Friday, September 27, 2013

Annual Authors' Event and Memories from The ACFW Conference

Tomorrow we will celebrate our annual Author Gala in Paducah, Kentucky. If you are visiting the area, be sure to drop by the Etcetera Coffee House on 6th street to meet six authors from six states.
Etcetera Coffee House is known for its specialty coffees, delicious sandwiches, and to-die-for desserts. The event runs from 11 a.m - 1 pm.

Author, Linda Swift always does a wonderful job of organizing the event and makes sure our tables are decorated with pretty tablecloths. Her talented husband will provide pretty keyboard music. Songs that will take you back to the time when songs had beautiful melodies.

Each author will have his/her separate table, his/her books, plus a candy bowl filled with treats for the grabbing. the authors and states represented are: Linda Swift--Kentucky, Celia Yeary--Texas, Danielle Thorne--Georgia, Larry Hammersley--Indiana, Pamela Hearon--Illinois and Laurean Brooks (me) Tennessee. We expect to have a huge crowd. Be sure to sign up for the drawings. A gift basket, and books.

On another note:

I returned from the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference in Indianapolis, on September 16th. The wonderful three-day event left my head spinning. The experience was a 72-hour blast filled with writing classes, appointments with editors/agents, and mutual introductions to seasoned, new, and promising authors, over a delicious meal in an elaborate dining room.

I talked to Frank Peretti, and Lena Nelson Dooley, to name a couple. Both are as nice as they can be.

Steve Laube from The Steve Laube Literary Agency, sat down at our table on Friday night. He gave us background on how he became an agent, then asked everyone's names, and what genre they wrote. Mr. Laube affable, and knowledgeable in his field, and has a gift for putting everyone at ease.

One thing I took away from conference that surprised me is that agents, editors, and well-known authors, are real people--just like you and me. People with which you'd like to sit down and chat over a cup of coffee and strudel.

Saturday evening was open (the only time I had to catch my breath). Deb Kastner, who writes for Love Inspired  and one of three roommates, was free. We teamed up and walked at least 10 city blocks to El Rodeo, a Mexican restaurant. Before we pushed through the door, a sign on it caught my eye. "Restrooms $2.00." Upon entering, we noted the place was virtually empty. The food and service were excellent, meaning that wasn't the problem. When I looked toward the front, I saw the manager staring through the glass door at everyone walking past, as if wondering, "Why isn't anyone coming in?"

I must admit, I fought the urge to suggest, "Maybe...if you took that 'Restrooms $2.00' sign down...." I would hate to see a great restaurant fold due to something that could easily be remedied.

I left the conference with hope, renewed faith, and a request for a book proposal. I've put it in God's hands because He knows best.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Rose For Sharon--A Tribute to author Sharon Donovan.

Roses seem to be harbingers in my life. Let me explain: In the fall of 1994 my mother-in-law passed away. The following summer, one single rose appeared on her normally flourishing bush.

Was God giving me a sign? Did this lone rose represent my sweet mother-in-law, now with Him? The solitary rose was the only bloom that appeared on the bush in 1995.

The following summer of 1996, a solitary rose appeared again on the bush--one month after my father-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. I couldn't help wondering, if the rose was connected to him and/ or my deceased mother-in-law.

Days later my father-in-law died. After the funeral service I checked the bush again. I could hardly believe my eyes! Another pink rose flaunted itself beside the once solitary blossom. Two people who dearly loved one another, were now reunited.

Sixteen years have passed. My husband and I live one hill over from his parents' home place. Our yard is also graced with a rose bush which normally blooms the week before Mother's Day. I pick my mom a fragrant bouquet every year. But, due to unseasonably warm weather this spring, a single large bloom appeared high on the bush last week. I contemplated what it might mean. Was another dear loved one about to pass? I checked the bush several days consecutively; still the lovely rose remained alone in its glory.

The first of this week, I inspected the bush again. At least two dozen pink blooms had opened, surrounding the original rose, still in its glory. What was God trying to tell me?

I would soon find out. Two days later I received the news that my sweet soul sister, Sharon Donovan had passed from this world. I believe God sent the beautiful rose as a sign that Sharon would soon be with Him, enjoying the splendor of heaven.

But, what of the surrounding roses? Do these new blooms represent us, as Sharon's friends--the ones her sweetness and generosity touched while she dwelt here? Through kindness and love, she blessed many.

Sharon Donovan, I miss you. But I can't quench the thrill that mingles with grief when I visualize your newly-restored eyes exploring the awesome wonders of heaven--gorgeous flowers, streets of pure gold, glorious mansions, pearly gates. Beauty beyond compare. A place where there is no more sickness, no pain, not tears. A place where only good things exist---things like love, joy, laughter, and peace.

The once solitary rose still perches above the other blooms in its glory. Not only in my yard; I believe the rose, Sharon, now also graces God's heavenly garden.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Day That Went Right

We've all had those days when everything went wrong. I even recently blogged about one. But today I'd like to tell you about today, a day that went "right." If I'd had my mind on mundane things, these sweet small acts of kindness would probably have flown by unnoticed.

