Welcome to my world and beyond...

A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sometimes People Make me Laugh

Today I attended the spring concert and graduation of my four year old granddaughter. It was held in the church with which her preschool is affiliated.  It was wonderful.  The two teachers did such a great job.  And the highlight was when they showed a power-point collection of photos taken during the year, and had extremely effective tear-jerking music accompanying them.  I didn't even have a tissue in my purse (ye gads--I used the sleeves of my cardigan--and was glad it was dark-- while it was being projected onto a large screen). 

The children all danced and sang as a group.  And then they received their diplomas.  Lovely thing.

Before it all began, one of the teachers stood a couple pews in front of us and asked if anyone would take photos with their school camera.  A young mother sitting in front of me eagerly volunteered.

I thought that was nice--when someone steps up to help.  And so quickly, too. :-)

As the entire production progressed, I had a fantastic view of the large LED screen on the school camera.  And within about 6 minutes, I knew who her daughter was...and who the daughter was of the woman sitting beside her, giggling and chatting.  I'd estimate that as many as 60-70% of the photos were of their two children.  *sigh*

Sometimes all you can do is laugh...and hope that someday they get it.  You know...like when their hair goes gray and they have a respectable number of years piled up behind them--that it isn't merely a catalyst to bemoan having never located the fountain of youth, or a permanent hair dye.  I mean...that somewhere along the way, they got it, you know...that the world isn't all about them?  That they share it with other people.  :-)

And, last night...  Ha! I am still laughing about it.  My husband and I went to see The Avengers--about 10 minutes of it was filmed at a location that my employer leases for some of our field trials.  So, I had the opportunity one morning last summer to go there and eat breakfast with part of the crew and the stunt people that drove the cars underground.  No...lol...I didn't actually sit with them. I sat with my boss--and I tried to do a little (okay, a lot of) stealth mode gawking. Is there such a thing?  I wanted to take pictures; I wanted to ask for autographs.  My god...I was such a tourist, and in my own backyard!  I did none of them, though.  I knew my employer would frown on it.

I digress.

So, there we were, my husband and I, standing in line last night to get our tickets.  Three 60ish ladies were in front of us.  One was taking care of getting the tickets--and asking about the loyalty card, and digging through her purse to find it, and then asking how many points she had accrued, and then how soon she would earn something for free and then what would it be, and then what would she earn next after the large free buttered popcorn?

We had arrived at the theater very late, with just enough time to get our tickets, our sodas and our get into our seats.  I had been in such a rush when I got home from work to get headed to the show, I had even forgotten to grab a hoodie or light jacket to take along. That theater is always so cold after sitting still for an hour!  So, I grabbed my silky scarf and threw it around my neck.  I had a plan.  I always have a plan.

Even running late, and the woman full of questions in front of us, didn't change our moods. We were in pleasant spirits.  The workday was done, we were ready to relax and enjoy a couple of hours of entertainment.

The other two women waiting for their friend to finish interrogating the ticket-girl kept glancing my way and talking quietly. 

Finally, one of them looked directly at me and pointed her finger while she said, "That scarf.  I know it's fashionable, I mean, it's fashionable to wear in...what I mean is...is it still fashionable to wear it THIS time of year.  Now?"

Lolol...I was momentarily speechless.

Then I smiled and said, "This theater is cold.  I didn't bring a sweater or hoodie, so I will just..." I removed the scarf from where I had quickly tossed it around my neck, shook it loose and then as I wrapped it around my shoulders, finished, "do this, and wear it as a shawl around my shoulders."

The other women poked her friend and said, "See, I told you there was a reason she was wearing that scarf this time of year."

Lolol...I think I can now say I have been officially stopped by the fashion police!

Awe, its okay.  I don't know how I've dodged them for so long, to be honest.  It's not like they had to wait for me to step off of the fashion train. lol...I've never been on it in my entire life.  They could have stopped me and interrogated me at any time.

And it only took them 52 years to catch up with me.

You know. In retrospect, I couldn't tell you what either of them were wearing ;-)

Yep...sometimes you just have to laugh at the way people behave...


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

Music for the day, lest we never forget.

"...I'm already there
Take a look around
I'm the sunshine in your hair
I'm the shadow on the ground

I'm the whisper in the wind
And I'll be there 'til the end
Can you feel the love that we share?
Oh I'm already there"

"...If I don't make it back
If the good Lord calls me home
I'd like to think my friends
Will think about me when I'm gone..."

