Friday, January 27, 2012

All in a Days Work. Part 1

Callie gave a quick knock of warning before entering her boss’s office. “Good morning, Norman.” She placed charts for their first fifteen patients on the corner of his desk and fresh coffee on the coaster in front of him.
The doctor lifted his head at her approach. Callie saw deep lines etched around his eyes this morning, a telltale sign that something was wrong. She sat across from the desk in one of the visitor’s chairs.
            “Norman, what’s wrong?”
            “Callie, Missy and Jeff Rich lost their baby yesterday.”
             Callie closed her eyes and clutched locket at her throat. Those poor kids. “She only had a couple of weeks left. What happened?”
            He shook his head. “We aren’t sure yet. Missy went into labor yesterday afternoon, a little early, but nothing to be alarmed about. The monitors started picking up some fetal distress around . I ordered a C-section, but we weren’t able to get the baby delivered in time.”
            “They must be devastated. Why didn’t you call me?”
“There wasn’t a thing you could have done. Nothing anyone could do. Their pastor was there, all of the expectant grandparents, aunts, and uncles. I promised Missy and Jeff that you’d stop by this morning.
            Callie nodded. She served as grief counselor for the clinic. A vital position that was, thankfully, under utilized. Having suffered a similar loss in the first year of her marriage, Callie understood what this young couple would face in the days and weeks ahead. “I’ll drive over there just as soon as we get our morning appointments underway.” Callie examined the doctor. “Did you get any sleep last night?”
            Dr. Rayburn dismissed Callie’s question with a shrug, resting his head in his hands. “I know God has a reason for everything, Callie, but when you see such grief on the faces of two young parents…I have a hard time understanding His purpose.”
            Callie let his statement pass.
            The doctor took a deep breath and a long drink of his coffee. She saw his effort to get beyond this loss for the sake of the patients he’d be seeing throughout the day. “Keep them in your prayers, Callie. They’re going to need all the support they can get over the next few weeks.”
            “Of course I will, Norman.” Callie stood to go. “I’ll go on over to the hospital just as soon as our morning rush settles down a bit.”
***There is a new recipe over on Pam's page and the interview with Erin Healy is still posted on Terri's page. Leave a comment anywhere on the site and you'll be registered to win a copy of her book The Baker's Wife. The book will be given away on the 4th.***

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Lesson for Brian

Callie circled her Sunday school classroom. Her students worked, most of them quietly and independently, on their lesson papers. She stopped here and there to help with one of the more difficult questions or puzzles. The occasional giggle from the girls or elbow jabbing contest between boys marred the silence. But that was life with a group of sixth graders. Too young to be teens, too old to be kids.
The first bell, a five minute warning, sounded in the hall. Callie’s hand slipped into the pocket of her jacket. She fingered the weapon concealed there. Her eyes cut to young mister Brian who would get his just reward for last week’s horseplay in just a few minutes. What she had planned might seem drastic, but sometimes that’s all that worked with a cheeky, not quite teen aged, boy. Some lessons were best taught by the laws of cause and effect.
“Okay guys. Let’s get everything put away. We need to take some prayer requests before we leave. Anyone have something they want the class to pray about this week?”
Justin’s hand shot up. “My little brother was sick last night. Man, he spewed chunks. It was gross, he—”
Callie cleared her throat. “Thanks, Justin. We get the idea. Anyone else?”
Hailey wiggled her fingers for attention. “There’s a girl in my homeroom at school. She broke her leg.”
Chase raised his hand. “Remember my dad. He got orders back to the dessert.” Callie saw the manly attempt the boy made to control his emotions in front of the other kids. “He deploys in sixty days.”
Callie nodded and scribbled a note to herself. She’d have Benton plan a few guy activities for him and Chase while Dad was gone. Nothing could take the place of Dad, but as the lone male in a household of Mom and four younger sisters, every little bit of male influence helped Chase get through these deployments with his sanity intact . “Is that all?”
The final bell rang. Callie crossed to the closed classroom door. “Okay guys, I’ll say a prayer. You remember to pray this week too.” She opened the door and stood aside as the eight members of her class filed into the hall.
Brian walked past her and she hooked an arm around his shoulders and swung him against the wall next to the door. Hand on his chest, she leaned her weight into him as he began a half-hearted struggle for freedom. “Your goose is cooked, bud.”
He giggled. “I’m sorry, Miss Callie. I didn’t mean to catch you in the cross fire last week. Trevor had the spray bottle again…”
Callie shook her head. “I’ll deal with Trevor, but for now…” She pulled the weapon from her pocket and watched with satisfaction when Brian’s eyes grew round at the sight.
“You wouldn’t”
“Oh, I would. I had to go home between services last week and change into dry clothes because of you.”  She lifted the gun and pulled the trigger, discharging the entire contents into the face of her captive student. Water dripped from the child’s hair and nose when she was finished.
“I give, I give,” Brian sputtered.
Callie left him dripping against the wall as she reached under her desk and retrieved the small paper bag Brian’s mother had dropped off before class started. She tossed it to the youngster. “Consider us even. There’s a dry shirt and a towel in there. Go get cleaned up and go on to church.”
Brian clutched the bag and prepared to depart.
“Brian?”
“Yes, Ma’am?”
“No more water pistols in class. Are we clear?”
Water dotted the floor as Brian shook his head. “Yes, Ma’am.” He repeated.
Callie smiled as she watched him go. Her thoughts turned to Trevor and his upcoming lesson.
***This scene was in the original "Callie" manuscript. A free lance editor that read it called it "jarring". An agent that read it called it "scary and unnecessary". I eventually cut it out, even though it broke my heart to do it. I just thought it showed us the close and easy relationship Callie has with her students. Kids she's known their entire lives. What did you think of the scene? How would you have handled it?***
###While you're here please visit Terri's page to the right. The Baker's Wife is reviewed for your pleasure along with an interview with the author, Erin Healy. Leave a comment on either page to be registered to win a copy of this fascinating book.###

