Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Grandma's Funeral

My mother-in-law died last week. We went to her funeral on Saturday. Here's a copy of her life sketch. She wrote it herself and asked for it to be read. (See below) She also planned the program. It went something like this.
Life sketch
Musical number I'm Trying to be Like Jesus and I Feel My Savior's Love, preformed by grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 
Remembrances by her seven children
Musical number, In My Father's House are Many Mansions
A short talk on the Plan of Salvation (don't know what that is? You can read about it here.)

After the funeral service, we drove to the top of the Salt Lake City Cemetery where we placed flowers on Grandma's casket, and Steven offered a prayer to dedicate the grave. We drove away, leaving that chapter of our lives.

And it was all lovely.
But the thought of my niece's cancer haunted me. Grandma had a long and wonderful life. But that's not a guaranteed blessing for all of us. My niece Kira has stage four cancer. You can donate to her hereOr buy a t-shirt--all proceeds will go directly to Kira. The dog on the shirt is a picture of Kira's pug.

Nadine's Life Sketch
Nadine (Call) Tate 89 years, graduated from this life on Monday, July 18, 2016 at Lakeview Hospital following a stroke, a massive brain hemorrhage. She had family at her side at her passing. She is survived by 7 children and spouses, 40 grandchildren and 83 great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, 2 sisters and 2 brothers, a daughter-in-law, and 2 great-grandchildren.
Nadine Call was born of goodly parents, Horace Arthur and Leona May (Papworth) Call on February 10, 1927, in a small white house in Tucson, Arizona. The doctor proclaimed that she was premature, weighing in around 8 pounds because her eyebrows and finger nails weren’t yet developed. I remember her telling me that they thought she was Native American because she had pitch black hair and very olive skin, however there is not genealogical connection to that claim. She was the youngest of 5 children.
Nadine was born with a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and never ever questioned it. In Arizona water was precious and so there had to be enough individuals getting baptized to warrant filling up the small font. Her dad was the Superintendent of the Sunday School so she often accompanied him early on Sunday mornings to the church. In June following her 8th birthday when her father was checking the church building he noticed that the missionaries had filled the font for a convert baptism. He asked Nadine if she had been baptized yet? “No”. He asked her, do you have white underwear and slip on, “Yes”. He told her to take everything else off. He went up got the two missionaries for witnesses and her dad baptized her. Then he called her mama to bring some dry under things, telling her he had just baptized, Nadine.
 Nadine dad’s brother married her mother’s sister. She loved it when they would come down from Afton, Wyoming. She said the Call family really didn’t know how to just laugh and have fun but the Papworths (her mama’s family) did.. She said she would quietly sit under the piano and listen to her mother and aunt talk and laugh. They would laugh until tears rolled down their cheeks. None of the kids knew how to laugh out loud. Nadine knew how to project her voice because of singing so she developed a “cackle”. She said her brother Vaughn, would open up his mouth but nothing would come out and his nose would quiver. Nadine preferred her “cackle”.  
 Nadine was very intelligent, with an IQ of 140 and attended the University of Utah when she was 15 years old. Despite her intelligence she was a slow reader and later the cause was identified as dyslexia. Math was her best subject. It was while attending the U of U she met Willard Richards Tate.  While registering for school at the “U”, Nadine ran into her boyfriend and his response was, what are you doing here? He was upset that she would only be 1 quarter behind him as a Freshman. While they were arguing on the front steps of Kingsbury Hall, along came his close buddy, Willard, who sided with Nadine and said “if she’s smart enough, why not.” Nadine told him, “to mind his own business”.
About two weeks later during lunch she noticed Willard sitting by himself in the cafeteria, and so just like her, always thinking of others, she asked him to join her group so he wouldn’t have to sit alone.
On Nadine 17th birthday Willard gave her his Lambda Delta Sigma Fraternity pin. Two months later his entire U of U Engineering class enlisted in the Navy to fight in World War II. Willard gave her a Diamond to “secure her.” On April 19, 1945, she married her sweetheart, Willard Richards Tate, in the Salt Lake City Temple.  They had a lot of adventures traveling all over New England as Willard was sent to one specialized training after another.
While Willard was away, Nadine worked and built up a good nest egg. On one of Willard’s leaves they bought a little white cottage with picket fence, arbor gate and all for $8000. Her dad helped with the down payment.  They never got to live in the house because of the housing shortage, Willard’s brother Ralph and his family of 5 children moved in. They ended up getting a small apartment on 3rd South by South Temple.
 Shortly after the family moved into our new home on Northgate St. in Culver City, California the Gas man who had hooked up the gas line submitted Nadine (mom/grandma)’s name to the Mrs. America contest which the gas company was sponsoring. Nadine was selected as Mrs. Culver City.
Nadine and Willard loved to tour the United States in their camper as well as traveling all over the world.
She loved the many missionaries they worked with as she and Willard served as the office couple in 6 California missions: San Bernardino (twice), San Francisco, Carlsbad, Long Beach, and Riverside. She wrote “Those years in the mission field were most satisfying. Wonderful people, great working conditions, being needed and appreciated, and most of all working side by side 24/7 with Willard in the Lord’s work. It was a joy one can only experience, words cannot express it adequately.” Whether it is serving missions, serving in our wards, serving our neighbors and most of all our family. That’s what mom taught, and lived, service. 
 Nadine had a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and was steadfast and firm in keeping all of His commandments, and taught her family well. She said, “I’ve loved the Lord all of my life, I’ve loved Willard, my righteous and brilliant husband with all my heart. We have been blessed with the most wonderful and marvelous, brilliant and righteous children. Then along came the beautiful grandchildren and great grandchildren. Willard used to say it is the only Pyramid plan that really works. The Lord has been so generous with us and our life. I look forward to being with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, His Son and to sing their praises.”
 Her posterity will greatly miss her sense of humor and her love for family.
Memory from her oldest grandchild:
I don't have any specific memories of Grandma, mostly just clips:

