Unexpected Guest

>> Monday, July 30, 2012

Michigan’s been an oven most of the summer. We’ve had triple digit temperatures, dying grass, and farmers in fear of losing their crops.

A few weeks ago, it was so bad I decided to spend Saturday holed up in the AC just to avoid going outside. (I'll use any excuse to spend an entire day writing.)

I had a wonderful time, but my brain eventually turned to mush so I headed off to bed. The Kindle and I had just snuggled in when I heard a bump. Didn’t think too much about it…until the dog snarled.

This was unusual. Foxy’s deaf, has cataracts, and just plods along, minding her own business. For her to get excited about anything lead me to believe she’d cornered a bug, mouse, or some other creature. Annoyed, I sat up to investigate and…

Found myself staring into the face of a twenty pound raccoon.

I yelped, dragged the dog out of harm's way, and contained the trespasser in the bedroom. Pretty soon the door began to rattle, followed by a series of crashes.

So there I stood in the middle of the living room, trying to figure out what to do. And whether or not CPR on oneself would be possible since I felt like I was having a heart attack. Then I reached for my phone...only to realize I’d left it in the bedroom.


I knew what needed to be done so with a deep breath, I cracked the door, snatched it up while the critter smirked at me, and called “Handy Guy” (aka the neighbor.)

He didn’t answer. So I called 911.

"911--What's your emergency?"

"There’s a…a…raccoon in my bbbbeeeeddddrrroooommmm."


“What? In your house?”


“Umm, what’s your name again?”

“Please, just send someone over.”

“Uh, yeah, what’s your address?”

(address repeated.)

“Okay, they’re on the way.”

Meanwhile, “Handy Guy” had called back and hustled on over. We decided to scope out the situation and found the room totally dark. (My “guest” had disconnected the lamp from the wall socket.)

A flashlight revealed the poor thing hanging from the window casing, six feet off the ground, wrapped like a sheik in the window sheer.

He looked none too happy.

Well, neither was I.

The police arrived (two officers that looked all of twelve years old) brandishing a stick with a noose on the end. A few minutes later, out they came and without a backward glance, hopped in their patrol car and sped off.

It was a long night without much sleep.

Apparently the raccoon had slipped in through the in-out door I have for the animals. What creeped me out was the fact that I have no idea how he managed to walk all the way through the house and get to the  bedroom without me or one of the pets seeing him.

I’m sure it was a fluke. Over the years, I've had a few stray (domestic) animals and deceased "gifts" courtesy of the kitties.

I would guess the raccoon was just looking for relief from the heat and wanted to take advantage of my air conditioning.

But next time, I’d appreciate it if he’d make a reservation.


Brandilyn Collins--Part II

>> Monday, July 23, 2012

Today we have the conclusion of  Amy Wiley's interview with author of the popular Seatbelt Suspense® books, Brandilyn Collins.

AW: You've had bouts with Chronic Lyme Disease yourself. I suffer from Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS and/or Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Several of my blog followers also have debilitating chronic illnesses. I find it very difficult to find enough creative energy to write when my fatigue is acting up, which is often. Do you have any advice for writing in the midst of the fatigue, pain, and brain fog that comes with these types of conditions?

BC: You can only do what you can do. I’d say push through it as much as possible, but writing is not as important as your health. During my difficult time with Lyme in 2002-2003, I fought to write when I had such terrible brain fog.  Amazingly I managed to write about 2/3 of a book. But then I became so sick that I simply had to stop. Had to call my editor and say, “I can’t do this. I have no idea when this book will be done, but I must stop.” And it was the right decision. I simply couldn’t push myself any more. I felt such relief to stop trying.

AW: Do you have any general advice for those of us working on manuscripts or pitching completed ones to agents and publishers?

BC: Keep at it. That’s all I can tell you. Writing is a very, very hard business. Being rejected is very hard. (I know—I worked for 10 years to be published in fiction.) Along the way, if you want to quit—quit. Kick a cabinet or two and walk away. If you’re meant to be a writer, you’ll come back. If not, you’ll find what you are meant to do. I quit, oh, two to three times during that decade I was trying to land my first contract. Did me a world of good. Cleared my head, and by the time I came back I was ready to fight again. Besides—and hear me good now. (Perfect grammar or not.) Once you start being contracted, you can’t walk away. You can’t quit. You have to create, no matter if you’ve got a fever, or your kid is giving you fits, or your creativity is completely gone, or your parent dies, etc. If you’re not yet published, enjoy the ability to write only when you want to. I understand the push to be published. But I do wish I’d better enjoyed the time when I wasn’t. I could have been a lot easier on myself. The process is hard enough, and we writers tend to beat up on ourselves. We’re all a flaky lot, generally. Especially novelists.  
AW: I can especially appreciate that advice now as I'm starting to feel the extra stress of having a publisher waiting to read my Reaching Sky manuscript. Speaking of current projects, can you tell us a little about the books you are working on right now?

