Monday, December 3, 2018

Characters...

The Bickering Bickersons
Last summer, at my mom's garage sale, an old man with a long, white beard approached the table where we were taking money and bagging treasures.
His hands were empty...he wasn't buying.
He said, "I bought a pair of shoes from a drug dealer. I don't know what he laced them with but I've been tripping all day!"
Then he walked away.
That's a character right there.
We've all encountered the joke-telling old man who approaches strangers, drops the funny and makes a hasty exit.
I love those guys.

Characters are everywhere.

I love the talkative, oversharing toddler,
The classic church lady with the single arched eyebrow,
The constantly bickering married couple (the bickering Bickersons),
The insecure, but hilarious teenage boy who hasn't a clue how funny he is,
The flamboyant older woman - gaudy, colorful and, best of all, owning it,
The self-absorbed soul, always positioned near, and peering in a mirror while conversing with others,
The loud laugher (guilty), unable to rein in their delight to a socially appropriate level,
Friendly grocery checkers, bantering about their kids, the weather, sometimes dropping inappropriate personal information leaving the hearer unsure how to respond,
The teenage girl, unaware of her beauty, disguising it under a heavy mask of makeup,
A quiet, big-tipping gentleman blessing tired waitresses,
The old couple holding hands as they walk through the park,
The tired mom in the grocery store carrying on a loud conversation with her toddler in the hopes someone, anyone will notice that she's a good mother (we notice, you are),
The former high-school all-star who isn't any more, but lives or rather, re-lives that glory,
The all-knowing neighbor, keeping tabs on everyone within a two-block radius, and reporting that knowledge to anyone who will listen,
The fashion-impaired woman (guilty again) who consistently mis-buttons her shirt or mis-matches patterns, but not in a hip, new way,
The cheerful mechanic or contractor or repairman bearing bad news with a knowing smile - knowing a good payday is coming,
The chatty dental hygienist, asking questions you can't possibly answer with your mouth wide open,
...and so many more...
Which brings me back to the joke-telling old man...
I've met hundreds of them in my life.
I can't remember all the jokes,
But I'm glad I remember the essence of the old men who told them.
After all, it wasn't the joke that was funny, it was the person who told it!

Keep your eyes open for characters...perhaps you're one of them!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving...


Since it is Thanksgiving, I will produce the obligatory list of things I'm thankful for, but with a twist.
THIS Thanksgiving, an acrostic poem of words I like and why I like them. (Not sure why an acrostic is called a poem, but whatever.) Sure, it seems boring and maybe it will be. (I hope not)

And to clear myself of any guilt for not mentioning the obvious things I'm thankful for: Here they are...
My family and friends, my Savior and my country.

On with the "poem"...

T - Tribe. The idea of tribe was a bit lost on me for most of my life. I equated "tribe" with large groups of cliquey women excluding all others. Not so. Regarding friendships, I related to the saying, "I'd rather have four quarters than a hundred pennies." Like most people, I've been burned. It happens when you "collect pennies". So I am guilty of being guarded when sharing my life with people. Even so, my little growing tribe of sisters is precious. As my hair has grayed (amazingly fast once I stopped dying it - go figure), the wisdom of those white strands seeped into my noggin. I'm better at finding kindred spirits and avoiding danger.

H - Harmony. Alone in my car, when I'm singing and worshiping God, I sing harmony. Horribly. (I literally apologize God when it's really bad.) I was thinking about harmony the other day. It adds beautiful depth to music...and when we live in harmony, work in harmony, we are much more productive. Harmony is a choice though. You have to work at it. I hope my harmonizing continues to improve. It will, with practice. Harmony brings joy...in all things.

A - Aqua. I love that color. It represents water, purity, happiness. It is fresh. It is eye-catching.

N - Nest. I'm a mother...of grown children, but still. You never stop being a mother. My nest may be empty but my heart is full. My home is different now - emptier - but it brings me great joy. I host my writing group every week and it buzzes with life. (I love that.) It is nearly ready for the eventual return of my kids. They'll all be home for Christmas and I can hardly wait!

K - Kitchen. Odd, I know, but I love to bake and at the moment there's a hole in our kitchen ceiling (a tiny leak in the master shower - Yay, new tile in the master bath..gulp). Since we've got to patch the hole and paint, the kitchen is on my mind. We'll eventually paint the cabinets - or maybe not - and what color should I paint the walls? I love these conundrums (another favorite word) and perusing Pinterest to solve them!

