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Saturday, October 29, 2011


I have to tell you about Thursday.  It was such a memorable day and one filled
with smiles.  I was excited and nervous.  A friend of mine had suggested I speak
at the Marked Tree Library and they were kind enough to invite me to come and
read my Children’s book, The Pumpkin Field.  If I thought about it too long, the
idea that it takes only minutes to read the whole story would cause me to worry. 
What I have always loved is how the children open up and we talk.  I love the way
it seems to open many conversations and ideas from so many of them.  What if this
time they sat silently?  They do not know me.  What if….and I began to get a bit
That thought came long before Thursday.  My husband just smiled and reassured
me that it has always been a lot of fun.  The children always have talked with me
and always will.  He said that was part of why he loved the book so much.

I laughed and told him, “If that is part, then you might want to tell me another part. 
I have always been able to connect with the children.  I could feel their excitement,
apprehension, questions and so many things.  When people say to see through the
eyes of a child, I can feel with them in the little story.  I wrote it on purpose to try
to be able to reach out with it and do more than just tell a story.  I want it to be able
to reach out and let them to see more than they could before I read it and we talked.  
 What if all it is turns out to be, is a story about some Pumpkins?”

He started to laugh.  I did not think it was funny at all.  “You can worry all you want,
but in twenty years it has never failed.  You have always had as much fun as they do
and get into the story.  You can worry about it now, but afterwards you will be saying
what a good time you had.  I would bet on it.”

“It’s not that I want to worry…it’s just that I want this to be special for the kids.  I don’t
know if there will be
many that even show up.  If there are even a couple, we could have a good time.  This
little book has helped so many little ones and even bigger ones with some problems in life
as well as have fun.  When I talk about it it seems a lot to expect from a little story but I
do.  I want it to be special.  So many people have worked to make it happen and publicized
it.  I want it to be the best that I can do.  That brings me to my other worry.  I have
been feeling so bad.  It is scary how tired I am.  What if…..?????”

His response was immediate and no longer laughing.  “No one..NO ONE would blame
you if you can not do this.  They will understand.  If you feel like you can’t do it all you
have to do is say.”

As he was speaking he was looking closely assessing color, circles and how I looked. 
I mentioned that the children were all going to wear their costumes.  I had thought
about going as a witch but had nothing to wear.  I used to have a great outfit but
after so many steroids through the years the weight gain has been subhuman. 

He smiled and takes things in stride.  “We can go to town and get a witches hat.  
 You put on a little makeup and just have a good time.”

We went to town and the manager of the store we stopped at is a friend and
neighbor.  She mentioned that she had a hat at the house I could use.  It has
some grey hair on it but should work out all right.  I got some makeup but did
not like it as much as what I used to have.

When we got home I got started getting ready.  The make up did not look as I
wanted it to.  I used to have some that had a consistency allowing me to use the
chalk pastels and I could make a human face look just like the one in the book.  I
just thought of it as another art project but nothing seemed to work.  Albert laughed
and said I looked witchy enough to scare him so it was time to go.  We had to go to
the elementary school and pick up our grandson.  He was going to go with us.

When he and his Papaw got to the truck he did not get in.  He stood by the open
door staring at me.  “Come on and get in.  We have a long way to go.  What are
you waiting for?”

He looked so serious.  “Papaw, is that really Mamaw?  What happened to her?”

The frown and look on his face was priceless.  Albert leaned down closer to him
and they both stared at me.  “She sure is a sight isn’t she?  Kind of looks like a witch. 
She has makeup on.  That is all it is ….. a little makeup.”  Albert and I both had to
laugh but Zander was still checking me out before he climbed in.

I was nervous but we had left in plenty of time.  I did not know how long it would take
to check him out or drive and did not want to be late.  We arrived very early.  We made
it to Marked Tree and decided to go by the store and try to get some BC powders. 
They help me a lot.  I waited in the truck.  I do have portable oxygen but it still is
heavy for me to carry around and I tired easily.  I noticed many people who came
and went into the store staring at me with such odd expressions on their faces. 
None of them smiled and if I nodded or smiled they looked away and hurried on. 
I forgot about the make up.  I did not have the hat on and had completely forgotten
what my face must look like sitting there.  Now it makes me laugh.  Think of the
things they might tell about some strange old lady they saw at the store.
We stopped by and got Zander some chicken nuggets to munch on.  He loves those. 
I received the same odd looks there and it was Albert that clued me in.  “You worried
about if your make up was good enough and it sure seems to be turning some heads
so far.”

