Sunday, May 31, 2020

#RRBC May Member of the Month #RRBCMOM #RWISA #RRBC_Community

It's the last day of May, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect upon the past month as the #RRBC May Member of the Month. I have been a part of many organizations in my life but few have showered their members with so much love and support as the Rave Reviews Book Club.

This club...family... is for readers and writers. For readers, it offers you the opportunity to get to know amazing authors. It's a great feeling to be able to chat with an author about his/her book, especially when that author becomes one of your favorites.

For writers, RRBC connects you with other incredible authors. It allows you to improve your craft through workshops, contests, and club events. It helps you promote your books through author support, "Rave Waves" blog talk radio spots,  and monthly hot seats. Most importantly, it gives you a community of authors who enjoy writing and reading.

I am beyond grateful for the support that I have received this month as Member of the Month and for the love and camaraderie that I have enjoyed for the past six years in the club. I am honored that I have been given a lifetime membership status and am proud of my membership in both RRBC and RWISA.



If you are a writer or a reader, I encourage you to join the Rave Reviews Book Club. It is a decision that you will be happy you made for years to come.



Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Celebrate the #RRBC #KCT Int'l Literary Awards Grand Prize Winner - #RWISA Author Harriet Hodgson


Today, I have the privilege of sharing with your the grand prize winner of the #RRBC KCT International Literary Awards, "So, You're Raising Your Grandkids!" by Harriet Hodgson


BOOK BLURB

If you are a grandparent raising your grandchildren, help has arrived.

According to the US Census Bureau, more than 10% of all grandparents in the nation are raising their grandkids, and the number is going up. You may be one of the millions of these grandparents and it's a role you never expected. Willing as you are to assume this role, you have some questions. How will I find the energy for this? Is my grandchild normal? What if I "blow it?" Each day, you look for ways to make life easier.

This book will:

•Help ease your worries and guilt;
•Offer tips for creating a grandfamily;
•Give methods for improving grandparent-grandchild communication;
•Suggest ideas for how you can connect with your grandchild's school;
•Provide child development information;
•Recommend approaches to help your grandchild set goals;
•Stress the importance of having fun together;
•Offer ideas of how to foster your grandchild's hopes and dreams.

So, You're Raising Your Grandkids blends Harriet Hodgson's wise and moving grandparenting story with recent research and findings. It shares her 21 years of caregiving experience, including seven years of raising her twin grandkids. Each chapter ends with What Works, proven tips for grandparents raising grandkids.

At the end, you'll cheer for all the loving grandparents---including you---who are putting grandchildren first.




Rochester, Minnesota resident HarrietHodgson has been a freelance writer for 38 years, is the author of thousands of articles, and 36 books. She has a BS from Wheelock College in Boston, an MA from the University of Minnesota, and additional graduate training.

Hodgson is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). She is a contributing writer for the Open to Hope Foundation, The Grief Toolbox, and The Caregiver Space websites. Visit www.thecaregiverspace.org/authors/hhodgson to read her articles.

Hodgson has appeared on more than 185 talk radio shows, including CBS Radio, dozens of television stations, including CNN, and dozens of blog talk radio programs. A popular guest, she has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer’s, bereavement, and caregiving conferences.

Her recent work is based on Hodgson’s 21 years as a family caregiver. She was her mother’s family caregiver for nine years, her twin grandchildren’s guardian and caregiver for seven years, and is in her fifth year as her disabled husband’s caregiver.  Visit Harriet’s RRBC Author Page to find out more about this busy wife, grandmother, caregiver, and author, as well as more information on her many other books listed in the RRBC catalog.


Join me in celebrating this amazing author! :-)

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

JK Rowling and The Ickabog

Even since I opened the first Harry Potter book, I've been a huge fan. I lost myself in the world of wizards and witches and magic. I fell in love with the characters, the world, and the themes. JK Rowling is gifted with words, and I'm grateful that she shared that gift with the world. And now, JK Rowling is releasing The Ickabog for free while we endure this time with COVID-19. So, if you are a fan of JK Rowling, then head over to The Ickabog website here. I've already read the first two chapters, and I'm hooked!

