Saturday, August 28, 2010

LIFE'S LITTLE ANNOYANCES

Do you ever wonder why certain small annoyances happen they way they do? 

 As a Christian, I know that God is in control.  Period.  However, those little daily aggravations that pop up certainly make life interesting.  Sometimes it seems that they are all working together to make the day as difficult as possible!!  I know it is merely my outlook at the moment, and that events and happenings do not gang up on me (do they??). Here are some instances I've dealt with, and I am sure you have as well:

Why do people seem to slow down when I am in a hurry?  Whether I'm driving, standing in a line somewhere, or trying to get through the grocery aisle, others become movie actors running through a field of daisies in slow motion.  (Really!)

Why doesn't it rain if I bring my umbrella?  Well, most of the time it doesn't--BUT if I forget and leave the umbrella in the car, BOOM!  The bottom falls out as I am walking across the parking lot.

Why do small children, more often than not, do the exact opposite from what they are told to do?  I know the answer of course, but human nature never ceases to amaze me.

Why does toast always hit the floor buttered side down?  That has never happened to you?  It will.  Just wait.  This premise is also true of jam, peanut butter, honey, or anything else that is messy.

Why don't I think something is funny if someone tells me that it will be?  Movies, TV shows, jokes . . . if someone tells me, "Oh, you will split your sides laughing over this!"-- that is the death knell to any humor for me.  Odd, isn't it?

Have some little annoyances to share?  Lave a comment below or email me on the "contact me" sidebar link.  I'll include some of them in a new post sometime.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

FEATURING SYCAMORE ONLINE ACADEMY--TA DA!

These days, most colleges have distance learning programs available, and now a large number of elementary and secondary schools do as well.  More and more families are opting for the homeschool approach, often in conjunction with distance learning schools such as Sycamore.

I greatly enjoy teaching English 7 - 12 at Sycamore, and I want to feature it today. 

If you are thinking of involving your child in a cutting edge education, I invite you to peruse Sycamore's website.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

TO WRITE AND REWRITE? THAT IS THE QUESTION

It seems that all my author friends who have blogs are currently writing about the craft of writing.  Therefore, I must also put in my two cents' worth (or with inflation, maybe my twenty-five cents' worth) on this topic.

In my brief writing foray, I have found that it is best to begin with those things I know and with which I am familiar.  I don't write about daily life in Greenland two centuries ago, because I don't have a clue about what happened.  One can obtain a reasonable amount of correct information through research, but a new writer needs to concentrate on the details of description, characterization, and plot before branching out into the world of research. 

And let's get those grammatical conventions out of the way.  Writers simply cannot slink by without them:  spelling, capitalization, sentence structure, punctuation, diction--all those pesky little details that go unnoticed unless done poorly.

Therefore, in my grand total of two books (one published and one awaiting publication), I have based my stories upon actual events and real people.  It's quite simple to make a character believable when that character is a real person whom I know.  Appearance, personality traits, mannerisms, speech patterns--are already built in.  And, making a scene or a chapter ring true when I was "there" is fairly easy as well.  I can (and did) use license to change the time frame and details to make the writing flow, but 95% of what I've written in my two books actually happened.

I'll leave the more difficult details of writing to the seasoned writers--but if you are just starting out as I did a few years ago, write as often as possible about what you know, then go back and polish it, several times if need be.  In high school writing, my students often create that first draft--and then turn it in as holy writ to be graded.  They resist having to revise and aren't interested in changing one iota.  However, in polished writing, the difference between a high school single-draft essay and mature writing style comes in the form of hard work--lots of it. 

Revising and rewriting are not very glamorous (I mean, who goes around saying, "Oh, I can't wait to revise those ten pages I wrote yesterday!"), but they can pay big dividends in polishing an otherwise drab piece.  Sometimes, I set it aside and go back to it a couple of hours or even days later. With fresh eyes, the words sometimes come tumbling out so quickly that I must speed type to capture them. 

Try it.  You'll like it--or at least improve your writing skills. 

I have even revised this short post several times over the course of this day.  And, I will most likely revise it several more times before I'm satisfied with it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

AN INTERVIEW WITH SHADOW, THE DOXIE AUTHOR

Welcome, readers!  Today is a very special interview with the talented dachshund, Shadow, who wrote an autobiographical tale in his first book, I AM SARGE.  I was privileged to get him here for a short while, as he is an extremely busy and sought-after canine personality.  Perhaps in another segment, we can have him answer readers' questions.

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MDH:  My dear Shadow, known as Sarge in your books, we are so glad you are able to join us today for this informal chat.  We know you stay busy with your family, friends, and promotional activities.  What have you been up to lately?

SHADOW:  Thank you for the honor.  Besides personal appearances, I do whatever I can to promote "my" book.  Seems that a lot of dog lovers out there haven't yet heard of I AM SARGE.

MDH:  Well, then . . . here's your golden opportunity.  What would you like to say to your audience of humans--those who already know you as well as prospective new readers?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

THE SUN IS ALWAYS SHINING

As a small child around nine years old, I remember an incident when my mom, brother, and I were flying to Germany to join my dad for his tour of duty there (he was in the U.S. Army).  The pilot's voice came over the speakers:  "Ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching a bad thunderstorm, so make sure your seatbelts are fastened--I'm taking this plane above the clouds."

As I looked out my window, I saw dark gray thunderheads, lightning flashing, and I was scared.  In the next moment, I felt the plane banking as the pilot took us up above the clouds.  In a few moments, I was amazed to see that the sun was shining brightly up there, and below us was a carpet of cotton balls.  I turned to my mom, who was sitting beside me, and exclaimed, "Look!  The sun is shining now!"

Gently, she said, "Honey, the sun was shining all along--it always is, even when we can't see it."


As I grew older, I recalled that experience, realizing that it had deep spiritual parallels:  in this life, the thunderclouds of doubt and circumstance often blot out the sunshine (God's love and care), but it is always there, even when we cannot "see" it.  We have to get beyond those barracades in order to experience God's unfailing love and care.

If you are going through a difficult time right now, I sincerely hope you realize that God's love is there for you.  How do you claim it?  Become His child in order to experience His abundant love and grace:  "For whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:9). 

Does that mean your difficulties in this life will be over?  Not at all--but He will guide and direct you, watching over you all the while.  Everything that happens down here has a reason behind it.  God is in control and knows the beginning and ending of every circumstance in my life--and in yours as well.

"If He takes you to it, He will take you through it."  Trust Him--when you cannot see His hand, trust His heart.

Monday, August 2, 2010

CALLING ALL CHOCOHOLICS!

Our daughter Bethany (pictured  on left with Holly, our other daughter) is a student at Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale, AZ.  Among other yummy things she has made, here are a couple of her made-from-scratch chocolate desserts--we adore anything chocolate! 

This delectable delight is a chocolate sponge cake with vanilla icing and cherry cream filling:





Red velvet oreo cupcakes with homemade vanilla buttercream frosting--her own creation :).

Enjoy!

Dachshund Books for Dog Lovers!

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