WRITER’S GRAPEVINE: WINTER SOLSTICE EDITION
BY: PATTY L. FLETCHER
BROUGHT TO YOU BY: TELL-IT-TO-THE-WORLD MARKETING (AUTHOR, BLOGGER, BUSINESS ASSIST)
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Hello everyone and welcome to another Incredible edition of the Writer’s Grapevine.
How do I know it’s Incredible? Because it’s filled with “Incredible” contributors. But the proof is as they say… “In the pudding.” Or in this case on the page. So, grab your favorite drink, snuggle down into your most comfortable reading nest and ready yourself for some great discoveries.
This month we have new releases, great articles and reports of things to come. So, without further ado, here’s the Writer’s Grapevine Winter Solstice Edition just for you.
Of course, as always you’re invited to share. Just make certain to either send out or copy the entire newsletter, or if you choose to share specific items make certain to copy each one in its completion thus giving the author or business full credit.
Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing (Author, Blogger, Business Assist) is now seeking sponsors to assist with keeping our prices reasonable so those who are unable to afford the high cost of advertising will have a place to turn for part of their marketing needs.
Here at Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing where we marry social media marketing with more traditional approaches, we strive to assist clients with the promotion of their books, blogs, and small businesses.
We provide services such as:
§ Featured blog posts
§ Social Media coverage including:
Our prices currently range from $60.00 for three-months to $150.00 for a full year package.
We provide services such as Facebook Page admin Assistance for those who aren’t able or who don’t have the time to maintain their author, blog, or business Facebook pages.
We also provide, Network and Outreach which can range from something as simple as assisting you with a query letter to a task as complicated as researching and creating a marketing mailing list so you can send out information which will target those you serve as well as many other promotional assistive services.
What will you as a sponsor of Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing receive?
If you become a sponsor of Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing, you will receive…
§ An ad up to 500 words in length on the homepage of my blog which will remain until you either request it removed, or ask it to be updated in some way
§ A spot in my monthly newsletter, the Writer’s Grapevine, and:
§ A spot on the sponsor pages of the annual holiday Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing catalog Books and Those Who Make Them Happen.
Regular price for becoming a sponsor is $25.00. (Current Sale Price $15.00)
I accept payment via Paypal.com
For more information including ad guidelines please write me at:
To here a recorded presentation of a complete overview of guidelines and services for the year ending 2019 and beginning 2020 visit: https://www.dropbox.com/s/0otuwxqbz1kgffe/Recording_1%20tell%20it%20to%20the%20world%20overview%20end%20of%202019%20beginning%202020.mp3?dl=0
*NOTE* We’ve a lot of sponsors, and the actual sponsor page found on the homepage of my blog is quite long. So, rather than post full ads here I’m going to list their names, and how to find them. You can of course visit: http://www.campbellsworld.wordpress.com/ . click the sponsor page and see all their ads in full including photos. Keep in mind the sponsor page is a work in progress and is always updating so be sure to check back often.
You may note that there are some new additions here that haven’t yet made it onto the blog. In the meantime, here are all this month’s sponsors.
COLONIAL HEIGHTS ANIMAL HOSPITAL: http://www.colonialheightsvet.com
AUTHOR JO E. PINTO
NEW RELEASE 2019
DADDY WON’T LET MOM DRIVE THE CAR: TRUE TALES OF PARENTING IN THE DARK (COPYRIGHT 2019)
To see and buy her books please visit: http://www.amazon.com/author/jepinto
AUTHOR MEREDITH LEIGH BURTON
RELEASED AUGUST 8, 2019
To see and buy her books visit:
Learn all about the totally unique, 8.5” x 11” EZ2See® Weekly Planner/Calendar, Specialty Visually Challenged Friendly Sticky Notepads and Markers at: http://www.EZ2SeeProducts.com
PLAISTED PUBLISHING HOUSE LTD
Author Assist Program
Lynda McKinney Lambert
STAR SIGNS: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS (2019)
by Lynda McKinney Lambert
AUTHOR DONNA W. HILL BOOK: THE HEART OF APPLEBUTTER HILL
Leonore and David Dvorkin of DLD Books Editing and Publishing Services:
Casey Mathews of WEBFRIENDLYHELP Website: https://webfriendlyhelp.com
Author, editor, citizen journalist, blogger, and human and animal rights advocate, website: http://www.ernestdempsey.com
RATINGS GAME (TALK SHOW QUEEN)
by Trish Hubschman (C 2019)
AUTHORS TASHA AND STEPHEN HALPERT
Shop for Stephen and Tasha’s books, ABACADABRA MOONSHINE & OTHER STORIES by Stephen Halpert, Heartwings: Love Notes for a Joyous Life and Up to My Neck in Lemons both by Tasha Halpert online at: https://smile.amazon.com/s?k=Tasha+Halpert&ref=nb_sb_noss.
Not only do we have a great group of sponsors for the month, but we’ve also got a bunch of continually busy writers and business owners in our midst. As you can see below the work just never seems to stop.
First up this month, we’ve author artist Lynda McKinney Lambert to tell us all her news…
To my friends and supporters: by author artist, Lynda McKinney Lambert
This is an ordinary day with rain and the anticipation of snow – which I love.
I’ve been reading the Christmas cards and letters and then I hang the cards up in our kitchen. I love this time of year!
Today, I’ve been working on getting artwork submitted to a show in Chicago, and writing checks to pay bills. Ho-hum, just the ordinary things we do.
The day has taken a turn to something spectacular.
First, I learned my book cover for Star Signs: New and Selected Poems, is in the TOP FIFTY covers – out of 290 that started out in the Best Book Cover for December – sponsored by AllAuthor. This is just stunning! I am so proud of the cover art that Leonore and David Dvorkin did for this book of poetry.
My book cover will begin to get VOTES to be in the Top 24.
