The Insecure Writers Support Group and Writing Wednesday

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The first Wednesday of every month I participate in The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. #IWSG. This is one AMAZING group of talented writers. Some of them are beginners and some are professional authors. One of the many things we all have in common is our moments of extreme insecurity about our craft. Another is our gratitude and strong -pay it forward attitudes when our confidence is soaring.

 Congratulations and Happy 3rd Anniversary to:

 

Founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Alex J. Cavanaugh

To find out more about the IWSG or to join us, visit:

http://www.theinsecurewriterssupportgroup.com

InsecureWritersSupportGroup3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Wednesday I also share some of the things I have found that worked and some that didn’t work so well along my journey to publication, marketing and publishing again. Being insecure at times is one thing I had to and still deal with in my writing. Learning to listen to other writers, taking their advice and learning to write through those insecurities is a must.

Writing Wednesday

Typewriter Pink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Your Family and/or Friends Don’t Support Your Writing

 

It is hard enough for us writers to believe in ourselves so when someone close to us questions our choice and doesn’t support our decision to write, it stings.

We need to first consider the possibility that they may be genuinely concerned for us or they may lack understanding of what all is ‘involved’ in writing when we choose it as a career.

Once we have done our best to explain to them what we do and what they can do to support us and it doesn’t work out that way we have to realize that no matter how hard we try, everyone will not love our choice or our work.

When I asked a friend to come to one of my book signings and she asked me when I was going to come see her at work that got me thinking. I didn’t know exactly what she did at work. It had also been ages since I stopped by the dealership where my husband works, just to say hi. I never stopped by to see my daughter at the nursing home where she works to bring her chocolate or wine nor have I ever gone to the lumber yard where my other daughter works to buy lumber and have her sign it for me.

Well that revelation hit like lightening. Writing is my job.  It is emotional and I am passionate but at the end of the day I cannot expect a daughter that lives for romance novels to gush over my nonfiction.

birdprints

I needed to pay more attention to the careers of my loved ones and my friends and be more supportive of their passions if I expected the same of them.

I realized that when I need support for my writing, feedback or have exciting news to share the best place for me is a group of my peers.  Writers groups, critique groups, Facebook writer’s groups and especially The Insecure Writers Support Group are full of other writers that get what I do and feel what I feel.  There is always someone there with a hug, creative advice or a hand- up.

HotPenz7

Hot Penz7/ Writing Group

 

I am blessed because my family does support me and my choice to write. My girls are happy to help me choose an outfit for a book event but they do not want to go to work with me. For that I need my tribe and my tribe needs me.

“Success is knowing, your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential and sowing seeds that benefit others.” John C. Maxwell    

 

 

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A Perfect Dacation, Birthdays and Revenge…

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Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, “Heard” items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post. Then leave a link to your Friday Fragments here:

Half-Past Kissin’ Time

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My granddaughter Allyson turned 19 on Monday. We celebrated with her on Saturday. She has not stopped amazing me since the day she was born. I am so proud of her for so many reasons but especially because she is such a good big sister.

Allysons Birthday 19

John and I took a motorcycle ride down the shore last Sunday. As soon as we got there it started to rain. We ordered cheese steaks and watched the Eagles game. As soon as the Eagles won, the sun came out. We took a long walk on the beach, visited the spot where we ended up on our first date and then married. For the last day of the summer it was surprisingly deserted.

Beach Goodbye Summer 3

After our walk we went to the boardwalk for the famous Manco’s Pizza. In the parking lot, I was going through my purse looking for quarters to put into the parking meter. A couple walked up to our meter and inserted seven quarters and refused to take our dollar bills. It is amazing how a small act of kindness like that really does make you want to pay it forward.

Manco and Manco

It was a perfect daycation.

Two weeks ago a guy ambushed two Pennsylvania State Troopers. One died and one was critically wounded. The guy has been hiding in the woods in the Pocono Mountains for fifteen-days now. There are over one-thousand cops looking for him. Yesterday they spotted him but he disappeared into the rough terrain again. It’s been interesting following the tweets of the reporters who no doubt are bored out of their minds waiting by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. These tweets happened yesterday:

State Police will not speculate why Frein is wearing diapers except that they are sometimes used by snipers to stay in place

Thanks to Twitter, I just learned survivalists depend on #diapers and #Serbiancigarettes. Bizarre. #Frein

There were many more diaper and cigarette tweets but you get the idea.

