Friday, August 31, 2007

Thanks for the laugh Loretta

This is priceless and I can't believe that Loretta sent it to me. Does she secretly know that one of my biggest pet peeves is the dreaded PUBLIC RESTROOM! I hate them and after you read this little ditty below, it should be more than clear to you.

ISN'T THIS THE TRUTH ??????When you have to visit a public bathroom, you usuallyfind a line of women, so you smile politely and takeyour place. Once it's your turn, you check for feetunder the stall doors.

Every stall is occupied.

Finally, a door opens and you dash in, nearly knockingDown the woman leaving the stall.You get in to find the door won't latch. It doesn'tmatter, the wait has been so long you are about to wetyour pants! The dispenser for the modern "seat covers"(invented by someone's Mom, no doubt) is handy, butempty. You would hang your purse on the door hook, ifthere was one, but there isn't - so you carefully, butquickly drape it around your neck, (Mom would turnover in her grave if you put it on the FLOOR!), yankdown your pants, and assume " The Stance." In this position your aging, toneless thigh musclesbegin to shake. You'd love to sit down, but youcertainly hadn't taken time to wipe the seat or laytoilet paper on it, so you hold "The Stance."

To take your mind off your trembling thighs, you reachfor what you discover to be the empty toilet paperdispenser. In your mind, you can hear your mother's voice saying, "Honey, if you had tried to clean theseat, you would have KNOWN there was no toilet paper!"Your thighs shake more. You remember the tiny tissue that you blew your noseon yesterday - the one that's still in your purse. (Ohyeah, the purse around your neck, that now, you haveto hold up trying not to strangle yourself at the sametime). That would have to do. You crumple it in thepuffiest way possible. It's still smaller than yourthumbnail

Someone pushes your door open because the latchdoesn't work. The door hits your purse, which ishanging around your neck in front of your chest, andyou and your purse topple backward against the tank ofthe toilet. "Occupied!" you scream, as you reach forthe door, dropping your precious, tiny, crumpledtissue in a puddle on the floor, lose your footingaltogether, and slide down directly onto the TOILETSEAT. It is wet of course.

You bolt up, knowing all too well that it's too late. Your bare bottom has made contact with every imaginable germ and life form onthe uncovered seat because YOU never laid down toiletpaper - not that there was any, even if you had takentime to try. You know that your mother would beutterly appalled if she knew, because, you're certainher bare bottom never touched a public toilet seatbecause, frankly, dear, "You just don't KNOW what kindof diseases you could get."

By this time, the automatic sensor on the back of thetoilet is so confused that it flushes, propelling astream of water like a fire hose against the inside ofthe bowl that sprays a fine mist of water that coversyour butt and runs down your legs and into your shoes.The flush somehow sucks everything down with suchforce that you grab onto the empty toilet paperdispenser for fear of being dragged in too.At this point, you give up.

You're soaked by the spewing water and the wet toilet seat. You're exhausted. You try to wipe with a gum wrapper youfound in your pocket and then slink outinconspicuously to the sinks. You can't figure out how to operate the faucets withthe automatic sensors, so you wipe your hands with spit and a dry paper towel and walk past the line ofwomen still waiting.

You are no longer able to smile politely to them. Akind soul at the very end of the line points out apiece of toilet paper trailing from your shoe. (Wherewas that when you NEEDED it?? ) You yank the paperfrom your shoe, plunk it in the woman's hand and tellher warmly, "Here, you just might need this."

As you exit, you spot your hubby, who has long since entered, used, and left the men's restroom. Annoyed,he asks, "What took you so long, and why is yourpurse hanging around your neck?"

This is dedicated to women everywhere who deal with apublic restrooms (rest??? you've GOT to be kidding!!).It finally explains to the men what really does takeus so long. It also answers their other commonly askedquestions about why women go to the restroom in pairs.It's so the other gal can hold the door, hang ontoyour purse and hand you Kleenex under the door! This HAD to be written by a woman! No one else could describe it so accurately!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Blog Tour and Contest

I am hosting a drawing of the following book currently on a blog tour. Entering is easy! All you have to do is to post a comment at the end of this message with your name on it. At the end of the contest, I'll pick a winner and contact you for your name and address, and the author will send you a copy of this book.

