Saturday, August 2, 2014

Life Gets in the Way

Posts have been in my mind, but have not gotten on the page. Yes, life has gotten in the way! Get back to you as soon as possible.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Loss through Alzheimer's

A Sister is a Sister
But Through Alzheimer's I'm Losing Her Twice

            I always felt blessed to have her as an older sister. I couldn’t have asked for a more dear one. Not all sisters have good relationships, but we did. Funny thing is we often were mistaken as twins. We looked somewhat alike, had the same coloring and same build. Not too complimentary to me, as she is twelve years older, but maybe a tribute how women in our family age.
This aging part is why I feel such grief now. Aging doesn't necessarily bring Alzheimer's, but it did with my sister. Her advancing Alzheimer's crushes my heart day in and day out. She is the first one in our family to be afflicted. I listen with interest every time some break through is discussed. The amount of current research given to the condition is heartening and I believe we'll know more in time.
A sister will always be a sister, but the sad thing is she is lost to me in the sense of being the sister I had. Oh, she is still here, but then she is not here. I still visit her in the Alzheimer's Unit a couple times a week. She always seems delighted to see me and has only just now begun to not know me. I knew this day would come, but dreaded it. She still seems happy and I take heart in that. She lives in a place apart.
The other day, in my thinking about her and how I could possibly help, I had an epiphany. I still had a sister. I still need to visit because she still needs company and stimulation. It's not about me. I need to push back thinking I won't go because we can't have a real conversation anymore. We can't laugh over some dumb thing we've done, can't discuss genealogy, clothes, make-up, food, travel or anything substantial. I need to keep going even if I am asked the same question many times in short sequence, even if my kids are distant memory to her.
Some days I ride with this epiphany, but some days I look into lackluster eyes once sparkly brown and I want my sister back. I want her back real bad. I ask why she had to succumb in this way. She did nothing to deserve it. She was the best possible Christian.
Down deep I know better than ask why. I know wisdom and peace call for acceptance. I've lived long enough to know even though God is good, we can feel bad. I mumble life is fair but not equal. And sometimes I wonder if it is even fair.
What though am I really learning as my sister and I travel this journey through her disease? We can't recreate the past. The only thing I can do for the future is to make the present as pleasant as it can be. I've learned a person can do all the prescribed things to stave off Alzheimer's and still develop the condition. I've learned it can be slow or fast and sometimes we wish it were faster. Or sometimes we wish it were slower. There are no winners here.
I must say my dear sister has always been one stubborn, little lass and this stubbornness gets in the way of those wanting to help. I also believe the condition itself lends an irrationality, which families find greatly challenging. I'm also realizing what hard decisions a family must make when a member has Alzheimer's.
I have lost the sister I had and for this I grieve. I know I will lose her physically someday and will grieve again.
I also have learned of the commitment of health professionals to this type of patient. My sister is in a wonderful unit, with caring health providers. They offer plenty of family support and I have also found  the Alzheimer's Association web site has excellent information.
Nothing purchased can come close to my sense of gratitude for having such a wonderful sister.

                                                            My sister's art work

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Why Self-Publishing Is So Good For Literary Culture

I have not self-published, but have friends who have. There is much to be said about the new venue and much to learn. I found this recent article by Orna Ross of The Alliance of Independent Authors of interest. You might also. The web site is

Why Self-publishing Is So Good For Literary Culture
2 days ago by Orna Ross 11
Open Up To Indies Campaign Launching Soon

Self-Publishing Association Guide

Half or more of the books on Amazon’s daily bestseller lists are now self-published. At The Alliance of Independent Authors(ALLi), we have many members who have sold more than 100,000 books and some who have sold in their millions. Many others are producing work of outstanding literary merit. Corporate publishers and agents now scour self-publishing sites, hoping to woo writers away from the indie option.

