Archive for October, 2012


October 26, 2012


Last Monday at 1:00 I came in from the garage before my husband, and had barely registered the fact that, for some ridiculous reason, I had left my office light on when, right behind me, John said, “The office light is on.”

I put an armload of grocery bags on the floor and headed for my office, feeling really stupid and a bit bewildered.  I never go off leaving office lights on, and as for the ceiling light–with its expensive and hard-to-find bulbs?  Make that double never.  But, it seemed (impossibly),  I done it anyway.

I walked past the bedroom hall, noticing the floor there only briefly, went in the office, turned off the light. Only then did the hall floor register.  A single winter glove lay on blue carpet.

“John, someone has been here,” I said, surprised at how calm, cool, and collected I felt.

At first glance, there were few signs we had had “The Visitor.”  But, as we began to search, signs of the intrusion were everywhere.  Most drawers had been tumbled and then closed, but three were such a mess they wouldn’t close.  My jewelry chest was emptied on top of my dresser. Two windows were partly open.  Two doors had been unlocked, one was pulled slightly open.  (Deputies said the windows had probably been open so The Visitor could hear our car coming down the unpaved lane.) Drawers in my closet/dressing room, including those holding costume jewelry, were disturbed–you could see the mess through the clear plastic fronts. I still haven’t found anything missing there.

After I called the sheriff’s office for our county, we began a cautious and more careful walk-through survey while we waited for deputies.  John and I didn’t talk much, just called out a list of missing items or disturbances as we found them.

John:  (From his office upstairs.)  “My Nook Tablet is gone, and my bag of cash for book sales. It had $100 in it. The laptop is here, though.”

Radine:  “Glassware is tumbled out of the cabinet in the kitchen. Nothing broken.

John: “The gold ring with my initials that you gave me.”

Radine: “They didn’t take the gold charm bracelet I left on the bathroom counter. Thank God for that. Every charm means a lot. ”

John: “I was wearing my gold chain necklace.”

Radine: “The bottom drawer of the small jewelry chest in the guest room is entirely empty, and I can’t remember what was in it.”

And so it went. I’m sure we’ll still be finding something missing even a year or more from now.
This was not the first time.  Many years ago our home in Tulsa was broken into and robbed while we were at work.  A window was broken to give access. Inside, the intruder used a kitchen knife to break a larger hole in my treasured pink china piggy bank where the coin slot was.  Coins were, it was obvious, removed through the hole. The pig’s snout, an easily removable cork with a ring in it, was undisturbed.  Funny.  I recall watches were stolen, some money, but that’s about all I still remember about the “take.”

We had wrought iron bars put on accessible windows, I mended the pig, and life went on.  But I felt as if our home had been raped, and I had somehow been violated myself. That memory is still clear.

What’s even more interesting is that I felt none of that this time. I didn’t even feel anger at the intruder. There was no vandalism and, other than the almost-hidden search everywhere (there were those spilled glasses, the three drawers that wouldn’t shut, and the tell-tale glove on the floor), no other visible sign of The Visitor except for unlocked windows and doors.) The window used to gain access wasn’t even harmed.  The Visitor used a garden tool to force the window open, but it gave without breaking. My pink pig was set out of its niche, but it held its original quarters, and the cork was still in place.

The deputies asked if we wanted them to check for fingerprints.  I said I was sure every grade school child would know enough to wear gloves for this type of thing, checking anything except for the tool used to gain access would not be necessary.  They agreed, so I was spared black, greasy smudges all over the house.  (No fingerprints on the tool. Of course not.)

What about drugs, probably, the deputies suggested, the primary reason for the invasion?  Nope, unless you count Tylenol.  They left that, and a some almost-empty allergy medication forgotten by a guest.

Honestly?  I think The Visitor was interrupted when our car turned into the rocky drive to our house in the hollow.  Why?  I initially typed in my preliminary report that I was missing a gold stick pin, a large repousse heart necklace charm on a chain, and my brother’s gold color Navy insignia.  When I had time to check more thoroughly, I found those three items in a black velvet bag still among the mess on the dresser.  There are other signs that hint at a hasty exit out the back door and through the woods to a car up on the road somewhere.

We have taken new precautions, followed some ideas suggested by the deputies.  I occasionally feel a twinge of concern when we both leave home for errands. But, over all, there is a lot to be grateful for.  For one thing, as we straighten up, we are filling bag after bag with excess “stuff” to take to the “Care and Share” shop in town.  We have The Visitor to thank for that.


Do I really want to be a writer . . . ?

October 13, 2012

Before I wrote my first book I spent a number of years writing essays and feature articles for magazines and newspapers. The editors I connected with, almost without exception, welcomed my writing about the Ozarks. I grew used to seeing my byline in print.

Then came my first book. It was non-fiction, a collection of previously published pieces, plus new writing and a story line. This recording of the Nehring’s transition from too-busy city career people to Ozarks homestead dwellers became “DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow. ”

The book sold to a publisher in 1993.   In 1995 my first book appeared in hard cover.

