Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Matter of Perspective

The way perspectives can shift a scene:

What actually happened: The man hunched over the table, shadowing the sparkling silver and the crystal goblets.  He moved his bent, misshapen fingers to pry open the box.  The angel across from him gasped, tears shining behind her bifocals.  His lips formed the age-old question at the same moment as her whispered "yes."  With intense concentration, he worked the ring past the wrinkled skin, over the arthritic joints to where finger joined hand.  His eyes met her shining ones and they shared a secret smile.

The CIA spy sitting two tables over: The old geezer glanced suspiciously around him.  With surreptitious movements, he slid a black box across the table to the operative disguised as an elderly woman.  The man's lips moved as he recited the memorized code to crack the box.  The woman repeated the code.  They shook hands, mutual respect for each other's professions evident in their secret smiles.  

The waitress: The old man hunched over the table, his frayed cuffs and out-of-date necktie in sharp contrast with the expensive dinnerware.  His hand slid over the table to his dinner companion, the receipt concealed beneath his fingers.  Of all the nerve, asking his dinner date to pay for their meal.  If they couldn't afford this place, they should have eaten at McDonald's.  The woman's eyes formed tears of disgust behind her glasses.  Quite classy actually, that she agreed to take the receipt.  Her hand reached out to accept his "gift."  They smiled at each other, the woman polite to the end.  I hope that's her last date with Mr. Cheapskate.

The mother who'd just gotten word that her son was killed while on a tour of duty: The old man hunched over the table, pity written across his weathered face.  He slid the box containing her grandson's dog-tag across the table to her.  The woman gasped, tears springing to her eyes.  He whispered the boy's last words to her, then took her hand to comfort her.  The woman blinked back the tears and gave the man a tremulous smile, bravely facing the lonely years ahead.

The fantasy author: The man hunched over the table, the masses of Aron-cluttered tables fading from his view.  All that mattered was the Aron-Queen in front of him.  If he could just convince her that he needed her armies, his people might just survive.  He slid the talisman towards her, casually.  If he hurried, she'd interpret his actions as too aggressive.  Too slow and she'd grow bored.  She gasped and tears flooded her eyes.  "The Aron Stone," she whispered.  He nodded.  "My spies returned with it from the Nether-regions," he said.  He lifted it from the box and placed it gently in her hands, folding her fingers over it and holding it there.  Their eyes met.  The smile she gave him was full of promise. 

So much fun!  I could go on, but I think I'll stop there. :)

Friday, January 25, 2013


A crack runs down my thumb, from the corner closest to my nail almost to the center of my thumb's fingerprint.  A side-effect of dry heat during the winter and refusing to wear rubber gloves when I wash dishes once or twice a day.

It really stings.  A few nights ago, I was out with my family running errands and I stuck the corner of my thumb in my mouth for a little relief.  It helped some, though healing takes time, I suppose.  (My husband told me to stop sucking my thumb - it looks funny when a 30-something-year-old tries it.)

Later, when I was talking to Jesus (not even about my thumb - it was something completely different), in my mind's eye, I saw this picture of a desert, dry and cracked, wilting from lack of moisture.  The hot sun blazed in the sky, the heat waves quavered in the air, warping my vision.  It was barren.  Dry.  Dusty.  Dead.  The only thing I could think of was how badly this place needed water.  Life-giving water.

And then a shadow crossed the ground.  I looked up and a heavy black cloud covered the sun.  First one drop, then ten, then a hundred, then a deluge, covered the ground, running through the cracks, filling the fissures and the dry steam bed, soaking the earth.

At first, I was startled because the ground didn't immediately return to normal.  The cracks remained.  Water coursed through them, but the dryness was so complete that the ground couldn't receive it right away.  It was later, much later, after the rain stopped, and the muddy water had run its course, and the ground had soaked in the rain through its rough dry shell, that the cracks disappeared.

Naturally, I wanted to know why Jesus had shown this picture to me (assuming, of course, that it wasn't just a tangent my mind had taken.  Even if that had been the case, I think Jesus could still teach a good lesson from it.  Wasn't he called Teacher in his human years on this earth?).  

I saw myself as the hard ground.  Cracked, with dry edges all around.  Once, I had been fertile soil, but I was tired.  So tired.  And discouraged, worn down, beaten by the hot winds that inevitably blew my way.  When was the last time I had sat in God's presence, soaking in His "living water?"  I had given, but I had forgotten to refresh my spirit with God's refreshing rain.  

As I spent that time with Jesus, I felt His hand on me.  The moisture wet the cracks, though it took a little to begin to absorb and heal.  Days of returning to the water.  Drinking deeply to soak the ground.  

