Sunday, September 30, 2012

Precious Moments

Cherish the precious moments!
Like many others here, my mom is suffering with dementia, and we're losing her slowly but surely. But there are still moments to cherish...glimpses of who she is still peek out. This is a picture of myself and my sister with mom last month. What a great day! We got to share  smiles and laughter like we haven't seen in years. It was a precious memory that I will cherish. 

As a child, I remember the family sitting around and recording songs on an old reel to reel tape machine (to be sent to my uncle who was in Vietnam at the time). We recorded songs by The Carpenters, Crosby, Stills, and Nash - and my favorite, the Cowsills (the basis for the Partridge family)-you take the bus marked Lakewood Drive and you keep on riding till you're out of the city...amazing that I still remember the words from over 40 years ago. 

Well, I know that music holds a special place in our brains so when I went to visit mom, I brought my guitar with me. I've been playing since I was a kid and she looked at me and asked, "Oh, when did you start doing that?" I just smiled and said, "A long time ago". No big deal, no reason for anyone to get upset so I just let it go and started playing some of the old songs from the 60's and 70's that I still remember. And she was smiling and singing along having a wonderful time. So if you have a loved one who's drifting away, try sharing some old time music with them (it's amazing what you can find online if you go looking), you might be surprised at the new memories you can create out of the old.

I love second chances in real life, and in stories. Here's a peek at my first Christian romance from White Rose Publishing last year.


Margaret Ellington is not only grief stricken after her husband dies, but guilt ridden as well. Her solution? To run away. Hoping to escape the memories of her failure as a wife, she vows never to marry again, not even if it's Lukas North, her first love who's now returned. Lukas North is determined to reclaim the love he threw away ten years ago. He's willing to give Margaret time to recover from losing her husband, but letting her go is not an option. Margaret is wary of another long-distance relationship with Lukas-after all, it didn't work the first time-and when she discovers he's been keeping a secret, she panics. After the mistakes they made in the past, can their relationship be rebuilt on anything less than complete honesty? Can Lukas prove his devotion, and can Margaret learn to trust that both Lukas and God want only what's best for her?


The doorbell echoing through the house was the last straw…as if the pounding hadn’t been enough.

“I’m coming already,” Margaret Ellington snarled. Whoever was banging deserved whatever came out of her mouth. Pushing hair out of her eyes, she snapped the lock and yanked the door open.

Margaret’s face froze. Oh, Lord, help me.

Sky blue eyes stared back at her—Lukas North.

His lopsided grin would have suited a ten-year-old boy after getting away with some mischievous prank. Eyebrows raised, he lifted a cup of coffee from the crook of his elbow and held it towards her. Pink lettering on the cup showed the logo from the coffee shop around the corner. The bright morning sun set red-gold highlights aglitter in his hair while his eyes crinkled at the corners. A dimple dipped into his cheek.

Margaret forced her gaze back up to his. “What are you doing here?” She groaned at her own rudeness, a moment later remembering his pounding on the door. He always had brought out the best—and the worst in her. She pushed the screen open as he continued to hold the cup towards her. Fingertip to fingertip, Margaret felt the tingle shoot up her arm. She took the coffee and let the screen door slap closed between them as she gripped the door frame.

Not Lukas. Never again. Ten years...Lord, help me. I can’t deal with him today. Leaving is hard enough. Please, Lord, give me strength. She shivered then glanced up and down the street, refusing to meet his gaze. Lukas had always seen too much—as if he could see straight into her soul.

