From the NaNoWriMo Site November 22, 2015 You, wonderful author, have officially written 50K of your novel during NaNoWriMo 2015. After all your hard work this month, you’ve finished a draft of your novel. We’re so incredibly proud to add your wondrous work to the shelves of “The NaNoWriMo Library”! My Lifetime Achievement Total NaNo Word Count up to 2015 is 256,710 and this novel has 50, 495 words in it. Now comes the editing.
Another Christmas book I've written is Leona's Christmas Bucket List. The thought for writing a bucket list into the story came from an incident at WalMart. I was in the women's bathroom, trying to use the new fangled soap dispenser after the store had remodeled. I pushed all over that dispenser, trying to get soap. A shopper walks up to the sink beside me. I looked over as her hand filled with soap. “How did you get the dispenser to work? I can't figure this one out.” She's grinning at me, and I'm feeling foolish for not knowing while she explained that the dispenser is automatic just like the stools and towel dispensers are now. Put your hand under and the soap comes out. I did it and was tickled to see my hand fill with white foamy suds. The helpful and cheerful woman said, “There now you can mark that one off your bucket list. We both laughed. As I dried my hands, I thought about her remark. I knew what a bucket list was from watching a movie about two old men with a bucket list. Why did that woman think I had a bucket list or that I should have one? Just for the record that was the only time I got that soap dispenser to work. Others must have had the same problem and complained. Anyway I like to think that is what happened. Since then the dispensers have been exchanged for the ones with a lever to push which I understand. Also, for the record, I haven't needed to make out my bucket list yet, but I had a story I was itching to write and using the bucket list for my main character who was ill went well in the story. The year I published the book, a nephew who is quite a poet sent out a poem that I liked so I asked him if I could include it in my book. The title sounds like the book would be sad, but I promise you more smiles than tears as you read this holiday book. I'm adding the first chapter to this post. Read it and enjoy. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Leona%27s+Christmas+Bucket+List https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/296517 http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Leona's+Christmas+Bucket+List?_requestid=257759 synopsis When Leona Krebsbach found out just before Thanksgiving she didn't have long to live, she took charge of her life like she always did. She bought a small spiral notepad and titled it Christmas Bucket List. On each page of the notepad, Leona listed something she needed to get done while she still had time. Details like her funeral headed the list. She didn't want to leave anything for her daughters to have to worry about after she was gone. She kept her illness a secret until after Thanksgiving when she had all but one thing completed on her bucket list. Finally, she was as ready as she was ever going to get. She called her daughters and invited them to a tea party. Now was the time to tell them. At her age with a long life behind her, Leona Krebsbach should have felt better prepared mentally for the end. She should have been ready to go, because she would be with her beloved Clarence. If only she had managed to atone for that one regretful time that happened so many years ago. If that didn't weigh on her, she knew her mind set would be different, but she couldn't change the past. Even if she wanted to, she didn't have enough time. She reasoned her bucket list wasn't designed to do that unless a miracle happened. A Winter's Pace By Shane D. Herman The summer air and springtime flowers have quickly been replaced By that time of year more cold and frigid A kind of arctic place The ice nips at your fingers and bites at your toes As falling snowflakes kiss at your face So light up the tree and hang all the stockings And drape all the holiday lace As Christmas approaches with unbridled cheer And the people shopping make haste It is when friends and family come together as one That makes this a season to embrace So from me and mine to you and yours And everyone else in the holiday race I invite you all to take in the moment As we all move at a Winter's Pace. Chapter 1 Goose feather size snowflakes glittered in the street lamp's golden glow, floating lazily like crystalline down. The ground outside the basement window of Limestone City, Minnesota's United Methodist Church turned white in a hurry. The scene made Leona Krebsbach imagine angels in Heaven with a wing shedding problem. Suddenly, the elderly woman felt light headed. She leaned her thin frame against the window sill for support and frowned. Please not now. The sinking feeling brought annoyance with it. Here in church of all places. Why couldn't this wait to happen until she was home? Why did she have to be bothered while she wanted to enjoy the winter view? Leona knew full well the weak spell made her face head on, that after years of watching similar scenes, this would be the last time she'd see a first snowfall. She wouldn't stand at this basement window ever again, gazing out at the dead grass between the church and the parsonage as the ground turned white. Out of all the snowfalls in a winter, she aways favored this first quiet, slow snowfall of the season. Quiet except for the banging of the lanyard against the flagpole in the post office yard across the street. Heavy nostalgia built as agonizingly as any pain might in her chest. At least, she hoped that was the cause of the unwanted pressure. With all the twinges she'd had lately, she couldn't be sure these days if she needed to brace herself for the end right away or not. So far the twinges had been false alarms. When the feeling passed, Leona sighed deeply and straightened back up. She took a deep breath and tried to bolster herself to face the fact she had to get ready for far worse moments yet to come. She had already decided she didn't have any intention of immediately taking to her sick bed and going quietly from this world. Not as long as she had the energy left to keep up her winter's pace. No telling how long she would have stood at the window, mesmerized by the gently falling snow, if Pastor Jim Lockwood hadn’t cleared his throat softly. Slowly, Leona turned to face him. The minister gave her a warm smile. He probably wondered why she hadn't left yet so he could lock the church basement exit door and go back home. The rest of the bible study group had cleared out some time ago. Leona admired the dark haired, dark eyed young minister. He was just like the son she'd wanted to give her husband, Clarence, and couldn't. She wished Jim Lockwood could grow old as pastor of this church while her grandchildren needed guidance, but she knew that didn’t usually happen. After a few years, ministers always got the call to go far away to another church. They moved out of the lives of the parishioners that had grown fond of them, leaving the congregation to have to get used to another minister. At her age, Leona knew she was a fine one to talk about getting used to changes. She figured out a long time ago she shouldn't mind changes in everyone else's life if the changes were for the better. In fact, she always looked forward with excitement to the new changes she made in her own life over the years. Like the time when she went back to school at the community college to learn to use a computer so she'd be able to carry a conversation with her grandchildren. She had to learn about the digital age after her grandchildren said her typewriter was as extinct as dinosaurs. These days when she made herself think about the changes ahead of her she wished time could stand still. She knew that was an impossible thing to ask the Lord to do for her, but she still wished just for a short time she didn’t have to face the inevitable. Putting off telling everyone that needed to know wasn't going to make a difference. She was pretty sure if she kept her illness a secret that wouldn't stop her death from happening. That would be a cruel thing to do to her family. She had to suck in how she felt and get up the courage to tell everyone that mattered in her life her days on earth were numbered. The twinges she'd felt lately were just a warning signal to prepare her. Her disclosure better be soon. At her age with a long life behind her, she admonished herself that she should feel better prepared for the end than she did. If only she had managed to atone for that one time she regretted so many years ago. If not for that moment in time, she knew her mind set would be different, but she couldn't change the past no matter how much she would like to do it. No bucket list was designed to take care of a tall order like that one, especially on such short notice like the one she'd been given. Leona gave the minister a wan smile. “You been standing there long?” “Didn’t want to sneak up on you and startle you while you were deep in