When we got to the library it was the same way.  I did attract some looks.  When I
went in I thought I would try to make a few copies of the coloring pages for the children.  
The people there at the library were so warm and welcoming.  The smile and greetings
meant so much to me.  I still did not know what I would say after I read the story.  It
was too late to worry and I did want to do the best that I could.  These people were so
nice.  I mentioned the coloring pages and that I did not know how many to make so I
made a few and then shared the file with the library so they could use it anytime they wanted. 

The friend of mine that had suggested this adventure arrived early too.  Now, I would
like to fully describe Carol Dabney, but there just are not the words to do her justice. 
She is such a sincere person who is a delight to be around.  She not only reaches out
helping others but she has such enthusiasm and excitement that she shared those things
as well as such talent.  She began to talk and sing to the children and they were delighted
and happily joining in.  You could see the bond and affections shared.

I was tired and sat down in a chair by the front surrounded by some fantastic
decorations.  They had done a lot of work and beautifully prepared with Halloween
decorations, posters and many things Pumpkin.  I had on my hat so I thought I
would fit right in.

Something that amazed and delighted me began to happen.  It made me smile then
and I am smiling now as I share this with you.  People were asking if they could
have their children’s pictures taken with the author.  They seemed proud when
asked if they would allow their photos to be used by the library and author and
eagerly agreed.  There was soon a line of people waiting to get their pictures taken
with me.  Each and everyone was so precious.  Some looked a little leery of the old
woman who resembles a witch…me.  Other children smiled with delight or glanced
shyly at me but we had fun.

When the time arrived that Carol announced and introduced me I was on…..I sat
down and my grandson was nearby to help.  In no time I was into the story and
sharing it with the children.  One child began to cry and for a moment I felt such
panic.  I had always tried to make the story real and put a lot into reading it.  Had
I made this little one cry?  Had I caused real fear?  That would be terrible and for
the moment I felt speechless.  There is a big difference between a good scary story
that has you wide eyed and listening to every word and one that has instilled real fear.

In the moments that followed the story was on it’s way.  The children were wonderful.  
It was such a special time.  After I finished reading we talked about many things. 
We talked about how we might get scared when we go out in the dark of night and
see shadows.  I asked them if it really was dark at night and all of them were so
serious answering that it was dark…very dark at night.  I smiled and asked if they
had ever noticed how beautiful the moon can be and how the stars sparkle like
diamonds all across the sky.  Things are not always as they seem even in life and
the things that cause us the most fear are….the things we do not understand.  I
went on explaining that the more we learn the less we have to fear.  I even asked
if getting good grades was important in school.  When I asked that I had parents
and children agreeing with me.  I went on to explain that what they learned was
more than a grade today…it is a gift for their whole future and all of their life ahead. 
Every word that they learn to read can open a whole world for them.  We talked
about all of the things we can learn and enjoy from books and that brought us to
spelling words.  Every word they learn to spell could be a word they use to write
their own books.  They will be used in more ways than they can count even if
they are very good a math.  We talked about many things and it was wonderful. 
They had smiling faces, serious looks and it was so special.

 At the end of my part, my grandson was standing beside me and I explained that
the next book I wrote for children was going to be one that was Zander’s idea. 
That would make it our book and we would write it together.  We already have
it started.  I explained what he had told me.  “Mamaw, you know how at the end
of the story it asks if it was a dream?  Well, it was not a dream.  It was real weather
others believe in it or not.  An there is more.  When he got past and through the
Pumpkin Field there was a path that lead into the woods and he finds all kinds of
things.  He even gets lost and the scarecrow helps him find his way out.  And
there is one other thing that is real important.  One of those pumpkins that acts
like it is his friend is not as nice as he thinks.”  I can not wait to do the whole book. 
When I tell about writing a book with a six year old co-author some might think it
is crazy or a lie but this is going to be great.

