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Friday, December 6, 2019

Unexpected Acts of Kindness

I thought long and hard about my first post for this group and then decided on one that influenced my outcome in life and explains a little about how I got here today.
Unexpected Kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change” ~Bob Kerrey
I am a huge proponent of kindness, both planned and unexpected. I can only wish more people in the world felt the same. Today though, I want to talk about unexpected kindness. The kindness that is given to perhaps a total stranger with no benefits for yourself.
I got married when I was sixteen and dropped out of school before end of tenth grade to start a family. I know this sounds crazy today but at the time, it wasn’t so much. My own Mother married at 15 and then there was the belief that if you weren’t married by X (usually early twenties), you were destined to be an old maid. I digress.
I always knew I was a fast learner and that was enhanced by my insatiable curiosity of the world. However, when I went for my first job interview, I was told I needed a high school diploma. My friends had graduated by then so I took my GED. I was scared and didn’t know what to expect but the kind man at the learning center gave me my test and I left. When the results came in, I was called to come back to the site and get the results. I think this was not common. They were usually mailed.
The gentleman, Mr. Jackson, called me into the room and told me I scored very high on the test and that I should take some CLEP test and go to college. I shyly admitted I wanted to go to college but didn’t have any idea how to do it or what a CLEP test was. He explained it was a college level placement exam that gave you credits if you passed. He also told me if I didn’t do it for me, I should do it for my son.
After his motivational pep talk, I took my Mama’s Psychology text book from her Highschool correspondence course and read it then went to take the test. I also took the test for two semesters of English. I passed the English and lacked one point on the Psychology. Later when I talked to the college entrance advisor, he didn’t make me take any of the college entrance exams or prerequisites because I had passed a CLEP test. I went on to finish a bachelors degree and later a masters. My daughter saw how education benefited me and got her masters as well. We will see if this cycle continues with her children.
I can honestly say if Mr. Jackson hadn’t lit that fire in me, I wouldn’t have had the courage or confidence to go to college but that one act of kindness, encouraging a young mother to continue her education- made a huge impact in my life.
Now to my second story, how I got here. I have wanted to be a writer all of my life and thus, have been working on one book or another for forty years. After I moved to Fort Worth, I was telling my cousin about it and she said, I have someone I want you to meet so she took me to this lady’s house. I will not name her but if she chooses to self-disclose, that’s great. I walked in with a few ideas and walked out with a rough outline for a novel and a lot of encouragement.
 I wrote diligently for the first year between my corporate job and my small sewing business and then lost confidence in my abilities. I spent several months listening to hours and hours of all sorts of books. I listen during my three plus hours a day commute to my day job. What I realized though is that I may not be on the best seller’s list but there are books out there for everyone and that mine will fit somewhere.   
So, I got back on the computer and finished the book. This lady, now my mentor, kindly read, critiqued and offered suggestions, even though she was in the midst of writing her own books. Thanks to some more help, I finally published my book in early November.
Now, this is a great story in itself, how this once stranger showed me what to do and encouraged me to write my novel, but it’s not the end.
My neighbor messaged me and said, I have been taking all these photographs from my recliner and have a collection I want to print but no publisher has taken me and asked about my publisher. I told him I self- published. Three weeks later, he texted back to tell me he self-published his photo book and also a booklet of stories his Grandpa told…still not the end.
My cousin has a novel she worked on twenty years ago that was accepted by a publisher but life got in the way. She said, you did it, I think I will publish mine too. She is now at 200 pages and on rewrites.
A friend messaged me and said, I have two novels I have been trying to get published and have to keep rewriting them for the publisher, maybe I will self-publish too.
I have at least six other friends, family and coworkers who were inspired my publishing and now are motivated to do the same.
This unexpected act of kindness to me has touched many lives and created a ripple effect of encouragement and possibility.
Do things for people, not because of who they are or what they do, but because of who you are.” ~ Harold S Kushner
So, as we go forward into the holiday season, be kind and remember, you never know whose life you may change and in what way just through simple words of encouragement or unexpected acts of kindness.
I would love to hear how unexpected acts of kindness have impacted your life- Please comment below.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Identity Crisis + Tradition--It's That Time of Year! @JacquieRogers

Identity Crisis
plus Tradition

"Identity crisis," you say?  My first thought when I hear that phrase is the title of one of my critique partner's early books.  I don't think that manuscript has seen the light of day, but nothing ever goes to waste--it was a stepping stone to something better.

So... for my identity crisis.  When a person gets old, odds are high that this old fogey will develop cataracts.  Which (not saying I'm old, mind you) is exactly what happened to me.  Yesterday, the first one was whittled off.

Nowadays, they have some pretty fancy lenses.  I should mention that my good eye has never been corrected to better than 20/60.  I have no discernable vision in my bad eye.  Anyway, we sprang for the astigmatism correction--an extra $1,200 but Mr R and I figured these lenses would be worth the money.

What I didn't realize was how entirely macabre it would be not to wear glasses.  I've worn glasses since I was six years old.  All the time--sometimes even in the shower.  And speaking of the shower, it'll be really nice to be able to tell which is the shampoo and which is the conditioner!

I keep trying to push my glasses up.  I've lost me readers about 17 times already and I've only had them for an hour and a half.  I keep moving my head up and down to get a better focus (because I wore progressive lenses for decades) but I can already see better than I think I can.  The doctor said it takes the brain a while to catch up. 

One thing I'm really tickled about is that the surgeon thinks I'll be able to read print books again.  That would be so awesome!  I have hundreds of excellent research books but haven't been able to use them for several years.  Mr R is always game to look up something for me, but that's not the same as browsing through myself.

Life can change a lot in a year, but some things we can rely on, and one of those is holiday traditions.  Christmas is a fun time in Idaho and we take our lights seriously here.

Christmas at Indian Creek in Caldwell, Idaho
More holiday lights--I love how they reflect in the creek.
Mr R and I are going through lots of changes.  He retired (I never will), we moved from Seattle to Idaho, and we're taking huge steps to improve our health.  We've gone from city living to growing our own apricots and tomatoes, canning our own peaches, and buying real beef from a real farm. 

But one certainty is the calendar.  The Yule season comes every year and with it a remembrance of what is important in our lives.  For me, it's the blessing of family and friends.  I might add that our definition of "family" is a bit arbitrary and quite a bit more inclusive than blood ties.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Happy reading!  

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Monday, December 2, 2019


By Caroline Clemmons

Great news for those who love prizes and Christmas stories!

The month of December is filled with special deals from every store imaginable. Authors don’t want their readers to lose on the spectacular buys. Here are some sites that offer you a chance to win a great prize while exposing you to the Christmas stories you’ll want.

Beginning December 2, Cathy Brockman is hosting a Holiday Giveaway. From December 2-26, the Rafflecopter on her blogsite will allow readers to enter for prizes. My day on this blog is December 2. The url for this is

All month every month, Romance Gems hosts a giveaway on their blog. This month the contest is titled Candy Cane Kisses. Each day on this blog, an author greets readers with a post and an opportunity to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. What a deal! My day to post is December 20.

Loving the Book’s Christmas Countdown runs from December 2-20 at I’ll be on the blog on December 18.

These are just a few of the many opportunities for readers this month. Have a great month and a Merry Christmas!