* The sound of her laugh
* The way she adored and dotted on Grandpa
* A whole wall in her closet neatly stacked with high heels in every color
* Candy and chocolates in all of their drawers and cupboards
* Her freezer full of dessert and telling us that they always had dessert
* Her telling me that I was most like her
* That Grandma was both smart and beautiful

Tribute from Adam, her grandson
Tribute to Grandma Tate:
"When Grandpa died, I took it pretty hard. I'm sure every grandchild feels a special connection with their grandfathers, but having lived with him for a summer shortly before he passed away, I felt especially close to him.
Accordingly, when I first heard that Grandma's health was rapidly deteriorating, I emotionally prepared myself to go through a similar grieving process.
Perhaps, those feelings of grief are still to come - but they haven't yet. Since learning that Grandma passed away, I've felt nothing but peace and even happiness. There is something beautiful about the thought of Grandma and Grandpa being together once again. Something wonderful about the thought of them reminiscing about their past journeys together and looking forward with excitement towards their future adventures.
I am thankful for my knowledge that thfough Jesus Christ families can be together for forever. And while Mormons are not the only ones with this belief, I am thankful that my Church puts such an emphasis on it. I will miss you Grandma, but I'm sure I'll see you again someday."

Adam Tate (grandson)
 Nadine Call Tate’s testimony never waivered and she endured joyfully to the end.  I know she is happily reunited for all eternity to her sweetheart, Willard. For families are what matter most and God designed a plan that we can be together forever.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Real Life Interference and Deadlines

Real life and death concerns have been weighing down my writing for awhile now. Last week, we thought my dog was dying. You can read about that here. And then the cat disappeared. We worked really hard to keep one pet alive only to have the other vanish. Today, I took Grendel (the dog) in to the vet to have her stitches removed. The vet and her assistant were both really surprised to find Grendel had survived and was even perky.

Yesterday, my mother-in-law died. She had suffered a series of small strokes over the past few months and then on Monday another struck, leaving her partially paralyzed and unresponsive. She was 89. Because it was time, it wasn't tragic, but it is sad. And I find myself thinking of all the wonderful weekends and holidays we spent at my in-law's home. Last night, in her honor, we watched old home movies where my husband was young, skinny, and had shoulder length hair, and my in-laws were younger than either my husband and I are now. We watched the family dog tease the cat. Life hasn't changed so very much, except that now, of course, both of my in-laws are gone, as is my mom, and all of my aunts and uncles. And my cat.

In the midst of this, my nonsmoking niece who is only 36 years-old and has a beautiful family with three young children has been diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. You can donate to Kira here.

Tonight, I'm going to dinner with friends. One of them recently lost a son in a tragic car accident. He was on his way to a family wedding when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver. I can hardly think about my friend without getting teary-eyed. I'm not sure how I can sit with her and eat a salad with composure.

Life isn't fair. Fairs, I've been told, are for horses, pigs, and pie-eaters. And real life is not an apple pie. It's hard. As my 95 year-old dad likes to say, growing old isn't for sissies. The longer we live, the more we have to watch our loved-ones leave us.

