The Peanut Butter Airplane

In the fifth grade, Mrs. Whitaker would give us a title for the weekly story we had to write. Two of my favorites, that I still remember to this day, were The Runaway Chevrolet and The Peanut Butter Airplane. I guess even back then I needed a title to get going on a story.

We had to write at least two pages in our notebooks. No writing big. No repeating the same word for a whole sentence. I always wondered why my classmates complained all week about writing those two pages. By Monday night I had two pages and then some more, no problem at all. It is amazing how freeing writing is when you don’t know there are rules!

At least one time in the school year you had to stand in front of the class and read your story aloud. I was terrified. I didn’t want to go first and I didn’t want to leave it at the end and feel the pressure. I tried to time it so some people had read their stories but everyone wasn’t bored after hearing half a dozen of them with the very same title on a late Friday afternoon.

I so wish I still had that composition book from the fifth grade. Everyone read their stories of planes made of peanut butter. Obviously, even at ten my imagination didn’t work that way. Maybe one or two of them became fantasy writers. LOL My peanut butter airplane delivered peanut butter to starving children all around the world. See, even then I wanted a happily ever after.

Thank you, Mrs. Katherine Whitaker for opening up my mind with just a quirky, little title. Thank you for believing storytelling was just as important as math and science.

Do you remember a favorite story from childhood?


Jill James, writer

Sugar Sprinkled Memories coming soon in the
Authors of Main Street Christmas boxed set.

Reading & Writing Outside the Box

writing1Have you ever written outside your genre?

Do you read outside your favorite genre?reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading for me is easy. I love it. Reading fiction or non-fiction is escape – MOST OFTEN. I’m rarely invested beyond my enjoyment and the edification to be gained. If what I’m reading I don’t like after about 25 pages, I stop. That number used to be higher, 50+ pages. As I get older, I’m more conscious of the time I’m spending – or maybe it’s a product of instantaneous things to read. Good things.

 

25

 

Reading is easy.

Writing – for me – is hard. I’ve chosen a path which has required more business writing these past few months. It’s informed my fiction – which coincidentally isn’t easy either.

What writing outside my comfort zone has taught me is that when I do have the time to write for me, I need to focus on what I love. What I’m proud of. What makes me excited.

As life moves forward this October – I’m reading more and giving myself the birthday present of writing what stirs me.reading1

What are your thoughts on writing and reading?

Happy October,

Leigh

Get Started

 

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.   –Mark Twain

 

 

In October I gear up for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) 50,000 words in 30 days in November. Just like I talked about last month on this blog, I’m trying to step outside my comfort zone in life and in my writing. For Nanowrimo this year I’ll be working on a women’s fiction story–a first for me. I love writing romance but this idea just came to me. I’ve written the first hundred or so words to get the idea started, but it will be my project for Nanowrimo. The title is That Moment. It is about two women, best friends all their lives. One commits suicide and the other is left to wonder where her friend’s life went so wrong. Was there a That Moment that would have sent her friend on a different path? A different direction that would have set everything right? And, if she could change it, would she? Should she?


(unedited, first draft)

From monumental to mundane. From beautiful to banal. Each moment of your life is ‘that moment.’ That moment when you make a decision. A decision to stay home with your family on the perfect September day and not go to work at the World Trade Center. A decision to not call in sick because you’re out of sick days and a psycho decides today, he will show the boss he won’t be pushed around anymore. A simple decision to go on that blind date and maybe meet your soul mate—or not. An easy decision to have beef or chicken for dinner.

Each decision you make is a pebble thrown in the smooth, glassy surface of the lake of your life. From a boulder creating a splash and setting ripples inside ripples across the pond to a skipping stone making ripples lost before they are gone and out of sight. Only, they aren’t gone, just out of your sight. They still touch the sandy beach across the water, the barely-hanging-on tree with its exposed roots grasping the muddy bank, the sweep around the bend, hidden behind the trees.

Every decision doesn’t just affect you. Just watch It’s a Wonderful Life to see how one person affects so many more. Most of us will never know if a ripple of a decision will affect someone else. But . . . sometimes we do.

Chapter 1

Shelly is dead. Would my best friend have still killed herself if she’d known the ripples of that decision would rip open time and space? Would she still have done it if she’d known it would rip my heart out? Would she still have done it if she’d known what I would do to make it right?’ Funny thing about time and space. You just don’t know. Until you do.

Shelly Benedict killed herself on a Wednesday. Did she know that made it easy for me to plan her funeral by Saturday? Knowing Shelly like I did, I’m sure she did. Just like she calculated how many pills it would take to never wake up, I’m sure my best friend wanted to make it as easy as possible for me. That was Shelly.

God knows, she didn’t make life easy for herself. If there was a poster child for every way your life could suck, it was Shelly. It sucked right up to and including her funeral. How can you live fifty years on this planet and have four ex-husbands, six children, your parents still alive, and your best friend is the only person at your funeral?

Wait, I take that back. The only person besides the minister who didn’t know Shelly and the men waiting for me to leave so they can finish their job. It hurt. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to see the clear blue sky and the gentle sun on that May morning. It hurt to know my best friend was gone and no one cared but me.