thought,” he said as he crossed the room to look out the window with her. “You looked very pensive. Are you thinking about anything in particular?” “Several things. Life for one,” Leona said. “I was thinking how the seasons are like my life. I remember with fondness the spring time of my youth with loving parents and siblings. In the summer of my life, I married a wonderful man and raised two great daughters. Sharing the years of fall with a loving husband, that left me too soon, gave me many memories to keep me warm in the winter of my life. I've lived a long time and have been truly blessed thanks to God.” Pastor Jim put a hand on Leona's back as he stared at the snow. “You always manage to have a parable or story to fit the moment. Beautiful outside, isn’t it? God designed nature to paint everything white in time for the holidays. If only the snow covered landscape could stay pristine all winter instead of turning a dirty brown.” Leona chuckled. “I know exactly what you mean, but no way can we criticize the dust that blows in from the fields. That dirty farm land is what makes the income for farmers and businesses around here. Not unless you’re willing to make due with smaller collection plates.” “Smaller collections are a given this time of year anyway. Especially with the way the economy is now. The whole community has had to learn to make do, but we must keep praying that times will get better soon.” Pastor Jim gave Leona a sincere look. “I'm sure you know how to make do better than my generation. You had experiences in your life with tougher times then the rest of us will ever know. Times when you had to make do.” Leona sighed. “I expect that’s right. Make do and do without sometimes, too. That's something younger people today have no idea how it was. If the same thing happened to them, I fear they wouldn't know how to cope with the struggle. During the depression in the thirties, I saved everything, even broken items just in case I had a use for them or needed parts off the junk for later on. Clarence and I were savers just like the Krebsbachs before him and my family before me, the Palmers. My daughters would tell you I still save too many useless things even now when I shouldn't worry about finances. That's why my house has so many cluttered closets, and the outbuildings still hold things that Clarence couldn't bear to throw away. When I was first married, Clarence and I didn’t have money to buy writing paper so I could keep in touch with my parents. They were just two counties over, but we didn't have time to go see them as much as I would have liked. Sometimes, it was a matter of not having enough money in the budget to buy gas for the car. I wrote my mother as often as I could. I made do by tearing pages out of old Sears and Roebuck catalogs. I’d write my letters on the margin. Even then, I still had to sell enough eggs to pay for the envelopes and stamps.” “I’m sure your parents were happy to hear how Clarence and you were getting along no matter what your message was written on,” Pastor Jim assured her. “In those days, faith in the Lord, a good husband, loving family and friends put our struggles into perspective. I always felt rich in ways that counted. That rosy outlook is what kept Clarence and me going and looking forward hopefully to a promising future. That outlook paid off as you can see,” Leona told him. “Well put. I'm working on a Thanksgiving sermon to emphasize that very thing, wise lady. We should all learn to count our blessings just like you had to do in hard times, and I'm sure you still do now. When days are difficult, we have to learn to look forward to better days. Once a lesson is learned, we don't soon forget it, do we? My parents saved many things just like you did. No one knows how to save these days, and we do need to learn to recycle more than we do. I hear all the time that this nation is a country of wasteful people.” “Clarence always said you can look in the review mirror and lament the past. Or, learn from hardships faced by others, meaning our parents, and do a better job in your life time,” Leona said sagely. Pastor Jim nodded agreement. “A wise man, your Clarence. If you don’t mind, I'd like to quote you.” “I don't mind.” “Have a good attendance at bible study today?” He asked. “Yes.” Leona fiddled with the straps on her black purse. Assuming she was nervous about the drive home, Pastor Jim cautioned, “Drive carefully going back to the farm. Doesn’t take long for a wet snow like this one to make the roads slick. With night coming on, black ice is hard to see when it forms on the salt brined pavements.” Leona glanced out the window. The snow hadn't let up. If anything the flakes were coming down faster. “I’m a safe driver. I've had long years of winter driving practice to prove it.” She clutched her purse to her waist and turned to face the minister. “Pastor, I’m not ready to leave yet. I've been waiting for you to show up, because I have something I need to talk to you about.” “You sound serious. Now we must be going to get to the real reason you were so pensive when I came in. Let’s sit down.” Pastor Jim took her elbow and led her over to the black folding chairs lined up around one of the long white tables. He pulled out two chairs and held onto one until Leona eased into it. Leona plopped her purse and bible onto the table. As Pastor Jim sat down, she shifted the chair to face him. She had to look him in the eyes so she could use his strength to get her words out. “I need to tell you this will be my last time leading bible studies.” “What? Th -- this is so sudden. I hate to hear you want to stop. What will we do without you?” He blurted out, flustered. “Don’t worry.” Leona patted his hand reassuringly. “I’m not leaving you in the lurch. I took the liberty of asking Becky Smallwood to take my place. I thought I would make my leaving easier on you if I help you find someone else.” “Thank you for thinking about me. Becky’s okay, but just the same no one can take your place. You've been the best teacher for the job for so many years,” Pastor Jim said adamantly. “Besides, I’ll miss talking to you on Wednesday nights.” “I appreciate that. I know I’ve been as predictable as this snow, showing up here for years. Don't worry. Becky will be a fine teacher. She is very knowledgeable about the bible and a fast learner.” Leona licked her lips, mustering up the courage to continue. “Things have to change from time to time. That’s just the way life is. Sometimes, we aren’t given a choice so we have to make the best of it.” “Did someone say you can’t lead bible study anymore? Tell me who it is. I’ll have a talk with that person right away. I don't want you to stop teaching,” demanded Pastor Jim. “Actually, I was talking about you in regard to your accepting this change. You're right though. Someone did let me know I had to stop teaching bible study classes.” Leona paused, giving the minister an amused look. “I wager you talk to that someone every day, Pastor. Just the same, no amount of your pleading or praying will change the fact that I have to quit. What I need to tell you now is the hardest part, the reason why I'm quitting.” Looking into her sad, brown eyes, Pastor Jim's brow furled. “I’m not going to like this, am I?” “Probably not. Don't feel bad though. I’ve had trouble facing this myself so I know how you will feel when you hear my news. It's time to start talking about this problem out loud so I picked you to be the first. I want to practice on you. I hope you don't mind. I need to face this dilemma I have head on, but it has been hard taking the first steps. So in order to help me stay motivated, I've made a bucket list.” “A bucket list,” Pastor Jim echoed. “Yes, I have many details I have to take care of right away. Actually, I don't have much time to do get them done you see. One of the first details on the list is now taken care of, finding my replacement for bible studies.” “Making a list to remind you to get things done for the holidays is fine, but calling this list a bucket list might be a poor choice of words,” Pastor Jim reproached. Leona gave him a doleful look. “No, I used the right words.” “What’s wrong?” Pastor Jim croaked. “I’m going to die soon. I have liver cancer,” Leone said bluntly. The young man combed his hand through his hair and fixated on the floor. “I've felt something was wrong for a while now. You’ve lost weight, and your complexion is pale. I hated to bring it up. Knowing how efficient you are, I prayed you were on top of the situation and going to the doctor.” “Your prayers must have worked. I did get checked out. The doctor said there wasn't anything that could be done for me. You see I didn’t have much warning. Apparently, I'd had the cancer for some time and didn't know it. The doctor said I have only a short time left to live.” Leona rifled through her purse and brought out a small spiral notepad with Christmas decorations scrawled over the cover. “So just to show you I'm not joking, this is my bucket list, and I have to get the list completed as quickly as I can. Actually, I'm calling this a Christmas Bucket List, because that might be my