And in the wake of all these deaths and brushes with death, it's been hard to focus on my writing. There are a hundred and one decisions to be made. Travel plans to be arranged. Dog sitters. An estate to be settled. Death brings life more sharply into focus and the fictitious world loses it's pull.

I've told myself that I have three weeks to finish Menagerie. But nothing tragic will happen if I don't meet that deadline. In fact, the word deadline has taken on a whole new meaning for me. It's hard to believe a writing deadline has any real significance at all.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My Upcoming Blog Books

My upcoming blog books. I'm nervous about publishing these, but I do love the covers.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Anywhere Else

I published a very short story. I wrote it to be a part of the Indie's on the Go Anthology. Part of the requirement of being in the anthology was the story had to be less than a thousand words. Its 998 words, about four pages. I thought about making it free since it's so very short, but decided against it. I really like this story and think it's worth 99 cents.

Of course, my Beyond the Fortuneteller's Tent is free and The Highwayman Incident is only 99 cents and they are both full-fledged novels, but the difference is both of those books (hopefully) drive readers to the next book in their respective series. I'm not sure what Anywhere Else will drive people to.

But I do love this story and hope others will, too.

Madeline sneaks into her estranged husband’s home with a burning for retaliation. What she finds in a locked closet forever changes her mind, her heart, and her future. This is a very short story of a marriage and a life that ended too soon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What You Need to be Creative:

I loved this clip so much I took notes.

What you need to be creative: 
1. a quiet space 
2. time (an oasis of quiet from everyday life) 
3. time: to not take the easy way out--stick with a problem, play with it to find the most creative way out. More pondering time=more creativity 
4. confidence--fear kills creativity (you can't be trapped in reason) 
5. humor--laughter makes us playful. and helps us solve problems no matter how serious. Keep your mind focused on your creative work. Establish a free atmosphere and create contrary connections.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Witching Well Redo

In an effort to make my Witching Well books more romancy, I asked Bethany to redo my covers. What do you think? I really loved my old covers, but I love these even more. I also think they hit the genre.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Funniness and the Lost Finger Nail

Funny things happen all the time. Sometimes, what seems disastrous at the onset is funny in hindsight. Case in point: last week, I helped serve a luncheon to about thirty “silver sisters” (an over eighty crowd). While pouring water cups, I noticed that my fake fingernail had fallen off. Horrified, I peered into all the cups of ice water I’d just poured. Not seeing my nail, I returned to the pasta salad. I couldn’t find it there, either. I spent the entire luncheon in fear that any moment a little old lady would bite down on my nail and dislodge her dentures.

After the luncheon while we were cleaning up, a friend and fellow volunteer found my nail in the box of our cleaning supplies. Everyone laughed, but I tucked the experience away knowing it would make a great scene in a novel. (I also went home and removed the nails, vowing to never wear them again---at least not when I’m preparing food.)

A couple of years ago, I had a terrifying experience in a stuck elevator. It left me shaken, but it also became the beginning of my book, Stuck With You, a book I’ll feature in the upcoming #ComedyBookWeek.

Everyone loves funny books, yet it's a niche category which is difficult to promote, as I found out from personal experience. The book market is dominated by romance and fantasy, with many promotional websites not even offering a humor category. With this event, we will be relying on the 30+ participating authors and their social media platforms to drive awareness of humor in various genres, and in all its weird and wonderful forms.

We would love your support of the event, be that in the form of a review of any book on the participating list (CLICK HERE), a mention, or an interview with one of the participating authors. If you’d like to read Stuck With You in exchange for an honest review, just email me kristyswords@yahoo.com and I’ll send you a copy.

Stuck With You


Stuck With You


Click. Click. Click. Stainless steel and glistening marble. No family pictures or personal mementos. Emotionally dead. A zombie. 
Andie pushed open the walk-in closet and tweaked her assessment. A zombie wearing Armani. She snapped a few photos of the shoes lined up like soldiers on the shelves and the shirts hung with every collar facing north. Tempted to grab a fistful of the pinpoint Oxford shirts and wrinkle the heavy starched fabric, she controlled herself and instead searched the ground and dark corners, hoping to find a stray jock-strap or a Twinkie wrapper—anything incriminating. But Grayson Dodd was too good. Or, more likely, he hired someone to make him look good. He probably had someone come in to keep the contents of his medicine cabinet in alphabetical order and his sock drawer color coordinated.
 She snapped a few more shots of the bedroom before heading to the balcony. In a few more minutes, she would be rewarded with a view of Catalina lying in a blue, sparkling sea. The Newport shots required patience and perfect timing. The morning marine layer often wouldn’t burn off until noon and by four p.m. it generally returned. This meant that she usually ate her lunch in a fast food parking lot, napkins carefully protecting her work uniform—a black linen skirt and creamy lace top. 
Andie sat at the bistro table with the chairs strategically placed so that the balcony rail wouldn’t interfere with the view, and waited for the sun to work its magic. Far below her the cars moved along the crowded parkway. Clients and sellers wanted to see Catalina Island—not Southern Orange County’s busy streets. 