"...On the 8th of November,
The angels were crying
As they carried his brothers away.
With the fire raining down
And the Hell all around,
There were few men left standing that day.
Saw the eagle fly,
Through a clear, blue sky
1965, the 8th of November.

The 8th of November
The 8th of November

He said goodbye to his mamma
As he left South Dakota
To fight for the Red, White, and Blue.
He was nineteen and green with a new M-16
Just doing what he had to do."

When I was a child--and yes, you may groan at another memory-lane post, Memorial Day was a long weekend at the end of the school year.  The nuns taught us nothing--that I can recall, of what the day stood for.  That was during the 1960s;  I am sure that things have changed.

I recall--as a teenager, listening to a nurse who worked with my mom, talking about going home (a twelve hour drive)for decoration day.  And she decorated all of the family graves.  Then she admitted that it was a bit competitive among the townsfolk.  If she had not gone home and taken care of the graves, the townsfolk all would have known and then talked about her until next decoration day.

But, my family didn't do it.  And we attended no memorial day parades. To be honest, I can't recall if there were any parades in my neck of the woods. Now, there is...every year.

Moving beyond that decoration day impression--and many years later,   my understanding of the day is so much different.  It is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.

A great site for learning the history and etiquette of the day is here

As an adult, I have taken my children to services in the park of our local small town.  The mayor, the Ladies' VFW auxiliary, local war veterans, the president of the VFW and the American legion all sit inside the big, raised gazebo.  There are veterans who do a 21 gun salute and speeches are made.  We sing the National Anthem--and even once were scolded by one of the older veterans in the gazebo, to remove our hats and place our hands over our hearts while pledging allegiance and singing the Star Spangled Banner.

And then, while I blink back tears--every year...the names of the community's veterans who gave everything-- and came home in boxes, are read.  The oldest local veteran strikes a brass bell after each name.  That we should never forget.

The names of the local gold star mothers are read. Another wave of tears.

War...it is a horrific thing. 

The ultimate sacrifice...and the ultimate love...  I am not religious...but the Bible says it best.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

John 15:13   

On a broader scale, no one can deny that each of those deceased veterans we honor each Memorial day ...did just exactly that.  No greater love...

I am not a war monger, and the older I get, the more I see it as barbaric and tragic.  Yet, understand that to be human is to make war. Understanding and accepting are two different things, by the way.

We make war for many reasons.  And there are no wars without loss of life.

Still, even with  death, there is hope.  Hope that a day will come when we can live in peace.  

Our service men and women go to foreign lands with a mission.  To make life better for someone, somewhere around the globe.  And to make life safer for someone..somewhere, back home.

I know young service people.  And I can say that no matter the covert agendas of the leaders sending them off to make war, no matter   the very few who commit acts unbecoming of members of a disciplined armed force--or of members of the human race, the great majority lay their lives on the line to better the world.

And that is the reason that I honor the dead service members on this day...the one day set aside specifically for doing so. 

They didn't die because they hated other human beings.  They didn't die full of longing to see other people perish.  They died hoping that their service made a better world, a better life, a better tomorrow.  And they gave us that tomorrow with the greatest sacrifice imaginable.

So, each Memorial day, I look back, full of gratitude and humility.  I am awash at the sorrow of all their tomorrows that never came.  My heart aches for lovers, wives, husbands, children, friends...all left behind  But I fill with hope anew, each Memorial day.  That their dreams live on.  

I hope for them, each and every one, that their sacrifice was not made in vain.  That, peace will come, that their families can live in safety, and that their children can grow up knowing that the world was bettered by the selfless act of their parent--and that all of us are grateful for that.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday May 27th 2012

I hope that everyone is enjoying the first official weekend of summer.  And that we (Americans) all remember to pause at 3:00 P.M. on Monday, for a moment to remember those who gave their all. 

This week, back to Aaydan's Tale.  Deamante is considering the actions of a man--Gadsarapon, who claims to be his illegitimate son.

"The old ruler strolled along garden paths; the crushed pink quartzite lining them crunched beneath his expensive shoes.  Here, next to the river, thoughts became clear.   Ballsy, Gads had been ballsy. Maybe there was truth to his claim to blood.  Deamante had never before seen anyone, other than in the mirror, with quite so much moxie."

Any and all critiques, received with gratitude.