Oh, one more thing! There is a contest for artists, from novices to experts, so keep an eye out for that! ;-)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Welcome to Day 12 of the 2020 RWISA "RISE-UP" Blog Tour! #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp


Welcome to the final day of the 2020 RWISA "RISE-UP" Blog Tour! Each day, I will be featuring an amazing RWISA author and a piece he/she has written to focus on one of our two themes: A World Without Mom and/or How Living in This New World Has Change Me.  Today's author is Nonnie Jules! :-)



by Nonnie Jules

By Friday, I doubted that I would even be part of this event.  I’m sure many of you noticed that I kept moving others ahead of me and ahead of me, until I ran out of members to move – as I struggled with finding the time in my schedule to write something.  As of this morning, I had finally decided that I just wasn’t going to be able to participate, as again, I saw no opening in my schedule that would allow it. 

Then, I got a phone call at 7:37 this evening from a friend, sharing that her relative had just attempted suicide due to his personal struggles since the arrival of COVID19.  He had lost his job, had received an eviction notice, and saw no clear path to anything remotely close to “better” while the Coronavirus lingered.  That conversation forced me to sit down at my desk just as soon as I hung up the phone.  What you will find below may not be that great, but it’s what my heart rolled out in the final hour. 

***

And So, I Believed

We are living through what is possibly the most trying time in many of our lives.  We are a world on lock-down, and though there are those of us who are living a bit more comfortably than others during this pandemic, many in the world are suffering.

Some of us are not concerned with how our mortgages and car notes will get paid.  Some of us aren’t concerned with where our next meal will come from, or, if we’ll have to suffer through another night filled with tears streaming down the faces of our hungry children, along with our own tears of helplessness.

For those who suffer with mental illness, their situations are creating a new wave of crisis, as many who see no way out, are, out of fear and desperation, turning to suicide.

My heart breaks for these innocents in this war.

***

It's quiet.  
I'm afraid​. ​
I've been locked up inside for so long, I don't know my nights from my days.

It's lonely.  
I'm scared.
There's no place to hide, ​and ​no other place to go​, ​because it's everywhere.

I need to make a run
​...​just out to the store
…but, I'm not even sure
...it's safe to open my door.

It's in the air ​we breathe​
​...​on everything that we touch
I never realized ​until now​
​...​I needed people so much​. ​

I've no medical insurance
…so, I mustn’t get sick​. ​
My stomach is growling​​​ 
​...​but, it will soon quit​. ​

I'll just stay inside for now.

I do need my meds 
...to kill the voices in my head.
They've never been this loud before.
A little knock at the door 
...would really help right now.

It's ​too ​quiet.
I'm ​so ​afraid.
I open my wallet and remember...
I haven't even gotten paid.

What will I do?
​How will I survive?
I don't even know if it's worth staying alive.
And, what will I eat?
What about the heat?

I know that it's summer
…and it's supposed to be hot
…but​, ​this thing has me terrified
…all tied up in knots.
​So, I strangely shiver as if it is cold.
While parts of the world move, my life is on hold. ​

Under the covers
...the only place I feel safe.
Oh, how I wish
...to feel the sun on my face.

How will I ​cover​
...the rent that is due?
My landlord's expecting 
...to be paid at two.

Some understand 
...but others not
My luck ran out
...with the landlord I got.

"I've got a family to feed - you've only got you." 
He does not ​see​ that only me has to eat, too.

I don't have the rent, dear Lord. 
What will I do?
Where will I go?
I need a sign
...because I just don't know.

How long will this crisis last?
No one knows for sure.
I’m afraid​ of my thoughts​.
How much more can I endure?

I just don’t know.

My mind is racing
…it just won't stop.
Please slow it down, Lord
…these thoughts are just not - to your liking.

