Life is Brutal…

Little did I know when I went on hiatus in March that I would not be back to Literate Lives until mid-June. A lot has happened since that last post:

My son is not only out of ICU, he’s been released from skilled nursing, residential physical therapy, and is home. We praise God for how he has recovered! He has regained the use of both arms; he can walk again, although with a cane, he can talk again, and most wonderful of all his personality and intellect remain unchanged by the accident.

One week into my son’s two-plus weeks in ICU, I got a call from my stepmom telling me my dad, who was in hospice care with Alzheimer’s, was not predicted to hold out more than a day or so. My husband and I rushed to Washington, where we spent the next two days at Dad’s bedside. I am so grateful I was able to be there, able to tell him how much I love him, and talk about all my wonderful memories as his daughter. Although he remained unconscious, I held his hand, prayed his ears were still working and somewhere deep inside him he knew how greatly he is loved, and was able to kiss him good-bye his last night.

I got sick on the way home from Washington, and as usual asthma prolonged the illness for two weeks–two weeks I could not go to see my injured son.

I had a couple of routine weeks. My son left the hospital for skilled nursing. Then Easter Sunday, I felt so exhausted, I came home from my daughters Easter Breakfast, went back to bed, and slept the whole afternoon. The glands in my neck were completely swollen, I was physically wiped out, and I kept popping off-and-on fevers. For the next two weeks, my doctor tried to figure out what was wrong, finally narrowing the potential diagnosis down to lymphoma or mononucleosis, although she was convinced it couldn’t be mono because of my age (Adults do not get mononucleosis). Finally after more tests and almost another week of worrying and feeling half dead, we got the news: It was mono. Hurray–Oh, no! Because I was so contagious, I had to miss my dad’s memorial service.It took more time to recover from the mono (and all this time I was missing work). Just as I was nearly healthy enough to return to my teaching job, I caught a cold. A cold, plus asthma, meant two more weeks out, and then…the cold turned into pneumonia! I didn’t return to work until June.

This has been a very difficult and emotional season, but as Piper says in the quote, God has been good. I am so grateful for my son’s recovery and so grateful not to have lymphoma. In all this time I’ve had to rest and recuperate, I have been so touched by the many kindnesses of the people in my life. In addition, I have come to realize how much I love my job and the people I work with, and how much I love writing and blogging.

At present, because I am still recuperating, I am only going to commit to one blog post/week. However, as I grow stronger and require less rest, I intend to get back to my two-day per week schedule.

So, welcome back to Literate Lives (and welcome if this is your first visit)!

Please use the comment space below to share some quotes that help you through tough times. Also, if you’d like, let me know what kind of content you are interested in seeing this summer.

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October Book Log + One, Teensie, Tiny Cheat

Confession time: I only read one whole book in October. Yes. I admit it.

(“Some literate lifestyle model she is,” one might mutter.)

However, I must plead extenuating circumstances. The book I am reading during Reboot at school is one I started in September. It is larger than standard size and over 300 pages in length. Today I finally began the last section.

I also started three other books in October, and one of them I finished reading November 1. That’s my cheat. I don’t want to wait a whole month to talk about it.

The Only Book I Finished in October

248377The only book I finished in October is actually the second book in a series, The Farsala Trilogy, by Hilari Bell. The first book, Fall of a Kingdom, I picked up in the school library back in 2014. It took me a year to find book three of the trilogy, and finally last summer, I found book two: Rise of a Hero. In this novel Bell follows the lives of the three protagonists from book one–the daughter of the general of the Farsalan army, the illegitimate son of this same general, and the itinerate peddlar (and traitor who betrayed the Farsalan army to the conquering Hrum.) The kingdom has just one more chance to throw off the yoke of their enemy, and each of the three works in his or her own way to thwart their conqueror.

It was so easy to slip back into the world of Farsala, even though two years had passed since my first read. Each of the main characters, while distinctly flawed is also quite sympathetic. Your heart aches with theirs over all that has passed, and yearns with them for their world to be set right. I highly recommend both books one and two of this series and can hardly wait to read book three, Forging the Sword. (And I won’t be waiting another two years!)

