Why Nammynools?

1961 08 Rachel & Diane

Two year old Diane and the goat – Rachel.

When we were little, Mom had trouble keeping track of our names. Or something like that.

It didn’t matter which of us was in the room or which one of us was in trouble, she went through an entire array of names before just pointing and saying, “You.” By that time, we were all laughing at her and her anger had pretty much dissipated.

The animals in our house were part of that array of names. Usually there were only a couple of dogs, but gerbils, fish (lots of fish), cats … and even a goat when I was a baby, were part of the Greenwood menagerie. The goat story? Poor Mom had to make a choice between it and her baby. The goat was jealous and kept butting me down the back steps. Mom always said it was a difficult choice.

Another thing that Mom did was to play with words. The thing is, these odd words she created are still such a normal part of my vocabulary that I have trouble identifying most of them individually. Rabbits were bun-rabs and I still can’t see a rhino without mis-placing the emphasis. It was never a rhi-NO-cer-ous, but a rhi-no-SORE-ass. To this day, I see the word and every rhino in my imagination has bright, red hindquarters. A knife was a two syllable word – cuh-nife, as was most every other silent ‘k’ word. Unique was pronounced you-nee-cue.

My animals

Ichabod, Howard, and Bert (maybe 1998-1999).

Her standard vocabulary was immense. The woman was absolutely brilliant and a voracious reader and writer, so when she wanted to play around with words, it wasn’t that she didn’t know better, it was a choice she made.

Back to all of the animals in her world.

All of the warm-blooded (oops, cold-blooded fish too, I guess) beings around Mom were her naminals. Poor Dad couldn’t even escape that classification. And, by the way, his name got tossed in there along with every single named naminal when Mom was trying to identify the person standing in front of her.

IMG_2545So … I took the word she’d used for all of the beings she ever loved and made it mine. Trust me, it has been perfect over the years. When you make up a word, it is easily accepted by the web as being unique (did you say that in your head correctly? you-nee-cue).

And what better reference could a girl have than to all of the nammynools that have been part of her life since she was just a little girl. Am I right?

Bellingwood Vignette – 02

Happy Valentine's DayI love writing these tiny stories. If you missed the first one, you need to sign up for the email newsletter. There will be a story each month – and there will also be links to the previous month’s email so you can catch up. But this is an extra – a Valentine’s Day gift from me to you.

The Bellingwood stories are written from Polly’s perspective, so if she isn’t around, we don’t see what happens in the lives of other characters. These vignettes, though, give me an opportunity to peek into their lives, if even for just a few minutes. They won’t change the story or add anything that you would necessarily miss if you didn’t read them, but they will give you a little background and a hint as to what’s happening next.

This story is part of the happenings of Book 9 …

Make Room for Everyone

“C’mon, honey. The babysitter will be here soon. I don’t want to be late.”

Joss Mikkels sat on the edge of her bed with her shoes in hand. Today had been a rough day. Both of the babies were crawling and sometimes they moved faster than she could keep up. She’d felt guilty when Cooper pulled himself up to stand at the sofa and not only had she not taken a picture, but up until this point, she’d forgotten to tell Nate about it.

She looked up at him with weary eyes. It would keep. Maybe Cooper would do it tomorrow afternoon when they were all in the living room at the same time.

Later that afternoon, Sophie had been playing with her favorite soft book when her brother decided that he wanted it for himself. Joss had turned around for just a second and all of a sudden the two were screaming at each other. She wasn’t sure why today was worse than any other day. Maybe it was because she was looking forward to a romantic evening with Nate. They hadn’t had too many of those since the twins had come into their lives. Or maybe Sophie and Cooper had picked up on her desperation. After eight months, though, she thought they’d gotten past all of that. It wasn’t teething. She knew that sound. Oh, did she know that sound.

“Joss?” Nate was standing in front of her, holding her coat.

“Where are the babies? Why aren’t you watching them while I finish dressing?”

“Cindy’s here.”

“Already?”

He looked at his watch. “Are you about ready?”

Joss put her feet into her shoes and stood up. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t the best day around here and I need to shake it off so we can have fun this evening.”

Nate helped her into the coat and kissed her nose. “You’ll have fun, I promise.”

“I’m looking forward to it. How late can we stay out?”

He chuckled. “First it was our parents and now it’s our children. Do you miss the days when no one cared what time we got home?”