Andie scrolled through the photos on her camera, assuring herself that as soon as she had the ocean shots she would have the bones of a decent flier. She let the sun warm her shoulders and closed her eyes, imagining Grayson Dodd’s reaction to her work…She knew it wasn’t fair to dislike him just because he was marrying her cousin, Kayla. Sure, he had an apartment with all the warmth and appeal of a Modani showroom, but maybe he was a decent guy. She had only met him a few times. It was nice of him to give her mom the listing. 
Andie stood and rolled her shoulders. She knew that Kayla and Grayson were a set match. Everyone said so. And even if they had their flaws—Grayson’s million dollar view was perfect. When the sun finally overcame the fog, she snapped the photos, said goodbye to Catalina, tucked her camera into her case, locked all the doors and headed for the elevator.
 Verbiage ran through her head while she waited. Location, location, location! Ocean views from this cozy (aka small) Newport Coast charmer (aka last century condo.)Typically, she loved her job…well, she didn’t hate it…at least she was a photographer…but now, as the elevator slid between floors, a funk she didn’t know how, or didn’t want to acknowledge settled over her as heavy and dense as the Newport fog. She couldn’t look at it too closely, because she knew if she did she’d find the cause of her bad mood…Jeremy Zimmerman. And she didn’t want to find Jeremy Zimmerman anywhere, especially not inside her head. It was bad enough knowing that she would have to face him at Kayla’s wedding. 
The doors slid open. Andie looked up from her camera’s display screen and saw Grayson Dodd leaning against the back wall, wearing a pair of khaki shorts, a Camp Pendleton Mud Run T-shirt and a pair of leather flip flops. Where were the pinpoint Oxford shirt and wingtip shoes? 
She nodded at him and pushed the elevator button. 
“Hey,” he said as the doors closed. “Hi.”
 She smiled and hoped it looked sincere and not as forced as it felt. “I just shot your condo.”
 “That seems harsh.” He grinned. “Did it bleed?”
 “Huh, no. Do you want to see? I got some pretty good shots of Catalina.”
 “So—you’re not only a condo killer, but an island assassin.” 
“I have a camera. I know how to use it.” She tried to read him. His light gray eyes stared back at her from behind wire rimmed glasses. She didn’t know this Grayson. He was different—and the difference extended beyond his wardrobe. “I can shoot you too. Right here. Right now.” 
He shuddered. “Scary.” 
She shrugged and grinned. “I can plaster you all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I even do LinkedIn.” Her voice caught as the elevator hiccoughed and bounced. 
Andie stopped thinking of shooting Grayson when the elevator shuddered a mechanical sigh and stopped. The lights flickered and died.
 “What the—?” Andie reached for the control panel and ran her fingers over the buttons. She blinked at them. Maybe her eyes would adjust to the perfect dark. But maybe not. She fumbled in her purse and pulled out her phone. 
No service. 
 It provided a faint, milky light and she used it to inspect the control panel. A red plaque had the words In case of an emergency, please call:1-800-555-help. 
“Good to know,” Grayson said as he pulled out his phone. “Assuming you had service.” 
Andie spotted a large red button and pushed it. Almost immediately, an alarm wailed. It echoed through the tiny space and filled Andie’s head. “Someone will come now right?” She had to yell to be heard over the alarm. “The alarm will tell someone that we’re stuck.” 
But no one came. 
Time grounded to a halt. 
 “Why don’t I lift you up?” Grayson suggested. “Maybe you can crawl through the roof.”
 “And then what? I’m not Laura Croft. This isn’t an action movie.” 
He laughed again, a soft sound, barely audible above the alarm. “I’m not looking for action.”
 “Oh!” she harrumphed. She actually harrumphed. Little old ladies like Grammy Dean harrumphed and now she was harrumphing too. Next thing—knitting, canasta, and Bonanza reruns. “You are not picking me up.” She winced at the double entendra. 
 “Well, I would suggest you pick me up, but I don’t think you could…at least not in the literal sense.” 
Was he flirting with her? Ew. She tried to ignore him. Leaning against the far wall, as far as possible from Grayson, she was hypersensitive to him. He didn’t say anything, but she still felt him. She really couldn’t hear anything above the noise of the alarm, but she could swear she felt him breathe. His nearness crackled like electricity. Her skin prickled. He smelled like soap. A really nice, lavender sort of soap. Which made her wonder if males should use lavender soap. Maybe it was Kayla’s soap. Which made her think of bathing, which led to bathrooms, and the absence of such an important necessity…
