Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to Our Readers

            Merry Christmas to all our readers.   May all of you have a safe and wonderful Christmas.

            May those of you who celebrate another Winter holiday also find joy in this season.

Monday, December 24, 2012

On Losing a Friend

Ro, in happier and healthier days

You would think that on this farm where we have so many animals and traditionally have so many dogs, that it would be easier when one nears his or her passing.  The funny thing is that even though it's a normal and expected part of the rhythm of life, it just doesn't get easier.
                 In 1999, after we moved out to the country to our first farm that we built, my daughter and I went out one day to the edge of one of the cities which is within a days commute. While we were there we stopped at a Dairy Queen which has long since closed and been replaced by something else.   My daughter and I each got a small cone, and the woman who has working the DQ that day asked us if we wanted a dog. We told her the truth which was that we already had several dogs on our farm and didn't really need any.  She proceeded to tell us that a female Jack Russell Terrier mix had been dropped off at her apartment complex, and that she didn't want to take her to the pound, but couldn't keep her.  She proceeded to take us to her car where the dog was "napping".  How bad could a napping dog who waits for you to finish working really be ?  When the woman got to the car, she found the interior of her (thankfully) older car, chewed to bits !  The woman was upset, and I had plenty of places we could station a small watchdog, and so we brought her home.  Our daughter named her Rosheen, (written for pronunciation) although the Irish Gaelic spelling is Roisin.  The dog has been a great joy to our daughter, to all of us, and also to our young son Daniel who passed suddenly at the beginning of the Christmas Season now four years ago.   Rosheen became the mate to Angus a hunting dog who ran away to us some years ago. They happily shared a room, like an old married couple, in our dog kennel for years.  When Angus died at an extremely old age at the beginning of December, Ro was depressed.  We have been doing our best to keep Ro comfortable and entertained, but she too is getting older, and doesn't seem to want to continue.
                This week, we realized that Ro's malaise wasn't just simple depression.  At 14, she is an older dog and is prone to a number of issues.  This week we found that she has a urinary tract infection, and may have some kidney involvement. She is improving on an antibiotic, but doesn't seem to want to eat.  We moved her from the kennel to a heated barn room where we have a refrigerator, and the ability to care for her a bit better.  She is sleeping on a waffle mattress with sheets on it, and with chux on top.  A couple of days ago she drank quite a bit from her yellow water bucket, but now, even that is waning. We spent the day periodically feeding her warm lemon gatorade with a large plunger syringe.  We have tried tempting her with broiled chicken, chicken soup with noodles, even small pieces of steak.  Today we tried turkey baby food and got a little bit in her.

Ro, in her kennel room.

                 It's always hard to see the impending passage of a good friend. We remember Ro first as a year old dog when we first got her. Then as a young adult dog who was happy to welcome Angus when he finally became a member and not just an observer to our first farm.  She remained a good watch dog as we moved to our second farm.   She and Angus were here for the passings of our dogs Albert, Spook, Susan, Jake, Alvin, Mark,  most of which lived to extremely advanced ages.   Her passing is a reminder that very soon, the family we raised, and even the son we adopted after they were, will be raised.  Time is not just passing for Ro, and for the animal members of this farm, but for me, and for my family as well.
                Tonight I pray that Ro will either improve enough to live comfortably for a few more months or so, or that she will pass easily, without discomfort.  When she does, I will certainly miss her.

UPDATE:   Rosheen passed on December 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm.    She slept peacefully on the sponge mattress we had fashioned for her, and I checked her hourly.  Her respirations became shallow and when I checked her one more time at 5:15, and stroked her head, she took one last breath, and went Home. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


      I promised to report to you, a taste of what being a new author is like.  Thus far, it had been pleasant, and as I had hoped.  However, this is a volatile time in the United States, and yesterday, I was a recipient of a threat, which came as a result of my having published one of my two books.  Apparently some, especially those with mental illness issues think that my bringing light, even to "Rational Preparedness" frightens people and therefore, I should be frightened also.   The FBI now has all of the material which was sent. At least THEY might have to read my book.
                  Yes, anytime we deal with the public, especially in the US where the mental hospitals have long since been closed, we take the chance that the crazy fringe will seek to intimidate or strike out rather than simply writing a letter.  We have it covered.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Seeing a First Copy of One of Your Books

The actual copy of my second book which I myself purchased this week.