“Sometimes and not really? Does that make sense?” She wouldn’t trade any point in her life for these days with Sophia and Cooper, but there were moments when she craved a little freedom.

“It does. Do you want to say goodnight to the kids?”

“Are they happy with Cindy right now?”

“Absolutely.”

“Then let’s slip out so they don’t have to watch us leave.”

He escorted her to the Impala. Joss didn’t care what car they took, but whenever Nate had an opportunity to take his baby out on the road, he grabbed it. The weather had been rough enough lately that it had been trapped in the garage, but tonight was special and they only had a few blocks to drive to Sycamore House.

Nate had already warmed the car up and Joss leaned into him as he drove. She felt warm and snuggly this evening, just like one of their date nights back when they were still in college.

“Where are you going?” she asked as he drove south past Sycamore House.

“It’s a nice night for a drive, don’t you think?”

“You made me think we were going to be late?”

“I might have exaggerated. I just want to spend some time with you, all alone.”

Joss squeezed his arm. “Are we going parking? I could get into that.”

“We’re a little old, don’t you think? Can’t you just imagine Ken Wallers pulling up beside us, shining a flashlight into the back seat?”

“He knows this car. He wouldn’t think a thing of it.”

“Except that he’d worry that something was wrong and would stop and check on us and there we’d be in flagrante delicto. And besides, there’s a perfectly comfortable bed at home.”

Joss let out a very audible sigh. “I knew it. We’ve gotten old. There’s no spark left. You never take risks anymore.”

“Honey,” he said, patting her hand. “Don’t be ridiculous. I’ve never been a big risk-taker. Especially when it comes to having sex in the great outdoors.”

That was absolutely true. She’d tried to get him to make out with her on the beach during their honeymoon and the poor man had done nothing but look around, worrying that someone might sneak up and catch them.

Joss let him off the hook. “It’s okay. You do when it’s important. Cooper and Sophia were a big risk and you never flinched. Not once. You’re pretty wonderful.”

“Now you’re just being sappy.”

“I know. It’s a good thing I don’t have any wine in me yet.” She took a breath. “When do you think we should get back on the list to adopt more children?”

She felt him chuckle beside her, and then he said, “After the day you’ve had with those two and you want more?”

“I told you I wanted a houseful. Did you ever meet my friend, Janet?”

Nate shook his head. “I don’t think so.”

“She was the fifth of twelve kids. She had two older brothers and two older sisters and then there were … ” Joss had to think. “Two more girls, three boys and then a set of twins, a boy and a girl. Their dad was a doctor and they lived in this huge, sprawling ranch house out in the country. It was always a crazy zoo out there, but they had so much fun. And now that they’re all grown up, they come back with everyone for immense family reunions. That’s what I want.”

“You want twelve kids?”

“Maybe not that many, but a lot.”

“Are you going to let Mom come out and help with all of them?” He cackled evilly.

“If I have to.” Joss leaned back. “That would be so perfect, though. When they get older, their friends will come over and the house will be complete chaos. Joyous chaos.”

“You know it probably won’t be just like that. There’s always the potential for tons of problems.”

“It can be just like that,” she insisted. “It’s all in how you look at it.”

“That’s why I love you.” Nate pulled off the highway onto a gravel road, and directly into a driveway. He got out of the car and came around to open her door, offering his hand to help her stand up.

“What is this?”

He left the car’s headlights on, shining on an old dilapidated two-story house with four other buildings in close proximity. Trees and brush had overgrown most of it. Nate turned on his phone’s flashlight app, shining it on the concrete driveway, then held her close to him while they walked. He stopped, bent over and opened a red cooler that had been left on the ground. With a flourish, he pulled out two red roses and presented them to her.

“I was thinking this could be your sprawling ranch house. We would pull everything down except that building over there.” He pointed to one of the better looking buildings. “That would be my shop. It’s big enough for everything I need.”

“What?” Joss stunned. She brought the roses up to her nose to give herself a moment to take it all in.

“It just came on the market and the land is a great deal. Henry would build the house. Any house you want. There are nine acres here. What do you think?”

“I don’t know.” Joss was glad for darkness that hid the tears in her eyes.

Nate grew quiet. “If you don’t think we’re ready for this, we can wait until you’re ready. I haven’t done anything or talked to anyone. I wanted to show you first.”

“No, that’s not it. I just wasn’t prepared for anything like this today. We can really do it?”

“Why not?”

“No reason, I guess. It’s just such a big step.”