Now, what?  Back then a platform was “raised flooring or stage for speakers, performers, or workers to use.” Or it could be “a declaration of principles by a group–such as a political party.”  Back then, a platform had nothing to do with my work as a writer. Back then I wasn’t even sure what part I was supposed to play in promoting my new book, other than a dim thought about going to bookstores in my area for signings.

But my publisher and editor did know.  I had a publicist assigned to me. I got suggestions for signing locations, appointments with radio talk show hosts, shipments of publicity packets, posters,  and flyers.  Ads for my book and reviews in important places appeared magically. I admit that, during this time, I felt as if I were standing aside, watching the world of promotion build around me. I did what I was told, and little more.  (I have often wondered if my publisher wanted to kick me in the behind. I’ve been afraid to ask, but we are still friends.)

Slowly I learned that I was an important part of a promotion team, but, even then, the work was far from stressful. I made new connections. I worked with friends I had already made through my work  for both print and broadcast media.  (In addition to my writing, I researched, wrote, and performed a fifteen-minute radio program about the Ozarks for ten years.) I had signings in bookstores I already knew well as fulfillment sources for my reading addiction.

Skip to 2012 — seventeen years and seven books later. Up early and in my office to check e-mail because early morning is the best time to make connection on our feeble Internet. We still live in Spring Hollow amid a forest. Satellite is unreliable and expensive. There is no DSL, no cable, no high-speed anything. Cell phones don’t work here. For years we suffered with dial-up Internet, and a couple of years ago, the availability of Verizon MiFi seemed a miracle. What we didn’t know (and the salesman didn’t tell  us) is that we are on the very edge of their coverage area. For large files or sending photographs, we have to drive nearer the Verizon tower to access a good connection. Forget U-Tube, video files, or even time to connect to many sites I want to be part of.

The need to promote has exploded, but not my ability to do it. On a good day I spend an hour or more in my office waiting for connections, twiddling with the computer and Verizon card to wake them up.  That’s time I can’t devote to writing or anything else.  I barely manage to receive and comment on blogs, take part in groups, read lists, click on posts of interest, mentor other writers, and initiate or respond to e-mail.

I’m still in my office when it’s time to think about supper.  (I usually work through lunch time.)  Probably partly because he gets hungry,  my dear husband has become adept at heating prepared food or left-overs.

My next novel (number eight in my mystery series) is bobbing around inside my head. I like what I am holding on to there.

I love writing of all types. I enjoy writing this blog. But, something has to give if I am going to start that novel, and people are already asking for it.

Where will I find time to begin Chapter One?


October 5, 2012

Humility about your work is a virtue.     Circle your answer:         True          False

My dictionary says to be humble is to offer submission, to be insignificant, unpretentious.  To humble someone is (by one definition) to “destroy the power,  independence or prestige of.”

Humility is defined as “the quality or state of being humble” and next to it is “humiliate,” which, I imagine, you can define for yourself.

So–is humility a virtue?   Most of us, including me,  would have circled “True” without giving it much thought.

Would you do so now?

Hmmm.  If the answer is still “True,” then think about this:  If we don’t value our own work, then why do we do it?  To have a job that isn’t too difficult?  To make money?  Or, simply, to keep busy?

On the other hand, I hope many of us will admit we like our work, and are proud of it.  Those of us who are writers may confess, “I enjoy creating stories, ”  “I love the power of language,”  “I love using my imagination to make new worlds,” or “I like helping people by doing research and sharing facts.”  (Or . . . . . . you fill in the blank.)

It’s amazing to me how many times I read some version of “I enjoy promoting others’ writing but not my own,” or, “It seems pushy for me to talk about my own work too much, ” or even, “I don’t want my name on the book cover to be that large.”

Come on! Isn’t it okay to be proud of what we create? There’s a lot of hard work in any job or profession, and much of the time those notengaged in an active writing career haven’t a clue that writing is hard work–which detracts from their appreciation of what the writer has accomplished. If you’ve been writing a while, haven’t you been approached by adults who tell you some version of, “I have thought I’d write a book like yours some day.”?   It’s possible–no, probable–that they haven’t a clue that writing a novel is hard work.   You may even have been approached by a few people who say “I have a terrific idea for a story, I’ll tell it to you, you write it, and we’ll split the profits.” (Are all writers reading this laughing now?)

If we don’t believe in our work,  if we aren’t truly proud of it, if we  don’t think it worth while and don’t tell people about it, then who else might?  Who better than the source of the work to promote the work, to say interesting things about it, to ask others to write words of praise, and, indeed, to brag a bit.

C’m on — you’re a creative person.  You know the difference between obnoxious bragging, and sharing ideas about writing that may (who are you to judge?) lift its readers to new insights, to an awakening, or, most importantly, to a few pleasant hours away from the daily grind while they simply enjoy (!) being entertained.

Go forth, and share good things with your neighbors.   Then you can be humbly grateful.  🙂