Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Foggy Days

I look to my right out the window and see silvery fog draping the trees along our driveway, which are starting to turn some lovely colors. This time of year always brings me feelings of nostalgia, sometimes a little sad, but mostly happy.

Fog is lovely on autumn scenery, but not so lovely inside my brain. Need to do a bit of fog-dispersion, here.

Mimi-cat perches atop her cat tree, gazing out at the same scene--but she is focused on chipmunks, not memories. Heh.

I wonder if chipmunk-hunting might improve my focus?

Myles says feeding-the-cats would do the trick. But he suggests this solution for every dilemma I face. He is another focused cat, purposeful and determined toward his ultimate goal.

Monte is meatloafing on the back of the sofa with his stripy tail curled around his feet. He looks content and a bit foggy-brained, himself. But he meets my gaze and blinks at me sweetly.

His spotty coat is back to feeling silky-soft and shiny, and he is actually putting on some plumpness--this is my cat that resembles a white cheetah, so plumpness is a welcome anomaly!

I wonder if I can rewrite/edit a chapter of my book before the official Feed-the-Cats hour? Focus, like Mimi on a chipmunk or Myles on tuna-dinner-in-a-can--that is my goal.

Do any of you readers have secrets for regaining focus on your work, whatever it may be? Please share!

How Mimas and Myles share the cat tree

Friday, September 20, 2013

Featuring Author Kim Vogel Sawyer

I am so excited today to share with you an interview with one of my dearest author friends, Kim Vogel Sawyer. Kim and I go back a ways—we were critique partners years ago, when she was a talented, hard-working, aspiring writer.

And look at her now: multi-award-winning, best-selling author of, like, a bazillion books! And still as lovely, sweet, and humble as when we first met.

Jill: Thank you so much for visiting my blog today, Kim! I think my readers would love to know a little about you, your family, your home, your background.

Kim: I am a life-long Kansas girl--more than a half-century in the Heartland! The Hubs, who is retired from the military, and I are empty-nesters with three adult daughters and TEN adorable-beyond-compare grandkiddos. We live in a 1905 railroad hotel to which we welcome guests (you can see our home at I spent lots of years with kids as an elementary school teacher and now spend my days with the imaginary friends in my head. Both occupations have given me much joy and excitement.

Jill: Yes, your grandchildren truly are beautiful; I must agree! Your publication story is very inspiring. When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer, and how long did you wait before this dream came true?

Kim: Honestly...I told my kindergarten teacher that someday people would check out my book in the library. The desire to write truly was something “born” with me. I began writing seriously in the early 1980s. In 1992 I began submitting manuscripts. In 2002 I joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), connected with a critique group which was EXTREMELY helpful (Jill, you will always be my hero!), and attended their conferences. In 2004 I signed with an agent I met through conference, and in 2005 I signed my first contract. My first novel released in June of 2006, and I just celebrated my 30th release. It has been a lengthy but very rewarding journey.

Jill: God has blessed all that determination and hard work in amazing ways! Kim, I love the background story of What Once Was Lost, your new release. Will you please share that story too?

Kim: Every summer, a group of writer friends and I get together to fellowship, brainstorm, and just be “writerly” together. We always take a day trip, and in 2011 we visited the Cottonwood Falls area of Kansas. As we were driving in the country, we came upon a huge rock barn and had to stop and explore. I found out the barn was all that remained of what once had been the country poor farm. The house burned down in 1945 and the facility closed. This got my writer-brain wondering...where did the people go? What had brought them to the poor farm in the first place? How did they survive such a sad event? Writing the story let me answer those questions.

The Poor Farm barn in Kansas

Jill: One of my favorite characters in this book is blind. Was writing his character a challenge for you?

Kim: Very much so! I am a visual person, and I tend to write from a very visual POV. I literally closed my eyes whenever I wrote from Tommy’s viewpoint and was shocked at how my other sense were heightened by “closing down” my sight.

Jill: Would you like to share anything else that is unique about this book?

Kim: I think readers might be surprised by the thread of suspense--I don’t believe I’ve really included that in any of my stories before. Something that really surprised me when I researched poor farms was that the residents were referred to as “inmates.” I don’t think that word has the same connotation today!

Jill: When I think of you, Kim, I think of purple (her favorite color) and of kitties. I love the way cats have a way of sneaking into Kim’s books and stealing a scene or two!

Kim: Our lives would be much less exciting without Sam, Maizie, Frances, and Clyde. Sam is our big bruiser and official door greeter--everyone who comes is EXPECTED to pet him. It’s a rule. Maizie is our princess-kitty. The world revolves around her. Just ask her. *ahem* Then Frances is the “mommy” of the group. She makes sure everyone’s ears are always clean. Finally, there is Clyde, my official writing “mews.” He is quite bashful but makes an absolutely purr-fect lap-warmer.

Frances and Clyde
Maizie (Amazing Grace)

Sam the Greeter

Jill: Love them! And sweet little Clyde has his own Facebook following (with Maizie as his competition for “the lap.” LOL) What are your favorite pastimes when you’re not writing, Kim?

Kim: I’ve always been a voracious reader and still enjoy escaping into a good book. I also love quilting, acting in community theatre when I can carve out the time, and of course spoiling my grandchildren. When the schedule allows, The Hubs and I love to hop in the car and visit someplace new.

Jill: I didn’t know you were a quilter. How fun! Now, I’m sure the aspiring writers among my readers would appreciate a helpful hint from you. Any advice you’d like to share?