There's no denying that self-publishing times have changed -- and also no denying that it’s time these changes were  more widely reflected throughout the literary and book worlds -- festivals, events, reviews, libraries, bookstores.
That's why we're launching ALLi’s #PublishingOpenUpcampaign at The London Book Fair and Book Expo America (see right and below). Here I’d just like to address the #1 problem cited by  those who say they’d like to incorporate self-publishers: the huge volume and growth in books and the perceived difficulty of book discovery.
Or, as one publishing executive recently referred to it:  “the mountains of crap problem".
Nobody denies that self-publishing facilitates the production of many bad books but is this actually a problem?
I'd argue that if it is, it's one that's easily solved.  A simple shift in mindset will do it: from scarcity to abundance thinking, from commercial to creative imperatives. 

Scarcity Versus Abundance
Corporate publishing works from a scarcity model, grounded in commercial principles. It selects a very few books to be published, assigns them a value dictated by publishing overheads and supply chain, and protects their value with copyright.
Self-publishing works from an abundance model, grounded in creative principles. All books can be published and it is writers and readers who decide on value, based on a wide variety of considerations.
But how to decide, asks a recent comment on a newspaper forum: "With so many ebooks being produced, the talented new writer who takes care over editing and production is likely to be lost in the sea of uploaded dross with titles such as Mi Lyfe Storey.”
Whether you find that comment amusing or patronising, the fact its: it’s simply not true. Book search algorithms are very sophisticated and getting better all the time. Mi Lyfe Storey would immediately plummet to the nether regions of Amazon or Smashwords, because it wouldn't match any search keyword terms.
Your talented new writer, if he or she took a little time to learn some basic ways to reach readers, would begin to climb the ratings. It takes a little work but it's not difficult -- and many trade published writers are being encouraged by their publisher to use the same methods.
From the reader's perspective, it's a simple matter to download a sample and try before you buy. They also have independent reader reviews to go on, a book, description and author bio that probably clicks through to the author website.  It’s may not be a perfect system but it's getting better all the time -- and it makes good books and authors considerably more discoverable than the old bookshop browsing method.
Creativity Rising
This apparent cri de coeur about literary values is actually fear of change, often from those who are invested in the old order. And fear of the creative. Creativity is never orderly and neat; it’s colourful and chaotic and kaleidoscopic and we need a publishing scene that acknowledges, and is prepared to be more reflective of, that truth. 

This is how nature, the fundamental model for all creativity operates. An oak tree throws a lot of acorns to get one baby oak. A lot of sperm miss out on the egg.
Throughout cultural history —  Renaissance Italy, Elizabethan England, Literary Revival Ireland — where new forms and formats allow creativity to flourish, overall standards rise.  As the means of expression become available to more people, more tyro and aspirant books — “mountains of crap Mi Lyfe Storeys” — are facilitated, yes, and also more accomplished and virtuoso work. More masterpieces rise to the top, the expanded tip of an enlarged mountain.
So what’s important in an abundance model is not how many bad books are enabled — they quickly fade into invisibility — but only how many good books are enabled.
And who knows that the person who publishes a "crap" book today may not write a great one in time? Writing and publishing are both creative skills, learned by doing... by apprenticeship. Practice can and does make... if not perfect, then certainly better and better.

What matters, or what should matter, to those who care about literary culture is that self-publishing is enabling more great books than ever before. That it's allowing writers to decide what they'll publish when, thus delivering more freedom to experiment and grow.  And that it's giving readers, rather than retailers or publishing execs, the deciding vote on which writers succeed.

And that is as it should be.
Is it not?

'Bad books' have always been with us, not just since self-publishing came about. Hasn't the market place always taken care of this? No matter the format or publication, I think this will continue.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Shaped on the Anvil


Blacksmith Anvil

I want to share a story I wrote some time ago and that was published in Maximum Living Magazine. It's all about life shaping us on the anvil and preparing us for days ahead. I shall not go into why October, 2013 was my last entry, but after reading this post you may get the idea. Sometimes we're on the anvil being shaped, sometimes we're a finished product waiting and sometimes we are not sure where we are in the whole process. A lot of shaping has been going with me. Probably with you, too. Enjoy the article.

