Weekend Coffee Share — 11/2/19

COFFEE, TABLE, RESTAURANT -- Zaccaria

To participate in this week’s “Coffee Share” click on this link and visit Eclectic Ali for the details.

If we were having coffee together this weekend, I’d probably tell you about my book signing gig today. It was the kind of book signing that every author hopes he never experiences even once in his whole career. Not only did no one ask me to sign a book, but no one even wanted to buy a book. In fact, only two people even went so far as to pick up any books to look at them closer.

Yep, as sad as I am about it – and as embarrassed as I am to admit it – that’s the truth. My last book signing was pretty successful. I had a good time with people taking real interest in the books and asking intelligent questions – and most importantly – buying books and asking me to inscribe and sign them.

So why was this event such a failure? Well, as all authors know, we have good times and not-so-good times when it comes to book sales, but there are some specific circumstances that can lead more to one result or another. I was talking with my sister after the sad experience today, and she reminded me that the event took place in a county of our state that is known for its illiteracy, poor educational system, poverty, heavy drug use, heavy crime, witchcraft, and financial and political corruption. What does that fact mean in terms of selling books? Well, to begin with, the majority of people in that county are not interested in reading books much, period. But even when they do want to read, they are not looking for books with Christian-based themes and the propagation of the Gospel. Those two facts gave me an automatic two strikes against me before I even set up my table.

“So,” you ask, “why did you even participate in that event?” Well, my answer is two-fold. One: I’m an author who believes I’ve written books that will help people and make their lives better in a few different ways, and I naturally want to sell those books. So any possible market is worth at least considering. Two: I believe everybody, no matter what their culture or past experiences, should be given opportunities to choose to step out of what is negative and into something positive. I just believe that, given the opportunity, many people who live in a negative culture want to change that experience and will take advantage of such possibilities as reading good books in order to do so. I’ve been proven right about that theory in the past, and even though no one stepped up to make any of those choices today, I still believe there are people out there who do and will in the future.

So am I sorry I took part in the event – that I paid money for my place in the vendor’s fair that hosted us – that I spent hours getting all my materials together, traveling to the event, setting up everything, and then taking it all down and hauling it back home? No, I’m not. It was an experience that will have its own rewards for me it its own ways. However, when the coordinator of the event asked if I would come back to do another similar event before Christmas, I said no. I have to be a good steward of my time, my energy, and my finances, and when the evidence is staring me in the face as it did today, I’m smart enough to recognize that one of the lessons learned today is that this particular venue is not good stewardship.

Now, on the other hand, while we were sharing over coffee, I would also tell you about how I received shipment today of my first big order of the HOLLY JOLLY HOLIDAY PLANNING JOURNALS. I love these journals, and I’m so glad I decided to create them this year.

HOLLY JOLLY RESIZED
Moreover, half of this first batch is already spoken for, and that’s a pretty happy situation for an author and book creator to be in. With only half of this batch left in stock, I have to order more for the next book event that I’m participating in – in a totally different county, by the way, with a much more educated and literature-conscious culture. It takes place in a couple weeks, and by then I will have licked all my emotional and financial wounds from today, and I’ll have a great time interacting with potential readers at that event.

So — you win some, you lose some. As authors, we know that’s how life goes. It’s like the old song says — with a little paraphrasing from me:
You’ve got to give a little, take a little …
You’ve got to laugh a little, cry a little …
You’ve got to win a little, lose a little …
That’s the story of – that’s the glory of – being an author.

 


Lyrics taken from “The Glory of Love,” written by Billy Hill


 

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Weekend Coffee Share 8/3/19

COFFEE. GOLD BORDER -- Luiz Jorge Artista - PX

If we were having coffee together today, I’d be serving you my Folgiers half & half blend. I love Folgiers.  I generally enjoy Maxwell House coffee as well. Many of my family members and friends use the Keurig coffee makers, and they’re okay, but the coffee just doesn’t taste as good as it does when I brew my own by the pot.

If we were visiting today, I’d probably tell you about a new series of Christian ministry meetings I’m holding at the local civic center, because they are on the top of my “to-do” list. The first one was last month and went very well. The people who attended said they were very blessed, and the second meeting is scheduled for August 15. So I’m busy, busy, busy trying to get out all the advertising and notifications throughout the local media.

I would probably also tell you that I’m feeling pretty guilty because my house really needs a good cleaning, but telling you about my guilt is probably as far as I would go. I probably won’t do much actual cleaning this weekend. With the meeting to plan, a prayer meeting Sunday evening, and my newest journal project hanging over my  head, I just can’t seem to focus on the vacuum, the dust rag, or the dishpan.

I’m sure, if I gave you plenty of refills on coffee and some cookies to go with them, you’d be sure to sympathize with me and agree that the cleaning should come farther down on the list than those other jobs. Oh, and that reminds me: I was going to pick up a new package of chocolate cookies when I was at Wal Mart a couple hours ago, and I forgot!

Not to worry, though. I have enough cookies left from some packages I bought last week — and some M&M candies as well. I’ll be fine.

Well, enjoy your coffee this weekend and be good to yourselves. I’ll try to get around and visit several of you and try out your brew before the weekend’s over as well.


