Friday, November 29, 2019

Thanksgiving Makeover - Part 3 + Black Friday Sale!

Good morning, FFFFs!
Happy day after Thanksgiving. Okay, happy Black Friday. ;)
I'm going to keep this part short because you might want to go look at books and read the final part of the Thanksgiving story.
But it's been a good week. My grandparents and aunt came down on Monday and we spent several hours over at my brother's new house eating lunch, putting the swing set together and playing baseball. Yes, my 90-year-old grandpa pitched for most of the time. Then my mom pitched.
Yesterday it was just my parents, sister and I here at the house. We had our turkey dinner around one, and even started decorating for Christmas. Usually we wait until after Thanksgiving to start, but since everyone was home and no one else was over, plus the fact that Thanksgiving came really late this year, we decided to get started. We got a good bit done! Today my nieces and nephews are coming over to help do some decorating. My oldest niece wants to decorate the stairs, and everyone wants to help with the village. I have to get the landscape and snow done before they come so they can help with houses and all the people and trees.
I've gotten some writing done this week. And it's NOT a Christmas story! :) I'm hoping to reach 10k this month. I think I can.
Now here's the rest of your post. :)

Are you ready to add more books to your reading pile? Do you need some sale books to keep you reading until Christmas? What about books to give your friends and family members for Christmas? Or just because more books are fun?


I thought so. Check out the books on the Black Friday sale! There are over 100 titles!

And nearly all of mind are included in it! :D Including my Christmas books!

Head over now! It might take you a while to decide what to get because of all the genres and books in each category. So start looking.

The sale ends Monday.


And now we return you to our regularly scheduled program.

Thanksgiving Makeover
Part 3

    “Hey, Brad,” one of the boys asked, “what are we going to do next? I mean, we’ve already had the big game and the parade.”
    “Well, when it gets dark we are going to have a bonfire–”
    “And roast s’mores!” Cherry put in eagerly.
    “But until then,” Brad shrugged. “We could always play some games like monopoly, or freeze tag, or capture the flag.”
    “Hey, yeah, let’s play capture the flag! We could use the whole neighborhood and the yards, and maybe some of the older ones would play too!” the boy’s enthusiasm was catching.
    With a grin, Brad stood up and picked up his paper plate. “I’ll check with Dad, but I think that’d be fun.”
    Mr. Miller had no objection and, after checking with the other adults, gave permission, provided there was to be no going in and out of houses. “And no one is allowed to cross any street but this one. Understood?”
    “Yes, sir,” Brad replied, and hurried off to see if Sgt. Crawford and Mr. Hunter would join them. Much to Brad and the other children’s delight, both agreed to play after everything was cleared off the street. Never had a Thanksgiving feast been cleared away so quickly. Trash bags were filled with paper plates, utensils, cups and napkins. The extra food was divided up and taken to houses, tables were wiped off and then folded and returned to houses, though some ended up in the wrong place and had to be switched a day or so later. All the chairs were also put away, and before long the street was back to normal.
    It was a lively game that followed. The street was declared “no man’s land,” and the only safe place to cross into “enemy territory” without being certain you were seen, was the empty lot where the parade had been organized. Many were the prisoners caught, the daring prison breaks, and the mad rushes back for the safety of your own side. It was growing dark before Sgt. Crawford, with a few select team members, Brad included, managed to slip across the street one at a time under cover of a diversion farther down the street. Once over, they hid for a little while before creeping stealthily around the houses. The flag was found, but before they could hope to get it, they would have to elude the vigil of the two guards who paced the yard three feet from the swing set where the flag rested in the baby swing.
    “If we all rush them together,” Brad whispered, “They’ll just call for help. I think we should try to get closer and then just have two of us appear and try to lead them away.”
    “Good plan,” Sgt. Crawford nodded. “Who volunteers?”
    Brad and two others did. When he wasn’t chosen, Brad was secretly relieved. He wanted to be in on snatching the flag and taking it to victory.
    Before motioning the decoys to leave, Sgt. Crawford gave a few other whispered instructions.
    Moments later, the “guards” were drawn farther from the swing set. Not too far, but far enough to give Sgt. Crawford and his companion time to rush for the flag. Tingling with excitement, Brad remained where he was, motionless, hoping that the growing darkness would hide him from the sharp eyes of any opposing team members.
    Shouts came from the two guards and Brad wished he dared steal a peek around the corner of the air conditioning unit behind which he crouched. Heavy footsteps were coming closer. Was it–? Brad fairly held his breath until a white cloth dropped almost in his lap and the footsteps turned and darted away. More shouts and footsteps. Brad hid the cloth behind his bent knees and watched as two figures from the other side raced past his place of concealment. When the shouts grew distant, he ventured to lean out and glance about. All was still, even the guards had left their post to chase the two who they thought had their flag. Springing to his feet, Brad raced as quickly as he could towards the street, the white flag clutched firmly in his hand. If he could only make it to the street without being seen, he stood a good chance of winning the game. Just before he ventured from between the two houses, he paused. No one was close. With a burst of speed he dashed for the street waving the white flag and shouting “Victory!”
    From everywhere members from both teams seemed to appear, but there was really no contest, for Brad had a head start and crossed the street to safety well ahead of the fastest runner.
    There was much laughter, a few groans, and one or two complaints, but no one paid attention to the latter.