Thank you to all friends and supporters for Voting for my book cover.
Please keep it going – and hope we make it to the top 24.
You can see it at this link:
Please cast your vote and help the cover to move on to the top 24.
My next surprise is that Sally Cronin featured my book – Star Signs: new and Selected Poems – as the FIRST book on her POETRY SECTION at Sally’s Café and Book Store (in the UK), and it is featured in her Christmas Book Fair.
You can see all about it here, on her Smorgasbord Blog:
I also know that another surprise is coming up near the end of the year or early in 2020 – and I will make that announcement soon.
My One Word for 2019 is
as in all areas of my personal, private, and professional life.
Working with the wonderful people I have encountered has been a significant bright spot in the year. Thank you! I send my best to you for a beautiful holiday season, wherever you are.
I am thankful you are a part of my life!
first snow, chapbook
Star Signs: New and Selected Poems
Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems
Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage
Here’s a quick reminder from author Jo E. Pinto.
Check out my author Web site.
The site includes a book club which, if you join, you’ll get a special offer—a 5,500-word prequel to “The Bright Side of Darkness.” That’s right, several scenes from Rick and the crew, Daisy and her dad, and Walter and Alice that were not included in the book, like a director’s cut.
The site also includes my blog, a YouTube channel with several interviews and an author reading from me, and links where you can purchase my award-winning novel and my newly released book in paperback, Kindle, and audio formats.
To see more, please visit http://www.brightsideauthor.com
Up next is multi-genre Phyllis Staton Campbell with a quick update on her upcoming book, Goin’ Home.
In this long awaited sequel to Where Sheep May safely Graze, Pastor Jim, blinded in Iraq, and his wife Amy, settle down to serve in Pleasantville, and find that the most peaceful garden can have its serpents. The town is divided when a convicted killer of fifty years earlier, is returned home to die, a country music singer, with a murky past comes to town, and Pastor Jim, must face secrets from his own past.
*** And now, a note from Phyllis.
The month of December is flying by. What with practicing and playing music for Advent, writing all my regular magazine columns, and making ready to release my next book there hardly seems time to do normal things like eat and sleep.
Last week the proof came for my latest book, Goin’ Home and I’ve had to lay a lot of holiday enjoyments aside.
Normally I’d go carolling with my church but due to spending so much time running that everlasting fine-toothed-comb through said proof I had to tell my friends to go on without me. Being the wonderfully kind souls, they are, they brought the carolling to me and so I did take a bit of a break for some holiday cheer after all. Ah, but alas it was ending all too soon and slave driver that I am I was soon back to work.
My new author website seems to be pretty much up and running. It’s still a work in progress but if you and your readers would like to visit you may do so here: www.phyllisstatoncampbellauthor.com
I’d love to hear from you so if you would like to contact me use the website or email me at: Pcampbell16@verizon.net
With love, Phyllis.
Here from me, Patty L. Fletcher is a brief update and a bit of my own musing.
First, the update.
Claire Plaisted of Plaisted Publishing House and I have been working hard on the second edition of Bubba Tails From the Puppy Nursery At The Seeing Eye to include a short story at the end called, Wish of the Wee Golden which can be found in the anthology, A Treasure Chest of Children’s Tales https://www.books2read.com/u/bzaAML
We’d intended to have it out last week, and in a way we did. But, due to my not paying close attention to our online back and forth conversation which as you can imagine was filled with important details to be taken care of in such a project as a book release, rather than releasing a separate book with the new material, Claire, following what she felt were my wishes due to an answer I gave to a question asked of me which I did not read carefully enough simply added the new material to the original copy.
This caused great upset for those readers who wished to buy the new book because many of them had bought a copy of the original, Amazon wouldn’t let them do it again.
So, we’re working diligently to have it out before Christmas. Please do stay tuned for updates as they happen.
In the meantime, I’d like to share with you something I wrote not long ago. It is a snippet from my morning’s journaling. I hope you enjoy.
DECEMBER 11, 2019.
MOON PHASE WAXING FULL
TAROT CARD KING OF SWORDS *UPRIGHT*
UPRIGHT: Mental clarity, intellectual power, authority, truth
DESCRIPTION: The King of Swords sits upon his throne, facing forward as if ready to confront whatever life throws at him. He holds a sword in his right hand, the hand
of the conscious, rational mind, and points it upright and to the left, the side of the subconscious, intuitive mind. This symbolizes the King’s decisiveness,
but also flexibility in all matters; while he makes decisions based mostly on his intellectual understanding, he stays open to his intuition. The King
wears a blue tunic, symbolic of a desire for spiritual knowledge, and a purple cape, symbolic of his compassion and intellect. The back of his throne is
decorated with butterflies (transformation), crescent moons and an angel just near his left ear, positioned as if to give him subtle guidance.
The trees behind him stand still, and the clouds have settled. The wind from the previous Swords court cards has died down, giving the impression of stability
and clarity rather than the confusion of sweeping change.
NOTE: The Tarot card meaning description is based on the Rider Waite cards.
King of Swords Tarot Card Meanings tarot card meaning
A train whistle echoes in the distance, it’s engine rumbling as it makes its way across the sleeping city. The chemical factory just a stone’s throw from my house roars its continuous pollution out into the air and onto everything which surrounds it. A lone car chokes into life and speeds off, taking the occupants within to their destination, the cold wind sneaks in through the cracks around the window, and I sit quietly experiencing it all.
I’m awake in the early morning. I love this time most of all. My thoughts are racing, I have many ideas, and much to accomplish this day. I sit, breathing in and out, in and out, sorting everything into neat rows of files in my brain so that all I wish to do might be done this day.
What will happen if I don’t do everything I’ve planned for this day? If I’m fortunate to see another tomorrow, I will rise, go into the bathroom, do my morning’s necessary, wash my face, brush my teeth and hair, make a cup of coffee and start again.