BC: Right now I’m just starting my 25th book, called Sidetracked. Another suspense. Last May my novel based on Lyme disease was released—Over the Edge.

On March 1 of this year my next novel is released—Gone to Ground. This is a great story, if I do say so myself. Three women in small-town Mississippi all realize to their horror that they’ve learned the identity of the serial killer who’s murdered six women in their town. And that person is someone very close to them. Each woman must make the difficult choice to bring the man down. But each woman suspects a different man. The book is told in first person from each of the three women—Cherrie Mae, black, 62; Dina, white, 36, and Tully, white, 19. Two races and three generations. Makes for an interesting mix. I went to Mississippi to audition people for the voices so they’d sound right. And the Cherrie Mae on the video is the real-life Cherrie Mae I interviewed before writing the book (to get the African American dialect right). I ended up using her name for my character with her permission—then her actual voice on the book trailer.

In mid-October my next book will release. Double Blind is about a brain chip implant—gone terribly wrong.

AW: Ah, nothing like making characters suffer. Those sound exciting! And the trailer must have been fun to make. I'm looking forward to reading them. Now just for fun, tell us something about you that isn't writing related.

BC: 1. I’m horrible at mechanical things. So bad it’s not funny.    2. I can’t kneel or squat, thanks to the damage Lyme left in my knees. Even after my miraculous healing from Lyme (if you haven’t read that story, please do!), this has continued. Amazingly I can still run my daily miles. So it doesn’t affect me too much.

AW: Thanks, Brandilyn, for being here today!

BC: Thanks for inviting me. By the way, all you readers out there, if we’re not connected on FaceBook, just why not? You’re missing out on Today’s Word. Think how much smarter you could be. You can find me here.



Be Sure To Plug In

>> Monday, July 16, 2012

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.           2 Corinthians 12.9 MSG

My Sunday School class has started another John Bevere series. I love his teaching: He’s funny, relevant, easy to understand, and an awesome man of God.

Relentless is all about perseverance. Never giving up. And staying on the path God wants us to be on in order to complete the assignment he's given us.

Grace plays a big part in relentlessly pursuing what God wants of us. I always thought it was just his kindness in light of our unworthiness. And it is. And so much more…because we often skip over the power that comes along with it.

Here is my definition of grace, gleaned from what I’ve learned so far:  Free, unmerited favor (a gift that comes from believing in what Jesus did) empowering us to go beyond our natural ability, by tapping into the power source.

It’s all about the power.

Part of my daily routine is drying my hair. Like clockwork, I grab the blow dryer and a few minutes later, I’m ready to move on to the style/spray/torture phase.

But what would happen if I forget to plug in the dryer?

I'd probably go on a rant because what I expected didn't happen. No whoosh of hot air in sight, I might turn the button on and off repeatedly. And try to “fix” the thing by banging it on the counter.
But it wouldn’t help.

I’d then make a mad dash to Wal-Mart and buy a new one while concocting a story for my boss as to why I’m late for work.

All because I never plugged into the power source.

Back to my definition, God gives me grace to help me accomplish great things for him. But not by myself: His power makes us a team.

Sometimes I marvel that he picked me to do anything. But more important, he will help me do it. It’s a lot of pressure because I don’t want to disappoint him.

However, I can relax. All he asks for is my willingness. All I need to do is plug into the power.

He’ll do the rest.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
Eph. 2.8 NLT


BBB presents: Diane Reed Loew

>> Monday, July 9, 2012

If only she lived closer!

My writing buddy, Diane Reed Loew is a quick-witted, dry sense-of-humored gal that lives a few hours from me. I love her writing and live vicariously through her fun-filled life.  

From Diane: Thank you, Kim, for trusting me with your audience.

Kim and I met a few years ago at a FaithWriters Conference and she has been a blessing—longer distance than I prefer, but blessings all the way.

I am a wife, mother, and grandmother from the west side of Michigan. We own a dairy farm and life is usually a bit stinky, messy, and never boring here. I hope you enjoy an event from my view of the world.

We are finally going to have family pictures taken. We have not had a professional family picture, other than at weddings for over 20 years.

In preparation of this momentous occasion, on Monday evening around 7:00 PM I decided I was going to color my hair. When you get to this stage in life you have to use every tool available to help. I had just finished touching up the roots and set the timer for 20 minutes when Farmer/husband got the dreaded call - "The cows are out!" He jumped into the truck and headed to the barn.