deadline,” she said with dry humor. Pastor Jim combed his shaky fingers through his dark hair again. “I want to do anything I can to help you. Is there some of that list I can take care of to help you complete it?” Leona flipped through the notepad pages. “On page two of my bucket list is get details out of the way for my funeral to take the burden of details off my two daughters. Of course, I want to ask you if you will conduct the funeral service here.” The minister took her hand. “That’s a given, dear friend.” “Good. Now for scriptures, since I've lived in the country my whole life I've always been partial to the twenty-third psalm. You can pick the rest of the scriptures you want to fit into the service. The two songs I want the choir to sing are Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art. If my girls have a hymn they like, they can add their favorites to make them feel better if they want to do that.” “All right. Done,” Pastor Jim said briskly as if they were planning details for a soup supper. While she read the items aloud, Leona was busy checking off the details in her notepad. “I was going to ask Becky Smallwood to sing a solo, but I didn’t have the heart to heap bible study duties on her and burden her with my demise and performing at my funeral all at the same time. So maybe she could lead the choir.” “What did you have in mind for her to sing just in case?” “Becky nails any song she sings. How about The Wind Beneath My Wings?” Leona asked. “I think everyone likes that one.” “That would be a super choice and fitting for you. Please allow me to work on these details in this bucket list of yours,” Pastor Jim insisted. “All right. I still have to contact the pallbearers I decided on to make sure they are prepared when Arlene calls them. I’ve already been to the funeral home, made arrangements there for the visitation and settled the bill. The casket I picked out is very pretty. It's dark pink with roses on both sides the handles.” Leona stopped to catch her breath. “You have been very thorough, I see. Not that I'm surprised. This is just the way you tackle everything you have always set out to do. Head on,” Pastor Jim said softly. “Yes, I’ve managed my life the way I wanted until now. I don’t see any reason to leave the details of my funeral for my family to have to do,” Leona assured him. “Besides, there’s some comfort in knowing how my life will end, and what will happen at my funeral.” “Not many people have your courage to face the end, planning like this, dear lady,” Pastor Jim said admiringly. “Well, it took some doing to get to this point. I’ve reasoned with myself about dying. You see, I've done my best to live a decent life. At least for the most part, I think my family will be proud of the way I lived. I think I know where I’m headed, and that's a comfort,” Leona said, pointing a finger toward the ceiling. “Carrying out my final details for my daughters so they won't have to gives me peace of mind.” “I can vouch for the honorable way you have lived your life. I'm as sure as you are that you will go to Heaven. I've always admired your self control that allows you to take charge of any task. Even at such a difficult time in your life as this one. You have the presence of mind to make your final plans by yourself, and do whatever else needs to be done. You always handle adversity head on, because you're a very strong woman,” Pastor Jim complimented. She cocked her head to the side. “I think the modern term the grandchildren and my daughters use for me is control freak. I've always put myself in charge, and I figure on doing that until the end so I know everything is done right to my satisfaction and goes smoothly.” “When it concerns the end of your life, no matter what anyone would say I will stand with you on this. I think you’re entitled to run the show the way you want it,” he joked with a weak smile. “Thank you,” Leona said as she reached over and patted his arm. “Somehow I just knew you would be on my side.” Pastor Jim looked worried. “Always, dear lady. This is upsetting to me to say the least. How is your family taking the news?” With averted eyes, Leona said, “They don't know yet.” “What! Your daughters need to be told. You should do that soon, before they hear the news from someone else,” Pastor Jim cautioned. “I will. So far the people that know, I told to keep this to themselves until I've had time to tell my family. I'm dreading that so much, but I plan to tell them right after Thanksgiving is over. Arlene will want to smother me with kindness or boss me around. Diane will be a basket case that we'll all have to take care of. So why spoil the last holiday we'll have together for the rest of the family,” Leona explained. Pastor Jim nodded. “I understand that, but you've been their rock for all these years. This will seem like a sudden blow to your daughters and hard for the whole family to absorb for a while. I guess you will not be able to come to church soon. Where will I find you for visits? The farm?” “No, my health will decline fast. I’ll need medical care very soon, and I don't want to burden my daughters and their families. Right after Thanksgiving, I’m moving into The Willows, a hospice house on the outskirts of town. Come there to see me whenever you have time.” Pastor Jim took a deep breath before he spoke. “Can I borrow your bible? I didn’t realize there would be a need to bring mine with me from the parsonage just to lock the church door.” Leona handed her worn thin bible to him. “Let’s pray,” he said, already bowing his head. She glanced out the window. The wind moaned a wailing cry as it whipped around the building, churning the snow into a furious haze. She needed to head for home right away. All she left home with was her handbag, and a prayer that this winter day would go well. She wasn't sure that would be enough to guarantee her a safe return home the way the storm had intensified. Other winters, she had always put an emergency supply kit in the car, but she hadn't gone to the bother this time. “I appreciate the prayer, but you know you don’t have to pray for me right this minute. I’ve accepted what is coming, and I certainly do expect you to be by my side to bolster me later on when I weaken,” Leona insisted. Gripping her bible in his hands, Pastor Jim said, “And I will be very glad to be there anytime you need me, dear lady. Just bear with me this once. I'm not only praying for you. I have to pray for strength for me so that I will be able to help you. I'm not going to be able to take your news too well until I get used to it,” he said, his eyes a misty blur. Leona laid a frail, blue veined hand on the pastor’s strong one. She said with a touch of humor, “Can you make it a short one, Pastor? I need to head for home soon. Like you said the roads will be slick. You see I can’t die in a car wreck today. I haven’t finished all the arrangements for my funeral yet, and I still have to complete the rest of my bucket list.” A few minutes later, Leona turned off the tree lined street and drove down Main Street. She noticed the last minute shopper hustle that always went on the day before Thanksgiving. Almost every parking place had a vehicle in it. That wouldn't change now until after Christmas shopping was over. Loretta Abbas hustled along the sidewalk, her arms loaded with bags. She stopped by her car and looked up as Leona drove by. Loretta fumbled with her car door, got it opened, set the bags on the back seat and managed to wave at Leona all in a heartbeat. Loretta was probably in a hurry to get home before dark, too. Seeing the woman was a reminder that Leona needed to call her. She wanted Loretta to head up a coat and clothes drive from one year to the next for the Indian Settlement. If Loretta turned her down, maybe the woman would be kind enough to find someone that did have time to volunteer. Suddenly, Leona felt maudlin about not being able enjoy the Christmas holiday. She had always looked forward to Arlene and Diane's yearly visit right after Thanksgiving. They spent a day with her, putting up the tree and decorating the house just like they did when they were children. Leona relished buying just the right gift for each member of the family and baking Christmas cut out cookies with the grandchildren. She made a large amount of fudge and divinity so the girls could take a box home. After a few failed attempts over the years, Arlene and Diane gave up trying to make candy. They told her they would rather enjoy the candy she made. The effort Leona put forth to make the holiday special for her girls and their families when they came home had always been a labor of love. After this, the girls and their families would have to make due with special memories from this Thanksgiving. She wouldn't be doing anything about Christmas except taking care of her bucket list if it wasn't done by then. Suddenly, Leona realized she was coming up to the grocery store parking lot. If she was going to make pumpkin pies, she needed more milk and eggs. Leona stepped on the brakes and fishtailed. She negotiated the turn into the parking lot and realized the lot was full of cars. Near