Living and Loving God's Way
A Piece of Heaven (coming soon)

Friday, September 28, 2012

My Back Pages

 by Jim Carey

As I sit here, trying to write this article, my mind wanders to the process that brought me to this point. I have a published novel that I am learning how to market and a second novel in the works. People are now referring to me as an author and a writer. I find it all a bit surreal, especially when people ask me to sign a copy of my book.
My writing career had a less than auspicious beginning start. It began during my junior year in high school when I enrolled in a creative writing class. I took this class partly because it sounded like fun, but mostly because I thought it would be easy. That was my criteria for picking electives back then. Being easy was the best reason I could think of for taking most classes. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that writing is not always fun and it is definitely not easy. Back then I had one rule I followed diligently and that was “why do it today when it can be put off until tomorrow?” As I’m sure you can guess, following that rule often got me into some trouble.
My performance in that creative writing class was rather lack luster until we were given the assignment of writing an original poem. My situation quickly went from indifferent to awful. Being true to my rule, I waited until homeroom on the day it was due to begin writing my masterpiece. As I sat there watching the minutes tick by, panic began to set in. Creative writing was my first period class, so homeroom period was my only chance to get it done. Nothing was coming to me until I looked out the window and found my inspiration. I finished my poem in less than ten minutes and entitled it “Green, Green Grass”.
Feeling quite satisfied with my effort, I turned it in on time and then completely put it out of my mind. Three days later I walked into my writing class and saw that my poem was on the “overhead projector” (you remember those, right?). I sat down, knowing that there was no way this was good to turn out well for me. Once class began, our teacher began going over my poem. It quickly became apparent that there was not one thing right about my poem and lots of things very wrong. Soon the whole class was laughing and I was trying to disappear under my desk in embarrassment. I’m sure it wasn’t hard for everyone to figure out who the guilty party was.

I’ll give you that the teacher could probably have been a bit more diplomatic in her approach to my poem, but in her defense everything she said about it was true. For example, the poem was about thirty words long and twenty of them were the word “green”. What I got out of all that was that I had written the worst poem ever and I swore that I’d never write anything creative again.

I held onto that belief until my early forties when I began to feel an ever growing need to express myself creatively. I tried a few drawing and painting classes, but the results of those attempts were not good for my ego. Having been born tone deaf, I also knew music was not an option. I felt as if I’d hit a brick wall.

Just when I was ready to retire from the creative life for the second time, I began having very vivid dreams. I resisted them for a time, but they kept reoccurring and I began to sense that I was supposed to write these dreams down. One morning I did just that and I haven’t stopped since. My first attempts were rough and almost unreadable, but I kept at it and my writing has improved. This process continues to work for me to this day - so much so that I often feel much more comfortable referring to myself as a storyteller than as a writer. What an interesting time in life this has become and I am very thankful for the experience.

To close, I’d like to quote a line from a Grateful Dead song: My friends,” What a long strange trip its been”.

Set in the time period of the Civil war, this historically edited novel follows a young man named Joshua Miller who, along with his best friend Monte, decides to show loyalty to the South by joining the Morgan County Scouts, a small cavalry unit based out of Alabama. Certain that the boys of the Confederacy would beat the Yanks and be back home in no time, Joshua leaves behind his mother, his beloved fiancée Missy Sue, and his boyhood dog named Blue to seek  the adventure and glories of war. As this coming of age story unfolds, the readers follow the characters through both the human and the soldier’s perspectives of the main battles of the Western theater of the Civil War. Letters sent between Joshua and Missy Sue at first share excitement and anticipation and then ultimately the disillusionment, heartache and true horrors of this time in American history. As the war dragged on and the imagined glorified life of adventure turned into the harsh realities of war, the boys became conflicted with the very concept of what exactly they were fighting for. What started out as a grand adventure became a series of very powerful lessons in hardship and courage, love and loss.

Echoes from Home is the first novel published by author Jim Carey. A social worker, then a chiropractor by training, writing has been a passion for Jim for the past twenty years. Jim describes himself as a story teller.  His interest in the Civil War started early. After seeing Jimmy Stewart’s movie Shenandoah at the age of six, Jim became fascinated with the Civil War. As the years passed, playing with toy soldiers became part of his past, but his interest with the Civil War continued. For years Jim planned to one day write a book that would be a typical civil war story filled with names and places, battles, dates and divisions, but shortly after the writing began, the character of Joshua Miller started to fully develop and he began to realize that the Civil War was to be the backdrop for the life story of this young man and his friends as they journeyed through these powerful events in American history. Jim’s next project will be a collection of short stories based on the Civil War, tentatively entitled The High Price of Freedom.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Did Yogi do Yoga

By H. Kirk Ranier

As an outsider to the practice of yoga and with a distant, childhood recollection of the animated bear, Yogi, I consider the question: 

Did Yogi do Yoga?  