Each and every person that I met was so special.  I thank them all for giving me
such a wonderful gift as this day shared.  I want to thank the library for all that
they did and the awesome preparations they and Carol had done.  I was feeling
tired, very tired.  The day they had planned was not over.  They had cake, icecream,
punch and more for the children and all who were there.  They had prizes and gifts
and it was a day we will always remember.  I signed some books for some of the
people and talked to so many.  It was a wonderful day.  It is just a little story but
it has a wonderfully big reach.  I hope it reaches out to inspire, enlighten and allow
others to think and share thoughts, emotions, hopes and fears, dreams and joys to come.








Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I have been a bit under the weather but yesterday I got to feeling better and decided to try something new.  It has only been one year now that I have been on the internet and learning so many new things.  I have had to learn a lot about books and what it takes to make something you have written become a real book that you can hold in your hand and then that you could have as an e-book and still hold it in your hand.  Traditional or self-published, it is an amazing and often complicated or frustrating journey.  It has all been worth it.  I believe in the things that I have written.  The professor that I had for one of the college classes was discussing the idea to write for the concept of creating.  He abhorred the idea of writing for fame, or money.  His one criticism of some of my writing was that it would make wonderful material for movie of the week.  I asked what and why he would think such a thing and he explained that the characters and development of the stories would be intensely interesting in movie format.

I had no idea what he was really trying to say.  If a story is interesting I thought it would be a good thing.  If I could write something and someday go to see the movie that would really be fantastic.   I could not control the urge to laugh and he looked confused.  I told him that I wanted to be able to write and share a story and make it so vivid and realistic and interesting that the reader…or watcher…could feel as if they were there…they could understand the feelings and fears, hopes and dreams of the characters….they could see it, smell it, feel it and remember it.  I wanted everything that I write to be special in its own way.  I am trying.

It is almost Halloween.  That brings back many memories for me.  The children always loved to dress up and trick or treat.  They also love to hear the Pumpkin Field poem or story.  I have been getting messages and phone calls asking when and where they can bring their children to hear the little story and for me to tell it.  I have read it several times and have a few more to go. 

Yesterday I got an idea.  I know that I should be concerned about selling the books.  It is somewhat more popular during the Halloween season and that will soon be over.  Most people would never think of giving a book about a haunted pumpkin field with a witch around for Christmas but it makes me smile to see the little children light up with delight at even a copy stapled together for them any time of the year.

I know so little about computers what I had in mind seemed impossible.  The sound is still so low I can hardly hear it but I will learn and until I can do better I still want to be able to reach out and share.

I have had so many wonderful people communicate here on the internet that I think and feel of them as friends.  I may have never actually seen their face or heard their voice, but I have felt the emotion and heard through reading their words.  Now I want to share.  If you listen closely you can hear me read the little story.  I can share it with you and some of the drawings.  I was amazed at the reaction of my own grandson.  He has heard the story so many times and even has the idea for the sequel we will be doing together next.  I did it several times and thought he might tire of hearing it especially since we could not have the sound up on his cartoons while I tried to record it. 

He loved it.  He smiled and thought it was wonderful that he could hold his own book and listen and see on the computer screen as the words of the little story softly shared the tale.  The audio version is not for sale.  It is for anyone who wants to hear it or share it with a friend.  I just have to figure out how to post it in many places.  I have it on the facebook fan page….
And it is

When I made this little book it is amazing how long it took.  I might just be a bit slow but the illustrations were something that I wanted to be special and share emotion as much as the words.  I wanted to be able to not only talk with the children about the story but also the pictures.  They had to be simplistic but I wanted them to be filled with color and life bringing the characters to life even more as the story was read.  I wanted them to have attitudes and be of interest.  I tried my best with each and every picture.  They were not pictures to go with the story but pictures that were the story.

What I did is take some of the pictures from the book and read the story trying to put it all together so that I could read a story for you too.  My voice may be old and hoarse but then so am I and it is a Halloween story.  I hope that you like it and if you do pass it on to share with someone else.  I will be back to talk more about all of this and more.  I am supposed to read it to a group of children they hope will number 50 to 60 with a real bonfire and hotdogs.  It should be a day and I hope to get pictures then too.

I have been unable to get it to load here or on utube but have included the link to it on Facebook.  I am not sure what I need to do but will keep trying and hope that you like it.