“Bigger than adopting two children? We have plenty of room here for a lot of children. All that you want.”

“I don’t know what to think,” she said.

“Talk to me.”

“All of this, for us?”

“For all of us.”

Joss threw her arms around her husband and lifted her lips for a kiss. Nate’s lips were chilled from the evening air and they held onto each other as she finally let the tears flow into the shoulder of his coat. “You really know how to wish a girl Happy Valentine’s Day,” she said.

“It’s okay?”

“It’s perfect. Can I tell everyone when we get to Sycamore House?”

“That’s up to you. All I wanted to do was surprise you with the idea. You and I will do everything else together.”

Joss kissed him again. “This is amazing. Maybe we’ll put a barn up and get some horses, too. That way our kids can ride over to Polly’s house. We aren’t that far away.”

“Sweetie, that’s her land right back there.”

“This started out as such a rough day. Now it’s turned into one of my top ten days. Thank you!”

What Do You Like to Read

A few readers have asked me in the last couple of days what I like to read. I’ve been a reader since Mom put flash cards in my hands. She never had to convince me that reading was important. It was all I wanted to do.

gardnerstutteringWe lived in a very small town and the library was right across the street from my Dad’s church, so every day that I could, I was there. By fifth and sixth grade, I was caught up in Erle Stanley Gardner’s ‘Perry Mason’ series and read every single one they carried, as well as all of the other pulp fiction available. The librarian, an older lady, soon realized that she had a pair of young legs attached to a little girl who wanted nothing more than to spend time with books, so before I knew it, I was running up and down ladders, shelving books for her, learning where everything was. My mind exploded with the possibilities. There were words everywhere and I couldn’t wait to read them.

Scholastic Book Fairs and school libraries were as familiar to me as that library, which was good because when we moved the next year, the librarian in a much larger building was not quite as willing to encourage a very excited young reader. She made my mother quite furious with her attitude and scared the daylights out of me. The first time was the last time I set my foot in that building willingly. Which only meant that Mom had to find other ways to keep feeding my voracious habit. However, as thrifty as my father was, the one place he was willing to spend money was on books. My personal library began to fill.

61942In junior high and high school, I discovered science fiction and fantasy. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Robot series, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, Alan Dean Foster, David Drake, Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, Roger Zelazny’s Amber books, Larry Niven, Ursula K. LeGuin, Frederik Pohl, C. J. Cherryh, John Varley, Robert Silverberg, Vonda McIntyre, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Poul Anderson, Andre Norton, Gordon R. Dickson, Piers Anthony, Barbara Hambley, Robert Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, John Varley, Joan D. Vinge. Every single one of those authors and more are worth your time.

6560143-MDuring this time I also really got into WWII spy novels. Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth, Helen MacInnes, Ken Follett and of course Ian Fleming. I love Rex Stout – Nero Wolfe and Agatha Christie And because I liked big books, Leon Uris became a favorite. I never did get into Michener. He was just too rambling for me.

I spent an inordinate amount of time and money in bookstores once I was on my own. I used to get annoyed when I wanted to read a series and only found part of it in stock. I just put the whole thing back and walked away, knowing that I’d have most of it consumed before the rest came in. And that would just annoy me. Amazon was a godsend. I could order every single book in a series and have it all show up at once.

And then, the Kindle? Holy smokes, I was in heaven. Books arrived like magic. I never had to be without reading material.

Once I got my Kindle, I discovered paranormal fantasy. Well, good night ladies, that is some seriously fun stuff! And you know what? I’m annoyed by those who thrash and trash authors because they might not be the type of books that are read in hallowed halls. I loved the Twilight series. It didn’t change my life, but it was sure fun to read. I have read so many of these authors: J. R. Ward, Sherilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, Laurell K. Hamilton, Jeanine Frost, Diana Rowland, Karen Marie Moning, Keri Arthur, Kim Harrison, Karen Chance, Lynsay Sands, Charlaine Harris, Carrie Vaughn, Lara Adrian, Devon Monk, Ilona Andrews, Jennifer Estep, Richelle Mead, Kresley Cole, Nalini Singh, Terri Reid. Some are awesome, some are okay, some are just pure fun.

eng_1Young Adult novels are amazing reads for me. I was one who waited with bated breath for the next Harry Potter book, then read through it as fast as I could so I could pass it to my sister. Angie Sage -Septimus Heap series, Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl, D. J. MacHale – Pendragon, Jeanne Duprau – Ember, Rick Riordan, Christopher Paolini, Scott Westerfield, Cassandra Clare, Suzanne Collins.