Each day is filled with life, promise, and possibility and thanks be to the Goddess I am alive to enjoy it all.
I get to choose how I think, react, and feel.
I get to choose whether I’m happy, sad, angry, or nothing at all.
My life is mine and no one else’s and I’ve but one regret, and that is that I took so long to realize these things which I share here on this page.
I think, “If only I could go back and know then what I know now.” Then I push the thought away, because I know as surely as I sit here typing these words that I’d do not one thing differently and I know that if I were to do so I would not be sitting here as I am now.
Life is a wheel turning ever round, moving onward, and whether we go onto an afterlife, or come back here to do things again and again until we’ve done them right makes no difference because it is the here and now, this moment in time which is important and we must drink the sweetness of the living which is put before us.
If we do this and know it for what it truly is we will have done more in just that one thing than we could’ve ever hoped to accomplish in our entire lives.
Everyone is always pushing and pulling. Trying to force this thing or that. Insisting that their work be perfect, wanting more and more and never being satisfied with what is.
Now, the train has gone, the car has gone, the factory continues to roar, and in the houses all around me people awaken to start their days.
Do any of them here what I hear? Feel what I feel and know what I know? I don’t know, but I hope they do and if they don’t, may they learn it before it is too late.
For my friends, it is but that simple.
“Today is yesterday’s tomorrow, and tomorrow is another day. Life moves on.”
I’ve a Braille Tarot deck, from which I draw.
IN THE NEWS…
ANN CHIAPPETTA ANNOUNCES!
FOLLOW YOUR DOG A STORY OF LOVE AND TRUST NOW AVAILABLE ON AUDIBLE C 2017 by Ann Chiappetta
The memoir is a compelling story told by the author and her life growing up visually impaired and learning how to share her life with a guide dog. Readers will also appreciate Chiappetta’s heartfelt vignettes from her life experiences with her family as they learn how to cope with her disability.
For more details including Ann’s books in all available formats visit: https://tinyurl.com/toumxhs
Author Website: http://www.annchiappetta.com
Contact Ann at: email@example.com
Enroll Now for Smashwords End of Year Sale
The third annual Smashwords End of Year Sale kicks off December 25 and runs through January 1.
Enroll your books now at https://www.smashwords.com/dashboard/sitewidePromos You can enroll books at 25%-off, 50%-off, 75%-off and 100%-off (free).
You’ll find a bulk enrollment option underneath the column heading for each discount category. Enroll all your books with just a couple clicks.
Please enroll your books today, before the sale starts. Starting on December 25, Smashwords will begin promoting the sale via email to over one million customers of the Smashwords Store. Customers of the Smashwords Store will also find the sale prominently featured at the top of the Smashwords home page.
How to Reach More Readers During the Sale
To get the most out of the sale, promote your participation across social media and on your private email list, if you have one.
Provide readers a direct hyperlink to your profile page (copy and paste your author page URL) If you have multiple books participating, or provide a direct hyperlink to the a book’s listing page when you’re promoting a single title. A direct hyperlink places your reader one click away from adding your book to their cart.
The shelves in the End of Year Sale catalog will include: Featured Smashwords End of Year Sale Deals; 25% off; 50% off; 75% off; 100% off; More Free Ebooks; Recent Smashwords End of Year Sale Purchases; and Recently Added.
Each time a customer purchases or downloads your book, your book earns an incremental boost in shelf rank which raises the visibility within the shelves. And each time a customer purchases your book, your book will earn a temporary slot in the “Recent Smashwords End of Year Sale Purchases” shelf.
Please help spread the word of the sale to fellow authors. As a collaborative, author-driven marketing event, the more authors out there promoting their participation, the more readers able to discover your books too.
How to Turbocharge Newsletter Signups with Smashwords Presales
Here at Smashwords, we’re still buzzing about the launch earlier this month of Smashwords Presales, our new patent-pending book launch tool that enables you to run custom presales in advance of your next book’s release.
Presales allow customers to purchase and read your book early, before the general public.
We created Smashwords Presales because we know it’ll thrill your most loyal readers. Early access has significant appeal to your readers. You can test this appeal by asking your fans if they’d like you to run a presale in advance of your next new release.
Readers love early access. Smashwords Presales helps you harness that excitement to grow your marketing platform.
As we advise in the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide, every author and publisher should operate their own opt-in newsletter. It’s one of the most effective, more important marketing tools anywhere. Once a reader signs up for your newsletter, you own that relationship. It’s how you build a marketing platform you control rather than having your relationship with readers mediated (held hostage) by social media platforms and retailers.
Here are two opportunities for you to use Smashwords Presales to build your mailing list:
Promise presales to encourage newsletter signups – Your presale marketing starts today, even before you run your first presale, and even if your next release is many months in the future. If you plan to offer presales in the future, tell your readers now, and use this exciting news to drive subscriptions to your newsletter! Anywhere that you promote the opportunity for readers to sign up for your author newsletter (in your backmatter, on your website/blog, on social media, in your social media bios, at public appearances, in branded swag), promise your readers that if they sign up for your newsletter, they’ll be the first to learn about upcoming presales that will enable them to purchase and read the book before anyone else. This is a powerful incentive for readers to sign up for your mailing list and stay subscribed. If you’re not yet operating a newsletter for your readers, this Publisher’s Weekly article written by Mark Coker explains how your mailing list helps you build a marketing platform you control.