Shaped on the Anvil

My ancestral grandfather was a blacksmith and I’ve often thought of his role within his settlement at the time. A blacksmith proved an essential member of the community. Why? For one thing, one hundred and fifty years ago, the blacksmith forged and hammered tools needed to farm, to haul and to survive. That role is unnecessary today with all our inventions and engineering techniques available.
This analogy of the blacksmith, with his hammer and anvil over the fire, brings other thoughts to me today, though. I recall God’s words about being shaped or refined by fire and how fire will test the quality of each man’s work (Malachi 3:2 and I Corinthians 3:13).  I, then, visualize myself as that piece of iron on the anvil and the blacksmith foraging me into a useful tool, being shaped for God’s purpose. I see myself crafted into a thing of beauty, an instrument worthy of God’s blessing. I focus on the finished product.
In the blacksmith’s day, fire sharpened iron. Thus, we might say that being salted with fire is common to man so he might become strong and refined to endure suffering and then purification. Perhaps Saint Paul had this in mind when he said in 2 Timothy 2:21 “…man…will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” We’re also told “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Admonishing and embracing one another with God’s love becomes part of our noble purpose.
Author Max Lucado, in his book titled, On the Anvil, has things to say about the fire’s refining power. The writings of Pastor Max Lucado of San Antonio, Texas have become my new-best-friend-forever and I now own twenty five of his books! Yes, I agree, a little excessive, but his words sing to me in refreshing and resourceful ways. Let me share what he says about tools in the blacksmith’s shop.
He says there are three kinds of tools found in the blacksmith’s shop. There are tools on the junk pile, tools on the anvil, and tools of usefulness lying in the blacksmith’s tool chest. The junk pile tools languish without a calling or a purpose in the scrap pile. They symbolize people with fires quenched and dreams dashed, yet unwilling to push forward. Secondly, many tools already lie on the anvil, ready to be hammered and molded, and like people with hearts open, ready for a purpose. Lastly, the tools of usefulness rest in the toolbox, primed, fired and ready for action, for the Master’s use. A desirable position.
We’re all there somewhere in that blacksmith’s shop, aren’t we?
The scrap pile doesn’t define our destiny unless we let it. We need not be victimized by one, yea two, even three failures, when we accept failure is not fatal or forever. If we’re on the anvil, being hammered and honed, let us submit willingly, knowing it is for our better good and God’s glory. It also means God still thinks we’re worth messing with. He hasn’t given up on us. If we find ourselves in the toolbox, all cleaned up and ready, let’s get excited. There’s work ahead. We are ready to be an instrument for a noble purpose for God.
Max Lucado doesn’t say it, but I will. Just because we find ourselves in one spot in the blacksmith shop, doesn’t mean we’re stuck there. It’s never too late to spring for the anvil and then push for the polished product. I will also say this. Unless we’re vigilant, we can go from polished product back to the scrap pile, or perhaps, more likely, back to the anvil. Life keeps coming at us in unexpected ways and our race continues.
Let us finish the course and win the prize.

A very happy and blessed 2014 to you.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

This Little Book Should be in Every Child's Backpack

Meet children’s author Julie K. Federico

Even before this author begins to post, let me tell you she is my daughter and I am very proud of her and her work. Here's a sound bite from her web site:

Julie K. Federico, M.A., is a former a middle school counselor. Violence in schools is a topic Ms. Federico understands. She was employed with Jefferson County Public School District in Colorado during the 1999 Columbine High School shootings and was a first responder.
Julie has dedicated her latest books to the Sandy Hook community in Newtown, CT. Ms. Federico, an expert in school violence, has spent over a decade confronting this epidemic problem in our society. Parents and educators will appreciate the simple, non-threatening language Federico uses to create a school safety message  every child must hear.