I cover my mouth
A cough escapes.
​I d​rift over to the window
…and pull back the drapes.
Unlocking the locks
…one by one
I can hear the calling ​
​...​not a voice​, ​but a gun.

​No, too noisy, I think.

And what if I miss?  
I'm already afraid to even consider this.

Now, it’s a voice – louder - more clear  
Almost a shout - deep in my ear.
"Come closer to me. 
Look, I’m down here." 

Five stories below me
Cars rush​ing​ by
​I hear the voice again​
"​C’mon, you can fly."

I look back over my shoulder
As my landlord knocks
Then I glance at the wall
…it’s straight two o’clock.

“Why are you hesitant? There’s only pain here for you.
There’s nobody to help, so, what will you do?
The world is on lockdown, but you can be free.
Do not wait another second; come and join me!
You see, I am free - down here. 
And don’t forget, you can fly.”

And so, I believed.

***

To everyone reading this who might be struggling with thoughts in their head, that under normal circumstances wouldn’t make sense, yet, they seem to make sense in the moment, what you should always remember is that the devil is alive and well, and sometimes looks and sounds just like you and me. {And of course, he wants you to join him…in hell.} 

Fight those voices that encourage you to harm yourself and others. 

If you were not born a bird or created in the likeness of some type of aircraft, listen to ME - you cannot fly.


That was a very powerful piece, Nonnie! Thank you. For my readers, I will add a few resources you can go to if you are struggling mentally and emotionally:

- The 2-1-1 crisis call line is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

- Peer Support Space offers peer support groups virtually - Go to peersupportspace.org/covid-response.

- Chrysalis Health offers mental health services at 1-888-587-0335.

- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their number is 1-800-273-8255.

You are not alone.

Thank you for supporting today's RWISA author along the RWISA "RISE-UP" Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA "RISE-UP" Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA "RISE-UP"Blog Tour page!  Thank you and good luck! 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Welcome to Day 11 of the 2020 RWISA "RISE-UP" Blog Tour! #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp


Welcome to Day 10 of the 2020 RWISA "RISE-UP" Blog Tour! Each day, I will be featuring an amazing RWISA author and a piece he/she has written to focus on one of our two themes: A World Without Mom and/or How Living in This New World Has Change Me.  Today's author is Peggy Hattendorf! :-)




“Mother is the most beautiful word on the lips of mankind.” Kahlil Gibran

We define mother, or mom, as the female parent, whose responsibilities center around the physical and emotional care of a child, who may or may not be her own biological offspring. In certain circumstances, childcare commitments may be handled by the grandmother, stepmother, foster mother, godmother, or mother-in-law.  All categories of “mothers” who have a hand in nurturing, teaching, and fostering the development of a child, deserve respect and admiration.

The American terms, mother, or mom, adopted from the British English names, mummy or mum, sound remarkably similar or are spelled the same, in many languages around the world.   

Whether we say,  
v  Mother or Mom – American English
v  Mummy or Mum – British English
v  Mother or Mom – Canadian English or Maman - French-speaking province of Quebec
v  Madre - Spanish
v  La Mere – French
v  Moeder - Afrikaans
v  Ma – Hindi (India)
v  Moeder - Dutch
v  Madre or Mamma – Italian
v  Mama - Romanian
v  Matka – Polish
v  Mor or Mamma - Norwegian
v  Mum – Australian English
v  Mum – New Zealand English
v  Mueter - Swiss German
v  Mamma - Swedish
v  Mutter – German
v  Me – Vietnamese

the meaning and the identity of the person referenced is the same - the female parent of a child.

The initial love and affection, devotion, and care, given by our mothers, cultivated our early introduction to life and the universe around us. It provided the initial foundation and perceptions of the world as a happy, gentle, and kind place or a world to be viewed as hostile, brutal and unkind.  

