Get It Free

Greetings dear friends, followers, and fans. Today is the first day that Mending Fences is available for free on amazon.com. It will continue to be free through October 1. The story is about a Viet Nam veteran turned pastor named Robert McGinn. He loves the Lord and his family but seems to always be away helping someone else when a crisis happens. When his little girl dies, his wife April, decides she no longer wants to be a pastor’s wife. Even his son Jack turns on him. After the funeral Robert moves from their home in Tennessee to Oregon. Seventeen years later he is diagnosed with a terminal illness (a rare disease described on CDC website). Now he has some decisions to make. Amid recurring nightmares of various types of broken down fences, he is trying to decide if he has enough time to mend those broken fences of his life, and if he does, will anyone care?

See the author interview at http://www.indiehousebooks.com.

I am so excited about this. This is a first for me–advertising and/or marketing on the internet. It is also difficult because I don’t like to call attention to myself. This life isn’t about me; it’s about God and how much He loves us and wants to provide for us as a father would for his children. We just have to invite Him into our lives. My prayer is that, through my writing (which is a gift from Him), others will come to know how much He loves them and wants to help them through the struggles, trials, and tribulations that come just from living. If we never had a problem we wouldn’t know we needed God.

Thank you all for repsonding and reading. I promise to try to do better at responding to your comments.

Sincerely,

Aleta Kay

aletakay.wordpress.com

Serially Lost Part 2–Writing 101

I thought we were going to be given future assignments to finish this three part series, but since none has been forthcoming, I will follow the lead of some other bloggers and just do it. The first part dealt witht the loss of my mother.

My brother, Herman, was nine years younger than me. When he was about two years old he would run across the lving room in our bungalow in Aston, Pennsylvania, yelling a-a-a-a-adooo! He was mimicking my sneezing as my allergies kept me doing. It was funny and I couldn’t help but laugh.

He was still in a crib, and his had drawers in the bottom. He loved to jump up and down, and every morning he would wake us all up with his bouncing. One morning we heard a loud ker-thump, wham! He broke his bed. The bottom of his bed was now on top of the drawers, which were now broken. It was time for a new bed.

Our dad decided to make the attic into two bedrooms. He did a great job. We had linoleum floors and drawers built into the walls that were about three feet wide and two feet deep. One day the little girl across the street came to play with Herman. They were four years old. Kathy was so cute with pine-cone brown hair and chocolate eyes. Herman and Kathy both loved to color. They started with the coloring books but got bored and decided to decorate Herman’s room. They colored the floor, the headboard of the bed, the walls, and the part of the ceiling they could reach when standing on the bed. When they were done Kathy went home. My mom saw the artwork later and called Kathy’s mom. Kathy needed to come back and help Herman scrub everything.

When I was in high school he was in elementary and I would walk him to school, then head back to the Cambridge High. We lived in Cambridge, Maryland. I loved my little brother but was embarrassed to take him. Teenage pregancy was common and I was afraid people would thik he was mine. Of course that was ridiculous since I would have had to be nine years old when I had him. Many kids thought I was a great big sister because I “took care of my little brother.” They couldn’t have been more wrong.

He was our dad’s only son. I was adopted by our dad so in my self-centered little mind, I wasn’t really his child (when compared to my brother). My dad was good to me, but I was jealous of my little brother. I stole money out of his piggy bank. I dumped my cold mashed potatoes on his plate and told Mom he just didn’t want to eat them. I was not a good big sister. . .until–

It was a warm spring day. Herman had gone down the street to play with one of the kids who lived there. He came back crying because the junior high kid had hit him in the leg with a baseball bat. I was so mad. As I ran out the door my mom asked where I was going. I never talked back to my mom (I knew better) but I said I’d be back in a minute. I grabbed that kid by the shirt front and said, “If you ever touch my brother again I’ll knock you flat. If you want to pick on somebody, you pick on somebody your own size, namely me.” I let go and went home.

Due to my mother’s temper, I ran away from home when I was eighteen. My fiance (thank God we didn’t get married) lived in Westminster, He graduated a couple of days after me and he had a room in a boarding house downtown. I packed my suitcase as full as I could get it and stayed with his parents while I found a job. I was concerned about Herman’s welfare after I left but I just couldn’t stay any more. I left him a note on his bed, telling him I was sorry to leave him with Mom’s temper and promised to try to find a way to stay in touch.

I was gone a month when I had to go home. My mom was driving the fiance’s family crazy with phone calls. I wouldn’t speak to her. When the boyfriend threatened to hurt me I knew it was time to go. My mom sent the youth minister from church to come and get me. We rode the ninety miles in near silence.