To join in the fun of the Weekend Coffee Share, hop over to this link and get the simple rules to participate.

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Weekend Coffee Share – 4/7/19

COFFEE - YELLOW SMILEY -- Hans PX
photo courtesy of Hans @ pixabay.com

I’ve missed taking part in the weekend coffee shares, but my schedule just didn’t leave me much time for posting. If we were having coffee on this Sunday evening, I’d tell you that this weekend has been a wild ride. But I did manage to get two important things done.

The most important was planning and officiating at a funeral for a cousin. I’ve officiated at many funerals, but this one presented a particular challenge. Many members of the family (not the ones I’m close to, thank the Lord) have been having disagreements and considerable strife about a number of things. There are so many factions who are angry with one of the other factions that one other family member who traveled with me to the service said she was concerned that after we left there might be an actual fight break out.

You can imagine what it was like to try to plan and carry out the service, when so many of the people don’t want to speak to or cooperate with others, and when almost anything you say could possibly inflame touchy feelings even more.  One woman, who stood like a stone right in my line of vision through the whole service, had such a look of hatred on her face the whole time that I was amazed she could even maintain the look and stance for such a long period. She came to the service, but did not speak to any of her brothers or sisters.

Whew!  I lived through it, and I’m trusting the Lord that some of the things I shared will actually help bring some healing to those poor troubled people.  But I’m very glad it’s over.  I cannot understand a person allowing another person’s bad treatment of him to cause that first person to become so angry and bitter that it makes him physically sick. Why hold onto bitterness and resentment?  It certainly doesn’t hurt the person one is bitter against. It hurts only the one who feels and feeds that bitterness and hatred.

But, as I said, it’s over now, and I at least did what I was supposed to do to try to help.

The other accomplishment was a new video in my “Audio Short Stories” series. I managed to get that done late Saturday night, so I’m inserting it into this post so that — just in case you’re a person who enjoys sitting back and listening to a story rather than having to read it for yourself — you can listen to it right here.

I hope all the rest of you had relaxing weekends. I’m planning on my next weekend being more quiet and laid-back. Maybe I can get some painting done. Goodness knows I need to de-stress.  🙂

Oh, I almost forgot! Another happy thing happened on Saturday: a good friend came by with a gift for me. It was a lovely, fancy white cup and saucer with a silver fleur de lis design on it. It came complete with a little silver spoon — and a huge truffle inside to go with the coffee I was undoubtedly going to have in that cup. It was such a delightful surprise and a welcome positive addition to my troubled weekend.

Here’s the story I promised.  Kick back, prop your feet up, sip your coffee, and enjoy.

 

 

To participate in Weekend Coffee Share, visit Eclectic Ali for the details.

 

 


 

Weekend Coffee Share 3/3/19

COFFEE PLOPPING -- AnnieSplatt -- PX

If we were sharing a cup of coffee today, I’d tell, first of all, that the only reason I’m able to share this morning is because it is snowing too hard for me to get to church. I go to a church that is about 30 miles from my house, and right now the visibility is way too low to make a trip like that — especially with the roads rapidly being covered with snow and the temperatures dropping. I did go out and clean off my car (from the earlier morning snow), thinking it would let up, and I could go, but that didn’t work out at all.

Anyway, there’s not a whole lot to tell you about this week. I taught my “Writing Fiction” and my “Biblical Pathways to Health & Wholeness” classes.  The students seem to be enjoying both classes, so that’s always a good thing.

Actually, I did have one student who complained a couple weeks ago because the Writing Fiction class didn’t give him “what he wanted.” He had taken that class from me a few terms ago, and complained then as well. He seems to think that since he wrote non–fiction for years that a lot of the writing basics we cover are way too elementary for him. The course description made it clear what we would cover, but that didn’t seem to register with him. Not only that, but a good deal of the things we’re covering are things he is not nearly as proficient in as he seems to think — as evidenced by the work he turned in for the assignments.

The first time he took the class he decided to drop it after about 4 weeks. Then when we offered it again this term, he suddenly e-mailed me to see if this class would offer something he could use. I told him clearly that I would be covering the same things I covered in the class he had dropped, which includes all the basic skills needed to write good fiction: developing good strong plots, developing believable characters and learning how to introduce them into the story in interesting ways, learning to use dialogue and body language well, learning how to develop and present setting, learning how to edit, and learning how to choose the best publishing options (along with several other helpful tips). Now, I ask you: what more could a student want from a Writing Fiction class???

But I suggested to him that since I would be covering all those same things, and he didn’t find them helpful a few terms earlier, I didn’t think he’d be interested in this class. But he enrolled anyway. He came to class long enough to be an aggravation and then dropped the class again. It turns out that what he’s looking for is some kind of writing theory and philosophy — whatever that is — and for what purpose, I can’t begin to figure out.

I told him that, in my opinion, teaching theory and philosophy did absolutely no good for the students who want to learn to write good stories that will entertain people and sell books. Theory and philosophy don’t help you plot a good story or create engaging, true-to-life characters, or help you jump through all the right hoops to get those stories published.  I can honestly say I’m relieved he dropped the class. I hope he finds what he’s looking for.

