Jun 142021
 

Flag Day 2021 — Strange times we’re in: cicadas eating plants, dogs eating cicadas, humans stepping on cicada carcasses, the world seemingly falling apart, the pandemic over or not?  What does one little book matter in the middle of all this?  It matters a great deal.

History is important.  It’s how we learn when we bother to pay attention. Unfortunately, history isn’t in fashion now, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. I fear that generations of students do not hear about the bondage of Africans in slavery to whites, the Great Depression, the Trail of Tears, the anguish of the Civil War.  Lack of context of our past breeds deniers.

Hear me out: nothing I’ve written is as important as “Centennial Farm Family,” my new book that launches two weeks from today. Why?  Because it records a time long gone, a time many of us shared, and a time from which we can learn.

When my maternal grandmother passed, she left me boxes of information—land deeds from the 19th century, pictures, items, history books, and letters. “Centennial Farm Family” took me 29 months as I looked for more information and validated what I already had.

I found some ugly truths about my family.  My ancestors Henry and Philip Long, owned slaves in Virginia.  I felt sick when I found out, but the story needed to be told. Henry’s son Lewis left Virginia for the free state of Ohio.  How I wish I knew if he was opposed to slavery or just experienced wanderlust.  My family also benefited from the inexpensive, rich land that the federal government usurped from the native Americans.

This is not “Gone with the Wind,” I don’t gloss over the terrible things that happened in the family. The first chapter alone will shock the reader with a mysterious poisoning that has never been solved. A family member died after Vicksburg in the Civil War and was buried 300 miles away from home.   His death changed the course of ownership of the family farm, benefiting me.  I hope you are inspired to tell your own stories to your children or even preserve them somehow.

Read “Centennial Farm Family.” On June 28, it will be available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book.  Please write a two-to-three sentence blurb of what you learned, what you liked, and what struck a nerve with you on Amazon or Goodreads.  Indie books fight for recognition, and I need your help.  I’ve been blessed already with several editorial reviews from writers and historians.  But I need your words.  If you’ve been an advanced reader, go to Goodreads or Amazon and placing your short review.  Yes, I’m talking to you. It would mean the world to me, and it would encourage others to read the story.

Don’t get me wrong.  This has never been a money-making adventure.  I am donating many books to historical societies, museums, high schools and universities, and libraries in the coverage age.  I am not as concerned about covering my costs as I am about getting the book into the hands of those who will share their own history.  (As you may know, I’m an eccentric billionaire living on an island in the South Seas.)

In summary:

  1. Ask your local library to buy the book or purchase it yourself.
  2. Please read it.
  3. Write honestly about what your thought and post on Amazon or Goodreads.

(Paperbacks are now available on Amazon, hardcovers in pre-order in/at Barnes and Noble or Amazon, e-book coming June 28. The book is in the Ingram catalog and can be purchased there by any bookstore or library.)

Yes, I’m a brazen hussy, but you are already over it and recovering from dealing with my obnoxious self-promotion.

 

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Indie Writers need love, too.

May 292021
 

May 29, 2021 — Joy, in passive voice, is not being sparked in this house, Marie Kondo.

After 29 months, my latest book project (stay tuned) is written, edited, designed, and ready to roll. What is left in its wake is an office I wouldn’t invite the local animal control officer to visit.  (Why do we verbally assault dogcatchers?  They do good work.)

Today is the day I start.  Today is the day I begin to clean my office.  But do I have the strength?  (Obviously not, or I wouldn’t be writing about it.)

As I look around, I see things that shouldn’t be here.  Much of it has nothing to do with the book but adds to its pile of papers, bins, and objects.

  1. The cardboard posters I made for my parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary party in 2005.
  2. Every birthday card sent to me by anyone in the last ten years.
  3. Christmas card pictures from family and close friends.
  4. 142,000 magnets on the four-drawer filing cabinet.  Ironically, the filing cabinet is empty, a grotesque symptom of the disease I have.
  5. At least 2,000 blank notecards of all stripes (ones I made, ones I purchased on vacation or at museums.)
  6. A 100-piece package of neon red glitter pens.
  7. Deeds for every legal move ever made by anyone who owned the legacy farm in the book.  What to do?  Wallpaper a bathroom?
  8. At least four million and sixty-six tiny Post-It notes with my illegible handwriting reminding me of something.  Since I can’t read them, they are worthless, but I keep them.

My desk is L-shaped, and I have a small table set up next to it.  I swear the other day–for no apparent reason–I found a program from my own wedding in 1984. How did it get there?  I have no earthly idea.

The goal here is to get rid of ninety percent, maybe ninety-five percent of the papers in this office, so I can really clean the furniture and then have carpet cleaners come in and attempt to restore what was once Berber carpet.