It started this morning with me shuttling my mother to her medical treatment in Paris, Tennessee. After the medical aids wheel her into the room, I have two hours and thirty minutes to waste. Somehow I have yet to be bored. In fact, a few times I've had to rush to get back to pick Mother up on time.

Today, my first stop was Walmart. In the checkout lane, a young lady let me go in front of her, because as she said, "You only have two items, and besides I want to read this gossip tabloid." She added, "I'm really ashamed that I read this stuff, but I just can't help it." I picked up a Southern Living magazine and told her to hide it inside. I laughed when she actually did.

The conversation took off from there. When I told her I was an author, she became excited and announced it to the checkout clerk and everyone else within hearing distance, declaring she'd never actually met a celebrity before, (LOL) "though both Chuck Norris and Hank Williams, Jr. have visited the Paris Walmart store."

Before I left Walmart, I gave the young woman my business card including this blog link and an email addy. I had to laugh at her parting words."The next time I see you, I'll bet the Pavarottzi will be following you around."

I left smiling and feeling on top of the world. The next stop was a Get'n Go. I filled a cup with aromatic coffee and enough liquid French Vanilla creamer to make up for the calories I missed at breakfast. Then I reached into my jeans pocket for change (just to get rid of the nickels, dimes, and quarters). When the clerk and I added it up, I was thirty cents shy. I said, "I hate to do this, but..." I opened my wallet to pull out a dollar when the young man behind me threw two quarters on the counter. "Here's fifty cents. Take it." I explained that I had the money, but he kept insisting and shoved it toward the checkout girl. After shoving it back at him twice, I relented, squeezed his arm, and told him to have a blessed day.

My next stop I bought pet food. When the checkout guy totaled the bill, I reached into my pocket and found myself two cents short on change. Looked like I would have to break a dollar for two pennies. (I spent my pennies at the Get'n'Go.) The checkout guy reached on top of his cash register and tossed two pennies on the counter. "Here you go. Someone threw these up here earlier because they didn't want them."

I thanked him and told him to have a blessed day. By now I'm thinking, "I came out of Walmart feeling like I had a million bucks, and twenty minutes later I've been the recipient of two handouts." LOL. Now I look like a charity case.

But this isn't the end of the story. I shopped for a few items at a large chain supermarket. (I won't mention the name.) When I started opened my wallet, I couldn't find the store's discount card. Without it I would have to pay full price for the sale items I had. The checkout lady tried punching my phone number in the computer, but it didn't take. So she yelled at the woman behind me with an overflowing shopping cart. "Do you mind if this lady up here, uses your card?" The woman responded, "Of course not!" and handed it to the clerk.

Because of her generosity I was able to buy two bottles of calcium for the price of one.

These gestures may not seem like much, but after dwelling on them, they gave me a new perspective. I wondered how many small acts of courtesy we take for granted, daily, just letting them slide by. These kind deeds mean a lot in this age where we often shake our heads and wonder, "What is this world coming to?"

Today I evidenced the generosity of three caring individuals. With all the bad reports we hear on the news, it's hard to see the good in others. But no matter what the news media would have us believe, wonderful, caring folks still live among us.

So, how was your day? I hope you were as blessed as I.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Poll: What Makes For a Memorable Book and/or Movie?

I have an inquiring mind and would like to know: Have you ever read a book or watched a movie that you just can't get out of your head?

Every writer's dream is to pen a story that will linger in the reader's mind until he/she expires. But, what makes a story or movie memorable? That is the BIG question. Give us your opinion.

Will you share that memorable book and/or movie title with readers and tell us why you think it (or they) should make it...or "did make" it to the top?

Please post a comment. This should prove interesting.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Pear Tree For A Legacy?

More than 30 years ago my father transplanted a pear tree in the back yard. He was big on planting trees and bushes, nurturing them to watch them flourish. Ten years after we moved from Hickory Valley, Tennessee, he drove 110 miles back to dig up a fig bush we'd left behind. It now grows on the south side next to the house.

Today, both the fig bush and pear tree produce an abundance of fruit. Daddy lived long enough to enjoy the figs, but passed away long before the pear tree produced. I remember him fertilizing around it and wondering if it ever would bear fruit."

Over the past month while visiting my mother, I've gathered three large bags of the delicious fruit, My mother has called in friends and neighbors, and given loads of pears to us children. Still, innumerable pears hang on the tree and at least a hundred are scattered beneath it.

After gathering the fruit and setting the heavy sack on the table, I turned to my mother and asked,. "Do you think Daddy ever considered he might be leaving a legacy behind when he planted the pear tree? I wonder what he'd say if he knew people from miles around are coming with baskets to gather pears."

She shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know, but it really puts out the fruit.

A gift that keeps on giving. My dad would be pleased to know he's sharing pears with his small community. He was a giving person. Who can count the jars of preserves that have been made from that one tree?

This brought another question to mind. Does everyone leave a legacy? Whether we know it or not, something we say, or some act of kindness we show to another, could become a legacy, changing their lives. Who knows what results may someday emerge from those kind words or deeds?