Well, it looks as though I’ve taken our coffee time to vent. Hope you don’t mind. And, guess what: it has almost stopped snowing!  Yay!  I think I’m going to get a fresh cup of coffee and a cookie to celebrate.

Hope you have a great week. And if you’ve never taken part in the “Weekend Coffee Share,” visit Eclectic Ali , check out the easy instructions, and share about your week.

 

 


 

Weekend Coffee Share 2/10/19

Exif JPEG

If we were having coffee together this evening, I’d tell you that this has been a very, very busy week, but I did get a lot of positive things accomplished, so I feel good about it. I’d also tell you that our roads and walkways were so slick today (like snot) that I didn’t go to church this morning. In fact, the pastor cancelled services because he felt it was way too dangerous for people to be out on the roads trying to get to church.

Not only that, we’ve had horribly heavy rains for most of the past two weeks and have been under flash flood warnings almost all of that time. We got a reprieve for two days, but the flash flood warnings kicked back in at noon today, because our temperatures warmed up enough to melt the ice and give us regular rain again. And it’s supposed to rain heavy again tomorrow. This is just too much. I think we’ve seen the sunshine only two days in the last couple weeks.

I’ve been so fed up with this miserably gray world we’ve been living in — also with a good deal of fog — that I finally just sat down to my watercolors today and, in my art journal, I painted myself a bright yellow umbrella. I’ve posted it below so you can see how hard I’m trying to think positively. I titled it “Sunshine In The Rain.”  I’ll be soooooo glad when the real sun comes out to stay and play for several days in row.

Well, I didn’t mean to complain almost the whole time we shared coffee, but I guess it turned out that way. Next time I’ll try to do better. Hope you all have a good week — with no heavy rain or flooding.

 

Exif JPEG
Sunshine in the Rain

 


 

Thanks to Eclectic Ali for hosting our coffee share every week. If you’d like to take part, just hop over to her site and get the simple rules.

 

 

 


 

Weekend Coffee Share 1-12-19

coffee - purple cup -- a-mblamma -- pxIf we were having coffee together today, the first thing I’d say is, “I cannot believe we are already almost half-way through the first month of 2019!”  Then I’d tell you that our ground is covered with snow. We didn’t get as much a the forecasters told us we might, so I’m relieved about that fact.

I’d probably tell you about how I spent a good deal of time this week getting more Bible teaching videos made and posted on YouTube. Most of my visitors are familiar with my ministry YouTube channel, but just in case some of you are not and would like to check it out, I’ll give you the link here: Radical About Jesus Ministries YouTube.

We’ve already had a lot of visitors and quite a number of views for the two videos I posted this week. We’ve had a couple comments. I have to laugh when I tell you that one of the comments was pretty irate. That gentlemen was unhappy with something I said, but, of course, I can’t help that. I taught the truth, and what he does with it is between him and the Lord. I did leave him a comment that will, hopefully, help him understand a couple things better, but, for the most part in those situations, I just pray and leave it to the Lord to handle. When we post anything publicly, we are inviting people to respond publicly, and the vast majority of the time, that’s a very good thing. It’s what keeps the world connected.

But I can’t help but chuckle about it because I just watched a video a couple weeks ago by one of the artists in England that I follow regularly, and he was answering some very unkind comments that had been made on one of his videos. One point he made was that he couldn’t understand why someone felt compelled to give another person’s video a “thumbs down” sign or leave a negative comment. He said when he watched videos, if he didn’t like one he saw, he just stopped watching and went on to something else. There are tens of thousands of videos on YouTube, so it’s easy to just switch over to a different one.

He has a good point, and I’ve thought that very thing myself. If I really like someone’s video, I try to let them know, but if I don’t, I generally just shut off that video and move on. It’s less stress and aggravation for me. And there’s so much negativity in our world already that I don’t see any point in adding to it if I don’t have to. But everyone’s different, and I do invite people to share their thoughts and feelings if they want to do so. Most people have been very appreciative of the videos on that channel. And whether or not people are appreciative, I know the Lord is. I teach God’s Word because it’s my calling, and that’s all that really matters.

I’ve had people ask me from time to time if I’m ever ‘really, truly happy’. My reply has always been the same for years. I am truly happy at two times in my life: when I’m teaching God’s Word or when I’m writing. Now, however, since I’ve jumped into the painting world to help myself de-stress, I can say that — at least most of the time — I’m also happy when I’m painting.

And anyone who really knows me will tell you that, without a doubt, I believe a good cup of coffee is a recipe for happiness all by itself.

Well, I’ve begun to ramble, and your coffee is probably getting cold. I need to offer you a warm-up and let you get into the conversation for a while. I hope you will find that you are having a ‘really, truly happy’ day today.

 


Thanks to Eclectic Ali for hosting our weekend coffee share.

photo courtesy of a-mblamma @ pixabay.com

 


 

Weekend Coffee Share 1-5-19

coffee pouring -- mammela - px
If we were having coffee together, I would have just poured you a fresh cup from a pot that just now finished brewing. Mmmmmm. My house smells wonderful. I think one of the reasons I love coffee so much is the aroma and all the memories it arouses. In my family, coffee was the main drink at our meals. And if company came over for a visit in the evening, we served coffee. So did all of our friends.

