Welcome to the Seesaw

 

 

teeter-totter-148268_1280We know how a see-saw (aka teeter-totter) works. Let one side be heavier and it will crash to the ground. The rider lands with a teeth-jarring thump. The unfortunate passenger on the opposite side might end up bouncing off into the troposphere. Only with perfectly distributed weight is the see-saw perfectly balanced.

Christians, no matter how learned or discerning or pious, still can get out of balance. But God in His infinite loving wisdom has provided everything we need to keep from either slamming painfully to earth or losing our grip and flying out-of-control off the apparatus.

For Example:

Without faith it’s impossible to please God, (Hebrews 11:6). Right? But start neglecting the good fruits God wants us to display and we’ll slide not only downward into selfishness, but into doubting the truth of our faith and the Father who provides it.

Pray without ceasing, we read in I Thessalonians 5:7. Our entire lives should be constant communication with God. But when those prayers turn into vain repetitions and meaningless babble warned against in Matthew 6, we aren’t communicating any more. We’re just throwing words at God. He reminds us that prayer involves the heart, mind and will. We’re speaking to a real Person!

Examples of Contradictions?

Sometimes Scripture seems to contradict itself.  But could some of these “inconsistencies”  be God’s way of keeping our lives in balance? (I was going to write “keeping our Christian walk in balance” but walking doesn’t work well with the seesaw metaphor.)

Please pop over to Heartwings for the rest of the story!

http://www.heartwingsblog.com/2018/12/welcome-to-the-see-saw/

Christmas Passed (Almost)

Here I told friends I’d love to promote their books on my blog. But not on Tuesdays, because—you know—TUESDAY Prude. I want to save it for my own book.

And then I wake up this morning. TUESDAY. And I forgot to post about my book. So now I’m a blur of trying to get it published before everyone goes to work.

The book is Christmas Passed. Published by Pelican Books. Only available on ereaders like Kindle, Nook, or those clever apps you can download. (No. No print for this book. Sorry. Don’t hate me.)

It’s a suspense romance, set in Milwaukee in early December. Dinah, my heroine, is photographing an old house she loves. While it is being transformed for a series of Christmas open houses, an unfortunate event puts Dinah in charge of the preparations. It’s a dream come true, until she realized she has to work with Mick Wagner, her childhood nemesis. An old secret in the attic results in a very present danger for Dinah. Here is the cover.

Dinah, my heroine, would be slightly surprised at how glamorous she looks, but it is a pretty cover, don’t you think?ChristmasPassed_w5499_680

Some women dream of tropical islands. Dinah dreams of rummaging through old attics. Mickey, her nemesis,  was gorgeous as a rotten kid and just as gorgeous as an irate adult.

Here are a couple of tweets if you don’t follow me on Twitter. (Mental note to self. Put these on Twitter too.)

Ebbie’s unfortunate accident puts Dinah in command. Her troops? Four elderly women.

Mick calls Dinah a brainiac. She calls him a dumb jock. Opposites attract. Or do they?

My publisher wanted me to explain a bit more about Christmas Passed and why I wrote it:

I’m hooked on holidays. Even the ones you don’t send cards for, like Flag Day.
So when I saw (on April 1) that my publisher was accepting submissions for Christmas novellas (due May 1), I set my face away from my spring decorations, turned on Christmas music, and started writing.

A month later and panting heavily from the exertion, I submitted “Christmas Passed” and immediately turned my thoughts to May Day.

Since then, the manuscript was accepted, the cover art designed and a release date of December 1 set. Since then I’ve decorated for Flag Day, Fourth of July, First Day of School, and all things autumn. Now it’s time to get in a Christmas frame of mind.

If you are like me, you enjoy summer beach reads—while it is summer—and Christmas stories beginning the day after Thanksgiving. Moreover (if you are like me) you don’t want your Christmas stories too dark or depressing. Why ruin the most wonderful time of the year with gloom?

“Christmas Passed” is a quick read, but filled with all things Christmas. Want decorations? It has boxfuls. Watery hot cocoa? Check. A possible romance? Possibly. Adorable old folks? Got ‘em. Danger? Of course! I am, after all, a romance-SUSPENSE writer.

Sprinkle the story with a bit of humor, some life-changing history and a solid base of faith, and you have “Christmas Passed.” No matter where you live, your age, or your circumstances, I hope that, if you read it, you’ll get a whiff of Christmas at its best.

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Me. In the snow. Drinking coffee. With the gutter in the background, which is why my husband wouldn’t let me use it as a main publicity photo.

Links to Christmas Passed

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Passed-Holiday-Extravaganza-ebook/dp/B07JHXYGCC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1541782568&sr=1-1&keywords=%22Christmas+Passed%22

Barnes and Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-passed-anita-klumpers/1129760586?ean=9781522398110

Monday at the Prude: MM by LL

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I just finished reading “Meow Mistletoe” by Lisa Lickel. This woman is a prolific, intelligent, imaginative writer. (Tell me you see what I did there in my post title. “Meow Mistletoe” by Lisa Lickel.)

