Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Even before Thanksgiving we were seeing lots of ads wanting us to buy things for the Holidays. Now
That people are shopping for Christmas gifts we're absolutely bombarded with advertising.

Everybody wants our money.

Of course people who make and sell things need income as everyone does. We expect to pay people for purchases and service all year long.

But sometimes I wonder why money even exists. Of course it's more practical than a barter system, but it only has value because we agree that it does.

And that's one thing everyone in the world seems to agree on.

Money is just a piece of paper or metal. And in our technological times, it's often just a promise of paper or metal.

Even the kind of money we can actually see and touch can't be used for food, clothing, or to build a home or furniture. And, if money represents gold or silver, those pretty things can't be used for anything practical except to exchange for objects or labor with people who agree on its value.

Of course, like everybody else, I'd like to have more money. And I've already done most of my Christmas shopping, so I've given it to other people.

But (and my writer's imagination is active here) I wonder if some alien creatures from another world that doesn't use money were to study us what they would think of money.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Colby Mouse's Christmas Gift

Colby Mouse's Christmas Gift by Barbara Bockman is an unusual Christmas story.

Like many other books, it tells about a family decorating their tree, and getting ready for Christmas on Christmas Eve.

But it also tells about a mouse and the trap set to catch him. His name is Colby, like the cheese.

Thank goodness it's a catch and release trap, not one that will hurt the poor mouse, and the human father plans to set the mouse free in the woods.

Colby listens as the father reads the Nativity story and wants to share the joy of giving and receiving gifts.

On Christmas morning as the humans open their gifts they discover one from the mouse. He has left the cheese from the trap on a plate and traded it for a candy cane, which he considers his gift from them.

The book doesn't explain how the mouse got the cheese out of the trap without getting caught, but kids who hear this book read to them will be glad he did.

KC Snider's bright and cheerful illustrations add a lot to the pleasure kids will get from this book.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanking People

About a month ago I had to call tech support and the man who took the call was very patient with my lack of technological skills. When the call was finished I said I'd mention in the survey that I appreciated his work, but he said they didn't have anything like a survey. At my request he gave me his supervisors phone number.

I called it and expressed my appreciation. The boss was flabbergasted! He told me all the calls he ever gets are complaints and nobody had ever called to say thanks before.

I blogged about a similar experience a few years ago. (Here's the link: )

It seems like people are a lot more likely to complain than to thank people.

At Thanksgiving we remember to be thankful for things like food, homes, friends and family, etc. and that's important. But I hope we can remember to be thankful all year long, and not just for the necessities and pleasures of our lives.

We need to remember to thank the people who help us every day, often just doing their jobs.

Sure the people who collect our garbage, wait on us in stores, direct traffic, deliver the mail, etc., etc. get paid for what they do.

But many of them get complaints when they do something that's not perfect, or their jobs inconvenience someone. And, judging by the reactions I've seen, when somebody expresses appreciation, it can make them very happy.

So please remember to thank people and even mention to their supervisors that we appreciate those who help us, even if it's just part of their jobs.

And, by the way, I want to thank you for reading this and for all the nice comments I've gotten about my posts on Facebook in the past.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

My Books for Kids

    I don’t usually talk about my own books here but, since Christmas is approaching, I thought some people might like to consider them as gifts for kids. They’re all available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and can be ordered at local bookstores.

    Signs of Trouble is about kids with learning disabilities who get separated from their class on a field trip and use what they’ve learned about safety to get reunited. Educational material for early readers is included at the end.

    Slime & All is about a giant, talking worm who wants a friend and a boy who helps him. It’s an early chapter book at Second Grade reading level.


The other books all have Christian content.

    Secret Service Saint is especially appropriate for this time of year. It’s about Nicholas, who

discovers the joy of doing secret good deeds and eventually becomes known as Santa Claus.

  The last two books are for readers from 8 to 13 years old.

    The Peril of the Sinister Scientist is about a boy who thinks he was cloned from the blood on the Shroud of Turin because a scientist who worked on that experiment is stalking him. The concept is, what would Jesus do in middle school? (The kid on the cover does not look like the main character.)

    A Shadow of Fear is about a boy who needs to face his fears to prove he’s mature enough to go to camp and also to help a friend with Special Needs.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Metaphors and Similes

I majored in English in college and took electives in Linguistics because I've always been fascinated by language. I also studied Latin, German and French in school and later became fluent in American Sign Language. I'm the author of five books and my work has been published in lots of anthologies and periodicals so the information I learned about our language has been useful to me for the most part.

