Ode to Lampyridae

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image from https://www.thoughtco.com/importance-of-the-firefly-2028102

The fey in our yard

Arise from freshly-mown grass

When the sun drifts westward.

Tiny beings hover and blink

swirling like sparks freed from a blaze.

Silent yet luminous

They flit about joyously

Before disappearing once again

Into their secret realm.

Why am I posting a photo of my graying hairline and wrinkle-ridden forehead?

Why am I posting a photo of my graying hairline and wrinkle-ridden forehead?

Because changes in our appearance, especially as we age, cannot be avoided. And no amount of cosmetics, hair colorant or liposuction is going to change the fact that we are older than we were before today.

This blog post is inspired by my last trip to the grocery store. I don’t normally check out all the moisturizers and other age-defying products they have, but thought I’d take a gander the other day.  Day cream. Night cream. Eye cream. Hydro-plenishing firming gels. Such a confusing plethora of products promising to erase wrinkles and battle “the appearance of aging.”

But I have always felt that a wrinkle, mole, scar or other anomaly adds character.

The faces of mannequins have no wrinkles, and thus, to me, no personality.

Wrinkles show you’ve smiled and laughed, frowned and cried. Scars show you’ve faced a challenge and come away healed and whole. A well-placed mole can be appealing. And a sprinkling of freckles across one’s nose is charming.

And dermal anomalies aren’t the only ones to consider. We come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, ethnicities and abilities.  Diversity is what makes the world interesting.

But one thing we all have in common–aging.

I think I’m not in a rush to erase my wrinkles and cover my gray because that wasn’t the example set for me by my dear mother. She and the aunts and uncles (and other older folks I knew growing up) exuded so much character in their beautifully honest faces, marred with lines and age spots.

Seems I’ve grown more pensive after entering my 50’s, and as I age even more, I hope I maintain this resilience and continue to see the beauty of aging naturally.

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The Butterfly Emerges

I’m back, and I knew I would be! After months of enduring anxiety and depression, waiting for new meds to take hold, I am back to my happy old self. I might even start working on Book #4 before the summer’s over!

AND….

Recently I felt the urge to meet some new people and make a handful of new friends, so I joined a Meetup group for local ladies who walk, talk, have lunch together and participate in other activities. I also joined  the Red Hat Society, and contacted a local chapter that meets in a nearby town. Lastly, I got in touch with a meditation group.

Why all this exploration? Because, as much as I love staying home with Dave and having it be just us and the cats, I do love meeting new people and making new friends. Over 20 years ago, I was a member of Newcomers Unlimited for over a year, and I had the most fun going to luncheons and outings! But then we bought the house and I had to get a fulltime job and I abandoned my socialite life.

Now I’m older, more financially secure, and once again have time on my hands. Not being the social creature I am, Dave is happy to stay home and doesn’t crave the social activity I do.

And being exposed to new and interesting people just might spark my WRITING! One of the Red Hatters, for example, may just exude enough whit and personality that I am inspired to conjure a character into being!

So, like the butterfly, I have emerged from my confining chrysalis after a painful metamorphosis. But unlike that delicate creature who undergoes such drastic change only once, it’s my lot in life to go through such transformation multiple times.  The good news is, after each alteration, I am left stronger, wiser and happier than I was before!

 

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Meet Author and Anti-bullying Advocate Stacy Einfalt!

Stacy Einfalt is another local author I met at a book-signing event years ago. She writes and illustrates a growing series of picture books for children which emphasizes the importance of being inclusive and accepting.

Name: Stacy Einfalt

Website: www.facebook.com/storybooksbystacyeinfalt

1. How long have you been writing? 

I’ve been writing for about eight years now.

2. Your series of picture books deals primarily with bullying. Why did you choose bullying for your platform? 

I chose to focus on the issue of bullying in my stories because I seen what it was like for my older brother growing up being bullied and the effects that it had on his self esteem and confidence.

3. When you’re not writing how do you spend your time? 

I’m a competitive bodybuilder. I enjoy working out. I also enjoy spending time with my husband, our dog Holtz, and our sweet, but not always well behaved, crew of cats!

4. Do you have a preferred method of promoting your books and sharing your anti-bullying message? 

I enjoy visiting schools and reading my stories to children. I also enjoy participating in book signing events.

5. Can we expect more picture books from you in the future? 

Absolutely! I’m currently working on the illustrations for my sixth book that I’m hoping to release by late summer, early fall!

stacy

Meet Paranormal Romance Author M.L. Crum!

A fellow author friend of mine, M.L., graciously agreed to let me interview her. We met years ago at a book-signing event. If you are a fan of paranormal romance, I urge you to check out her site and read her books!

