-row seat to creation in action. The skipper idled the engine and we floated along, edging closer and closer. We felt heat and smelled sulphur. Iridescent lava fingers reached over the land’s edge into the sea. Creating an eerie orange glow, steam swirled and drifted as the scorching liquid hissed into the water. The seesawing boat made it difficult to focus my camera for pictures and video.
The lava activity seemed to cover one-half mile of coastline. Bobbing thirty feet from the flowing lava, Shane encouraged us to dip our hand into the water. I reached in. Very warm. About 100 degrees—just like our spa back at home.
Shane steered the boat around and took us back past the scene one more time. Over the mountainside a rainbow appeared. Rising from a haze of steam, it arched high against a powder blue sky framed by billowing clouds of pale pink and soft gray and landed in the mountainside jungle. Beautiful!
As Dan put out fishing lines, I felt my body could no longer reconcile with the rocking boat. Trolling for fish on our way back would take ninety minutes. Oh boy! One and a half hours more of rocking. Over the side of the bouncing boat, I leaned and heaved. My husband, Bob (my hero), wrapped his arms around my waist, fearful that the next bump would pop me out of the boat. And as time wore on and on, others carried on pleasant conversations while I gazed longingly at the shore, watching waves crash against the black cliffs.
Finally near our destination, Skipper Shane maneuvered the boat to setup his approach. Little did we know, the beach here is a hot spot and the local surfers turned out for the ten to fifteen foot waves. Shane idled the boat for a moment and waited. Without warning he gunned the engine, caught a trough between waves and glided into shore. Facing aft, I saw a large wave too close behind us and wondered Is it going to break on top of us? Adding to the spectacle, a deft body boarder appeared on the crest as it swelled to a break. I saw the whites of the aged Hawaiian's eyes as he took the ride of his life—following a fishing boat at that. Suddenly we skidded right as the skipper cut the engine to make the harbor—a move required to avoid rocks or grounding the boat. Before any of us could react, we came to a restful stop, and Deckhand Dan leapt to the dock and fetched the truck and boat trailer.
I was relieved to be on land again and finally able to appreciate the sheer adventure of the trip, especially "surfing" into the harbor. In his best Disneyland-ride-operator-voice, Shane bid us farewell. “Thanks for your business and be sure to tell your friends you had a great time…” he hawked. That was one trip to tell the grandkids… But I’m not crazy enough to do that again.
It was 8:17 a.m. Time for breakfast.