Lisa comes up with some of the best names for businesses! How about Mea Cuppa for a coffee shop? And people: Pfannie? A woman as ditzy-yet-inoffensive as her name.

Lisa’s books are peppered with interesting and memorable people. In “Meow Mistletoe,” a prequel to her “Meow” cozy mystery series, we meet Almanzo, Pfannie, Donald, and most importantly, Ivy our heroine and Adam, the man who makes her heart skip beats at inconvenient moments. Did I say they were the most important? The cats Memnet, Isis and Tut, would dispute that statement. I asked Lisa about her own relationship with cats.

Why cats in your books?
I have cats in a lot of my books, don’t I? Except for UnderStory, which has dogs. I grew up with cats and have fond memories of a couple of them, like the Terrible Turk, a Siamese we had for a number of years. He used to chase me and my brother around the house, nipping our heels. Then I married into a family of allergy-prone people, and while my husband’s brother and sister just suffer and have cats in their homes, my husband doesn’t want to. Our oldest struggled with animal allergies, too, so that was that. Oh, we did have gerbils for a while, but they’re not exactly the same, are they? I now have pets vicariously through my stories. Still not sure about dogs, though. Sorry.

“Meow Mistletoe” takes place in one night—a few hours, actually.  Christmas stories are best read at Christmas, I think. The next question for Lisa (who is also a historian) was:

If you could adopt any Christmas tradition from any era or nation or culture into your holidays, what would it be?
It’s been a while since I’ve seen traditions around the world. There are so many unique customs, aren’t there? Our new house has high ceilings. Maybe we could do several upside-down German Christmas trees…hmm, maybe not. I confess to having miniature clip candle holders for Christmas tree branches and have lit them successfully a couple of years without needing to use a fire extinguisher. I still love later Victorian celebrations, including Boxing Day and the Twelve Days of Christmas, bows, small gifts spread over the season, special treats, punch, music, long skirts and mufflers, a group of carolers singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and Tiny Tim being healed.

Knowing how much authors live in the fictional worlds we create, I wondered—

If you could insert yourself into “Meow Mistletoe, tell us which scene you’d love to be part of.

There are a couple of scenes I’d probably curl up and burn with embarrassment like Ivy did. I thought maybe I’d like to be rescued by Adam when Ivy almost got run over, but street burn doesn’t appeal to me…even though there was that almost-kiss. I think I’d like most of all to be part of following the blood trail. That’s the scene that shows they are kindred spirits, unafraid of adventure and would make a good team.

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If you want a quick, fun read, well-written, with a quirky and unexpected little mystery, get “Meow Mistletoe!” It’s part of the Pelican Book Group Christmas Extravaganza series.

Amazon – https://amzn.to/2OjPmBn
Barnes and Noble – https://bit.ly/2CVwTsT

Blurb:
Ivy has just cause to be wary of men. Her long-time fiancé backed out of their wedding. The slow fizzle of their undramatic relationship leaves her wondering if romance is a myth. Then, Adam, an intriguing new member of her pet organization, catches Ivy’s attention. Unfortunately, his cat Isis, a beautiful purebred Egyptian Mau, prefers to pick on her cat, Memnet. Ivy would like to get to know Adam better, but with her self-esteem in the gutter and feline fights at every turn, she wonders how to proceed.

When Ivy agrees to help a clingy friend find her missing pet, she learns that true love doesn’t need theatrics. There’s hope for Adam and Ivy, if only their cats would approve.

Lisa Lickel F (2) 49,1 kb

Bio:
Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin author who loves books, collects dragons, and writes inspiring fiction. She also writes short stories, feature articles, and radio theater, and loves to encourage new authors through mentoring, speaking, and leading workshops. Lisa is a member of the Chicago Writer’s Association and vice president/instructor for Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat, Inc. She is an avid book reviewer and blogger, and a freelance editor. Find more at http://www.LisaLickel.com.

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/lisalickel
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lisajlickel
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lisalickelauthor
Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2bPxi2X

A Song of Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving and Christmas don’t mix. Here is how I know: I’ll turn off the T.V. at the end of a Hallmark or Lifetime Christmas movie, my eyes filled to the brim with red and green and glitter—all the colors of Christmas. I turn to my living room. Filled with orange and gold and brown and all the decorations of Thanksgiving. And everything tilts a little and my stomach gets queasy and I need to shut my eyes and allow them to adjust. Not a smidgen of Thanksgiving can be left in my house before the holly and ivy and other million billion things get put up. And THAT does not happen till after every bit of Thanksgiving dinner is digested.

