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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Believe In Yourself

“I am participating in the Writing Contest: You Are Enough, hosted by Positive Writer.” (http://positivewriter.com/writing-contest-you-are-enough/) Portions of this blog were posted originally on my site in GoodReads.

All it really takes to be a writer is to physically set words down on paper or type them into a computer. It's called self-confidence, and I think the most important tool in a writer's toolbox.  Whether you have a story to tell that just needs to be shared, or something occurred to make you want to write an article for the local newspaper, or you simply want to put your family memories and/or history into a collection of family stories. You must believe you can do it.

Just grab that pen and paper and begin to set that thought lodged in your brain down in a concrete form. Move it from your brain to that paper. If you're old enough to remember drawing water from an old-fashioned pump, you might remember how you needed to pour a bit of water into the pump before it would draw from the deep. Writing's the same thing. Setting words on paper or computer triggers more words. You just keep on writing as they come.

Writing, like all of life's skills, needs to be learned. Just as a baby needs to crawl before it walks, a good writer recognizes his weaknesses and works to master them. Push yourself to improve. Take some writing courses, read a half-dozen books about writing, attend some writers' workshops and conferences. There's nothing like finding yourself among like-minded folks to boost your confidence and dissolve those I-can't-do-it feelings.

Writing, like life itself, is a continuous journey of self-improvement. As long as you're still lucid, you're not too young or too old to begin writing. Writing exercises the mind just like swimming or walking exercises the body, and that can be just as vital to one's health.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The waters in my life



It's the last day of the July Ultimate Blog Challenge. As the sound of falling rain soothes me and quenches my dry surroundings, I write about the special place water has had in my life.

I grew up close to the northeast coastline. Summers in Connecticut were filled with days of sunshine and sandy beaches. I learned to swim in a close-by river. Later in teenage years, a long walk got me to a state park on the coast. If I didn't make it to the ocean, the nearby lake was a good substitute. Water was a special part of my growing years.

Marriage brought me to Texas where I got my introduction to the gulf coast. While my Coast Guardsman husband was out to sea, I'd drive to Padre Island and feed my hunger for ocean waves. His duty took him to Hawaii where I later joined him after our first son was born. Another part of the world, another chance to enjoy the ocean.

Several years after returning stateside and settling in East Texas, I joined my father when he decided to fulfill his dream of visiting California. When we arrived in San Diego, it was a cold, overcast day. Because we had to wait for the family member we planned to stay with to get home from work, we decided to visit the shore. We huddled for a short time on a nearby bench, amazed at the surfers who were braving the probably frigid waters.

when I got the opportunity to visit the Oregon Coast later in life, I could only wonder at the sameness and differences between this country's two coastlines. My family spent one entire day traveling south from Portland, seeking out new experiences. 

Wherever I've been blessed to travel in this world - the hallowed beaches of France, a chilling ferry crossing, the snowy cliffs of Dover - it is the presence of water that has made its impression on me.

Monday, July 30, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - a dove to bring hope


Don't you just love my dove? It hangs over my kitchen sink, a place where I see it all day long. This lovely window was made for me many years ago by a talented friend. I don't know if she still creates with stained glass or not but I do know she's also a terrific quilt-maker.

Over the years, I've been blessed with talented friends and acquaintances who have gifted me with so many special mementos. As I glance around, my gaze moves from one treasure to another, all created by someone special. Since I've reached that stage in life when it's time to down-size, all these love-expressions makes the task very difficult. 

My husband and I have lived in this farmhouse almost forty years. Now that I'm alone and find myself nearing the end of my days, the urge is there to eliminate the unnecessary that has accumulated and cluttered up my surroundings.

But it's not only the surroundings that need cleaning out. There are habits and activities that have evolved into routines that no longer satisfy which need to be cleared away. Life is too short to be wasted on what no longer fulfills my needs.

So I'm taking a long, hard look at my life. Going to ease out of long-term commitments and hand them over to someone more eager. Going to devote more of my time to trying out some things that I've wanted to explore and never made the time for.

There may not be many years left, but I'm determined to fill them to overflow.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - candle choices



Do you associate some ritual with a daily task? For years. I've taken time each morning to sit at my bedroom desk and hand-write three pages in a spiral notebook. I always use the same kind of notebook. And part of my preparation is to keep a scented candle lit while I write. Don't ask me why - I just do.

As the candle presently in use burns down to nothing, I know I'll need to find a replacement soon. And that got me thinking. If you are a candle-person, what's your preference? Do you prefer one that has been formed inside some type of glass container, or are you like me, rather have a candle without any outside covering, just set on something to catch any possible drips?