I hope they find him soon and no one else is hurt. Life is really disrupted for everyone that lives in that mountain community. I cannot imagine the fear they must have especially the police officers families.

Today I am going to an alumni lunch at Temple University. Brian Williams is the keynote speaker. Tonight I have an event at our local mall and Saturday morning we have our first in a series of Press Club Workshops. It seems like we have been planning them forever, I’m excited and very nervous. Saturday night is date night and Sunday a Fairy Tale in the Hamptons Party celebrating the return of Once Upon a Time and Revenge. I have never seen either show. I want to watch them both, I need to see at least one episode so I can figure out what to wear so I can try to win a prize.

Have a blessed last week of September, oh my!

Doreen

 

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Writing Wednesday/ Book Trailers

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Writing Wednesday

Typewriter Pink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Wednesdays I like to share information I picked up on my journey to being published, marketing my first book, editing and preparing to be published again. Information that I wish someone would have shared with me, back then…

If you like the information I hope you will share it!

Book Trailers

A book trailer is a video advertisement for a book which employs techniques similar to those of movie trailers to promote books and encourage readers to buy.

As I was going over the marketing plan for my first book, Bristol boyz Stomp so I could fine tune my plan for my second book, The Stranger in My Recliner I came across my notes on book trailers.

I knew back then that I wanted a book trailer. I wanted it to be a tribute to my brother. It took some time to find somebody who not only understood what I wanted but was also willing to create it within my budget.

Selling a book requires evoking some sort of emotion from potential readers, something that gives them some idea of what is in the book. What better marketing tool than a ninety-second video to create interest, evoke emotion and end with a call to action.

Megaphone

A book trailer is a commercial but it doesn’t feel like one.

There are many companies and individuals that can create a trailer for you or you can make your own using a program like Microsoft Movie Maker.

Spend some time watching them on YouTube to get an idea of what appeals to you.

What I wanted was more like a movie trailer than a book trailer. I wanted to use family photos, family video and an Allen Parson’s song. It took some time to get permission to not only use the song but to change some of the words. There are independent musicians that would be more than happy to write music for your book trailer for the credits and exposure.

I was blessed to cross paths with J.C. from New Pace Productions. The company never created a book trailer and they agreed to give it a try.

We went into a music studio and our niece, Caroline recorded the song. J.C. took the music and added the photos, video and some new footage.

Caroline at Media Music (That piano belonged to Loretta Lynn)

Caroline at Media Music (That piano belonged to Loretta Lynn)

J.C. felt the trailer was a beautiful tribute but it was not going to sell books. I reluctantly agreed.

The first trailer:

http://youtu.be/PAc7b-pnfLw?list=UU0xYCcNFkyYQIINBkrcJA7Q

We came up with a script, a plan and got some help from one of the most talented voice over guys in the business, Scott Perry.

The second trailer:

http://youtu.be/_6ApR_tV63Y?list=UU0xYCcNFkyYQIINBkrcJA7Q

I am planning to create a book trailer for The Stranger in My Recliner. The last time we just put the trailer up on YouTube and expected people to find it. That didn’t happen. This time around I want the trailer to be more like a short movie. I will embed the video into my website, add it to my Amazon author page and other retail sites, add it to my e-mail signature and use it in all of my marketing and advertising.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing Wednesday/ Professional Editing

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Writing Wednesday

Typewriter Pink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Wednesdays I like to share information I picked up on my journey to being published, marketing my first book, editing and preparing to be published again. Information that I wish someone would have shared with me, back then…

 

 

If you like the information I hope you will share it!

 

Professional Editing

 

You have created an outline, a proposal, plotted your story, developed your characters, and written your first draft, edited, revised and ended up with a second draft. You had that draft read and critiqued and wrote your third draft. You are sure that in this draft:

 

You have used few if any adverbs

 

Removed the word ‘very’ from the entire MS

 

Taken out every word, sentence or phrase that is not relevant to the story and your critique partner says the story flows nicely, the points are clear and concise and the story is interesting. You have polished and feel confident (even if just a teeny bit because writers are not known to be the most confident type.) Congratulations you are ready to hire a professional editor!