Capture presale customer email addresses – No major ebook retailer shares customer email addresses with the author or publisher. Although there are valid email privacy reasons for this, the primary reason is that the retailer wants to control the customer relationship. As we were designing Smashwords Presales, and realizing the incredible opportunity for authors to use presales to build their mailing lists, we began examining the feasibility of sharing customer email addresses for presale purchases at the Smashwords Store. We devised an innovative double opt-in system that’s fully permission based. If an author or publisher digitally signs our Smashwords Email Privacy Pledge, and thereby agrees to use the customer’s email address only for their private newsletter, then we present presale customers the opt-in ability to sign up for your private mailing list. And then to further encourage customers to sign up for your newsletter, we give you the optional ability to configure your presale to offer a special one-time price discount (you might call it a bribe) in exchange for their subscription to your newsletter. Although we think the first list-building idea above (advertising presale notifications as a loyalty reward for subscribers of your newsletter) will help you attract the most subscribers, we think this second email capture option at the Smashwords Store will make it easy for additional readers to subscribe to your newsletter with a single click. This email capture option is only available while your book is on presale. Captured email addresses can be downloaded from your Presale Dashboard.
To learn more about Smashwords Presales, visit your Presale Dashboard at Smashwords, or check out the launch announcement of Smashwords Presales. This exciting feature is available to all authors and publishers that have a book on preorder.
From Abbie Johnson Taylor, we’ve a holiday tale which is sure to warm hearts the world over.
The day before Christmas, my seven-year-old daughter Hannah was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. I opted to spend CHRISTMAS Day with her. My parents, as they’d done every year since the divorce, had invited Hannah and me to their house for Christmas dinner, but I couldn’t leave my little girl alone in the hospital.
Hannah wasn’t on solid food yet, but a nurse offered to bring me a tray, perhaps realizing it would be difficult for me to navigate to the cafeteria with my limited vision. While Hannah slept, I sat by her bed and enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner complete with stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie. The food was surprisingly good for a hospital.
I said as much to the nurse when she came to collect my tray. “We have a chef now,” she said. “Of course many of our patients are too sick to appreciate it, but it’s certainly better than the fare we used to serve.”
The little girl in the other bed moaned and then started crying in earnest. I looked over and couldn’t see anyone sitting with her. “Oh, that’s Jessica,” said the nurse in a conspiratorial tone. “Poor kid, she fell out of her neighbor’s treehouse yesterday and broke her leg in three places. She’s in a body cast from her chest to her right foot.”
Hannah must have awakened for she said, “Ou, I guess I won’t complain about my tummy anymore. I’m glad I don’t have a treehouse, and I hope Santa didn’t leave me one.”
I marveled at how sensitive my daughter was. As the nurse went to Jessica and tried to comfort her, I said, “How are you feeling, sweetie?”
“I’m okay, but my tummy still hurts.”
“I thought you weren’t gonna complain about your tummy anymore,” I said, as I ruffled her hair.
Hannah giggled, then winced. “Ow,, Mommy, it hurts more when I laugh.”
“It sounds like you could use some pain medication too,” said the nurse, as she started to leave the room.
“No, it only really hurts when I laugh,” said Hannah.
“Well, in that case, laughter’s the best medicine,” said the nurse. “I’ll be back soon.”
“How old is Jessica?” asked Hannah.
“Oh, I think she’s about your age,” answered the nurse. “I’ll be back in a bit with some medicine for her, and that’ll make her feel better.” With that, she was gone.
Jessica was still sniffling, but it wasn’t as loud as before. “Mommy, you should go sing her a song,” said Hannah. “like you did for me last night when I was really hurting. I’m not hurting as much now, and I think she’s hurting more.”
Years earlier, I’d worked as a registered music therapist. That was before Hannah was born, before I’d started losing my vision, before my world changed. My husband hadn’t wanted a child but was resigned to the idea once he learned I was pregnant. The vision loss after Hannah’s birth was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Fortunately, he paid plenty of child support. That, along with my disability payments, allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom, and once I learned to use a computer with screen reading and magnification software, I brought in a little income from freelance writing.
Now, I looked over at the little girl in the other bed. My specialty as a music therapist had been with elderly nursing home residents, not hospitalized children. I hadn’t even done a clinical practicum with that population. I remembered bed-ridden residents who smiled and relaxed when I sat by their beds, held their hands, and sang. I even performed at some of their funerals. The fact that my singing in the emergency room the night before had calmed Hannah made me think that perhaps I hadn’t lost my touch. I rose and pulled my chair next to the other bed, where I sat and took the child’s hand that lay on top of the white sheet covering her.
“Hi Jessica,” I said. “I’m Joan. My little girl Hannah is in the other bed. What’s wrong?”
“My leg really hurts,” she answered. “I’ll never play in that stupid treehouse again.”
“That’s too bad,” I said, stroking her hair. “Would you like to sing a song with me?”
“Will that make the pain go away?” she asked.
“It’ll take your mind off of it. What’s your favorite Christmas song?”
She was quiet for a minute, then said, “I like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”
“All right, let’s sing it together, shall we?”
I started, and soon, she joined in, followed by Hannah. When we finished that song, Jessica suggested “Jingle Bells,” then “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” The nurse appeared and said, “What lovely singing. Jessica, I have some medicine that will make you feel better. I’m going to put it in your IV now.”
As she started to do this, I said, “Why don’t we sing one more song?”
“I want to hear you sing something by yourself,” said Jessica. “You have a pretty voice, and so did my mommy. She used to sing to me at night before I went to sleep.” A wistful look crossed her face.
“Why doesn’t she sing to you anymore?” I asked.
“She was killed in a car accident a few months ago,” she answered. A tear rolled down her cheek.
“Oh honey, I’m sorry,” I said, as I stroked her hair. Tears welled in my own eyes.
Holding them back, I said, “What song did your mom like to sing to you this time of year?”
“‘Silent Night,'” she answered.
“Yeah, sing that one, Mom,” said Hannah.
I took a deep breath and began. To my surprise, the nurse joined in, singing alto. Our two voices blending together in harmony was almost too much, but I managed to continue.
As we started the second verse, I sensed a presence at my side and turned to see a man standing there. “Daddy!” Jessica said, her eyes wide with delight.
