Let Me Call You Sweetheart

By Tammy Trail

Valentine’s Day is just days away. Have you gotten your sweetheart a gift yet? I have done a bit of research on the history of Valentine’s Day. It is rooted in a pagan holiday that ensured fertility.

Roman Emperor, Claudius II ruled that young men in the Army were to remain unmarried. He felt that this would make single men more aggressive in the field of battle. The Emperor put a young cleric by the name of Valentine to death for secretly marrying young couples.  Valentine was later made a Saint by Pope Gelasius and given the date of February 14th to celebrate Saint Valentine.

In the 13th Century, it was synonymous with love and romance because it was believed that this was the beginning of mating season for birds.

In the 15th Century, written valentines were given to sweethearts.

In the 17th Century, valentines were exchanged between those who were smitten with one another.

In 1840, the first mass-produced valentines appeared in the United States. Valentine’s Day is the second most popular card giving occasion. It is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Denmark, Italy, and Japan.

As a child, I remember my mother scouring the house for shoe boxes to be made into valentine mail boxes to decorate for my desk at school. There would be a party, of course, with lots of good treats. After school, you would open your box and read the paper gifts of admiration your classmates gave to you.

I have tried in years past to make my own valentines to give to family members and friends. Last year I made these for my grandsons.

I filled the little sack with treats. They really enjoyed getting a valentine from their Mimi!

I am already diligently looking for options for this year. You may find it just as rewarding to make your own as well. I find a great source of inspiration with Pinterest. What a treasure trove of ideas!

Whether you make your own, or buy a card for that special someone, I believe it’s a good holiday to celebrate. Who doesn’t like candy? And you will make mate, child, or friend feel important with a valentine that you especially picked out for them. You can never go wrong by making people feel loved and important.

For the writer, especially the romance writer, Valentine’s Day is a reminder of why we put words to paper. That boy meets girl stuff is what makes the story, especially when they lived happily ever after.

So, in keeping with that thought! Here is my valentine for all of you.

  1. Writing Prompt: Jessica expected a great big box of heart-shaped candy.  What she found was……..?

Click to tweet: Romance is #alive https://ctt.ec/53mP6

Back to Basics for Writers – Plotter or Pantser?

by Tammy Trail

You might be a PLOTTER if you have ever wondered if you should be more organized with your writing. Plotting is a systematic way of putting your story thoughts together. You might decide to do it by scene or chapter. You will need to know what each character’s goal, motivation and conflict are for each scene. This system may require you to write an outline of your story idea.

A writer friend showed me one method when I first started working on my story. You simply take 3 X 5 index cards and write each chapter idea on a card until you have each chapter worked out for the whole book. If you’re writing romance, a suggestion with this method is using different colored index cards for your hero and heroine. For instance, pink index cards for the heroine and blue for the hero. Using index cards gives you an opportunity to change the cards around to rearrange your chapters, or change the time frame of your inciting incident.

There are many different plotting systems you can find with the help of the internet. I have read the “Plot Skeleton”, by Angela Hunt. Randy Ingermason has a Snowflake system that you can purchase from his website. Scrivener is a downloadable system that helps organize your story and allows you to keep your notes, pictures, outline, and your manuscript all in one place. This is also a great tool if you decide to self-publish your novel.

Some writers may consider themselves ‘free spirits”, and refuse to use any kind of plotting system because it stifles the creative flow. This is the PANTSER method – you fly by the seat of your pants. I started out with an idea for a story with no formal plotting method I imagined my heroine’s appearance, her personality and motivation. Then I created a life for her in the 18th century that I incorporated into a story.

My initial first chapter is now my third chapter, and I finished the book just shy of 70,000 words. When I began to edit my story, I found plot holes; places where my story lost connection and became a dead end. Now that I’ve had time to think about my story, I’ve written a whole different first chapter. Sounds a little crazy, huh?

Well, admittedly I am flustered with the complete process. Do I feel that I’ve wasted my time? Not a bit. I have learned a lot from this first draft. I went back to my index cards and began to look at them in a whole different light. I began to fix plot holes, and really think about deep point of view for my main characters. It’s still a work in progress.

Whichever method you choose, neither is wrong as long as you write the story. I haven’t given myself a label. I guess I’m just a bit of a rogue. I love my characters and the journey I envision for them. One day soon I hope to call myself a published author. I’m still learning through my own journey. How about you?

Writing Prompt:  Tracy pushed the off button on the remote just as the first clap of thunder shook her little house. She went to the kitchen to retrieve her flashlight; storms and electricity didn’t get along in her small town. The flashlight was forgotten when she heard a  rattle at her back door. She watched in awe as the doorknob shook violently from left to right. Then the lights went out.

Click to Tweet: So you want to #write. Back to Basics – Plotter or Pantser?

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas – The Reason for the Season

Our first snowfall this year was on Halloween. My grandson was so excited he danced around the small front yard yelling at the top of his lungs in unashamed joy, “Santa Claus is coming soon.” We then explained that we needed to celebrate Thanksgiving first, before we celebrate Christmas.

I learned from a veteran Walmart employee that the holiday shopping season has been dubbed “the season of rudeness”, and it gets worse the closer it gets to Christmas. Makes you wonder what in the world is wrong with people?

Then I hear stories about a secret Santa who pays the balance on a layaway for a hard working single mom. A police officer who pulls over an unsuspecting motorist who is wondering what traffic infraction caused the red lights in the rear view mirror, only to be given a gift card, or wrapped package instead of  a ticket.

I see barrels everywhere for toy donations, and they are filled with dolls, trucks, and board games. Let us not forget those brave souls who stand out in the cold to ring a bell next to a shiny red kettle. All to make spirits bright for someone in need.

