Morning Coffee: Fall Is In The Air

fallFall is coming, and it’s not far away. You can feel it, hear it, almost smell it. Mild days followed by cold nights make for comfortable sleeping. Patches of colored leaves are beginning to appear. Rain clouds have taken on a steely gun-metal gray color and a thick blanket of fog can be seen clinging low over our river gorge some mornings.

The new school year hasn’t begun yet (our daughter-in-law in Florida is already back in the classroom) but there are definite signs that the district is preparing to receive all those happy faces eager to learn, and even those who aren’t so excited to be back. Teachers and staff are returning to their classrooms in anticipation. Last Friday was the opening football game for our local high school, and as I sit here at my desk with the sliding door open I can hear the drum cadence of the marching band practicing on the school grounds nearby. Back-to-school supplies have been overflowing the store shelves for weeks.

Driving home from work I noticed a nearby apple orchard will open this coming weekend. I’ve already received my email reminder that pumpkin spice coffee is available for a limited time only. Mmmmmm!

My brother’s birthday was this week and my baby sister’s is next week. That always meant school was starting soon and, with it, all that goes with the fall season.

I love fall! It’s not so hot and sticky, but is still comfortable before the snow starts to fly. I love the look and smell of the colored leaves, the crunch of them under my feet. Before you know it, the deer that pass through our yard will change their coats from a reddish hue to a heavy dark brown.

My children and I always enjoyed the fresh apple cider and donut holes at the farmers’ market. What a treat after picking out the best pumpkins to carve into jack-o-lanterns and walking through their haunted house. Fall golf is some of the best at our beautiful course, the lack of biting bugs mixed with the bright leaves glowing gem-like in the sun make for a perfect afternoon.

And don’t forget Halloween’s just around the corner. If you buy your trick-or-treat candy now you’ll still have time to buy more after you eat it all before the big night.

The following poem appeared in the 2016 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets calendar.

Autumn Soup
by Jane Yunker

Fresh pressed uniforms
Shiny Mary Janes
Clean spiral notebooks
Frosted window panes

Smooth orange pumpkins
Apples, red and green
Bright leaves drifing
Slowly from the trees

Cinnamon and nutmeg
Glazed donut holes
Cider and hot chocolate
Warm our chilly bones

Crisp brown cornstalks
A ghost’s whispered flight
Clouds gray and heavy
Mischief’s out tonight

Perhaps a horse-drawn hayride
Or haunted mansion scare
Trick or treat, smell my feet
A spider in your hair!

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Morning Coffee: Writing For A Living

Healing HeartAs some…perhaps most…of you know, I’m retiring from my day job in a couple weeks. There is no one reason, but a big one is so I can pursue my dream of writing full time and becoming a published novelist. It’s not going to be easy. I have no illusions about that. It will take long hours of discipline and a hard shell when it comes to criticism and revision requests. But I have a wonderful example of how it’s done in a good friend, Tina Susedik, a/k/a Anita Kidesu. Tina/Anita has written numerous books ranging from children’s to historical nonfiction to romantic mystery to erotic romance for several different publishers. She’s currently developing a radio show, Your Book Garden, to be aired on Authors on the Air Global Radio.

Warning: I’m now going to shamelessly plug her two most recent publications. The first one I’ve finished reading, and the second I’m currently reading and find very hard to put down.

“The Trail to Love” is book 4 in the Soul Mate Tree novella series and Tina’s first The Trail to Love (The Soul Mate Tree Book 4) by [Susedik, Tina]historical romance. Jack Billabard, grieving over the death of his wife and newborn son, and Sarah Nichelson, a young mother looking to start a new life with her son after the death of her abusive husband, meet while heading west on the Oregon Trail. The question throughout is whether or not they can overcome the many dangers that surround them, as well as their own fears, and accept the love that grows steadily between them. The novella length makes this book, along with the others in the Soul Mate Tree series, the perfect read when you don’t have a lot of time or patience to commit. At only about 150 pages you can, and will want to, read this in one sitting.

Hell Yeah!: A Photograph of Love (Kindle Worlds) by [Susedik, Tina]“A Photograph Of Love” is part of the Hell Yeah! Series on Kindle Worlds. I haven’t finished this book yet, but only because of my very busy schedule. In fact, I’d rather be reading it right now instead of trying to write this blog. It starts with one of the best opening scenes I’ve ever read. An opening scene that can teach even the most accomplished writer how to pull their reader into the story and never let them go. Let’s just say it includes a beautiful amateur photographer named Trudy Selucas who, while trying to modestly answer the call of nature in the wide-open Texas countryside, has a very precarious, and embarrassing, run-in with a rattlesnake which ends with her needing to be rescued by the very handsome cowboy, Lincoln Phister. I don’t want to say anymore and potentially ruin it for you. I highly suggest you read it yourself. I laughed out loud, and not for the first time with one of Tina’s books.

