Thursday, December 17, 2009

Success

Earlier this year, I was experiencing some self doubt. It seemed like I was never going to find a publisher and I began to wonder if I was good enough to get published. I prayed for a sign that I was on the right track. That night, I had the following dream. Although it is not about being an author, the main character does experience the fulfillment of a life long dream.

My cell phone rang and I saw the call was from my sister, Dawn. Darn, I had meant to call her. “Happy Anniversary,” I greeted her.

“Thanks. Can you do me a big favor?”

“Do you need me to take care of the kids?”

“No, mom picked them up about a half hour ago.”

“Can I help with the meal?”

“I’ve got that under control. Could I borrow that gorgeous blue night gown you bought last year?”

I hadn’t even worn it yet but I figured after a year, it was a pretty good bet I wouldn’t be needing it any time soon. “Sure, I’ll bring it right over.”

When I arrived, the Irish linen table cloth was set for two with Dawn’s sparkling crystal, china, and silver. The aromas of Charlie’s favorites, lasagna and poppy seed torte assaulted my nose.

“Thank you! You’re a marriage savior.”

Dawn took the night gown out of the original packaging and shook it out. “It still has fold marks.”

I shrugged. “Maybe it was just meant for you. Consider it an anniversary gift.” It really frosted me that she would look better in it than I would have.

She laughed. At first I thought maybe she had read my mind but then she said, “It reminds me of a joke I heard. An elderly woman wanted to surprise her husband on their anniversary so she met him at the door in the nude. He said, ‘Your night gown needs ironing’.”

I laughed. “That should be grounds for divorce, right there. Anything else I can do to help?”

“No I just need to shower and dress.”

“Hang the night gown in the shower while you are showering. It might steam out those folds.” I gave her a hug. “Have a romantic evening.” I turned the doorknob and she said, “Oh wait, I have something for you too.” She ran into the bedroom and came back with a ticket.

“What’s this for?”

“Never mind; just go tonight.” She gave me a quick hug. “Good luck. You can do it. I have faith in you.” She practically shoved me out the door in an effort to prevent me from asking any questions. As she closed the door behind me she said, “I love you.”

Nothing on the ticket gave me a clue what it was for. The only information was the time and place. I didn’t even know how I should dress. I settled on a simple burgundy dress I knew looked good on me.

When I arrived, all of the comfortable seating had been claimed except for a couch. There was a sleazy looking guy seated at one end so I sat at the other end as far from him as possible. Apparently he took the term ‘lounge lizard’ literally. In less than a minute he was trying to lounge all over me. I pushed him off and onto the floor. As I got up, I scanned the room for another comfortable chair. I spotted one and headed over to it but another woman beat me to it. I narrowly escaped sitting in her lap.

In another area of the room I saw several metal folding chairs. At least I wouldn’t be fighting with anyone over them. After I was seated, I tried to eavesdrop on the conversations around me but nobody was discussing the pending event.

Suddenly, the room erupted in applause. Searching for the source, I saw Joyce Anthony, a very popular singer. She sang her biggest hit and then she started another song. As she sang, she walked around handing the microphone to various people. Some were only allowed to sing a line or two before she handed the mike to the next person. Others, with better voices, were permitted to sing longer. When she came to me, she had just started singing a fresh song. She still hadn’t removed the microphone after I completed the song. The audience was silent as she encouraged me to sing another. When I was done, the audience broke out in thunderous applause. She smiled at me and handed me a card. Then she moved on. The rest of the night was a blur. I could only focus on the card that read, “Congratulations! You have been chosen to perform at 7 tomorrow night at the Atrium Theatre.” It was the strangest audition I had ever seen.

When I called my sister the next morning, she thanked me again and told me her husband thanked me too. “How did the audition go?”

“I’m singing at the Atrium tonight.”

“Congratulations, I knew you could do it. When I saw the ticket being offered for the audition, I naturally thought of you.”

“Thank you.”

“I’ll take you tonight. I can’t wait to hear you perform.”

My sister knew me too well. She knew if I had known about the audition, I would have chickened out and she knew if she left me to my own devices, I would never show up tonight.