I still love long series. J. D. Robb – In Death, Janet Evanovich – Stephanie Plum (seriously … wet my pants laughing), Faye Kellerman – Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, James Patterson, John Sandford, Jeffrey Deaver. I love Jim Butcher’s Dresden series, Patricia Briggs – she has several series other than Mercy Thompson and they’re all really good. Robin Hobbs, Lisa Shearin, Ann Aguirre, Sue Grafton, Brandon Sanderson, Bob Mayer. A reader here just turned me on to Tamora Pierce. Alex Kava is an Omaha author and a favorite. If you like sci fi -Nathan Lowell’s Trader Tales is good. Estelle Ryan’s Genevieve Lenard is a great indie series and Shelley Adina’s Lady of Devices is a great steampunk series. Liz Long’s Donovan Circus is another good indie series – she’s just getting started with it.

These lists are by no means comprehensive. As soon as I started thinking through them and finished typing a paragraph, three more names would come to me and then three more after that. There are massive holes, but search Google with some of these names and see what you might enjoy.

You’ll notice that I don’t have a lot in this list that is just general or true-life fiction. It’s not my thing. I love great mysteries – things that cause me to work through a puzzle. Fantasy / sci fi have been passions of mine for decades – where I can get lost in worlds that only exist in my mind.

As I think about these book lists, I realize there are so many I want to re-read. I read Dune and Asimov’s Foundation last month. Those books are still amazing. I need to tear through the rest of the Dune series so I can catch up to the new stuff being written by Herbert’s son, Brian, and Kevin Anderson. Oh … and oh my, all of the Star Wars novels that have been written! I love ‘em. Wow … why am I writing this post when I could be reading instead. Or writing my own book. Back to work, Diane.

TB … Giver of All Good Things

This is going to be a two-post day because before I get into the post I promised, I have to tell you what happened to me early this morning. I was so sound asleep that I almost forgot about it, but it’s one of those things that will keep coming back to mind and send me into fits of giggles. So, I’ll share.

IMG_2547I’ve been sleeping a lot the last few days, trying to feel better. Low grade fever stuff, just out of it. TB has been wonderful. He doesn’t complain, just crawls into bed and curls up behind my legs. This is almost like a drug for me. I don’t know how it works, but when he does this, everything within me relaxes and I fall into a deep sleep. He hasn’t cared what time I need to sleep, he’s just been there, tucked in beside me. For a cat who is a brat (well-trained by me, I’m sure), he’s shown me a lot of love lately.

Mornings – just around dawn / daybreak – are his time of day. When I’m out of it, I generally sleep through his antics, even when he dashes across my body or paws at the window or meows loudly to get my attention. He’ll give up after a few minutes and go on to something else.

This morning was no exception. He was up and traipsing through the place, coming back to check on me and see if I would play. Now, because he loves it, I have strategically placed one of his favorite blankets, with the furry side up, between me and the wall on the bed. He has a favorite toy and will pace back and forth, kneading that blanket while he holds the toy in his mouth. I just accept him for who he is. He will do it when he needs to relax and calm down.

I turned over to face the wall and he jumped up on the bed. I thought he was just heading for his kneading / pacing routine when … he didn’t. He was standing there and moving erratically. I opened one eye and in a split second (wait for it … oh my goodness), I saw a little furry mouse skitter across the white furry blanket to the back wall, looking for any escape from the cat. TB ran after it, but it had made its way to the floor and away from little Mr. Hunter Cat.

As I waited to see what would happen next, my mind told me it was time to laugh uproariously because of the number of friends I have who would have left the entire house at that point, screaming and flailing about wildly. I’ve gotten so accustomed to weird stuff happening to me up here, that when TB dashed off the other end of the bed to chase the mouse again, I actually just went back to sleep.

When I woke up again an hour later (because by then it was really time for a potty break), I was laughing so hard on the way to the bathroom that I barely didn’t make it. Who else do I know that would fall back to sleep after that? Not many of you, that’s for sure! But it barely even phased me.

My little snugglebutt brought me a gift to help me get well. It wasn’t his fault that the gift got away and I was unable to appreciate it fully. He’s a good boy.

New Short Story – Abiding Love

I will be the first to admit that my mind spends most of its time hovering around a fictional community in the center of Iowa. But sometimes other stories creep to the top and remind me that they need to be written.

Last year I read through the Bible and when I got to the book of Ruth in the Old Testament, my imagination took off. I gave chase, finally caught up with it, and this short story was the result. It is one of my favorite pieces so far.

In the Old Testament, we read of Naomi and her pain … how she changed her name from Naomi, which means ‘pleasant,’ to Mara, which means ‘bitter.’ The words Ruth spoke to Naomi – Entreat me not to leave you, nor to return from following you … – are familiar words in wedding ceremonies. Ruth is the mother of Obed, whose son Jesse was the father of David, the greatest King of Israel.

I don’t presume to tell of people whose descendant will be the savior of the world, but I love the story of Naomi’s transformation, which comes full circle in Ruth 4:15, just after Obed is born to Ruth. The women say of the boy, “He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth” (NIV). The story goes on to say that “Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him” (Ruth 4:16).

Abiding Love is available on Kindle or on the free Kindle app which you can get for nearly every device or computer. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Abiding Love Cover smallClick on the cover to purchase the story from Amazon.

This short story is a contemporary re-imagining of the Biblical story of Ruth. In it, Diane Greenwood Muir, author of the Bellingwood series, explores the deep connection that love creates in friends.

Naomi has experienced everything from exhilarating joy to paralyzing grief and yet, her life is constantly renewed by the steadfast love that comes from her closest friend. Ruth has sacrificed a great deal – her homeland and the life she knew – to stay with Naomi when circumstances should have pulled them apart.

As Ruth begins a new life, with a new husband and family, Naomi finds that she has been given a great gift – an understanding of the way God fulfilled His promise to care for her, no matter what. When He seems so far away, we find Him in those who continue to love us.

Email Signup – New Year, New Fun!

Happy New Year!

Hey, we’re only twelve days in. I can still say those words, right? Of course I can. I could get all cocky and tell you that this is my website and I can write what I want, but that would be silly. I’m not that cocky. But then there’s the great night’s sleep I had, the immense mug of coffee that is racing through my system and … well, I might also be avoiding a small editing project. So … anything could come out of my fingers at this point.

I’ve discovered that I miss you all. I don’t want to complain about what Facebook has done with its algorithms, so I’ll just say that I miss hanging out with you on the Bellingwood FB page. Part of the reason I have so much fun writing my stories is because it gives me an opportunity to connect with people I would never have met otherwise … you.

In order to make sure that we stay connected, I’m going to add another layer … with bonuses. It’s time for me to get on board with email newsletters. I will send a newsletter out once a month with some of my favorite moments from interactions on Facebook, web posts, an update on projects I have swirling around, and other exciting things from the world of Bellingwood.

That means I need something from you … you need to go through the email sign up process.

At the top of the front page of this blog post is a sign up form. Fill it out and wait for the MailChimp monkey to send a confirmation into your email, click on it and you will be added to the list.

Spy Cat Sign UpI promise not to overwhelm your inbox. You have to know that I have fought myself over doing this because I hate getting on a list that explodes on me out of the blue. But, if it becomes too much, the unsubscribe option is easy. You control your inbox.

I also promise not to do anything weird with your email, like sell it or give it away. You mean the world to me. I am grateful for your support and love.

The first email will come out around the 25th of January. I’m working on a special short-short (very short and in case you wondered how short – let’s just say – really, really short. Is it going to be a short story, Diane? Oh, it will be short.) Bellingwood story for everyone who signs up. 

Whaddya know! This is going to be fun! Sign up today. And I’m about to pour another cup of coffee. Whee!

Killer Instinct, Goals, Competition, Never Quit

September 1961

Diane & Frank, September 1961

If there was one thing Dad wished to instill in his kids (after love, family, God, all of that nice gooey stuff), it was how to achieve a sense of accomplishment. He was relentless, often talking about the killer instinct, going for the goal no matter what. None of us really bought into it. He’d spent too much time teaching us about love, forgiveness, family, friends, God and all the other gooey stuff. But, it occurs to me, all of these years later, that those words didn’t fall on deaf ears.

Dad didn’t want us to settle for mediocrity or second-best. If we were going to play an instrument, we practiced … and practiced and practiced. He had high expectations for our school work. If the report card was filled with A’s, he asked about A+’s. He might have sounded as if he were kidding, but he wasn’t.  When my friends were getting monetary rewards for their report cards, I asked why I didn’t. His response was that he wasn’t about to pay me for doing the right thing. Well … darn.