Without the support, training, guidance, and discipline set by our mothers, we would not have grown into social beings, in the image of God. Mothers help prepare us with knowledge, skills, and abilities to mature and become independent. In so doing, our mothers sacrificed many of their desires and needs for our necessities and demands.

If the virtuous governing principles of life are learned by teaching and examples bestowed by our mothers, then a “world without mothers” would be:
·         A world with significantly less women
·         A world devoid of selflessness and unconditional love
·         A world less disciplined and restrained
·         A world less organized and efficient
·         A world less righteous, decent, and understanding
·         A world less emotional, demonstrative, and affectionate
·         A world with less compassion and empathy
·         A world less patient, kind, and gentle
·         A world with less encouragement and motivation
·         A world less balanced and controlled
·         A world less polite and respectful
·         A world less thoughtful, tender, and considerate
·         A world less merciful and forgiving

Mothers play an indispensable role which is hard to duplicate.  As infants nearly all of our physical needs are attended by our mothers. That physical care prevailed as we started to crawl and then walk, babble, and then talk, and shed our diapers when toilet trained. Our safety, protection and physical well-being remained paramount to our mothers even as we matured and entered adulthood.

For many of us, the emotional care given by our biological mothers originated before we were born. After birth, we were embraced with love and affection. That unconditional love stands as the cornerstone of the mother and child relationship. As our mothers motivated and inspired, encouraged, and supported, they provided the strength necessary for us to grow and mature. As our first instructors, they taught us about love, and hope, faith and spirituality, acceptance and tolerance, courage, and bravery, confidence, and determination, giving, and charity.

And they raised us to let us go and assume independence; all-the-while, we remain in our mothers’ hearts and souls forever. Mothers change the world with every child they raise.

Women are not handed an “instruction kit” as they assume the role of motherhood. No guidebooks, training manuals, or college courses prepare them for the most challenging, yet most fulfilling experience of their lives.

It is hard to envision a world without our best supporter, best listener, and best friend forever. Mothers are the ones who are always happy to hear from us, no matter what we are calling about, or when we are calling. They are the ones that will drive us crazy – but we know will always be there.  And no matter our age, we always need our mothers.  My mother has been gone for twenty-one years, but there is not a day, I do not wish I could pick up the telephone and speak with her.

Below, my grandchildren and daughter have shared their perspectives on what life would be like without mothers.

From my 16-year old granddaughter Anabella:

“I can’t imagine a world without moms, as my mom is my biggest supporter and sometimes my biggest critic. My mom has always been there to laugh at me when I fall, but to also pick me up and wipe my tears. I love my mom; she is always there to help me. She is my best friend. I can come to her with all my problems and she is always there with a witty comment and some friendship knowledge.”

From my 15-year old granddaughter Skylar:

“A world without moms would be dark and unforgiving. There would be no one to love you unconditionally, no one to bring you back up when you are sad and feeling down. You would not have your biggest cheerleader and fiercest defender by your side. You would not have that unconditional love that a mother gives to her child. And you wouldn’t have anyone who utterly understands you like your mother.”

From my 10-year old grandson Erik:

“What a world without moms? No, that cannot be, because it means everything in the world to me to have a mom. She takes care of me when I am sick.”

From my daughter Rebecca, the mother of Anabella and Erik:

“Strong women raise strong girls and you are the strongest woman I know. I can’t imagine the world without you and all the other strong wonderful moms.”

It would be a decisively different and fragmented world without the love, hugs, and the comforting touches of mothers.

In a world without moms, we would lose our navigational compass, our emotional barometer, and our positioning in the world-order. We would be set adrift in an ocean of ever-changing conditions and unknown dangers. Thankfully, we have mothers and live on a planet fondly called “Mother Nature” or “Mother Earth” from the Greco-Roman personification of nature that focuses on the life-giving and nurturing aspects of nature by embodying it, in the form of a mother.