Let me know if you have any questions! Good Luck

THE MEETING OF ANNI ADAMSThe Butterfly of Luxembourg

Story Recounts Metamorphosis of Survival
to finding American Dream
(Holly Hill, FL) Imagine living a life of security and comfort while traveling throughout central Europe with a famous professional gymnast--who just happens to be your father--with just one twist. You were born in 1926, and at the age of fourteen your entire world changes because of the Nazi invasion. Anni Adams survives the poverty, humiliation and uncertainty of the refugee camps and eventually returns to her home, where life is not the same. She quietly resists the submissive lifestyle of the Nazi rule for four years. Here she becomes a Catholic war bride to her American GI husband, following the liberation of her country.
The Meeting of Anni Adams: The Butterfly of Luxembourg shows how family and faith fuel Anni's survival through her evacuation into France and the years of German occupation of Luxembourg when she and her family are placed in labor camps and government prisons. Anni goes on to live a remarkable life in the United States, where she displays an uncanny ability to meet people of renown in the most unlikely circumstances. Anni's story is only one of countless others from this time period; she personifies the guts, grit, fortitude, faith and hope of that era. These virtues in the face of adversity create a beautiful butterfly. Each breathtaking "stain glass" pane of the butterfly's wings is yet another story of how Anni overcomes tremendous odds--the truest form of the American Dream come true.

Amazon's #1 Reviewer, Harriet Klausner, gives The Meeting of Anni Adams a FIVE STAR review. From Harriet's review:
This fascinating biography enables the reader to see how a teen survived WWII Nazi occupation. Anni does so by mentally going in and out of her cocoon made up of loving family depending on circumstances. She as "the butterfly of Luxembourg" gives the audience a deep insight into life under the German occupation. The American segment of her journey is also well written and rounds out the bio, but like the early years pales next to the four years under the Nazis. THE MEETING OF ANNI ADAMS : THE BUTTERFLY OF LUXEMBOURG is a deep look at how people survive the most harrowing nightmarish experiences caused by inhuman humans.

Author Lonnie D. Story (right), with Anni Adams (middle) and Bob Gaul, President of the Iowa Luxembourg American Society
August 2007 Author Lonnie D. Story's recounting of this part of Luxembourg's WWII history has been recognized by the Ambassador of Luxembourg to the United Nations, H. E. Jean Marc Hoscheit, the Ambassador of Luxembourg to the U.S., and H.E. Joseph Weyland. In fact, Story's work was lauded by the Luxembourg General Consul, Georges Faber, as a "magnificent, historically correct accounting of the hardships suffered" during the time period of his country's occupation and suppression. Story is a freelance writer residing in Holly Hill, Florida. He is currently working on his second book, Without A Shot Fired: The Dustin Brim Story, a true story about a U.S. soldier deployed to Iraq in full health who returns to discover he has aggressive, terminal cancer.

Anni Adams with the Arch Bishop of Luxembourg Fernand Franck (holding the book) at
Luxembourg Fest, August 2007.
Interview Questions:
Where did you birth the idea for this book? When? How did it come about?

The idea originally came from a business venture (idea.) I wanted to fill an niche market that no one appeared to be addressing and a need that left a large, untapped void. I thought I would write biographies for a living by limiting just to family members and that kind of thing. A biography of a person just for private use and not publishing. It appeared to be a chance encounter, but, I am fully persuaded that there is no such thing as coincidence. I met Anni in a flower shop in New Smyrna Beach, Florida where she worked part-time. She had wonderful stories to tell about her life and I found it so intriguing that I volunteered to write her biography for free as sort of a "guinea pig." The more we met and conversed the more convinced I was that she had all the potential, material and stories that would make a great book and then some! Thus we began the long, arduous, unseen adventure to "bookland."
How do you as a writer put together a book like this? Did you outline first or did you write down anecdotes and stories and then organize them into book format, or ???