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why I Write

When I posted the first article to this blog on September 1st. 2011, (Please see the From the Beginning page to the right) I admitted to being called to write and hinted that I might share that story someday. Well, with the signing of my first publishing contract, today is the day. This is NOT a story about me, but a story of obedience, and learning to look for, and listen for, God’s will in our lives.
First, you have to know a little about me. I love books, I love Star Trek. Twenty-five years ago I was immersed in TREK. I have my own uniform, went to the conventions, met with the stars of the show, belonged to the local chapter of Star Fleet, served on the national board, and I read EVERY Star Trek novel they published. That’s a substantial number. I have BOXES of books packed away in my closet for lack of shelf space.
One day, just one normal day out of the blue, I woke up with the idea that I wanted to write. I didn’t think this was strange. I’d been a reader all my life. I could do this. So with pen and paper, and later a Commodore 64 Computer-yes, I’m that old, I began my journey as a writer. I wrote TREK poems, short stories and articles for newsletters. I even had several items published in various Star Trek fanzines with letters from the editors asking for more. Encouraged by that small success, and with no clue about how the real world of writing functioned, I began my first novel.  The Inheritance , a Star Trek novel by Sharon Srock. Yep, I wrote it. I still have it on my computer today, and a hard copy buried in my closet somewhere. People that read it liked it, praised it, and encouraged me to publish it. That’s when I ran into the brick wall of reality that is the publishing business. Let’s put this on hold for just a second.
One more thing you should know about me. I’m Pentecostal. I’ve worshipped at the same Pentecostal church for 40 years. For those of you unfamiliar with us Pentecostals, our services can get a little rowdy, in a wonderful way. One night, in the midst of my Trek writing, our church was in revival. Now, this evangelist didn’t know me from Eve, had no way of knowing what my hobbies were. During the alter service she singled me out of the congregation and called me to the front. She placed her hands on my head and spoke words over me that I’ll never forget. “I have placed a pen in your hand and a lamp by your side. Use them for me.”
Well, you know, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. The writing part was all well and good, but how did you write for Jesus. The only Christian material I’d ever seen was Sunday school lessons and “Draw closer to God” books written by educated theologians.   That wasn’t me.
Some things happened over the next few months that caused me to doubt the validity of this evangelist. Combine that with the brick wall I’d run into trying to get my novel read, much less published, and I packed my pen and paper away. I eventually grew away from the TREK stuff, life moved on, and I didn’t write anything for almost 10 years.
Fast forward, Spring 2009. I’m sitting at my desk at work and a new employee stops by to introduce herself. In the course of the small talk she mentioned that she was a writer.
“That used to be my dream,” said I. She looked me right in the eye and spoke 5 words to me that changed my life.
“You gave up too soon,” says she.
It was like a fountain opened up inside of me that day. I’ve been writing ever since.
The last three years has not been without it’s doubts and insecurities. I’ve spent hours in prayer, begging God to show me His will for my life, to give me some indication of the path He had for me. And all that time, I wrote.
With hopeful heart and stars in my eyes, I submitted my first story to an agent. He shot me down and introduced me to some more reality. Just because you’re called to do something doesn’t mean you can skip the education portion of the program. So I worked, and learned, and continued to beg God for direction. I doubted myself and my abilities even while I continued to write. After all, I made God wait for almost 25 years, should I complain if God made me wait now?
And now God has blessed me with the answer to my prayers and the fulfillment of my dream, but I never want it to be about me, or what I’ve done. This is His project and I’m just the funnel to the keyboard. Through all of this, especially over the last couple of weeks where things have just snowballed towards blessing, I keep asking myself one question. Where would I be now if I’d listened 25 years ago?
There are lessons to learn for my experience. Learn, Listen, Pray, and NEVER give up on your dreams. Why do you write?
***This has been a little long, and I apologize. If you are missing the women, pop over to Karla's page to the right, there's a little teaser posted there. They'll be back next week.***