Friday, October 14, 2011


I have wanted to write and share about a wonderful day, meeting some very special people.   Tuesday I was made welcome by my grandson’s teacher and first grade class to read the children’s book and speak to his class. 

You would not think that would make me nervous since I have told the story for years to so many children and always had such fun doing it.  As the day and time drew near I felt some apprehension.  This was not just a time for fun…it was a time that created so many emotions whirling within me.   I wanted the children to have fun and enjoy the story.  I wanted them to be inspired enough to feel the desire to share their own thoughts, fears, feelings, ideas and more.  I wanted to be able to share with them the idea that what they learn is so much more than the grades they might make.  Education is a gift to last a lifetime and open doors to the world.

This was my grandson’s class.  If the children did not like me or what I had to say or thought it was dumb…would it be something that reflected in reactions to him?  What about his teacher?  I had never met her but she was nice enough to allow me to come and share this with her class.  I did not want to let her down by doing something that would be disappointing to her class.  I am not an experienced public speaker although I have on numerous times spoken in public.  I usually just go with the moment and have fun.

I did have fun.  I had so much fun.  As I drove home, I tell you that it seemed even the sun shone brighter and the Fall colors seemed to glow.

When I arrived at the school it is so beautiful and cheerful.  The people there are friendly and told me where to find the class.  I had arrived early and thought it might give me time to rest from the drive and walk into the school, but they told me to go right on down to the class.  When they told me where the class was I wondered if there was anyway I could get there.  If you had to pick a place that was the farthest from the door, that was it.  I was lucky that they had benches placed along the way and I could take breaks.  That was how I made it.  One little walk at a time and then rest a bit.

When I got to the class I did not want to interrupt but there was no bench down there and I had to sit.    When I knocked on the door one of the little boys got excited telling his teacher there was some lady at their door.  She was so welcoming and invited me to come in.  I explained that I knew I was there early and did not mind waiting but she was so nice offering to begin and introduced me to the class.  All little eyes were upon me and I felt that moment of apprehension.  Would I be able to do this?  Would I forget the words to the story I had written.  How should I read it and share the pictures at the same time? 

She had me sit at her desk and the students gathered together in front of me on a big rug they use for story time.  My grandson made my heart fill with emotion as he seemed so proud.  He was my helper…a lot.  I handed books to the students so that they could look at the pictures and maybe follow along but in first grade, patience is not a strong point and they got so excited they looked at each and every picture.  As I watched the young faces I was delighted to see interest and delight with some of the pictures.  They were excited and gathered head to head smiling and pointing and speaking in excited tones. 

We started out talking about what it takes to make what you write into a book.  That part threw me for a moment.  Usually when I talk about writing and what I went through before I could hold something that I had written in my hand as a book, it is to older people.  Every eye was upon me and there was no giggling or talking.  They were so interested and attentive.  They were alive with the wonders seen only through the eyes of a child and this was a chance to try to fire their imaginations for the things that they could do and accomplish.  This was a chance to help them to realize that all of the lessons and papers and tests were not just things they had to do, but accomplishments they had the ability to do because of the wonderful teachers and all that they had learned.  Would I be able and good enough to reach out and touch them?  I was going to try.

I would love to tell you how inspiring I was but the truth is that I was the one that was inspired.  They were so wonderful.  Each and every little face showed such emotion, enthusiasm, intelligence and wonder as we talked of many things.  Their questions were direct and showed they were thinking of many things that they could do and would do.  When I looked at those faces I was looking into the future.  I could see that each and everyone would have so many things in life ahead of them and who knows what all they may accomplish?  They are so precious.

My grandson was by my side and helped adding his thoughts, memories and ideas.  He has so many ideas on his own.  The next children’s book is one I am co-writing with a 6 year old.  I do not mean that I am writing it and letting him help.  The new story that continues is his own idea.  One day after he had asked me to read it to him he smiled and said he could not wait and we needed to do the next one together.  I mentioned we had to think of a story first.  We have come up with dozens of little stories together through the years.  It is fun and I think helps them to develop creative thinking and problem solving as they find their simple plots and story lines.