Christmas begins in the heart. Love is the reason for the season. Our greatest gift chose to come down from heaven, to be born in a barn, and raised in a humble home. Sometimes I forget that Jesus is the reason for the season, and I remind myself that all that commercial stuff makes people crazy. Sure, we all want to watch the kids open presents and see that look of surprise and joy. This is what makes gift giving so much fun!

Take away all the pretty lights, ugly sweaters and Aunt Margie’s fruitcake, and what you have left is still worth celebrating.

God gave us a wonderful gift we can celebrate everyday, all year round. I choose to focus on the real reason for Christmas. How about you? [Click to Tweet]

 

It’s September. Therefore Football!

I am not a huge sports fan, but Tim and I have two teen boys. One is a Senior who plays football, the other a Junior who’s into soccer. So, most Friday nights you will find my husband and me sitting through a high school football game. We love to cheer both of them on!

If you’ve read many of my past blog posts, I love to refer to my childhood for a good story. Growing up, the favorite sports team tended to change from season to season. I seem to remember that the Miami Dolphins was the team of choice for my brothers in the early 70’s.

My father worked swing shift at a cement plant for many years. He was either working or sleeping, but on Sunday afternoons during football season, he would spend his day off watching a televised game. There was never a particular team he liked. He would just pick a side and cheer for them.

The reason I recall watching America’s favorite pastime with  Dad is because of  the exuberance he expressed when his team was winning. We didn’t see my Dad in a good mood very often. He was always kind of a grumpy guy, but we found ourselves cheering too. It was a good time, and a great memory.

How about a good show? I can admit that there are a few “sports” type movies that I have loved watching for inspiration and entertainment.

There are two from my childhood that I remember well. One is Brian’s Song. I would rate this one as a two-tissue box movie. This ABC Movie of the Week aired in 1971, with James Caan playing the part of Brian Piccolo. After Brian is recruited into the Chicago Bears franchise, he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. This story is told by his friend, the legendary Gale Sayers. It’s a real-life journey about friendship between teammates, and Brian’s courageous struggle battling cancer.

Another made-for-television story, which aired in 1977  is titled Something for Joey. A three-tissue box movie if ever there was one. Based on the life story of the relationship between Penn State football player, John Cappelletti (played by Marc Singer), and his younger brother Joey. Joey is diagnosed with leukemia. John would do anything for his brother.

Joey expects touchdowns from his older brother. John pushes himself to the limits to give Joey what he wants, so much so that his efforts win him the Heisman Trophy in 1973.

More recently in 1993, the movie Rudy gave us a real-life tale of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. Despite being told he was too small to play football, Rudy has a dream to play for the University of Norte Dame. He has neither the money, nor the grades to qualify for scholarships. After overcoming all the odds stacked against him, he fights his way onto the football team. I was recently told by a male co-worker that this movie is the only one he ever shed a tear over. It was during the part when all the players on the Notre Dame team threw their football jerseys onto the coach’s desk to show they would not play unless Rudy did. It’s another great movie.

So, even though I don’t like sports much, I do love to watch a good game, and it’s even better if it comes on the big screen in a film.

Do you have a favorite motivational quote from a sports coach or a sports movie?

Click to tweet:  There are a few “sports” type movies that I love watching. #football #inspiration

Writing prompt: I grabbed the remote, flipped on the television, and leaned back in the recliner. It was time for…

Save

Save

Genesis – Back to the Beginning

By Tammy Trail

Our family was never big on going to church. We did attend a local Lutheran church down the street  for an occasional Sunday School class, or Vacation Bible School during the summer breaks. I learned about Jesus through this sporadic exposure to the Bible.

In 1994, when I worked as a paraprofessional at a local grade school, I was invited by a small group of teachers to join their Bible study group. Just like all things that are meant to happen for a reason, it changed my life and set me on my path of true healing.

Our first study was a survey of the Old Testament. My love of history and genealogy made the book of Genesis my favorite Old Testament book. Granted there are parts of this narrative that have always made me scratch my head, but what great stories of  God’s promises to his  people.

Examples of incredible faith are found in the pages of this book. Of course, Creation is the main story everyone remembers from the book of Genesis, but you’ll also find plenty of heroes and heroines. This is the beginning history of God’s chosen people, the Hebrew nation.

The story of Abraham and Sarah is a great testament of faith, and obedience. What an adventure God sent them on, and all the while he blessed them with wealth, knowledge, protection, and wisdom. Noah is a favorite of my grandsons now. I asked my four-year-old grandson, Kayden why he thought it was good to remember Noah. He didn’t know, so I told him that Noah listened to God and did what God told him. That is why we remember Noah. Kayden told me he wants to listen to God too. Yep, I’m starting them young!

Who could forget the story of Jacob? His story reminds me of the soap operas on daytime television not so long ago, the exception being that God was involved with Jacob’s life. Jacob’s youngest son, Joseph, had an equally amazing story to tell. God’s fingerprints were all over this young man from the very beginning. He had set a plan in motion from the time Joseph was born. I especially like Josephs’ story.

Everyone usually associates Joseph with his coat of many colors gifted to him by his father, Jacob. Like Joseph, my life growing up was not all roses and sunshine, and having excuses to hold grudges or unforgiveness was understandable. God had other plans for me, just like he did for Joseph. Forgiveness can be a learned experience, and blessings may come out of following God’s plan for it.

 I have continued to learn from studying my Bible. I confess I don’t do it as much as I should these days, but I will always be grateful for the invitation to attend that first small group Bible study. It set me on a good path.

Click to tweet: A small group Bible study changed my life and set me on my path of true healing. #Bible #smallgroups

Writing Prompt: Fanny Mae wanted to stay home on this rainy, chilly day. Her only reason to go out was she didn’t want to get behind in the Bible study of …………