                People have asked me what the most exciting part of seeing something you have written take shape and arrive in book form. For me, the most exciting part was perhaps not what you might think.  I was excited when I found "Rational Preparedness:A Primer to Preparedness" on Amazon.com  and then on Ebay, after its release in late October, 2012.   I was very excited when I found that it was for sale in a bookshop I shopped in when I was in England.
                The book "What I Learned from Daniel" was released a month later, at the end of November, 2012, and that has also been very exciting.  The Rational Preparedness book was sent to me as soon as it was available, but this has not been true with the "What I Learned from Daniel" book.   Friends of mine and people who read my blogs had ordered one, and they were reading it, but I had not yet held one in my hands !   I suspect that some of the printing had been delayed by the terrible storm "Sandy" which ravaged the East Coast.  I finally broke down and paid for a copy of the book myself, in advance of any promotional copies I might get later.

Page 103

               One of the greatest delights was opening the package from Amazon. I was buying my own book exactly the way others who will read my book are doing.  I held it and was surprised to see that it was as heavy as it is. The binding is solid. As I looked at it and read it, I was taken by the thought that this book is uniquely my own and my daughter's.  No other two people could have created this book, and without my writing and her pictures, it would not be the books that it is.  I think the greatest excitement in writing a book is seeing your own unique work take shape, become a genuine book, and then know that it can be found all over the world. Yes, I think it's a high even better than chocolate !


Monday, December 10, 2012

With Kindest Regards to the People of Russia

    This blog is all of a week old, and the data already suggests that Russians are coming to this blog almost as often as Americans are. I am wondering if my second book, "What I Learned from Daniel" is being sold in Russia, and that this is the reason for the increase in Russian traffic here.   I have very fond memories of my time in Russia, first in Vladivostok and surrounding areas, and then later in Moscow.  I still treasure the books and momentoes I have from there. There is nothing quite as dramatic and magical as a Russian Christmas.  Merry Christmas, my Russian friends !

(Photo: favim.com)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Considering Christmas Gifts

      I have always been a proponent of practical gifts rather than frivolous ones.  I have always believed that gifts should be something useful, centering, and educational.  I also believe that if you pick them carefully enough that they should be something someone chooses to keep for a lifetime.
       In keeping with this idea and the general frugality with which many people must approach the season this year, I am giving a lot of books this year.   Oh yes, a few people are getting copies of the books I have written, signed copies at that.  But mostly, they are getting books which concern their interests, history, gardening, design, furniture, cooking or decorating.  I spent the day carefully wrapping about thirty different books, and then covering them with ribbons and a label.  They all look pretty fantastic, although a simply ribboned book can look pretty special too.

            This year, take a look at your local bookstores.   Also take a look at some of the excellent internet sources of books.  Chances are there are some books your loved ones would like but haven't had a chance to get.  Give some thought to giving a precious book or book set this season.   Let me know what you choose, and also, how it works out.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Day in the Life

I drink decaffeinated tea as I write, from a genuine ceramic teapot and from a bone china tea cup. It's a tiny luxury which costs nothing if you already have them, and tea is both soothing and centering.

        My mother always thought I should be an author. This always amused me because whatever I wrote as a child, whether it was a Christmas list, a schoolbook for one of my dolls, or a story for an actual class, was returned to me with careful corrections.  Her focus was my spelling and grammar and apparently not my self esteem !  I think my mother really should have been the writer.  But, I still remain on Earth, and in my overripe sort of way, I have some things to say also.  My mother was not pleased when I made the foray into college, first as a biology major, and then when I decided that becoming a physician and internship and residency would not be compatible with my plans to raise a family in my twenties, on to nursing.  My mother, a British gentlewoman saw nursing as something you did as a humbling experience, for example, if you were Tsarina Alexandra who trained during the war along with two of her daughters.  As bright as my mother was, she had little concept of what the modern profession of nursing entails.  My mother did not live to see me become an adjunct college instructor and I think this might have pleased her more.  How ironic that five years after her passing from Earth, I am undertaking what she thought I should do in the first place.
                    I don't think my mother really understood that writing is very laborious.  Even with a computer and a program you understand and almost like, it's lonely work.  I wake up around three am with some idea or such, and I feel compelled to write some of it down before I forget it.  I often begin to write at three and have the ideas fleshed out by five.  I play around writing until six and then everyone at my house begins to get up, they shower, get breakfast, and head out to universities, jobs, etc. which are far and wide.  After everyone leaves, I wait for the hot water heater to recover, and get a shower myself. Then I start my real day, which consists of taking care of animals, paying bills, cleaning something (admitted less than I should be cleaning), and lately a doctors or dentists visit. I also do homeschool one remaining son who insists upon calling me by my first name since his adoption a couple of years ago.      There are very few satisfying moments in writing. Most everything needs additional revision or refinement even when you think you are ready to send it out the door.
                      I don't know why one hundred percent of authors aren't morbidly obese.  I miss breakfast with the family.  I am often out at lunchtime and very hungry by then.  I have used sugared sodas to keep going, and snacking when writing is a bad habit.
                      Some afternoons I nap for an hour as I haven't had a great deal of sleep.  If I don't, I could be dozing when the family returns to base for a dinner which is closer to seven pm than five.  My husband is an incredible cook, where I am not.  I accept the way of the universe and let him cook while we converse in the evenings.
                      I can't say that I have ever experienced a "writer's block".  The trick I have to avoiding it is to have so many projects going at once that if you tire of one, you can switch to another until you can again see the original project as fresh and new.  This is how I had two books completed this year, and released within thirty days of one another.     Meanwhile, I must be frugal.  I have made no money thus far from either of these ventures, and although it is early in their release process, I have no idea how they are doing out there in the insane world.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Marketing Books as a New Author