Name: M.L. Crum

Short bio: I was born and raised in Maryland. I have been an elementary school teacher for over twenty years. Teaching remains a passion in my life, but I have also been inspired to write. I used to write all the time when I was a child and into my early adulthood,  but somewhere along the line, between college, a new career, and family, the joy of writing for myself became secondary. But, this joy has been rediscovered. I now live in Pennsylvania with my husband, two kids, two dogs, two rabbits, two fish, two leopard geckos, and 1 cat.

 1. When did you start writing? I wrote all during my childhood, but I started writing my first book in 2013
2.  Is paranormal romance your favorite genre? I would have to say that romance in general is my favorite genre. I just enjoy a good love story. I mostly read contemporary, historical, suspense, and paranormal. I have written paranormal, suspense and contemporary.
3. What is your writing process–do you have a set schedule for your writing? I wish. I also teach first grade 9 months out of the year so that takes up most of my time and energy. I write whenever I can or whenever I’m in the mood. I write a lot during holiday breaks and summer.
4.  Where do you get inspiration for your books? I get a lot of inspiration from my own dreams. Back in 2013, I woke up from a very vivid dream one morning. There was a man and woman in my dream, and they were involved in an experiment dealing with time travel. I woke up right at a pivotal point. I had to know what happened to them, so I immediately went to my computer and started writing what I believed could have happened. That turned into my first book, Irony of Time, which I then turned into a trilogy.  For my fourth book I wanted my main character to be a teacher, and I wanted it to have a little suspense. There was no dream I based it off of, but for the suspense part of the story I did have to dig into what is or has been a teacher’s worst nightmare.
5.  What are you currently working on now? I have finished my fifth book which is a contemporary second chance love story that takes place at a couples resort on an island off the Florida Keys. And yes, it was inspired from another dream. The end of the first chapter was my dream. If or when you read it, you will see why I had to write the rest. I had to have an ending. This story is currently at my first editor. I hope to release it in early spring 2020. Right now it is titled, Keepsakes. I am also working on a short story or novella that is closely connected to my fifth book. My goal is to give this short story away for free one day.
6. What is your advice for aspiring authors? Although writing is the most important part of this process, it is also important to start making connections while you are writing. Join writing groups that meet or online, join Facebook author/writing groups or watch podcast by authors. Learn the tricks of the trade not only in making your craft better, but with how to market your book. See what others are doing that seems to be working. You need to do all this because after you push the “publish” button or your release date is set, then the hard work begins.

 

 

 

M.L.Crum

 

 

 

 

An Unfathomable Challenge


noun

I am a logophile.

I love broadening my vocabulary, learning new words and their definitions. I also like to learn their origins. Many times when I was writing historical fiction, especially, I’d stop before using a word and wonder, “Did that word even exist in the 17th century?” So that’s when you turn to the dictionary.

A friend recently told me about The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. I put a hold on the ebook at my library. There’s also a movie version, to no great surprise.

The blurb from Amazon reads:

The Professor and the Madman is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary—and literary history.

The making of the OED was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, was stunned to discover that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. But their surprise would pale in comparison to what they were about to discover when the committee insisted on honoring him. For Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

I have also always loved history, so I’m  looking forward to reading this.

I found this topic blog-worthy because it has often fascinated me how anyone could collect every word of any language, especially English, considering how it’s borrowed from so many other languages.  How is accuracy assured?

Wikipedia has an interesting article on the Oxford English Dictionary, again, to no surprise.

This subject probably doesn’t appeal to many, but I have always found language (particularly English) and its origins fascinating. And I am looking forward to reading The Professor and the Madman.

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Adverbs and Adjectives–A Writer’s Best Friends

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From Dictionary.com:

ADJECTIVE

noun

Grammar. any member of a class of words that modify nouns and pronouns, primarily by describing a particular quality of the word they are modifying, as wise in a wise grandmother, or perfect in a perfect score, or handsome in He is extremely handsome. Other terms, as numbers (one cup; twelve months), certain demonstrative pronouns (this magazine; those questions), and terms that impose limits (each person; no mercy) can also function adjectivally, as can some nouns that are found chiefly in fixed phrases where they immediately precede the noun they modify, as bottle in bottle cap and bus in bus station.
Yes, I am blogging about WRITING! So that’s gotta be a positive sign, right?
Descriptive words–adverbs and adjectives, really make or break it for a reader. They are what paint the mental images in a reader’s mind;
Dry, crusty bread
A smooth, glassy lake
Quick, sporadic movements
Deep, lung-filling breaths
If the above examples evoked even a brief response, I’ve served my purpose.
That said, I remember from writing courses I took (back in the late 20th century, needless to say!), a writer doesn’t want to use too many descriptive words, especially if they are working under a word count limit.
Instead of:
The drafty, run-down old outbuilding
Say:
The dilapidated  barn
I love descriptive words and remember having a little difficulty with this rule when an English teacher first turned my attention to this “rule.” But I do get her point.
But again I ask, did one of the above descriptions evoke more of a mental image than the other for you?  “Don’t use five words if two or three will do,” I was told.
Maybe it’s just personal preference, but when I am (once again) in full writing mode, you can bet I’ll be pulling out every vivid, descriptive, expressive word I can call forth!