the entry door, Leona spotted an empty handicap parking spot. She shouldn't park there. She wasn't legally able to, but she considered this an exception. She had to be careful. Falling on the slick concrete and breaking a hip wouldn't enhance her Thanksgiving plans. Luckily, Leona found one shopping cart left in the corral. She grabbed it and took off for the milk and egg section. By staying in the middle of the aisles, she dodged past the other shoppers, lingering along the sides. There weren't too many jugs of milk left. Leona put one in her cart. She thought better of that and picked up another. Her grandchildren drank milk. She was reaching for an egg carton when someone tapped her shoulder. Leona turned and found her son-in-law, Steve, grinning at her. “Fancy meeting you here, Leona.” “I guess. Looks like most of the town is in here right now. I was lucky to find one shopping cart not in use.” Steve nodded agreement. “Me, too. So about ready for the big day tomorrow?” “You bet and looking forward to every minute of it,” Leona assured him. “I thought you might be.” Steve turned serious. “Leona, how you feeling these days?” Leona questioned sharply, “Where did that come from?” “My secretary said she saw you coming out of Dr. Crane's office last week.” Steve shrugged. “Arlene hasn't mention you not feeling well so I thought I should ask.” Leona fumbled around with the egg carton, trying to find just the right place for it in the cart. “Leona, are you stalling?” “I might be,” Leona said stiffly. Steve came along side her cart so he could see her face. “There is something wrong, isn't there?” “Steve, you're a dear to worry about me. I plan on talking to Arlene and Diane right after Thanksgiving about my doctor visit. Can you keep what your gossiping secretary saw to yourself until then?” Steve grinned. “Sure.” “Promise me. I know how hard it is to keep from telling Arlene something like this, but this is important to me,” Leona implored. “All right, I promise, but only until after Thanksgiving. I might break my promise if Arlene doesn't get an explanation from you soon,” Steve said earnestly. “Now aren't you the hard taskmaster,” Leona teased. Steve shrugged. “I'm just concerned about you. Is there anything I can do for you until you talk to Arlene?” “Just enjoy tomorrow with me,” Leona said, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek. “I'll handle the rest in my own good time.” “Fine, but like I said make it soon. You're right. I don't like keeping secrets from Arlene. You know, driving isn't great tonight. Out in the country it has to be hard to see where you're going. You want me to take you home? We could leave your car in the parking lot, and Jason could drive it out tomorrow as we come,” Steve suggested. “Certainly not. If it's hard driving now, then you would have to come back to town by yourself. It will probably be even worse after dark. I don't want to have to worry about you making it home. I'll be careful. This isn't my first experience at driving on slick roads you know,” Leona chided. “Now I best get to the checkout lines. Might be a long wait for my turn. See you in the morning.”
I wrote a humorous romance story that has Christmas in it. The story is also a bit far fetched because one of the main characters is a very expensive man robot that is a house boy. He cooks and cleans which is programed into him but he came with an attitude which makes him hard to like by his owner. The book cover is a Cinderella Coach I found at a horse and carriage sale in Kalona Iowa. I took pictures and added the bows for Elizabeth's country winter Christmas ride. The idea for this book came from watching a piece in one of the morning shows several years ago. Robots were being programed to do housework, but the robots the show had on display were very robot looking. I decided to make my robot Hover Hill look like a handsome man. So I've shared the first chapter of the book. Enjoy reading a sample of Christmas With Hover Hill. If you want a light read that will make you laugh out loud this book is going to do it. You can find the book or ebook at smashwords, Amazon, kindle, barnes & noble and nook. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/421696 http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Christmas+With+HOver+Hill http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=Christmas+With+HOver+Hill&rh=n%3A133140011%2Ck%3AChristmas+With+HOver+Hill http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-with-hover-hill-fay-risner/1118907524?ean=9781497308404 Synopsis for book Elizabeth Winston grew up not caring about Christmas. This Christmas is going to be much worse than the holidays she and her brother, Scott, spent with her divorced parents. Her former boyfriend, Steven Mitchell, showed up to pester her about renewing their relationship now that his marriage has ended. Elizabeth always looks forward to sharing Christmas with her brother, Scott, but he says he has a business trip during Christmas. His present for her is an expensive and obnoxious robot man by the name of Hover Hill. Just her luck to be stuck with a mechanical man to share the holidays with. Elizabeth was fit to be tied when she figure out the robot was planted by Steven Mitchell to brainwash her into taking him back. Scott betrayed her when he helped Steven by saying the robot was his gift. She slipped out of town with the robot, leaving her old life behind and walked into a new set of problems. She wanted to hide out for six months, but that isn't easy in a small southern Iowa town. Gossip about her flew faster than the rumors that came out of the Silver Dollar Tavern. Susie, at the Maidrite Diner, bragged she got a look at the handsome man that Elizabeth is shacking up with. The minster's wife complained a local farmer, Bud Carter, hadn't been to church for a month of Sundays. Holly, from the Antique Store, said the reason why is that Bud's spending more time at the newcomer's house than he is at his place. The grocery store checker said Elizabeth acts like she's hiding out from someone. If Steven comes looking, with all the attention Elizabeth is getting, all he has to do is ask and get directions from anyone in town to the old Carter house in the country. Chapter One Elizabeth Winston drummed her perfectly manicured fingernails on the varnished walnut strip that ran along the top of the couch arm. Why was she so keyed up? Right after dinner, she'd curled up with a book and a glass of wine with the intention to relax. This wasn't working. She didn’t seem to be able to concentrate. She dropped the book in her lap after she reread page forty over and over and still didn't comprehend what she read. That left her nothing to do but finish her glass of wine and think. Surely her job wasn't bothering her. She was always eager to start her day as a literary professor at the university. Although, she should be thankful for her fulfilling profession since her personal life was in a deep rut. That was the extent of her life right now, good job and rotten personal life. She'd faced the blunt facts about that a long time ago. The simple truth was she wanted to spend her evenings alone. Didn't she? Absolutely, she did. A safe and dull life was better than getting hurt by another man again. In what seemed like eons ago, she'd led a much different lifestyle from the sedentary, predictable, daily routine she had now. Her quiet, nonexistent social life formed after Steven Mitchell, a college law professor and computer whiz, left town and her. About then Elizabeth decided if she didn’t want to worry about getting close to another man, she’d be better off not dating. Repeatedly, she turned down offers of a night out until the offers quit coming. On weekdays, she conducted her classes, trying to indoctrinate into the youth of the Midwest the need to appreciate the written word. Evenings, after a quick simple dinner if she could call it that, she planned the next day’s lessons and went over assignment papers. Soon after that, it was her bedtime. Most Saturdays, Elizabeth shopped for necessities and the groceries for the next week in the morning. After lunch, she did the housework. Walking to church on Sunday morning year around was her only exercise. She dined out after services so she’d consume one decent meal a week. She knew her diet of snacks weren’t good for her health, but she didn’t like to waste her time cooking for one. Weekend evenings, Elizabeth usually indulged herself if she didn't have papers to grade. She spent the time curled up on the couch with a book and a glass of wine. That's when she tried to keep abreast of new novels as well as reading the classics. Once in a while when she shopped at Target, she couldn’t resist the temptation to smuggle home a Danielle Steele or a Nora Roberts romance. She excused her choice of reading material with the idea she needed to be versatile with her reading. Not that this tiny transgression made up for the lack of companionship in her life. It would be nice to have a man around once in a while. Actually, she repeatedly argued with herself that she enjoyed the change of pace