Besides the obvious similarity in name is the possibility that Yogi did Yoga; after all, this character needed “more than the average bear” to partake of Jellystone Park’s daily fare.

Naturally, this bear would have to perform the unnatural; the quick and allusive fleet of foot (or paw) so able to evade Ranger Smith and ensure that the lunch basket reached its sometimes distant, but desired destiny.   

Unlike his protégé, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi’s presence was less desired, downright un-domestic; hence, the need to be quick and intelligent (“smarter than the average bear), and ideally, with the least amount of stress for man and beast. 

Yogi might very well do Yoga; not only to relieve his own stress (from a day’s thievery) but to deal with the conscience of his faithful sidekick, Boo-Boo Bear. This regimen or “program” could have (had) some benefits: 

þ  After such stress-relief, the city-dwellers could have been willing to defy the park’s rule “Don’t feed the bears”, and instead, exercise goodwill and grow further appreciation for the wildlife.
þ  Yogi and Boo-Boo could have networked with the Berenstain Bears aligning and leveraging a full complement of bear-related benefits and opportunities beyond convention (the zoo, circus and similar entertainment).  
þ  National and state parks, adopting similar programs, could have raised the bar of the camping experience—and general lifestyle—to a new height of, well let’s say, to the next level, beyond the “bear necessities”.    

In my next posting (and continuing on this theme):  “Did Yogi like Yogurt?” 

As of March 2011, H. Kirk Rainer has written, published the following:  

·         A Once and Always Father - is a dedication to his kids; the content expresses a husband and father’s perspectives on marriage and family, courtships and courts, custody and criminalization; and what has happened with the taking of the time-honored treasures of marriage from that of a contract to the present “relationship of convenience”; and all along, addressing the plight of a parent through family law—in the context, conditions and consequences of uncontested divorce, victim’s rights, and court conduct. 

·         A FATHER AND FUTURE FELON - is loosely based on twelve letters—written from jail—the book is a dedication to fathers and to those who fit similar roles and responsibility.  Drawing from the works of Saint Augustine, the Bible, historical and other-subject resources; each chapter offers alliteration on fatherhood—in a physical setting of St. John’s County (FL) and other detainees that he generally categorizes as “Fellows/Fathers”.

These publications are available at the St. Johns Public Library; e-versions of the books are available at

A third book of similar theme is being developed as of 2011; the proposed title comes from the Book of Job:  His Children are far from Safety.  The cover design, as shown at the right, applies safety-orange along with striping and an image of light—all of which is common to safety barricades and other equipment.  More information can be found on the thematic Website at and, in addition, has been presented in Video on the author’s face-book account.  The book will be a fictional fable of sort—loosely based on the Book of Job with influences and references still under development.     

He has embarked on a personal crusade aimed, at the least, to enable his own children to know that he still loves and cares for them.  To this purpose, he has gained much support and understanding from such organizations as:  American Coalition for Fathers and Children (; Alabama Family Rights Association (; Protect Fathers' Right (; National Father Initiative (; Institute for American Values (; and the Florida International University (FIU), "The State of Fatherhood" research.     

Monday, September 24, 2012


By Linda Rondeau

One of my favorite magazines growing up was Mad Magazine. How much I wanted to identify with its caricature, Alfred E. Neumann’s pet phrase, “What? Me Worry?”

I believe aging produces more stress in the human experience than even the days of the three ring circus, juggling kids, spouses, and jobs within an ever-changing world. Or perhaps those years were preparation for the next stage in life? No matter what stage of life, like the relief of a burp, we want to find relief from our stress.

If you’re experiencing stress due to illness, family transitions or job changes, take a few minutes to read this helpful information. Remember that even good changes in life can be stressful. So laugh it up, and quote Alfred . . .  Don’t let the worry bug zap you of life’s simple pleasures.