I tried from when we were teenagers until her last day on Earth to tell Shelly and show Shelly, she was the person I saw her to be. None of it sank in. Her life became a series of What If? questions.

What if her parents had loved her for the person she was? What if she’d had some self-esteem and didn’t fall for every loser on the planet? What if she hadn’t let her children abuse her just as much as their fathers had? What if she’d cared for herself, just a little?


How do you get motivated to just get started?

Jill James, author of Sugar Sprinkled Memories/Christmas 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angel in Flight

On the way to Athens, Ga., that Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t help question why Tabitha had to die so young. Death was no stranger to me. I’d seen it too many times before. I knew questioning God was wrong, but I was desperate for an answer. This was a passing of another loved one.

I’d spent the night before her services tossing and turning. I prayed for God to comfort Tabitha’s family, to make it through the funeral services with their sanity still intact.

Then, for some unknown reason I remembered the rainbow I’d seen two days before. I’d forgotten the rainbow. Nor did I make a connection between the two incidents until I remembered the experience the week before and my prayers.

My unanswered prayers. God had not kept all my loved ones safe.

I’d worked practically around the clock the previous eight weeks and missed being with my family. I needed a rest, but was reluctant to leave them for an entire week to attend a conference I’d planned months in advance. My husband instinctively picked up on my indecision. He insisted I go and forget everything, except to relax and enjoy the time away.

After arriving at St. Simons, and sharing the workshop experience with a treasured friend, I was glad I’d gone and delighted in new writer friendships developed throughout the week.

A fleeting late afternoon shower, sent my friend and I running for cover and certainly didn’t do anything to lift my dampened mood. After the rain, we joined the group heading for the auditorium anxious to listen to the speakers on our last afternoon at the conference.

After, my friend and I walked and talked sharing memories of the day, when suddenly I glanced upward and noticed a glorious rainbow brushed across the horizon.

IMG_3698a double rainbow

“Look at that beautiful rainbow.” I said. “Wait, there’s another one forming on the left. Have you ever seen anything like it? I wonder if a double rainbow has a special meaning?”

My friend lifted her hand to shade the sun from her eyes. “Oh It’s magnificent,” she said, then turned toward me. “You know what? I think that’s a sign something wonderful is about to happen.” She grinned as we walked toward the conference room.

I glanced down at my watch. The time was a little after five o’clock.

“I think tonight’s going to be special for us,” she said.

Indeed it was special, when that night we both won awards in the writing contests we’d entered.

We headed to grab a cup of coffee before returning to our room. “Still, as happy as I am, I can’t shake the feeling, even as supreme as rainbows are, there is something meaningful and sad about this one,” I said. “What are your thoughts?”

“You may be right,” she commented. “We can’t know the future.”

An old familiar feeling set in, and it knew it wasn’t going away anytime soon.

Since my early adult years, I dreamed dreams that sometimes came true. Later in life as I grew as a Christian, the visions and discernment began. Not understanding they were from God, I frequently became upset when they infiltrated my sleep and filled my heart.

“They’re gifts and blessings from God, honey, that’s why you see them,” my mom explained. “God doesn’t allow everyone to have dreams and visions as you do. He shows you these things so you will pray about them.”

It took many years for the impact of her words to fully register with me, to pray for guidance in the situation, when I felt the pull in my heart.

An urgency swept through me when I recalled the rainbow, and again, I felt honored and a responsibility to intercede in prayer. “Father God, I don’t know what this means or what is about to happen. Please send your Angels to watch over and keep my loved ones safe. I pray, Lord, you will prepare the heart of whomever is facing a trial and wrap them in your loving arms. Amen.”

When I returned home the next day, the answering machine bleeped repeatedly. One message was from my daughter-in-law. I called her at once. The tremor in her voice alerted me that something was terribly wrong. My heart hammered and my blood ran as ice while she spoke.

“I have some bad news. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you. Tabitha’s been in an accident…a horrible car accident. She was killed instantly yesterday afternoon, sometime between five and five-thirty.”

Within minutes of the time the rainbow appeared to me that previous Friday afternoon, my twenty-year-old niece’s fate was sealed.

I was in shock, heartbroken and angry that God had taken her. She’d been way too young. Unbelief pushed me to ask her to repeat what she’d just told me.

“Why, Tabitha? Oh, God why?” I questioned. I buried my face in the towel I was holding, and wept for Tabitha and the anguish I knew my younger sister was experiencing.

Tabitha had been an angel here on earth. Always a kind, considerate niece, and a sweet loving daughter to my now distraught sister and her family. I’d attended too many funerals in the past three years, and that she’d been taken so young, didn’t make any sense at all.

I left the funeral home and began the two-hour trip home. My heart was empty and I felt as though I were suffocating. I could only imagine the pain Tabitha’s parents endured. They had been so brave. Even though their hearts were crushed, they had smiled through the ordeal of thanking everyone who had attended her service.