To read  six sentence snippets from other participants, click here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday May 20th, 2012

Returning to my current editing project, Aaydan's Tale.  This week's snippet takes place just over half way though the book.  The old outland mother, a mysterious entity, has been warned that "they" will come for her.  But she refuses to run and hide--believing it to be her place, her duty to go with them and try to end the racial purge, and to save the life of the cruel ruler.  Another hint at foreshadowing--there is a reason she feels it is her duty...

Any and all critiques accepted with gratitude. :-)

"Forming apparitions before her that spoke in hot breaths of warning, the flames just as quickly receded.  The old outland mother looked up at the stars--and at a moon that had taken on the faintest of pink hues.  She lamented to the universe, “Forgive him. He doesn't know.   The vile cruelty they work to remove was born of love, but lives in hatred born of ignorance.  What comes in its stead will be ten times ten darker.”

Visit other Six Sentence Sunday participants,  here

Friday, May 18, 2012

Trilliums and Back Door Friends

I walked up the winding path to our "secret garden", being careful to step over a small white trillium that chose to live right in the middle between stepping stones.

Another spring without my mom...mother's day so recently past, and my mind turned to thoughts of her...and of trilliums.  Of all the stories my mom told me about moving from a small town to a backwoods farm--some sixty plus years ago, this particular one captured my heart and still holds it fast.

She was not readily accepted into my dad's family. They thought her snooty (city girl) and college educated (she was an RN).  It didn't matter that she had come from a tiny company town out in the middle of rural obscurity, or that she had entered the school of nursing as a Cadet. 

What did seem to matter the most to his family was that dad's three brothers had all married local farm girls.  And dad had not. Period.

To complicate things, my dad was the last of my grandma's children to live at home.  It was expected of him to remain at home and help her with the family farm.  So, mom moved into an unwelcoming world, far from family and friends.

When the first of mom's children was born, she quit working at the hospital--to be a full time mom.  Her sense of loneliness and isolation from her own family--who lived over an hour's drive away, must have been nearly overwhelming.  But she stood tall (as tall as she could stand at 5' 2" on her tippy toes) beside my dad, learned how to do farm work, and kept having children.

Life took on its own rhythm.  We children ran wild and free on the farm.  And one of the things that we often did was bring mom bouquets of flowers.  It didn't matter the season. Spring to fall, there was some  weed or wildflower to carry in for her.

At the end of winter, we watched for the flowers.  We knew which ones bloomed in what order. From the catkins of softwoods--we dubbed "pussy willows" even though they weren't, to the violets and tiger lilies (trout lilies) and then finally, the trilliums.  We were mom's friends, walking into the house with bouquets that were stuffed into water-filled Mason jars.

Her life was busy...but not so busy that she didn't have time to think about how few friends she had--save for the rare visit from one of her family, or a couple that dad knew--a school teacher from his youth.  And dad's life was busy. He worked away from home and socialized there, and then came home and farmed.

Mom raised kids,  and did farm-work all day long.

So, springtime one year-- before I was even in school...and the trillium bouquets had begun to appear.  A few drops of red food coloring in this jar, green in the next, yellow...and then blue in two more jars.  It was like my mom was a magician!  Our white three petaled lilies changed over the course of a couple days. We had pink lilies, and pale yellow, pale green and pale blue lilies

A farm over the hill and just beyond view had recently sold.  And dad appeared one day with one of the new owners. His name was Bill, and he sat in the house and visited for a bit after dad had introduced him to mom.

He had a wife, Irene, and a pack of kids--a wee bit smaller than our tribe, but it did qualify as a pack.. No, they weren't farmers, but decided to try their hands at it.  With one daughter and the rest sons, they thought it was a good direction to go. No, they weren't from Pennsylvania. They were from Ohio. "Oh, Irene? You should meet her, she knows no one here. She would love to meet you."

When Bill rose to leave, my mom quickly grabbed a bouquet of the food color lilies, and handed it to Bill while saying, "Give this to Irene, from me."

Bill looked over the flowers and then asked, "How do you get colored lilies?  Irene and me and have walked our property and only ever saw  white ones."

My mom never batted an eye when she replied, "They grow like that, here."

Bill was amazed.  He took the jar full of flowers home and gave them to Irene...and told her just what he had been told.

It had opened the door for a friendship to form that lasted most of the following five decades.  And over all those five decades, the mention of colored lilies never failed to get a smile for the joke my mom had played on her new neighbor.