But oh boy. What a great holiday Thanksgiving is. Worth celebrating every single day of November. At least till Black Friday.  After all, there is so much to love. Here are a few loved by me—

Songs: “Let All Things Now Living (a Song of Thanksgiving) “For the Beauty of the Earth.” (Folliot S. Pierpoint ) Oodles more, but I am too lazy to look up the composers.

Books: These three, among others. I have never bonded with an adult book on Thanksgiving.IMG_2997

The one in the center is the newest favorite with my grandchildren and I. SO FUN TO READ!

Vintage decorations:  These are my maiden decorations, purchased many years before I married and I was a fledgling Thanksgiving devotee.IMG_2996

Favorite show/movie: Movie? The Mouse and the Mayflower. Show? WKRP in Cincinnati‘s episode “The Turkey Drop.” As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

Favorite Food: Apple Pie. MY apple pie. Oh, and my Tollhouse Pie. Then there is my sister’s pecan pie. My daughter-in-law’s cranberry sauce, my other daughter-in-law’s sweet potato casserole…that is more than one favorite, you say? Hey, I didn’t make the rules.

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Old tradition: The hayride after supper to jostle all our food into a corner of our stomachs so we can come back and eat the above-mentioned pies.

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New tradition: Spoons. Our crew plays for blood. And sometimes marriages are stressed. All in good, clean fun. (We hide the small children and tiny adults when the game begins.)

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At Thanksgiving, I’m surrounded by blessings. Family, friends, food, fun. So many good things begin with “F.” Faith too. The top of the list, the beginning and the end, the gift of God to grab hold of the grace so freely given.

I’m thankful for you, too, my friends. There are problems galore with social media and the blog world. But so far, none of them have showed up here. What a classy group you are. Happy Thanks Giving—even if you are not an American. You are a blessing.

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Thankful for the fall (after the pride)

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Pride.
The ultimate sin that sent Lucifer toppling from heaven crouches behind us, ready to turn accomplishments into stumbling blocks. Pride waits. It sees us take simple pleasure in our skills and achievements and performances. Then pride pounces. Too often, we don’t even see it coming.

One minute we are praising God for His good gifts to us. Then, in squirms the almost-imperceptible thought that we are pretty good. We worked hard and deserve these accolades. Part of our hearts are gripped by superiority. Part of our brain looks at others not so accomplished or gifted or really really good and whispers, “Thank you God, that I’m not like that one.”

It happens, even to mature Christians.

But…
here is where God’s amazing love and grace manifest themselves.
He loves us too much to let that pride take root.

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I’m over at HeartWings today with the full post if you’d like to finish it. (Does this seem like a bait-and-hook? I hope not. I hope I did make it easy for you to switch over and read the rest of the article. If you want. Because Prudes may strongly suggest things, but they are NEVER bossy.)

 

http://www.heartwingsblog.com/2018/11/thankful-for-the-fall-after-the-pride/

I is Understood

This post is from a few years ago. Long enough that I forgot most of what I wrote in it, so I’m hoping you did too, and it will all be new and fresh. AND I got really frisky and used hashtags in this updated version.

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Prudes are often self-appointed grammar nannies, making sure apostrophes are tucked in the cozy correct spots and participles don’t dangle dangerously.  The Tuesday Prude, however, hated diagramming sentences in school. Maybe it looked too much like math. When it was time to explore the beautiful world of grammar with our homeschooled prudlings, we choose a curriculum that didn’t technically require diagramming.

It was a good program and they learned enough not to embarrass me. The closest they came to diagramming was the requirement to pull prepositional phrases from each sentence and label the leftovers:  subject, verb, direct object etc.
Occasionally an imperative sentence reared its imperious head:
Shut the door.
Stop strangling your brother.
Rescue that dangling participle.

Where is the subject in the above sentences? We learned that the imperative is addressed to “you.”
You” shut the door.
You” stop strangling your brother.
You”. . .
You get the picture.
Their job was to label the subject as “You is understood.”
It was sort of fun to say. Try it. “You is understood.”

The fun didn’t stop when my boys finished school. There is a new way to use this rule.

It keeps the world from knowing just how inflated an ego I (aka The Tuesday Prude) am prone to.

One of the first rules a good writer learns: avoid beginning every sentence with the word
I.
Even in a blog, even on a Facebook status, or personal communication—start too many sentences with ‘I’ and readers get the notion that the writer is self-centered.

My readers would be right.

Ever hear the phrase “She thinks the world revolves around her?” Try as I will to convince myself that the world actually revolves on a tipsy axis, my id, ego and superego all argue the opposite. In the world of the self-centered, I am firmly in the middle.

Narcissism, however, wears thin. As an author, I don’t want to alienate readers. They want to believe I am interested in them, and I am. Truly I am. But I can’t seem to evict this nasty little core of me that wants to make sure no one bumps me from Centerville. Because no matter how much evidence to the contrary, deep down in my self-fascinated self is the idea that everyone else should be captivated with ME.

