Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Manners Check by Konnie Enos

Do me a favor and just for a moment imagine, you, an altruistic person, are walking out of an office building and in front of you, aiming to go down the ramp placed there for ease of access is a young woman in a wheelchair. The only other people anywhere near you are the person you are with who is following you and another woman walking slightly in front of and to the side of the woman in the wheelchair.
The young woman in the wheelchair is self-propelling down the ramp. Yes it is a short ramp and as such you would roll down it quickly and into the road if you didn’t know what you were doing. The young woman is not in any way struggling.
What do you do?
Your choices are:
A)    Follow the young woman down the ramp while talking to your companion, possibly smile at the young woman and other woman as you move past them.
B)    Ask the young woman if she needs any help and give any assistance she says she’d be thankful for but graciously accept she doesn’t need any if she declines.
C)    Not say anything to her but grab the handles on her wheelchair to keep her from flying into the road.
Think about this for a minute. Which one would you do?
Is your answer C? Why?
Why on earth would you think it is acceptable to invade someone’s personal space without so much as a ‘by your leave’? I already said she was clearly steering herself without any problems. Why would you think she needed help?
If your answer is not C, thank you. You would not believe the number of people who think it’s okay to grab the handles on my daughter’s wheelchair, without even asking, just because they think they are helping her. Did she really look like she needed help? Just because she’s in a wheelchair?
This exact thing happened to my daughter as we were leaving a medical office building. I turned back to her to make sure she didn’t want my help and happened to notice two things. She was fine and some lady behind her was reaching for the handles on her wheelchair without letting my daughter even know she was there.
I said, “She’s fine and very independent.”
Fortunately that was enough to get the lady to back off. Though when I mentioned it to my daughter she complained about others grabbing her chair without her knowledge and consent. She pointed out others in her support groups, who are wheelchair users because of EDS or OI mentioned the issue too. Not only because it is annoying to have someone take your independence away but it had the potential to hurt them.
People with OI have fragile bone and can break them with the slightest movement. Your taking control of their chair while they are trying to steer it could break bones in their hands and arms. People with EDS can dislocate joints just as easily. The same thing applies to them.
Do you really want to hurt a complete stranger just because you THOUGT you could be helpful?
Though the one thing my daughter complained about the most was well meaning people pushing her right into walls and door jams she could have avoided on her own. If you don’t know how to safely push a wheelchair around an obstacle, then don’t! If you are a medical professional and it’s your job to push wheelchair users then I strongly suggest you learn how to steer better.
Also if you want to help someone in a wheelchair by holding a door for them, please do. It can be hard for them to open doors. But please pull the door by the handle and stand at that end, well out of the way, or your toes might get run over as the wheelchair user tries to steer into a doorway you are partially blocking by trying to push the door open near the hinge.
Yes, I have had to tell a well-meaning lady that I had the door for my daughter and to please move out of the doorway so my daughter could enter without running over her toes.
By the way, since she was clearly doing fine, B IS NOT the best answer. Only ask if they need help when it is clear they are having problems, like when they are struggling to open a door or get around another obstacle.
A is the answer. Smile, be friendly, but don’t invade their personal space.
You can read my daughter’s thoughts on this on her blog post of September 7th on 
Mamma Bear rant over.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Pre-Nano Panic by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Yesterday morning while waiting for my ride, I spotted my first tree of the season turned to its fall splendor. That’s right folks, its fall. Meaning snow is on its way, Halloween is around the corner, then comes Thanksgiving and finally Christmas. They are not far away. And what is even closer than Thanksgiving and Christmas is the start of National Writers Month, and I’m not looking forward to it this year.

You heard me, I’m not looking forward to the writing challenge I enjoy and have aced all but twice in the years I’ve been doing it. But let’s face it, right now I have so many stories in my head I can’t figure out just one to work on.

And I haven’t managed to get much writing done in the last couple of weeks, since I’ve been having a hard time concentrating on writing, or more accurately I’m having trouble not obsessing over a plot hole in one of my stories – I can’t figure out how to fix it. And when I haven’t been pondering that problem I’ve been rereading some of my other stories and finding issues in them too.

Actually, all I have found is problems, and I have no idea how to fix them except in my sci-fi, but every time I open it, I don’t want to read it, I don’t want to work on it. I have an outline of the scenes I need to add to the middle of it; I know what I need write, but I’d rather try to get all these other stories playing in my head going, figure out the details I don’t have yet and get writing them. 

And the big issue is I really should add those scenes to the middle of what I already have on my sci-fi, so I can start writing what will be the next book of the series, preferably come November. And I have to make the changes those scenes make before I can continue with my story!