reading. Besides, with Christmas closing in on her, she excused, she just didn’t want to concentrate on heavy material. At holiday time, Elizabeth felt depressed by the crowds in the stores. She deemed it a good thing she didn’t have to get out to do any last minute shopping. Early on when she did her shopping, people shoving and cutting other shoppers off with their shopping carts to get to the bargains was the norm. Aggressive behavior like that made her wish for Christmas to be over and done with. That's how much she hated confrontations of any kind. Christmas! Christmas was coming. That thought kept scrolling through her mind. Maybe that’s what had her so antsy. The eager anticipation of spending time with her brother, Scott. He always showed up like Santa Claus reincarnated right down to the ho, ho, ho. She couldn't fathom how he managed all that cheerfulness and good will during the holidays. It wasn't inherited from their parents, but his holiday enthusiasm did rub off on her when he was around. There certainly hadn't been any such holiday cheer when Scott and her were children. All she remembered was the Christmas swaps done by her divorced parents. Not of gifts. Just their children. One year, Elizabeth spent the holiday with her father while Scott stayed with their mother. The next year, the two of them swapped parents. They were always stuck with grownups during the Christmas break and back in their mother's house in time for school. For Scott and her it was a lonely experience. Their overachieving parents were more interested in entertaining friends and business associates than spending time with their children. When they were teenagers, Scott and she vowed when they grew up they would always spend Christmas together without their parents. The door bell buzzed at the same time the grandfather clock chimed eight times, interrupting her concentration. Elizabeth called, “Who’s there?” “UPS delivery man,” came the muffled male voice. Elizabeth peeked out the window. The street light bathed an UPS truck. Didn't those delivery men ever get to go home? She looked through the peek hole. Sure enough a man in a brown suit was staring at the door. Beside him was a six feet by four feet cardboard box. Elizabeth opened the door and pointed at the box. “I didn't order anything that large. What is it?” “No idea, lady. I just deliver. Your address is on the box so it's yours. Sign here,” he said briskly, shoving a clipboard at her. “It looks heavy.” Elizabeth sized up the box. “Could you carry it in for me?” “Sure thing.” The man tipped the carrier up and tugged the box inside. He stopped and slid the box off just far enough in the room that the door would close. “There you go, lady. Have a good night and Merry Christmas.” “Thank you. Merry Christmas to you, too.” Elizabeth shut the door and turned back to the box that stood a foot taller than she was. An envelope was taped next to her address. She ripped it out of the clear packing tape and tore it open. Dear Beth, It would seem my protests for you not to work so hard and have more fun have fallen on your very deaf ears so I have a Christmas present for you that you can’t possibly resist. Please open the box for further instructions. I’ll be seeing you soon. Merry Christmas, Love, Scott Elizabeth brought a sharp knife from the kitchen and sliced down one corner on the front of the box. She finished cutting the other corner and across the top, stuck a finger in the slit and pulled out. The cardboard slab fell to the floor. Her mouth gaped open. She stood transfixed for a moment, staring in the box cavity. Once her initial surprise was over, she backed up. “Who ---who are you?” Her gift, from her brother, was a blond haired man in black slacks and a long sleeve, blue dress shirt. His eyes were closed as if he was asleep. He didn't move. In fact, he didn't appear to be breathing. Elizabeth stepped back in front of him. “Hey, wake up,” she snapped, shaking his right shoulder. His shoulder was very cold and hard to the touch. She jerked her shaky hand away and patted her thumping chest. Her gaze fixated on the man as she took a deep breath. How awful is this? Why would Scott think it was a good idea to send me a dead man in a cardboard coffin? He felt as if he was in full rigor mortis already. This wasn't a Christmas gift. It was an awful hoax. “My brother has a very sick, weird sense of humor,” she mumbled in a trembling voice. “Wait until I get my hands on him.” Taped to the chest of the inanimate stranger was another envelope. Elizabeth reached out and snatched it. She backed across the room and leaned against her bedroom door facing. That was as far as she could get from the box and still keep an eye on the body. Scott better have an explanation in this letter that makes sense, she thought as she ripped open the letter. Merry Christmas Beth, By now you have met Hover Hill, the robot. I promise once you liven him up he's great company. He’s the perfect Christmas gift from me to help you take care of yourself while you work. No end to his house boy talents; cooking, laundry and housekeeping. Perhaps, you might find more time to socialize with friends while Hover Hill holds down the fort at your apartment. I found Hover Hill at an experimental electronic show in Las Vegas last week. By the way, HILL stands for helper on lower levels. That's because he doesn't climb stairs without help. I don’t want to hear about the expensive price tag on Hover Hill. If he works out for you, it will be worth every penny he cost me to know that I don’t have to worry about you. Now just find the switch in the middle of his back and turn the robot on. No more explanation needed from me. He will take care of that. Enjoy my Christmas gift. Love ya, Scott Elizabeth eased behind the couch to study the robot from a safe distance. He looked so real and so lifeless. Scott’s letter slipped from her fingers to the carpet as she edged around the couch toward the box. She probably should feel foolish for thinking her brother would send her a dead man for a gift. Wait a minute! Jumping to that conclusion wasn't all her fault. She had a right to be angry. Scott should have given her a heads up that the body was a robot. It would have saved her from being scared out of her wits. Of course, he knew if he explained ahead of time she wouldn't accept his gift. The idea raced through her mind, What am I going to do with this robot? This apartment is barely large enough for me. I really don't need him. I don't even want him in my way. Elizabeth poked his cold arm, hanging limply by his side. Quickly, she drew her hand back. He still seemed all too real and too much like a dead man. Finally, Elizabeth raised the right arm toward her and gently tugged on it. Hover Hill leaned slightly forward. That wasn't a good idea. He'd fall out of the box if she pulled on him again. She reasoned, he stood a head taller than her. He probably weighed too much for her to stand back on his feet by herself. No way did she want to put in a call to the apartment manager for help. She'd have to try to explain what she was doing with this handsome, lifelike man in her apartment. Anything she said would probably sound like fabricated excuses to that perverted man. He reminded her of the dirty old man on Laugh In. She didn't have any more to do with him than she could help. She glanced behind the robot's shoulder. Taped to the back of the box was a garment bag. She eased down the zipper and noted the hanger held three shirts in various colors and slacks to match. Great! Scott had given her a man size Ken doll complete with wardrobe. She didn't have any intention of undressing and redressing this all too real looking robot. She'd add that to the growing list of news flashes for Scott when she demanded he take back his Christmas gift. Making a quick search for the switch, Elizabeth edged her hand along the back of the robot's shirt. She discovered the small lump protruding in the middle of his flat back. She flicked the switch. The whine of the robot's motor revved up instantly. His eyelids fluttered then opened wide. Elizabeth was struck by the fact he had very pretty blue eyes. As the robot took a step out of the box, Elizabeth gasped and staggered backward. With a slight drone to his voice, the robot said, “Thank you for turning me on. I am at your service, Beth.” Elizabeth jumped back. Her legs connected with the couch. She felt herself going down as she flopped backward. She squeaked, “You talk!” Hover folded his hands together in front of him. “I do, Beth. That is just one of my many talents. You are going to find I can be very useful. How may I help you?” “For starters, don’t call me Beth. My name is Elizabeth,” she corrected tersely. Instantly, she felt foolish. She had just admonished a mechanical object. Hover took another step toward her as he explained in stilted words, “To call you Beth was programmed into me. Until I have been reprogrammed differently, Beth is all I can call you. Anything else?” “Yes, you can stay right where you are. Until I figure out what you are, I want you to stay away from me,” she commanded, jumping