 

Do I need a professional editor? Yes you do.

 

I can’t afford a professional editor? If you want to make writing your career then you must treat it like a business. When starting any new business financial investment is necessary for success. It is the same in the book business.

 

Where do you find a professional book editor? Ask your Facebook or other social media friends, do a Google search or ask other writers. Once you receive a couple of referrals they will probably ask you for a few chapters of your MS to do a sample edit for you. They will return it with suggestions and offer you a contract or they will pass. Before signing a contract make sure it includes time frame (both ways,) charges and how they are calculated and the editor’s method.

Little girl looking at book through magnifier

How much will it cost? If you are a starving, new writer you may be able to find a starving new editor who will be more than willing to negotiate a great price for you and do a great job for you in exchange for a reference. The average rate is $30-$65 an hour (10 pages per hour, a page being 250 words.) Well established editors with a client list of best sellers will charge much more. This is why you want your MS in the best shape you can get it before it goes to the editor. The fewer changes needed equal less time and that means less money out of your pocket.

 

What exactly does an editor do? Besides suggesting corrections for grammar, punctuation, technical elements and spelling your editor will organize your MS for the greatest impact and clarity. They will make sure all of your conclusions are supported and that you did not overuse certain words. A good editor knows what publishers are looking for, what readers expect and is able to balance that with what the author wants to say. A good editor will enhance your work and challenge you as a writer.

 

Your path from writer to successful author will be much shorter with a good editor in your tribe.

alcohol

 

 

Write Drunk, Edit Sober.~Earnest Hemingway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eagles, Sons and a CVS Fall Fail

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Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, “Heard” items, other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post. Then leave a link to your Friday Fragments post and link back to our host Mrs. 4444 at Half-Past Kissin’ Time.

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It’s not too late to join in on the fun and we would love to have you!

 

I walked into CVS yesterday and they were setting up the Halloween aisle. Right there on the end of that aisle was candy corn! Besides being sentimental for me the darn things are so addicting! It was the only thing that helped me with nine-months of morning sickness with my oldest daughter (a really long time ago) and also got me through wicked cigarette withdrawals. So of course I grabbed a bag. Driving home I thought to myself, fall isn’t going to be so bad after all.

Candy Corn

Did you know that 24 pieces of candy corn is considered a serving? That serving is 160 calories, 85 mg of sodium (Holy Salt) and 32 grams of sugar (Yikes!) None of that mattered as I ripped open the bag and poured it into a bowl and put it on my desk with every intention of eating it all. I grabbed a handful and nearly re-broke the broken jaw I just had surgery on a few weeks ago. It was hard and nasty. I am SO mad!! Big fail CVS. Now I want summer back!

CVS

One of my bosses from my out of the house job also a very dear friend, Susan passed away last weekend. She was 51. We said goodbye to her on Wednesday. This is the 4th close friend or relative I have lost to cancer since January. What is going on? #ihatecancer

My husband’s boss planned last weekend’s company picnic months ago. He had no idea the date he chose would be the first game and the home opener for the EAGLES. Everybody sucked it up and showed up at the pavilion and there was a huge T.V. set up. The first half ended with the EAGLES losing 17-0. It was a beautiful day and the food was so good the game had to turn around and it did. They ended up winning 34-17! Suddenly the company picnic turned into a real party!

Just when we thought we rid our city and our football team of all bad karma (you know that Vick guy) another one of our favorite players brings national shame attention to our city and our team.

Philly skyline

 

Our star running back LeSean McCoy, nicknamed Shady is a fan favorite. Last week he and a few friends went to a popular Philly restaurant PHT. The server admittedly a bit nervous because he was a HUGE fan forgot the appetizer. McCoy and his party left a twenty-cent tip. The owner of the restaurant posted the receipt on Facebook and we have a scandal. Charlie Sheen jumped on Twitter and offered the server $1000 to which McCoy said, I’m glad you are finally doing something good with your life. Somebody today said, at least he didn’t knock his girlfriend out in an elevator. No he didn’t but I remember what he did doand believe me it wasn’t nice. You see this is not the first time this fan fave’s shady character has been questioned. Meet the real LeSean McCoy

http://articles.philly.com/2013-01-31/sports/36638155_1_lesean-mccoy-eagles-fans-social-media

