Sometimes I feel inspired to write, sometimes I don’t. Writing a dissertation is a good example of a time when I felt compelled, but not inspired to write. That dissertation is what I now refer to as my “Gummi Bear Project.”

It would seem that a looming deadline should mean scheduling writing into one’s day, thus making it a priority. Not so for me! Deadlines seem to cause a little voice inside of my head to whisper, “You can do that later.” Because I often listen to that quiet little voice, I find myself writing against deadlines in the wee hours of the morning. This is where gummi bears come in.  When I’m writing during hours when I should be sleeping, I consume lots and lots of chewy food. After trying many things that messed with the computer keyboard and my waistline, I finally discovered these tasty little bears.

I think I have tried every kind of gummi candy on the market and I know which stores to visit in case of a middle-of-the-night emergency. So, based on my extensive experience, I am a self-proclaimed expert on gummi bears and I declare the best of the best to be Haribo®Gold-Bears®.

Even though I’m many years past my dissertation and Child of Desire has now been published in two editions, I still crave gummies while I’m typing.

I know, I know! They are little animal-shaped lumps made with sugar, glucose, corn syrup, starch, citric acid, gelatin, flavoring, coloring, and a few other things thrown in just for good measure. Empty calories. I also know there are some who contend that gummi candies may harbor prions, cause tooth decay, and contribute to obesity.  I don’t really care. (Just so you know.)

So, if you ever see an open package of Haribo Gold-Bears® beside my computer, I’m meeting a deadline. Beware! My mood could be a little bearish and I might attack in order to protect my gummies.


Check, Correct, Condense, & Improve

As a new elementary school teacher, I learned how much angst a red mark on a paper caused for some young students. You can’t even imagine the distress I felt when the use of my newly acquired red pencil caused tears. My way of correcting this problem was to mark papers with a variety of colors and save the red pencil for making stars and happy faces. The students never said how this worked for them, but I soon discovered that the parents were quite happy with the change.

I think the editor assigned to my novel must have been one of those students who hated it when teachers “bled” all over her papers, and I’m guessing this is why she used a very efficient color-coded editing system. If she thought something should be removed from the manuscript, it was highlighted in gray. Passages she wanted me to review for possible rewording were highlighted in green. If she had a suggestion regarding plot, voice, word choice, or a scene element, she typed a message using blue fonts. Red was the designated color for my responses. Red is the power color and I used that power often.

Even without red corrections, I was sometimes annoyed when something I valued was being questioned. However, despite the pain of the editing process, it is a good feeling when someone comments positively about various aspects of my writing, including some teacher types who might, at times, be viewed as picky. 

There was no outside editor for the second edition of Child of Desirebut to date I have been told about just one error. Yes, it was a teacher who let me know. No use of a red pencil but just a sweet, “I did see one small error.” 

Fortunately, Kindle Direct Publishing allows authors to make corrections.

~ Clipart, Public Domain


Case of the Flying . . .

My dad was a minister and I grew up living in parsonages. Parsonage is “church-speak” for a church-owned dwelling in which a minister resides. Such dwellings are considered by governing boards of churches to be a portion of ministers’ compensation packages, aka salary. Based on individual schemas for all things church, these dwellings are also known as rectories, manses, vicarages, and presbyteries. 

Because I married a minister, I went from parsonage living to apartment living in a college town, to parsonage living again. (This was after I swore that I would never marry a minister or be required to ever again live in a parsonage.) So much for swearing!

Living in church housing can be any or all of the following: amusing, annoying, frustrating, funny, hilarious, comical, peculiar, or weird. I actually think the description of this strange housing arrangement can be handily summed up in one word, “atypical.” More fortunate ministers are eventually in an assignment where the church doesn’t own a house and the choice of an abode belongs to the minister. By good fortune this happened in our lives while our children were still quite young.

I have a collection of strange parsonage-related incidents stored in my memory but, here, I will share just one.

Putting to use his pricey degree in religion, Hubby accepted an assignment with a small country church. A little white house across the lot from the church served as the parsonage. 

Arriving in the country, I found that there were no neighbors close enough to give a yell and that the parsonage included several surprises: flamingo pink kitchen cupboards, crayon drawings covering the upstairs walls; see-through floors (cracks between the boards through which the basement could be seen); and a view from the kitchen window that included cows grazing contentedly only a few feet away. In addition, we had a free phone answering service. If we were away, the neighbor down the road who shared our phone line answered our ring and let the caller know we were not home. For some reason our extended family did not appreciate paying the long-distance charges that came with this information.*

We arrived at our new church with a little one who was less than a year old and were expecting another child in a few months. So, one bedroom on the main level became ours and the other served as a nursery. Thankfully, we were not there long enough to deal with the whole house, but my Dad did arrive with a gallon of white paint one day to “redecorate” the kitchen cabinets. Goodbye, nausea producing pink.

To say that this city girl was petrified out there in the country is not an exaggeration of fact. Even with reassurances that more crime occurs in cities than in the country, I was fearful. I kept the doors locked at all times and the going down of the sun meant the pulling down of window shades. If someone knocked on the door after dark and Hubby was away, the door remained unanswered. While hanging laundry on the clothesline, my little daughter’s stroller was always just feet away. As I moved down the line, I moved the stroller so she would be within reach in case the boogeyman arrived. 

One terrifying memory from our short stay in that parsonage occurred in the middle of a dark winter night. Our second daughter had arrived and both girls were in the nursery. Around 2 a.m. I was awakened by a sound coming from the direction of their room. Jumping out of bed while screaming at Hubby that someone was trying to break into the house, I ran the few steps across the hallway and into the nursery. Hubby groggily peeled his body from the warm bed and followed.  

Arriving in the nursery, I switched on the light and saw something I don’t expect to ever see again – a walnut suspended about half an inch above the floor. As I stepped closer to the flying walnut, it started to move up and down, making a tapping sound against the floor. Brave Hubby, inspecting this phenomenon more closely, discovered that the jaws of a tiny little rodent were firmly clamped around the bottom of the shell and a determined little critter was attempting to move the nut from our level to his abode below. 

 I can laugh now.

I was born in this (former) church parsonage. (Bladen, NE)

Anyone who knows me and has heard me relate stories about parsonage experiences will not be surprised to learn that the young minister’s wife in my novel lives in a parsonage. Do my experiences enter the story? Well, I’ll have to admit that shades of past experiences do appear here and there, and that incidents involving how church people interact with the minister’s family and with each other appear on occasion.  

* Those who have never had a party-line phone might want check out that delightful situation. 

Clipart from OCAL