Also, in times of stress or when we were working through a problem together, we’d often put on a pot of coffee. Somehow, just sitting around the table together drinking the warm aromatic beverage — and maybe munching a cookie or two — just added a positive element to the atmosphere. And right now, I’m enjoying remembering all those times.

You would undoubtedly be drinking your coffee from a Christmas cup. I have loads of them, you know. And after all, it’s still Christmas. The official Twelve Days of Christmas celebration is not over until the end of the day today, January 5. I like to celebrate the whole season, and I’m still enjoying my Christmas tree and the Christmas lights on my front porch.

Tomorrow is Epiphany. I love that holiday. That’s the time during the year that Christians celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ came, not just for the Hebrew people, but for everyone in the world. The Gentile world (those who were not part of the Jewish heritage) recognized Him and worshiped Him as the Savior as well, and that’s why we celebrate the coming of the Wise Men to pay Him homage.

Many people don’t realize that the Wise men were gentiles from the Middle East who had studied the scriptures so carefully that they recognized that one particular brilliant star as the sign that had been prophesied hundreds of years prior to Christ’s birth. That star was their sign that Christ had finally come, and that’s why they made the journey to bring Him gifts. They didn’t arrive to visit Jesus and His family until Jesus was already about two years old. We often include the visit of the Wise Men with that of the shepherds at the manger, but the official celebration of their visit is actually scheduled into the church calendar for January 6.

Epiphany means “a sudden or great revelation,” and that’s why we use that term to commemorate the revelation to the Gentiles that Jesus Christ is the Savior for the whole world. So if we were having coffee today, I’d be talking about the wonder and joy of that revelation. And I’d also probably share that I’ve been working on some new videos for my YouTube channel that will spread the great news of that Gospel farther and wider.

Well, my first cup has cooled while I’ve been writing this post, so it’s time for a warm-up. I’m headed for the kitchen — and maybe a cookie as well. I hope all of you had a joyous Christmas season, and I wish you the best New Year ever in 2019.

epiphany banner

 


Thanks to Eclectic Ali for hosting our coffee share.

coffee photo courtesy of Mammela @ pixabay.com

 


 

Weekend Coffee Share 8/18/18

If we were having coffee together today, I’d tell you that I need about 3 more cups, along with a huge piece of chocolate cake and a handful of potato chips — you know — for that ‘sweet & salty’ touch. It could be that I’m just hungry because I’m writing this at suppertime. But I’m not fixing supper right now because I’m waiting for my nephew to come and move a very heavy appliance for me. So I’m probably just really, really hungry period. But boy, the coffee and chocolate cake would make a great supper, if you ask me.

I’ve had a very busy week, but it’s not the kind of stuff I really want to spend time going back over, so instead of telling you about my week, I’m going to do something different this time around. I’m going to give you one of my stories from what will soon be an anthology of short stories from the Elixir of Life Coffeehouse. So put your feet up and have another cup on me while you read.

 

COFFEE & LAPTOP -- Gilliw 1864 -- PX

AS THE PLOT UNRAVELS

“I don’t know what to do,” Neville groaned, rubbing his hands roughly over his face. Then he pushed his laptop out of the way and leaned both elbows onto the coffeehouse table, propping his chin in his hands.

“What’s wrong?” Clarence, the waiter bussing the table next to Neville’s, turned to question him.

Neville looked up, startled. “Oh … blast … I didn’t realize I had said that out loud. Sorry,” he added looking sheepishly around the room to see if other customers had heard. He was relieved to see that Elixir of Life Coffeehouse was having one of its quieter days.

“No problem,” Clarence answered and walked over to Neville’s table. “Can I get you a refill?”

“Yeah, that would be great,” Neville answered, handing the boy his cup. “It’s been a rough writing day.”

The young man returned in record time with Neville’s refill and stayed to talk a moment. “Do you have what they call writer’s block?”

“No.” Neville shook his head and continued. “No, Clarence. This isn’t writer’s block. In fact, I almost wish I did have that dreaded condition. My problem isn’t that I can’t get the story to move along. This story is moving along at an incredible pace. The problem is that it’s writing itself, and my original plot is unraveling as fast as I can put my fingers to the keys.”

“You mean you’re not in control of your own story?” Clarence looked at Neville as if he had lost his mind — just a little. And that made Neville laugh.

“Don’t worry, my boy,” he said. “I’ve not gone bonkers yet. And … thanks for making me laugh. It helps. But to answer your question, no, I’m not in control of my own story.”

“Wow … how does that happen?” Clarence asked, really into this new information he was being exposed to.

“Well it’s not too unusual for a writer to get into a novel and find that one of his characters seems to gravitate in a direction other than what he had originally planned — or that the story seems to be flowing toward an ending that’s different from what he jotted down in his outline. But what’s happening in my story is different.”

“How?”

Neville shook his head and sighed. “I’m not sure how it’s happened, but every character seems to be taking on a brand new identity and making his own decisions. The guy I had pegged as the hero has suddenly become the villain, and the woman he loves is rapidly developing feelings for his best friend — which means he will probably end up killing his best friend — he’s already entertained the idea — and maybe even offing the woman as well.”