Eagles Shady McCoy 2

“A 20-cent tip is kind of a statement. You can’t disrespect somebody and expect them to tip you. I don’t care who the person is. That’s why I left my card so they could see my name.” LeSean McCoy

We have been waiting SO long for the new and final season of Sons of Anarchy. The first episode was two and a half hours long and so much happened I was getting dizzy. It was also very gory. I had to turn away at one point. I am hooked though and really want to see where the writer takes this and it all ends. I hope there is some redemption there.

Sons of Anarchy jax gemma wendy

I didn’t think I had many Fragments!

Have a blessed weekend,

Doreen

I would love to hang out with you here too:

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bristol-boyzStomp/113804488656243

TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/doreenb8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing Wednesday/ Platforms and Tribes

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Writing Wednesday

 Typewriter Pink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Wednesdays I like to share information I picked up on my journey to being published, marketing my first book, editing and preparing to be published again. Information that I wish someone would have shared with me, back then…

 

If you like the information I hope you will share it!

 

There is so much talk lately about writers needing to build platforms and find their tribes. It is true we do need both but how do you build a platform and where do you find your tribe?

PLATFORM

Building a Writers Platform means creating a connection between you the writer and, your potential readers. How do you find that connection? Every book has some sort of message, something the author wants the reader to take away with them. If you wrote gluten free diet book then your platform might be healthier eating for people with gluten intolerance. A wider platform would simply be people interested in healthy eating and a sub group would be readers looking for healthy recipes. Where do you find readers that live with a gluten intolerance? Where do you find the millions of people interested in healthier eating lifestyles? I would do a Google search to see if I could find any groups in my area that met in real life and attend a meeting, not to sell my book to them but to make connections. I would also do a search for Facebook groups that matched my message and join them. Think of your platform as being the bridge that connects you to your readers not the soap box you stand on with a megaphone asking them to buy your book.  If people are interested in you they will be interested in your book.

Bridge

TRIBES

A tribe is like a family and can even be family members. Your tribe is anyone that is for you and your book, those people that celebrate you and your choice to write. Finding a good writers group is a good place to start. A good writers group is one where you feel comfortable sharing your work and receiving encouragement as well as constructive criticism. You should also feel comfortable giving others in the group feedback and encouragement. The buzz about your book should never come from you the author. The buzz should always come from readers. This is where your tribe is invaluable. Your tribe members are those that share your social media posts, talk about how much they enjoyed your book, write reviews and show up at your book signings not alone but with friends.

Megaphone

Happy Writing,

Doreen

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Nightmares and Department Stores…

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Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, “Heard” items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post. Then leave a link to your Friday Fragments here:

Half-Past Kissin’ Time

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I am feeling so fragmented today. It was my first full week back to work ( I worked on Labor Day ) after an awesome vacation. As hard as I tried to be organized, by Wednesday it all fell apart and here I am on Friday scrambling to check all the boxes so I can relax and start my weekend.

Are you a Garth Brooks fan? I am so excited about his comeback tour. I was one of those people that slept on a sidewalk in Philadelphia all those years ago to get [good] tickets to see him. I was confused at first by the new digital format but this video sort of helped with that. I think it might be awesome. I wonder if Trisha will be offering her music on the space too.

http://youtu.be/ZvXjka4Zjc8

Garth and Trisha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few of my grandchildren started school on Wednesday, two others will start on Monday and Adrianna will start kindergarten next Tuesday. Is it me or do our schools in the Philadelphia area start late? I do love that the kids don’t go back until after Labor Day.

My teaching schedule starts with the first of the Press Club workshop series, a social media class on September 27th.  The committee and I have been working on these for months and they are really coming together.

My author schedule starts on September 19th with an author panel and book signing at The Boscov’s Department Store at Granite Run Mall. I am looking forward to spending time with the other awesome authors.

