Giving Thanks

thanksgivingIn 1621, the Pilgrims, Puritans, and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the American colonies. After that initial celebration, for more than two hundred years, thanksgiving days were celebrated separately by individual colonies and states. Thanksgiving was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln’s presidential proclamation.

Lincoln’s aim appears to have been to reunify the Northern and Southern states in the wake of the Civil War. I feel that our country has been through another civil war of sorts in the past couple of decades.

Perhaps we need to reflect on all the ways in which we have been blessed.

I have been virtually absent for many weeks on this blog, Beyond Austen, and social media. My sister, Gayle, was diagnosed with cancer in early summer. She has had three months of treatments, sickness, and pain. Last week, she underwent a scan to see whether or not the treatment was working. Frankly, her doctors didn’t give her much hope. Had the scan revealed the cancer had spread, or had not been significantly reduced in her lymph system and colon, they were ready to advise her to discontinue treatment and enjoy the time she had left on this earth. She is strong. I am not. I was not in any way ready to face a world which my sister had left. Selfish, I know.

However, God is good, and He answers prayer. Thousands of prayers were offered on her behalf. Her students and fellow teachers supported her. Our church loved her through the process. Our family prayed continuously.


I’m in the middle. To the left is my sister Layne, a breast cancer survivor, and to the right is Gayle. I’m holding my younger granddaughter, and Gayle is cuddling the elder. This picture was made while my daughter was home from overseas a couple of weeks ago.

A few days ago, she received good news for a change. The results of the scan showed not the cancer had spread, but that it was all gone. All of it. None in her colon, lymph system, or liver. She is the first survivor of this type of cancer in stage 4. Only ten cases of it have been reported since the 1920’s. There was no treatment protocol, so her team of doctors established one.

Gayle will likely have another chemo treatment and radiation to be on the safe side, but she will bear it with grace, beauty, and dignity, just as she has borne everything else in her sixty-six years.

Gayle is a person who makes the world a better place by living in it. We are very blessed to have her with us for however many more years the Lord sees fit to leave her here.

We all have much for which to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Jane Started It.




Darcy’s Cyber Sale

darcy-cyber-sale-1Now that I’m an indie publisher, I get to sell stuff on Black Friday. Hey, and on Cyber Monday too.

Because the dates are mine to choose, why not run the sale for the entire week? So that’s what I’m doing. Yay!

Now through Tuesday, November 29th, the Kindle edition of Darcy By Any Other Name is only $2.99. That’s 660 pages of escape-from-reality fun.

Did you know that you can gift an e-book for Christmas delivery? That’s right. Buy now while the price is right, and set the delivery for whenever you’d like. Gift shopping made easy!

Laura Hile (1)

Come along inside!

“Now, the very next time this happens,” said a gruff and suspicious voice, “I shall be exceedingly angry. Who is it this time, disturbing people on such a night? Speak up!”

Poor Rat! Poor Mole! To be freezing in the snow, having to encounter the grouchy, fearsome Badger. Would he give them a scold? Bar the door against their need?
mrbadger“O Badger,” cried the Rat, “let us in, please. It’s me, Rat, and my friend Mole, and we’ve lost our way in the snow.”

“Why, Ratty, my dear little man!” exclaimed the Badger, in quite a different voice. “Come along in, both of you, at once. Why, you must be perished. Well I never! Lost in the snow! And in the Wild Wood, too, and at this time of night! But come in with you.”

wind-in-the-willows-1As you probably have realized, this is from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. I love Ratty and Mole and Badger, and the first five chapters are my favorites. (Mr. Toad does not deserve rescuing, but our three heroes are true friends to try.) How I’d love to “mess about in boats” as they do, and then hole up, warm and snug, during the stormy winter months.

A bookworm’s paradise, their gentle woodland world. To be sure, dangers are present, but their friendships are hearty and patient. Even Mr. Badger’s gruff manner conceals a warm and loyal heart.

wind-in-the-willows-3And truly, is there anything better than a welcome, especially one that is unlooked-for? How wonderful is that friendly open door, offering shelter from the howling wilderness. Within is warmth and cheer and (of course) plenty of food.

Badger agrees. “This is not the sort of night for small animals to be out,” he said paternally. “I’m afraid you’ve been up to your pranks again, Ratty. But come along; come into the kitchen. There’s a first-rate fire there, and supper and everything.”

wind-in-the-willows-5I love the theme of finding shelter among kindly folk, whether I’m turning pages to follow Bilbo, as he makes a hurried descent into Rivendell (that Last Homely House east of the sea), or I’m with Lucy Pevensie, taking tea with Mr. Tumnus in Narnia.