When we arrived, all of my demons of self doubt were running rampant. There were five people who had won a performance opportunity from the previous night. I was scheduled as the last singer.

Upon seeing the size of the audience, I lost what little confidence I had left. “I’m sorry. I can’t do this,” I said to Joyce Anthony.

“Think of it this way,” she advised. “Last night was for you. Tonight is for them.” She indicated the audience. “Tonight you represent all of their hopes and dreams for success, whatever they might be. Tonight you affirm for them that anything is possible.”

As I walked onto the stage, I prayed I wouldn’t fail them. The standing ovation afterward confirmed I had never sung better.

I realized, success isn’t achieved or enjoyed alone.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Excerpt from my newest book "The Girl Who Loved Rudolph"

My brother knocked on my door and entered. “How come you want to get rid of all of your toys?”

I didn’t know how to explain so I just shrugged.

“Even Beethoven?” Brian knew I still slept with the old earless bear.

I kept meaning to find a way to replace his ears but never got around to it. After awhile, I convinced myself it lent him character.

I threw the bear on the floor. “Leave me alone.” I turned my back on Brian. He sighed and I heard him leave. When I turned around again, Beethoven was gone too.

I got up to slam the door and Brian, who had come back to my room, stopped me. “You’re being a brat. Mom and Dad worked hard to get you those toys.”

Once I started sobbing, I couldn’t seem to stop. Brian flopped down on my bed and waited patiently. When I finally stopped crying he said, “You ready to talk now?”

“You wouldn’t understand. You’re real.”

“So what are you? Phony?”

“You’re their real son and they are your real family. You belong here; I don’t.”

He remained silent a few moments, thinking that over. “Have Mom and Dad ever made you feel like they love you less than me?”

“No.”

“Have they ever left you out of any of the family activities?”

“No.”

“Have I ever acted like I didn’t want you as my little sis?”

“No.”

“How much more real can it get?”

“I could be their real kid, like you.”

“After they had me, they were told they couldn’t have any more kids. They really wanted another child so they decided to give you a home. You couldn’t be any more wanted or loved if you had been born to them.”

“Did you know?”

“Of course. I was here when they brought you home. You were pretty boring back then. All you did was cry, sleep, and eat. I couldn’t wait until you were old enough to play games. Brian smiled. “I remember it was winter when you first got here. I’d go outside with Rufus, wishing you were big enough to help me build a snowman. Rufus was no help. He was just a pup then. He kept jumping on the snowballs and breaking them as I tried to roll them.”

I laughed. Brian always knew how to make me laugh. “He never stopped doing that.”

“Yes, but between the two of us, we managed to keep him occupied with his own snowballs to smash.”

I knew it would make him uncomfortable but I gave Brian a quick hug anyway.

“Go wash your face and hands. It’s time for dinner.”

“What did you do with Beethoven?”

“I thought I’d try to give him some ears.”

“What will we call him, then?”

“I dunno. Mozart?”

“Hey Brian?”

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

“Yeah. Me too. Now get going before Mom starts hollering that the meal’s getting cold.”

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Flickertail & Paint in The Christmas Cria

Flickertail the llama and Paint the horse were building a snow horse in the freshly fallen snow when Alice stopped by to visit with Mary.

“I’m really worried about my granddaughter, Lynn,” they heard Alice say to Mary.

“I hope she doesn’t have that nasty flu that’s going around,” said Mary.
“No. She’s really missing her pet lamb. My son, Jeff and his wife, Sheila have been having a hard time of it. She lost her job and they depended on her income to help buy feed for the animals. They’ve had to sell them all. Lynn’s lamb was her 4H project and she was really attached to that lamb. She seems depressed to me. She doesn’t have any interest in any of the things we used to do together. She always loved helping me decorate the tree and make Christmas cookies.”

“Is she old enough to understand the situation?”

Alice nodded. “She should be. She just isn’t accepting it very well.”

“When is Lynn coming to visit with you again?”

“Sheila has a job interview this afternoon and she is dropping Lynn off.”

“Well, I hope Sheila gets the job.”

“I do too, but they’ve gotten so behind on their bills that I don’t think they will be able to buy back Lynn’s lamb even if Sheila does get the job.”