Ms. Federico’s awarding-winning  books,  Some Parts are NOT for Sharing and Anger is OKAY Violence is NOT are  first books for children on personal safety and anger control. Julie is not afraid to tackle difficult social problems and has written about domestic violence prevention, child abuse prevention, and now, school violence prevention. 

Julie holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in counseling from Indiana University.

Julie, first, a bit about yourself, if you will. Where you’re presently from? What’s your ‘day job’ if you have or have had one?

I am originally from Indiana, but have lived in Denver for over 20 years. I was a middle-school counselor for fifteen years. Currently, I am substitute teaching and writing children’s books on personal safety. I have two daughters, 11 and 8 years old.

Guess I do know about your amazing journey! What is the title of your latest book? Fiction or non-fiction? 

My newest book is called The Bad Guys: A Students'/Teachers' Guide to School Safety and Violence Prevention.

I wish this book was fiction, but unfortunately, it is non-fiction or real life. I and others are working hard to prevent more senseless school shootings in our world. This book is designed for readers from preschool to third grade.

Last December, I was deeply affected by the Sandy Hook shootings, as I had two elementary-age children. The thought they might not walk through the door one random day after school was too much for my mind to digest.

I felt I wanted to help. I wanted to save other families from the heartache plaguing families of Newtown, CT.  

It was not a stretch to write a book about school violence prevention.  Since my first book was on child abuse prevention and my second book dealt with domestic violence prevention, the topic of school violence closely followed the theme of how many people cope ineffectively to stress.

Julie, fact is often stranger than fiction, but your reasoning makes perfect sense I believe. Other than what you've already said, why did you write the book?

I wanted to give teachers, parents, and children a common language to use regarding school violence. In the book, I incorporated a teacher’s guide for teachers, to help students in understanding and exploring the overwhelming topic of school violence. 

My goal is to get this book into as many backpacks as possible and save lives.

In as many back packs as possible? Awesome, yet a simple concept, Julie! What is the most important piece of advice you wanted to share other than the profound advice above?

In some previous school shootings, where the shooter was a student, 78% of the school community knew the student was planning violence. This statistic is unacceptable. I want to empower bystanders, students or whomever, to speak up, to get the attention of school administration, and to save lives. 

If talking can save students lives, I am all for it.

Yes, when foreshadowing or foreknowledge are available, action may be the best choice. Seventy-eight percent is a scary statistic.

Give us an excerpt from The Bad Guys, please.

But sometimes schools are not safe.  Sometimes a disturbed person may enter a school with the idea of hurting people.  Somehow hurting other people makes this disturbed person feel better inside.  It is very hard for most adults and students to understand this.  Sadly, this type of misguided, violent behavior can occur in the world we live in today.  

Not every person who enters a school is a safe person.  Here are some clues that a person might not be safe:
  The person is running through the hallway.
∙  You have never seen this person before.
∙  The person is yelling or looking very angry.

∙  The person is carrying a weapon.

Julie, even these ideas are enough to spur concern and action. No one wants any more school violence and I hope your books help illuminate the problem. Let's change tracks. You are self-published aren't you? Who is your publisher?

I have self published all of my books. My first three books were published with Tate Publishing.  West Bow Press published The Bad Guys.

You have been among the first in the brave new world of publishing. Congratulations! Pitch your other books to us quickly.

Some Parts are NOT for Sharing/Algunas Partes No Son Para Compartir is a child’s first book on body safety.  This book addresses unwanted touch and is for readers 0-7 years old.  

Anger is OKAY Violence is NOT was written for a Headstart School Program in Hartford, CT.  They were seeking a book on domestic violence prevention for young children and asked if I would write one for them.   Anger is OKAY Violence is NOT received positive reviews from Blue Ink Review:

           Julie, excellent about the reviews!  It's hard to tackle such difficult issues. We'd rather not face them, but kudos to you for courage to go to our fears. In reality, this is where we find out courage isn't it?

I want to be a little crazy here, but if you could go back in history, what person would you like to meet?