Panic fluttered in Andie’s belly. She pounded on the door until her hands throbbed. She sat on the floor and used both of her feet to kick the door. Her screaming barely rose above the wailing alarm. 
 “Hello?” A voice from the outside. “Is someone in there?” 
Finally! Andie breathed a sigh of relief that all of her banging and yelling had actually been useful. “Yes!” she screamed.
 “Are you hurt?” the voice asked. 
“Only my feelings,” Grayson said.
 “I’ll go and get security,” the voice said. 
“It won’t be long now,” Grayson told her. 
Andie harrumphed again. She was getting good at it. 
 Time stretched and slowed until it stood still. 
“Security here,” said a new, deeper voice. “Are you still there?” 
“Where did you think we would go?” Andie rolled her eyes for the benefit of no one. Eye rolling and harrumphing had become her fallback positions. 
“Pull the emergency button!” the voice instructed. 
“I did that!” Andie yelled. 
A light flickered as Grayson used his phone to located the red knob. He tried pulling it. “It’s stuck,” he confirmed. 
“Call the fire department!” Andie yelled. 
“What are they going to do?” Grayson asked. “Use the jaws of life?”
 “Why is that stupid?” 
“Did I say it was stupid?” 
“No, but you said it like you thought it was stupid.” Andie wasn’t sure because she couldn’t see him, but she thought Grayson rolled his eyes. “Hello?” Andie pressed her nose against the heavy metal doors and tried calling through them. 
“Hello,” Grayson said. 
She rested her forehead on the doors. They felt smooth, cold and solid. “I’m not talking to you!”
 “Too bad. We’ve been in here for almost a half hour and I’m getting bored.” 
They sat in silence for hours, or maybe a few minutes. Andie wasn’t sure which.
 “Okay!” The security voice returned. “Just called the elevator guy. He can be here in 40 minutes.” 
 “Forty minutes!” Andie and Grayson both said at the same time.
 “I can’t stay here for another 40 minutes,” Andie complained.
 “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” 
She knew exactly what the worst thing that could happen was. She would have to designate a pee corner and she would have to squat and pee in front of Grayson Dodd. She fumbled in her purse for…anything. She pulled out her keys and tried wedging the skinniest one under the red knob. It didn’t budge. Using her phone for a light, she studied the control panel. It had four tiny holes for a screw driver. Knowing she didn’t have anything the right size, she swung the light at Grayson. 
He blinked at her behind wire rimmed glasses. Without thinking twice, she ripped the glasses off his face and broke off an arm. 
 “Do you want to stay in here?” Andie pointed the broken glasses at him with a shaky hand. “Do you want to pee in a corner?” 
“Huh, no.” 
“Me neither.” She tried poking the broken arm of the glasses into one of the tiny holes. Nothing. 
“Here, give it to me.” Grayson held out his hand. 
Sighing, she handed it over. 
 Grayson bent it to form a loop and eased it under the knob. Holding onto the broken eyeglass arm, he leaned back, using all of his weight. Nothing. He turned to her. “Help me?” 
 Andie opened her mouth to complain, but soon realized his plan and complied. She put her arms around his waist and tried to not stand too close.
 “Better idea. Switch places.” He placed his hand on her shoulder and guided her so that she stood in front of him. Taking the newly created wire loop, he wrapped it beneath the red knob. “Lean against me,” he said.
 She leaned. Nothing. Well, something, but it was more an internal, zipping blood thing than a mechanical, fix the elevator sort of thing. 
“On the count of three, jump backwards,” Grayson said. “Don’t be afraid to hurt me.” 
Andie nodded. She felt dizzy standing in the circle of Grayson’s arms. 
“One. Two. Three.” 
The knob popped as they jumped away. Grayson fell to the floor, and Andie landed on top of him. 
The light flickered on and the alarm went silent. The elevator lurched once before starting and grinding to a stop. The doors slid open. 
Andie blinked against the sudden light and tried to sit up without touching Grayson. She scrambled away from him, crablike, stood and brushed off her skirt. She knew that she should say something, anything, but she hurried away, relieved that she wouldn’t need the pee corner after all.