Boscov's

When we got back from our Florida trip last week (with 5 grandkids) I had the same nightmare for three nights in a row. I dreamed my eight-year-old granddaughter, Avery was drowning. It was terrifying. I was afraid to look up the meaning of the dream. Apparently when you dream a child is drowning it means you are feeling the end of a deep emotional connection. That made perfect sense because she was the youngest on the trip and we were worried about her getting homesick and being left out by the older kids. Neither happened thank goodness but I did feel very connected to her and all of the kids. Do you believe in dream interpretation?

FLORIDA avery in the hot tub

There is more sad news from Hollywood. I always found Joan Rivers hysterical. That said, more recently on her show Fashion Police, even I thought she could be a bit harsh. No matter what you thought of her she was the first women to have a nighttime show of her own and she paved the way for many female comediennes. My favorite thing about her was her refusal at all costs to be politically correct which made her, in my eyes and in spite of her exterior a very ‘real’ person inside.

Joan Rivers

The real news has been brutally sad too. I am usually pretty immune to it but these be-headings of journalists are so heartbreaking. I cannot stop thinking of their family and friends and the grief they are feeling.

Just thinking about this next election season is making me nauseous.

Have you had anything pumpkin flavored yet?

Have a blessed weekend,

Doreen

 

I would love to connect with you here too:

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Recent Posts:

Writing Wednesday- PR advice:

http://doreenmcgettigan.com/?p=5271

An excerpt from The Stranger in My Recliner [2015]:

http://doreenmcgettigan.com/?p=5268

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing Wednesday/Book Store Signings & Readings…

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The first Wednesday of every month I participate in The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. #IWSG.  This is one AMAZING group of talented beginners and professional authors. One of the many things we all have in common is our moments of extreme insecurity about our craft. Another is our gratitude and pay it forward attitudes when our confidence is soaring.

To find out more about the IWSG or to join us, visit:

http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com

InsecureWritersSupportGroup3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesdays are also ‘Writing Wednesday’s’ here. Each week I am going to share some of the things I have found that worked and some that didn’t work so well along my journey to publication, marketing and preparing to be published again.

Typewriter Pink

How to get you and your book in bookstores…

To have a chance at having your book stocked in a book store, your publisher has to be willing to offer your book to them at a wholesale discount price of at least 55% off the cover price. The books must also be returnable to the publisher if they do not sell within the stores allotted time-frame.

If you use Amazon for publishing it will be difficult to have your book available in an actual book store. This is because Amazon Publishers will not process returns and they will not offer further discounts.

Lightening Source is a self-publishing company you can use if you want your book to be available in book stores. They process returns, for a charge. All publishers, even traditional ones charge you for your returns. (I don’t know any one that has used them so this is not an endorsement)

All print books are ordered and delivered to stores through a book distribution center. The two major distributors are Ingram and Baker & Taylor. If the publisher you are planning to use does not use one or both of these distributors, move on from that publisher.

It is possible to have a CRM (Barnes & Noble) or an Event Coordinator (Independent) to allow you to bring books to the store and have them manually put them into the store’s inventory. This is not something they like to do so you will have to convince them the book has received decent reviews and that you can get people through the door.

If you have an agent or a publisher they will most likely ask you for a list of place’s you would like to have a book signing or a reading.  Chances are they have a business relationship with the event coordinators for those stores and your chances.

Once you have an event scheduled you will need to do your best to get customers through the door. Social media alone will not work. You also cannot count on foot traffic in the store. Once people realize you are selling something they will go the other way. You need to be creative to get them in front of your table. I use chocolate and promotional items like book markers, pens and notebooks.

Read how to get media attention for your book- http://doreenmcgettigan.com/?p=5243

Print postcards and ask the book store to keep them on the counter, mail them to everyone on your address list and ask other stores if you can pin one on their bulletin board.

Print flyers, do an e-mail blast, send press releases (see PR post,) post the event on the calendars of every local newspaper and magazine (online and in print if available,) write a blog post, social media posts  and place a small add in a local newspaper.

Completely stress out over what to wear, just kidding (no I’m not!) Seriously have fun.

 

PhillySnaps2

 

Other suggestions for book signings:

Libraries

Gift shops

Book Fairs

Holiday Fairs

Charity Events

Did you know that if you go into a library and donate paperback books it is possible (highly likely) they will be thrown in the trash can? Libraries prefer hardcover books. They also use major distributors to purchase books.  Ask the librarian what their policy is before leaving books.