Martin Luther King.  I would ask him how he keep from not getting overwhelmed. How he managed to accomplish what he did still amazes me.

            This man is one of my heroes also. Do you have a favorite TV show?

Can't relate there! What are you reading? 

The Mercy Prayer by Robert Gelinas

Whoa! I've met Robert and know this must be good.

Favorite food? 

Yum, me too! Any other books brewing?
Taking a break for now.

Julie Federico! Thank you so much for taking the time to spend with Wordsmith Woman. Your passion is most pure and may you continue most true. Readers, Julie is giving away a copy of Anger is Okay Violence is Not. A random name from the comments will be drawn and notified.

Thank you for this opportunity!

Find Julie at:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Carole Brown's Debut Novel; The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman

                    I'd like to welcome author Carole Brown! 

Carole's book, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, will release in  late September, 2013 from Lighthhouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I am very happy for her success. I asked Carole to feature a character post and she chose her heroine, Caralynne. Carole has chosen to write about the often-taboo subject of physical abuse. 

A brief overview

·                  Can Dayne’s prayers and love straddle the gulf of anger and bitterness Cara harbors before she goes too far to experience redemption?
·                  A contemporary women's fiction with strong elements of suspense and romance.
·                  Good for anyone who has been abused or for those dealing with abusive situations.
·                  A passionate book, not for the weak of heart, but for those who want to be reminded, touched, and stirred.

Carole has chosen to give away an ebook of her debut novel for a random winner from the first ten comments left on this blog as well as an ebook from the next following ten comments. Carole, thank you for this generous gesture!


1. Caralynne, please tell us what is currently going on in your life?

(frowns) During this book-time? I hate my life. The only redeeming thing is my two daughters and my friends. Otherwise, life wouldn’t be worth living.

2. Why does your story need to be told? 

Why? Why? Because abuse is so horrible. It’s so prevalent, and yet so insidious. People you work with on a day to day basis could be either the abused or the abuser. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Carole, my writer, knows right now of two cases where the husband hid it so well no one suspected. The wife went along, covering for her husband. Why? Because he was her husband, because, she was too ashamed, because they were religious. It doesn’t matter the reason. It matters that it is, and that it needs to be exposed.

3. What led you to make the changes you did in your life? Or what changes do you want to make? Anything holding you back?

That’s easy to answer, although it is nightmarish to go through. The abuse and death of my oldest daughter. I could stand the physical hits and disrespect from my husband to me, but when it came to my child, my oldest? Someone had to pay, and I decided all the men should.

4. In your life, what has empowered you or held you back? Is there trust verses mistrust?

No trust. I’ve had little reason to trust people, and surely not The Children of Righteous Cain, our cult group. (hesitates) When Dayne returned, I wanted to trust him; my heart cried out to do so, but I wasn’t sure. He was embedded deeper, even more than myself, here in this group. I hadn’t seen him in years. How was I to know he could be trusted even though he seemed the same wonderful person as he’d been when young. He exuded strength and loyalty and honor, and I’ll have to honest in saying to you: it was hard to turn away from shoveling all my troubles onto his broad shoulders.

5. How does your faith or lack of faith play out in your life?

(a little shame faceness here)  I’m afraid I’ll have to confess, I had no faith when Carole began writing this book. The hurts and bitterness were too deep. The avenging spirit inside me too strong. I’d never had any evidence God was real. He didn’t protect Lori while being abused. He could have if he was really real, I thought. I mean, what kind of God let’s a little girl suffer such horribleness? Fortunately, my belief changed.

5. Do you have anything to say about Dayne, the hero of the book?

Plenty, but I’ll try to restrain myself. J He’s a clean cut man with a strong conscience. He’s the one who saved me from real disaster, well, him and God. If I hadn’t had his faithful witness and example and encouragement, I’d probably ended up in jail for life. Scary!