He refused to let us quit … easily. He said more often than not, that he wasn’t raising a bunch of quitters. We weren’t allowed to start something and stop the moment it got difficult. No, we pressed on, worked through the difficulty, kept at it an appropriate amount of time and if at the end of all of that, we decided it wasn’t something we wanted to do, we finished. We never stopped in the middle of a project or activity. We had responsibilities to the others who were part of that activity. Oh, and by the way, just because we might have decided that we weren’t going to do this particular thing ever again, we didn’t have the option of giving it a half-baked response. We were expected to excel … or at least try our hardest … until we were finished.

I spent most of yesterday putting a new computer together, downloading my life from the cloud, arranging everything so that it was just perfect, on and on. Add to that the fact that for the three nights previous, I’d gotten no more than 3-4 hours of sleep each night because I was awake early in order to be alert for a probable (oh, they failed me miserably) FedEx delivery (of that same computer), and you had a completely exhausted girl. I mean … exhausted to the point of pure silliness.

At the end of December, I wrote a post about my challenges / goals for 2015. I created a schedule that seemed doable … not too difficult with all the other things I have going on. The first thing I committed to was writing 1000 words per day in the month of January. This would be the perfect month to do that. I’d still be excited about the commitment, I wanted to kick off the new year right, and that much writing would give me a great push for the year’s writing goals.

Last night I didn’t have it in me. I was done in and nothing creative was floating around in my brain. I’d finished a short story the night before, I’d sent a different short story out to my beta readers the day before. I felt like I’d accomplished enough. It was time to rest and allow my body to recuperate with some sleep.

I went to bed. And I read a little bit. Then I tossed and I turned. And I tossed and turned some more. That 1000 word commitment kept floating around in my mind. I tried to tell myself that it was okay – I could write an extra thousand words the next day. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that I’d set a goal. I’d challenged myself to stay on task and if I gave in one day, I’d feel free to give in another day.

When a mouse sprung a trap and startled both TB and myself out of bed, I knew that I couldn’t go back and try to sleep without at least attempting to write. I dealt with the mouse, put slippers on my feet and a sweater over my nightgown and sat down at the computer. I wrote the next scene. It wasn’t 1000 words – only 903, but that was close enough. I considered feeling guilty about shorting myself – but that was pushing the limit a bit too much – even for me.

My brother and sister do exactly the same thing … in their own ways. It’s sometimes frustrating for us to not be able to give up easily, but in the long run, we always know we are doing the right thing … even if no one else notices.

Dad’s tenacious commitment to excellence, finishing a task, and competing against whatever bar has been set was one that might have seemed difficult to emulate, but on the other side of that was his verbal acknowledgement that he was proud of us. We never had to question that.

If you wonder why I keep going when I could relax and take a break, this is the way I was raised and it makes me happy to know that I don’t quit or give up. Dad doesn’t have to push me – I push myself. I was up a bit later than I’d expected last night, but it was pretty satisfying to put my head back down on the pillow and know that I’d not failed myself.

Year Two Winners!

Winners!Well, THAT was fun. The contest had well over 250 entries from both the website and the FB page.

Since I have to type each name individually into a list (because FB is not so helpful with this stuff), I got to see some great names for future stories! Yep … working on crazy stuff in my head all the time. It’s what I do.

Okay – here we go with fourteen winners of the 2014 / 1400 likes contest.

Sycamore House T-Shirts (2) 
Andrea M. Olson
Deb McIntyre Kampschnieder

Set of Books 1-3 (1)
Marcie Meeker

Book 8 – Through the Storm (6)
Sarah Studinski
Connie Kay Conrad Jobe
Angelia Schubert
Tanya Saucerman Braun
Barbara Walker
Susan Devine Solovera

Book 1 – All Roads Lead Home (2)
Bonnie Stine
Elli Briggs Strukel

Tote Bag (2)
Michelle Knopp
Marbeth Carmack

Sycamore House Mug (1)
Melanie Pollnow McClure

Message me on Facebook or use the contact form on the website with your mailing address and I will get these things out to you. I need sizes for t-shirts (Small – 4X).

Today I want to finish writing a short story about Polly and Henry, I’m thinking through another REALLY short story for something fun this month and putting words down for Book 9. This is going to be a great year and I’m so glad you all are part of it! Happy New Year!

