The Library in the Waiting Room

I’ve been spending a lot of time in doctor’s waiting rooms lately.  Not because of my health, thank goodness, but because I have been providing transportation and companionship to various family members as they meet with their health care providers.  It is always a fascinating experience for me.  It was this morning I began to realize it was fascinating because it is like visiting a library.

Each person there has their own story.  Some will share them willingly, like a book on display.  Some hold theirs close to themselves, like an ancient manuscript in a climate controlled case, hiding from light and air and anything else that might damage them.  Some keep theirs quiet only to find their companions more than willing to tell it to anybody around, much to their dismay.  That situation reminds me a bit of gossip tabloids on display.

Some stories are mysteries, where the main character has no idea what is going on and can only hope the doctor is a good detective.  Some are comedies, born of foolish accidents, told with rolling eyes.  Many are tragedies, tales of pain and long suffering, and read with knowledge of the certain sad ending.  Some are stories of coming joy, read in the movement of a child trying to find room in their mother’s womb.  Some are suspenseful and full of fear, told with a parent’s fearful grip on their child’s hand.  Some are adventures, the ending unknown, each chapter full of twists and turns, but with the main character demonstrating determination and endurance.  Many are inspirational, despite bald heads, obvious exhaustion, and trauma evident in the body, but with smiles and lack of fear on their faces.

The range of reactions to problems is amazing, and a true example of human expression.  Fear, joy, confusion, bewilderment, sadness, grief, anger, guilt, compassion, tolerance, endurance.  Those and many more are found in these office spaces.  Some are found in other places, but there is nowhere like a doctor’s office to find so many in so short a time, often with no masks, no self protection, just a community of humans looking for company or not.

If you find yourself in a doctor’s office sometime, look around.  Strike up conversations.  This is the library of humanity.  Some stories are boring, some are interesting, some are riveting.  You will never know which is which until you can read the dust jackets, and if they are willing, to open the pages.

Stroke! Stroke!

Last night, I was asking a buyer of my first book if he wanted a copy of my second.  He asked for a description of it and after I told him he told me he’d take one.  His wife, sitting beside him, apparently caught that and turned to ask him what he was getting.  He told her I’d published a second book and she immediately said,  “Oh, yes, yes, yes!”  She’d read the first and didn’t even care what the second was about, she just wanted to read it.  Talk about stroking my ego.  I’ve had several others say the same thing.  They don’t care what it’s about, they just want to read it.  I’m especially glad because the stories fighting their way out of my head are all different.  I want people to look at my name on a book and just say, “Doesn’t matter what it’s about, it will be good, because I know she tells a good story.”

Now if I can just get some of them to write a review online somewhere, so others who haven’t read my first book will see it…or just tell their friends.  Word of mouth is wonderful, and often yields more results, because the emotion of the reader comes across.  One of my favorite all time series was brought to my attention by way of a casual conversation in the hall at work when a coworker mentioned her mother’s favorite author.  I read one book and bought all the rest as fast as possible.  (Free plug: C. L. Bevill, the Bubba series – humorous murder mysteries.)

I can bore people for hours about my favorite books, and do.  (My sisters keep threatening me about spoiler alerts.) I can at least natter on about them on Goodreads and Amazon.  Hopefully someday I can be compared to the likes of my favorite authors like Nora Roberts, J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Laurens, Linda Howard, Max Brand, and I won’t even start with my favorite science fiction writers because I’d run on forever and ever.  I don’t have a particular favorite Christian author.  I don’t actually read a lot of Christian fiction; I’m too busy writing it.  Right now I’m collecting various books of Christian fiction by various authors to see if any particular one strikes my fancy.

I don’t mind stroking other authors’ egos.  I go to science fiction conventions whenever I get a chance and if I run across one whose work I read a lot of, I’ll let them know (if I can get close to them…).  If I ever get to go to other conventions, I’ll tell those authors too.  They deserve lots of kudos for bringing so much pleasure into my life.  My childhood had a lot of hard times in it, and (though it may shock some who know me now) I was a very introverted child who was terrified of being noticed.  Books kept me sane, kept me hopeful, kept me optimistic, and let me exercise my brain.  When I spent decades in a dry, technical world of numbers and regulations and angry people on the phone, my breaks spent with my books got me through.  One book even saved my life.  I had stepped on a nail and got a blood infection, and had no idea because it stopped hurting.  Then I recognized the symptoms of blood poisoning I had read in a story and got to a doctor, who said if it had gone one more day, it might have been too late.

If some writer got you through tough patches, brightened your worldview, inspired you, and/or exercised your imagination, thank them however you can.  They deserve it, and it might inspire them to keep writing and brightening the world in general.

Trials, Travails, and Those Who Help Us Triumph

Posting stuff on the Internet is always fun.  My sister was going crazy trying to change her Facebook profile photo on her smartphone, and I was trying to help her by looking mine up on my computer and changing it.  She finally discovered she was just working with a slow change, and because she tried several times, her photo was updated the same amount of times.  I was trying to start a new page on this site, and post an item on it, and boy, was it fun.  Hope it has finally settled the way I want.

I am now working on book 3, “Give Me A.I.D.! (Angelic Intervention Department).  Some people think of angels as sweet, warm, huggable beings who brighten the lives of everybody they come across.  No, not me.  Even as a child, I found the angel with the flaming sword at the gates of Eden, Jacob’s wrestling opponent, and various others of their aggressive type more fascinating, and God has given me several stories about several like them that I am dying to get written.  Fighting the good fight against evil is one of my special interests, and more will be coming down the line about that.