But there is that plot hole in the one I’ve been trying to rewrite for the last month or so, and those other stories I started before it, and dang, when will my mind stop coming up with new stories? I don’t think its anytime soon because I have four stories running though my mind as I try to write this post. Oh, the joys of being ADD. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, concentrating is not my strong suit.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened one manuscript or another this last couple of weeks (more often then not my sci-fi) then didn’t work on it. Okay, sometimes I spent it trying to work things out in my head, but other times I was a drawing a total blank.
A few times I opened some other story, just to distract myself, only to notice stuff needing fixed in it too. Its like nothing I have is working, all of it needs fixed in one way or another, and I’m overwhelmed.

Where do I start? Which one is most important? Do I decide by which one is the oldest? Or is it by the one which is the most done? And which one is that? For my sci-fi, I’m looking at a four-book series, but I pretty much have all of book one, except the missing scenes. One of the stories I found a problem with is totally complete, just needs editing, a major one at this point, but I have the end down.

Some of the others are barely started only a scene or two, others have way more, but still not finished. Decisions, decisions and I don’t know where to start! And does anybody know where I can get a house elf? Maybe I could get more done if I didn’t have to worry about doing my dishes, laundry, dusting, and cooking.

And Konnie is probably at this minute wondering what on earth I’m talking about, I live alone and she still has four kids at home and has all those pets. Her chores are almost never ending in her place, with the added duty of tending to their pets’ needs. When she doesn’t get any writing done, its because she’s been too busy chauffeuring her kids around town, or taking care of other household needs.

Actually, a house elf might not like being at my place – there isn’t enough to do. And they’d love being at Konnie’s place, where there is always something which needs done. Anyone else out there need a house elf?

Happy writing everyone!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Call me Grandma by Konnie Enos

Just a little bit of back story. I am an older mother. By the time my third child came along my husband’s youngest sister was already a grandmother. When I had our youngest child I was about the same age as my father had been when his first grandchild was born. I can remember taking my oldest child to a mother/daughter event at her school and figuring out I was the second oldest mother there. The oldest mother was with her youngest child. Each of the other mothers with their oldest child were younger than I’d been when I’d married their dad let alone had her.
By the time my three youngest were in middle school they were telling me about classmates, “And mom their grandparents are your age.”
It got to be a familiar phrase.
On at least two occasions I’ve had strangers assume I was the grandparent of one of my children. Once I was with my already adult middle child and that assumption was made. I know I gave the guy a scathing look because I really don’t think I look old enough to be the grandparent of an adult. Then again, people still mistake her for a middle schooler, so maybe? I do have visible gray.
Then last year my sister-in-law (my brother’s wife) called me and asked how I felt since I was now a great aunt. Please note the previously mentioned husband’s sister who has been a grandma since BEFORE our third child was born. “I hate to tell you this, but I’ve been a great aunt for years.” I did add that yes her grandchild was the first one on my side of the family, just not my first great niece or nephew. Of which I’d have to think a moment to count them all.
I’ve also got several cousins, all of them younger than I am (one of those by at least eight years) who have mentioned their grandchildren. One of my cousins, who was prolific in her own right, now has a whole passel of grandchildren. Her younger sister only had one child and she also has a grandchild already.
I know the issue is they, like so many other woman, started having their children by their early twenties and their children did the same so by the time they were in the forties they were already grandparents. (My one sister-in-law started as a teenager and so did her daughter so she was even younger.) So the fact that I was pushing thirty when I had my first child and had my other four children while I was in my thirties has always meant I would be an older grandparent.
I want to be a grandma. I’ve talked about it so much over the years to the point of eventually annoying my three daughters. Mind you, my oldest has only been married for a year and the other two aren’t dating. Neither son is dating either but then the youngest is still in high school and I think the oldest is dead set against any of us having anything to say about who he dates so he’s waiting until he moves out.
But really I’ve wanted grandchildren, and great-grandchildren since I was in my twenties. You see way back then my older sister had a baby and went to a family gathering where our mother, and her mother, and Grandma’s father were all present. Count it up, that’s five generations. Ever since I’ve wanted to be in a five generation picture.
Great-Grandpa died when I was twenty-seven. (I got married at twenty-eight.)
Mom died eleven years ago and Grandma five. Dad and his parents and grandparents are all dead now too. It’s not better on my husband’s side of the family.
The only way I’m going to be in a five generation picture is if I’m the great-great grandparent in it.
I don’t want just grandbabies here! Get a move on kids. I ain’t getting any younger.
At this rate we’ll be throwing a bash for my 100th birthday before I get my picture.
Though I am apparently one step closer to my goal.
I can now officially add Grandma to my titles.
My lovely daughter and her wonderful husband are expecting baby number one in March!
They’re taking baby name suggestions and her being a Harry Potter fan went over well. I may well end up with a grandson named after the Wesley twins. (I am fine with this idea.)
And, no we don’t know the gender yet.
Can you tell I’m grinning?
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Giving by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Hurricanes, lava flows, mudslides, flash floods, earthquakes, drought, sinkholes, tornadoes, and wildfires. Of these, the only things I haven’t heard of lately are earthquakes, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t happened, because no matter where you look there is some natural disaster happening somewhere.