6. What needs to be strengthened about you? In what areas are you strong?

I’m a very determined woman. It’s been hard for me to open my heart because I wanted what I wanted: revenge! So yielding my will to God’s will was and is hard, but I’m working on it.

Dayne compares me to Joan of Arc, but I’m not. I think I must have courage because my friends insist I do. He also says I’m very loyal to those I love.

7. Favorite quote or Bible verse.

I’m ashamed to say that throughout this first book, I had none. Perhaps in time, I will feel special scriptures speak to my heart. I hope so.

 9.  If your story had a theme song, what would it be?

Hope Shining Through the Darkness is my novel’s theme, so I’d think the old hymn, The Solid Rock, would be a good one.

 10. Will you have a sequel to your story?

Well, I hope Carole will finish the story. I see dire times ahead for Dayne and me, what could become a real disaster. But I humbly admit, although what is ahead makes me tremble with fear, God is able to see both of us through. Right now, I think she’s given it a working title: The Revenge. And this time, it’s not me seeking it. It’s . . . well, I better not give that away. (laughs). She might write me in her next book--wait, she already has!

11. Any words of wisdom for other young women and men facing similar situations?

Don’t be ashamed. Be brave. Face up to what’s happening in your life. Take the first step. Seek help from friends, family, professionals. And most of all, ask God to help you. He will.

Here is author Carole's bio.

Carole Brown’s debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, was a semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest. Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio, but have ministered and counseled across the country. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention grandsons?

Find Carole at:

Or connect on her blogs:
Barn Door Book Loft:

LOOK FOR CAROLE'S BOOK. The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman ON AMAZON IN LATE SEPTEMBER, 2013. 

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Carole's book.

Thanks, Carole, for the visit. The best to you!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Art of Aging Gracefully is the Gift of Becoming Yourself and a Better Writer

The Art of Aging Gracefully is the Gift of Becoming Yourself

     Would that we knew our authentic self when we were young, but I think it takes a few years on the ‘ole bod’ before we know who we really are. Then, some of us never hear the siren of the authentic self inside our being. That is just the way it is with us humans.
     To become reacquainted with my authentic self and to become closer to that person within, I hung, in my laundry room, a picture of myself as an eight-year-old. I have to look at that little girl daily. Her eyes are clear and wide, her hair straggly, her teeth wide and her clothes nondescript, but I do remember that photo being taken. She represents the child within me.
      I have certainly aged since then, but my fervent desire is that I have aged gracefully and that I continue to do so. But more importantly, I hope I have given myself the gift of becoming myself. My authentic self.
       What do these ruminations have to do with writing? Not a lot, except to say, it is only with age I have been able to delve into my long-harbored desire to write. Oh, I’ve written in numerous and varied ways all my life, as you may have also. My theory is that writing is somehow in our DNA. My mother wrote, I write, my kids write and my grand kids write.
      To write seriously, though, and with intent of publication, goes beyond just loving or having a propensity to write. I, my daughter and my twelve-year-old grandson have been published. My mother in the 1930’s had a chance at publication, but it was a vanity press offer and we all know at that time the depression was rampant and money scarce.
      First, let me say how greatly I admire the younger-aged women and men who manage to juggle writing, family and careers. They are a special breed to be able to accomplish what they do. I was never able to accomplish what this special, young segment does so well, in many cases. My desire to write seriously went like this. I began this business of writing after my late-fifties retirement. My diagnosis of thyroid cancer a few years later only cemented my decision to commit to the writing I so wanted to do. I didn’t know what lay ahead with that diagnosis.
    Thankfully, I’m a eight-plus year cancer survivor and, in that time, have had three books published, placed in one anthology and am marketing a fourth book. For five years I have written a column for a magazine focusing on women’s health and spirituality.
       I have a good husband who supports me in my goals, a passel of kids and grand kids who smile with me, and I worship a God, who, I think, says ‘use the gifts I have given you.’
       Whether young or old, thank Him, and persevere.
Jude Urbanski,
Find me at: