All Things GREAT and small
What a week it's been. I have so many wonderful things to be thankful for, so many positive thoughts rolling around. So, I'll get at sharing my PCT's-Positive CJ Thoughts with you, All things GREAT and small.
I spent last weekend floating in the river with my niece and one of my nephews.
My oldest nephew was at his Dad's. The twins had just returned from the beach the previous weekend and were excited to share with us all they'd done. The most incredible thing was that my niece had learned to swim without the aid of any flotation device. She's like a little fish and she took great pride showing us how well she could swim while we were with her. Her twin brother, not so much. He's still a bit scared of trying to swim unassisted. He's usually the dare devil of the pair, but swimming seems to be his Achilles heel. We swam, looked for fossils and tried to teach them to skip rocks.
They will all be with us for 'summer camp' in a few more weeks.
Riding their bikes without their training wheels is the list of things we are supposed to be helping them with while we have them...typing their shoes is in there too. Oh and learning to swim.
I'm not sure just a week with them is going to accomplish the learning to swim part, especially since we don't live close to a pool. The bike thing will definitely happen and their eight (getting ready to turn nine) year old cousin, is up for the challenge to help. He just learned this year to ride without his.
We love having all three with us, as they rarely get chance to be around each other for that long.
We have fun things planned with them, including making a piñata for Richard's birthday party, a trip to the water park, time at the "big river" to swim and fish, and a treasure hunt, have all made the list.
They are finally to the age that they can play together and not have to be supervised every single second…well, accept for Colin, he always requires supervision.
The other thing I'm happy about is…that we finally have some warm temperatures. Our strawberry season was less than stellar with the copious rain and cool temperatures.
Our tomatoes, peppers, carrots and lettuce are coming along nicely. It's been a rough season for farmers so far. We can only hope the remainder of the growing season will prove to be better.
I'm excited because my wife and I will soon be celebrating our fifteenth anniversary together. We have a short trip planned to see Evanescence with Lindsey Sterling in concert.
Now, you have to understand what a miracle it is for us to agree to a concert. I, am a hard rocker. Think Metallica, Five Finger Death Punch, Stone Sour,Halestorm and Evanescence. My wife is a, well, I don't know what category to put her into. If you go through her play list, you might hear Dolly Parton, then Lady Gaga, something from Jesus Christ Superstar, a Christmas montage from Mannheim Steamroller before you float into a version of Puff the Magic Dragon. To say her musical tastes are varied…is an understatement. What she doesn't like…is my music, period. This from a woman who has Meatloaf in her rotation as well but, hates my heavy metal Octane satellite radio station. When a friend of mine told me about a concert with Evanescence and Lindsey Sterling, (thank you JL) it was as if the heavens opened up and angels sang. SHE LIKES BOTH OF THEM!!! And so do I. Thus, our anniversary trip was planned. Small miracles great and small. We also have a trip to Myrtle Beach planned later in the year, so it's a win all the way around.
Today, we are headed to Pittsburgh. Tomorrow we'll be taking in Pirates a double header with our friend Kelly. This will be the first since her husband, our friend Chris, crossed home plate and is no longer with us.
We plan on a few ball games and several beers I'm sure. We know that he will be with us in spirit. Life is short folks, enjoy it while you can. Not a day goes by that we don't think of Chris and wish he was with us. What we will do, is continue to live in honor of his life and stay close with Kelly. He would want that.
On to the next thing great but small in my life.
I'm so thankful that we are getting a chance to watch Richard grow up in front of our eyes. His growth, emotionally and physically, is a joy to us. When he asks to come home and stay at our house, there is very little that warms my heart more.
Sometimes I feel like we are living out a skewed version of the movie "Second Hand Lions", right down to my wife liking meat much more than she does the vegetables we grow. We do our best to give him plenty of adventures along with guidance. He's going to turn out to be an incredible person, despite his rough beginnings, if we have anything to do with it.
LASTLY I have to be incredibly thankful that my book, 'frame by frame' was selected by the judges to receive a 2018 Goldie Award for Debut Novel, from the Golden Crown Literary Society.
I knew the conference was going on and that so many of my friends were there. My wife and I made a decision that we couldn't attend because we were concerned about Chris' health. We wanted to be nearby for Kelly. He passed some time before the conference, but our decision had been made.
Last weekend, as I floated in the cool river watching my wee ones, I didn't think of the awards that would be announced that night. We swam all day, made smores, and came home to collapse in bed, happy and exhausted. I honestly didn't think I had any chance at winning so I'd tried to put the anxiety of the wait, out of my mind.
I didn't even hear the text that immediately came in from a friend closely monitoring the proceedings, or the dozen or so congratulatory Facebook messages I got, announcing that I had won. I found out the next morning while sipping my coffee on the porch by reading an email from my publisher and by scrolling through my timeline feed. I came inside and told my wife, "Holy shit, I won!" She was a bit confused until I explained. After that, I couldn’t keep up with the congratulations coming my way.