I have a problem.  And it is genetic.  My new book is about four generations of my family.  Did I mention some of them were named HOARD?  This makes me part Hoard, and it is no accident.  Much of this stuff came from LeNore Hoard Enz, my grandmother.  So this is the rhetorical question if I’ve written a book about it, do I need to keep every original piece of paper?  I can’t ask my husband; he’s a librarian.  He’ll say yes.

I have a  history of throwing things away, so I know I can do it.  The reason the metal filing cabinet is empty is that I purged my newspaper and magazine clippings. That was a triumph. You may find this hard to believe, BUT NO ONE WANTS THAT CRAP.  Oh, for heaven’s sakes, stop scowling.  It’s all available online or in books.  Some of my closest friends were horrified that I would throw these things away.  Upon my death, there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth because I didn’t save my work. People will weep when they think of the treasures that have been lost.  My page one story on the Toyota plant’s new vehicle, or the history of Girl Scouts in Washington, Indiana.  My series of 4-H Fair pictures from 1978 and 1979, in which almost every animal is overexposed.  Give me a break.  I was using a Roloflex and had to adjust the F-stops.  Do you even know what F-stops are?

Another big success I had was throwing away the slides and carousels from the family collection after I had them digitized, copied, and given to anyone who wanted them (small group.)  Of course, it took me TWO years after I did this: five hundred slides and several carousels.  Slides are coming back.

Time to move on.  There’s a big pile of papers sitting to the left of me, calling my name.  My husband took the recycle box to the Recycling Center yesterday, so I have a big empty box sitting right here, waiting for me to fill it.  I can do this.

 

Watch for “Centennial Farm Family” later this month.  In hardback and trade paperback.

If you found value in this, please share it on your social media.  Support an indie writer today.

May 152021
 

How I See Myself.

May 15, 2021 — Oversharing.  Yes, that’s how I roll.  This horrifies almost everyone who loves me. But, I have to write.  Whether anyone reads it or not is irrelevant.

I’ve been getting requests for updates.  I appreciate the love and support during this most recent adventure.

People keep asking me what they can do.  I have absolutely everything I need and more, but here’s what you can do.  Please pray for my Pastor Roberta Meyer in her struggle with cancer, my friend Whose Name I’m Not Sharing who has only one good eye and is having issues, my friend Robin Lawrence in her struggle with cancer, Pastor Roberta’s granddaughter Kennedy who needs to gain weight before spinal reconstruction surgery, my childhood friends Cindy and Tim who are both suffering from serious, painful health problems.

And on a wonderful note, we rejoice for the birth of our new great-great-nephew and niece, Owen, and his twin sister Jo, who were born May 4 to our great-nephew Austin and his wife, Coray, in Cincinnati.  They also have a two-year-old, so their household is mighty busy. We thank God for the precious gift of these beautiful babies (both over five pounds) and the lives they will lead.  A prayer is a powerful tool–I believe talking to your Higher Power can change your attitude and doesn’t hurt, either.

How I Look Today.

Okay, now let’s get caught up on surgery.  I expected everything to be as it was twenty years ago.  Why do we as human beings fail to realize that we age?  How do you see yourself?  I see myself as about 37 years old.  But it’s really like Snow White looking in the mirror and seeing the old hag in the reflection.  I still can only see Snow White, and as Fernando would say, “She looks marvelous.”

Now I was knocked out, so I didn’t know, but it sure caused some excitement with the Gas-Passers on board, an MD, and a CRNA, for which I’m grateful.  I had been given general anesthesia (as opposed to conscious sedation) because this was a lengthy surgery with several items on the “to do” list.  A bigger tube was used to open my airway during the bronchospasm, which left me with a big fat lip and a sore throat.  The surgeon was not able to do everything on his list.  He did, however, fish out the old lens and replace it with a new one.  There’s a good chance my peripheral vision will return, which helps with balance and depth perception.  My central vision in that eye is likely not returning. The surgeon would make a second pass at placing a gas bubble in the macular hole that’s developed.  I had this surgery two years ago, and it did not work, so I’ve been without central vision in that eye since then.

When the pressure returns to my left eye, the good news is that the vision will likely come back.  I’m wearing an eye shield with a patch over it to hold it in place, so I can’t wear my glasses.  I can read perfectly well with my right eye, especially on my large computer monitor, but I can’t see distance.  I’ve been listening to podcasts, including one on Lady Bird Johnson that usually accelerates my nap within thirty minutes.  It’s a good story — she was a smart businesswoman who influenced LBJ’s presidency more than we knew at the time.  But the podcast also has a melatonin quality to it.

So all is well here at Squirrel Vista, where I am grateful for good doctors, a smoking hot male nurse named Herman, and loving family and friends who prayed and reached out.

 

-30-

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