Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas

Here's my Christmas post from prior years--I still don't know how to say it any better.

"Do we go to your parents' house or mine?" "Where did you put the extra string of Christmas lights?" "Which stuffing recipe are you going to use?" "What can we give him/her?" "Where is my Christmas tie?" "Why doesn't this sweater fit anymore?"

Have these become the sounds of Christmas at your house? I hope not. As the blessed day sneaks up on us, I've wondered what to say to those of you who read my random jottings from time to time. What can I say that's new and inspirational? Finally, it dawned on me...I don't have to find something new. Better to stick with something written about 2700 years ago by the prophet, Isaiah. The words bring as much hope now as they did then. May it be ever so.

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned....For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

May you have God's peace in your heart, not just as you celebrate Christ's birthday, but every day in the year to come. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Hiatus

My son first acquainted me with this phrase from Stephen Covey: "sharpen the saw." By that he means take time to relax and refresh. The holidays are upon us, and I'll be doing just that for the next two weeks.  Unless there is some terribly important development I just have to share with you all, I won't be posting for a bit. I plan to resume my blog posts the first week in January. In the meantime, have a wonderful--and meaningful--Christmas. And hug your family.

(Oh, and if you're looking for a last-minute gift for that hard-to-buy-for person, you might consider a book. And if it's one of mine, I'd be honored.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Without Them

I've posted this in the past, but  each year there are new additions to the ranks of those observing the holiday for the first time without a loved one, so I decided to share it once more.

Many of you know that I started writing after the death of my first wife. I used segments from the journaling I did to craft a book with chapters dealing with the situations I faced in the months afterward. I pulled no punches, detailing my failures as well as the victories I eventually won. That book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse, is still in print and continues to help thousands of grieving people each year.

Because I know how difficult the holidays can be after the death of a loved one, I decided to post this article which I wrote for a small local paper several years ago. I hope it helps those of you who are facing this situation. If you know of others who need it, please forward it to them.


              THE FIRST CHRISTMAS WITHOUT THEM

    After the death of a loved one, every holiday that follows carries its own load of renewed grief, but there’s little doubt that Christmas—especially that first Christmas without him or her—is the loneliest time of the year.

    After the death of my wife, Cynthia, I was determined to keep things as “normal” as possible for that first Christmas. Since this was an impossible goal, the stress and depression I felt were simply multiplied by my efforts. My initial attempt to prepare the Christmas meal for my family was a disaster, yet I found myself terribly saddened by the sight of my daughter and daughters-in-law in the kitchen doing what Cynthia used to do. Putting the angel on the top of the tree, a job that had always been hers, brought more tears. It just wasn’t right—and it wasn’t ever going to be again.

    Looking back now, I know that the sooner the grieving family can establish a “new normal,” the better things will be. Change the menu of the traditional meal. Get together at a different home. Introduce variety. Don’t strive for the impossible task of recreating Christmases past, but instead take comfort in the eternal meaning of the season.

    The first Christmas will involve tears, but that’s an important part of recovery. Don’t avoid mentioning the loved one you’ve lost. Instead, talk about them freely. Share the good memories. And if you find yourself laughing, consider those smiles a cherished legacy of the person whom you miss so very much.

    For most of us, grieving turns our focus inward. We grieve for ourselves, for what might have been, for what we once had that has been taken from us. The Christmas season offers an opportunity to direct our efforts outward. During this season for giving, do something for others. Make a memorial gift in memory of your loved one to your local Food Bank, the Salvation Army, or your favorite charity. Involve yourself in a project through your church. Take a name from an Angel Tree at one of the malls and shop for a child whose smile you may not see but which will warm your heart nevertheless.

