Tis the Season

The light of the season is upon us and the books are under the tree.

 

xmas-2016-tree
xmas-2016-books

My children are enjoying the magic of the holidays, though most days they chose These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder as their read aloud as opposed to the traditional picking of Christmas books from under the tree each day. (We’ve been reading the Little House on the Prairie series out loud for over a year and they all love it.)

bellingrath-2016
I was silly enough to begin a new project last week. I’m thirty-five pages in and trying to moderate myself so I don’t completely disappear into the story during this family-centered time of year. I’m trying for a thousand words a day, but yesterday I did double that. Oops. A good “mistake.”

What are you up to this month?

 

Memorial Day Musings

Let’s give thought to the often over-looked wars that had American casualties, like the Spanish-American War.

Even before they officially left, numerous soldiers—mostly volunteers—died in Florida at the campgrounds they gathered in before shipping off to Cuba. Inadequate space (in recently drained swamps), food, and medical supplies, as well as racial riots among the troops themselves, pushed the numbered deaths of U.S. soldiers higher on our own soil than those sustained during the ground and naval battles in Cuba/Puerto Rico.

During my pleasure reading nearly eight years ago, I happened across a few pages in a biography (Lady from Savannah: The Life of Juliette Low) about the deplorable conditions our troops suffered in during their few months in Florida. I immediately knew I had to write about it. After gathering information for nearly five years, I then spent three years getting the story down properly. Come January 12, 2016 you’ll be able to read the collective soul of my journey into 1898, appropriately titled Fortitude.
100_1951
As for today, let’s give pause to those who gave all to protect liberty—whether in this century or in decades past—while we continue to pray for peace. Peace for those left behind, and for the world at large.

Publishing News

Last week there was some exciting news on the internet. Anaiah Press has acquired my young adult historical novel, FORTITUDE, and it’s set to be published January 12, 2016.

There’s much to do in the year ahead: revisions, line edits, cover reveal, and so on, but it’s a journey I’m most looking forward to. I have an editor and publicist, as well as a fabulous “family” at Anaiah to help me along. (Not to mention my family and friends who have championed me along all these years.)

A Merry Christmas to all, and a terrific New Year, too!

100_6765

The Chill in the Air

Christmas is about stories. The stories you make into memories with friends and family, those you read in scriptures to highlight the reason for the season, and the sometimes funny or heartwarming tales of winter that can be found in books of all sizes.

Rather than focusing on presents, for the weeks leading up to the special day my kids look forward to reading and hearing their beloved holiday books that we keep displayed under our tree. Each year they rediscover their favorites and enjoy new books in the collection.

100_6710

What is one of your special Christmas traditions?

Read On

Christmas equaled reading time in these parts. A princess with pneumonia, not to mention other family members—including myself—with assorted head colds/congestion, set things up for a low-key Yuletide. Because of this, I was able to do something I haven’t done in a while: read a book in a day.

Actually, I finished one book and read two others within a sixteen hour period. Of course, I was up until two in the morning to complete the trilogy, but I had to find out how Jane’s story ended. 100_4593

Jennifer L. Holm crafted a well-rounded heroine in Jane Peck. Boston Jane: An Adventure is a novel I picked up in the bargain section of a bookstore several months ago. I started it on the twenty-third and finished it Christmas morning. A few hours later, after searching on-line for the other two books in my local library system—negative—I went ahead and purchased the second, Boston Jane: Wilderness Days, on my Nook. Then, at about ten o’clock Christmas night, I purchased Boston Jane: The Claim and stayed awake until I finished it. Extremely satisfying!

To start 2014off with something fresh, I joined Goodreads last night—look me up if you’re there, too. I’d been receiving invites to the site from my book-loving friends for years, but put off signing up because I knew I’d be sucked in. I’ve already rated five hundred books from recent years, as well as a few long-time favorites.

I’m thinking about setting a reading goal for the New Year and I’m leaning toward one hundred and fifty books. Have you ever set a reading goal or tracked your reading habits? What are your numbers?

Light it Up, Softly

Sensory issues are often the crux of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders, and because most people spend their waking hours with their eyes open, visual problems are often the most tiresome. Light sources, rather natural or manmade, can be a blessing or curse for those with this sensitivity. 100_4588

In the U.S., we’re on the verge of a possible lighting crisis. The turn of the New Year will mark another reduction in light bulb options, closing the choice of yet more incandescent bulbs at stores around the country. Fluorescent lights, whether long strip bulbs or the compact swirly ones (which are terrible for the earth—read the disposal warning on them), are often visual triggers for susceptible people. The flicker, harsh glow, and even the hum of the offending bulbs can cause headache, eye fatigue or emotional meltdowns for those with sensory difficulties.

The same thing happened, not long ago, in the United Kingdom. You can read one account of it here. http://www.autism.org.uk/working-with/leisure-and-environments/architects/light-sensitivity-and-autism.aspx

This an important situation for me, as myself and loved ones suffer from light sensitivity. Ben, one of the main characters in CORRODED (one of my fictional labors of love, yet-to-be-published stories) has to deal with this as well. Here’s a little peek, from Chapter Ten, when Mary and Ben are at his house playing a round of Battleship.

“You never explained to me why you don’t go outside during the day,” I said.
“I go outside. Remember the first day we met? I sat on the porch with you and your mom.”
“Oh… well, then why don’t you go for walks and stuff?” I asked.
“I’m sensitive to sunlight.”
“Like, you burn easily?”
Ben shook his hands like he was air-drying them. “No, it’s my eyes. Bright sunlight causes sensory overload and I can barely function. Fluorescent light does the same thing. It’s common for Aspies.”
I looked up at the soft white glow of the over-head lights. “So, going to schools and office buildings must be difficult.”
“The worst. That’s one of the reasons I homeschool. If I do have to venture out for a medical appointment or something I wear sunglasses inside.”

Movies and Me

This past month has been theater going, as promised. I’ve been to four movies in as many weeks, which is twice as many as I usually attend in a full year.

First up was Ender’s Game. Since I’d recently read the novel—as well as Ender’s Shadow—the storyline was a bit disappointing. Chop and hack galore. But the actors were great and it was visually impressive, as well as moving. My eyes were moist once, maybe twice. I think I hid it well.

Thor: The Dark World was epic! I’d waited almost two decades for Thor on the big screen, and all the movies featuring him have been awesome, but this one was fabulous. I cried once, and my husband didn’t tease me about it until afterwards.thor dark world

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was amazing. I went to this one alone and used my hoodie sleeve to wipe the tears running down my face more times than I can count.

Frozen was our Tuesday bargain today. I took two out of the three kidlets and we had the theater to ourselves, which is always good. My teen with autism isn’t the most quiet movie watcher and the little princess switched seats often. I was moved to tears during the “Let it Go” musical scene, even while the youngest was climbing around my lap.

Notice the pattern?

I’m sure I’ll shed more tears when I make it to The Book Thief, and probably for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. That should hold me over through New Year’s.

Have you enjoyed any of the new releases? Do you cry during movies? Please tell me I’m not alone.