Do I believe in angels myself?  I not only believe, I’ve met my guardian angel several times.  He always has the same physical type, although not the same body, and always shows up exactly when I need him the most, when no human is around to help.  Once when I was broken down in the middle of nowhere, he got my vehicle running and me back to town before vanishing.  Another time he got me out of my car after it was in a head on wreck, the door was jammed and me choking on fumes inside.  He pulled me out, leaned me against my car, and vanished before I finished blinking smoke out of my eyes.  Another time a friend of mine was present, but neither of us could change a damaged tire and dark was coming on with miles to the next house and it was long before cell phones.  He showed up as a little white haired gnome of a man half both our sizes who removed the damaged tire without even tugging and replaced it without pause.

Another time he took the form of a man I actually knew already, but I could tell he was not the same man.  He dealt with a little boy who had cold evil showing in his eyes as he tried to kill another smaller child.  After his private interview with him, the little boy seemed like a normal child again, and the elderly man went back to the gruff old man I was used to.  Don’t think that was an angel?  You weren’t there.  It was like some people who can tell identical twins apart.  They may look identical, but some people have no trouble knowing which is which.

I have written about angels in my first two books, but these will be different, not least of which is because the stories are all set in the present day.  Angels are found in grimy city streets, suburban parks, a neighborhood bar and grill, and a small rural town.   But they all work for the same boss, in the Angelic Intervention Department.  Desperate for help no human can give?  Call for A.I.D.!

Shameless Plug Time!

I am now taking orders for personal sales of my second book “Standing Next To A Miracle”.  If you want to buy it from me, it is $5.00 plus whatever it costs to mail it from my zip code to yours whether first class, library rate, or whatever else you like.  The same book on Amazon is $8.00 plus shipping and handling (unless of course you have Amazon Prime).  The ebook version on Amazon is $1.99.  Remember, if you don’t have a Kindle e-reader, Amazon has a free app that allows you to buy the book and download it to your computer, pad, or smartphone.

I also still have copies available of my first book, “Once Upon A Christmastime”, for $3.50 plus postage.  The ebook version on Amazon is $.99 and the paperback is $5.50 plus shipping and handling.

I do hope you not only enjoy the books but feel moved to leave a nice review and tell everybody you know they should take a look.

Ghostwriter for God

Someone asked me where I got my inspiration for some of my writing.  Sometimes it makes even me screw up my face and wonder.  One particular instance, however, was very clear and still makes me smile, although not in public, because people look at me funny.  My first book, “Once Upon A Christmastime”, began in the Walmart’s hardware department several years ago.  I am the director of Sunday School in my small church and give Christmas presents to the teachers every year.  I always give the same thing to everybody, which isn’t always the easiest thing in the world.  I was wandering around the store picking up necessities for the house while pondering gifts in my head.  As I often do, I appealed to the source of all wisdom.  “Give me a hint, God!” I begged.  I’m not fond of shopping at any time, and I preferred to get everything in one trip.

Much to my surprise, the answer was clear, immediate, and very detailed.  “Get one of those nightlights for each of them.”   I was looking directly at some very plain, ordinary nightlights to stick in an outlet and keep you from stubbing your toes during midnight bathroom breaks.  “How is that a gift?” I wondered.  As He usually does, He said, “Do now, question later!” So I did, and continued through the store.  Candy canes, Christmas star cookie cutters, some actual frankincense and myrrh incense, gold chains, and finally, in the arts and crafts department, I was directed to get some white feathers.  I was floored by now.  The gold chains I could understand; the teachers were all very classy ladies who could probably use a gold necklace.  The frankincense and myrrh I got .  The candy canes and Christmas star cookie cutters even made sense.   But fake feathers and nightlights?

I got a gift bag for each teacher and divvied up the selections, then sat back and said, “Okay, how do I explain this collection?”  He said, “Start typing!” and began to dictate.  I was intrigued as the story unfolded.  Usually I make a story up completely in my head, rumble it around for a while until I think it’s thoroughly digested, and then type it out.  But I didn’t have any idea about this one until I typed each word.  Weird, huh?  What do you call that? Ghostwriting for God, maybe?  I printed out the story, copied it for each teacher, and put a copy in each bag.  Every year since then, He has given me a story.  The gifts are always given on Christmas Eve after our community Christmas program, and sometimes He doesn’t inspire me until that morning, even though I had already gotten the gifts.

When I was going through chemo for breast cancer, I was too sick to go to the Christmas program, and I got no story.  I thought about just sending the gifts by themselves, but something told me to wait.  Sure enough, when I was able to get back to church, the story was suddenly there.  The last story in that book suddenly began during a sermon in October and I found myself (being unable to type, of course, and unable to leave, since I also lead the congregational singing) suddenly whipping out a notepad and writing notes furiously as our pastor continued.  I thought I was supposed to do that story that Christmas, but it would not work.  I could not get it on paper.  It took another six months before I could get it out.  Luckily, He came through with not a story, but a poem, for the gift I gave that year. When I finished that story, my sister nagged me into self publishing it on Amazon, and then the next book, “Standing Next To A Miracle”, began to unfold, not Christmas stories this time, although strangely enough, the first story ends with Christ’s birth and I couldn’t finish it until December.  I already have the gifts and the story for this year.  Someday I may publish another book of Christmas stories…