“Why not bring Lynn over here? She might enjoy playing with all of the animals.”

“It’s certainly worth a try. I’ll bring her by around 2 o’clock.”

Alice left and Mary went back in the house.

Flickertail said, “Poor little girl. I wonder how we can help make her visit here special.”

“Cinnamon had a baby a few months ago. I’ll bet Lynn would love playing with a baby llama. He’s soft and wooly like a lamb.” Paint recommended.

“Great idea. Let’s go talk with Cinnamon.”

“Let me see if Princess still has the pretty sweater she made for her cria to help keep her warm. Snowball can go outside to play in the snow with Lynn,” said Cinnamon.

When Lynn and Alice arrived, Cinnamon and Snowball were ready and waiting for her.

“Awww,” said Lynn. “Can I play with the cute little baby llama, Grandma?”

“If it’s OK with Mary.”

“Of course. Just be really gentle,” said Mary.

“I know. I had to be gentle with my lamb too. What’s his name?”

“Snowball. He’s a cria.”

“What’s a cria?”

“A baby llama.”

“How come he’s wearing a sweater?”

“I guess he wants to play outside with you.”

“Oh goodie. Can he walk around an agility course yet?”

“No, why don’t you teach him?”

Mary and Alice got the obstacles from the tack room and Lynn helped set them up outside. She set up a ramp, a flat bridge and another ramp for the other side of the bridge. “I’ll just start out with this for now.”

Very patiently, she taught Snowball how to walk up the ramp, across the bridge, and down the other ramp. After a few tries, he did it perfectly and Lynn gave him a llama treat and a hug. “What a good boy! You are so smart,” she said.

“Do you want to try walking him through a tire next?”

“No. I’ll think I’ll just take him for a little walk, now to relax him. I don’t want to tire him out too much. Can I come back tomorrow to work with him some more?”

Mary smiled and nodded. “If it’s OK with your grandma and your parents.”

“It’s fine with me,” said Alice, “But you’ll have to ask your mom.”

Lynn came by every day after school and on weekends to work with Snowball.
One day Mary said to Lynn, “You have done such a great job training Snowball, I think he is ready to be in the Christmas Parade. I just don’t have the time to be in the parade. Would you walk with him?”

“Ooo yes. Could I make a costume for him and enter him in the costume contest too?”

“That sounds like fun. What kind of costume will you make?”

“I don’t know yet. I’ll have to think about it.”

“Well, if you need any help, let me know. I might have some old material and other things around here you could use.”

“Thanks Mary.”

A few days later, Lynn was rummaging around in the barn. She found the peacock costume Flickertail and Paint had made to camouflage William, the turkey during Thanksgiving. She ran with it to find Mary. “This is great. Can I use this?”

Flickertail followed her, wondering what she was doing with the costume.
Noticing Flickertail’s concern, Mary laughed. “I think you’d better ask Flickertail. It’s his costume. He made it for William.”

“You knew about that?” Flickertail asked.

“You should know by now, you can’t hide much from me around here. You’ve been hiding William for the last three Thanksgivings. I have to admire your loyalty. You and Paint really outdid yourself this year though.”

“You mean we wouldn’t have had to hide him? Why didn’t you say something?”

“I was having too much fun watching you and Paint come up with clever ideas.”

“So is it OK, Flickertail?” Lynn interrupted.

Flickertail shrugged, “It doesn’t look like William will be needing it again.”

“Sorry to spoil your fun, Flickertail,” said Mary.

“It’s alright, I guess. I just feel kind of silly.”

“Being a caring friend is never silly.” Mary gave Flickertail a hug.

“It will probably need some adjustments to fit Snowball. Paint and I can help with that.”

Lynn, Flickertail and Paint worked on the costume until it fit Snowball perfectly.
The next Saturday, Lynn and Snowball won the blue ribbon for the best costume. When she brought Snowball back, Lynn ran into the barn by Flickertail, Paint, and Mary. She gave them each a hug and handed the ribbon to them.

“All of you deserve this for being the best friends I ever had. Thanks to all of you and Snowball this is the best Christmas ever.”

WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY?

For autographed copies of Flickertail & Paint, Barnyard Sleuths you can buy directly from my website.








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