Manifesting something good!

deliberatereceiving

Melody Fletcher is the author of Deliberate Receiving Finally the Universe Makes Some Freakin’ Sense! and an incredible life coach who, once a week or so, chooses a random person to whom she gifts one hour of free coaching. I learned this from watching her YouTube videos.  Now, I was under the impression you have to be a member of her group to be chosen,  but given my recent anxious state, I thought, oh what the heck I’ll fill out an application for a free call.

I JUST GOT OFF THE PHONE WITH HER!

She is funny and compassionate and direct. She reminded me that I have already manifested all the good things in my life, so why do I think I will manifest bad things in the future? Like her book mentions, don’t fearfully focus on, “what if this horrible thing happens?” Instead, focus positively on, “what if this wonderfully terrific thing happens?” Do that long enough and often enough and you will raise your own frequency, which will bring into your life things that match that higher frequency! I KNEW this stuff already but somehow needed to manifest this incredible reminder, and by golly, I am feeling SO much better! 

Manifesting a perfect job after using Melody’s methods worked for a dear friend of mine just a few weeks ago.  My friend had been unemployed for several weeks and kept applying until she finally manifested this perfect job for herself. In my recent dark state, that was one bright spot for me. I was truly happy for her and started reading Deliberate Receiving for the 2nd or 3rd time.

Then I saw the free coaching offer mentioned on her videos and I thought, oh what the heck why not?

Don’tcha love when the Fates smile on you and something like this happens?

Bless Melody Fletcher and the good work she does! If you haven’t already read her book, I urge you to do so.

 

Blogging as Therapy

ME (6 years old): Mommy, I have bad feelings.

MY MOTHER: Those are just 6-year-old feelings. When you’re 7, you won’t feel like that anymore.

But I did.

And still do.

Looking back, I realize I had depression even as a child.

ME (12 years old) school books clasped to my chest as I stand with my nose pressed to the storm door, waiting for the school bus.

DAD: Peni, sit down for awhile. The bus won’t be here for another forty-five minutes.

ME: But I don’t want them to have to wait on me.

Anxiety has also been a lifelong companion of mine. I still can’t BEAR the thought of anyone waiting on me. If I have an appointment, you can be sure I will be at the doctor’s office/restaurant a good 1/2 hour before the appointed time!

So I’ve been born with this chemical imbalance, and only medication can remedy it. I’ve been on medication since the 1990’s (it was only after I was grown and married was I diagnosed), and I shudder to think what meds they would have had me on as a child if my folks had ever realized I had these issues. The meds I took from the ages of 6-19 for epilepsy were bad enough, leaving me so dopey and listless all I ever felt like doing was write. That, in itself, wasn’t such a bad thing but I basically lived in such a stupor my whole developing years.

I don’t want to get too personal on this blog, but blogging seems to be my only creative outlet as I go through this current phase of depression/anxiety.  When I’m “on,” I have heard people comment, “You’re always so happy!” And, basically, when all is well, yes I am. I LOVE my quiet, peaceful life with my retired husband. I love going for walks with him and playing cards and rocking on our porch like a little old (?) retired couple.

According to Scientific American, 1 in 6 Americans take a psychiatric drug. Personally, I would have expected the number to be higher. But then I suppose there are millions of diagnosed cases out there that would quickly drive that percentage up.

The stigma of mental illness does seem to be receding, and that’s a good thing. If one needs “mood meds,” it’s no different than needing medication for high blood pressure.  It concerns me sometimes, the chemicals we are given, and I feel like we’re lab rats (“let’s try THIS medication and see what happens,”). But if a correct substance and dosage proves to be helpful, I guess that’s all that matters.

I tried twice (following my doctor’s advice) to go off my medication, hence my current situation. I’m feeling better every day but I’m not quite “there” yet. I have a loving, supportive network of family and friends whom I appreciate more than they could ever know.

I’m writing this blog entry to sort of explain the poem I wrote last time; sorry it was such a downer but I was at a very low place, and the post before that wasn’t particularly sunny either, but I just wanted to let you (my handful of readers) know where I presently am, and I thank you for your patience with me. Cheerier posts are definitely on the horizon as I slowly return to a good balance!

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