    By six o’clock darkness had settled over the neighborhood. The promised bonfire had been started and everyone was gathered around. Most of the younger ones begged for hot dogs to roast, for they had run off most of their dinner. After the biggest appetites were satisfied, the s’mores were brought out, and soon sticky fingers and chocolate-adorned mouths, gave proof of their enjoyment.
    It was a perfect evening to sit around a fire with friends and family. Mr. Miller started the final event of the day by naming three things he was thankful for. “The Lord Jesus Christ, a wonderful wife and kids, and a neighborhood to enjoy a day with.”
    From his seat beside Trenton, Brad looked up at the sky as one by one each person named three things he or she was thankful for. Without the streetlights on, the stars seemed brighter, closer. The moon, a crescent, shone with unusual luster, and there seemed to be a new hush over the homes and yards all around them. This was a Thanksgiving Brad would never forget. He half wished that next year the power would be out again. “But nothing would quite equal this year,” he mused, watching the sparks shooting up as a few more logs were placed on the fire.

Have you ever had an unusual Thanksgiving?
How was your Thanksgiving?
Are you planning on getting any new books from the sale?

Friday, November 22, 2019

Thanksgiving Makeover - Part 2

Good morning, FFFFs,
The rain is pattering lightly on the skylight of my room. I can hear the street-sweeper somewhere in the area. It's colder this morning. Only 37º right now instead of in the 50s. The last few days have been damp and cloudy. I think we're supposed to get sunshine either later today or tomorrow. That will be nice.
I've actually done some writing this week! Are you shocked? I am. ;) I've written every day (except Sunday when I don't write) and am planning to write today and tomorrow. No, I haven't gotten 1k written most days, but even 500 is better than nothing, right? I finished one Christmas story which you probably won't get until next year. Sorry. Now I'm not sure what I'll do. I think I might leave the other unfinished Christmas stories to wait until next year. I still need to write a short story for our Christmas cards. Any ideas? Any Christmas songs you would like to see in a Christian story?

I've also been practicing my violin. We are playing our Thanksgiving song on Sunday. And I finally got music for the two Christmas specials we are planning on doing. The one for the Christmas program is easy which is good since I'll be very busy that evening. ;)

Another thing I'm doing is taking part in Tarissa's Literary Christmas again! This is the 3rd year I've done it. Basically you read Christmas books and review them on your blog, or on Goodreads, or Amazon, then share the title and the link to the review on Tarissa's blog. It's fun to see what sort of Christmas books people read. Oh, and she's doing a giveaway right now. :) All you have to do to enter is read and review a Christmas book, share the link, and there you go. (There are other ways to enter the giveaway too.) Anyway, I hope you'll come join the fun. I'd love to see what books you read. You can get to Tarissa's post by clicking on the image below.