“Hey princess,” he said, reaching over me and ruffling her hair. Then he said, “oh, don’t stop singing on my account. It’s beautiful.”
His voice broke, and it was all I could do to keep from losing it. We started the song where we’d left off and finished the second verse. To break the spell, I turned to the nurse and said, “You and I need to talk. I sing in a women’s group that could use an extra voice.”
“Wow, that sounds interesting,” she said. “You also have a nice voice. I need to see to other patients, but I’ll come back later after my shift, and you can tell me more about it.” She turned and started to leave the room.
Jessica’s father put a hand on my shoulder and said, “You and I also need to talk. It’s only been two months since I lost my wife, and I never dreamed I’d say this to another woman, but could I buy you a cup of coffee, maybe in the cafeteria?”
From the doorway, the nurse said, “Our coffee here isn’t as good as the food. Why don’t you two go across the street to Starbuck’s?”
We hesitated. “Your kids will be fine,” she said. “They’re both out of the woods. I have your cell numbers in their charts. If anything drastic happens, I’ll call you. Joan, you’ve been here all day. You need a break. Go!” With that, she was gone.
I looked at this stranger, not knowing what to think. Finally, I said, “I’ve been divorced for about six years. I’m losing my vision, and I never imagined another man would ask me out for coffee.”
I expected him to back away, but instead, he said, “Any man not interested in you is a fool. You’re a beautiful woman. You’re good with kids, and you have a lovely voice.”
Flabbergasted, I said, “You just got here. Don’t you want to spend some time with Jessica?”
Jessica said, “I’m okay. My leg doesn’t hurt so much now that the nurse gave me some medicine in my IV. Daddy, Joan could make you happy like Mommy did.”
“Yeah,” said Hannah. “Mom, I think this guy could make you happy like Daddy did.”
Jessica’s father laughed and said, “I think these two, along with that nurse, are trying to play matchmaker.” He extended his hand. “By the way, I’m Don Gray.”
“Joan Clark,” I said, taking his hand and shaking it.
Still uncertain, I turned to Hannah and said, “Honey, don’t you remember what I’ve told you about not going off with a stranger?”
“Yeah, but he’s not a stranger. He’s Jessica’s dad.”
“She’s got a point,” said Don.
“My dad told me not to go off with a stranger too,” said Jessica. “but he’s okay. He’s been really sad since Mom died.”
I could feel my heart melting as more tears threatened. “Jessica and I could sing another song,” said Hannah. “How about 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall?”
“Yeah,” said Jessica. She started the song, and Hannah joined in. Laughing, we both made our way out the door.
“Do you need to take my arm?” Don asked.
“Yes, please,” I answered, realizing I’d left my cane in the room. As I grasped his muscular arm and walked with him down the hall, I had a good feeling about this.
Here a song by Abbie: https://abbiescorner.files.wordpress.com/2018/12/silent-night.mp3
To see more on Abbie and buy her work visit her Website: http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com
I don’t know about you, but for me, one holiday story is never enough. After all, the holidays are about gifts, right? The following story is in my humble opinion a true gift.
Here, from Phyllis Staton Campbell is an excerpt from her book, Friendships In the Dark.
If you’ve not read this book, be sure to keep reading after the story is through to learn where you can find it as well as all her others.
Christmas Mittens and Silver Bells
A good action is never lost; it is a
treasure laid up and guarded for the doer’s need.
October of 1982 was rich with the rustle of dogwood leaves mingling with the voices of the neighborhood children on their way to or from school.
At times, the air was filled with the sound of thousands of birds, singing a finale to the summer and early fall as they departed for their winter feeding ground.
It was all the same, the same as it had been a hundred years ago when the old house was still young and untouched by the sorrows and joys of a century of seasons.
Yes, the fall was the same, but it brought no joy.
We were in the midst of the recession of the early 1980’s. Chuck had been laid off two years ago, and there was no permanent work to be had in his field.
“Why doesn’t he do something else?” we were constantly asked by skeptics who probably thought he wasn’t trying.
After a while, I stopped attempting to explain that he had tried, only to be told, “Sorry, but you’re overqualified.” He applied for almost every job advertised in the newspapers. He haunted the public library to read the ads in the out-of-town papers, but the answer was always the same: “Sorry.”
Ed, who worked for the Virginia Department for the Visually Handicapped, had to visit blind clients scattered over several counties, and Chuck drove for him. This brought in some money, but unless one has experienced it, there is no way to explain the worry and uncertainty of not having a full-time job.
Somehow I’d managed to sustain my optimism until that October. Then it hit me too, that feeling of loneliness, of uselessness.
“We’re not exchanging Christmas gifts this year,” I told Nez around the middle of the month. I knew she often did her shopping early, because she ordered a lot of her gifts from catalogs. I knew, too, that it would upset her not to be able to send us her usual token of love, and I wanted to get it over with.
“But I can’t do that!” I could hear tears in her voice. “I’ll have to send you something. I don’t care if you can’t send me anything. That’s not what it’s all about.”
“I know, but that’s just the point. I know I have your love, and I just think it will be better not to exchange gifts. Please try to understand.”
Finally she agreed, and I hung up, relieved that the ordeal was over.
A year before, Ed had moved to Waynesboro, which was close enough for visits, and I was grateful that we would be spending Christmas Day together, but it wasn’t the same as those happy days when Grandma and Uncle Raymond had been there. I remembered how we would all decorate the tree and sing carols while Lear bounced from one to the other. Then I’d fix a turkey for all of us, and the old house would seem to smile.
Now Grandma and Uncle Raymond were in the nursing home, Ed had his own home, and Lear was growing old. Oh, Lear still bounced, but he did it with less fervor, and I pushed away the heartbreaking thought that nothing is forever.
“You’re feeling sorry for yourself again,” I warned myself, speaking aloud. There was more to it than that, though. It wasn’t just the thought of no Christmas gifts or the fact that I would miss our usual activities. And suddenly I knew what it was.