“But does it matter who ends up being the villain and the hero — I mean — as long as you have one of each, it’ll come out even, right?”

Neville chuckled. “Well, it’s not quite that easy. My publisher assigned me a contract to do a specific kind of story. One that will be a believable sequel to my last three novels. They were moneymakers, and I’d hate to mess up a record like that. I spent the money I made on them, and now I need more.” He rubbed his face agitatedly again. “Besides that, I’d be breaking my contract if I didn’t give them what I guaranteed.”

“MmMmm, you do have a problem,” Clarence said, so engulfed in the conversation now that he just sat right down at the table beside Neville.  They both sat in silence for a moment, Neville stirring his coffee and staring at it as if he could somehow find an answer in the dark liquid. Finally Clarence asked, “Why don’t you just delete all that part that changed and go back to your first chapter and start over on the story you intended to write. That would take care of it wouldn’t it?”

“Unfortunately, I’m not able to do that.”

“Why not?” Clarence asked, his face showing his obvious confusion.

“Well, Clarence … as strange as I’m sure it sounds to you … the truth is that I’ve totally lost track of the story I intended to write … and besides ….” He paused and glanced off to the side, lost in thought for a long moment. Clarence waited, figuring Neville was trying to work out a plan.

Suddenly Neville looked back at Clarence with a smile on his face. He looked serene  now, rather than agitated, and Clarence leaned toward him across the table to ask, “You figure something out? How to stop this runaway story?”

“Nope,” Neville said, grinning wider. “I’m not going to stop this story, Clarence.”

“Huh?”

Neville reached over and rested his hand on Clarence’s shoulder. “Clarence, my boy, I’ve made a decision. I’m going to give this story my whole heart and soul and let it lead me wherever it wants to go.”

“But what about your contract and all?”

“Blast the contract,” Neville said, beginning to close up his laptop and slip his notes into his briefcase. “If that publisher can’t see the truth about the value of this story, then he can sue me.”

“But –”

“No more ‘but’s‘ my boy,” Neville answered, rising from his chair, laptop under his arm. “This is the best damn story I’ve ever written in my life, and I’ve just decided I’m free enough to give my creativity its own head and let it take me to my destiny.”

He slapped down his last five dollar bill as a tip for Clarence and headed out the door, whistling.

 


If you’d like to take part in the “Weekend Coffee Share” posts, hop over to Eclectic Ali’s site and get the details about how to join the group.

 

 

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Weekend Coffee Share 8/5/18

COFFEE METAL POT POURING - Coyot - PX

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If we were having coffee together today, I’d tell you that I had the funniest thing happen concerning my writing this week. One of the students in my creative writing class stopped to talk with me after our recent class and told me that he had just finished reading one of my novels. He said he had enjoyed it, but he had discovered a discrepancy that he thought I’d want to know about.

He referred me to the scenes in question and explained that in an early scene I had mentioned a bathroom not having a window at all (something important to the plot), and then in a much later scene I had referred to the size of the “bathroom window.” My mouth fell open as I listened to him, and my response was what you might expect: “You’re kidding!!!”  And then, of course, I thanked him for telling me and told him I’d check it out immediately.

Well, sure enough, folks. He was right. Not only did I say there was no bathroom window in one scene, but later, in two different scenes, I mentioned there being a bathroom window. So … unless I want to bring in a construction company and allow them to remodel the house as part of the plot, I need to rewrite my description of that bathroom.

Now, the funny part is this: I had written the first four chapters of that book a few years ago and had gotten bogged down with it and just put it on a shelf. Last year I decided I really wanted to finish it, so I promised my website readers that I would post the story one chapter a day on my site in order to force myself to finish the story in a timely fashion. So people from all over the world read that story, one chapter at a time, and commented on it. A few got very involved with it. And of course, the book had two different editing sessions before it went into publication as a complete work. Yet not one person noticed that a bathroom window had suddenly appeared in a bathroom that had no window.

I told my student that he is the only living human being who caught that mistake. I also suggested that maybe he should get a job as a proofreader.  🙂  But I’m so glad he didn’t hold back, afraid to tell me about the mistake — particularly since I was his writing teacher. There are some people who probably would have been hesitant to say anything. And I’m glad that I no longer publish that book with the original publisher, but I currently have it published through a self-publishing platform with Amazon. So that means I can get into the system, correct my mistake, and make sure only the corrected text gets published from now on.

The whole episode was a tad embarrassing, but it was also a great teaching tool, in that it serves to re-emphasize the truth that editing and re-writing are, without question, the most important part of writing any book.

Hope you’ve enjoyed our coffee time. Would anyone like a refill? I think I could use another cup. I have some rewriting to do …


Thanks to Eclectic Ali for hosting our coffee share.

 

 

 


 

Weekend Coffee Share – 7/7/18

COFFEE MAN WITH FLOWERS - resized

If we were having coffee today, I’d most likely tell you about my creative writing class that got underway last week at the local college. It definitely got off to a robust beginning and then continued to make records for the most unusual writing class I’ve ever taught.