The stress response

When we face a situation that we perceive is a threat our body responds quickly preparing us for fight or flight.  When facing stress:
o   Our brain releases hormones that trigger emotional preparedness and alertness so that you can respond quickly and rationally.
o   Our heart rate and blood pressure increases.
o    Breathing becomes rapid and the lungs take in more oxygen.  
o     Blood flow increases to 300-400 percent.
o    Our spleen discharges red and white blood cells allowing the blood to transport more oxygen.  
o   The immune system is dampened as white blood cells are redistributed. 
o    Fluids are diverted from nonessential locations including the mouth, causing dryness and difficulty in talking. 
o   Stress can cause spasms of the throat muscles making it difficult to swallow and fight infection.

Below are suggestions from the Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit at Fletcher Allen Healthcare.
Listen to your body:  It will let you know when you’ve had enough.  Listen to that queasy stomach, stiff neck or sleepless nights.
Listen to your feelings:  When moments of peace are rare and your moods as unpredictable as the weather, you may have reached your stress limit.
Listen to your spirit:  If you feel apathetic, cynical, and feel that life has lost its meaning, it is likely that stress has gotten the best of you.
Listen to your relationships:  When you find yourself intolerant and easily irritated by other people, you may find it is time to deal with your stress overload. 


“Grant me the courage to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  By Reinhold Niebuhr

In a nutshell:
o   Keep a positive attitude and accepting there are events that you cannot control. 
o   Reduce your stressors. 
o   Assert your feelings, opinions or beliefs, instead of becoming angry, combative or passive. 
o   Learn to relax.
o   Exercise regularly.
o   Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals. 
o   Get enough rest and sleep.
o   Create a good network of social support. 
o   Consult your doctor or a mental health counselor if there are any medical or psychological conditions accompanying stress.
o   Keep or develop a sense of humor during even the most trying times.
o   Meditate
o   Do something for others.



Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel (The Other Side of Darkness/Harbourlight),  LINDA RONDEAU, writes for the reader who enjoys a little bit of everything. Her stories of redemption and God’s mercies include romance, suspense, the ethereal, and a little bit of history into the mix, always served with a slice of humor. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, mother of three and wife of one very patient man, Linda now resides in Florida where she is active in her church and community.  Readers may visit her web site at  Her second book, written under L.W. Rondeau, America II: The Reformation, Trestle Press, the first in a dystopian trilogy, is a futuristic political now available in ebook on and Barnes and Noble.  Print edition is coming soon. She is also contracted with Trestle Press for a prequel to her America II trilogy called Rains of Terror. This will appear in serial form. Volume One will be released soon.  An Adirondack romance will be released in October by Lighthouse of the Carolinas in time for the Christmas season and is called, It Really Is a Wonderful life.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Merry-Go-Round Mutiny

by H L Wegley

In the '50s we were taught to respect authority … parents, teachers, police. Usually this was good and right. But I wasn't taught what to do when the authority violated goodness and truth.
Although the Christian worldview was dominant in our culture, something happened in the first half of the 20th century that began a time of change. Academia was captured by the naturalists, and they taught their philosophy to the students who became the teachers of my generation. Some of these future teachers bought into this philosophy. Surely none of them would foist it on nine-year-old students, would they?
One day in the fall of 1955, when my 4th grade class started our science lesson for the day, our teacher, Mrs. G, said she would tell us a story … the story of man. She stood in front of the class and acted out the progenitors of man, according to evolutionary theory. When she got to the ape, I thought it was a dorky imitation and wasn't buying into it … any of it.

The class grew uncomfortably quiet when she finished her presentation. Thank goodness we were rescued by the recess bell.

Before I could run out the door, one girl beat me to it, Shirley Smith. She stood outside the door and told each of us, if we disagreed with what Mrs. G taught us, to meet at the merry-go-round.

Nine grim-faced fourth graders met at the merry-go-round that fateful day. When Shirley asked how many thought Mrs. G should cease and desist teaching evolution, nine hands went up. When she asked who was going to confront the teacher after recess, it was a different story. No hands. I sighed with relief when Shirley finally said, "Okay, I'll do it."