up. Elizabeth scrambled to put the couch between herself and him. He sounded so lifelike. It made her feel creepy to be alone with this handsome manlike thing. She clarified, “At least until I get used to you.” He stopped and repeated, “I am here to obey you. I will not move until you tell me what to do. How may I help you at the moment?” Elizabeth gave him a good once over. The robot looked strong, but he must be harmless. Scott would never do anything to get her hurt. “What do you want to do?” “Anything you tell me. According to my internal clock it is eight o'clock. That is past your dinner time.” “I've had my dinner already. How do you know what time I eat?” “It has been programmed into me. Are you hungry now? I can fix you a snack.” Elizabeth shook her head. “No, I don't want to eat anything.” “Perhaps just a sandwich so you can see how I work. You need to head me in the direction of the kitchen,” Hover suggested. “All right. Yes, you do that. Go through that door and fix me a sandwich.” She pointed behind him. Hover Hill turned and walked out of sight. He didn't exactly have a zombie gait, but he didn't walk as smoothly as a human being. More like someone who had knee replacement surgery. A good reason why he wouldn't be able to climb stairs. Quickly, she grabbed the telephone and dialed her brother’s home phone number. He had to come get this creature out of her house right away. This too real looking robot was freaking her out. Scott’s phone rang and rang. Quietly, Hover appeared in the doorway, carrying a tray. “No answer at your brother’s house?” That thing has good hearing! Elizabeth slammed the receiver down on the base. “How – how did you know I was calling my brother?” “I am made of transmitters and a memory computer. The telephone transmits the numbers to me that you just dialed.” “Oh,” Elizabeth uttered. “Perhaps your brother will be home later. You can thank him then.” She gave him a puzzled frown. “Thank him?” “That's right. For giving me to you as a Christmas gift, of course. Now sit down, Beth, and eat this sandwich. It is just peanut butter and jelly I’m sorry to say. You really need to shop for more nutritious food if you expect me to cook better meals and snacks. I can tell by looking in your cupboards that you have not been fixing healthy dinners. That's a good sign you really need my help.” He looked down his nose at her as he set the plate on the coffee table. “What gives you the idea I expect you to cook?” Elizabeth snapped at him, suddenly disliking his condescending attitude. Matter of factly, Hover said, “I’ve been programmed to do healthy cooking for you.” She stared at the ceiling as she gritted out softly, “I’ll wring Scott’s neck for this.” Hover Hill looked at her intently. “That is interesting. Has he a place on his neck to dial phone numbers?” “Ooh, never mind! I’m going to bed now.” Elizabeth hissed in momentary defeat. She edged closer to the robot and started to circle around him. The robot turned slowly to stay facing her. “It is much too early for you to go to bed. Your bedtime is hours away.” He kept turning as she moved. “What are you trying to do?” “Shut you off.” “No need for that. I will power down in the corner of the room until you wake up in the morning. That way if you need help in the night I will be ready.” “I won't need anything from you in the middle of the night,” Elizabeth snipped softly as she reached out toward his back. Gently, Hover pushed her hand away. “I said that I don’t need to be turned off.” He walked over to the corner of the room and turned around with his back tight against the wall. “See. I power down just like this.” He made a soft, whining noise that dimmed to silence as he closed his eyes and bowed his head. Elizabeth kept her eyes on him as she grabbed her sandwich. She whirled around and hurried toward her bedroom.
Christmas is coming and winter is upon us soon. We will be wanting to spend more time inside, trying to find something to occupy us on a snowy day or long evenings when the days are shorter. What better Christmas gifts to get someone you think might have everything than a book or a gift certificate for a download of an ebook of their choice. Books are great gifts for residents at nursing homes, too. I have given away quite a few of my books to residents. I've written some holiday books and thought I might share them with you. You can find them on smashwords.com. Nook and Barnes and Nobel, Amazon and kindle plus other sites you can Google. It's funny what triggers thoughts for me that turn into a book. My first Amish book was a Christmas story. I bought a box of Christmas cards to send out and studied the picture. It was a couple in a sleigh on a snowy day pulling up in front of a house that didn't have electricity. The house looked Amish to me. So I'm thinking why would a couple visit an Amish house on Christmas day? That couple turned into one woman out on her own making her way to visit and the story evolved from there. It was selling that book that made me realize there was a market for Amish books. That's what spurred me on to write my Nurse Hal Among The Amish series. When I started hearing from reader about Christmas Traditions, they said they wanted another book about Margaret Goodman Yoder so they would know what happened to her. Since I was knee deep in Nurse Hallie Lindstrom Lapp's story I decided to move Margaret to Iowa. By make her a good friend to Nurse Hal, it helped Nurse Hal adjust to Amish life easier. Margaret and Hallie had a lot in common. I enjoyed hearing the comments when the readers realized Margaret Goodman was living by Nurse Hal. They said it was like getting reacquainted with an old friend. I was glad that I came up with a solution for the readers and Margaret Goodman. So enjoy the first chapter of Christmas Traditions – An Amish Love Story. Synopsis Fay Risner brings readers the story of an Amish man and a once Amish woman. Follow the twists and turns in their lives while they make each other miserable. At the same time they try to carry out their Christmas Traditions for the little boy they both love. Levi Yoder threatens to make this Margaret's last visit. A visit which proves to be very different from all the others. A terrifying fire sets a girl's dress on fire during the Amish Christmas school program, and Margaret struggles to save a girl that falls into an icy creek. If that isn't enough, a Yoder cow nearly kills Margaret. While forced to nurse Margaret back to health, Levi rethinks his buried feelings for this woman he once loved. Chapter 1 That Monday afternoon, Margaret Goodman’s destination seemed forever away even though the Yoder farm was only seven miles from Brightwell, Pennsylvania. She was traveling alone so she was thankful for the tranquil, winter conditions. If a snowstorm had threatened before she left town, she wouldn’t have been brave enough to make the trip on her own. Watching the pristine countryside slide by her bright red sleigh helped just a little to soothe her frayed nerves. She slid under the snow laced trees that loomed over the packed road. In the swift breeze, weighed down branches swayed like stick skeletons, dancing a jig which let loose snowy clumps on her. Drifted, white mounds rolled across the pastures, making a colorful contrast with the black and red cattle milling about brown, frazzled hay stacks. Along the way, the recent snowstorm turned homesteads, set against the dark blue sky, into scenes lovely enough to paint on Christmas cards. The Pennsylvania countryside really was beautiful in the winter. Not that Margaret was in any mood to enjoy what she slid by. In her heart, she knew she couldn’t appreciate anything around her until she managed to live through this coming week and escape back to Brightwell. The road was invisible, covered with packed snow rutted with sleigh runners and buggy tracks. If it hadn’t been for the rows of snow capped, cedar fence posts on either side of her, she’d have felt like she was on a great adventure, blazing her own trail across the frozen tundra. She knew all the beauty that surrounded her would have put anyone else in a festive mood for Christmas coming Monday next, but not her. She bounced around somber thoughts about what dreaded incidents could happen from one day to the next in the week ahead of her. When the time came, Margaret planned to muster up the strength to pretend to be joyful. She wouldn’t bother to do that until after she stopped the sleigh in front of the Yoder house. Just thinking about it, her mood turned despairing to say the least. She felt unsettled and anxious. The winter scenery couldn’t change the turmoil that churned inside her. She wasn’t sure anything would. Like bad tasting medicine, she had to accept whatever happened in the next few days and handle each situation the best she could. The freezing breeze whipped her dark brown, curly hair away from her head, causing a chill to run through her. Margaret felt goose bumps pop up on her legs. She huddled down in the seat, holding the reins in one hand long enough to tug her walnut dyed, wool lap robe up higher. That done, she went back to worrying. She