The first class met June 28, and about half-way through the class, the students’ phones began going off with a weather warning signal. The report said a tornado was headed our way and we needed to “take cover now!”  Since it was the first class of that term, and my classes last year had not been in that particular building, I did not remember exactly where the “safe” rooms were, so I had to hunt for the building map. I found it in the tray of the whiteboard, and immediately located the closest “safe” room for students to move to. My students weren’t actually frightened or panicked, but since one whole wall of our classroom is glass, they did want to get out of that room.

Well, when I tried to open the door to the “safe” room, it was locked. So I told the students I’d check the alternate rooms listed on the map, but then, suddenly — as if out of nowhere — one of the main custodians appeared with a key. However, as he opened the room, he also told me that a different room on the other end of the hall was actually safer, so I directed my students there instead. One woman’s husband was sitting in a lounge area reading while he waited for her.  So the custodian went to get him and have him join us in the “safe” room.  I was praying, of course, but I did feel responsible for making sure my students were as safe as possible.

Before we got to the safe room, some of the students stopped to look out one of the windows. It was pretty black outside — even though it’s normally still quite light at that time — and as they were looking, suddenly the wind took down a tree. We learned that another tree on the campus was also uprooted as well, but we didn’t see that one.

With class interrupted, we just sort of sat and conversed about other topics for a while, and two students kept tabs on the weather updates. One of them read a report that a local Kroger store had taken all their customers into their meat locker for safety. One of the students commented that if her daughter had been in that position, it would have been like a nightmare because the daughter is a vegetarian.

Everyone was pretty upbeat during the waiting time, and after a while, they decided they’d like to go ahead and continue the lesson. So I went back down to our original room and got all my teaching material so we could have the lesson while we waited. There was no whiteboard, but I was able to give them some of the material without it. When the warning time had expired,  with our building still in one piece, we packed up our stuff and moved back down to our regular room and continued our class, no worse for the wear.

One of the students had ridden a motorcycle to the class. So he had about a 20-mile ride home in the rain after we let out. But the winds had died down, and the warnings had expired at least. He had come prepared, though. He had brought along a rain suit, so I guess he’s been caught in that kind of situation before. He made it home okay and was in good shape to come back this week.

Now, to this week’s chapter: When I got to the classroom Thursday, two of my students were standing outside the building — in 100-degree heat. As I stepped from my car, I yelled to them and asked if the door was locked. They said it was. So I got back into my car and drove over to the security and maintenance building. I couldn’t get anyone to answer my pounding on the door at the security office. I couldn’t get into the maintenance office, and I even stopped at a shop area where they were welding to ask for assistance. They just sent me back to the security office, but that second time, an officer FINALLY came to the door.

Evidently, because our class was meeting the day after the 4th of July, we were one of only a few classes that were meeting that day. I guess several of the others had dismissed for the rest of the week, and the officer said his list of buildings that were supposed to be open for classes did not include the one we were trying to get into. However, he drove over and opened the building for us. It was a little strange to be the only class meeting in that great big building, but at least all was quiet weather-wise, and we had no interruptions.

All in all, I’d say this term’s writing class has been less that boring. And if nothing else, maybe it will give students something to write about. However, I do hope next week is TOTALLY ordinary.

Have a great week, everyone!


Thanks to Eclectic Ali for hosting our weekend coffee share.

 

 

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Weekend Coffee Share 6/24/18

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Hi, Everyone.
If we were having coffee together today, I’d probably tell you that it’s been a  pretty busy and a very stressful week. I did manage to get several things done that needed doing, so I feel good about that. Today was a super busy day with church work. I preached at this morning’s service, and after the evening meeting, a few of us counseled with a young man who has had very serious problems with addictions and all of the attending horrors that go along with that lifestyle. But he gave his heart to the Lord tonight, and I expect he’ll see a great difference in his life from this point on.

This week has been my last week to prepare for my two creative writing classes coming up this term at John A Logan College. I’ll be teaching a writing fiction class and a writing non-fiction class. We always have more people sign up for the writing fiction classes, but I enjoy teaching both equally well. I think a lot of people just don’t have any idea how much fun and creativity is involved in writing non-fiction — or how wide and vast the arenas are for that kind of writing. I wish more people could get excited about it.

I also received a surprise gift of See’s Chocolates this week. Wow. That’s some of my favorite candy, and boy did I need it — with the stress and all.  After all, chocolate is the best antidote in the world for stress. And, of course, when you add a great cup of coffee with the chocolate, I am immediately transported to my “happy place.”

I did, however, do one other thing to relieve some of the stress. I often pick up a good book — one that doesn’t require me to get too involved emotionally — to destress, but this week I was in the mood for some old classic science fiction movies. You know the ones I mean — those that came out in the 1950’s and 60’s. They’re the ones that look so artificial now — after all of our real-life space travel and the high-level technology in movie making these days. But there’s something about the artificiality of those old films that re-captures my imagination. Most of them are fairly predictable, of course, but for me that’s part of their charm. I did get onto the edge of my seat once or twice while watching a few of them, but for the most part, they just did a good job of getting my mind off everything else and taking me away from troublesome ‘real life.’