A Literary Christmas: Reading Challenge //

And now for the 2nd part of your Thanksgiving story. I think I need to write a few more Thanksgiving stories. And 4th of July stories, and Valentine's Day stories, and  . . . ;)

Thanksgiving Makeover
Part 2

    Brad was frowning. “I don’t know. He’s supposed to be in a sleigh on top of a house, but . . .” Suddenly he snapped his fingers. “The dog house! If we could put it on wheels of some sort, we could cut a cardboard box so it kind of looks like a sleigh and the whole thing can be pulled or pushed.”
    It was an ingenious idea. Brad raced home to ask his dad for a little help in getting the dog house to the lot. One of their neighbors, who had been talking with Mr. Miller when Brad arrived, offered the use of his small gator and flat trailer to put the doghouse and such on. “You can use it if Hunter’ll drive it,” Mr. Johnson agreed. “I don’t want any youngster accidentally running into the next float or dumping Santa Claus into the street.”

    It was almost noon before the “Neighborhood Macy’s Parade” was ready to begin. From all around the neighborhood families and friends gathered in the front yards along the side of the street. The end of the street had been blocked off with bright orange cones, so there was no fear of traffic to interrupt the parade.
    Loud were the cheers when the “floats” began to appear. There was one with pilgrims and Indians. Who cared that the Indian’s feathers were bright blue and pink, or that the pilgrim father’s paper hat blew off and he had to chase it. Next came the “band” consisting of a pot beaten enthusiastically, a kazoo, and a trumpet.
    The onlookers roared with laughter when they beheld Cherry leading on a string an enormous “turkey” who seemed strangely tall considering that its face appeared to be that of Trenton wearing a beak and red floppy comb under his chin. It took only a look at the boots under the yellow paper “feet,” however, to realize that Sgt. Crawford, home from the Marines for several months, was the lower part of the bird. “He’s probably got couch cushions or his pack on his back covered with a cloth,” whispered one lady to her husband amid the laughter.
    “Yep, and I reckon it’s supposed to be one of those balloon things.”
    The “Macy’s” float came next, with a large sign, and a wagon full of stuffed animals, and dolls all sporting fashionable clothes.
    Three bicycle riders came next, followed by a few more ingenious “floats,” but the crowning moment came when “Santa Claus came to town.” No one minded or even commented on the fact that Santa’s legs stuck out the bottom of his sleigh and the toes of his boots were hooked on the edge of the roof so that he wouldn’t fall out. His outfit was splendid, and he sported a beard of white batting which made him sneeze several times as he was carried slowly down the street waving to the people and shouting, “Come to Macy’s and buy your Christmas presents!” This last bit brought down the house, and even the sound of the gator’s engine was drowned out.

    Pulling off the itchy beard, Brad asked, “When is the game, Dad?”
    Mr. Miller chuckled. “Not yet. You’ve got to give everyone a little time to recover from the parade. And besides, aren’t you all hungry yet?”
    “I am!” Rosa exclaimed. “But we can’t eat a Thanksgiving dinner, can we?”
    “Well, not like we usually do, but we’ll eat a feast later in the afternoon. We’ve got three turkeys roasting in roaster ovens powered by a generator Mr. Leeks had. Between all the families, I imagine we’ll have enough to at least taste a bit of turkey. If they don’t get done, or if anyone is still hungry after we eat, they can roast hot dogs.”