       We are still fairly early following the release of Rational Preparedness: A Primer to Preparedness. It's been available since the end of October, 2012.  I would like to call it to the attention of FEMA, as its conversational and direct style could be used to help prepare people in advance of disasters.  It also could be marketed to nurses, social workers, police officers, EMTs, local and regional governments, libraries, and college and university programs which train these professionals.
               What I Learned from Daniel was released at the end of November, and is still not yet available at all the outlets that it will be.  It would be of interest to anyone who enjoyed Dr. Eben Alexander's book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife.  Where Dr. Alexander gives a first hand story of his personal journey,  our book gives suggestions and relates some stories as to how we received factual information in dreams following Daniel's and my father's passing.   What I Learned from Daniel should certainly be read by anyone who has ever lost a child, or who has known a blinding loss.  It also should be read by anyone who has ever loved a child, because the lessons in it are timeless.   I am also wondering how I can bring it to the attention of grief therapists and social workers.
              Both books were created to do good in the world. Getting them out there and to the attention of the American and worldwide public, in this media shell shocked culture is not easy.  I appreciate your suggestions and ideas, as to how we can create positive buzz.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Marketing ? What Is Marketing ?

I don't suppose giving a cookie for each book bought constitutes a marketing plan ?

  Somehow I did it. I neglected the dusting, cleaning, incessant organizing and timely bill playing of this farm sufficiently to somehow turn out two reasonably well thought out books this year, and I got them submitted and then released before Christmas !  I had planned to enjoy the rest of the year just Christmasing with my kids. I had hoped that my husband and sons would pick up the slack sufficiently to allow me to continue writing, but, this was unquestionably a delusion.  There's a lot of work waiting for me.
    Then, someone from the book publisher's office called me about marketing.   Marketing ?  In an attempt to sound professional in a field in which I admitted know little, I stayed quiet.  I thought that marketing was something they took care of.  After all, they have a whole office for this, and I not only don't, I only knew that the word was a college major !   It seems that I have to make myself available to a number of activities in order to promote each book.  In fact, I even have to think up and execute some of these capers myself.  At one time in my life this might have been fun.  Meet people and push your book and talk about it. How hard is that ?   This would not have been hard for me in my twenties. I would have tolerated it in my thirties, but I am a different animal now.  Approaching fifty, and somewhat disillusioned with the economy and the workings of American government, I am less inclined to engage the public.  I like human beings as individuals, but less so in a group, and if I had to be completely honest, I like dogs best of all.  Very few of them read, although I suppose talking books might be of benefit.
    I must find a way to market the books I have written this year. I wrote them to get the word out on some important issues. Without marketing fewer people will read my books than should.  I believe in them and therefore I may be the best person to direct their marketing.  Marketing.  What is marketing ?

The Launch of a New Blog

I can't talk about launching anything, without thinking of ships or sailboats. This is a model of the Cutty Sark.


   What's the matter with this woman ?   Doesn't she have enough to do with her other blogs ?   There is Rational Preparedness: The Blog centered on reasonable family preparedness issues, and there is What I Learned from Daniel: The Blog, which is a bereavement and memorial blog designed to be inspirational.  There are two books that have been recently released, which are the topic of the other two blogs. Now, there is this blog.  Is this woman really manic ?  Well, no, not really.
              I have done a lot of things in this life.  Perhaps I am easily bored. Perhaps I have interests in a great many things and this makes it difficult to remain in only one occupation.  Perhaps I just believe in making use of every opportunity and every moment.  I have been a Registered Nurse in a variety of settings and roles. I have been an Adjunct College Instructor.  I was reasonably successful at both.  My most important role has been as a wife and as a mother to four biological children and then one child through adoption, and this colors my perspectives I think, more than anything else.
               As my children grow and leave the nest, and I find I am somehow surprisingly still young, I have tried my hand as a radio talk show host, which frankly, I did not enjoy all that much, and now as an author. Let's see if I can earn a living as a book author in a bleak economy.  In any event, following my launching my new books,  in a field in which I know almost nothing, ought to be amusing.  Welcome !