I still hate that crack on my thumb.  It's incredibly annoying.  It takes an awful lot of treatments with water, lotion and Vaseline to notice any difference in the healing process.  But I'm glad it helped to call my attention to the healing that really needed to happen in my life.  So... thanks God.  You crack me up. :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Interview with a Villain

So... imagine if you could enter the world of a favorite book and ask any character any question you wanted to.  What would that look like?  Which character would you choose - the "good guy" or the "bad guy" or the "social misfit" or the "lazy good-for-nothing?"  What kind of questions would you ask them and how would they answer?  What if they didn't want to talk - what if they just got up and walked away?  And shut the door in your face?  

I got really into this idea.  So, below, I set up a meeting with Broken Crowns' "villain."  (You can also find this interview on my Author's page on my publisher's website:
I thumped the knocker against the heavy wood door.  A snake's head curved through the ornate carvings, it's mouth gaping, fangs prominent.  I shuddered.

“Enter.”  Her silky smooth voice matched the satiny finish of the snake's wood scales.  I pushed the heavy door open and stepped into the room.  The door slowly slid shut behind me.

She sat in a high-backed, uncomfortable-looking chair.  A huge desk hid most of her petite frame from my view.  Her green eyes bored into me.  I dropped my notebook.  She smirked.

Struggling to regain my composure, I fumbled for the notebook on the floor, then approached her desk.

“Sit.”  She motioned to a small seat, an ottoman, really.  I sat and felt my insignificance grow.  I shifted uncomfortably and suddenly noticed the glass aquarium behind her.  Inside, three or four huge rattlesnakes lay coiled one atop the other.  A blue luminescence cast a gloomy glow over the snakes' bodies.

“You will not be long.”  It was not a question.  She glanced pointedly at the grandfather clock in the corner.  “I have a Parliament meeting to attend.”

“Um...” I mumbled.  My discomfort grew.  “I was wondering if you could tell me a little about your – your interest in the occult?  Why that particular field?”

Her finely penciled eyebrows arched.  “Ah.  I assume you're not asking out of interest for yourself?”

My cheeks grew hot.  I dropped my eyes.  “Um.  No ma'am.”

“No, your grace,” she snapped.  “I will forgive your American ignorance this once.”  She leaned forward on her desk and crossed her arms.  Her whole being loomed over my spirit.  “It is about power.  Influence.  Prestige.”  She paused.  “A name.”  She pushed herself out of her chair and paced to the window.  The heavy drapes spread wide to allow a panorama of London's bustling streets.  “Of course my birth and heritage have given me a place in Parliament.  But... it's an ordinary power.  Commonplace.  Pedestrian.”

I raised my eyebrows.  I couldn't manage to pull it off as effectively as the killer glances she had spared me thus far.  “The House of Lords is commonplace?”

“It is nothing.”  Her voice lashed across my ears.   “The real power is beyond the realm of the physical.  Beyond the everyday.  It is there for the taking.  For the possessing.”  I could almost see the slaver form at the corners of her perfectly painted lips.  Her desire threatened to swallow me whole.  Her trembling fingers curled around the back of the chair, her knuckles white.

Time to back-peddle.  I didn't like the gleam in her eyes.  “I guess I understand your vendetta against him, but... why her?  Why did you want to hurt her?”

“Hmm.”  She threw a mysterious smile my way and reseated herself.  One long index finger traced light circles on the glass snake aquarium.  “You're young.  I'm guessing you're inexperienced with the games and schemes and power plays of mankind.”  She paused and moved her gaze back to the window.  “Why did I want to hurt Jill?  Because she was a threat to my power.  She was an impediment in my path.  She was a weed in my perfectly manicured garden.  What do you do with weeds?”

It took me a moment to realize she actually wanted me to answer.  I licked my dry lips.
 “Well, you pluck them.”

She laughed, a low sultry sound that sent chills up my spine.  “Exactly.”

I hadn't written the question in my notebook, but it crawled its way out of my throat.  “Did you love him?  At one time?”

Suddenly, blindingly, a flash of vulnerability crossed her face.  She slammed her expression shut as firmly as a tomb.  “Love?”  She snorted.  “Love is for weak fools who dabble with paltry feelings and illusory dreams.  I have no time for weak-minded foolishness.”

The room fell silent except for the slow tick-tock of the grandfather clock in the corner.  Suddenly, the questions written in my notebook felt meaningless.  Futile.  I glanced at the Duchess again.  She stared hard at me, then turned her eyes pointedly to the clock.

I took a deep breath.  “I have to go.  I appreciate your time.”  I slid my pencil inside the spiral and rose from my chair, tucking my notebook under my arm. 