    At two o’clock everyone gathered in the “Neighborhood Bowl” behind Mr. Merrik’s house for the big foot ball game. All the players had been divided into two opposing teams: Panthers vs. Cowboys. All around the field chairs had been set up, a few trucks had been parked and more chairs set up in their beds. “To give the impression of stands,” Mr. Miller had told his wife. Since no one had real padding, the game was tag football, but no one minded. One of the men used to work as a referee and he had pulled out his black and white shirt and hung his whistle around his neck.
    At half time the score was 3-1 in favor of the Panthers. Most of the ladies left the game then, as did a few of the men who weren’t playing. The ones who remained, however, cheered every play and shouted encouragement to the younger players until they were hoarse.
    When the game finally ended the Cowboys had managed to win the game by one point at the very end. Brad came off the field rather winded and hot. He found his sisters and brothers waiting for him in the back of their dad’s truck. “Well, I thought we were going to win,” he remarked, reaching for the water bottle Rosa held out to him.
    “But it was a really close game,” Rosa said, waving to a friend who had been sitting on the other side of the field. “Now you have to go get cleaned up so we can eat.”

    Everyone agreed it was a most unusual place for a Thanksgiving dinner, but the middle of their quiet, blocked off street seemed to be the perfect place to put tables and chairs. “Of course, anyone is welcome to sit in the grass or on their porch, if they’d rather,” Mrs. Miller told everyone as they all gathered.
    It wasn’t the traditional Thanksgiving meal most families in America would be partaking of, but it was a feast. The three turkeys had been roasted to perfection and, with the use of three grills, two gas stoves, and two dutch ovens, the ladies had managed to prepare potatoes, both mashed and baked, stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce, and a few other dishes, not to mention the pies which had been baked ahead of time. As for rolls, Mr. Henthorn, who worked at a bakery, had brought home dozens of rolls the evening before, when he had learned of the intended feast. Though there wasn’t enough turkey for everyone to have as much as they might have wanted, no one was hungry by the time the meal was over.
    Brad leaned back in his chair and looked down the length of the street. “It sure is funny to be eating our Thanksgiving meal in the middle of a street.”
    Rosa nodded. “But we wouldn’t have fit anywhere else very well, except for the empty lots, and that would have been a long way to carry all the tables and things.”

If you had to create a float for this parade, what would you do?
Do you enjoy watching or playing football?
Have you started reading Christmas books yet?

Friday, November 15, 2019

Thanksgiving Makeover - Part 1

Happy Friday, Favorite Friday Fiction Fans!
It's a beautiful morning! The sun is rising in a clear sky. It is cold (25º) but it's supposed to warm up to the upper 40s or low 50s. A good day to sign papers for a new house. No, not me. My brother and sis-in-law are signing papers for their house this morning. Then this afternoon they are going over to clean or wipe things down. I'll probably be going over too, and I think my sister will. Then tomorrow is moving day. Busy. But fun. The kids are excited.

I wrote a little this week. Enough to finish the Christmas story I'll be sharing next month. It's the story version of the Christmas play I wrote. ;) I wanted to write more, but haven't had the chance.

Sunday was a day my brain worked extra. The beginning of the church service was first, then I went to Children's Church to work with the kids on their play, then back to church for the last half of the sermon, then as soon as church was over I had to switch to the other play to work with the kids on that. Next I had to talk with some of the mom's about practice dates and costumes before rushing off to get in on the last part of choir. Whew! This Sunday won't be quite as crazy since I'll have bells instead of the other play and choir.

I can't believe that today is the half-way point of November! What? How is that even possible? I knew it would be a busy month, but . . . Well, anyway, here's the first part of your Thanksgiving story. :) Hope you enjoy it!