was a day later than usual. Would it matter to any of them at the Yoder farm that she hadn’t arrived on Sunday afternoon? Had any of the Yoders worried about why she hadn’t shown up yet? When she did arrive, would the fact that she was late make Levi Yoder’s opinion of her worse than it already was? She'd waited until that morning to prepare for the journey. Rushing to gather everything she wanted to take, she packed the sleigh at the last minute in haste. Now way down the road, she had the feeling she might have forgotten something. She did a mental check list. Christmas gifts covered the back seat, a large, wicker basket full of food sat next to her and beside her feet was her clothes stuffed, tan, tapestry valise. She’d hidden Faith’s journal under the sleigh seat out of Levi’s sight until she could give it to his son, Luke. This year that diary was what she had to remember to pack above all other things. If she forgot anything else she’d meant to bring it was certainly too late now. She would have to make due without whatever it was. She couldn’t help arriving late, and she wasn’t about to offer an explanation. Her private life wasn’t up for discussion. Nothing she said would do any good anyway as far as Levi Yoder was concerned. She just hoped what plans Levi, his father, Jeremiah, and son, Luke, made to celebrate Christmas, for Luke’s sake, didn’t include something she would regret missing. Unlike the hustle and bustle in town, the quiet countryside embraced peacefulness. The only sounds were made by her red sleigh and the four white stocking hooves on her black horse, Pie Face. The runners crunched, slicing through the ice crusted snow. The sleigh bells jingled in time to the horse’s steamy, labored snorts and rhythmic tromp as he moved at a fast pace. In the last mile, Margaret whipped the horse to hurry him to race the sinking sun. The words, Please let me get to the farm before dark, played over and over in her head like an out of tune song. Nightfall was one more reason for her to worry over her late start. She told herself she'd feel less anxious when she finally spotted a column of light, gray smoke spiraling up above the Yoder hickory and mulberry grove. The tree lined lane was just ahead to the right. Margaret pulled back on the reins, bringing Pie Face to a walk. She entered the shaded lane, traveling under the entwined glittery white, soft snow covered branches that made a shaded tunnel. Half way down the lane, a rabbit darted out of his nest in the drifted snow and zigzagged past the horse. Startled, Pie Face shied sideways. Margaret pulled back on the reins and brought the horse to a stop. She could feel her heart racing. She took a deep, calming breath and flicked the reins over Pie Face’s back. No time to panic now. She was almost to the house. Margaret tossed away the worry about dark over taking her like so many empty pea pods when she finally came into view of the large, two story, snow capped, farm house, but she still had plenty more worries to take its place. Pulling back on the reins, she stopped the horse by the split rail fence that surrounded the yard. Luke’s brown and white beagle, Moses, bounced off the porch and down the path. He stood on his hind legs and looked in the sleigh while he woofed a high pitched greeting. “Hello, Moses. How have you been?” Margaret answered back. “Woof, woof.” The beagle wagged his tail with such speed that his chubby backend swayed. Bouncing off the sleigh, he took off in a run. He circled the sleigh while he did a sniffing inspection. “So you’re happy to see me. That’s encouraging.” Margaret said under her breath. She looked up at the house roof. The stone chimney chugged pale gray, smoke plumbs that floated higher and higher into the sky, turning into hard to see thin wisps. A sudden change in the wind brought a down draft drifting toward her that smelled of hickory wood. Someone had recently stoked the fire. The two story, farm house, with peeling, white paint and sun bleached wood, had a grossdawdi haus built on the east side. The addition was added for Levi’s father, Jeremiah, when Levi married Margaret’s sister, Faith. The outhouse, smokehouse, chicken house, and pig pen were ahead of her. The large, red barn complete with granary and root cellar stood off to the left. Levi Yoder, tall, muscular and handsome, stalked through the deep snow toward her from the woodpile by the barnyard split rail fence. He carried an armload of lengthy fire wood propped on his shoulder. Even though she fought with herself not to feel hopeful, her heart raced faster at the sight of him. As Levi came closer, his rugged features were just like she imagined in her thoughts and dreams over the last year. A lump formed in her throat as she watched the sinking, fiery sun behind his back create rosy streaks in his straw colored hair where it curled on his coat collar. As Levi walked close enough for Margaret to get a good look at his face, any growing excitement she felt spiraled backward to dread again. It only took a quick glimpse to make her tense up. Any sparse drop of hope she’d had that Levi would welcome her this time faded as fast as the dimming daylight. Any brief thought that the man might be worried because she was a day late, she could discard like dirty wash water out the back door just from watching his foreboding posture as he marched at her. She tried to hold back the mounting anguish that wanted to creep onto her face. She should have known better than to expect any change in that strong willed man. Nothing about him ever changed. She had to face it. He never would change. At that moment, his piercing eyes and high boned cheeks above his bushy, blond beard appeared to be chiseled by a stonemason. The scowl on his face, Margaret knew for sure, even if he never said so out loud, had been brought on by her arrival. In all these years, her presence always had the same affect on Levi Yoder. Why did she ever hope that he would change in a year’s time? That man ever changing his opinions on anyone or anything was never going to happen. The wood Levi carried was too long to go into the cookstove. He must be ready to prepare the fireplace in the meeting room. Would it have hurt him to warm the room up before I arrived, ran through Margaret’s mind. The meeting room was only used on a Sunday once in a blue moon when it was the Yoders turn to have church. Just for her, the room was opened more days in a row the once a year she visited. However, she’d arrived a day late. Maybe Levi hoped she wouldn’t show up at all. This year of all the years would be the one that he definitely wouldn’t want to face her. He probably hoped she’d changed her mind about going through with her plan concerning the journal. In that case, he might have reasoned that she’d decide to skip her appearance at the Yoder farm this year if the journal had been her initial reason for the visit. There would be no need for him to bother going through the chore of opening up the meeting room that he only did begrudgingly for her. Well, Levi was wrong. It made her blood boil to think, in all the years they had known each other, that man never understood her concern had always been for what was best for Luke. Anything she tried to do to improve the situation between Levi and her wasn’t enough to make him want to try to get along with her. Quickly, Margaret glanced around to see if Jeremiah or Luke were coming to greet her. She didn’t want to start out this visit with only Levi’s cold, reluctant help and snappish greeting. She’d mentally tried to prepare herself for what could happen at the Yoder farm, but Margaret realized while that fair haired man strode toward her, she needed more time to steel herself for the strife to come. Although in the back of her mind, she already knew she had no real way to prepare for the clashes between Levi and herself. Like always, she’d do her best to stand up to the man and hope her bluff worked. As she watched Levi approach, she felt like prey stalked by a lion. In the next week, it was going to take all the courage and bravo she could muster to keep from being eaten alive by this angry, sullen man. Levi’s father, Jeremiah, stood in the barn door. His bent back was to her. Locks of gray hair peeked out from under his black, flat crowned, big brimmed hat. With a touch of panic, Margaret wondered where the boy was. She didn’t make the effort to travel this far one time a year in the dead of winter, Levi allowed her, for any other reason than to see Luke. Especially not this time when she had to make the trip from town without her husband, Harry. Particularly this year when this visit was more important than all the other trips. Because if Levi remembered she was bringing the journal to Luke, he’d be against her showing up. She knew he'd fight her every step of the way, and she was determined to come anyway. “Aunt Margaret, you are here!” The boy shouted from the kitchen doorway. He dropped the empty water pail and the egg bucket in order to wave at her. Making a leap off the porch, Luke ignored the clatter behind him. He was long gone by the time the buckets shot off the