No polite rejoinders, no assurances that my presence had been appreciated.  She turned to her aquarium and lovingly stroked the top edge of it. 

I stopped at the door and turned back.  “Why the snakes?” I asked.

“Yes.  My darlings,” she purred.  “Why does one keep tokens of affection, relics of past accomplishments, pictures of memorable occasions?  Because,” she turned to face me, “they are a part of you.  They represent your very being.  Your past.  Your present.  And most often, your future.  Do you fear the snakes?  The venom in their fangs?”

I managed a tiny nod.

“Fear is Power.”  Each word slammed against my eardrums.  “And Power is the ultimate conquest.  The final end.”

I swallowed hard and grasped the door handle.  It pulled slowly open and I put Power to the back of me.  I walked down the hall towards Freedom and Commonality.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Potty Straining

I promised myself I would never post about potty-training.

And yet, here I am, posting.

After a failed TWO-week attempt SIX months ago, I decided to "take TWO" this week.  In THIRTY-SIX hours, we've had FOUR Number ONE accidents and ONE Number TWO accident.  All to get my THREE and a HALF year old boy to graduate into ONE big boy!

The numbers, the numbers...

Dear son.  To maintain my sanity (and by proxy, your own), you must agree to the following:

1.) You must tell me before you wet your pants that you need to pee.  It's rather pointless to tell me after you've created a new swimming pool on the floor.

2.) You must agree to give up sitting on all sofas, recliners, rugs or anything absorbent.  

3.)  Actually, you may as well agree to move outside until such a time as you can make it to the toilet before creating aforementioned swimming pools.

4.)  You shall not take your stuffed animals, pillows, blankets or anything absorbent to your new location outside.  

5.)  You shall agree never to invite your baby sister to play anywhere in close proximity to your soiled underclothes.  And by close, I mean at least a distance of six miles.  

6.) You shall learn to do your own laundry, starting now.

7.)  I am well aware of the psychological trauma that experts say can accompany this phase of life.  Don't you dare blame any of your present or future troubles on "bad potty-training."

8.)  Infractions of any of the above will result in ear-piercing shrieks from that person you call "Mommy."

Since you cannot spell yet, please sign X on the dotted line.  


This Frustrated Mommy

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Broken Crowns

I am SO excited!

My very first book, published for the world to read.  I never really realized just how vulnerable that makes me.  Suddenly, people can read AND CRITIQUE the fruits of my thoughts.  

Am I thrilled?  Certainly.  Am I nervous?  You betcha.

Am I a great writer?  Welllll... maybe not.  But I do hope that this story will bring entertainment value into people's lives.  I hope that, even though it's pure fiction, someone can open it and forget about reality and daily cares for an hour or two.  I hope that Jesus can work through the twists and foibles of my brain's workings to somehow speak through my book to someone who needs a diversion from their cares.

So.  If you or someone you know likes to read, may I humbly suggest passing this book on to them? 

I hope you enjoy working with Jeff and Jill as they plummet through hurdles and riddles towards what seems like certain death.  It kept me interested.  I hope it will you too. :)


BROKEN CROWNS, by Tamara Shoemaker, published by Route 11 Publications. It's fiction with a message, suspense, adventure, a dark past, and a dangerous future.

A seemingly harmless nursery rhyme turns deadly as riddles and a shadow from the past catapult Jill Lyons and Jeff Siegle toward dark circumstances and death.

This is Tamara's first book. The second in the series is underway.

Order your copy through the above link today.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Something Worth Crying About

I love onions.  

I hate cutting onions.  I cry like a baby almost every time, unless of course it's an older onion and has lost some of its potency.  Sometimes my glasses act like a shield if I can arch my back enough to keep my face out of the general burst of eye-stinging gas.

At other times, it doesn't matter what I do, I'm gonna cry buckets before it's all over.

So today, I had an epiphany.  A brilliant, truly genius idea.  

I put my cutting board on the stove, turned on the stove-top fan and watched in glee as the invisible gases wafted toward the upward draw.  Problem solved.  I envisioned publishing my findings in a Helpful Hints book somewhere.  My mailbox would fill to overflowing with grateful letters from people all over the country - or even the world - people so thankful that they didn't have to deal with the onion gases anymore.

As these thoughts danced through my head, my eyes began to burn.  Slowly tears formed in my eyes that had nothing to do with the tears of joy I had considered crying as a result of my new-found revelation.  

Lovely as our stove-top fan is, it actually does not vent to the outside.  Instead, the air it sucks up filters through a charcoal filter and jets back into the kitchen - just about eye-level.

So I chopped those onions.  And I cried like a baby.  Maybe not all the tears had to do with the onions...