Thanksgiving Makeover
Part 1

    The early pre-dawn light was just beginning to spread across the eastern sky, giving a hint to a beautiful Thanksgiving day. The neighborhood was still shrouded in darkness. Not a light shone in any window, giving the impression that no one was awake or that everyone had left town for the holiday. However, the eerily dark streetlights hinted that something more than late sleepers was causing the darkness.
    Inside the Miller home, eleven-year-old Brad shut his Bible and placed it back on the shelf before snapping off his flashlight. It took a minute for his eyes to adjust to the gloom, but when they did, he slipped from his small room and knocked softly on the door across the hall.
    It opened in a minute and his sister appeared.
    “Are you ready?” Brad whispered.
    “Yep.” There was excitement in Rosa’s voice as she turned off her light and tucked it into her pocket.
    Together the siblings hurried down the hall to the stairs. A faint light glimmered from the living room, and Brad and Rosa headed towards it.
    Looking up from his Bible as the children entered, Mr. Miller smiled. “Is it time already?”
    “Yeah, it’s just after six.”
    “Is Mom awake yet?” Rosa asked.
    Mr. Miller nodded. “Yes. She’s going to let the younger ones sleep as late as they want because I don’t think anyone except Molly is going to take a nap today.” As he spoke, Mr. Miller had risen, set his Bible on the table and picked up a camping lantern. “All right, let’s get coats and get to work. Brad, get the posters, Rosa, the papers.”
    The air was brisk as the three figures stepped outside. The soft twitter of a single bird was the only sound to be heard.
    “It sure is quiet without the hum of that streetlight,” Brad whispered.
    “And dark,” Rosa added, shivering.
    The Millers worked quickly, tucking a paper announcing the unusual day’s events, into the front door of each family who was in town. Posters were stapled to light posts. Across the top of these was written in large letters: “Neighborhood Thanksgiving Festival.” Below was a list of events and where they would take place. Though most of the families already knew about the day, the time and place of most of the events hadn’t been announced.
    As they returned to their own home, Brad could hardly wait for everyone to get up. He didn’t even think about the sudden power outage which had knocked out all their original plans for a “normal” Thanksgiving; he was just eager for the fun he knew would be coming.

    Breakfast was hardly over before the excitement and work began. Arrivals at the front door seemed incessant, and Brad and Rosa were kept busy answering questions or directing people to the kitchen to talk with their mom, as she fed baby Molly, or to the back yard where Dad was working.
    At nine o’clock Mr. Miller came inside. “Brad,” he called.
    “I think it might be a good idea to head up to the empty lot and start getting ready for the ‘Macy’s Parade.’ It’s going to take quite a while to get everything ready, I imagine.”
    Brad pumped his fist in the air. “Yes! Come on, Rosa!” he shouted.
    Instantly Cherry and Trenton began to beg to go, and Ryan started crying, “Me too! Me too!”
    Turning in despair to his mom, Brad exclaimed, “Mom, I can’t watch the little ones and get a parade ready!”
    Mrs. Miller smiled as she stepped over Molly’s scattered toys. “I know you can’t. Miss Elise and Mr. Hunter said they’d come help when the time came. The younger ones can stay with Miss Elise while you and Mr. Hunter get everything ready and organized.”
    A flurry of jackets were pulled on, and five Miller children raced out the door and up the street to the empty lot which marked the end of their housing development. From nearby homes other children spilled from doors, some dragging wagons or hopping on bikes, others carrying bags or boxes from which trailed fabric of all sorts.
    Everything in the lot was mass confusion for several minutes until Mr. Hunter, a college age young man who was respected by every child in the neighborhood, got everyone’s attention. After that, Brad was able to assign numbers to the various “floats,” and the work of decorating them and dressing up began. There was much laughter over some of the floats, much borrowing of garments, a seemingly constant request for safety pins, and much running back to houses to get thing forgotten or needed.
    “Mr. Hunter,” Brad asked, when everyone was busy, “since this is supposed to be a ‘Macy’s Parade,’ and they always end theirs with a Santa Claus, do you think we can too?”
    With a laugh, Mr. Hunter shrugged. “We can try. We’d have to find a red coat though, unless someone has a Santa suit.”
    “I don’t know of anyone who does. But I’ll ask the kids.” And Brad ran off. He didn’t believe in Santa and knew most of the other kids didn’t either, but the big parade they were copying always had a Santa at the end, and it just wouldn’t be the same without one. There were no Santa suits, but he learned he could get a pair of red snow pants, a red hoodie and a Santa hat. “I still need a black belt, white gloves and black boots,” he panted, running back to Mr. Hunter who had three-year-old Ryan on his shoulders.
    “I can get a black belt for you and you should be able to find some black boots.” He turned to his sister. “Hey, Elise, do you have any white gloves Santa can wear?”
    “Sure. If you’ll keep Trenton with you, Cherry and I’ll run and get them.”
    “And grab my black belt from the closet, will you? Oh, and see if you can locate any black boots,” Mr. Hunter called after her. Then he turned to Brad. “What is Santa going to ride in?”