porch and pitched noiselessly into the snow piled by the path. With Moses right behind him, the boy sprinted through the gate hole so fast his wide brimmed hat flew from his head. It landed in the drift at the base of the yard fence. He was so excited he didn’t realize he had lost his hat, but Moses did. He halted long enough to sniff Luke’s hat, before he scampered over to bounce off the sleigh. In his haste, Luke’s mop of yellow hair, the color of corn kernels, flapped away from his ears. He skidded to a halt by the sleigh and jumped up and down. Excitement gleamed in the boy’s glittering, blue eyes. “Wilkcom! It’s so late in the afternoon, and you didn’t come yesterday. You might not be coming, I feared. Hurry up and get down.” Margaret put her hand on her chest to slow her thudding heart. It was such a comfort to see this boy, a younger version of Levi. She just had to look into his smiling face to know that he very much wanted her here. Bolstered by his greeting, Margaret teased, “Sorry I’m late, Luke. You need not have worried. I’ve never missed being here for Christmas yet, have I?” “Not ever, Aunt Margaret,” Luke stated with zeal. Feeling a little more sure of herself, Margaret laughed at the child’s enthusiasm while she tossed the lap robe aside. She drew her red cape tighter around her shoulders and pulled her trapped, freeze dried tresses out on top of the cape. Gathering up her dark brown, wool skirt in one hand, she held the other hand out to the boy. “Please, Luke, help me down. My legs and feet are so stiff and numb from the cold, I may have trouble walking.” The frozen snow crunched under the weight of her stinging toes. The tingle in her chilled feet contrasted drastically with the sudden heat that bored into her back from Levi’s eyes. Margaret twisted to look through the steamy vapors rising above the horse’s back. The man watched the exchange between his son and her, but no way could she make out what he was thinking. His face was as blank as a freshly, washed blackboard. “Hello, Levi.” Her husky voice sounded mechanical to her ears as she looked into the man’s cold as ice, unwavering, blue eyes. She turned back to see Luke’s worried expression. He glanced at his father and back at her. At least in front of the boy, she had to make a stab at being civil to Levi for this precious child’s sake. Besides the week would seem a terminally, long visit if she let Levi get to her at the very beginning of her stay. She smiled down at Luke and patted his head to reassure him. Levi must have thought the same thing as he watched his son. “Wilcom, Margaret Goodman. Best get inside and warm up,” he said, his tone quietly clipped. Margaret glanced over her shoulder. If Levi’s short pretense at an invitation hadn’t been remote enough, his face, emotionally frigid as this winter day, told her she was not really welcome in his home but tolerated for his son’s sake. Margaret concentrated on the boy. That always took away the sting of Levi’s words. She pointed to the wicker basket on the sleigh seat. “Luke, please carry that inside for me. I’m ready to warm up and have a cup of tea right now.” Margaret forced cheerfulness into her voice. “First, let me give you a proper hello. You’ve grown so much. You must be a foot taller than last year.” She drew Luke to her, engulfing him in an enthusiastic, bear hug. “Only four inches,” corrected the boy. “All out of tea,” Levi put forth shortly. He looked straight ahead as he marched past Luke and her. “Figured that. That’s one of the things I brought with me in the basket,” Margaret shot back at Levi’s ramrod, straight back as she trailed after him. Setting the basket down, Luke picked up his hat. He beat it against his leg to rid it of snow and put it back on. Margaret paused to look back at the western sky while she waited for the boy. The sun had slipped half way below the horizon, creating long, red fingers across the sky. In the fading daylight, the old man still leaned in the barn door, but he faced the house now. No doubt watching with interest the underlying discord between Levi and her. She could imagine that he might not want to be any closer than the barn during their initial meeting. “Jeremiah Yoder, come in out of the cold if you have time. Have a cup of tea with me,” she hailed, beckoning to him with a wave of her hand. Moses stopped his inspection of the sleigh when he heard Margaret’s voice. The dog caught up to her and whined for attention as he sniffed at her skirt. She reached down and patted his head before she turned and trudged with Luke on the snow packed path toward the house. Behind her, she heard the chickens squawk in alarm. Jeremiah must have scattered the flock as he walked across the barnyard. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath to ease away some of the tension that had built up in her all day. She was so very thankful that Jeremiah chose to come when she called. He never liked to take sides between Levi and her. Just the same, Margaret needed that old man to be near her at first as a buffer until she had time to get use to the chilliness that radiated off Levi. It had always helped bolster her spirit to know that Jeremiah liked her to visit almost as much as Luke did. Jeremiah did his best to respect his son’s wishes and Amish law when he was at the Plain people gatherings, but in the privacy of his own home, he wasn’t afraid to show how much he thought of her.
November 1st. I heard it said on television that this is the eleven month of 2015. Yikes! It's time to start the National Novel Writing Month Contest better known as nanowrimo. There's no contest entry fee and no one judging which story is winner so there isn't awards. I've entered this contest for six years. The first year I had no idea how I had to stick with it to write enough words by the end of the month so I didn't succeed. I did go ahead and publish the book later on. The last five years I met the goal of over 50,000 words before the end of November, because now I know what to do. It's the only writing contest I've ever entered that I am competing against myself. Oh, there are thousands of other writers entered in the contest, but they are doing the same thing I am, trying to get enough words written by the end of the month or trying to write more words this year than they did the previous years. It takes determination and discipline to sit for hours at the computer working on a story that will be my next book. Early on it was hard not go back and correct mistakes as I wrote, but by learning that I can do the editing in December, it has given me the freedom to keep the story going. At this point, no one cares how poorly the book is written so the author shouldn't. There is plenty of time later to fix what needs fixed. It is a skill that has served me well since I started this contest years ago. I write all my books the same way now. Once the story is out of my head and on the screen then is the time to edit until the story is the best it can be. I've saved the badge of honor each year and copied it in the front of the book. This helps readers see where and how the book started. When I post to my blog or on a social media in December I can use the badge to show what I did the month of November. Getting ready for the contest takes some planning ahead of time. Signing in is easy since I'm already a member. My bio and information is already on site. There is a list of my other books covers I made for the other books I wrote in the last five years. I have been planning in my head for some time what the book will be about. No writers block here. Just sit down and type. Ahead of time, I have to write a synopsis that would be used on the back of the book and download it. Here is this year's synopsis. “Life ain't fair. You have to be stronger than it it is to take what you can get.” That was just one of the life lessons that Lizzy Cobb was fond of repeating to her children when life wasn't going to suit her. She had many more sayings, but to her children, when they became adults, those sayings came to sound more like excuses to do whatever Lizzy wanted. When Lizzy's husband, Logan, died, she said, “The Lord taketh and so will I.” Her family was soon to find out what she meant by that, and Lizzy stood good on her word for the rest of her life. As the years went by, her children grew up and went their separate ways. Those that lived near Lizzy heard the talk behind her back from women in town. They called her The Cavorter. There is a spot for a book cover. It doesn't have to be perfect but just something to give the idea. I publish on Create Space Publishing and when I turn in my idea for the cover the cover maker can center the title, subtitle and my name. So for all those entered in nonawrimo have a successful journey through this month to the last of November, and for those that have thought about entering, it's not too late. This's just a fun contest to give you the discipline to write and learn to enjoy the process. The contest has just started. Why not entered and go for it.
A woman that has worn many hats in my life time. Join me here and find out about those hats.