Happy Writing,

Doreen

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What would you do if your husband brought a woman home?

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This is an excerpt from my second book The Stranger In My Recliner, an intimate look at the mental health and homeless crisis[2015.] It is the true story of Sophie a homeless woman my husband brought home one night.

When Sophie walked through my front door that night I could not believe my eyes. She was a frail, filthy, and hunched over, eighty- year –old woman. I wondered if she had bugs. I’m OCD[obsessive compulsive disorder] like that. I told her to sit on the sofa, while the whole time in my mind I was making it all better for me by imagining myself throwing that big red sofa away and buying a nice new, clean one. Maybe an ‘L’ shaped, brown microfiber one, this time.

I made her a hot cup of tea. After noticing she had no teeth and wondering what in the world could have happened to them, I made her a scrambled egg. While she ate her eggs and talked with John about people they might mutually know, I went upstairs and prepared her a warm bubble bath. I gave her my favorite silk pajamas, clean underwear, a warm fluffy pair of socks and a thick robe. The pajamas were a gift from my kids. They gave them to me when I was in the hospital for treatment of a bad allergic reaction to a vitamin supplement made from shellfish. I was certain they would understand why I had to give them to Sophie.

While she was in the bathroom having her bath, I made up the big red sofa with our softest six-hundred thread count guest sheets, our best pillows and a warm cotton blanket. I wanted her to feel safe, warm and comfortable. Whatever the reason for her plight, no one should be sleeping on the ground in this crazy weather. John thanked me for allowing him to bring Sophie into our home. He gave me a hug and promised me everything would be okay. He sensed my growing discomfort so he hugged me again. I love that he has the ability to sense my feelings.

I wanted to ask her a thousand questions. Do you have a family, where you ever married? Do you have children? How did you get yourself into this situation? Are you still drinking? That was the big one. That would be bad. I decided not to ask too many questions that night. I did ask her where the woods were located, the ones she had been sleeping in and she told me they were alongside McDade Boulevard.  McDade Boulevard is the main thorough fare connecting a dozen or so small towns in Delaware County, leading to Philadelphia. She also told us that night she had been attacked and robbed several times.

4016095-elderly-woman-with-worry-in-her-eyes-and-demeanor

Talk about a soft target and for what a few coins at the most. I felt so sorry for her and such anger for those unknown scumbags that would hurt her. I wanted to know more but decided I would ask her another time. I thought she must be physically as well as mentally exhausted. I thought she might be embarrassed too. I would be horrified if I found myself with nowhere to go and I had to wear a stranger’s underwear, their clothes and sleep on their sofa.  I would also be scared to death if I had no choice but to trust in the sincerity and saneness of strangers. I did not want to think about that stuff anymore.

She seemed to trust in John completely. With me, she was completely unsure. She most likely sensed my fear and disapproval. I had the feeling there was so much more to her story. How could there not be more. How do you get to be eighty-years-old and not have met at least one person that loved or at least cared enough about you to take you in from the cold. What possibly could have happened to her, what sin or crime did she commit that would force her to have no choice in the world but to trust complete strangers over family or friends? Wondering about those possible sins and crimes scared me to my core.

My husband on the other hand is the least judgmental person I know. He is trusting to a frustrating fault. I admired his compassion and knew in my heart keeping her safe and warm on this cold, wet night was the right thing to do no matter how she came to be in this situation. Even if it was wrong of me, I could not help wondering why I had to be the one to do that particular right thing on that particular night.

We made sure she had everything she could possibly ever need during the night. I poured a glass of ice water and placed it on the end table beside the red sofa. I put a few magazines on the coffee table. We asked if she would like to watch some TV. She said she would like that. I found an old- movie on AMC, Duel in the Sun and I was thrilled to see her eyes light up. “I love Joe Cotten” she said smiling, “He is my favorite actor.” I had no idea who, Joe Cotten was but I did notice Gregory Peck and Lionel Barrymore where in the film. I sort of wished I wasn’t so tired. I wouldn’t have minded watching it with her if John would have stayed up to watch it too. Instead John and I went to bed. I imagined it must have been a long time since she was able to watch and enjoy a good movie. It felt good to do that for her.