I was feeling blue, even depressed, because I didn’t have anybody I could do something for. I missed the flurry of buying little surprises, of baking, of knitting some little surprise for Chuck.
Knitting! That was it. I had piles of yarn left over from past projects, and it didn’t take a lot of yarn to make children’s items. Before I could lose my joy, I ran to the telephone and called our minister.
“Cleve, does Mountain Mission School take gifts of knitted things for the children?”
“I don’t know,” he said, “but I’ll give you the address, and you can ask.”
I wrote a letter as soon as I hung up, and in two days, the answer came back:
Dear Mrs. Campbell,
We always need things for the children. As you probably know, we take children from broken homes, children who are orphaned, any child who needs a home. We take them from infancy until they finish school
Mountain Mission School is located in Grundy, an area that, I am told, gets “more than cold” in winter, so I planned my projects with that in mind.
As soon as Chuck read the letter to me, I got out my yarn and he went through it with me, separating the colors and helping me mark them in Braille.
“We can afford any needles you don’t have, and it won’t cost much to send the package.” I heard my own enthusiasm echoed in his voice.
“Do you think you can have everything finished by Christmas?”
“Of course I can.” Silently I offered up a prayer that I could. I had a challenge, a purpose.
Soon friends found out about my project and began to bring me yarn, either left over from their own work or bought for my project. The garments began to pile up on the shelf that we had cleared for them in the linen cabinet.
There were baby sweaters with caps and bootees to match. There were sweaters for older children. There were hoods and hats. There were mittens and scarves. And there were even two pairs of cable-knit socks for the teenagers. Listening to the talking book or the stereo, I knitted day and night, and I was never happier.
At last, it was all finished. The last item had been packed and the package was on its way.
It was the week before Christmas, and I still had to finish the sweater I’d been knitting in secret
for Chuck. When he came home the day before, I’d heard a bag rustling, and I knew there would be some tiny surprise for me too. My whole being was filled with a sense of warmth and love.
Now I would have to hurry. I have always made my Christmas cakes well in advance, but that year there hadn’t been time. I got to work, chopping nuts, searching for the recipe that I systematically lose every year–and always manage to find just in time. And as I worked I remembered ….
The year in the country that Gray Boy had climbed to the top of the Christmas tree. The year Nez and I had hung the Christmas tree from the ceiling to keep Miss Muffet from knocking it over. The year Uncle Raymond and I had alienated Grandma for several hours by chasing a barking Lear around the house with a frozen turkey, Uncle Raymond gobbling like a turkey.
“You’re scaring little Lear,” Grandma said, and retired to her bedroom for the rest of the afternoon.
None of us had known just how much we had, I thought as I chopped the orange peel, and I made myself a promise to hold the bright jewels of those good times close on the shelf of my memory.
On Christmas Eve they came, the letters from the school. There was a small greeting from almost every child and teacher, and they all spoke of my generosity. But I wasn’t generous. I had given from the loneliness of my heart, had given to fill that empty spot where so many loved ones had lived for so many years: Mama and Daddy, Grandma and Uncle Raymond, Mr. Cronise and Miss Lena, and all the others from the School for the Blind.
And Miss Muffet, and Sly, and Bootie, and Buttons, and Mouser–all those people and animals who were no longer with me, except in my heart.
Then, into my kitchen and my thoughts came the sound of the young voices of carolers. The group of children who caroled every year were waiting for us, Lear and me, to come out. I like to think they came to see me, but in truth it was Lear who drew those children to our door.
“Come on, old boy,” I said, snapping on his leash. “Your public is waiting.”
As we stood together on the steps, it began to snow, soft, gentle flakes touching my hair and Lear’s fur like a friendly hand. And as I listened to the familiar words, I realized the truth of my giving. So often we say that we don’t give to receive, but that year I had given and received a gift
in kind. Welcome though the knitted items were, I finally understood the truth of the gift. To the children, the fact that someone had cared enough to take the time to give a gift of the work of her hands had meant more than the actual gifts. No gift of money would ever mean as much to me as those children’s words of thanks. We had all given, and we had received.
“Merry Christmas!” the carolers called as they turned and started down the walk.
Suddenly a little girl ran back to me and took my hand.
“I hope God makes you see,” she said.
She gave me a hug and Lear a pat. Without another word, she ran to join the others.
How could I tell that loving child that God had given me a gift of sight that Christmas that was more precious than the gift of physical sight?
Chuck was waiting for us when we went back inside. “You looked like a scene from Currier and Ives, with the snow coming down on you and Lear, and the carolers around you.” He helped me brush the snow out of Lear’s coat. “I wish I could give you a better Christmas.”
“There’s no way you could,” I said. “This one is special in so many ways, ways that I can’t possibly put into words.”
“I got something for you.” He took my hand.
“Well, two things, really. One is a little gift, and the other is something I’ll give you now. It’s on the piano.”
It was a tiny silver handbell, which sounded a pure, dainty note when I shook it.
“It’s not much,” he said, “but the sound is so pretty. I know how you love bells, and I thought it was something you’d like to have, something to keep you company. You, know, Phyl, I’ll probably have to go out of town to find a job. You won’t be able to come along at first, not until we’re sure the job will last.”
We both knew how much it would cost to move, especially to take along the piano and the organ.
“I know,” I said. I slipped into the circle of his arms. Soon Lear pressed between us, making sure he got his share of love.
Laughing, we reached down to pet him, trying to live for the moment, the night, for each other, for Lear.
Thanks to Phyllis for this wonderful gift. This beautiful sharing of her life.
To buy Phyllis’s work visit: http://www.amazon.com/author/psc-books-all
RECIPE OF THE MONTH…
What would a holiday newsletter be without a yummy recipe? Since I daren’t find out, here’s a tasty treat for you to try. If you do, please drop me a line to let readers know.