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Writing Contract

I'm taking the blog this week and posting a little early cause this news is too big for my little page and too big to wait till the weekend.

Harbourlight Books has notified me that they will be offering me a contract on the first two books in The Women of Valley View series.

I'm so excited. As writers we anticipate this moment when our dream finally comes true. My vision had me melted in a puddle of tears in front of my computer. Reality...I was too stunned to do anything but stare at the message while I read it multiple times to make sure I wasn't getting it wrong.

Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.(NLT)
Don't ever give up on your dreams, guys. God is faithful. That "desires of your heart" thing is a true fact. I'm walking out the door this morning with a prayer answered and a 25 year old dream fulfilled. God is SO good!!!
I'll post some of the details as I find out about them. Thanks to everyone who prayed and believed.
We'll talk soon!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Garfield Christmas part 4 Karla

Karla shoved a final box into the Christmas storage closet. She leaned her back against the door still she heard the click of the latch. One step away confirmed that the door would not burst forth like mount Vesuvius. Every year she promised herself that she’d sort through the boxes of excess ornaments, wade through some of the seldom used decorations, every year she put the downsizing off. Who was she kidding?  Everything in the closest held some kind of sentimental  value to either her or Mitch. No doubt it would be sorted through eventually, but not by her.
She took a step towards the hall and halted with her hand over the light switch. A cry of frustration gurgled in her throat as her gaze swept across the single box still sitting on the bed. Oh, Man.
Karla sat on the bed and pulled the lid off the box. Tinsel and glitter twinkled in the overhead light. She touched each of the special items resting inside, the corners of her lips tugging up as she remembered the first time she’d seen the individual pieces.
She picked up a reindeer ornament made from a large milk bone dog biscuit. The horns were crooked, and the nose had been replaced several times, but Nicolas had made it in Kindergarten and after all these years, it still survived. There was a canning ring surrounding a picture of her daughter. The glitter around the toothless smile shed a little more every year, but it still held a place of honor on the tree every December. Pipe cleaner bells and snowmen trimmed in buttons and ragged ribbon each spoke of a memory of Christmas past. A Styrofoam angel with a lopsided halo grinned at her from the corner of the box. The angel sat atop a stack of homemade snowflakes. White and silver beads grown dull with time.
Each of these ornaments told a story of pride and love. Each had been solemnly presented to Karla with a smile, a hug, and a whispered “I love you, mommy”, as she bent to their level , or snuggled the giver in her lap.  
She closed up the box and stared at the closet she’d just forced closed. Necessary Downsizing? Maybe, but not this year.
***What's your favorite homemade ornament?***