When I got home mom told me that Herman had carried that note around in his jeans pocket for weeks.

He grew up to be a Methodist minister and I was so proud of him. He married a sweet lady several years older than himself. He died at the age of forty one due to diabetes, which we didn’t know he had until just a year before his death. I miss him very much.

aletakay.wordpress.com/writing101

Merry Christmas!–writing 101

Christmas at our house was the happiest time of the year. My mother loved to decorate and her taste was ecclectic. Our tree was filled with lights, shiny ornaments, and tinsel. We had gold garland and silver. The neighbors would come over every year to see our tree.

Garland and greenery were draped and hung around pictures on the wall, lamps, the stairway banister. Christmas bells were hung on the door. Santa Clauses, elves and other figurines were placed on knick-knack shelves and end tables. The front porch was adorned with Poinsettias and Christmas cactus. The smell of evergreen permeated the house. Those smells, mingled with the tantalizing aromas coming from the kitchen were enough to delight even my allergy-sensitve olfactory senses.

Mom would start the holiday baking a week early, singing and dancing in the kitchen as she worked. She didn’t make the same cookies every year. Every year she would try at least one new recipe. There were snowball cookies, chocolate chip, oatmeal, no-bake chocolate-coconut cookies, gingerbread. Oh, the smells of cinnamon, mace, cloves, and ginger that wafted from our kitchen. . .mmmmm. Are you hungry yet?

On Christmas Eve she would make two or three pounds of powdered sugar candy. Some people call this potato candy because they mix in a potato that has been cooked until mashable. My mom didn’t use the potato. She made extra thick buttercream frosting, rolled it out on a surface sprinkled with powdered sugar, and spread peanut butter on it. Then she rolled it from the narrow end into a log shape. Then it was sliced and put on a wax-paper lined plate. A fresh sheet of wax paper was placed between each layer of candy.

Christmas morning was a race to see if we children could get up before Mom and Dad. They were as excited as we were, even though they knew what was in our packages. There were never any disappointments in our house on Christmas morning, even though there wasn’t much money. We had been taught from an early age to be content with whatever we had. The best part of Christmas was the laughter, the merriment, and the one day of the year we could indulge in junk food for breakfast (except Mom and Dad who still wanted a real food). Then we watched the parade.

Was there enough detail? Could you smell the cookies, taste the candy?

aletakay.wordpress.com/writing 101

The Park in Three Parts–Writing 101

First Person–

Our family goes to Bluestone State Park in Hinton, West Virginia every year.  Due to road construction and bridge work, the front entrance to the park is closed. We had to take the back entrance. We left Whitesville and drove to Beckley. We could have just taken Rt. 3 but that would have taken a lot longer so we got on I-64 West and took exit 129B. We got on Rt. 307 East and took that to Rt. 19 South.  From there we drove through Daniels and Shady Spring.  At Shady Spring we got on Rt. 3 South, taking us through White Oak and Jumping Branch, on through to Nimitz. At Nimitz we immediately turned right on Sand Knob Road. This was the road of adventure, as the road narrowed until it dropped down to a narrow, unmarked one-lane road going through the back of the park. But it was daytime and we made it through the bumps and passing a school bus.

2nd Person POV

Due to blasting and road construction near the entrance to the park the route getting into Bluestone was different. If you were coming from Beckley you would need to take Eisenhower Drive to I-64 West to exit 129B.  You would take that exit which would put you on Rt 9/307 headed towards Little Beaver State Park. You would follow this road to Rt. 19 South.  You would drive through Daniels and Shady Spring. From Shady Spring you would go South on Rt. 3. This would take you through White Oak and Jumping Branch.  You would keep on driving until you get to Nimitz, which is not on the map.  Almost as soon as you enter Nimitz the road forks. One way goes almost straight to the right, while the other part of the road curves left. You would take the right which is Sand Knob Road.  Sand Knob Road goes through a rural housing area and is a typical two-lane country road. However, the farther you go down the road the more narrow it gets. School buses drive this road to pick up and deliver children.  Eventually you see a sign on the left that says Bluestone State Park.  The road becomes a one-lane road which still has houses where there are children who ride the school bus. This is the back entrance to the park. There are no pull-off areas and no shoulders to the road. Also, there are a lot of potholes. You would need to drive carefully , and plan to stay in a hotel if arriving at night because the sides of the road are not painted so you wouldn’t see the edge. Driving this road at night would be hazardous.