    When you’re grieving, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by Christmas, especially the modern version. The echoes of angel voices are drowned out by music from iPods. The story of Jesus’ birth gives way to reruns of “Frosty, The Snowman.” Gift cards from Best Buy and WalMart replace the offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. If you find the season getting you down, the burden of your loss too great to bear, read once more the Christmas story in Luke, chapter 2. Even when you celebrate it alone, this is the true meaning of Christmas.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Pam Meyers Tells Us It’s Always Thyme for Love


 While I'm guest-blogging today at Cathy West's Blog About Books, I’ve asked author Pam Meyers to share some thoughts with us on this space. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know Pam and the story behind her debut novel, Thyme For Love. Before we hear from Pam, here's a little about the novel:

When April Love signs on to be an in-house chef at an old lakeshore mansion in Canoga Lake, Wisconsin, she comes face to face with her long-lost love, the drop-dead gorgeous Marc Thorne. It doesn't take long for their old magnetism to recharge, but how can she trust the guy who left her nearly at the altar eight years earlier? Her gut tells her something happened to Marc in between--something he's reluctant to reveal. When April's boss is murdered, Marc is accused of the crime. Unless April can find out who really killed Ramón Galvez, her chances for love will end up at the county jail. 

My writing journey began some years back when I was enrolled at Trinity International University here in Illinois in an accelerated adult bachelor’s program. One creative writing class, and I became hooked on fiction. Little did I realize how long a journey it would be before I signed my first contract.

By the time I began writing Thyme for Love, I’d already written a women’s fiction novel, a romance, and a novella, all of which never made it to publication. I’d always wanted to write a story set in my hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and thought a story that married romance and mystery would be fun to write. The many 20th Century mansions that dot Geneva Lake’s shoreline, always intrigued me, and I toyed with the idea of setting the story in one of those homes. But I eventually decided to gain more freedom with some of the plot details and its characters, it would be better to create a fictional village and lake just to the east of Lake Geneva. I loved that my characters could go into town for a meal at an actual restaurant located there or hang by the lake. I also gave them backgrounds that involve working on Geneva Lake as many college students do during the summer months.

I hope my readers have as much fun reading my story as I did writing it.

Thanks, Pam. We appreciate your sharing, and look forward to reading Thyme for Love. I understand it’s available at all the major online and brick-and-mortar booksellers.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Books As Gifts

It's possible that some of you will already have finished your Christmas shopping. But others, myself included, are just getting started. As an author, I find myself wondering how many people will be giving books as gifts this year. And, if so, whether they'll be hard copy or e-books.

If someone on your gift list is joining the Kindle and Nook craze, this would be a great time to buy an e-book for them. If they (or you) are more traditional, a book they can hold in their hand is always a nice touch.And if you're a reader, you might want to drop a hint or two about which books are on your own wish list.

If you want to personalize your gift, check out the site, Signed By The Author. Hundreds of books are available there, all available to be signed and personalized by the authors. For the Kindle owner, Kindlegraph gives you a way to get a  page with the author's signature and sentiments to be added to a book on Kindle. (I've already blogged about this recently).

Already own some of my books and want them autographed, either for yourself or as a gift? No problem. I'll send you signed bookplates to put into the books. Just email me at: Dr R L Mabry at yahoo dot com (put address into proper format and put the name of one of my books in the subject line to avoid my spam filter). Tell me 1) how many you need, 2) whether you want them personalized ("to XX"), and your snail mail address. I'll do the rest. I'll even add a gummed "Signed by the Author" sticker for the cover.

And while you're making out your shopping list, don't forget to give to the less fortunate this Christmas. Pick the charitable organization or effort of your choice--there are lots of worthy ones--but share with others. It's something we should do all year long, but especially at this season of the year.

Merry Christmas, and to echo Dickens' words, "God bless us, every one!"

Friday, December 02, 2011

Posting Today at Rachelle Gardner's Blog

For today, I'd prepared a post about books for Christmas, including a few words about signed books, but you'll have to wait until next week to read those. Instead, I'm guest-posting today over at the blog of my agent, Rachelle Gardner, talking about "If I can touch just one reader.." I hope you'll drop by, see what I have to say, and leave a comment.