Feeling exempt due to the hair coloring I went out on the back porch, sat down in my comfy swing and looked across the road at the farm. The BEBs (brown-eyed bossies) had escaped from the barn closest to our house and I could see a couple running around. I saw Son #2, daughter-in-law #2, Wigglie #2 (grandkid) and then, Farmer joined in the rodeo. I thought, "This will be fun to watch."

Well, then I saw another cow, then two more then another and then "crap" I thought. Being the responsible Farmer's wife that I am I pulled on my jeans and headed over.

So, with my hair all askew, looking like red chicken feathers sticking up all over and with my special hair coloring T-shirt on, I entered the fray. My hair coloring T-shirt is oversized, with a cow print on the front that is splattered with color from over the years of using it while coloring my hair.

Wigglie looked at me a little funny, but was soon distracted by an 800 pound BEB coming at him.

My long, lean and lanky daughter-in-law was running around along with Wigglie #2 and Son #2. I cannot understand how she can be all dirty, sweaty with her hair pulled back in a ponytail, no makeup and still look beautiful. It is just so unfair!

I joined the BEBs roundup. The cattle were in the middle of the feed alley and had to be herded down and out the end of the barn, turned immediately to their left and back into the adjoining pens. Son #2 was bringing up the rear and the rest of us were in front and made a human fence to guide the boisterous bovine back into the pens.

As big as these BEBs are, they are pretty gentle. They can run towards you and all you need to do is just wave your arms and they will turn the other way - most of the time.

There were a couple that weren't as excited about going into the pen or just wanted to get a closer look at the lady with the rooster on her head. I had to shove them back in the right direction. I think they were snickering as they went back into the pen, "Oh yeah, that's the Farmer's wife, she's the weird one."

I wondered, what is all this wind, dust and surely there must be some flying pooh in the air, going to do to my hair? Will there be any weird chemical reaction if poop and hair dye mix? And, how long have I been here, will my hair turn green and fall out all because someone (who would pay dearly if they were found) didn't chain the gate?!

We got them back in and Wigglie says "Grammy, is that your hair coloring shirt? I can tell 'cause it looks like you spilled some on it before." He was all sweaty with dirt rivers running down his face and this big ol' smile. He is so precious.

“You got it, buddy!” I replied as I wiped sweat diluted dye from my forehead. 

I jumped back in the car, rushed home, and checked the timer. I had twenty seconds to spare. No sweat. Well, yes, there was some, but you know...

If you’d like to follow the randomness of my ramblings, join me at Random Ramblings Of...

Just make sure you don’t wear your good shoes—wouldn’t want you to step in any pooh!



>> Monday, July 2, 2012

I got up this morning still jet-lagged from traveling a few days ago. Yesterday I was a zombie so it’s an improvement, but I still don’t want to face the fact that vacation is almost over.

My brain ticks into multi-task overdrive: post-vacation piles, mail, laundry, squeezing in some writing, exercising, and a host of other things vie for my attention.

Hopping on the treadmill is about the last thing I feel like doing, but I know “Oh, I’ll do it later” usually means it never happens. Unfortunately, I usually choose to make exercise optional.

So with a determined shrug, I make a conscious decision (choice) to get it out of the way. I slip on headphones and bring up the latest Joyce Meyer teaching on my iPhone, entitled “Making Right Choices”


“Wisdom always chooses NOW what it will be satisfied with LATER.” 

She talks about how we make choices every day--good and bad. And the affect they have on our lives: consequences and reward.

The program got me to thinking: Do I make wise choices so that I’m satisfied later?  Or do I rush into rash decisions and live with regret?

Soul-searching reveals that I am able to make good choices. When considering purchases, I try to wait and see if the item continues to dance through my mind so I don’t buy impulsively. If after a few days it won’t leave me alone, then apparently it’s something I really need. It doesn’t always work (i.e. electronics or Kindle books) but it’s good in theory. My beautiful new car? Have never regretted that one…

Then I evaluate the not-so-good decisions.

For example, the smoke detector is blipping because I have chosen to ignore its need for a new battery. And even though I’m annoyed, I still CHOOSE to sit on my duff, distracted and unable to concentrate.

I should choose to clean up the house.What I want to do is go play golf. The consequence? Disorganized chaos that will make me crazy in the long run. 

Not worth it.

I hoist myself up and go deal with the smoke alarm. It takes time, tools, and new batteries in both detectors to find out the culprit is actually the carbon monoxide box.

“Should just take the batteries out of all of ‘em,” I mutter…and realize what a recipe for disaster that is...and a stupid choice.

Big things, inconsequentials, and life-changing decisions:

It’s all about the choice.


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