3rd Person (Omniscient) POV

They had traveled far, coming from Oklahoma. There were three adults, two teenagers, a three-year-old and a toddler. Someone had to text them to make sure they knew how to get to the park. Fotunately, they did not have to travel through Beckley. They came down the West Virginia Turnpike headed South, got off on Rt. 460 East in Princeton,  got off on Oakvale Road, then turned right on Rt. 20. This took them through Athens, past Pipestem State Park, and past the front entrace to Bluestone State Park. Two miles past the front entrance to Bluestone, they turned left on Rt. 3 and took this to Sand Knob Road, where they proceded through the back entrance to Bluestone.

Please advise if there are errors.  Even in proof-reading, I don’t always catch them.  Also, let me know if this is confusing or could have been explained better. Thanks.

aletak.wordpress.com/writing 101

Kill The Adverbs–Writing 101

It’s autumn in West Virginia. I’m standing at my favorite overlook at Grandview State Park off of Rt. 9 in Raleigh County. As I descdribe this, keep in mind that my winters are spent in Florida where there is very little color change in the leaves. Florida is flat and straight compared to these blue-gray tinged mountains in the Appalachian range.

The colors burst forth at their peak around mid-October so I’m going by memory here. The fall breezes are crisp as they tingle fingers, noses, and ears. I wear a red, fleece-lined windbreaker and rejoice as the wind blows my hair about my face. The ochre, crimson, and butter-colored leaves crunch under my feet as I walk the trail.

From the overlook, I watch the rapids swirl in the New River below as it slithers between the mountains. The evergreens still wear their deep variegated hues. In shadow they are a bluish black. It seems God drew with his finger the path of the river between the peaks and valleys, playing with His artwork.

The railroad track that caresses the base of the mountain across from my lookout is diminished to toy size, it is so far below.

I stand, exultant in the majesty before me, brought to tears by the brush strokes, purposeful design, and love I see in this creation done by the Master’s hand.

aletakay.wordpress.com/writing101

Just Three More Days

I am in the Eastern Daylight Timezone, so three more days until my novel, Mending Fences, is available at no cost on amazon.com. If you choose to get a copy, please review the book after you have read it. You can also contact me here or send me a tweet. I will be happy to respond to all requests. Let me know what your favorite books are and what you like about them. Happy reading.

Contrast in Dialogue: Writing 101

The subject in the psychology class was punishment. The professor was also a practicing psychologist with several degrees behind her name. Most of the people in the class were fresh out of high school, I was the lone thirty-something-year-old.

“Punishment doesn’t work,” Dr. Atkins said.

I raised my hand. “Do you equate punishment with discipline?” I asked.

“Of course. There’s no difference.”

“Wrong answer,” I countered. “There is a big difference. I was raised with punishment. That’s when you’re in trouble because someone else is having a bad day and you’re the one handy enough to take it out on. Discipline is done with love and understanding.”

Dr. Atkins smiled. “Our prisons are filled with people who are being punished by our penal system. It doesn’t work. They get out and go right back to crime.”

The just-out-of-high school students were hanging on her every word. Just because a person has a lot of learning doesn’t make them right about everything.

The professor continued. “Hitting a child teaches that child to hit. Biting them back because they bite reinforces the biting; it doesn’t correct it.”

“That’s because it is done as punishment, not discipline,” I said. “When my children do something wrong that is, or may be harmful to them, and they don’t listen to instruction, they get a spanking–on their bottoms, where it is supposed to be administered. Before the spanking is administered we talk to them and explain that this is not fun for us as parents. We don’t enjoy spanking, but they must learn not to continue in this behavior. It is for their own good. We tell them we love them and spank them because we care what happens to them.”

Her face wore a cocky expression, the look of triumph from a superior to an unlearned pupil. “You expect your children to believe that you hurt them because you love them.” She turned to the class. “Does that make sense to all of you?”

Some said yes while others agreed wtih me. But I wasn’t quite finished. Maybe I just had to have the last word.

“After our children have stopped crying they come to us for a hug, which is joyfully given. We ask if they understand why the spanking was administered. When we are certain that they understand they are allowed to play or we play with them. They know they are loved.”

Dr. Atkins still disagreed with me. “Just make sure you answer the question correctly on the test,” she said.

aletakay.wordpress.com/writing101

The Country Preacher–Writing 101

This is my assignment about the most interesting person I’ve met this year.

It has been an interesting summer as we have traveled to see grandkids in Alabama and Tennessee, then to West Virginia to visit my brother-in-law and his family, and go to family reunion there.