In 1975, when I was 15, Bill and Irene had sold the farm and been living the good life in Florida for  several years.

They invited mom and dad to visit, and incredibly, mom decided that we three youngest should go along. I had never been on a vacation, and this was big time. We were going to Florida for a week.

We spent over two days driving there;  the winter scenery was beautiful the whole way...but it was a long time in a car.

When we arrived at our destination, anxious to stretch our legs, we piled out and headed for the front door where Bill answered.  Then as I stepped into their house, I saw Irene hugging my mom at her "back door."

I never forgot that, but it took me years to understand why they had done it.

Years later, my mom and I were talking one day, and she told me about back-door friends. That's what her and Irene were, they determined.  "You know, Teresa, you let company in through the front door--but real friends come in through the back door."

We made several trips to Florida as the years went by--to visit Bill and Irene.  My mom never failed to use the back door when we arrived.  And Irene never failed to be standing at her back door, waiting to hug my mom.

Odd little ritual...big treasure.  Everyone should be so blessed.  Everyone should have friends who know what the back of your house looks like--and love you just the same. And everyone should have friends who know what your heart looks like behind your smile that's fit for company.  Maybe you call them something different? Kindred spirits, let-down-my-hair friends? Bosom buddies?

No matter the name, there is something beyond joy in the relationship.  There is a beauty that runs as deep as our souls.  Back door friends.

I hope your life is blessed with them...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Back to Aaydan's Tale . for this week's six:

Aaydan has broken his word to the Juman friends who have risked their lives to hide him from the Dominion.   He has been daily venturing down off the mountain to watch a young village woman, Iva.     His heart has been taken, but he knows that when she sees his face, and realizes his kind, she will be frightened of him.  So he has kept his distance, concealed by underbrush, forest, boulders etc.  But tonight, he got close enough to her that she could "scent" him nearby--the villagers have an acute sense of smell..  She smelled adrenaline, which she equates with fear.

There is a bit of foreshadowing here...there is a tragedy coming.

"Walking at a hurried pace, she made her way to the edge of town…acutely aware that the scent never seemed to fall away from her.  As she stepped through the vine-covered entrance gate marking the end of field and forest and the formal start of town, the smell began to fade.

The wind blew in gentle gusts through leaves that were gray in Juman years.  The words of the wind searched for a sooth born of Jumans…someone who could speak in the tongues of the ancients.  But the sooth could not be found.  Yet the wind spoke over and over again in vain, “Safety is not made by village gates and walls…”

To read more six sentence snippets written by talented writers, click here

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kreativ Blogger Award

Thanks go  to the lovely Lorraine Patton for awarding me the Kreativ Blogger Award.    I met Lorraine through the Six Sentence Sunday posts...and she is a hoot!  I will visit her on a weekly basis to see what hijinks her romantic leads have gotten into. 

According to the Kreativ blogger rules, accepting this award includes: 
  1. Thanking the blogger who nominated me for the award and providing a link back to their blog.
  2. Listing 7 things about myself that the readers might find interesting.
      3. Nominating 7 other bloggers, providing links to their blogs, and letting them know.

Thank you, again, Lorraine--who can be found Here

Wow...7 interesting things about me? I am so ordinary...

1.  When I was a child, our house was inside a cow pasture.  Ha!  Really.  Someday I will blog about it. :-)

2.  I have a fairly spot-on sense of direction--always have since I was old enough to grasp the concept.  But, I have never been in the southern hemisphere, and maybe I don't have it there? :-)

3.  We had horses when I was growing up, and my friends and I never had cars-we rode our horses to each others houses.

4.  My husband and I own a tiny piece of history. Our property includes an old stone fence ("Mending Walls" type).  Nearly 200 years ago, it was laid there by a blacksmith who changed the world by smithing a very famous drill bit.

5.  My husband and I were married in a meadow beside a stream I used to play in--on the family farm.

6.  I can't walk through a cornfield once it grows to above eye level.

7.  I work with molds, daily.  And I am a complete biology geek when I show up  for work.  Molds (fungi in general) are completely fascinating, amazing, terrifying, and I am completely passionate about my job.  We grow them and develop them into commercial products for agricultural application.

I tried, lol...but I am pretty ordinary

Now, for seven bloggers to share this with. Oh boy...this is tough. I fight emotions--possibly bothering someone with something they don't want to do, and leaving out someone who would just love to do it.  What's a girl to do?