So I develop strategies to hide my absorption in spellbinding me. Look back and you’ll discover the sneaky ways I wrote an entire post about ME without once starting a sentence with ‘I’.
Sometimes, unfortunately, it is almost impossible to keep the
I-word anywhere but the engine part of a sentence. Unless one wants to totally convolute the syntax till the reader has to stand on his/her head to make sense of it.

That is where my ‘You is understood’ training comes in handy, with one crucial change.

Instead of writing
I am trying to avoid starting sentences with ‘I’”,
I drop the ‘I’ at the beginning of the sentence and it becomes a friendly, informal
‘Trying to avoid…”

The ‘I’ is understood but it sits modestly out of the reader’s line of vision, understanding that I am really the subject of me but not trumpeting the fact.

It gets easier:
“Loving this organic casserole that just came out of the oven!”
“Going to buy a new pair of jeans in a smaller size!”
“Just enjoying the cutest grandbabies on earth!”

All the above are just underhanded ways of saying:
#allaboutme  #mememememe #wanttoknowmoreaboutme #sureyoudo #stilldidntstartasentencewithI

Empaths: We feel your pain. Here, have some more.

Empath is psycho-shorthand for ‘someone who is empathetic.’

Empaths can put themselves in another’s shoes and experience their emotions.

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You want an empath around when you need more than someone to pat you on the shoulder when you are miserable and say “Poor, pitiful you.” That is a sympathizer. They serve a purpose. When you wallow in your particular wretchedness, the sympathetic person will not get overly-involved. The sympathizer will just feel sorry for you.
Then there’s the role of an aloof. This detached person sees your gloom, and wonders how you got there. And possibly is glad he isn’t in there with you.
Unlike the jurist—who will critique, censure, and castigate you from the edge of the pit of despair.

 
The sympathizer will offer you a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes we need sympathy. And sometimes we need cool appraisal from the aloof, to give us a sense of perspective on our hurt. There could conceivably be times when we  need the jurist, who tells us exactly what we did wrong (if anything) that got us into the pit, and MAYBE even instructs us how to get out.

 
But the empath will mourn with you when you mourn. The empath’s cheeks will burn when you are humiliated, and the empath’s heart will beat faster when you are afraid.
The empath will climb right into the ooze next to you and sob along.

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I could always, from the time I learned to read, put myself into a character’s shoes. Shoes? No, I climbed into the character’s skin and walked around in it. If I were a more open child and had shared these tendencies with my parents, they might have been able to act as aloof, or even a jurists, and convince me that too much empathy is too much. By the time I was about seven the damage was complete. There was no going back.

 
That year, our family stood on the sidewalk in our little town, cheering as a parade went by. I think candy was thrown. (I wouldn’t have cheered as much otherwise.) When I heard jeers of some rascally-types up the street, I raised my eyes from the Bazooka Bubble Gum piece at my feet, and met those of a truck driver. He and his truck had somehow gotten caught up in the middle of the parade. All thoughts of that hard brick of pink adhesive wrapped in an incomprehensible comic disappeared. My heart and soul flew into the truck with the man. I was experiencing the humiliation from the jeering children. I was aching for the moment I could break free from the parade, park my truck on a private, tree-lined street, and salve my wounded spirit. The rest of the parade was spoiled for me. I was one with that miserable driver.

 
It wasn’t till decades later—I’m embarrassed to tell you how many—that I could call up that painfully vivid memory. And realize with a shock that the truck driver wasn’t humiliated or scarred or crushed in spirit. He was bored and had a route to finish and just wanted to get out of that treacle-slow speed of a small town parade.

 
And that is the problem with empaths. We might feel your pain. But some of us (I hope I am not the only -nth degree empath out there) will add more pain to what we think you are feeling. We might project, on you, our own perceptions of what we think your emotional state to be. We may assume you are reacting as we think we would. A seven-year-old should never suppose that she is simpatico with a middle-aged truck driver.

 
Us -nth degree empaths might be feeling your assumed pain long after you have moved on to a place of peace, contentment and even happiness. We may picture you in the Slough of Despond when you are actually only splashing your way through a mud puddle, regretting nothing but your dirty hem. We can be found weeping with you even while your joy is coming in the morning.

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The life of an empath is a tough one. Our emotions are constantly roiling around inside, looking for more tribulation and anguish to weep over. Sometimes we can be the most frustrating of friends.

 

 
But when you are in that pit, and the jurist has pronounced judgement and walked on, the aloof is peering over the edge wondering how you got there and how you’ll get out, and the shoulder of the sympathizer is too far to reach, wait for the splash. The empath has jumped in with you, and might even stay there after you’ve climbed out.

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