How was your week?
Did you get any writing done?
Have you ever created your own parade?

Friday, November 8, 2019

To Give Hope – Part 3

Good morning, FFFFs,
It's a sunny morning here. But it's cold. Only 21º at the moment. We had lovely weather earlier this week in the 60s, but then it rained and a cold front blew in from the north. The leaves are really falling from the trees and it won't be long before our yard is a carpet of leaves ready to be raked up.

This week has been crazy! Of course I have to play "catch-up" on Monday. Then I went to bed early Monday night because I had to be up at 4:30 the next morning.
I worked as an election judge on Tuesday. There was only one city thing on the ballot, but more people came out than we thought. That was nice. But of course I didn't get home until 9 PM.
Wednesday I had to play catch-up again. Only this time it was harder because I was tired. And it was cloudy. What is it about clouds and tired that make you not get much done? And Wednesday evening I had to go to church to practice music.
Yesterday I had writing classes. That was strange since I usually do it on Tuesdays. And I was missing one student who couldn't make it which meant that one class only had 1 student so I had to scramble to fill our time since I wasn't expecting that. In the late afternoon the grandkids all came over. They didn't leave until quarter till nine.
And today . . . Well, I need to clean house, send emails about play practice, take care of things, take care of other things, work on my Christmas Collection books that need editing, practice the violin, and maybe I can write. We'll see.

How was your week?

This is the final part of this story. What should I post next? I have two choices for you: (1.) the first part of an 8 week story (it would have to skip December and start again in January) or (2.) re-post a Thanksgiving story from a few years ago. Which do you want?