But here's one thing I don't understand: why does anyone care about the difference between a metaphor and a simile?

Yes, I had to learn the definitions in school to pass tests, but in all my years as a writer and reader I've never needed to know that information.

Sometimes I use and read comparisons using the words, like, or as, and sometimes I use and read comparisons that don't use those words.

So what?

The meaning is clear either way.

Lots of things - maybe even most things - I learned about grammar in school are useful to know,  but the difference between a metaphor and a simile is one thing I consider a waste of time to teach.

Who cares?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Praying for Peace

After praying about the hostility in our country regarding the presidential election I went to sleep. Then I woke up during the night with these words in my mind:

“I am only one,
But I am one.
I can not do everything
But I can do something.
What I can do, I ought to do
And what I ought to do,
I shall do.”

(This morning I googled them and found out they’re a paraphrase of words by Edward Everett Hale.)

Okay, that was clearly an answer to my prayer, so I went back to sleep.

When it was nearly time to get up I awoke again and wondered, “What is the something I can do?” Then I went back to sleep again.

When the alarm rang and I got up I realized what I can, and ought to do, is write things that will help bring us together again, so I’m trying to do that here and now.

We can disagree without anger and hatred. Each side believes the other is morally wrong, but  being wrong is not the same as being evil.

I’ve mentioned before the definition of love I learned in a college class:” when the happiness and well-being of another is essential to one’s own happiness and well-being a state of love exists.”

Whatever the outcome of political decisions to come, some people will not be happy with them, but we can still want what is best for each other. And even if we don’t all love one another, we can find ways to live together peacefully.

Please, please, please let’s try to do that.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Power of Words

I've mentioned in previous blog posts that one of my college Linguistics professors told us when studying a society, if you come to a word they can't define you know it's one of the most basic concepts in their culture.

I believe a lot of the conflict and, possibly, the outcome of the presidential election in the United States of America depended on two definitions: What is a human being? What is a marriage?

Yes, there were lots of other issues, but many people cast their votes because of one or both of those two concepts.

Is a fetus a human being? If people believed it is, they probably voted for Trump.

Is a marriage a committed sexual relationship between two people, or only between a man and a woman? How they defined that term determined a lot of people's choice between the candidates.

And those aren't the only things that divide us. Do we continue to welcome the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free? Or do we focus on helping big businesses grow so they'll help our economy? Etc., etc., etc.

To me, this is scary.  If we can't agree on basic things like these does it mean our culture is falling apart?

They say no democracy has ever lasted more than 250 years, and we're getting close to that number of years since our country was founded.

But I believe we can rise above all these conflicts by treating one another with respect and love.

Another of my professors told us "When the happiness and well-being of another is essential to one's own happiness and well-being, a state of love exists.

As a popular song from the days of my youth says, "Come on people...Let's get together and love one another."

We need to do that right now!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Three Wise Animals

Okay, I know it's only the beginning of November, but I couldn't resist reviewing this cute Christmas picture book.

If you read my blog posts often you probably know I like books that take an unusual approach to a familiar topic, and this book certainly does that.

Everyone has heard of three wise men who go to see baby Jesus, but three wise animals? Now that's a new idea. Author Robert G. Seal is creative to have thought of it.

In Three Wise Animals a lamb, a bull and a ferret must get past the dangerous, evil wolves to bring their gifts to the baby in the manger, and they're helped along the way by an angelic bunny.

Jeff West's illustrations are amusing - sort of like comic book pictures - and kids will love those as much as they enjoy the story.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

To-Do Lists

Do you have a to-do list?

I do. In fact I have two.

One list is on a big whiteboard on my office wall. It's divided into seven sections, one for each day of the week. I use a different colored marker for each week so when I erase the list for one day and put in the things for that day in the following week, I don't get confused.

I copy things like meetings and appointments from my calendar into the sections for each day. Then I add the other things I need to do. Those might include writing or rewriting something I'm working on, shopping, blogging, cooking for the week, calling someone in particular, etc.

Often I don't accomplish everything I'd hoped to do, so I write whatever didn't get done into the space for the next day. When I had a full time job I got more done in my free time than I do now because I'm scattered all over the place.

The other To-Do list is for big jobs, like cleaning my office. Some of the things on that list get put off for months because the white board list is so full it doesn't allow time for them.

I hope I'm not the only one who doesn't get everything done according to plan.

Do you have a to-do list?