My Teensie, Tiny Cheat

18580As I said earlier, I did start three other books in October, and I finished one on November first–Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Greene.

I had many preconceived notions about this book and, wow, was I wrong. I knew before I read it that it was about a girl who shelters an escaped German prisoner during World War II, and for some reason I thought it was a romance (hence the amount of time it took for me to get around to reading it.) However, this is not a sappy love story about a young woman sheltering a handsome enemy. Instead, it is the gripping story of a Jewish girl, growing up in an abusive household in 1940’s Arkansas, who struggles to find a way to a sense of self-worth and hope for the future, and how her life is changed forever by her friendship with a German P.O.W.

The book deals with child abuse, racial issues, and xenophobia. It is dark and painful, yet through her focus on relationships and Patty’s love of learning, Greene is able to hold out hope–for both Patty Bergen and our world.

What Books Made Your October Reading List?

Please share in the comments any books you’d recommend.

Motivation for Writers: Wonderful Words Describing Why I Write

Writing Yesterday morning, as I was reading some of the blogs I follow, I came across this post, “Some Thoughts on Hope, Cynicism, and the Stories We Tell Ourselves,” on Brain Pickings, which is excellent reading, in and of itself.

However, I was most moved by portions of a  quote shared from William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, moved enough to seek out the speech in its entirety. After discussing the world-wide angst triggered by the development of the atomic bomb and the cold war, Faulkner says:

I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his head, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars, to help him endure and prevail.

Such beautiful, ringing, and inspiring words! I wish I’d written them. I long to write words like them, to tell stories that do exactly what Faulkner is charging the artists of the world to do.

As a children’s and YA author, I love that one of the trademarks of our corner of the literary world is that we not only try to write true, to write real–even in the fantasy realms, but we also strive to leave our readers with hope.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, as a lover of people in all our wide variety of lives, and hopes and dreams, as someone who appreciates the goodness we are capable of doing and the beauty we are able to create, I am committed to bring my readers a vision of hope.

What motivates the writer in you?

Wonderful Words! From: Ursula Le Guin’s The Langauge of the Night Part 3

51TRh2ipMYL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_This week, I have been culling quotes from Ursula Le Guin’s The Language of the Night. Today’s post looks at the conclusion to her National Book Award Acceptance Speech for The Farthest Shore:

At this point, realism is perhaps the least adequate means of understanding or portraying the incredible realities of our existence. A scientist who creates a monster in his laboratory; a librarian in the library of Babel; a wizard unable to cast a spell; a space ship having trouble in getting to Alpha Centauri: all these may be precise and profound metaphors of the human condition. The fantasist, whether he uses the ancient archetypes of myth and legend or the younger ones of science and technology, may be talking as seriously as any sociologist–and a good deal more directly about human life as it is lived, and as it might be lived, and as it ought to be lived. For after all, as great scientists have said and as all children know, it is above all by the imagination that we achieve perception, and compassion, and hope.

This is such an important concept to remember, especially now, as our children, and grandchildren, and neighbors, and young friends enter the era of Common Core Curriculum. The role of fiction and imagination is being shrunk in the school child’s life in favor of analysis and evaluation. How are we going to make certain it does not get squeezed out entirely?

Why Write?

Ever since I began writing for publication, I have collected quotes about writing. Why? For inspiration, to learn from those who have gone before me, and to help justify the huge expense of time being a novelist requires me to invest in this endeavor.

Now it is a pleasure to look through my collection, savoring the words of writers on this craft we love. And sometimes as I browse, quotes appear in interesting juxtapostion with each other. Here is one such set of three:

“We have art so we shall not die of reality.” – Nietzsche

“You have to follow your own voice. You have to be yourself when you write. In effect, you have to announce, “This is me, this is what I stand for, this is what you get when you read me. I’m doing the best I can—buy me or not—but this is who I am as a writer.”— David Morrell

“Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom.

“That is why we write.” – Neil Gaiman

That is a very good reason to write, because someday my story or your story will reach a person who needs it. And maybe that story will not only help this person survive reality, but empower him or her to move forward into the future with a little bit more wisdom, a little more hope, and maybe even a desire to help someone else with their own overwhelming reality.