To Give Hope
Part 3

    The concert hall was packed, much to Clara’s astonishment. She hadn’t expected so many people to come to listen to the Quattuor Amicis String Quartet. Yes, she knew they were good. They had just come back from a world tour where they had been lauded for their aesthetic performances before packed houses, and their acclaim was touted in musical circles and magazines. But to Clara, the Quattuor Amicis Quartet was just Grandpa’s quartet. He and his friends had established it long before Clara was even born, and she had sat in on practices, had eaten many dinners with the other players, and considered them all almost like extra grandpas.
    Now, sitting in the front row, her stomach gave a queer quiver. Pressing her hands over it, she bit the inside of her lip and hoped she wouldn’t get sick.
    “I told you to eat your supper,” her dad leaned over and teased in low tones.
    Clara managed nervous chuckle and smoothed out an invisible wrinkle in her dark cranberry formal. Supper had been the last thing she wanted that evening. “Maybe I should have stayed at home,” she whispered. “I’ve never been this nervous in my life!”
    Mrs. Stillman dug in her purse and pulled out a peppermint. Handing it to her daughter, she instructed, “Suck on this and think of the music.”
    “That’s my problem!” Clara took the candy. “I can’t help thinking about it. What if it doesn’t sound good? What if I messed something up?”
    “Hey, Grandpa has already told you it was great, hasn’t he?” Mrs. Stillman leaned around her husband and looked at Clara. “It’s not like they just saw the music tonight.”
    “Yeah, but what if Grandpa just said the music was good because I composed it.”
    Mr. Stillman let out a sniff. “If your grandpa says it’s good. It is. When it comes to music, it doesn’t matter who wrote it or arranged it, if it’s not good–and I mean really good–he’ll say so. Now relax and enjoy the night.”
    Clara sat back in her plush chair and sucked on the candy, trying not to think about the fact that tonight was the debut for her song.
    As the concert got underway, she relaxed and let the music of Mozart and Bach calm her nerves. Her song wouldn’t be until the very end.
    Intermission brought all the butterflies back to her stomach, and she whispered to her dad, “I think I might be sick.”
    “You are not. And you are not going to be. Grandpa has played your songs before, and you can close your eyes and pretend his quartet is playing at home.” He patted her knee and smiled to ease the bluntness of his words.
    When the music began again, Clara couldn’t concentrate. She fiddled with her program until her father reached over and took it. Then she sat and polished her fingernails with the belt of her dress and counted pleats on the curtains behind the musicians. Applause startled her, and she caught her breath.
    This was it. They were going to play it. Her song. The one they commissioned her to write. Her mouth felt like cotton, her heart thudded against her ribs, and she wanted nothing more than to hide. If she was only in the wings and could pace the floor. Or if Grandpa’s quartet had been able to reach town yesterday like planned; then they could have played it for her ahead of time. But their flight had been delayed. She hadn’t even gotten to say hello before the concert.
    “Breathe, Clara,” Her dad murmured in her ear.
    The first low notes on the viola started. They were sad and slow. The cello added its mournful tones to the music, and Clara felt again the sadness of that afternoon. But as the song progressed, hope came. It came in the higher birdlike twitter on the violins and in the slow crescendo of the sunrise on the viola. It was heard in the crashing waves of the cello and in the tender bits of old hymns tucked away among the other notes. It came steadily and grew stronger. Light. Hope. Joy.
    Clara could breathe freely again.
    The song ended with the soft almost breathless whisper of the wind in the trees which gradually died away on the air. Then silence.
    Not a sound could be heard in the vast concert hall. Then from somewhere the applause started. It filled the hall, rang from the balcony, and echoed across the stage. People were on their feet, but Clara remained rooted in her chair. She hardly noticed when the thunderous noise ceased, and the first violinist spoke into the microphone telling about her piece. She didn’t hear him inviting her up to the stage with them. If her dad hadn’t led her to the stairs, helped her up them, and walked by her side to join the Quattuor Amicis String Quartet, she would never have made it.
    “It was perfect, Clara,” Grandpa whispered as he hugged her before the cheering audience. “It was what we wanted–something to give hope.”

Did you like the ending to this story?
What should I post next week?
Was your week crazy or normal?

Friday, November 1, 2019

To Give Hope – Part 2

Good morning, FFFFs!
It's 32º right now and I'm glad I'm not outside. Yesterday morning we woke up to a very light dusting of snow on the porches, roofs, cars, and such. Snow in October? That doesn't happen here. Or at least it didn't. :P

This week has been busy in a different way. I found out early this week that all the free audio codes I had been given from ACX were going to expire on Nov. 12th. (They do give me more in another place that are different.) Well, I didn't want to just leave all these codes to expire, so I sent out emails, a newsletter, and have talked to people. I'm giving away as many codes as I can find takers for. :) It's been a lot of fun! So far I've given out 175 audio codes! Some are to people who already know my books, others are to people who know I write, but have never read anything.
Did you get any free audio codes yet? If not, ask. I still have around 27 for "Gift from the Storm" and 30 or more for "The Old Mansion's Secret" plus some of the others. If you know of any friends who would like either of those audio books (just because I had extra of them), send them my way. I'd love to give out some more copies.

What else have I been doing? I've practiced the violin for a Thanksgiving special some friends are playing at church. I wrote! No Christmas story this week. I had an idea for a new "Kelsey" story so have been working on that. It's been such fun! I do like Kelsey and her sisters. And the other characters. I taught writing classes. Only two more to teach before we break until January. Now that sounds strange!