S - Strength. It was a challenging year. I never imagined losing a parent. (Why would I want to imagine that?) I made a wonderful discovery, though. I am strong. I have strength. And when my strength wanes, God offers His. I leaned in and soaked up His strength when mine was nowhere to be found. And here's the best part. God's strength is there for the asking. He doles it out as we need it, not before - not when we anticipate the need - when we actually need it. I like to prepare. I like to have extra on hand. This year, I learned to accept grief as an offer of strength from God and it built my faith to know I could trust Him to give it right when I needed it.

G - Grace. I could go on and on about grace. It is the gift of God...two more fabulous G words! But grace...undeserved favor...wow. My church has Grace in it (The Graceworks) and my writing group is called The Grace Writers (as well as my novel). It's no coincidence. Grace is something the world needs. It's something I hope to pass on...to spread...to write about.

I - Inspiration. It's all around me. I find inspiration in the beautiful world we live in. Nature is a treasure trove, but even more, people. I love people. I love watching them and studying them. (Confession: I love reality TV because I can watch people I wouldn't normally see in my world.) In reality, though, (see what I did there?) we inspire each other. Do I inspire others? That's my hope. I am so inspired by so many people in my life and for that I am thankful!

V - Vivacious. There is a person I notice wherever I go. The old woman living vivaciously. She has pink, sparkly hair and colorful clothing - preferably mismatched but happy - and glasses, large and bold. These women are rare and interesting and fun. There is a woman who prances around Yelm Highway in heels, a hat and a suit straight out of the eighties. She has perfect posture and is perfectly out of place. I don't know her but I love her. I hope I am vivacious as an old person. (Old-er person - gray hair notwithstanding.)

I - Inclusion. It's a wonderful thing to be included. We've all experienced being invisible, overlooked or intentionally DIScluded. That's no fun. In fact, it's dismaying. But to feel inclusion - to know you belong. That's precious. Over the past year or two I've found many inclusive people. People who welcome strangers and celebrate change. I try to be that way too. I know I fail, but the more I practice it, the easier it becomes.

N - Niche. Everyone wants to find their niche. I wish Thanksgiving had a C in it. Because I equate finding one's niche to contentment. I've found my niche a few times in my life. The niche changes, grows and morphs. It's all a process. I hope you find your niche too...and consider...maybe your niche is right where you are. Perhaps embracing the season you're in IS your niche. By being content where we are, we free our mind to settle into God's plan.

G - Grateful. It's what Thanksgiving is all about - being grateful. And I am so very grateful for all of the blessings in my life. If you're reading this right now, you're one of them!

What words are you thankful for?

May your Thanksgiving weekend be filled with family, friendship and the blessings of the season!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Two Golden Rings during The Great Depression...


When I decided to write Two Golden Rings for the anthology, Christmas in Time, I did some research on the era.
What an interesting time.
Struggle and heartache permeated those years following the stock market crash of 1929.
In my research, I read a book, The Secret Gift by Ted Gup.
It told the true story of Mr. Gup's grandfather, Sam Stone, who had weathered the crash and had some extra money to give away in 1933 when Canton, Ohio was overwhelmed with struggle. That Christmas, Mr. Stone put an ad in the newspaper offering $10 to 75 families, no questions asked. Just write to "Mr. B. Virdot", describing your desperate need. When the letters poured in, he decided to answer 150 of them with a $5 gift.
Mr. Gup was not aware of Sam Stone's kindness until he discovered a suitcase filled with letters after his death. His grandfather kept the letters telling of utter desperation. They were proud people who didn't want to ask for money, but since it would be discreetly given, and since they were so desperate for the basic needs of life, they wrote. There were other letters in the suitcase as well. Thank you notes describing how the modest gift had been spent and what it meant to them.
Mr. Gup set out to find the families of the letter-writers, and discovered that the $5 gift had made a world of difference to some of them, filling them with hope and changing the trajectory of the family. For others it made for a nice Christmas but not much more. Some families struggled for generations. The book chronicles those stories and weaves in the account of Sam Stone's life as well. It's a fascinating read.

I tried to capture some of that tension in my story.
The desperation of need and the desire to be self-sufficient.
The pain of loss and the desire to be whole again.
The hope of provision and the devastation of disappointment.
Ultimately, I wanted to tell a story of the faithfulness of God - because He is - so very faithful!

You can buy a copy of Christmas in Time here.

I hope my story blesses you this holiday season!




Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Walk Through the Leaves...