That’s about it for my week. Hope you all enjoyed the coffee and that you have a great week coming up.

 


Thanks to Eclectic Ali for hosting the Weekend Coffee Share.

 

 

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Weekend Coffee Share — 6/16/18

Thanks to Eclectic Ali for hosting the weekend coffee shares.

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I’m so glad I have some time to share coffee with you guys this week — because I am really excited to share with you about my newest venture. I have recently created a brand new poetic form. At least, I think I have. With all the searching I’ve done, I’m fairly certain no other poets have this form out there. I’m excited, not only because I loved the challenge of creating a unique form, but also because there is only one poetic form that is generally recognized as being ‘American’ by the poetry world. So this new form that I’ve created — being American myself — will be the second.

And to make it even more truly American, I borrowed from my own Cherokee culture to give the form a name. I’ve called it Tso’i. That word is pronounced “cho-ee,” and it is the Cherokee word for the number ‘three,’ and I chose it because the syllable count for the 5 lines of the poem are in multiples of three. I’ve posted about the form — along with examples of poems that follow it — in more than one post on my author’s site and my poetry site. So I don’t want to be too repetitious here. But I know there are a few people who read the “Coffee Share” posts who don’t read my others.

That being the case, I want to tell you the details of my new form so that any of you out there who enjoy writing poetry can try it if you’d like. So here’s the scoop:

A Tso’i poem must meet the following guidelines:

It must have 5 lines
Lines 1, 3, and 5 must have end rhyme.

Syllables:
Line 1 has 3 syllables.
Line 2 has 6 syllables.
Line 3 has 12 syllables.
Line 4 has 6 syllables.
Line 5 has 3 syllables.

Lines 1 and 5 follow a dactyl meter.
Lines 2, 3, and 4 follow an iambic meter.

Subject matter and theme are open to the poet’s imagination and preference.

Here’s one example from my own work:

PARAMOUNT KNOWLEDGE

Knowing God:
Oh, what a wondrous thing
To comprehend such pure love; I’m completely awed,
Learning I am priceless
To my God.


If any of you poets out there would like to try this form yourself, please do and leave a copy of it — or a link to it — in the “Comments” section below.  And have a great weekend!

 

 

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Weekend Coffee Share – 3/18/18

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Hi. Come right on in and make yourself at home. I’ve got coffee in the pot — and a cup of “senior coffee” from McDonald’s as well. It’s one of those days.

If we really were having coffee together, I’d probably show you my newest coffee mug — which was a Valentine’s Day present from one of my former high school students. I’ve included a picture of it, so you can enjoy it as well. I taught high school and junior high, both public and private, for many years. I retired from that arena, but now I teach creative writing classes at a junior college. I’ve been very blessed to have many of my former students stay in touch with me for decades now. It’s much easier these days with so much social media and e-mail. I appreciate the love and gratitude my students still show me. They are special people.

I’d probably also tell you that this week I finally took one more step into the digital age. I’ve had my own books available in digital format for quite a while now, but I seldom read anything in that format. However, this week I downloaded two whole Bible translations onto my Nook. As a minister, I do enormous amounts of Bible study and Bible teaching, and often I use at least two or three translations in any given lesson. That fact makes for a pretty heavy load to carry around in my briefcase — or briefcases as the case may be — so this week I decided that two of those translations could go digital.

It’s a great relief to grab up that little Nook reader instead of two heavy books. In this morning’s service, I had to carry only one regular-sized King James Version and my digital reader with the Lamsa Translation and the Amplified. I think I’m going to appreciate the new digital age even more now.

Also, if we were having coffee, I’d probably tell you that this coming week is going to be a big event in my life. Perhaps to some, it might sound like nothing much, but for me, it’s major. I’ve shared a couple times on here about losing my very best friend last August. Because he was also my main editor for my books, that loss was made even more tragic, and I was having a very difficult time getting back to working on new books — three of which were in progress and had been contributed to by him. Every time I tried to get back to work on those books, the sorrow was just too heavy and the creativity for those projects too deeply buried.

But I’ve experienced more healing recently, thanks to the Lord’s grace, and this week is the week to pick up where I left off in August. So I’ll be pulling at least one of the works in progress off the shelf and stirring the ashes, so to speak. Hopefully, the creative flame will take over from there. I’m actually looking forward to it, and that’s a major breakthrough for me.

That’s about all I have to share today. My McDonald’s coffee is pretty well gone, and I’m headed back to my own pot for a refill. Hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend — and your coffee. Hopefully, we’ll be able to share again next weekend.  🙂

 


Thanks to Eclecticali for hosting our weekend coffee shares.

 

 

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Weekend Coffee Share – 3/11/18

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My Welcome Mat

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If we were having coffee today, I’d probably tell you that this has been an extremely busy week, but has also been a week full of starting things that didn’t get finished. I did, however, finish editing and polishing a novel that I actually wrote 6 years ago, but never carried it through to publication.  I wrote several novels after that one, and they are all on the market, but this one just didn’t get off the shelf for some reason.