And I could go into writing mode right now and talk about how writers should take advantage of these things and write them into our stories, but I’ve already done that. I have a story which starts with a whole lot of mudslides, which I know I’ve made a blog post about in the past.

But right now, I’m going to talk about dealing with these in real life.

I know lots of people, myself included, who are dealing with the smoke from these wildfires all over the northwest. I have a Facebook friend who has posted several pictures over the last few weeks about the smoke in her area, and like I said, I’m suffering too. This past Friday they issued a health advisory because of it, telling people with heart conditions or chronic lung issues to stay indoors; needless to say, I wasn’t able to attend church this past weekend. I do have a couple of air filter/purifiers but the smoke was overpowering them Saturday night, by Sunday I was experiencing shortness of breath and chest discomfort, thankfully, it didn’t get any worse than that, but I wasn’t about to exert myself in those conditions.

And at least I haven’t lost anything, like so many others have, and whole towns have been evacuated in some areas.

A cold front moved in Monday, and I’m hoping rain will fall where the fires are; there are several in this part of the state. Except that isn’t everywhere that its needed; there are fires which have been burning for weeks, and may burn for months, especially in California, and I don’t think they’ve gotten any rain.

Too many have lost everything, with still more fires threatening homes and businesses. Around here they’re hoping to at least get containment with a little help from Mother Nature this week.

Anyway, disasters happen, and from what I’ve been seeing they are happening more and more frequently. And more and more often, people need help because they have nothing but the clothes on their back. They have no clean water, no power, no home, no extra clothes, no food; people out there need help, and they need help now.

And I know this is going to be our life for the foreseeable future, this is why the leaders of my church have been telling people to have food storage, and 72-hour kits – to be prepared. Though that isn’t always easy, and sometime those floods and mudslides and such can take even that away. There are some things you can’t plan for.

That’s when charities are needed. I know there are tons of donation drives right after a disaster, but I don’t think that’s enough, especially since I don’t have that much to spare. It’s just a few dollars each month so I’ve started donating to my chosen charity monthly − every little bit helps, it all adds up, plus, I know when any major disaster strikes, my chosen charity will have funds to go help, because I’m not the only one donating regularly. I just hope and pray more people find it in their hearts to find a charity they like and trust (one where the majority of the donations goes to those in need instead of paying the salaries of those running it), and they don’t wait for a call for help, but donate a little each payday.

Think about it, if you get paid weekly, and donate just a dollar per paycheck, that’s $52 a year. Those of you who are barely making it, why not try like a dollar a month? How hard is $12 a year? Not much individually, but what if everyone you know does the same? It starts adding up pretty fast. With enough donations, a charity can all but move mountains. Or maybe they do – they move mountains of donated material.

And I know some of you are thinking it’s better to donate things, but is it really? There’s been a campaign on TV lately to get people to donate money, not water, clothes, or food, because money is faster and easier to ship, they can electronically send the money to their workers closest to the disaster, they then buy the exact supplies needed and transport them only a few miles into the spot, nothing needs to be shipped across continents or across the world. Easier, simpler, better. So, I challenge you to start donating to your favorite charity every payday, like I do.

Happy writing everyone and stay safe out there.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