Here's the next part of this story. There's one more part after this.

To Give Hope
Part 2

    Mr. Stillman reached out and tapped her head. “This. This is what’s wrong. You were playing with your head and not your heart. Your head was running all over the place and dragging your heart along with it. You are doing the same thing about composing this song for Grandpa’s quartet. Composing something, anything of value anyway, must come from the heart. If it doesn’t, then it’s a waste of time.”
    “I know!” Clara burst forth. She’d been a student in her dad’s classroom and knew all the right things. “But I can’t do it! There’s nothing there! It’s all dark and minor and won’t go anywhere.” She struck an E minor chord on the piano with force.
    “Play through the darkness then, Clara. Is there nothing but darkness and despair? What about the joy of the Lord is your strength, or God being a Father to the fatherless and a judge of widows. I know that my Redeemer liveth. Why aren’t thou cast down O my soul? Casting all your care upon Him for He careth for you.” Mr. Stillman stood up and rested a hand on his daughter’s shoulder. “Give them hope, Clara. Give light in darkness and joy instead of mourning.” He squeezed her shoulder and walked away to the far side of the room.
    Staring at her hands resting in her lap, Clara thought about her father’s words. Was that the trouble? Had she been so focused, and so distracted, by the sadness and pain around her that she couldn’t see the hope that was offered? Was that why she couldn’t compose the song her grandpa wanted her to write for the quartet he played in?
    Her father’s call roused her, and she rose from the bench to find him holding out the viola and a bow. She looked from the instrument to her dad. “What am I supposed to do with that?”
    “Play through your darkness and find the hope, Clara. You can’t do it on the piano as that’s not the instrument you love best, and you can’t play it with your heart when you aren’t one with it. Take this and give the sadness and despair a voice. Then give them hope and offer joy. Play with your heart and talk to God as you play. You’ll find your notes.” He placed the instrument into her hands, kissed her forehead, and then moved to the door. Turning, he said, “Don’t try to write anything, just play.” With that he was gone.
    Clara stood for a moment looking at the closed door. Then, tucking the viola under her chin, she tested out the strings. They were in tune, and she began slowly, softly, to play. The notes rambled at first, until her fingers began moving almost of themselves. The notes were a cry for help, a sob, a feeling of anguish. Clara closed her eyes and let the music flood around her as she prayed and pleaded for strength, for hope, and for joy.
    Gradually the notes began to change. Bits of hymns found their way into the despair. Lighter notes, like birds singing, brought a smile to her lips, and soon Clara was so wrapped up in her music that she didn’t notice the door opening or see her parents peeking in. She was alone with her music, and with her God.


    Lowering the viola at last, Clara sank into one of the chairs and rested her instrument on her knee. She felt exhausted, but refreshed at the same time. The heavy weight that had kept the music from spilling out of her fingers was gone.
    A light knock on the door made her look up to find her dad standing in the doorway. There was a smile on his face. “Supper’s ready. And don’t say you want to get started composing first. You skipped lunch and need a good meal before you start because I have a feeling you’ll be at it a while.”
    Clara laughed. “You’re right. I am hungry.” Rising, she hung up her viola and bow. “Thanks, Daddy,” she said, going to him and giving him a kiss. You understand me better than I do sometimes.” She slipped her hand through his arm and walked beside him down the hall. “I found the hope and light, you know.”
    “Yes. I could hear it.”


    Clara worked into the wee hours of the morning composing then sat down on the couch in the music room for a little break. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but before he left for the conservatory, her dad found her with her on the couch head pillowed on a stack of music books. With a smile he lifted her head gently and replaced the music with a pillow, spread a light blanket over her, and left her sleeping.

Have you ever fallen asleep someplace besides your bed?
How do you deal with stress and frustration?
Did you get any free audio books?