Kim: DON’T QUIT. If God has planted this desire in your heart, there is a reason for it, so write, write, write. When we do what we’ve been called to do, we find fulfillment beyond description. On the practical side, BE TEACHABLE. Study craft books, read good fiction, attend conferences or workshops as your finances allow. Never stop growing and improving your craft--and by being teachable you will be an editor’s favorite author. :o)

Jill: Thank you so much for joining us today, Kim!! You are a blessing to me in so many ways, my prayer partner and faithful friend. I am honored to host this interview with you on my blog. Blessings!

Here is my review of What Once Was Lost, Kim's latest release:

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, a sweet historical romance set in Brambleville, KS. The heroine, Christina, was left in charge of a Poor Farm upon her father's death, and she gains her security and self-worth through this ministry. When the house catches fire one night, and she and all its residents must scatter to various homes in the community, her first desire is to have the house repaired and return her charges to their familiar home.
But events to not transpire the way Christina wishes. The mission board decides that she is not a proper administrator for the home, and her various charges begin to find new places to live and work.
One of these charges is a blind little boy who finds shelter with a grouchy and reclusive mill owner who happens to be extremely handsome and single . . .
Add in a mystery, a person who seems set on framing Christina for a crime, and a host of interesting side characters, and you have a charming story of love and redemption written in Kim Vogel Sawyer's inimitable style.

5 stars

Pick up your copy today!

Find What Once was Lost at Amazon, CBD, Barnes & Noble, or your nearest bookstore.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kitten Cam!

How can it be Saturday again already?

I believe that time is speeding up. It cannot be merely my perception of it. Oh no.

I'm deep in the midst of rewrites. Overall, I like what I'm seeing, but there is definitely room for improvement!


On a happy note . . . Monte is doing very well. He has been on antibiotics for a week now, and oh! what a difference it is making! Who knows how long the poor guy was hurting with a UTI, and I didn't know it?

Now he is happy, purry, and cuddly. :-)

I am attempting to type this post with Myles curled up in my lap. I like a challenge. He is not so pleased by his moving pillow (my arm).


Want to see how I amuse myself between writing scenes (aka: waste time)?

Kitten Cam!!

I got addicted to watching Foster Dad John's litters of kittens back in December, starting with the Spice Kittens. Since then, I have watched the Aliens, Cosmonauts, Mythbusters, and now the Looney Tunes litters. John names the mamas and the kittens according to themes, you see.

This current family includes:
Hazel--patchy calico mama, who was an abandoned stray
Sylvester--mostly gray with white
Marvin--mostly white with gray spots, including a soul patch and emo fringe
Penelope--mostly white with calico patches
Taz--solid gray

I tend to check in on the kittens about once a day to catch up on their progress and get seriously attached. It is a great way to enjoy kittens without the expense and work! In another few weeks, they will all be spayed or neutered, and then adopted out to good homes through a rescue organization in WA state.

There is also a Facebook page with photos and updates: The Critter Room
And many of the former kittens and mamas have their own Facebook pages.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Completed Draft, Lit Class, and my Sick Kitty

"Oh frabjous day, Callooh, Callay!"

I chortled in my glee. Because . . .

I finished my rough draft!!!

It has been seven years since the last time I could truthfully say those words. Seven years!!

Now to make it less rough. Which will take some doing. But once upon a time I enjoyed rewrites, so I shall roll up my sleeves and commence.

Soon. Must first take time to savor the moment. And brew a cup of tea.

Monday begins my third year of teaching literature for our local home school co-op. I have only one class this time around, which will make life much easier. It is high school American Literature. We are beginning the class with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Yay! One of my students memorized "Paul Revere's Ride" for a speech class and has agreed to present it for the class Monday. How is that for a dashing start to the year?

And our first reading assignment is The Song of Hiawatha. All of it. I have read the first five chapters so far, and I am in awe. I think my students will enoy it, especially since we live in the land of the Big-Sea-Water and all the flora and fauna described here in beautifully poetic terms.

I love teaching because I learn so much!


In other news, Monte is sick. My poor baby has been feeling poorly for weeks, which (avoiding graphic detail) involves decidedly unpleasant clean-up chores for his mum (that would be me). Today I rushed a sample to our vet, who is a family friend, and learned that my kitty-boy has a urinary tract infection or UTI. So now he is on two antibiotic pills a day and one prednisone every other day. I count it a great blessing that Mr. Pinky Nose (his nickname) is angelic about swallowing pills.

Whitefang Spot DeFuhr Montgomery turned twelve in April--hard to believe--so he is no youngster by any means, but I really want to keep him around to snuggle and inspire me for a few more years!

Monte the lap-warmer

Thursday, September 5, 2013

We Begin (and probably will end) with Cats

As I sit here contemplating a blank page with my equally blank stare, Monte puts his paws on my arm and asks for a lap to sit in.

Like magic, inspiration strikes! This is the Internet; therefore, if my blog is to be successful, it must include cats.


No room here. Move along.
Above we view the standard appearance of "my writing chair." It is actually the cat chair, although they allow me to use it once in awhile if I am very good. And if I leave the foot rest (cat rest) up when I retire to bed for the night.

Meet, clockwise from left: Mimas the Egyptian mau, Monte the ocicat, and Myles the Siamese.

And here is a portrait of Myles with his human background support:
Myles & Jill: drama & comedy
If I am very good, I might occasionally be allowed to mention my writings or thoughts connected with but not necessarily focused on the cats. I am, like all writers, at the mercy of my Mews.