I turned the radio up loud and tried to drown my thoughts. Deep down I knew nothing would ever be the same. I wanted to run, but there was no place to run, no place to hide. There was nothing I could do, except pray for them.

I scrambled to find the small notebook I always kept on the seat beside me and a pen. I scribbled words that flooded inside my head, which I had no control. God was giving me a poem for Tabitha. One of the lines in the poem gave me a peace that our Tabitha truly was with God.

A new Angel laughed, and beheld the King.

A still voice whispers reminding me of these words when I pray. “Not my will, Lord, but thine.” God had answered my prayers. Tabitha was safe. Safe in the arms of God. He had wrapped me in His loving arms and given me a measure of peace.

Tabitha’s early death reaffirmed we don’t have the promise of tomorrow. But God promises not to put anymore on us than we can endure, and that our children are gifts from Him entrusted to us for but a little while.

I believe God gave me the moment with the rainbow to wonder in and remember that it is only one of His promises.

Hiatus or Not!!

First, I love writing. Years ago when I started, I would write all-year long. Summer, holidays, vacations, didn’t matter. I wrote. Words, glorious words.

I have a writer friend who doesn’t write in the summer, she is an outdoor gal. Running, biking, hiking, camping. So not me. I’m an indoors, binge-watch a series kind of girl. My friend doesn’t write during the holidays. She has a large family and she is now the matriarch in charge of the occasion.

Before, I’ve always written during the Christmas holidays and grumbled because I didn’t write every day and I didn’t get how much done I wanted to do. I would be a group and think “I should be writing.”

So, Christmas 2018 I decided to take a hiatus for the first time. Not worry about writing. Not think about writing. Enjoy the holidays. I would get back to it after New Year’s.

Bad idea. Really bad idea!!

January came and went. No writing. It was okay. I could start again in a couple of weeks.

February came and went. No writing. I thought that’s okay, it’s a short month.

March came and went. Now I’m panicking. Don’t know where to start. I should have at least one story done by now.

April came. Okay, this is getting stupid. Just put some words on the screen!!! Finally, the end of April I forced myself to sit at the computer and work on my book for the Authors of Main Street. Come on, Jill!! You don’t have a title or characters or plot, but just write. Funny, not funny. The words are in my head but they aren’t coming out like before. Each sentence is a struggle. I’m deleting as much as I’m writing.

I’m not where I wanted to be when I pictured this year at the end of last year, but I’m writing again. (fingers crossed, knocking on wood)

Hiatus? Never again!!!


Jill James, romance author (which means I must write)

BICHOK?

No, not a new food delicacy. It is an acronym for Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. For writers, it means to get that butt in the chair, your hands on the keyboard…and write. But while we are getting those word counts in and the chapters accumulating, something else is growing…our butts! LOL

Writing isn’t everything, although with deadlines, it sometimes seems that way. The voices scream in your head and you have to get the stories out onto the paper or the computer screen. Your health is so, so important too. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, aches, pains, headaches, all take you away from what you love to do.

I have a bad habit of going gung-ho into a new workout routine and burning out after a week or so, so I really enjoy the workouts that start slow and build up as you strengthen your muscles and get a healthier routine going.

This is my fave!!! The Buns, Guns, and Abs Challenge. It works the buns and thighs, the arms, and the abs. You do a few of the exercises at the beginning and each day is a little more and a little more until you are doing massive numbers at the end. What I try to do is do it every day (like writing) and try to get to the end without missing a day. If I miss a day I have to go all the way back to Day 1. 😦 Not something I want to do, so I try to not miss a day.

I’m starting back at Day 1 today. Join me in the challenge!

Email me with I’ll take the challenge and I’ll enter you in a drawing for (one) signed paperback copy of Ghostly Intentions (should be available this coming week!)


Jill James, romance writer

My Year of More

Before Christmas there were a bunch of memes on Facebook about your word for the year. A power word that would define your year to come. I chose mine.

More!!

More writing. More reading. More exercise. More healthy eating. More activities that get me outdoors. More taking chances. More looking for opportunities and seizing them.

I’m already taking some marketing classes to up my game. I love my books but it doesn’t do me any good to write them if no one reads them. I need to make them discoverable. I need to do ads, and giveaways, and get them seen by actual eyeballs. 🙂

I’m going to start the Buns, Guns, and Abs Challenge. Every day is a fresh day to start anew. I don’t have to wait for the beginning of the week or the beginning of the month. Every day is a new possibility.

I’m going to try new-to-me authors in genres I don’t normally read. I’m going to get back to doing genealogy. I love writing, but it doesn’t have to be all I do. I can multi-task every aspect of my life.

So, I’m going to work on 3 books this year (at least to start the year) plus one for the Authors of Main Street boxed set and one for myself. Not sure what it will be yet, but it will be just for me. I might not even publish it. But it will be MORE. More deep, more intense, more me. Might be time for that memoir I always threatened to write. LOL

My MORE year will have zombies (book 4), ghosts (books 2 & 3), and self-growth (exercise and good food). I can’t wait.

What will your year be? Leave a comment and your power word for 2019 and I will pick a comment to win a free book from me.  Jill