There is a Season by Konnie Enos

Today, our Sunday school lesson was on Ecclesiastes. To start the class the teacher played “Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds. I won’t try to quote the whole thing but go read Ecclesiastes 3:1-11. Then listen to the Byrds song. Turn, Turn, Turn
Between both of those I remembered a book I read years ago when I was maybe thirteen, “A Time to Love, A Time to Mourn” by Paige Dixon. You’ll cry, but you really should read it, great story.
Then I remembered a conversation last week with some ladies we go to church with. Last Sunday she was mentioning the recent marriage of her next to youngest son. She also, not too long ago announced her only daughter giving her a grandchild. The thing is her youngest son is about nine years younger than his next youngest sibling and he is only in middle school right now.
I asked her and she confirmed, all of her other children are now married and except for the one newly married they all have at least one child. One of the other ladies there commented she’d be an empty nester if not for her surprise baby.
Then I went home and was scrolling through Facebook. I happened to see a post by one of my cousins many children congratulating her and her husband on all their years of marriage. It included pictures, of my cousin, her husband, their children and all their grandchildren (counted seventeen). She has at least one still in high school and she once mentioned her younger kids going to school with some of her older grandchildren.
My cousin, like the lady at church, is in about her mid-fifties and still not an empty nester. Only my cousin doesn’t have any nine year age gaps between any of her kids.
Then there is me and my husband.
My prolific cousin is younger than I am by a couple of years and my five children were all born within the span of a decade. (My oldest will soon be 27 and my youngest turned 17 just a few months ago.)
In case anybody hasn’t counted recently, I’m far from an empty nest.
Of my four adult children only the oldest, the nearly 27 year old has moved out. She is in fact, as of this month, married for a full year now.
My second child moved out briefly but health issues forced her to move back home and she has been unable to move out or otherwise take care of herself, at least financially, since. She is hoping and praying to find the means to move out, preferably soon, but it hasn’t happened yet.
My next to the youngest, who turned eighteen just before last Christmas, insists he and his best friend are going to move in together just as soon as they both find full-time jobs and they can find an apartment. The job issue is holding things up at the moment.
My youngest son? One, he isn’t an adult yet. Two, he insists he’s never moving out. (Autism spectrum, he hates change.)
The only other child we’ve got is my youngest daughter. Starting in high school she began telling us her plans for college. At first she was saying she would move off to college right out of high school, but as she investigated her options she decided it would be cheaper to live here and start at the local community college.
She’ll graduate next May.
She’s been saying since she started at this college she’d move out and on to where she plans to continue her education as soon as she finishes here. HOWEVER, she has also, on occasion mentioned the possibility of getting her bachelor’s degree locally and still live at home for two more years. She hasn’t said she’d for sure be staying for quite some time but until she actually settles on a university, there is still the possibility. (After all we do have universities and four year colleges here.)
This all brings me to something my husband said the other day. “We could be empty nesters in the next year.”
After considering everything I just stated I concluded: Only if the three with plans to move out don’t have those plans thrown awry or they never come to fruition because, two, you never know what surprises life is going to hand you. AND three, if the one not planning to move out actually changes his mind OR we move out.
And then in my mind I heard. “To everything there is a season, Turn, Turn, Turn…”
Kind of funny that very song would be played as part of our very next Sunday school lesson.
Now tell me why I chose a fiddler on a roof for the picture for this post.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Prologues by Bonnie Le Hamilton

These days if you mention prologues in a writing group just about everyone will tell you not to write them. I’ve even been told that editors hate them, but I happen to think there are times when a prologue is good and helpful, and even needed.

I’ve also heard that anywhere from ten to fifty percent of readers even read prologues. Well guess what, I’m in that group. I read them, I find them just as important as the story itself, and I have written a few. And by a few, I mean a grand total of five out of my over thirty stories that I’ve at least started. So not very many, and I have no intention of writing prologues for the stories that don’t have them. As far as I’m concerned, they don’t need them, but the five I have prologues for, well, in my opinion, they need them.

And I can explain why I have everyone I do have.

The first one is in the POV a minor character in the story, but the information in that scene is of vital importance. All of the remaining scenes are either in the hero’s or the heroine’s POV, but neither were present in that one scene. These few paragraphs inform the reader what the story is about. And frankly I tried to get away without writing that scene, because after all, I’d been told many times to avoid prologues, but well, this scene was needed, I wrote it.

The second one is partly in the POV of a secondary character and partly in the POV of the hero, its short, but it also says what, and who, the story is about. I guess it could be the first chapter, but its rather short for that.

The next two are short scenes, one in the hero’s POV, and in the other story in the heroine’s POV. They also say what the story is about, but at first it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the rest of the story, its only later that you see what it has to do with the story, sort of like in my first prologue.

The final one is for my sci-fi, and the prologue is an ancient story in the world where my sci-fi is set. A story as old as time, as my heroine later tells the hero. This story is mentioned often throughout what will be my sci-fi series, but I didn’t want it actually in the story, so I put it in the prologue, skip it if you want, but you may end up referring to it later. 😊

I know none of these stories are published, only one is even in the finished rough stage, and I’m currently working on the sci-fi, but each time I read these prologues I’ve worried about how the publishers will feel about them, and what they will do to my chances of being published, because after all, we are told to avoid them at all costs.