I’ll remember Tina whenever I find myself thinking: “I can’t do this!” “It’s impossible!” “What do they expect? There just aren’t enough hours in the day!” And in the meantime, I will also continue to read her books. She never fails to show me just how it’s done.

Tina isn’t my only idol, though, but more on the others another time.

Morning Coffee: Excuses! Excuses!

Healing Heart“I have a lot of excuses, but no excuse.” That’s what a friend said to me this past weekend when we were talking about our writing. I knew exactly what she meant.

I have to work today…I’m tired after having to work today. I have a lot of other things that I just have to do today…I’m tired after all the other things I had to do today. I wrote a lot yesterday so I’m going to take today off. I just can’t think of a thing to write so I’ll go do something else rather than try. I’m too hot. I’m too cold. I think I’m coming down with a cold. The list goes on.

Writing, creating, can be a joyful thing, but it can also be a very painful process. There are days when every word you type is gold, but there are even more days when everything is garbage…or so you think. It’s those times that you have to keep going. You can’t listen to the little voice whispering in your ear, telling you that you’re no good, you’ll never amount to anything, no one will ever want to read what you’re writing so don’t bother.

A lot of garbage on the page is better than nothing on the page. It’s that garbage that you can later pick through, rearrange, until it’s art. Have you ever gone to an exhibit where the sculptures are all created out of literal garbage, discarded items the artist has rescued and brought home to fashion into something truly beautiful? That’s what those pages of questionable worth are, a diamond in the rough, a potential best seller.

So, how bad do you want it? Is a little pain worth the glory? I know on those days I have to force myself to sit down and write I will be glad for it later. What about you?

Time to go write something amazing!

Morning Coffee: The Great Disconnect

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Last weekend was the Polk County Fair. I love the fair and look forward to going every year. Just two doors down, it’s easy to buy an all-weekend pass and come and go as we please. Sunday afternoon we were sitting in the bleachers watching an exciting demolition derby and I was struck by the behavior of the young people sitting around me. Every one of them had a cell phone in their hand. They were hunched over the screen, not paying any attention to the sixteen cars racing around and slamming into one another. They were sliding from screen to screen and tapping away on their little keyboards. The only two speaking to each other were the girl and boy behind us and they were arguing over whether or not she should give him her password. He claimed he gave her his, which she denied, and so on. At least the adults were ignoring theirs for a change.

We are a society addicted to our cell phones, and while we are staring at those little screens the world is passing us by. Text messages and instant link-ups to our social media accounts are the Siren call of the modern age. We can’t seem to look away. It’s impossible to ignore. I admit that even I am compelled to look as soon as I hear the ding that announces a new text or email. At least accessing my social media on my older model phone is too difficult to bother.

I fear the most for our children. They are basing their entire social existence on what their cell phones can do for them. They fill their phones with selfies in various stages of dress and, unfortunately, undress. Then they rapidly share them with others without a second thought as to what happens to those pictures next. I’ve seen them text with a friend sitting right next to them. Their social media accounts are filled with the banality indicative of too much time and not enough to do.

All this electronic socializing is depriving our young people of the necessary skills on how to interact with others. They can’t bear to be alone, yet they don’t know how to be together. They seek contact through emojis, memes, and multi-player video games, creating fake identities to play against “friends” with fake identities. There’s an emoji to express every possible emotion, a little picture for every occasion, for every thought, and even some that don’t seem to mean anything at all. I’ve received texts containing no words, just a string of emojis. Cute but what it means I can only guess. I fear they’re forgetting how to communicate with words and full sentences.

We have to step up and be the adults. We can’t take away their cell phones entirely. Cell phones are, and will continue to be, a part of our lives. But we can set an example. No more phones at the dinner table or family functions. Unless you’re a doctor or on an organ transplant waiting list whatever message is received during dinner can wait until after dinner. It will still be there. No more cell phones in bed. A friend who calls or texts in the middle of the night is no friend. Personally, I turn off my notification sounds and lay my phone upside down at night so the noise and lit screen don’t wake me. I do keep the ringer on, though, since we don’t have a landline. I know any middle of the night call will be for an emergency.

And don’t even think of checking it during the Sunday sermon. Enough said!