But this week I finished my editing and polishing — with the help of 3 readers who caught several typos and other various and sundry errors. I posted the book one chapter at a PROFESSOR'S EDUCATION COVERtime as I was editing, so I could get some good reader feedback, and I certainly did. Most people seemed to really enjoy the story. Frankly, I’m hoping that they enjoyed it enough to go purchase some of my other books.
[ Hint, Hint 🙂 ]

Anyway, THE PROFESSOR’S EDUCATION is finished and on its way to the market place, where it will join my other 15 books. I feel very satisfied with the finished product, so I have high hopes for it. Of course, once it’s in the marketplace, it won’t be posted on my website any longer. But I warned readers that it would be gone after tomorrow, and everyone who was interested has finished it.

During our coffee chat, I’d probably also tell you that I’ve been going through the car-repair mill again. There are several things wrong, and my mechanic is trying to schedule the most important things first. But several obstacles have interrupted the work getting done, so I’m starting to feel a little frustrated. But the car is still drivable, and as the old proverb says: “This too shall pass.”

The weather’s still crazy here in Southern Illinois. My daffodils are in bloom, and it’s sleeting right now and is supposed to snow this afternoon. But that’s par for the course. Every year, when my daffodils pop out, the weather turns mean and nasty for a few days. But bless their hearts, my little daffodils just take it in stride. And that reminds me of a little Life Lesson I recorded on YouTube a couple years ago about daffodils and what they teach us about life. I’ll put the link on here in case you’d like to check it out.

Well, I’m going to go refill my coffee cup and prop my feet up for a while. Hope you have a great day and a happy and successful week.

 


To join in the coffee share, visit Eclectic Ali for details.

 

 

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Weekend Coffee Share – 1/13/18

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Hi, fellow coffee drinkers. Well, to begin with this week, I need to confess that I am not drinking coffee as we have this little chat. I’m actually drinking a glass of beer. Does that count??? Now, I’m not a big drinker, and I never drink alcohol of any kind if I’m driving. But I do enjoy the occasional glass of wine or beer. And today — with my sandwich at lunch — beer just seemed like the winner.

I’m also enjoying the first day of sunshine that we’ve had in a week. Of course, I’m not going out in it, since the temps are frigid, and the ice on the roads is still really bad. I imagine the major highways are clear, but getting to them from our local and side roads is the challenge. But I don’t have to go out for anything today. I stocked up a few extra supplies so that I could hunker down if necessary.

Now tomorrow is a different story. I’m supposed to do the sermon at church in the morning — actually it’s the second part of the sermon I began last Sunday — and my church is about 30 miles away. Sooooo — I’m going to have to do some more praying and planning about travel tomorrow.

To make matters more difficult, I’ve been having trouble with my car heater as well. It’s been working only about half the time. That wasn’t a serious problem last week when it was in the 40’s and 50’s. But this week with single digits at night and in the wind chill during the day, it’s a sort of — uh — well, maybe a big — problem.  There are a couple church members who would come to get me, but I don’t really want them to have to do that, so I’ll have to make some decisions within the next several hours.

The sun on the ice and snow is pretty, and it has lifted my spirits enormously. I’ve even manged to write two poems today and about half a chapter of a book I started several months ago and have had a hard time continuing.

After I lost my best friend back in August in a very tragic accident, I had a very difficult time getting back into my creative mode. Not only was he my best friend, but he was also my best editor and often a source of great inspiration and terrific creative ideas. We were a really good team, and I have several novels on the market to prove it. But, as I’m sure you can imagine — and perhaps some of you know by experience — when half of a team is deleted, the spirit of the remaining half of the team is sorely damaged. During this time, I’ve been able to express myself only in poetry, and I even began a brand new website devoted to poetry in order to set that creativity free. But I have not been able to write on any of my novel projects during these four and a half months. But at last, this week, I have experienced a breakthrough of sorts, and two novels are beginning to feel the positive effects of that breakthrough.

Well, that’s probably enough sharing for this week. I can see by the clock that in another hour, I’ll probably be ready for that cup of coffee and maybe some cookies — or fruitcake. And, by the way, why is it that fruitcake seems to get a lot of bad publicity?  I love fruitcake. And mine’s almost gone. I hope I don’t have to wait until next Christmas to find some more.

Oh, one more thing. I discovered something interesting about birds this morning. With all the ice, I wanted to help the birdies find food, and since I don’t keep a regular bird feeder, I went to my bread and cracker supplies. I have quite a few birds that visit my yard, and often two families of birds that live in my Blue Spruce tree in my front yard. This year I’ve had mockingbirds, cardinals, blue jays, blackbirds, and another kind that I don’t recognize.

I put out some bread and some graham crackers, but then I discovered an old box of garlic and chive crackers. I decided I’d give them a try as well. The smaller birds didn’t bother with those garlic crackers. They ate the other things, but a large contingent of blackbirds came swooping down and really dug into those garlic and chive crackers. They were gone in no time. So now I know — and I can put it on record — that blackbirds like garlic and chive crackers. A friend of mine who’s very knowledgeable about birds said the big birds will eat just about anything. So I just might go in there and see what else I need to clean out of my cabinets.  🙂

 


photo courtesy of seagul @ pixabay.com

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