At the end of recess, we all marched in and took our seats … all except Shirley. She walked alone down the aisle to the teacher's desk, faced the teacher as if standing at attention, and addressed Mrs. G in a voice full of conviction. "Mrs. G, what you told us about people evolving wasn't the truth, and we don't want you to teach us anymore lies." 

Actually she said a lot more than that. It was a masterful rebuff. Sure wish I could remember all of it.

You could've heard an ant crawling across the floor when Shirley finished. Mrs. G didn't speak, but her face turned pink, just before it turned red. Then it turned purple just before she slammed the door on her way out. She didn't come back that day. 

After a half hour of fearful speculation about our future, another teacher opened our door and took our class into her room where she babysat us for the rest of the day.

Mrs. G returned to our class in a couple of days, minus her lessons on evolution. That subject was never mentioned again.

Fast forward eight years. Fall 1963. It was my senior year and time to think about a marching partner for graduation in the spring. I didn't have a girlfriend, so I started thinking about who I had known the longest, who I respected, and who I would be proud to March beside at graduation.

I asked Shirley. She accepted. I was proud to march beside her, because she taught me a lot about courage and how to stand up for what I believe when nine-year-old Shirley Smith led the merry-go-round mutiny.

Shirley, if you should Google your name and find this blog. I hope it brings a smile. You know what? Two and a half years after graduation, I married another young woman with that same kind of courage.

H L Wegley

H. L. (Harry) Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He worked as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics at Pacific Northwest Laboratories, where he published scientific articles, reports and books. He also worked as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area where he is involved in a small-group ministry. In 2010 he began his third career, writing fiction. His romantic thriller, Hide and Seek, the first book in the Pure Genius Series, is coming in February 2013  from Harbourlight Books, Pelican Book Group. You can contact him through his web site, blog, or the social media:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Nana Monster

By Dr. Jerri Fink

Tech was always my best friend. As the daughter of an electronic engineer, I had the first TV in the neighborhood. When desktops arrived in the 80s, I quickly climbed aboard. I was an author - I had to go digital. My first computer was a 1982 "portable" called Kaypro 2. It weighed a svelte 26 pounds - about the same as my 2-year old son. The  9-inch green phosphor screen only displayed text. If I used it for too long, I ended up with double vision and spidery green after images. I loved it anyway.

My Kaypro and I had some wicked battles in the beginning. I was convinced that it was possessed. Eventually, we made peace and I was officially a digital writer. As long as my kids kept their sticky fingers off the keyboard . . .
It wasn't long before I made friends with the internet. In those days, I had to use a "gender neutral" screen name because it was 96% male. The favorite sport of those early geeks was to harass women online. I called myself onbase in honor of the Mets and baseball. I still use the name - among five others.
The rest is history. Tech and my kids grew up with car phones, beepers, pocket PCs, and Palm Pilots. In those days, kids tortured their parents by refusing to eat dinner if it wasn't hamburgers or pizza. Not my kids. As soon as I left the house they would call my car phone to chat, knowing that every precious minute cost a fortune. That was long before smart phones and family plans.
When my kids went to bed, I pulled out my Rocket ebook - almost a decade before Kindle hit the shelves. It weighed 1-1/2 pounds and stored about ten books. I was in tech heaven. Eventually the first Kindle leaped into my hands in 2007, storing an unimaginable two hundred books. The new Kindle holds about four thousand titles - not including movies, magazines, and streaming video. Now I own a Kindle Fire and an IPad, with more books than I could finish in two or three lifetimes.
I took everything in stride until Facetime. By then, iPhones, iPods, and iPads were a way of life. I thought it was very cool at first. The first time we tried it my four-year old grandson ran away crying. We waited a year until he was five and his little brother was three. They loved it.
There was only one problem. Everyone under the age of twenty looks great on Facetime. Everyone older looks, well . . . awful. Forget the wrinkles, the jowls, and the colored hair. The face turns into a . . . monster.
As an author of both children and adult fiction, I was used to writing about monsters. I wasn't used to being one. What's a geezer to do?
I became The Nana Monster.