I was elated for my publisher Desert Palm Press and its founder, Lee Fitzsimmons.
Lee had to cancel her plans of going to the conference when her mother took a turn for the worst. I was hoping she could be there to enjoy the win for the publishing house she created. I am eternally grateful to her for so many things.
Sadly, I know that there are many great authors out there that will never have their name read from the podium for a variety of reasons. I've listened to and respect everyone's opinions and feelings about all things related to the awards and the organization behind them. I tried not to let other's disappointments or negative experiences take anything from what my book accomplished. I've tried hard to hold onto the joy of the moment. I can tell you that at times it was difficult. I even asked everyone to express the same level of kindness to all those who won and to those who didn't. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of reading a thread and a comment that suggested the awards are now not as valid because there were four winners in my category. The organization made a decision to offer a different formula for how many awards are given out to be based on the number of entries.
The individual's comment left me questioning if my Goldie meant less because it was one of four instead of a single winner. I know, I shouldn't let anyone else influence how I feel about my Goldie, but it stung. I'm trying to hold onto the joy associated with friends, far and wide, celebrating my hours and hours of work. We were actually trying to finish our new home while I was writing and editing 'frame by frame' . We were trying to meet a bank deadline to polyurethaned the entire house inside and out, sometimes after dark by work lights, while I was trying to meeting editing deadlines. There was also a great deal of family drama going on over my nephew at the time and much to worry about. Thank you Lee for being so patient.
My wife and I were both working full time jobs and farming during the process as well. Writing and editing took a great deal of time away from my family and cost me many sleepless nights. Time, in my world, is a very precious commodity.
On weekdays, I wake up at 4am. I do this so that I can get to work at a decent hour in order to be able to come home to the farm while there still is good light to accomplish the tasks that need done. I spent stolen hours in my chair on Saturday mornings when there was work to do and late nights when I should have been sleeping, to make 'frame by frame' the best I knew how.
I spent many hours, coffee in hand, my computer on my lap, typing and editing away on to tell the story of Val and Laurel. I am beyond grateful that the judges felt my work was strong enough to warrant moving to the finalist round. My sincere thanks to the readers who took the time to purchase and post reviews. These words do not come close to how I feel about each and every one.
I am grateful to Isabella of Sapphire Books Publishing, who picked up my award to take to Lee. Eventually, it will find it's way to my house.
I wrote an acceptance speech when I thought I might be going. Call it wishful thinking. So, in honor of 'frame by frame', and it's Goldie for Debut Novel, here is the acceptance speech I prepared.
First, I'd like to thank the GCLS and its judges for this award. It is truly an honor for someone who started this adventure as an answer to my wife's challenge of-'write me a story'. I could never have imagined that less than a year ago, my story, 'frame by frame', would be a published novel.
To dream this big would have been impossible. Thank you.
Lee Fitzsimmons of Desert Palm Press, how do I even begin to express my humble gratitude at being in your author stable? You will never know what getting that acceptance email meant to me. I can only hope our next endeavors are just as fulfilling.
To my editor, Kellie Doherty, my extreme gratitude for making the final product of 'frame by frame' readable.
Marie Logan, you've talked me off the ledge more times than I can count and reading this story over and over and over. Thank you for always encouraging me to keep writing.
To my Beta readers and friends, your help and encouragement have been invaluable.
AJ Adaire, how do I say thank you in a meaningful way for your Yoda like wisdom and mad surgical skills used in performing a splenectomy on this story?
No one wields a sledgehammer like you. Thank you for all your time and mentoring.
(Pardon the 'borrowing' of your Facebook pictures but given the cover for 'frame by frame' I couldn't resist)
Without the readers, 'frame by frame' would never have gotten the attention it did. Rarely do new writers get the chance to make a solid connection with those who will champion their novel. I have been blessed with you who make up so many gears the lesbian literature machine.
Finally, to my loving wife of fifteen years, Darla. In every story I write, pieces of our lives are included in tribute to you and the love we share. Thank you for saying 'I do' twice.
Lastly, I can't have an attentive audience and not ask that you make sure you have working smoke alarms in your homes with a plan of escape in the event of an actual emergency. Yes, it is that important to me.
I dedicate this award to Chris and Kelly Stadelman, who've taught me that life is more about the dash in between, than the dates before and after.
Chris lost his battle in May. I think of him when I say… Don't just dream it, live it.
I don't have any updates on my current novel, The Bucket List. It's still at the editors. Until then, enjoy the 'Goldie Award Winning' novel, 'frame by frame' , available from your favorite retail outlets.
Until next week, try to enjoy all your blessings, GREAT and small. Life is to short not to. PLAY BALL!!!