We all have different preferences, and as individuals, are equipped with different skills and talents. My two sons were as different as night and day. The older seemed to breeze through school without breaking into a sweat and gifted in the arts. He showed an early love for the piano and began  composing when only eight years old. He went on to achieve his degree in music, eventually taught piano at Willamette University in Oregon.

My younger son has a mechanical bent. School was hard for him but he drove the tractor before he was twelve. He continues to amaze me with his innate understanding of any kind of machinery. I'm thankful he lives close by, especially now that my husband is deceased. I can call on him for any  kind of crisis that arises, knowing he probably can fix whatever's gone wrong.

Reminds me of that familiar cliche - different strokes for different folks. Each of us are endowed, whether you believe genetically or spiritually, with unique gifts and talents. I challenge myself to  always acknowledge and embrace the differences. Will you take the challenge?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - do you review?


 Whew! This writing a blog a day has been a real challenge. Made it through the alphabet with a posting for each letter of the alphabet.  Some came easily, some were a struggle.

Today I'm taking a bit of a departure and want to talk about something very important to me as an author. Actually this is something all published authors crave. Reviews. Reviews are a vital part of an author's success or failure in this digital world we now live in. 

Recently fellow author Betty Lee Crosby (https://www.facebook.com/authorbetteleecrosby/?hc_ref=ARSJSgw8lxDChlxgSRaHYddSd1vnK7LEqBZ--ACoZ8vuQgft5aKZ28i0-4Vm5dQ9zp8) took a poll, asking her followers if they ever wrote reviews and where did they post them. I took advantage of the responses to compile a list of internet sites where a reader can let an author know their reaction to what they read.

Here are some of the responses: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Facebook,  Goodreads, Twitter, Library Thing, Pinterest, Instagram, Book Brows, Booksy, BookBub, Net Gallery, and Audible. 

Some of these sites are not familiar to me and some I never considered posting a book review there. But, I'm challenging myself to write a review for every book I read (and I'm a voracious reader - in the middle of three at a time right now.)

Let me challenge you, if you enjoy a good read or even if it didn't meet your expectations. Take a moment or two to post a review. It doesn't need to be lengthy, just a sentence or two expressing your response to something an author put many months into writing. And, if you haven't read any of my books, let me encourage you to go to https://www.amazon.com/Gay-Ingram/e/B008VS6AJI and check them out.

Friday, July 27, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - zucchini

(My brother's first garden in Texas)

It's that time of year again. Zucchini season has come around in these parts. Also known  as courgette in much of the European countries, this vegetable needs to be picked when the seeds are still soft and immature. 

Botanically, zucchinis are fruits but are treated as a vegetable. One word of warning if you save your own seeds. Cross-fertilized seeds can have high levels of cucurbitacins and produce bitter and toxic fruit that could be harmful and even deadly. The toxin is not destroyed by cooking.

You can eat zucchini raw, sliced or shredded in a cold salad but it's usually served cooked. You can steam it, boil it, grill it, stuff it and bake it. It can be barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as souffl├ęs. Did you know zucchini can even be shaped into noodle-like spirals and used as a low-carb substitute for pasta? A very versatile vegetable which is great because it grows quite prolifically.

Larger sized zucchini are well suited for cooking in breads. I try to make zucchini bread for the freezer every year to enjoy in the winter. Here's a basic  recipe: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/simple-zucchini-bread-recipe. 

A visit to my brother's garden (pictured above) yielded just the right ones to make this year's supply of zucchini bread. So, please excuse me while I busy myself in the kitchen.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

July Ultimate Blog Challenge - yellow



I chose yellow for today's word of the day, a predominant flower color in the garden. One site, Proflowers.com (https://www.proflowers.com/blog/yellow-flowers) lists thirty -three of the more easily recognized yellow flowers. Think of sunflowers, marigolds, chrysanthemums, and  roses among many others.

I'm not especially keen about yellow flowers in my garden beds but I can tolerate them easier than orange. Perhaps because our East Texas summers feature so many hot sunny days, I prefer to grow the cooler blues, lavender and white flowers.

Within the walls of my house, I have a preference for the cooler colors on the chart. In fact, a lot of blue surrounds me. I can't say it's a reflection of my mood. Perhaps I chose that soft, pale blue for my walls the last time we painted because I found it such a soothing, calming background.

Or perhaps the choice of color came about from the stained glass piece that hangs above my kitchen sink.

 It was made for me many years ago and I'm reminded of my friend every time I look up. It's also a reminder that God's Spirit is always near and available.