I growl, I roar, I send little kids screaming from the screen. They love every minute. No one knows the geezer beneath the bloody red glasses.
What's next? I'm concerned about holograms that project people "as-is" not twenty years younger and twenty pounds thinner. I've avoided video but now with the Bloggie and Playsport, a camcorder is easier to use than a smart phone. I'm doomed to technological distortion - somewhat reminiscent of "reality." It's clear that my once-best friend is on the warpath to make me look . . . old.
There's only one solution. Text the grandkids.

The author during a trip to Antarctica 

Dr. Jeri Fink is a proud geezer and the author of hundreds of articles and nineteen published books. Trees Cry For Rain, her latest book, is a gripping historical novel where the past crashes ruthlessly into the present. It can be purchased at and

Her new series, Broken, consists of five separate novels that follow dramatic, related paths from the Spanish Inquisition to modern times.

For more information about Jerri's books visit her website or email her at

Monday, September 17, 2012


By Inspiration author
Ada Brownell

 My skin is shriveling up like wadded paper while I’m still in it. My face is showing tracks of all my smiles and frowns. “You know, Mom, if you wore long dangly earrings I could use your wrinkles like venetian blinds,” my youngest son once told me—and that was years ago. Now my arms joined the show, the covering looking like a balloon that’s been blown up and released one time too many. My hide is so loose I could shake it like a dog’s instead of using a towel. If this keeps up, two people will fit in my skin.

 Why do our bodies age anyway? Some of us might make jokes about wrinkles, white hair, deafness and “senior moments,” but as my step-mother used to say, aging isn’t for sissies. David wrote, “Lord make me to know my end and what is the measure of my days that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, you have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before you” (Psalm 39:4-5).

 When I wrote the book, Swallowed by LIFE, Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, I told how our cells are constantly dying and being replaced, rebuilding our bodies, including the skeleton, every seven years. Now I ask, “Why aren’t we like new every seven years?” In my research about aging, one section was titled, “Aging: A Vital Process.” (Not encouraging. ) “No matter what genes you have inherited, your body is continually undergoing complex biochemical reactions and ultimately, aging in the body,” explained Mark Stibich, Ph.D., author of Why We Age—Theories and Effects of Aging.

 Here are theories about why we grow old, and a few of my comments: • The human body is programmed to age. (Duh!) • Certain genes switch off and on over time (Turn them back on, Doc!) • Aging is caused by hormonal changes • Immune systems are programmed to lessen their battle against attack • Environmental damage (Where’s the EPA?) • Wear and tear of tissues and cells • A faster pace of living shortens life (What happened to wear out or rust out?) • Cross-linked proteins slow down body processes • Free radicals damage and impair cells • Cells malfunction because of genetic mutations Most of the above are theories, but seriously, we know our flesh gets sick, wears out and dies because of sin. That’s the harmful gene we inherit from Adam and Eve, and the only way to conquer it is to accept life eternal through God’s sacrifice for sin, the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (See John 3:16).

 HOW TO STAY YOUNGER AND LIVE LONGER (This is more than a theory) • Inherit longevity genes • Eat foods loaded with antioxidants such as green tea and blueberries • Exercise to limit muscle and bone loss • Keep cholesterol low • Use your brain cells to keep them fit • Practice positive thinking © Ada Brownell 2012 Ada’s blog: Ada Brownell is author of the book, Swallowed by LIFE. Paperbacks are available at and Kindle version from

Friday, September 14, 2012

Time With My Daughter

Well let’s see where should I begin? About a month ago my step-daughter Macy called and asked her Mom if she thought I would want to go to see the New England Patriots play the Tennessee Titans at the Titans football stadium. Now living here in East Tennessee it is about a four to five hour drive to the stadium and to be quite honest at first my bones and muscles were hurting so much I didn’t think it would be a good idea. But I told her to let me think about it a day or so and would get back with her.