Then this past week Konnie came across this blog post:  by September C. Fawkes, who is an editor. It’s a pretty good outline of the uses for a prologue.

I particularly like when Fawkes says, “. . . prologues are about making promises of one kind or another to the audience. This is the main function of a prologue.”

Okay, I do make promises. In four of my prologues, they tell what the story is about, they show something that is important or vital to the story. In my final one, well that story lets the reader know the story does not happen in our world. All of them set the stage for what is to follow.

Fawkes also says, “Like all writing rules, there may be some exceptions once in a while, but I’d argue almost always prologues = promises.”

According to what Fawkes says in her blog post my first one is an Alternative Viewpoint prologue, my second is partly an Alternative Viewpoint, and partly a Time Displacement because it happens months before the main story, my next two are little bit Theatrical and a little bit Dual Draw (Well actually, all of these have a bit of the Theatrical in them.), and my final one is both Informational and Time Displacement.

They all serve a purpose, and they all make a promise about what is to come.

In other words, I’ve used prologues correctly the few times I’ve used them. 😊

So, how many of you read prologues?

How many of you skip prologues?

And how many of you have written a prologue?

Happy writing everyone! 😊

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Of Storms and Setbacks by Konnie Enos

“When it rains it pours.”
I don’t mean literally.
I live in a desert after all.
I’m talking about life’s little setbacks and unexpected annoyances and minor traumas you have to deal with. Far too often with a price tag you just aren’t ready to deal with.
Sometimes the price is an emotional one.
A young girl we attend church with spoke Sunday about her recent loss of her beloved family member, her pet. The loss of any loved one can be an emotional stressor.
Other times it’s physical. An accident or a health issue.
My own daughter is dealing with several medical issues though recently she finally found a doctor who one, believed her, two wanted to help her find answers, and three felt the best place for her was a tertiary clinic. Then she ran into a huge problem. The clinic won’t accept her insurance and she doesn’t have even the minimum amount of money in cash to get them to see her without insurance. So she is still fighting.
Accidents can be anything from breaking a bone to wrecking a car. Both have after effects.
Then there are times the problems you have to deal with come with an actual price tag. An unexpected bill or repair. Needing to replace worn out, or out grown, clothing. If you have animals, an unplanned trip to the vet.
Usually these unexpected, unplanned events occur sporadically enough you can recover from one before the next one pummels you.
Other times, well, when it rains, it pours.
One day you get slapped with an unexpected repair and the next it’s a bill you had no idea was coming. Then you’ve got to cover things like maintenance on your car, or taxes or other things you don’t pay every month and you had been saving for them but now you don’t have any left. Or at least not enough to cover everything you where saving for AND all those unexpected expenses and yet one more repair. And that regular bill that’s going up, yet again. Not to mention the bill that’s higher than you expected it to be. And you can’t possibly squeeze another penny out of your budget.
And you look at all those bills and all those repairs and maintenance needing done along with your empty bank account and the only thought going through your head is, when it rains, it pours.
No, my bank account isn’t empty.
Yes, my family is being pummeled.
At the moment I’m sure the only reason we still have money in the bank is because I have yet to do any of my yearly Christmas shopping.
Normally, this time of year I’d have completed nearly half of it. This year, I haven’t even gotten one gift. I’ve barely managed to keep up with getting birthday gifts.
For some reason, this year, I’ve been unable to come up with the motivation or the ideas to even start shopping this year. So now, at a time I’d normally be nearly done with it, I haven’t even started, which might be a good thing this year.
Because the way things have been pouring around here I’m sure it’s going to have to go next, and Christmas will be reminiscent of our more austere past.
When the girls were little and money was really tight, I made what few gifts I gave them because we really couldn’t afford anything.
Unfortunately, my girls are all adults now and I can’t make them a baby doll blanket anymore. I also have no clue what I could possibly make the males in my household.
In our church we’re told you’ll get hit the hardest when Satan wants to get you off the straight and narrow path, but if you stick with it you’ll be blessed in the end.
Well we’re getting bombarded now and our daughter is preparing to partake in a religious ceremony that is something of a rite of passage, it also shows her devotion to our faith.
All things considered, I think this storm has been long enough.
I don’t want any more unexpected bills or repairs.
I don’t need another bill raised.
I don’t want to replace anymore clothes or shoes.
I don’t need any medical bills or a needed doctor who won’t take our insurance.
If it has to rain, why can’t it pour down some blessings instead of troubles?
Personally, I’m ready for a storm of blessings.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.