He looked so serious and said  “This one is about when they follow the path through the pumpkin field and go out into the woods.  The pumpkins go with the boy because they are his friends, but he only thinks they are.  One of them just acts like a friend but he is sneaky and mean.  There will be a lot of other stuff too and things he sees and meets but it will be a good story.”

WOW!  What an idea and from a 6 year old at that.  I could already hear the words and see the story coming together.  All we have to do now is polish it up finish it up and do a whole lot of art work.  I would not mind sharing credit for that book with him.  It is his idea.  We really are going to do it and he was so proud as he told his class.  I could tell by the looks on their faces they had their doubts.

I explained his story idea and their expressions changed.  Their surprise at what he could do reflects the idea that they could too.  There is no limit to what we can do but the limits we place on ourselves.  There may be some things we can not do, but we just have to find ways to keep going and do other things even better.  What we can not do one way we try to find a way to do it another way.

It came time to begin the story.  I was only nervous for a moment.  I have told that story so many times and always had the same result.  The children have always sat patiently, even intently listening to the very end.  There is always such a range of expressions and emotions cross their little faces.  I want to tell it so that it is interesting and they can almost see and feel it but not to the point that they stay frightened.  There is a fine line there and these are some young children but we did have fun.

When I started with the very first line there was not a sound from them.  Their eyes were as big as mine, thinking about what I had said…..”It was the dark of night………..but the moon shone bright……casting shadows on things below.  What was the cause……..the reason for it all……even with time we may never know.”  I had long pauses and spoke slowly as the words created the feeling and the pictures showed the rest.  I love it when a story comes to life.

As the story went on and at the end it suggests it was only a dream….or was it… careful and watch out for the moon.  I hoped it had been more fun than scary so we began to talk about the story it’s self.  We discussed the beginning and I asked if it really was dark at night.  They all agreed it was and I mentioned about the bright moon and beautiful stars that sparkle like diamonds in the sky.  There is so much light if you really look that you can see your own shadow…..”The moon casting shadows on things below”…It did not sound so scary that way.  We talked about the witches and how if things are different that does not always make them bad.  Maybe the witch was just an old, ugly, woman who dressed weird.  One mentioned that the one that flew across the sky silhouetted by the moon was a witch.  I asked him if he was really sure.  If you were scared of the dark and all alone and something whizzed by in the dark might you just think it was a witch because that is what you were afraid you might see.  Sometimes we see what we look for.  If might have been a black bird that you did not get a chance to really see clearly.

One little boy proudly announce, “I wasn’t afraid.”  Another answered, “I WAS… but I’m not anymore.”  Then they all began to share thought and feelings.

We talked of many things.  I could not find words then or now to say how wonderful it was.  I noticed other things.  Their teacher was so welcoming and helpful in keeping the event going smoothly adding interesting points and helping me to find things to talk about that related to their studies.  It is amazing how much they learn at that age.

This woman clearly has a bond with her students.  You could see by the way the acted and reacted with one another that she is someone special in each of their lives.  We do not always take the time to stop and realize what an impact these people make in not only the education of the children but the very lives they have before them.  People like this woman, inspire these children to believe in themselves and then teaches them providing them the tools to succeed.  As you watch her with the students you see order and organization but you also see the interest she has and by the reaction of the children you can see the love and respect they have for her.  Those are not things that just come with the job.  Those are a result of a personal relationship that involves care and that something special, allowing one person to reach out and touch another sharing and giving to them. 

When we talk about teachers….they are so much more than a person who instructs.  They are out there inspiring and offering gifts for the future to a whole generation of children and adults alike.  Their jobs are difficult but I think we should take the time to let them know how much we appreciate all that they do.

This was a wonderful day for me in so many ways.  I do think the sun shone a little brighter.  I think they colors did almost glow around me.  I am so thankful for being allowed to share such a special time with these wonderful students and their teacher and to be able to do it with my grandson at my side.  He makes me smile and gives me hope in life.   Every time he said “That’s my Mamaw.”  ( He calls me Mamaw instead of Grandma) It made me feel so proud.

I hope you all have a wonderful day and take the time to hug the kids and thank the teachers.  I thank Beth Stricker who is the first grade teacher where I read the book and  Green County Tech School.  People like her make a difference and touch not only the lives of her students but their families and futures.

The Pumpkin Field may be found at