Holiday Hummus and Veggie Santa Tray
Source: Taste of Home
1 carton (17 ounces) hummus
1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets
1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 small sweet red peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing, optional
1 piece string cheese (1 ounce)
1 sliced ripe olive
1 roasted sweet red pepper strip
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Additional cauliflower florets, cherry tomatoes and sweet red pepper slices
Start making a Santa face by spreading hummus in an 8-in. circle over a large platter. For Santa’s beard, place several cauliflower florets at bottom of hummus circle. For rim of stocking cap, place florets at top of circle. Use tomatoes and red pepper slices to form cap; add cauliflower florets to create a pom-pom for it (or, if desired, use a small bowl of ranch dressing instead).
To make a nose, place one tomato in center of hummus circle. Cut string cheese in half lengthwise, then cut in half crosswise; use two cheese pieces for eyebrows and two for a mustache. For eyes, cut olive slice in half. Shape red pepper strip into a smile. Sprinkle paprika across cheeks.
Refrigerate until serving. Serve with additional cauliflower, tomatoes and pepper slices for dipping.
1 serving: 133 calories, 9g fat (2g saturated fat), 2mg cholesterol, 285mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 4g fiber), 5g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 fat, 1 vegetable.
READING WITH THE AUTHORS…
This month, we’ve a surprise in the Reading With the Authors column. In fact, if you’ve been paying attention it was hinted of in the What’s Up column.
Author Lynda McKinney Lambert writes…
“I’ve just learned that my book, Walking By Inner Vision: Stories and Poems is now available on the bard.loc.gov website.
I had no idea this was happening. It was something I’d always wanted, but simply had no idea how to make it happen. So, as is my way, I prayed, asked God to handle it on my behalf and then knowing he would went onto things I knew how to do.
Then, at the end of this week someone sent me the following and suddenly I was dancing with joy!”
Walking by inner vision: stories & poems DBC11608
Lambert, Lynda McKinney. Reading time: 5 hours, 14 minutes.
Read by Polly Slaved. A production of Perkins Library, Perkins School for the Blind.
Spare poems and thoughtful personal essays explore a year in the life of the author — an artist, teacher, and writer who lost most of her sight in middle age.
Download Walking by inner vision: stories & poems
*REVIEW BY PATTY L. FLETCHER*
[5 OUT OF 5 STARS]
Once upon a time, the author was a painter. Then she discovered art and writing in a whole new way. Yes, she loses her vision, but she gains sight. She learns to paint pictures with words. She learns to tell us of her life in ways that most likely have never been done before by anyone. If you don’t read this book, you will miss out on knowing someone who is most certainly a treasure. Her writing is most amazing. Never have I experienced prose and poetry in quite this way. The word beautiful does not do this work justice. I found humor, sadness, suspense, drama, Spirit, guidance, lessons, and more. Read this book today, and your life will be changed forever more.
To read the full review and find buying information visit: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34454990-walking-by-inner-vision?r
Healthy Seafood Choices / Two Ads for Food: One Shocking, One Appealing
Copyright 11/25/19 by Leonore H. Dvorkin / Denver, Colorado
Leonore welcomes comments on any of her articles.
Note: This article was first published in the December 2019 issue of Bob Branco’s online newsletter, The Consumer Vision Magazine: https://www.consumervisionmagazine.com/
1. Your Guide to Healthy Seafood Choices
Source: Consumer Reports “On Health” magazine, December 2019, pages 4-5.
Seafood is loaded with nutrients: protein, iodine, selenium, zinc, vitamins B12 and D, and omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce the danger of blood clots and lower triglycerides. Omega-3 fatty acids also appear to help prevent problems that come with aging, such as muscle and bone loss and cognitive issues.
The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two 3.5-ounce servings of non-fried fish per week. However, if you up your fish consumption, it can also mean increasing your intake of mercury. Pregnant women and young children should avoid this heavy metal, as it can damage developing brains. In adults, it can cause neurological problems and result in memory loss, weakness, numbness, and tremors.
Mercury is in oceans and rivers naturally, and also due to pollution. It accumulates in the flesh of large, long-lived fish, such as swordfish, also the big-eye tuna often used in sushi. Fortunately, there are many fish that are low in mercury and high in omega-3s. Some of the healthiest types of fish are cheap, readily available, and don’t require cooking. Examples are anchovies, sardines, and canned salmon, which is all wild-caught Alaskan salmon. Also, light chunk canned tuna is both cheaper and healthier than albacore tuna, as the former is lower in mercury.
Here are the many types of fish listed in this article, ranked according to their safety.
Great choices (high in omega-3s and low in mercury): anchovies, Atlantic mackerel, herring, oysters, Pacific chub mackerel, sardines, shad, trout, and wild and Alaskan salmon (canned or fresh).
Good choices (lower in omega-3s, but still healthy): Atlantic croaker, canned light tuna, catfish, crab, flounder and sole (flatfish), haddock, lobster, mullet, pollock, shrimp (wild and most U.S. farmed), tilapia, scallops, and squid (wild).
Eat rarely, if ever:
Big-eye tuna, Gulf tilefish, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, and swordfish.
A personal note: My husband and I are relieved to see that all the types of fish that we eat with any regularity—canned tuna, salmon, oysters, and sardines, as well as squid in Vietnamese dishes that we enjoy when eating out—are all good choices. I actually read many years ago about light tuna being healthier than albacore tuna, and I’ve never bought albacore tuna since.
2. Two Ads for Food: One Shocking, One Appealing—as seen in a Costco brochure for October 28-November 21, 2019.
Before I give you the details of these two ads, let me state that overall, my husband I love Costco, where we have done most of our shopping for food, other household items, and many other things, such as tires, TVs, and some clothing, for over 10 years. The prices are amazing, the quality is high, the selection is more than adequate, and their cash-back credit card is another substantial bonus. In addition, the company has a very good corporate reputation; it was actually named America’s best employer in 2017.
