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Archive for August, 2019

The Best Part about Getting Older | by Linda Brendle

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BFOR Blog Blitz – Day #29

Meme for BFOR 0829 postSeveral days ago my 16-year-old grand niece posted this meme on Facebook, and I responded with the obligatory laughing emoticon. I remember when I was her age, and our generational slogan was “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” I never really felt that distrust, but I did feel like anyone who was thirty was pretty much past their prime. Now that I’m well over twice that age, my perspective has changed. I no longer feel like there’s nothing good about getting older. In fact, I have found it to be quite enjoyable, and here are some reasons why.

Fashion

I’ve never been what you’d call a fashionista, but there was a time when I tried to keephigh heeled boots up with current trends in clothes, make-up, hairstyles, and especially shoes. I loved shoes and would have had a pair to go with every outfit if I had the budget for it. After my brother told me I walked like an elephant when I strode past him in my first pair of three-inch heels, I practiced long and hard until I could glide in a pair of stilettos with nary a turned ankle. I did manage to turn a few heads, though.

After several decades, back surgery, and months of physical therapy, I had to modify my heel height. I mourned the loss until I stumbled into a conversation with some of the younger women in my office. They were all sporting fashionable boots with four-inch spikes and were comparing blisters and foot pain. I mumbled words of sympathy as I stood, comfortably smug in my sensible mid-heel pumps, and thought, “I’m so glad I’ve reached the age where I don’t have to do that anymore.”

Discounts

senior citizen discountIf you enjoy spending money, one of the really fun parts of becoming a senior citizen is the discounts. My first encounter with this truth was shortly after my fiftieth birthday. The rolling over of another decade had been hard on me. I had just moved to a new town for a new job, so I was feeling old and alone. Then, I went to the bank to open a new account and discovered that, because of my advanced age, I qualified for free checking. That was when I decided that getting older wasn’t so bad after all. Since then, I’ve discovered that many businesses offer senior discounts including restaurants, movies, hotels, hair stylists, and even grocery stores. If all I have to do to get lower prices is live long enough to have gray hair and wrinkles, I’m all for that.

Grandchildren

I probably should have put this one first, but I wrote this in no particular order. Proverbs

T and Zoe 081319

These are mine!

17:6 says “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,” and that was before Facebook gave us a worldwide place to brag about them. It is the privilege – and duty – of grandparents to love, dote on, indulge, and totally spoil the youngest generation without the burden of day-to-day reality. There is no way to describe the feeling when your son hands you his firstborn and says, “Meet your grandson.”

 

Slower pace

One of my favorite aspects of being older is the slower pace. I’ve always been more of a tortoise than a hare, and after many years of running to keep up, it feels as if life is finally slowing down to match my pace. Much of that is by hare reading a bookchoice as my husband and I have left city life in favor of a small town in East Texas where the two most exciting events of the year are Founder’s Day and the County Fair. I worked part-time at my church until the first of this year, but even then my hours were flexible enough that I gave up setting an alarm clock. Now that I’m retired, I rarely schedule anything before 9:00 or 10:00 am, and slow and easy is the order of the day at the Brendle household.

The absolutely best part about this slower pace is that there is plenty of time for reading. I’ve always been a reader, slipping off into the living room with a book while the rest of the family was gathered around the TV or getting lost in a library book instead of cramming for a test during study hall. Now no one questions the time I spend reading or writing. In fact, the mental exercise is encouraged as a way of keeping the older brain active and healthy.

BFOR

One thing I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older is that there are more books than I’ll be able senior citizen readingto read in my lifetime, so I have to choose wisely. I was thrilled when I came across BFOR on Facebook. Books for Older Readers (BFOR) is a group that was established in October 2017 to promote books with older protagonists and/or themes such as ‘second chances’ which tend to appeal to readers in mid-life or beyond.

BFOR has a website where you can find lists of books and authors that will appeal to all ages but have a special attraction to those of us in middle age and beyond because of the age of the characters and/or the subject matter. The book lists feature short descriptions, book covers, and buy links. BFOR also has a Facebook Group where you can interact with other authors and readers who share your interests and concerns.

Website http://www.booksforolderreaders.co.uk/home/4594074088

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/196728670867979/

So, this is my answer to my grand niece’s question. What would your answer be? What do you think is the best part of growing older?

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

Kitty Welcomes Us Home | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on August 27, 2019:

gravity watererDavid and I made a quick trip to Louisiana for some family business last week. We left Thursday morning and returned Saturday afternoon. If we’re going to be gone for a week or so, we line up someone to come in and check on Kitty, but for a couple of days, Kitty does fine on her own. All she needs is a liter-and-a-half of water in her gravity waterier, half a dozen scoops of food in her large food bowl, and a clean litter box, and she’s good to go.

I think she probably slept most of the time we were gone because I didn’t see anything broken or even out of place, but she was glad to see us. She ran back and forth between us for petting until David went across the street for coffee with Charles. After that, she settled down in her condo for a nap. She did visit me long enough to rub her chin on the edge of my computer table and let me scratch between her eyes for a couple of seconds. But when she tried to bite me, I withdrew my hand, and she went back to her nap. (more…)

Happy National Senior Citizen’s Day by Linda Brendle

Anaiah Press hosted me on their blog today – National Senior Citizens Day. When did this holiday begin, and what’s it all about?

Anaiah Press

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

What does it mean to be a senior citizen? An Internet search for the answer to this question turned up a number of answers, but nothing really definitive. Most sources agreed that a senior citizen is an older person; however, there was no agreement on one specific age at which one reaches this status. Even the government doesn’t have a single standard. Social Security benefits are available beginning at age 62, and Medicare eligibility begins at 65, but the “official” age of retirement according to the Social Office is 67.

To further complicate the issue, many business offer senior discounts – but the age requirement is anybody’s guess. McDonald’s offers Senior Coffee to guests 55 and older, most movies offer discounts to customers who have reach 60 to 62 years of age, and many restaurants offer discounts beginning anywhere from 55 to 62.

Senior citizen…

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Community | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains  County Leader on August 20, 2019:

communityAccording to several on-line dictionaries, community is 1) a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common and 2) a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Last weekend I attended the 5th Annual White Chapel Girls Retreat at the White Chapel Bed & Breakfast in Mountain Home, Texas. Every year about this time, a dozen women withdraw from everyday responsibilities and gather for Bible study and prayer along with lots of food and fellowship.

Before it became a B and B, the site of the retreat was simply the home of Julee White, a Donkey twinswoman with a heart that is much bigger than the six acres on which she lives. She has the gift of hospitality, and because of this, she has become the go-to place for strays of all kinds. At present, she has 4 dogs, 4 cats, 7 goats, and 3 donkeys in residence. The dogs and cats have free access through a pet door into the laundry room where they find a variety of food and water dishes which, although intended to be species specific, are often shared equally. The donkeys and goats share their food with each other as well as with the small herd of deer that sidle over when they hear the door to the feed shed squeak open. In addition to the four-legged critters, Julee feeds her feathered friends from countless hummingbird and regular bird feeders. The deer have been known to help themselves to the spillage there as well. Because of her many mealtime guests, especially the goats who have become very well-rounded since coming to live with her, Julee originally named her place the F & H (Fat & Happy) Ranch .

Julee also has many human friends, and her home is a museum of their love. Her lawn is encircled by a walking path lined with yard art, and her front walk is embedded with mementos, all from people who love her. The interior of her home is filled with treasures, and she can tell you who gave her each piece and when.

ChapelHowever, the focal point is the White Chapel, also referred to as the Broken Chapel. Several years ago, Julee felt a Divine Call to build a chapel toward the back of her property. She tried to brush the idea off, but it wouldn’t go away. She wanted it to have special meaning, so she sent out a call to friends for materials that were broken or discarded from other projects, and the response was overwhelming. The resulting chapel is more than can be described in this small space, but it is all she had imagined and more.

In 2014 Julee received a call from two friends who wanted to organize several women’s retreats, and they wanted to know if she wanted to participate. “Now I know why God wanted me to build the Chapel,” she said through tears. “Can we have one here?”

Friend invited friend, and in August of 2015 ten women invaded Julee’s home for the first annual White Chapel Girls Retreat. We were all a little uneasy at first. Some of us knew only one other person, and the teacher had never done anything of this scope, but Julee wasn’t fazed. She spread air mattresses on the floor, pulled casseroles out of the freezer, and by the end of the long weekend, we were all Fat and Happy sisters.

Five years later, the F & H Ranch has become the White Chapel Bed & Breakfast, and the White Chapel Girls, now an even dozen, have become a community. For most of the year, we live in places scattered across the country, but for one weekend a year we live together. I don’t know if that qualifies us as a community, but we definitely have a particular characteristic in common – we all believe in Jesus as our personal Savior. As for the second definition, that fits us to a Tee. Throughout the year, we share attitudes, interests, and goals through Facebook and email so that each year there is a feeling of fellowship as if we had been apart days instead of months.

WCG with paintings

On our last night together, we shared Communion in the Chapel. Community and Communion come from the same root word, and one definition of Communion is sharing or exchanging intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level. As we communicated with God and remembered His sacrifice, we also looked around the circle and thanked God for each other.

Our world has become a scattered place where we can live, work, shop, and travel without ever seeing another person. But like Julee’s menagerie of birds and animals, we were made for community. “Reach out and touch someone” is more than a telephone company commercial.

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

Cool, Clear Water | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on August 6, 2019:

faucetwater-275x300In a First World Country like the United States, we tend to take the availability of safe, potable water for granted. Sure, there are complaints about chemical additives and other impurities in our tap water, and we spend millions on water filters and bottled water. In fact, we have specialty waters like artesian water, iceberg water, mountain water, mineral water, flavored water, vitamin water and so forth. But still, we assume water will come out of our faucets – until it doesn’t.

Last week I was coming home from a grocery store run when I passed some work in progress on the side of the road around the curve from our place. There was a backhoe as well as several city trucks that said something about “distribution” on the side. They were working in front of a house-in-progress, so I assumed they were bringing in water. As it turned out, I was right. (more…)

BFOR BLOG BLITZ – Interview with Cozy Mystery Author Karen Musser Nortman

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Today I’m taking part in the BFOR BLOG BLITZ and am sharing my interview with cozy mystery author Karen Nortman. Books for Older Readers (BFOR) is a group that was established in October 2017 to promote books with older protagonists and/or themes such as ‘second chances’ which tend to appeal to readers in mid-life or beyond. I will give you more information later along with the Facebook and website links, but right now I want to tell you about my special guest.

Head Shot Karen Musser NortmanKaren Musser Nortman, after 22 years as a secondary social studies teacher and 18 years as a test developer, returned to her childhood dream of writing mysteries. Her first series, The Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mysteries, sprouted from numerous camping trips in Iowa and through at least 24 other states. These mysteries center around a group of retirees who camp together and sometimes stumble over dead bodies. Six of the books have been designated IndieBRAG medallion honorees and three have been finalists in Chanticleer CLUE and Mystery and Mayhem contests. Most of the books are based on actual campgrounds.

Karen has two other series. The Time Travel Trailer series follows the adventures of Lynne McBriar who buys a vintage camper that turns out to be a time portal. The first in the series, by the same name, was the 2015 category winner in the Chanticleer Paranormal contest. The Mystery Sisters is a new series involving two seventy-something sisters who travel the country in a 1950 Studebaker, argue, annoy their relatives, and solve mysteries.

Karen has three children and eight grandchildren. She also loves reading, gardening, and knitting, and can recite the 99 counties of Iowa in alphabetical order.

Hi, Karen! Thanks so much for taking the time to visit with me today. I’ve read most of your books and have really enjoyed them. Since your books are mostly based on places you’ve been, I feel like I know you. But I still have lots of questions, so let’s get started.

 Which came first, camping or writing?

 I’ve always loved to write but did not do so seriously until after I retired. We tent camped with our children when they were young and then, as they got busier, we got away from it. In 2006, we decided to get back into it but not sleeping on the ground, so we bought a used travel trailer and have been avid campers ever since.

As a camper myself, I know that the lifestyle can be addicting – as can writing! When did you publish your first book, and what inspired you to write it?

I received a Kindle for Christmas in 2010 and that spring was looking for a light mystery to download for a camping trip. I thought it would be fun to read a camping mystery but at that time there weren’t any.  I began to consider what a great setting campgrounds are for mysteries. You have a variety of characters—many of whom are strangers—but you go about your daily chores and recreation in close proximity. There are lots of mishaps and humorous incidents. Because many are strangers, things happen that could have a sinister explanation. For example, once some people were camped across from us and on Friday night had a big campfire. The next day their vehicle was gone and we didn’t see anyone for three days. Their trailer was still there when we left and we never found out what happened. It was likely a family medical emergency or perhaps broken water pipes at home or some other simple explanation. Or it could have been that a serial killer murdered them all and stole their truck. We never found out. Nature is also a factor that can create threatening situations.

So when I retired that summer I decided I would start a series involving a group of retired friends. I particularly wanted my characters to be typical sixty-somethings—not decrepit fussbudgets named Mabel and Gertrude. (Those names are from an older generation.)

I love how your imagination works! I have noticed that your books, at least the ones I have checked, are self-published. Have you always gone this route? If so, why?

Cover Bats and BonesWhen I finished my first book in 2012, Bats and Bones, I began looking for an agent. There was some interest and I was really excited when an agent in New York who handles several successful cozy series asked to see the full manuscript. After I sent it, I read that you need to allow an agent at least six months to look at a full manuscript; if they take you on, another year to find a publisher; and another year to actually get the book in print. I was 69 at the time—I was afraid that I might not live long enough to see my book published!

At the same time, I read quite a bit about the emerging self-publishing scene. I withdrew my manuscript from the agent and published my book through Amazon’s Kindle Direct and CreateSpace programs. That first one involved a pretty big learning curve but I have it down pretty well now.

I like the fact that I have complete control over my schedule, my covers, my pricing, and my book design. I worked for eighteen years for ACT, the testing company, where a typo or poorly worded question could result in a lawsuit, so I think I am a pretty good editor. We also formatted all of our tests for print so I had experience in that. Marketing is the big challenge but it is my understanding that, unless you are Stephen King or Louise Penny, you have to do your own marketing anyway.

So true! When you began to write, why did you settle on cozy mysteries as your genre of choice?

I have always loved mysteries, including police procedurals and thrillers, but my favorites early on were Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. Later Martha Grimes and numerous cozy writers attracted me. Cozy mysteries are very character driven and I love good characters. In a series that’s especially important so that each book is like spending time with old friends. Sometimes I think I should put my efforts into more serious writing, but then I get a message from a reader, like the one who said my books were just the escape she needed during her mother’s Hospice care. That’s very gratifying.

Yes, knowing that your stories have touched someone is one of the best parts of being a writer. I began my writing with memoirs, so I wrote about my experiences. Have you ever experienced any of the mysteries you have written?

We have experienced some incidents that became the catalyst for a book. For example, The space Invaderwe were pulling our camper through New Mexico a couple of years ago when we were stopped in a roadblock. They were looking for two escaped convicts who they thought may have stowed away in a camper, car trunk, or pickup bed because there is nowhere in that part of New Mexico for anyone to hide along the road. Our camper had been locked since morning and they let us go on. But later I realized that sometimes we forget to lock the outside storage compartments and two of them were big enough for a person. Fortunately, we had no stowaways but the incident became the germ for The Space Invader.

I’ll bet you were more careful about locking those compartments after that! When you begin a project, what does your writing process look like?

to cache a killerMost of my books have centered around an event, location, and/or activity. The Frannie Shoemaker books include ones about biking, storytellers, county fairs, geocaching, snowstorms, New Mexico and the Michigan UP. Once I decide what the ‘theme’ is, I think about how a crime might be connected to that activity. Geocachers wander around in remote areas looking for hidden caches, so it stands to reason that they might also find a body. (To Cache a Killer) When we toured the Michigan UP, I was intrigued by the glass-bottom boat tours to view shipwrecks, but what if a dead body appeared in the viewing window (Real Actors, Not People)? In Foliage and Fatality, the second Mystery Sisters book, the sisters volunteer to help at a haunted house fund-raiser. What better place to hide a dead body?

Then when I know what the crime is, if I’m smart, I figure out a time line. How was the murder committed? What was the killer doing before and after? How can he/she be caught? If I don’t take the time to outline that and just start writing, I paint myself into a corner and have to rewrite.

And rewrites are not a writer’s favorite thing to do. Speaking of favorites, which has been your favorite series or character to write?

That’s like asking if I have a favorite child. Each series has been enjoyable for different reasons. Frannie and her friends are, I think, typical retirees. They have strong friendships, but not without some irritations. They have pet peeves and limitations. They have solid marriages and respect for each other. They also have long standing jokes and insults that just confirm their membership in the group.

The Time Travel Trailer series is special to me because I love history. The original book was intended as a stand alone and started because I have always wished I could have known my grandparents as two-year-olds or pre-teens or newlyweds. I enjoy researching the historical periods that the trailer travels to. The next one may be connected to the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa in 1959—the night the music died. I grew up near there and the Surf was the hot spot in our lives.

The Mystery Sisters series is patterned after my grandmother and her sister-in-law who did travel the country in an old Studebaker and argued all of the time. So this way I get to travel with them.

The Mystery Sisters is your latest series of books. Have we seen the last of Frannie Shoemaker?

Double Dutch DeathAbsolutely not. I wanted to get three Mystery Sisters books out to establish the series, and I just finished the third, Double Dutch Death. I have already started the next Frannie, Corpse of Discovery. The location is based on Lewis and Clark State Park on the Missouri River in western Iowa. There is an annual celebration there of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (the Corps of Discovery) and it includes a fur trader reenactment. An event with hatchet throwing contests and knife makers sounds like it has lots of possibilities for a murder.

Wow! I can’t wait. Thanks so much for stopping by and giving us an inside look at Karen Nortman.

You can find Karen and her books at the links below:

Double Dutch Death 

Amazon Author Page

Website 

Facebook 

Twitter 

Books for Older Readers has a website where you can find lists of books and authors that will appeal to all ages but have a special attraction to those of us in middle age and beyond because of the age of the characters and/or the subject matter. The book lists feature short descriptions, book covers, and buy links. BFOR also has a Facebook Group where you can interact with other authors and readers who share your interests and concerns.

Website 

Facebook 

Blessings,

Linda

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