Charlie Anderson

The other day, my daughter told me about a book she and Grandma heard during story time at the local library.

IMG_2287_2She said it was called Charlie Anderson, a title I’d never run across before. My interest was piqued when she told me it was about a cat named Charlie, who leaves his people and goes into the woods every night. On the other side of the woods lives a family with a cat named Anderson, who goes off into the woods every morning. I started laughing.

“Honey, that’s awesome!” I said.

“So they call him Charlie Anderson,” she told me.

“We’ll check it out the next time we go to the library,” I promised. Continue reading

Random thoughts

1. It is hard to keep creative energy flowing in January.

2. Especially when all four of your kids come down with the stomach bug at the same time.

3. I found joy in tending them but I will be so happy when we are all well again… if this is really going to happen, which in the darkish hours I tend to doubt…

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4. Is there anything in the world more tasty than a fresh homemade donut? I’d never made one before, so my friend Yvonne invited us all over for a lesson and a party. When the first bite sparkled on my tongue I was smitten. Hard.

5. The world is full of good news and bad news. And many, many words. How do you choose what you listen to?

6. My husband just listened to Jayber Crow on audio and found it stirring and powerful. Now it’s on the top of my to-read list.

7. Especially since the last book I read was a real lemon. What is it with that stripe of classic English literature? The author creates the perfect woman (gorgeous, cultured, spunky, refined) and the perfect man (handsome, muscular, aggressive, and [oh-by-the-way] filthy rich), and places them into extremely compromising situations, from which—having saved each other—they escape with their morality intact but their lives irrevocably one. No one in the world could possibly think of so many exquisitely romantic things to say. Or say them while hanging by one hand off a cliff.

8. (Except, apparently, the novelist, who probably never touched a cliff in his life.)

9. My brother’s T-shirt slogan comes to mind: “Great story, babe. Now go make me a sandwich.”

10. This does not mean I don’t believe in romance.

11. But I prefer the real-life variety.

The random words of Shari are ended, for now. And the sarcastic and weary part of me is fiendishly pleased to see I have eleven observations. This seems to fit.

My turn: Book suggestions

Well, you guys sure made enough fuss about “only one book!” Did I say “only one book”? I did not. I suppose “favorite” does tend to sound rather exclusive… except to those of us who love best whatever we are savoring at the moment…

[grin]

Well done!

I am pleased to find that you powered through your frustration enough to leave a comment anyway… and pleased to find that you love good books! Well, I won’t deceive you: there were a few weird ones in there, but by and large—great choices, girls, great choices. I am toying with the idea of compiling a printable list of your suggestions. It looks like a lot of work for me, but maybe if you say Please.

Meanwhile, I had a little book hunt of my own.

On Tuesday last, I failed (again) to show up at my boys’ school (this may or may not have happened before) and help out for fifteen minutes like I’d promised (“this is because I was an airhead on Tuesday and I’m still an airhead now”).*

I might never have thought of my missed appointment again, except that my son got in the van and said “Mom, why didn’t you come?!”

???!!!!!!

I emailed his teacher: Is there anything I could do for you to make up for my oversight yesterday?

She said: Oh, let’s see, what would I like? How about you let me borrow one of your favorite novels to read this winter?

Now that’s a teacher who talks my language. Plus she offered free forgiveness, books or no books.

books

I gathered a basketful for her to pick from, since I don’t know what she likes and what she’s read. These are not “my favorite books in the world” but they were on my shelf and I love them.

Thanks for your suggestions, everybody. That was fun!
Giveaway results coming next Wednesday.

*****

(*Quoting Ree Drummond. She cracks me up.)

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Giveaway: Footprints on the Ceiling

Update: As of 11/26/2014, this giveaway is closed.

*****

Dear folks, I’m delighted to announce two things today—

First, Dorcas Smucker is paying a virtual visit to this spot {right here right now} as she makes her rounds on a blog tour, with our own private interview coming right up…

And second, she is giving away an autographed copy of her brand-new book, Footprints on the Ceiling, to one of you!

This is her fifth book. Some of you know

Ordinary Days
Upstairs the Peasants are Revolting
Downstairs the Queen is Knitting
Tea and Trouble Brewing (also available on Kindle)

All are worth your time… now, Footprints on the Ceiling joins the pack.

It’s a collection of stories drawn from real life in an Oregon farmhouse. Dorcas is a pastor-and-teacher’s wife and a mom of six. She writes about daffodils and mysterious spots on the ceiling, yellow teapots and foreign travel, frantic searches through trash cans and the irresistible Christmas Eve kitten (who wouldn’t stop yowling).

What I like about Dorcas is that she’s down to earth. She is at home in her house, her family, her skin; and while she is always interested in learning new things, she doesn’t reinvent herself or pretend to be something she’s not. But the best thing? She believes that all stories should come out right in the end. She blends ripping good humor with real-life wisdom, always set against the backdrop of that firm and quiet optimism.

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Today she’s offering a copy of Footprints on the Ceiling for free, to one of you readers. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment, and answer this question for me: What is your favorite book in the world?

(You are not allowed to say “The Bible” unless you really want to be stubborn–in which case be my guest–first, because it is the Ultimate Book: that’s a given and nothing else holds a candle to it; second, because I don’t want you coerced/ guilted into saying it; and third, because you would be missing the point, which is giving book suggestions to each other. Forgive this interruption.)

Dorcas blogs here, at Life in the Shoe. And now, as nearly face-to-face as we can get.

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Hi Dorcas. I’m going to pretend we’re chatting over tea… You write a lot about your children. What’s some of the most pure fun you’ve had in mothering?