Two days later Macy comes home and asks me if I had thought about it. Which I actually did, quite a bit I would say. See…I have never seen a Pro Football game live and neither has she. Then to top it all off my wife was like “I don’t want to go, why don’t the two of you go?” So Macy got out her laptop and started looking for tickets to buy online to see if we could afford them. Within thirty minutes she found some that were reasonably priced and were worth the money. Yup… you got it. I pulled out my bank card and before you know it we had two tickets on the fifty yard line for an awesome matchup. Oh I forgot to mention… we are New England Patriots fans all the way, but living in Tennessee country. Not only did we get tickets we had to have t-shirts to wear to the game, so again I pulled out the old bank card and got both of us the coolest shirts. So with tickets and shirts ordered all we could do was wait. It was only a couple days away and sure enough tickets and shirts made it in plenty of time.

It was 4:00 am on game day and the game started at noon. Macy and I got ready and were on the road by 6:00 am. We stopped at Waffle House and had breakfast (Hey I like it there!) and then made the four hour drive to the stadium. We had a great time chatting with each other about what was going on in our lives and in the world also. We actually realized that we had never taken a real day just her and I to spend some time without other family around. That made it even more special. We got to the stadium, found our seats and then proceeded to watch a football game together.

Yes, I was not the only winner that day because our team beat the Titans 34-13. It is a day that she and I will never forget!

So don’t wait till its too late go spend time with your children one on one and your grandchildren too. It will make both your days!

On a warm summer morning in 1962, G. R. Holton was born in a small town in Massachusetts and is the second eldest in a family of eight children. He is happily married and living in eastern Tennessee. He has two daughters, a son, a step-daughter and a step-son and is also the proud grandfather of four beautiful girls.
 G. R. took an interest in computer games to pass the time, and then one day he made a friend on one of those online games with chat that turned out to be a screenwriter and movie director. They became great friends and after a few weeks of talking, he met her husband online and hit it off quickly. He gave him a couple of his screenplays to read and he was hooked. He knew at that point he wanted to try writing.
One night, after days of not being able to come up with a story to write, he had a dream of three teens on another planet and in a cave. This was it; he knew what had to be done. He sat down at the computer and over the course of three months he had written his first book, “Soleri”. He knew he couldn’t stop there, so he continued writing and “Guardians Alliance” was born. He has also published a children’s picture book called, “Squazles” about not judging others and did the book design for Cameron Titus’s “A to Z book: A Habitat for Humanity Project”. His latest, “Deep Screams”, is a science fiction/horror/paranormal thriller that has become the Books and’s Best Science Fiction for 2011. G. R. has also won The Author’s Shows “50 Best Writers You Should be Reading for 2011”. All of G. R. Holton’s work can be found at all the internet book sale sites or on his website at His latest release is called, “Dragon’s Bow” a tale of sister vs sister and good vs evil.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The fabled out house in three parts

By Ed VanDeMark

Most out houses had been replaced by indoor plumbing five to ten years before I was born. My father was a plumber so we were on the cutting edge in this regard.

The only running water in Miller’s old farm house was in the kitchen sink. Regardless of the season, day or night they took trips to the back yard. From time to time a car would stop out front and someone would avail them self of their facility.  One Saturday afternoon my brother saw Tin Lizzy; our local homeless crazy old fire bug lady go in to powder her nose. Ten year old Jack Miller was Mark’s closest friend so the next time they were together Mark couldn’t wait to blurt out the news. “Tin Lizzy used your out house.” From that day forward till they got indoor plumbing Jack came the hundred and fifty yards across our back lawn into our house to used our toilet.

Mark also tells the story of a Boy Scout Camporee.  Sometime in the middle of a moonless night he raced a kid for the privilege of being first to the one holler in the woods. Scripture says “The first will be last and the last will be first.” The other kid outran Mark but that wasn’t a good thing. Someone had lifted the latrine and move it behind the pit. Need I say more?
My third story involves a dozen or so twelve year old boys with too much time on their hands. The community swimming hole was in the Owego Creek just south of the Main St. Bridge.