2015 – Every Day

2015 Every Day ChallengeSeveral years ago, I stumbled across Mary Robinette Kowal’s site as she was preparing to send a piece of mail (through the post office) every single day throughout the month of February. Then … she challenged people to do the same. Because who doesn’t love wonderful things coming into their mailbox?  I jumped on board and had a wonderful time. I mailed packages and letters, silly things and gifts. It was awesome.

This year, I’m going to do it again. I won’t get to the mailbox every day, so it will take longer for my mail to get out, but I will put something in an envelope and stick a stamp on it every day. If you want to know more about this – she created a website – lettermo.com. Check it out.

As I thought about this, it occurred to me that one month of fun wasn’t nearly enough. I wanted to do something to stretch myself every day of this next year. You see, I don’t do resolutions very well. I know better than to set myself up for failure. Short-term challenges are a lot more doable for me. With a little thought, I came up with a year’s worth of monthly challenges. Some will be difficult and others will be a blast. Some I will have to spend months preparing for and others are intended to be spur of the moment. You will be able to share in a few of them, while there will be months that my challenge will be consigned to a series of notes in my calendar and Evernote.

This is going to be a great deal of fun and hopefully it will continue to stir creativity and productivity throughout the year.

You’ll notice that I’m starting out with a tough challenge for the month of January. Every single day I commit to writing 1000 words. Now, the truth is, when I write, I generally put 3000 – 4000 words down before stopping, so that number seems paltry. However, the other side of that coin is that I don’t do it every single day. This is a big commitment for me and so … while I’m still excited about doing these challenges, I’m going to make sure to kick the year off with a bang.

I am a little rebellious. You’ll notice that I have August marked as the month where I will write a ‘thankful’ post each day. Yeah. Everyone does it in November – I insist on being different (unique is the word Mom used to describe me). I can’t help myself … the crowd is not where I belong.

If resolutions aren’t for you and you want to join me, now’s the time to think about it! You don’t have to use my schedule – many of the items won’t make sense. But I suspect you can come up with twelve challenges – gardening, reading, grandkids, Bible study, exercise, neighbors, painting, crafts, decorating (redecorating) – the list is endless.

I’ve ordered a beautiful journal / calendar for 2015 and will be using it to keep track of all the fun I have.

Anyway … here’s my list:

January – Write 1000 words / day
February – Mail something every day (lettermo.com)
March – New story idea / thought every day
April – Blog every day
May – Sketch or doodle every day
June – Take a photograph every day
July – Say or write “I love you” every day
August – Write a thankful post every day
September – Write a memory post (throwbacks) every day
October – Build meme posts with Bellingwood quotes / book covers every day
November – Post a family / favorite recipe every day
December – Mail a Christmas card / gift every day

YEAR TWO! Huge Giveaway!

This has been an extraordinary year for me. I can’t thank you enough for being part of it. To celebrate, I’m giving away a few things. Enter by liking the post on Facebook (don’t panic, keep reading) by midnight December 31. I’ll start drawing names January 1st.

I’m giving away fourteen items … this is gonna be fun! (Fourteen items, 2014, 1400 FB likes? How cool is that?)

T-Shirt
Two (2) Sycamore House T-shirts (we’ll figure out sizes later)

1st three books
One set – signed paperback copies of Books 1-3

Book 8 - 2 100 dpi
Six (6) signed paperback copies of Book 8 – Through the Storm

All Roads Lead Home
Two (2) signed paperback copies of Book 1 – All Roads Lead Home

Totebag
Two (2) Nammynools Publications Tote Bags

Sycamore House mug
Because we are so close to 1400 ‘likes’ on the Facebook page, there will be a Sycamore House mug awarded to one person. The number will happen and it will be awesome.

This giveaway is primarily for those who have are part of the Facebook Bellingwood community (found HERE). All you have to do is ‘like’ the page and then ‘like’ the post to enter.

Now, if you are reading this on the website and do NOT have a Facebook account, never fear. I won’t exclude your name. Just reply with a comment before midnight December 31 and you will be entered to win. Otherwise, I’d love to have you join us on Facebook.

P.S. I use a randomizer to pick names. I’ll start with the t-shirts and go through the list in the order I presented them in this post.

P.P.S. I have the names of past winners. If you’ve already won a book or a tote, I’ll move you to the next category. I want you to have a variety!

2015 is going to be even more fun!