Maybe it’s because this is how I work out my struggles and conflicts. “Come and have coffee,” I say, “and let’s talk things over.” (Bonus points if there’s a fire on the hearth and if wind howls and dashes rain against the windows.)

wind-in-the-willows-4A good beginning, but Badger is the true master. “He sat in his arm-chair at the head of the table, and nodded gravely as the animals told their story; and he did not seem surprised or shocked at anything, and he never said, ‘I told you so,’ or ‘Just what I always said,’ or remarked that they ought to have done so-and-so, or not to have done something else. The Mole began to feel very friendly towards him.”

It’s the quiet part of autumn now, the lull just before the Thanksgiving – Christmas rush. And you know what? We can pretend to be Mole! “Once well underground,” he said, “you know exactly where you are. Nothing can happen to you, and nothing can get at you. You’re entirely your own master, and you don’t have to consult anybody or mind what they say. Things go on all the same overhead, and you let ’em, and don’t bother about ’em. When you want to, up you go, and there the things are, waiting for you.”

Wisdom from woodland animals. Who knew?
Laura Hile (1)


“And so it begins …”

keep-calm-and-vote-79985That’s a line from Tolkien’s “The Return of the King.” I think it covers a multitude of events that feel epic in scope.

Grocery shopping.

Your child getting married.

Voting for president of the United States in 2016.

If you haven’t voted yet, go do that. I haven’t because I live in a state with only vote-by-mail and I don’t like the idea of my ballot sitting around for days and days. I eliminate temptation by not giving “The Man” my ballot until the last minute.

No matter what, remember, we’re all in this together.

If cats ran the world? Yikes.

Domino's regal side

Domino, looking regal. Actually, he is basking in a desk lamp’s warmth.

Here in the States election day is almost upon us.

“If cats ruled the nation like we rule the Internet, there would soon be a blessed change,” says Domino.

Well…I wonder. Have cats been running our campaign season?

It sure looks like it. We’ve had hissing and yowling on every hand!

And tomorrow we vote, many of us choosing a candidate whom we do not fully support.

Voting is a precious privilege, and we dare not abstain.

Even if we feel like the cats in the video below, passing a dish.

Is the milk sour? It sure looks like it. “Gimme that!” turns into “No, you drink it.”

I smile to see those cats, but the reality is that as citizens, we’re all in this together. Even when we hiss and yowl. And are given sour milk to deal with.

I am praying for a peaceful day tomorrow, as emotions are high. God bless America.

Laura Hile (1)

Hell Month

nano_logo-830912ef5e38104709bcc38f44d20a0dIf you are a writer, you probably know that November is National Novel Writing Month, or affectionately called, NaNoWriMo. Object of the game: Start a novel, 50k words in 30 days, which works out to 1,667 words a day. The principle is simple. The execution is mind-numbingly difficult. As are most battles with yourself.

I am not particularly competitive when it comes to things like this. No one will be harmed if I roll over tomorrow and don’t show up at the page. But there comes a point at which you have to at least try. (Yeah, I know, the whole Yoda, there is no try only do thing. I’m a Star Trek fan. Worse yet, I like Babylon 5!!!)

So, another November, another self-inducted bout of heartbreak. I will be looking to fellow writer, Laura Hile for encouragement. Though, to be fair, she’s now deep enough into the school year that she’s struggling to function once she makes it home after work. wanatribelowrezcopyAnother source of verve I’m looking towards is Kristen Lamb’s W.A.N.A.Tribe. There is a group specifically for NaNo, ’16. Several writers meet in the wee hours of the morning to write and be accountable. I’m there right now, not writing for NaNo but writing this blog post. (And regardless of the NaNo rules, I am counting this post for my daily word count!)

team-hwc-2016That rebellious streak of mine is also why I am writing with Team Holly, part of the writing site of Holly Lisle. Holly encourages you to write and if you have to bend, or break, the rules by working on something already started, or editing something in process, fine by her. And me, obviously. I’m starting something new but I’m betting I drag in loose bits and bobs from projects past.

I’ll be letting you know how I do through the month. The idea that Thanksgiving is coming keeps me going.

Into the breech!


Wisdom from Winnie The Pooh

pooh-gratitudeTimeless stories, like the best songs, are about more than just one thing. They are about what it means to be human, and because of this, they resonate.

A skilled storyteller (or lyricist) knows how to embed gems for us to mine out. That’s the wonder of the reread, the unexpected treasures.

This weekend I am reminded of wisdom hidden in an unlikely place: The Hundred Acre Wood.  A. A. Milne had much to say about life, but he allowed his imaginary friends to do the talking.

pooh-freezingHere are some of my Poohish favorites:

“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

~ o ~

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.pooh-braver

~ o ~

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

~ o ~

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”pooh-consideration

~ o ~

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?”

~ o ~

“I do remember, and then when I try to remember, I forget.”

See what I mean? Profound, powerful stuff.
Perhaps I ought to hang out in The Hundred Acre Wood more often!

pooh-shadowsIf you’d like to read more about the transformative power of fiction, check out  S. D. Smith’s excellent article 5 Reasons You Need Fiction.



Laura Hile (1)