Two out houses stood side by side, one labeled Women the other Men. At the peak of the summer the volume of traffic was high because they doubled as changing rooms.
My friend Donnie had a reputation for having the best ideas in town. A short huddle and our plan was set. He theorized it would take this guy about twenty seconds to remove his trunks so he timed it from the moment we heard the door latch click. At his signal we hit that shanty with the force of a bull dozer. As planned it came to rest on its door. Our plan also included watching him crawl through the hole and try to maneuver his naked self over the pit without getting anything on him.  Suddenly one of the kids said “He’s an adult.” A dozen boys looked at each other and without another word disappeared into a corn field.

I’ve often thought I should have stayed to see how he’d manage his predicament. Then again I might not have lived to see my thirteenth birthday.

The one holler’s are making a return in the form of chemical facilities to keep them from being quite as ripe as the old ones of my youth. While I do my best to avoid them they’re occasionally an inevitable reality. I always look to be sure there are no twelve year old boys between me and the horizon.

Edward L. VanDeMark:
Edward is a pompous name and Eddie is condescending, I therefore prefer to be called “Ed” which is, in my opinion, neither pompous nor condescending.
I was born in Endicott, New York on July 16, 1941 and have lived most of my life fifteen miles west of Endicott in or near the village of Owego. When I find something good I stick with it.
I’m married to Linda (Masters). We have three fine adult children (Tony, Lisa and Dan) and nine wonderful grandchildren ranging in age from 20 to 2.
After three disappointing starts to a career and two temporary positions I settled into public service employment, administrating various programs for Tioga County for nearly thirty five years. I retired in April of 2009. My early career consisted of teaching Art, the Navy and being a District Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts.
I write about my observations of life and draw cartoons because there is a force embedded deep inside of me that will not release me to ignore these modes of expression. I’m not interested in a second career as a writer or as a cartoonist. I’ve served my time meeting other people’s deadlines and I’m not in love with the tension they cause yet I do send off finished works for publication. Chicken Soup for the Soul has published three of my stories as have other lesser known publications.
Most of my stories are somewhere between 250 and 750 words in length. Brevity is my hallmark except for my annual Christmas letter which is generally about 3,600 words. Before you gag at the thought of a Christmas letter, let alone an eight page Christmas letter let me assure you this one isn’t the standard Christmas Letter. If you’re on my list of recipients you’ll receive your letter sometime between December first and June fifteenth. I don’t permit anyone, unfortunate enough to be mentioned, to achieve superhero status and I stop about an eighth of an inch short of portraying any of us as a bumbler. It’s the story of real people, being richly real, in their rarest and most precious of moments. It is a snap shot of runny noses, gaps in our bridge work and our backsides as we walk and run up the hills of life.
I’ve also written two screen plays that I have no clue how to market. They were a blast to write and the characters in them are as real to me as my next door neighbors.
My writing is two parts serious and three parts humor. Five is a whole number but it’s not ten and I have no desire to make everything end in a zero or be wrapped up in neat little packages. Every time I mow my lawn I try to do it in a way I’ve never done it before and that same challenge haunts me in my writing. I use simple words because I can’t get the spelling of complex words close enough for spell check to finish the job.
If anyone is familiar with the subject of human temperament you’ll recognize my personality type expressed in these four letters INFP. If you’re unfamiliar with them simply plug them into any search engine and you’ll get about four million hits that explain my quiet yet reverently unholy personality. My learning style is referred to as abstract random which simply put means I don’t know where to go to find my muse yet I keep running to her.
People and my God are my main reasons for living. I count among my friends people of all ages and both genders. I’m as comfortable being the only male in the hall with two hundred women as I am on an all men’s Walk to Emmaus. My family is my primary source of energy.  I also delight in my Owego United Methodist Church family and my Facebook interactions. The Montrose Christian Writer’s Conference is my annual pilgrimage home for it is the one place on the planet where I feel normal. It is here I’ve found people as quirky as I am; the Odd Ducks of Montrose soar as eagles and promenade as graceful swans this last full week of July.
The two best pieces of advice I’ve received as a writer are 1. Just tell your story and 2. Make it sing.
God Bless you my friends.
Ed VanDeMark.