IF you read this, and think you would like to do it--then, by golly, I think you should be awarded the nomination.  So, in that spirit, I just ask that you leave me a comment that you are participating, and then I can come and visit your blog--and leave a comment.

But, in case I get no takers, I am just going to do this:

Lily Tequila writes lovely posts--and she does it daily.  Her blog is Wishbone Soup Cures Everything

The Botanist--new blogging buddy, and scifi writer, posts some interesting stuff at  Views From The Bald Patch

Jan lives in the Netherlands and is just getting started blogging.  He would love some visits and comments at Jan's Place

Jess Schirra is also just getting going as a blogger.  She is friendly, helpful...and posts cool country stuff.  :-)  She blogs at Whimsical Quests of a Curious Mind

Multi-- faceted and talented, Deb, writes nine blogs. Yes! You read that right...nine of them.  I think she is an excellent book reviewer...you can see her profile and list of blogs Here

KC Kendricks writes GLBT romance for mature readers.  She shares a lot of  writing advice and musings on the world of publishing.  She writes at Between the Keys

Julie is an author who shares her thoughts on the writing life, and is an all around fun person--it comes through in her blogposts at Empty Nest Insider

There you have it.  And the invitation is out there for anyone who would like to do this--and then post the award on their blog :-)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

"Backworlds" is here!

Backworlds  written by M. Pax  is a newly released Science Fiction novel.  This post is in celebration of her book launch party.

"The Backworlds is here!

The first story in the Backworlds series by M. Pax. A vision of how humanity might colonize the galaxy some day in the distant future.

The Backworlds
After the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends, with little money, and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

Available from: Amazon / AmazonUK / Smashwords / Feedbooks
Other links to more outlets can be found at either Wistful Nebulae or MPax

The Backworlds is an ebook and a free read. All formats can be found at Smashwords and Feedbooks.

It’ll take a few weeks to work its way down to free on Amazon Kindle. It will also be available on B&N and iTunes. Sign up for M. Pax’s mailing list to be notified the day it does go free on Amazon, and when the book becomes available at other outlets. You’ll also receive coupons for discounts on future publications. NEWSLETTER

M. Pax’s inspiration comes from the wilds of Oregon, especially the high desert where she shares her home with two cats and a husband unit. Creative sparks also come from Pine Mountain Observatory where she spend her summers working as a star guide. She writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, but confesses to an obsession with Jane Austen. She blogs at her website, www.mpaxauthor.com and at Wistful Nebuae. You’ll find links there to connect on Twitter, Goodread, FB and other sites.

The sequel, Stopover at the Backworlds’ Edge, will be released in July 2012. It will be available in all ebook formats and paperback."

Now, my review as posted on Amazon and Goodreads:

" I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a fast read, yet did a great job of introducing the reader to the "Backworlds" and the characters there. Craze is young man who suddenly finds himself shunned by his father, his girlfriend and his home-world. Forced to move off-world (literally chased off the planet), and carrying only a few coins and even fewer possessions, he finds himself relying on the skills (scamming and manipulating) that his father taught him.   But, when trouble soon finds him, he has to rethink his outlook on people, and place his trust in strangers. Maybe what his father taught him was not the best way? Pax paints an image of a world full of shifty opportunists and survivors living on the edge. Technology has its place, but also present is nature. I kept thinking as I read it that I hope this goes big--and is made into a TV series. The premise could outshine "Farscape" in entertainment value. Looking forward to the next in the series."

I do recommend it. :-)

Six Sentence Sunday May 6, 2012

For more Six Sentence Sunday posts, visit  http://www.sixsunday.com/

This week, going back to the pub scene in Aaydan's Tale.

"The action all seemed to be at a table closer to the bar where the men were all drunk.  Their arm-wrestling and glory-boasting had taken that mysterious turn to the ultimate winner-takes-all competition: they had begun to compare scars.
A heavily-bearded redhead raised his shirt, displaying a long scar that stretched from one side of his ribs, across his chest, and up to his shoulder.  His voice was full of laughter and lies as he said, “The Dominion…the nitnackers caught me at a station, two days away. Said they was takin me in for smugglin. I told them I wain’t no smuggler…but if’n I was, they’d be the last to catch up w’ me.”

A bit long, but keeping it all in context. 

Hope everyone's first week in May was wonderful. :-)