Joe Cotten

Turning the latch on my bedroom door knob ever so slowly, so she wouldn’t hear the click, I locked our bedroom door and tip toed over to our bed. Yes I admit it I was scared. I had visions of this crazy lady stabbing us in our sleep, robbing us or having her homeless gaggle of friends coming into our house to party through the night. I shuddered at the thought of the endless horrific things they could do to us. I tossed and turned all night. I tried to imagine how anyone could let an eighty -year –old woman become homeless and then reverted to what could she have possibly done to find herself in this situation.

The truth is I wanted her and the sting of the slap in the face reality of her situation to go away. I felt guilty that I felt that way.

I rolled over and flipped my pillow again, hoping to find a small patch of cold on the other side. Instead memories flooded my mind. I had a history with homeless people and it was not always good. I took in a homeless woman with a six-week-old infant, when I was a young, divorced mom.  My kids and I fell in love with the baby. Danielle lived with us whenever her mother was in prison, which was several times over an eight-year-period. The mother emotionally blackmailed and sometimes even terrorized my family for years. A priest told me sometimes we have to make the choice to hurt one to save many others.  I hated the sound of that advice. We did not want to but we sent that little girl to live with her father and her older sister in Minnesota. It wasn’t fair of us to keep her from knowing her family. Our hearts are still broken.

I took in a young man that worked for me when I managed a Pizza Hut Restaurant. He was a homeless drifter, a musician.  I found out he smoked pot in front of my young daughters and their friends. I was horrified, hurt and furious.

Another time, I took in a childhood friend of my sister’s. The woman had two young children and they were living in an abusive situation. Her husband had no idea I existed, so they would be safe and able to get a head start on a new life. It was a struggle for her and her children.  I admired her for finding the strength to leave him and for loving her children so much that she gave up everything to keep them safe. I was thrilled when she moved on, fell in love and remarried a gentle man.

I do not regret helping any of those people but now that I am older and look back, I realize what dangerous situations I put my family, my own children in at times. That woman’s abusive husband could have found her at my house and killed us all. That little girl’s mother was jailed several times for terroristic threats. I shudder when I imagine what could have happened. I do not mean to be over dramatic but you only have to watch the Lifetime Movie Network to know it can, and unfortunately does happen when you least expect it.

I seem to constantly, be asking myself if the fear I developed with age is a good- enough reason to do nothing. Of course the answer is no. It is not a good reason. Eliminating the fear and replacing it with knowledge is a good start. It is always easier to open a door if you have a reasonable expectation of what is waiting for you on the other side of the door.

I flipped my pillow again and rolled onto my side. Why didn’t I leave some cookies, crackers or chips out for, Sophie? I wondered if she was still hungry. There was no chance I was going downstairs to find out. John was sound asleep.

What do you do in those situations where there is no way to know what’s behind that door? You can choose to stay stuck or you can dig deep for the faith and courage to open that door. I would rather have stayed stuck in my safe comfortable world that night, secure in the fact that I had done enough good deeds in this lifetime. John however, on that night needed me to walk through that door with him.

He was grieving the loss of his mother. She passed away six-months prior to him finding Sophie on that sidewalk. John and I met and married shortly before his mother became ill. Kathleen was the first elderly person I ever lived with and the first elderly person I ever provided with hands on care. Honestly, ever since I was a small child I was afraid of older people. We had a few cranky neighbors when I was a kid. The older kids would tell us stories about being, captured by these creepy-old people and kept chained in their smelly basements.

I always adored, my own grandmother except for the times when she was yelling at my poor grandfather. While I was growing up in Northeast Philadelphia, she lived just a few blocks from our house. We saw her every day.  As I got older I would drive her to doctor appointments, clean for her or just sit and visit. Back then she never seemed old to me. Maybe I was too close to notice. When she did become sick, she went down hill and passed away quickly. My grandfather got sick years before and took his own life before he had the chance to grow old.

For the first time in our young marriage, John and I were living alone. We were just getting used to our newly found freedom. We discussed traveling, home renovation projects and retiring at the seashore. We discovered our living room. For two- years, the room was a campground for John’s sisters and nieces who thankfully were there to help care for his mother. That is the way it is supposed to be right? Families are supposed to come together and come up with a workable solution to provide care for their elderly loved ones. It is one of those times in life, that you must put your own needs and feelings aside and work as a unit.