There’s been a lot of fun but my favorite times are when we’re all in the kitchen, maybe eating, maybe doing dishes, maybe just hanging out, and there’s this snappy, loud, constant, funny conversation going on.  The older they get, the better the conversations get.  I sit back and just listen and smile.  One of my children’s friends said recently, “People don’t have these kinds of conversations at my house.”  So I know how fortunate I am.  Otherwise: there’s that adorable stage at maybe 18 months when they laugh at everything.  And the fun of dressing little girls in matching dresses and going off to church.  And going to visit adult children on their own turf.

Does it get easier or harder as they grow?

I think even the worst adolescent drama is easier than colic, and teenagers learning to drive is easier than getting up three times every night and also chiseling smeared mashed potatoes off the high chair.  However.  When the baby is asleep in his bed you know where he is.  And when the teenager is late coming home and won’t answer his phone, well, there’s no anxiety in the world quite like that. So things change, but the easy/hard question varies so much with each child.  And sadly, you still don’t get much sleep when they’re teenagers, what with midnight fridge raids just across the wall and noisy late-night conversations upstairs.  Erma Bombeck said there was a study that said women in their 50’s have trouble sleeping.  She said it’s no wonder–by that time, they’ve forgotten how.

Have any advice for young moms?

Maybe this should be my next book. 🙂  In a nutshell: if you show up and do the best you know, things will probably turn out ok.  You can chill just a bit, you know.  Not everything is a crisis.  However, if you’re the sort of mom who lets her child break the eggs in the grocery store and thinks it’s cute, please chill a bit less.  You’re the mom, after all.  So be the mom.  Ultimately, your own character is the deciding factor–your child will likely be a lot like you.  Also: read to your child for 15 minutes a day.  And answer their questions, although you’re allowed to ask for silence after the 85th question of the day.  You’re the mom, you know.  You make the rules.

I noticed this book is dedicated to Ben. Is there a book for each child?

I’m working my way down through the list, and it was Emily’s turn this time, but she wanted me to dedicate my first novel to her.  So I skipped her, and dedicated this one to Ben.

A novel? Really?

Well, I’ve kind of crossed the Rubicon there–I now HAVE to write a novel so Emily isn’t left out. The short answer is yes.  The “when” is far less certain.

I love the shoe theme in Footprints on the Ceiling! What’s your own favorite pair of shoes?

I love my white Clarks sandals in summer, and in winter my basic Naturalizer slip-on Mom shoes that look dressier than running shoes but still take me to town and prayer meeting and the dentist, in all kinds of weather.  And I can wear them with socks.  I also like my one pair of high heels but I seldom wear them because I lose my balance.  I wore them to a wedding last summer and told Paul beforehand that he has to stay close by at all times because I need to hang onto him so I don’t fall.  And later a young friend said, “It was so sweet.  Paul was just so attentive to you at the wedding….”

What’s the craziest thing about publishing your fifth book?

The agonies of editing, and the self-doubts.  Seriously, you’d think I’d be beyond ten minutes of deliberating over a comma.  And you’d think the nasty voices would stop–you know, the whispered “stupid stupid” “dumb dumb dumb” “shallow shallow” as I review each chapter.  I’m told there are writers [Harvey Yoder who wrote for CAM in particular] who pretty much scrawl a good rough draft and then let the editing crew take over and finish it.  I absolutely cannot do that, even when I hire an editor to go over my manuscript.

Any idea where you want to go from here?

So many ideas, so little time.  My next project is typing up and publishing my dad’s memoirs.   I’ll keep writing for the newspaper as long as they want me and/or I feel led to do that.  A novel, of course.  Maybe a compilation of blog posts.

How fun!!

Footprints on the Ceiling is available for $15 per book, postage included.  You can mail a check to Dorcas Smucker, 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446.  US addresses only.  To send a copy to Canada or overseas, email Dorcas at dorcassmucker@gmail.com.  Also available here through Amazon.com.

This post contains affiliate links.

*****

Now for the giveaway: What’s your favorite book in the world?

Open to US residents only. Giveaway closes in one week.

Update: As of 11/26/2014, this giveaway is closed.

Competition: story rewrite

[Exasperated sigh after story hour at the Zooks]

Are there or are there not just some really psychotic characters in the story of Rumpelstiltskin?

rumpelstiltskin

First we have the proud father, who tells a complete lie to the king and sends his daughter’s future up in smoke. Oh, good thinking, Pops.

Then we have the king. We forgive him for being so in love with gold that he sacrifices everyone else’s happiness for it; this is the stuff we are used to in fairy tales. But honestly. He believes the thing about spinning straw into gold? And then he has to prove it three nights in a row before realizing what a gold mine he is perched upon?

And then of course the marriage… Night One: I’m going to cut off your head in the morning. Night Two: I’m going to cut off your head in the morning. Night Three: I’m going to marry you in the morning. Aw, thanks, king; that’s sweet of you. HOW IS THIS NOT AS GREAT A THREAT AS NIGHTS ONE AND TWO??

Which brings us to the girl. She weeps three nights in a row. Perhaps something more creative could have come to mind, such as burrowing into the straw, conning a guard, or jumping out a window? And then promising the baby?! This chick has no scruples, as evidenced by her smiling face on the wedding photo.

And our illustrious Rumpelstiltskin. His heart softens enough to prolong the queen’s agony for three days before the kidnapping?

Not to mention the messenger, who apologetically claims he “can find no new name but one” after hitting the jackpot?

If anyone can hand me a better version that actually makes sense of the key elements in the story, be it a paragraph or a page, I will publish it here. Put on your thinking cap; ask your children for solutions; dig out your reference books. Serious, satirical, or sappy—anything would be better than the above. I’m grading for logic, not polish. Best version gets a prize, and I’m not joking. You have three weeks. Send it to sharizook@gmail.com.