Thank you for supporting today's RWISA author along the RWISA "RISE-UP" Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA "RISE-UP" Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA "RISE-UP"Blog Tour page!  Thank you and good luck! 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Welcome to Day 10 of the 2020 RWISA "RISE-UP" Blog Tour! #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp


Welcome to Day 10 of the 2020 RWISA "RISE-UP" Blog Tour! Each day, I will be featuring an amazing RWISA author and a piece he/she has written to focus on one of our two themes: A World Without Mom and/or How Living in This New World Has Change Me.  Today's author is Maura Beth Brennan! :-)




MEMORIES OF MOM by Maura Beth Brennan

I miss my Mom’s quirks. Her superstitions, for instance.
“Don’t you dare put your shoes on that table,” she would say. She wasn’t talking about putting shoe-clad feet on the coffee table. She didn’t want anyone putting a shoebox containing new shoes on a table—any table. Such an action could have dire consequences. That box must be placed on the floor. Period.
No one in our house would have dared leave a wet umbrella open to dry inside the house. That would have, according to Mom, invited disaster. And if you left the house by the front door, you had better return that way. If not, who knew what tragedy might befall you?
Now, when I walk my dog through the woods and take a shortcut home, I double around the house to reenter through the same door. I can still hear her voice, warning me. I leave that dripping umbrella on the porch. I place that shoebox on the floor. Because my mother—she’s a deep, tenacious part of me.
I miss so many things about her—her funny remarks, her kindnesses, her soft voice. I say things to my daughter and think, there is my mother talking. She blurted the funniest things sometimes, and Dad, my brothers, and I sometimes teased her about it. One source of our amusement was her habit of mixing up common clich├ęs. “Sit down, let’s chew the breeze,” my mom would say. Or, “It’s six of one, a dozen of the other.” When we’d laugh, she’d look confused until she realized what she had said. Then, she’d laugh along. She was the inspiration for the mother in two of my short stories, where the mother’s sayings always came out wrong.
I miss having Mom to lean on. One difficult year, I had to take a leave of absence from work. A new house, a demanding job, a young daughter, night school to earn a degree—it was suddenly all too much for me, and I couldn’t seem to stop crying. One morning, as I sat feeling sorry for myself, I heard a knock at my door. There was Mom, smiling, bearing homemade muffins for us to share. She settled me at the kitchen table. “Now, don’t you cry anymore,” she said. “It will all work out.” She made me a cup of tea and brought it to me. “This is nice,” she said. “Isn’t it? Just us girls.”
What I would give to have a cup of tea with her now. To let her know how much that meant to me.
Mom was a shy and quiet woman, but she had courage and a steely spine when it came to her family. Her courage showed when, during World War II, she packed a suitcase and took her baby daughter (me) three-thousand miles across the country, by train and bus, to be with my father while he was stationed on the west coast. She stayed there, making a home for us until the war was over.
She showed that courage when she won her first battle with cancer. She never told either of my recently married brothers how ill she was, not wanting to worry them. She told them she had “a little procedure.” When her health returned, it was as if it never happened. She never spoke of it.
But cancer struck again, a different one this time, more deadly.
And this is the memory that breaks my heart. She was in the hospital after exploratory surgery and a terrible prognosis. I went to visit, pulling my chair close to her bed to hear her quiet voice. Her eyes stretched wide and she grasped my hand in hers. 
“I’m so scared,” she said.
She died nine months later. That January, the doctors had “given” her three months to live. But she was determined to live until her fortieth wedding anniversary on September 20th.
The afternoon she died, my father, my brothers and I were gathered around her bedside. She asked my father, “Bud, is today our anniversary?” She was suffering and my father couldn’t bear to watch it go on. It was September 19th, a day too early.
He pulled her close and embraced her for the last time. He knew what he had to do.
“Yes, sweetheart,” he said. “It is.”
   

Thank you for supporting today's RWISA author along the RWISA "RISE-UP" Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA "RISE-UP" Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA "RISE-UP"Blog Tour page!  Thank you and good luck!