I was running errands yesterday when I was hit with an urgent need to go for a walk.
This is significant for one particular reason...
I haven't taken a solo walk outside since my dad died.
I don't know why.
I've walked plenty with Alex but not alone.
So yesterday I couldn't get home fast enough to grab my ear buds and take off down the trail.
It was glorious.
Fall was showing off.
The weather was PERFECTION.
Not sunny, not raining...damp but not cold...perfect fall weather.
The leaves were ankle deep in places.
And there were mushrooms...
I love mushrooms.
They're so delicate.
So fragile...
But they have strength to push through the weight of the damp leaves.
                                           


Leaves let go of the trees in front of me, twirling to the trail.
I stopped to watch them.
Letting go.
Letting go so new life can grow in their place.
For a long while, I was all alone...me and my music.
Praising God for His beautiful world.
Reflecting on the past year...
Realizing that everything was fine...
Really good.
Even though...

And I'm thankful for the journey of life,
The changing seasons,
And solo walks through leaves.

Friday, October 26, 2018

God Will Take Care of You!


Yes, He will!
Matthew 6:26 (KJV) says:
Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are ye not much better than they?

Two Golden Rings is the story of Violet Finnegan, a young widow struggling through the the Great Depression. She longs to help her family when her father loses his job and they are unable to pay a debt. Will Violet trust God to provide for her family or will she take matters into her own hands?

The ebook AND paperback are available now on Amazon - Click here

Do you want to win a print just like the one pictured above?
Here's how: Be the first person to post a photo of yourself holding a paperback copy of Christmas in Time on social media (tag #heatherswrite on instagram or Heather Morse Alexander on Facebook). If you're the first, I'll send you a 5x7 print FREE!

What if you're not the first one to post a photo?
Here's another way to score a print: Leave a review on Amazon! There are 3 reviews on the ebook...will you be the 4th? :)
I can't wait to give a couple of prints away!

What if you want a print but you didn't win?
That beautiful print was created by my niece, Angela.
She has some for sale in her Etsy shop: Letterbabe

Thank you so much to everyone who has already purchased the ebook and paperback!
I appreciate you! I hope the stories bring you joy!

Monday, October 1, 2018

A beautiful October.


It's a lovely October but...
It's not nearly as beautiful as last October.

Last October,
The leaves were fiery red, bright yellow and glowing orange.
The trees seemed to hold onto the leaves a bit longer as if showing off.
Look at me! Look at me!

The rain smelled incredible.
The sunsets were glorious.
The crispness of morning, a delight.

Last year we'd just come through a horrible time of suffering.
We'd watched my dad battle cancer and ultimately lose the fight.
We didn't look out the windows or feel the fresh air.
We held a vigil of love.

And when it was over.
When the hot pain of anticipation and loss lifted,
October shocked with its beauty.

I remember saying over and over how beautiful THIS October was.
And it was glorious.
It was the prettiest fall I'd ever seen.

Because after the dark,
After going through the ugliness of death,
The light born out of that dark tunnel,
Was so very bright.

Suffering gives birth to appreciation...
Of life, beauty, nature.
And although last October was filled with sorrow,
Joy danced in the falling leaves.
My heart was bathed in a downpour of comfort.
Peace warmed like a comfy sweater.
And it was the most beautiful October on record. 

Christmas In Time - A Country Christmas by Carolyn Bickel

Happy Release Day!!!
Today is the day that the ebook releases so if you pre-ordered (THANK YOU SO MUCH!), it should be delivered to you today!
The paperback still has a week or two to percolate, unfortunately. It's coming though, I promise!
We surely do appreciate your support in this endeavor. It's been so much fun creating a book with my co-authors. What a wonderful group of people to work with!

Today I'd like to introduce you to Carolyn Bickel!
Her story is a sweet tale of Christmas that many of us can relate to...it will warm your heart!




          I experienced some of the events, and situations you’ll see in my story. The struggle to pay the bills, the lack of money to buy gifts at Christmas, like many people, I experienced those difficult times. But in this story I wanted to show the importance of being a close family during hard times. Little things count. Presents from the heart come in different ways, as this family discovered; not always in lavish gifts, but in unexpected ways. The real meaning of Christmas is love for one another, and what this time is all about, God’s son 


Carolyn Bickel lives in southwest Washington State on a small cattle ranch with her husband Sam. Their house pets include a Pembroke Welch Corgi, and their fat cat Mabel. She has written adventures about Mabel and Tasha, yet to be finished. She loves music and plays piano in a band twice a month on Friday night at her church for Celebrate Recovery, a successful program for persons recovering from additions. Lives are being changed. It is wonderful to see.