My fifth-grade teacher didn't live long enough to learn she'd planted a dream in my heart when she announced to the class, "One day Laurie will become an author." Her words were never forgotten, though it took a few decades before I acted on them.

My desire is that the words I write will become my legacy. I pray my stories will influence readers in a positive way. The best compliment paid would be to hear a reader say, "Thank you. Your story helped me through a difficult time."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One Of Those Days!

Hi fellow Bloggers,

Did you ever have one of those days when everything went wrong? Yesterday started out with computer glitches. Between error messages and freeze ups, I didn't manage to accomplish a thing online until after 2 p.m.

It ran smoothly for a couple hours, then the computer gremlins attacked again. Page freezes, "Page not Found" etc. flashed on my screen. I shut down to prepare supper, praying the computer would be refreshed after its nap.

It worked fine and I edited away until my hubby (Terry) interrupted me with, "Have you seen the cell phone?"

It was 8 o'clock Monday night and I hadn't seen it since Sunday afternoon. Terry couldn't remember the last time he used it--when or where. So, I dialed the cell phone from our cordless. It didn't ring. Instead a woman's voice spat, "Your message has been forwarded to your mailbox."

Arrrrgh! I strangled the phone hoping that insolent woman would at least cough from the clench. We turned the house upside down to perform a thorough search for the missing phone. We dug between cushions, rammed our arms down inside the sofa and Lazy-Boy, moved and lifted anything that might be covering it--even looked under the bed.

When all the above proved futile, Terry walked out to the carport to search the pickup and car. I dialed the cordless three more times (to no avail) from the open door, listening for a "Brrrrinnnggg!" Nothing. Meanwhile, our black kitten, Sassy, slipped past my ankles and into formidable darkness.

Since our quest to find the cell phone proved futile, we stopped for the night. "We'll search again tomorrow," Then I said. I turned to Terry. "I just realized Sassy sneaked out when we opened the back door." I turned on the carport light, walked out and called, "Here, kitty-kitty!"

She ran toward me. "Great!" and right between my feet. Oops! I called again. The little black devil appeared out of nowhere in the darkness, 10 feet away. I crept closer planning to reach down and nab her. When I tried, Sassy streaked off again. This went on for 10 minutes. I tired and gave it up.

An hour passed. Hubby decided to give it a try. He turned on the porch light and yelled, "Sassy!" She streaked past the steps. He yelled louder, "Sas-s-s-sy! You'd better come here, young lady, if you know what's good for you." She zoomed past him again and into outer darkness. He yelled, "Just stay out, then!" and slammed the back door.

Terry waited until 10 p.m. to open the back door again. This time Sassy was ready to seek the warmth of indoors. She zipped between his feet and straight to the kitchen begging for milk.

Terry got up from his Lazy-boy in front of the TV and walked past me at the computer. He yawned. "I'm going to bed. The TV is still on. I can't find the remote.

By this time, I was ready to scream. I searched the sofa and chairs, anywhere a remote could wedge. Finally I turned the TV off manually. Argggh! I resorted to manual labor! LOL.

Then it struck me to lift the two sofa cushions where they met in the middle of the couch. Yep, there it lay, just as pretty as you please. We had a remote, and a kitten, but still no cell phone.

I finished up and went to bed, praying tomorrow would be better. Sometime during the early hours I remembered that Terry had taken a Sunday afternoon nap in the spare bedroom. Could it be....? Nah! Surely not.

When I got up this morning, I checked the spare bedroom. Guess what I found lying on the headboard shelf? Yesssirrreee! The long lost cell phone.

Isn't it funny how one incident led to another, all tied together? (Well, everything but the computer glitches.) Searching for the cell phone caused Sassy to escape into the night, and due to us ransacking the den, the lost phone was also the reason the remote control fell beneath the sofa cushions.

That was my Monday. How was yours?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Writers, Be Cautious!

Hello Writers,

We, as a group are voraciously targeted by scammers who promise the moon if we will submit our precious manuscripts. Maybe because we writers are so eager to see our name in the lights, so to speak, we fall for these traps.

Thank God, I did my homework before submitting my first full length, "Journey To Forgiveness." But I did fall for the Poetry.Com scam a couple years prior. They oogled, ahhed and salivated over my poem, flattering my wonderful accomplishment. Then...then they asked for the right to publish this wonderful piece of work in a "beautifully-bound book along with 200 other poems" and sell the book back to ME (unlimited copies) for "ONLY $39.99 EACH!

I left with a deflated ego, feeling pretty stupid, but thankfully, I sent them NO money. What I wondered was: Who REALLY won the $1,000 they offered in the poetry contest? Or did anyone win?

That said, I just found an interesting site titled, "Agents From Hell." Very informative and enlightening. It could save a lot of heartache. The link listed below contains several links if you would like to check those out, too.

We writers work too hard to be taken in by grasping, scammers. Let's band together and stay smart. Do your homework before submitting that manuscript you've poured heart and soul into. You will be glad you did.