I enjoyed the chaos of so many people coming in and out of the house.  That was what I came from. The situation helped me to be less homesick. When I married John I moved in with him. He lived in another county, on the other side of Philadelphia. I was used to seeing my kids and grandkids every single day. When the house was quiet, I missed them.

What a long night that first night with Sophie turned out to be. As I walked downstairs, in the morning I was hoping it had all been a long dream. No such luck. There she was sitting on the end of the big red sofa.  She was awake and as real as my freezing feet on the cold floor. She was dressed in her own, old-dirty clothes. Those ripped plastic grocery bags that were full of I have no idea what were at her feet. We originally thought they held some sort of groceries but no. They definitely did not hold groceries. She clutched a filthy overstuffed pocketbook with a broken strap to her chest. Her head was down, she was staring at the floor. She looked so fragile. I noticed the pajamas, underwear and those fluffy socks I gave her folded neatly beside her. My first thought was; not believing she put her dirty underwear back on her nice, clean body. I cringed. My second thought was she must have been a beautiful woman. Her hair was pure white not at all that dingy grey most of us are stuck with. It was so long and wavy. Most of the older women that I knew wore their hair short. I wondered if she ever colored it. It was so beautiful this morning compared to the filthy stringy mess it had been last night, before her bath.

I made her a cup of hot tea and some instant apples and cinnamon oatmeal for breakfast. Oatmeal is not one of my favorites but I love the way the flavored ones smell. She seemed thrilled when I handed her a banana. It didn’t seem like the right time to ask where her teeth were. I hoped I never had the opportunity to ask.

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Time for Teaching and still Beaching…

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Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, “Heard” items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post. Then leave a link to your Friday Fragments here:

Half-Past Kissin’ Time

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My husband told me yesterday to stop thinking about summer being over and to concentrate on enjoying each day of September. He is so right. The days are still sunny and warm, without being oppressive and the nights are comfortably cool. Then he asked me to go on a couple of beach dates. Just another of the million reasons I love that man.

Florida Does Beach Feet

I have some exciting things to look forward to this fall. Not only will I be teaching again but I have been working with a committee since last spring to put together a workshop series sponsored by the Press Club of Pa. They will be held the fourth Saturday of every month (except December.) They will be on social media, branding, style (for men and women), networking, understanding the news, how to get attention from the media for your product, business, store, event, non-profit, blog or book, writing and publishing, pitching your business and more. We have been so lucky to have top experts in these fields offer to join us. We even have a few celebrity guests. I will be writing more about these classes next week!

http://www.thepressclubpa.org

Our Florida adventure has come and gone but I have no doubt we all created memories that will last forever. My husband and I took five of our grandchildren to Daytona Beach to visit my mother and John’s sister. We were worried that at least the driving part would be a nightmare but I have to tell you the kids were so good and we had SO much fun. Kudos to John for renting the top of the line Town & Country minivan equipped with DVD players and satellite radio and kudos to me for creating maps and putting them on corkboard for each child with colored stick pins. One color for cities we stopped in and another color for cities we passed through. They really got into it and now they know how to read a map. We had a great time with family and friends, went Go Karting, to batting cages, the beach, to Zoomair Daytona a zipline adventure and more…

FLORIDA trip the kids by pool FLORIDA Here we go FLORIDA trip maps FLORIDA with Kids Florida beach all 5

During our vacation my laptop kind of crashed and even though there was a TV by the pool the kids always wanted to listen to music so I was forced to detox from my news addiction. After reading this post on Boomeon written by Cathy Chester, taking an occasional news break is going to become a habit for me:

http://www.boomeon.com/posts/taking-a-short-break-from-the-news

Have a safe and fun Labor Day,

Doreen

 

 

 

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  • Love Letter to My Mom September 30, 2014
    I've written about my dad from time to time (see my sidebar for a couple of audio posts about his passing), and I may have left you thinking that my dad was a bad guy. The truth is, he had some demons I never met (thank God), demons that led him down the path of alcoholism. As I grew up, Dad's alcoholism colored my view of him (for obvious reasons)