It is our practice to find a church to attend wherever we go. While we were in Jackson, Tennessee we found a small church on Bedford White Road called White’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. The pastor there is the subject of this assignment.

Bobby Keene has no formal pastoral training. He lives in Lexington, about thirty miles away from the church. He’s country to the core. There is no eloquence in his speech. He’s just country. He mispronounces words with the best of them. He loves to sing and play his guitar. But most of all he loves God and the flock that he ministers to.

Brother Bobby comes to church in blue jeans and a plaid shirt. He speaks with a deep southern twang to rival Alan Jackson. He can’t stand still when he’s preaching. He leaves the pulpit and comes down to where you’re sitting, Bible in hand, and looks eye-to-eye with you as he tells you “What the Good Book” says. He doesn’t give his opinions without stating that this is his understanding of the Scripture. He invites anyone to correct him if they know he’s wrong in his thinking or understanding. He’s not afraid to cry over his sin, and admit that he’s still a sinner (just like the rest of us who are sinners saved by grace). When he preaches about what God has done, and is doing in his life, his voice cracks and his round face turns red as he swallows his tears. He remembers what it cost his Dear Savior to save his soul.

Bobby is not real tall, about five feet, nine inches or so. He’s round in the belly but not a real large man. He likes to eat (like any good Baptist, especially fried chicken) and the church has a potluck supper every second Wednesday evening in the fellowship hall, where they also have prayer meeting and Bible study. He doesn’t need a haircut very often: it’s the old 40’s style military haircut. His blue eyes light up every time he smiles, which is most of the time. Laughter bubbles forth from him as he talks and as he preaches. Church rarely gets started right on the dot. He sits down and visits with folks as they come in. He’s just country.

Bobby is friendly to everyone he meets. There is not a single person that would not be welcome at this church. The congregation is as friendly as its pastor. They all greet newcomers with a smile and a handshake. They give hugs if the newcomer is the first one to hug: they don’t want to be too forward, thereby causing offense.

Bobby’s wife stays home due to a lingering illness. It grieves him to leave her there but he felt led of God to take on this poastorate, and he’s good at it. He keeps in touch with the people under his watch and prays for them continually. There is no deceit and no pride in this man. He does his best to live what he believes. He admits to the congregation when he falls short and seeks their prayers. He truly is a humble servant of God.

The Countdown Begins

It’s almost time. Excitement is building. Will it be a success? Will anyone notice? Will anyone care? Maybe I’ll polish my nails to take my mind off of the anxiety. It’s a good anxiety but still, I need to relax. Relax. Can I? I have lots of books to read. Maybe that will help. I’m starting Hunger Games. I saw the first two movies but haven’t read the books. My sister-in-law sent me an e-mail, loaning me hers.

Or I could read Les Miserables. But I know I won’t finish it before the 27th. Oh, wait, I only have 12 days left to finish the Hunger Games Trilogy. I need to read. But. . .

On the 27th my novel, Mending Fences, will be available from amazon.com for free. It’s in e-book form. On the same day Indiehouse Books will post my author interview. What if I blow it? What if I didn’t answer the questions right? Oh, I’m so nervous.  Self-promotion is not my forte, but everything I read says an author has to promote him/herself in order to gain readership. Yikes!

Mending Fences is about Viet Nam vet turned pastor Robert McGinn. (This is entirely fiction.) He’s a meek, likable guy who really loves the Lord and his family, but he’s never home when they need him most. When his little girl dies his remaining family turns against him in anger and frustration. They no longer want him around. After the funeral he moves across the country. Seventeen years later he’s diagnosed with a terminal illness–three months to live. What will he do? Does he have enough time to mend the broken fences in his relationships? If so, will anyone care? Should he even bother?

Another excerpt will be posted Monday. God bless.

The Letter On The Side of the Road

It’s a halcyon day in the Arizona desert. It’s winter but during the day it gets up to sixty-something degrees. It’s a great day for walking and rock-hounding. But what’s this I see? It’s a crumpled piece of tan colored paper. I reach down to pick it up and carefully smooth it out as well as possible. There are water spots on the ink so some of the words are hard to read. It says:

            My dearest Alena,

            The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is leave you. I never meant to hurt you, but it is impossible for us to marry. My heart is shattered and I can’t even explain why. You need to forget me and move on. I’m leaving and I’ll never be back. I will always love you. I wish I could explain but it’s impossible. Tell dad I’m sorry.

 There’s no signature, no date, no address.

Word Press Writing 101 exercise