Thus I have to say that I was shocked when I opened the above-mentioned 18-page brochure, which was obviously aimed at those seeking food and gifts for the upcoming holiday season, and saw an ad which totally disgusted me. It was for a 12-pound, boneless, rib-eye Wagyu roast from Japan, shown on a two-page spread featuring various other luxury food items, such as Spanish ham, 10 pounds of king salmon filets, and Bulgarian caviar.
I glanced at the pages, thinking, Okay, out of my price range and of no real interest to me anyway. Then I looked more closely at the price for that beef roast and could hardly believe my eyes. It was $999.99, thus a thousand dollars—and that was after a $280 discount. So the initial price of this rather fatty-looking hunk of beef was $1,279.99. Good grief! Who could or would pay so much for a piece of meat, and how could it possibly be so much better than regular beef that it would be worth anywhere near that much?
My next emotion was outrage. That is, if some rich family really could afford that much money for a few pounds of meat, then why wouldn’t they buy some other beef roast — something very good, certainly good enough to impress any of their well-heeled friends and family members— but much less costly? Then they could spread holiday happiness and much-needed relief by giving a few hundred dollars to a local food bank.
I have a student who volunteers at a local food bank with a very good reputation, the Jeffco Action Center. (Jeffco is short for Jefferson County.) They give away all kinds of things: food of many types (even fresh produce), clothing, school supplies, baby supplies, toys for kids, pet food, and much more. Almost all the workers there are volunteers. Kathy volunteers there most Thursdays; she says that it’s hard but very rewarding work. She said that some people who come in for food are actually homeless, living on the street or in their cars. I learned from her that 7-11 stores let them come in and microwave simple food items. I have given her multiple canned and boxed food items and some clothing to put on their shelves, and that felt really good. I can only imagine how good I would feel if I could afford to donate several hundred dollars at a time.
But back to the Costco brochure. On the back cover, there was another ad that presented quite a contrast to the one for beef. It was for “Thanksgiving in a Box,” with plenty of food for eight people, all pre-cooked and frozen, from the Schwan company. It included turkey breast, mashed potatoes and gravy, Brussels sprouts, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, baguettes, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and ice cream. And the price for all this? A mere $89.99 delivered: much more reasonable in price, just about all that anyone could want, and far more morally palatable, at least to me.
About the Author
Leonore Dvorkin and her husband, the author David Dvorkin, have lived in Denver, Colorado since 1971. They have one son, Daniel, now 50, who is a biomedical researcher and author. Leonore is the author of four published books, and David has 29 books to his credit. They both write fiction and nonfiction.
Since 2009, they have been running DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services. The large majority of their more than 75 clients are blind or visually impaired. David and Leonore offer excellent, comprehensive services at very reasonable prices. Details are on the DLD Books website, which is linked to below.
In addition to writing and editing, Leonore has taught exercise classes (mainly weight training) since 1976, and she’s tutored languages, four in all, since 1988. Working to keep up with health and nutrition news is one of her passions. She is grateful for the opportunity to share some of what she has learned with the readers of this newsletter.
Leonore and David invite you to visit any of their websites:
Leonore’s website: http://www.leonoredvorkin.com/
David’s website: http://www.dvorkin.com/
DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services: http://www.dldbooks.com/
FAVORITE LINKS OF THE MONTH…
Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing Books and Those Who Make Them Happen Annual Holiday Edition Catalog: https://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/2019/12/02/tell-it-to-the-world-marketing-catalog/
From author Ann Chiappetta a blog post worthy of reading: http://www.thought-wheel.com/guide-dog-lifestyle-is-this-what-you-want/
From author Jena R. Fellers: http://www.changingfocus.life/blind-authors-and-speakers/
From author artist Lynda McKinney Lambert comes part one of Candle of Hope: https://www.lyndalambert.com/hope-part-1/
And part three of her Candle of Hope series: https://www.lyndalambert.com/shepherds/
Also from Lynda: https://www.lyndalambert.com/book-gift/
A great informational resource for writers: https://www.authormedia.com/219/
How the Donald Stole Christmas
With apologies to Dr. Seuss.
From Peter Altschul: http://www.peteraltschul.com/how-the-donald-stole-christmas/
Holiday music from Abbie Johnson Taylor: https://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/2019/12/16/authors-corner-deck-the-halls-its-beginning-to-look-a-lot-like-christmas-monday-musical-memories/
A magnificent newsletter from GrannyMoon: https://grannymoon.wordpress.com/2019/12/15/click-here-to-read-grannymoons-weekly-feast-15-22-dec-2019/
A Great video from The Seeing Eye CEO and a 3-month-old black Labrador Puppy: https://youtu.be/43frigQX8g4
Check Patty L. Fletcher out on Smashwords and buy her books in various accessible formats: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/PattyFletcher
This ends this month’s Writer’s Grapevine.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together for you.
As always I covet your feedback. So please drop me a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know what you think.
Until next time, may harmony find you, happy holiday season and blessid be.
ABOUT PATTY L. FLETCHER
Patty L. Fletcher lives in Kingsport Tennessee where she works full time as a Writer with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disAbled from the non-disAbled. And as a Social Media Promotional Assistant.
She is the owner and creator of Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing (Author, Blogger Business Assist), and is the published author of , Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life, Bubba Tails From the Puppy Nursery At The Seeing Eye: Volume One and soon to be released, Bubba Tails From the Puppy Nursery At The Seeing Eye: Volume One Second Edition.
She can also be found in two anthologies which are, December Awethology Light
And A Treasure Chest of Children’s Tales.
She is now working on her third book which is to be a memoir trilogy called, ‘Pathway To Freedom: Broken and Healed’.
For more details visit: