Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Guest Blogger: The Pioneer Woman (I wish...)

It was all set.  I was going to meet Ree Drummond, THE Pioneer Woman!   My husband to be home early which is no small feat.  I withdrew the exact amount of cash needed for her most affordable book. I plotted different tactics to convince her that we were kindred spirits and she should take me under her wing and then introduce me to the world of writing and fame.  I knew I would only have a minute as she was signing the book so I practiced witty banter with my 2 year old just so I wouldn’t sound totally like  nut case.  My friend and I navigated the most expedient way to get downtown from here. 

And then, the book signing was canceled.  

Ok, I’ll admit there were good reasons:

Reason #1  Game 6 of the World Series is taking place at Fenway Park a mere T stop away from where Ree was scheduled to be.  In case you have never been to Boston during a Red Sox me it is total insanity.  And if we win tonight for the first time at home in almost 100 years...well, notice how I said we....and I’m not even close to the caliber fan of our 80 plus year old land lady who watches every game, including Sox in Two (which is the same game just aired again for a second time the next day.) Bostonians eat, sleep and breath baseball in October.  

Reason #2  President Obama is in town.  He is following in the footsteps of old school presidents aplenty by appearing at Faneuil Hall and speaking to the public about Healthcare. I am not sure what his PR person hopes to accomplish since we in Boston have had Mass Health for more than 5 years and I’m not the first one to notice the striking similarities between our Healthcare and Obamacare.  I mean in Boston, government healthcare is so 2008.  But it’s still very thrilling to have the President of The United States visit our city.  

This is the look I think the President would have given me
had I been in attendance today.
Reason #3 It’s just not safe here.  Seriously, this year has not been a cake walk for law enforcement in Boston.  

“It's all quite a challenge for outgoing Boston police commissioner Edward F. Davis, whose last day on the job is Friday.
"The World Series, a visit from the president and Halloween all at the same time," he told The Boston Globe. "You  can't make this stuff up."

An unnamed police department source told The Globe that preparations are being made in case the president decides to close his night at Fenway, but the official added that "we hope he doesn't." (

I’ll leave it there because three reasons just feels right.  All that to say that Ree Drummond will likely not be guest posting on this blog despite my big dreams about convincing her to do so. But, I do recommend her new holiday cook book and her hilarious blog.  

Also, let me take this opportunity to say that yes, I too “love that dirty water” and there is no place in the world I’d rather be today.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

MAD top 10

This weekend we are celebrating my mom’s birthday.  It’s a multiple of 10, which always means it’s a big deal!  I have been thinking over all the things I love and appreciate about her and our adventures together.  Here are ten memories that always make me smile.

10.)  Hearing her get up at 5 or 6 in the morning during the winter to stoke the wood stove so that the house would be warm as we got ready for school. She puts boy scouts to shame with her fire starting skills.

9.) How she would willingly sit through an infinite number of dances I choreographed for myself and my sisters to Amy Grant classics.  I am not sure how she manage to muster such genuine approval and enthusiasm despite the fact that as a choreographer I insisted that every dance start with our backs to audience for an awkward 30-45 seconds until the chorus hit when we could then spin around dramatically.  We also ended every dance by throwing ourselves down to the floor, unless it was a slow jam for which we employed the “I’m melting” move that the wicked witch of the west made famous.

8.)Her voice as she read aloud the Chronicles of Narnia every night before I went to bed. I was never satisfied with just a chapter, I would beg for her to keep reading until it was ridiculously late.

7.) She and I ran around Tom Sawyer’s island at Disney World (when we were probably both past the suggested age range).  She even agreed to climb down through the tight and claustrophobic caverns and up into the rickety, questionably reinforced treehouse.  

6.) She inexplicably agreed to come to school dressed in the Grecian Toga and Crown of Laurels I had created for my 10th grade English project. Then stood in front of a full class of normal 10th graders with me, totally oblivious to the hilarity of the whole thing.

5.) Getting back in shape with her at Curves after she finished Chemo.  (and then how would convince her that we should treat ourselves to Frappacinos after each workout.)

4.) When she waited for nearly an hour behind my dorm door to surprise me while I chatted obliviously with a friend.  Then taking my roommates and I all out to an unforgettable dinner where she tactfully tried to explain to one of my roommates why getting a hicky from a stranger was not a great idea.  

3.) Watching her do the “flying squirrel” 100 feet above the ground at family camp. 

2.) Our road trip to VA : getting lost in corn fields, missing ferries, listening to spooky books on tape and sipping Uncle Mike’s Margaritas as we watched the sun set each night.

1.) That she always answers the phone no matter when I call and drops everything to hear about James’ new word or Harper’s new tooth.  (There is no better Meems in the whole world!!

Love you always one more xoxoxo

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Brief Postnap Post

Today, my toddler woke up screaming in the middle of his nap.  He clung to me and through a hiccuping cry he whispered, 
       “Mom, I so scared.”   
“Of what, buddy?” 
“I so scared...zumza” 

This is his own personal language for when he is not quite sure of the words for what he is thinking or feeling.  Often when I ask him a question these days, he’ll answer this way. It’s hard not to get frustrated because I don’t know how to figure out he is scared of.  I mean, shouldn’t there be a real adult here to help me out?

After I realize that I have considerably more wear and tear than the rest of the household (a two year old and a seven month old) I run through the possible fear factors:  He doesn’t like when dad leaves for work, or when I go to the laundromat.  He doesn’t like his door closed and he really doesn’t like the episode of Thomas the Tank Engine when Toby get scared in the woods. Ughh, I just don’t know. 

When thinking over the things that cause him to fret I almost want to exclaim, “You ain’t seen nothing ain’t seen nothing yet.”  But while life can get more frightening as you get older and figure out that the people you thought held everything together and the things that made you happy are as transient and ephemeral as a belief in Santa Claus or toys that come alive when you close the door (although that one I still kind of hold out hope for since there is no way to prove that it doesn’t happen.)  Singing rock songs popular in the 1980s isn't really an appropriate response at a moment like this.

This is why I started to pray...out of desperation.  
More often than I care to admit I’ve been scared by things as benign as Thomas the Train.  And oftener still I am less articulate than my two year old about what my problem is.  

Fortunately, God understands, “zumza"  

And as for all we " ain't seen yet;" what God has planned for us is better than we can ask or imagine (which is saying a lot considering someone with as wild an imagination as mine.) 

God is good.  End of Story.  End of Naptime.  End of Post.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Guest Blogger: Princesa Harpinha (well...sort of)

Since writing the “Make Good Choices” post I have been trying to picture my daughter amidst the twelve disciples. 

At 7 months old, she is still in the formative stages of childhood but given what I know of her thus far I imagine she would be:
~Vocal (her cry/ scream is deafening) 
~Persistent (she don’t stop till she gets enough)
~Uninhibited (doesn’t matter if we are in a store, at a park, on a 2 hour car ride. She keeps it real) 

I wonder if Christ wants me to be like that too.  Sometimes I feel like I have to be so formal and polite in my prayers so as not to offend him.  I try so hard to be responsible and mature.  

However, I do hold the belief that God is all knowing so it is pretty irrational of me to try and show him only my “good side” .  

So how are we childlike without being childish?  
Well, in the case of Princesa Harpinha:

She is just as vocal about her joy as she is her frustrations.

She get’s over things quickly.  She does not begrudge me or my husband or her brother any discomfort, hunger or exhaustion that she experiences.  When she feels better it’s done...she doesn’t analyze it to death.  

She is without guile.  She is not trying to trick me, double cross me, or take advantage of me.  She is beautifully honest (if not articulate) about her needs.

So, upon further thought, yup...I do think that God wants us to be like that.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Trying to Make Good Choices

On the way home from church this week I looked out my window and spotted a Little Tikes turtle sandbox on the side of the road.  It took a gargantuan amount of self control not to stop and try and shove it in the car with my two year old. But then I remembered, we live in a second story apartment and sandboxes really are meant to be an outside toy.  

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of experiencing the turtle sandbox, it is the ultimate sandbox experience.  Not only are your shovels, buckets and trucks shielded from rain and snow by the shell cover that fits snugly over the turtle's sand but the shell also makes the perfect refuge for hide and seek, capture the flag and bird watching. 

 Yes, I was lucky enough to have one as a kid...but it was a close call.  It is a running joke in my family that when we went to the store to pick out a sandbox my dad was weighing the pros and cons of each sandbox (ad nauseam in my 3 year old mind) and I finally blurted out, “Make up zer mind dad!”  (zer is not a typo it is how I said your at 3 years old.) So he made up hiz mind and got the turtle.  A wise choice...  I mean, Little Tikes makes the red and yellow “Cozy Coupe.”  Has anyone met a kid who didn’t like that?  It is, like, the dream car of every toddler!  

But the decision didn’t seem easy at the time decision ever does. I am constantly afraid that one wrong choice could alter the course of the universe.  Every single decision is trial for my faith and trust in God.

For example, each morning I honestly and wholeheartedly believe that choosing to wear that ratty old sweatshirt (again) may sink my self image and my husband’s love for me to unfathomable depths.   However, I am certain that wearing the magenta blouse could attract attention to my very lopsided and motherly bosom which would also ruin my self image and my marriage. I collapse in despair between a rock and a hard place.   

Just imagine my state of mind when considering: 
When and where to buy a house and settle down? (If we even should!?)
What sort of book to write?
What to make for dinner?

I am a mess until I remember that Jesus,  “called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’ ” (Matthew 18)

I’m picturing my son in the middle of the disciples. 

If he is anything, he is:
(no worries about walking with a bucket on his head)
(note the well worn & loved blanky accompanying him)
 (Even the most hardened stoic would find it difficult to engage in a debate of appropriate headgear without cracking a smile)  

So, today when I pull on my best ratty sweatshirt I am praying that I will be fearless, affectionate and funny for the Lord.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Winner of the first ever blog giveaway is....

Ellie C!!!!
Please message me via facebook with your address so I can send you the gift card.
Thank you all for commenting and for being a part of the first giveaway.   It was really helpful to get input about genres and time periods.   I hope there will be many more giveaways to come:)

Breath by Aaron Tardie (Part 3 of 3)

Later today I will announce the winner of our first ever giveaway but for now here if the last segment of Aaron's short story...

Sometimes she has a way of creeping into my life without me taking notice of her. She comes and sits with me for a moment, but just as I feel her she is gone again. I have to learn how to live each day. I had to learn that in order to grow I must let go of her for a while. I can allow her to creep in, but I cannot let her consume. It took a lot of messing up for me to learn that. I remember when I first learned to function without her, when I learned how to survive. I neglected my feelings out of fear that I would be constantly broken down. Being numb is what kept me alive. 

I moved on from the numb stage and progressed into surviving and breathing on my own, but I was still not alive. I thought I had moved into a place where I was able to create once again, but each time I had arrived I caught the next train backwards. I kept taking that train for some time without realizing it. This happened for months, and eventually it turned into years. After a while I was able to realize I had stepped onto the train, but I had no idea how to convince myself to not get on that damn train. At least I knew I was getting on it—at least I was aware of what I was doing to myself. 

I learned that it was okay for me to go backwards, that it was a part of the whole process, but that realization came only after I let go of all the control I thought I had over the situation. I realized that my emotions were going to come no matter what I thought I could do about it, and my only real option was to choose how I was going to respond to those emotions. I learned that I am not my feelings. Feelings are as transient as the clouds; while they move in and out, I remain the same. Sometimes a storm moved in, but eventually, the storm and the clouds move out. 

Those setbacks became a growing experience; they were a chance to learn about myself. There was a specific time about two years after she had passed away, and I remembered taking out my journal and writing down all the things I loved about myself. I scribbled down everything I thought was important to me and I tried to do it without thinking about her—I found that most of what I valued was because of her. But this was about my own journey, my own discovery, of what I loved. I picked out everything I loved on this page in my journal and decided if it was really something I valued, or if it was something I thought she valued. That process, that car wreck, was beautiful. It was so horrible, so painful, and so foreign, that it bled beauty. 

That journal turned into my journey without her, and from it I was able to learn the two most important things I would ever come know in this life—that I was worth something apart from her and I could create. Accepting those two things changed my life.  

How you doing Wesley?
You know, I’m doing good Tim.
What you working on there?
It’s just side project. I started it years ago, but I just picked it back up. 
You’ve been in the garage quite a bit lately. Just wanted to make sure everything was all right.
I’m fine. It’s a guitar Tim. The wood got here yesterday. It’s going to be a beautiful red mahogany top with a warm spruce backing. The ebony piece for the neck is coming soon too.  
It has been seven years since she went and each night since then Jack and I sit out here next to the fire and sing together hoping that she can hear us and that she will look down at us and laugh as we pee together on the trees. I think about the time I have spent without her here, and how I changed. 

I got up and walked over to smell the berries in the yard, and I felt the fresh dew on my feet. The rhythm in my chest started again. It felt different this time, stronger than before and it hurt a little, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t done looking at my yard. The pounding kept growing, but I ignored it and continued walking around the yard—I liked the way the dew made the soles of my feet wet. The pounding persisted and then it consumed me and I couldn’t find Jack. 

“Jack! Jack! Here boy, come on. I need you buddy. Where did you go?” I said. 
The pounding was getting louder and the pain kept rising. The noise from the hatchet crushing the wood was echoing in my head. I kept hearing the noise and calling out for Jack but he wouldn’t come. Where had he gone? I had stumbled back towards the fire and found myself lying on the bricks. I couldn’t stand up any longer. The noise kept growing and even if Jack had found me I wouldn’t be able to hear him coming. But I still cried out for him. 

“Jack I need you buddy! Come on buddy, I need you!” I said, but still no Jack. 
Maybe he went to pee I thought. Damn dog. The sound from the hatchet breaking the wood remained inside of me but it was fading now. It was quiet in my head. It was still. I was still. I cried out for Jack again but my breath was slow to come out. It was choppy. It hurt as it slipped through the cracks in my lips, and I could no longer cry out. My body collapsed and I lay with my arms and legs sprawled out across the patio, and my fingers curled around the lip of the bricks as I tried to cling to this life. But in this moment I felt safe. And I let go. 

As I lay there I thought I heard whimpering and felt something furry on my arm.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Breath by Aaron Tardie (Part 2 of 3)

Here is the second installment of the short story I posted yesterday...

I focused on my breathing after I had finished the puff of my cigarette. My therapist had gone over several breathing exercises with me shortly after it all happened. She urged me to focus on each breath I took, and to isolate all I was taking in and all I was releasing. She suggested that I name what I was giving away and taking in, and she even suggested putting a color to what I was releasing if I was unable to put words to it. I remembered the training and thought about all the things I had released into the air in the past few years. In the beginning I wanted so badly to release the pain I was feeling, and I wished it could be released by something so simple as breathing. I just wanted all my grief and guilt and anger to fade into the darkness like the smoke from the end of my cigarette. I found it was not the breathing that was the problem; rather, I wanted to let go of the pain before it was time. I needed time to sit with the pain and learn from it, and for it to show me things about who I was, and it did. 
I was breathing heavy now, remembering the first breath I took after it happened. The cold air that escaped from the window that day stung as it entered my lungs. My chest was home to that cold air for a long while. Eventually I learned how to breathe again and how to let the warmth from the air fill my chest. It took a bit of time, but I learned that time was necessary. As I sat by the fire that night I released more pain out of my chest into the darkness. 
I got up to piss. I had been sitting for a long time and had drunk a few cups of wine. Jack saw what I was doing so he got up from his chair and followed me, and we both picked out a tree and marked our territory. Somehow he took longer than I did even though he hadn’t had any of the wine, so I went in the house to grab a flannel. I came back outside and picked up Jack and brought him over to my chair. Jack had a funny way of curling up next to me whenever he sat on my chair. He always stuffed his head right between my back and the chair, which I never understood the reasoning for, and left no room for me to sit. Damn dog. I didn’t mind so much now that it was colder and I could lean in closer to the fire. 
I think it hit Jack harder than it hit me. He used to have more spunk in him before it happened. He moped around with me for those first few months and slept more than usual. He still sleeps more than he used to but that’s not it—he is lost like I was. Well maybe he is just older now. After it happened I thought about getting another dog, but Jack wasn’t into the idea. He was happy with just me, and I realized I was happy with just him. 
I got up from the chair and chopped some more wood for the fire; it wasn’t dying but I was restless. Jack woke up and followed me over to the side yard again. 
“What are you doing, old dog?” I said to him. “Every time I get up you come sniffing around making sure everything is okay. Can I chop this wood? Huh? Is that okay with you, boy?” 
Jack said nothing. He just stared up at me like I was a moron. I finished chopping the wood and carried it back over to the fire. 
The rhythm from the hatchet was beating in my chest again. It was stronger now. It was steady. The fire was blazing and the red glow from coals resting underneath the wood scowled at me. I stared into the fire for a moment and tried to follow the pattern of the flames. My eyes followed from the bottom to the tips of the flames, but I could never stay with them. Their movement was too fast for my eyes. 
I was growing tired and I could tell Jack was too. We had been sitting out there by the fire for hours—it was a little game we played each night. I think we play it because she used to love sitting by the fire with Jack curled up next to her. She loved to sing with me, but I think at times she adored Jack more than she adored me. I don’t mind though. Jack’s all right.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Breath by Aaron Tardie

This is the first installment of a short story written by Aaron Tardie.  My sister first introduced me to his work and I am so grateful that he was gracious enough to share it with us this week.  

The window opened and the cold air escaped the room and made its way out onto the porch. As I looked through the window I noticed the chipped paint, curled and resting on the sill. The frayed edge of the frame speaks of age, but it’s still strong. The cracks in the paint appeared fresh and the porch was lit. The door slowly closed behind me, followed by Jack. I made my way over to the white wicker chair and Jack sat down at my feet, panting as if he’s discovered something yet again. 

Ignoring him, I focused my eyes outside. The sky came to an end and color seeped into a sunset, casting a pink umbrella above—the color rained down, almost reaching the top of the oak tree. I stared blankly at the color in the sky and became amazed by the beauty. I understood that it was a mystery, but still peering at the sky I sought after something. I searched to see if it was still there. It was. Just like it always was. It hadn’t moved and for good reason: it couldn’t. It was a part of me just like the head is a part of the body. There was a point when I wanted it to move, to disappear, but even then it always seemed to be, hiding, perhaps for a moment but never for too long. It wouldn’t want me to worry now, would it? No one likes a worrywart. 

Jack got up and headed for the roses. With his left leg hoisted and tail taut he looked back toward the porch and snickered at me, almost as if he were saying, “Hey! Look what I can do!” Jack scurried off and barked at the top of his lungs at the plane in the sky. He hated them. And for good reason. They come into the sky without warning and pass by screaming down at you. I checked the sky to make sure it was still there. It was. The color from the sky was fading, and the sun began to hide its face. Darkness was soon to follow and my stomach reminded me of the time. I began to turn inside, and Jack came shooting up the porch into the house. He always needs to be first—it’s a little game he plays. That thing in the sky followed me inside just as it does every time night swallows day, making its way into my chest, heating up my shirt—the warmth never seemed so strong. Gently, I closed the window, trapping the air inside, and began to fill Jack’s bowl. He never seems to be full—odd for a dog so small. 

After dinner I returned to the porch and made use of my hatchet. I spent a half-hour or so splitting wood for the fire and organizing the wood into piles of kindling and logs and put them next to the fire pit. The sound of the hatchet hitting the wood was constant inside of me—it was a rhythm that I loved. After I was done collecting kindling, Jack came out to the patio to help with the fire. He loves watching the fire start up. I went back inside and grabbed a bottle of wine and two glasses. Jack loves wine, but he’s allergic. I also grabbed the guitar. 

Jack and I sat out there by the fire for hours and I sang to him and he howled back at me and I drank my wine and we laughed. I started up my old habit again and pulled out a cigarette. Jack doesn’t like when I smoke so he moved over to the other side of the fire and curled up on the ground next to a different wicker chair. By the time I finished my cigarette Jack was sleeping, and I crept around him trying not to wake him as I walked around the yard and went to light another.
I used to stand out here on these bricks staring out at the neighbor’s light—it made me feel like Gatsby. I often thought of my yard I have and how I had gotten to this point in my life. I ran my eyes along the bushels of raspberries and blackberries clustered together on the ground against the white picket fence. I noticed the yellow dead spots painted in the lawn, and made a mental note to rearrange the sprinklers so the dead grass would come alive. I looked out at the chicken coop and remembered how she loved to take care of those chickens and now, how I had to feed them in the morning. The oak tree needed to be trimmed soon and its leaves covered most of the lawn—the branches reached down and kissed the grass. 

As I stood out there thinking I recalled that it was here, in my yard, that I heard the voice, God’s voice, I suppose. The sound echoed in my soul like music at the peak of a steeple—a sound I will remember for a long time. I was told about the voice and the importance it would hold for me, but until recently I didn’t fully understand. It was rough for a while after it happened, and they kept telling me that things would bounce back, that I would make it, and would be all right. But they were wrong. At first things didn’t bounce back, I could hardly breathe. I lost everything that day. It was gone and I was alone with this damn dog. But when I heard that voice as I stood out here on the bricks I began to breathe again. It took a while, I’ll admit, but I came around. 

The fire was dying so I walked over to the side yard and grabbed more wood. I turned on the outside light, and Jack came over to check on me just like he always does. I reached down and scratched his back and kissed him on the top of his head. He needed a bath soon—maybe I should toss him in the pool tomorrow. 
Jack and I haven’t always gotten along. Actually, I used to hate him. He was always running around and peeing on things, and he had a knack for waking me up just after I had fallen asleep. It wasn’t until after she was gone that I began to care for Jack. I began to love Jack as she had. I remembered how Jack used to follow her everywhere she went. He would be right up against her while she was in the kitchen making dinner, or curled up on her lap as she read in bed. He adored her. I wished sometimes I could have been more like Jack. 

Wesley? Is that you?
Yeah, it’s me. 
Come here would you?
Do you need me to bring you something?
No. No. I’m fine. 
Well, what is it that you need? 
Would you dance with me?
Yeah. Like we used too. 
I don’t think that’s a good idea.
I’ll be fine. I swear. 
Molly, I don’t think…you shouldn’t be…you just need to rest.  

I grabbed the hatchet and split the wood in half several times. The rhythm was pumping inside of me again. My hands were steady as I hacked down on the top of an old tree and made more kindling. With each swing of the hatchet the blade drove further and further into the wood until the wood finally gave in, and the kindling fell off. I walked over to the fire with fresh wood stacked on my arms and placed the wood into the fire, fanning it with the unread newspaper. Jack curled up on the chair opposite me and I strummed a few chords and sang to him again. The fire was spitting back shards from the fresh, sap-filled kindling and Jack jumped up and darted over to my chair, whimpering a bit. I picked him up and let him sit with me as I continued to play a few songs. 
“There’s nothing to be afraid of Jack. That fire won’t get you, boy. I won’t let it.” I said to him. Jack looked up at me with his dark eyes and his long droopy ears rested on my jeans—she picked him out when we were first married because of those droopy ears. 
You don’t like him?
But he’s so cute. Look at his ears! They cover his little eyes. 
What kind of a name is Jack anyway? 
If you’re going to be like that about it then let’s just go.
Fine what?
You have to look after him. He is not my dog. 

I lit another cigarette and Jack moved back to his other chair. I noticed the smoke from the end of my cigarette curling around my fingers after each inhale, how it lingered around my hand for a moment and then disappeared into the darkness.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What's This Blog About Anyway?

I was asked by a writer  whom I hold in high esteem to tell her a little about my blog.

I immediately began to sweat...I wanted to say, “Look,  I know I need a better platform, something that makes me stand out, something hip and hashtagable, but well,  to quote Charlotte Bronte  “I am just going to write because I can’t help it.”  

I have an anxiety disorder with Obsessive Compulsive tendencies.  

Some of my compulsions are silly, like mindlessly shifting pens, highlighters, Easter decorations, other people’s sticky notes into rainbow order (ROYGBIV).  

Some of my compulsions are unhealthy, such as scratching my skin until I bleed when anxious (don’t worry I have a therapist and even better...Jesus.)  

But I also have a compulsion to write things down. I have had it since I was very small...since elementary school when I first encountered panic attacks. I quickly realized that if I didn’t write I didn’t feel alive.  It was my way of making sense of rational and irrational fears.   

I would climb up into a tree behind our house and pen all sorts of thoughts, dreams and stories into hundreds of notebooks. I still keep a notebook or 12 but fortunately I can write online too. It’s still compulsive just much more eco-friendly. 

I named the blog “Penned but Not Published” in hopes of forcing myself to finish some sort of manuscript and seriously pursue publication.  It turns out my mom was right and it is hard to force me to do anything. 

However, blogging has enabled me to write almost daily, read the thoughts of writers around the world and collect information about the publishing world.  

My posting schedule is not as regimented as you might expect from someone like me...

I love Wednesdays best because the posts are written by guests.  I have been blessed with a panoply of talented friends and family who are willing to contribute.  

One day a week I try to post some scenes from short stories I am working on.  I usually realize how bad they are as I post them but it sparks my revision process and I have gotten some invaluable feedback from readers. 

Finally, I try and have one day when I let myself go and I write about anything and everything: my faith, my prowess at baking, my failures at cooking, my adventures, my writing.

So I write because that is the way God wired me. I write because I love it.  I write because I cannot help it.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Ok, so this morning I woke up. (Great way to start the day and a blog post...wouldn’t you agree?)   I logged onto the computer immediately.  This blog has turned me into a much more disheveled version of Meg Ryan in You’ve got Mail.  I hold my breath as I check to see what the day holds for the blogisphere.  Immediately, I spotted today’s post from Coffee Cups and Camisoles (

It had my name on it...well K.D. Simington, the name I use when I write and am trying to channel my inner P.D. James (or J.R. Dietrich). It announced me  as the winner of Laura Frantz’s new historical fiction Love’s Awakening.

I, in typical Katie fashion, went beserk! (just like the hippos in Sandra Boynton Book which I’ve read it to James probably 500 times today.)

I couldn’t believe that people do this.  Amazing bloggers like  Anne and Jaimie give stuff away to their readers!
I immediately decided that I MUST do this.  I had to pay it forward somehow.  Seriously, what a great way to thank you for coming here, for reading, sharing, hopefully laughing at/with me.

However, I ran into two problems...
Problem #1) What should I give away?  
You see we are living on one income this year for the first time ever and we have one more child than we had before.  Even someone as bad at math as I am can see that we have had to tighten our belts a size or five.  But I was determined that I would have a giveaway on this blog.  Here is my inner dialogue about my dilemma

First- “I’ll give away my prized USC jersey from the championship game they lost in 2006...Yes, I was there!  I cheered I cried and I no longer fit in that jersey.”  
Voice of reason, “No: too sentimental and too sweat stained.”
Second- “I’ll give away a Yankee candle.  After all, they are one of my favorite things about autumn and they smell delightful.” 
Voice of reason “No: too heavy to mail and too random.”

Third- “I’ll give away library books. I love the book I checked out last week, I should give that away.”  
Voice of reason, “Was that a serious idea?! Just in case it was... giving away library book is too illegal and too weird.”

So, I texted my husband about my big win and asked him what he thought.  We decided on a legal, non weird, light weight, un-sweat-stained $10 Starbucks gift card.  

Problem #2) How do I decide who wins?  
I figured I’d take a page (not literally) from Coffee Cups and Camisoles and ask you to answer 3 questions to throw your hat into the ring of this first ever blog giveaway.  

Question 1: Would you most like to read a memoir, a historical fiction book or a collection of essays and poems?

Question 2: If you were to read a historical fiction book would you chose a book set in: the 1800s on the underground railroad, World War II around Boston, the 1990s during the fall of the Soviet Union?

Question 3: What is the best thing you have ever won?

I will announce the winner next week.  Until then...