I started with an outline but as time progressed and more stories came forth, the outline changed and metamorphed into the final working outline and finished product. Actually, I would write about one chapter a week, sometimes I would go weeks without writing anything. Once I had the "feeling" to write it was irresistible and I would write the entire chapter in one sitting, usually taking long hours into the wee hours of the morning such as 4 or 5 a.m. having started around 6 p.m, the evening before. I took a shotgun approach and only wrote what, where and when the feeling for a particular chapter manifested itself.
What sort of research was involved in writing this book?

There are no adjective or, at least, not enough here for proper English to express the intense, horrid, voluminous, meticulous, time-consuming research required for this work. I had to cover very minute details and print tons of pictures, maps and such and then screen it through Anni to get the story exactly right, factually, historically and evidentially.
How long did you take to write this?

I worked 12-16 hours a day (mostly 14-16 hours), 7 days a week for 7 1/2 months. I put aside all holidays, family gatherings, social invitations/engagements, etc. I stayed locked away in my one little bedroom at my sister's house only coming out to go to the store for supplies (food, water, etc.) and back to my "cave."
If your book is turned into a movie, which actress should play Anni?

Anni at 14-18: AnnaSophia Robb Anni middle years: Laura Linney Elder Anni: Glenn Close
What takeaway points do you hope the reader pulls from this book?

Never give up. Never quite, persevere, push, press and pray. I mean pray HARD!! Don't let go of God and don't stop nagging Him, pleading with Him, praising Him, thanking Him and wrestle with Him to the desire for death rather than giving up. Beside that, learn lessons the first as often as able, stay positive, hopeful, faithful and enjoy the shortness of life, each moment. Savor friends, family and life experiences no matter how good or bad. Faith, hope and love.
How did you become a writer?

Somehow it was there all along. I started reading and writing at age 4. By the time I started school, I was well ahead of my classmates. However, being ahead of the classmates caused me to be less "covered" by the teachers. The teachers rationed their time, typically, to the other students that needed more help. Because of this, I was less attentive in class and my mind wandered a lot into fantasies, visions and mental adventures. If I had the chance, I would write some of these things down or draw pictures of them.
Can you share something with our readers about what God has been teaching you lately?

If you can call 4 1/2 years "lately", then I would say PATIENCE! Other than that, I have had a supernatural development in my faith levels. I have always dreamed big, reached big and even failed big. But the God I serve is a big God. Bigger than my hopes, dreams and wishes, so the big answer more than anything else?? TRUST!!! Not in people, only God. Put confidence in people but never trust them, love them but don't rely on them. These are treasures for God only.
Please share a little about your family, your church and community involvement.

During the writing of the book I spent most of my time alone. I did take time out to call family or go to Anni's (which was usually 3 times a week), but mostly stayed sequestered. After the manuscript was finished I spent some time catching up but it was a very difficult thing. At the time both my brother and sister were terminally ill. I was the youngest of the three, the "baby", but also the one everyone turned to for help, advice and high expectations. My only community involvement was after the book and these were all events to bring awareness to Anni and the book. I donated hundreds of books to veterans for Memorial Day and Veterans Day, radio stations and churches, church organizations, etc. Because of what I had been through the year before starting the book, I took a long sabbatical from church. In place of this, I devoted many, many hours in prayer, deep, very deep study of the Bible and listened to Charles Stanley for hours on end each day over the Internet. At that time, his website had four years of cataloged sermons and I listened to all four years worth!! And many times each new message for the day, I would listen to 4-7 times in an afternoon or evening! Thank God for Charles Stanley!
Lonnie, tell us about your radio program--what does it consist of, and what format does it follow?What book are you reading now?

My radio program came about mostly out of frustration, hope and prayer. I missed being on the air (before my life's disaster, I had a Christian program for approx. 5 years), I felt it was a good venue to move forward and push harder the message on both my books. The program is called (of all things LOL) "Lessons Learned." I wanted it to be a talk news show. Very interactive with the listening audience. Taking our life experiences, historical events and history in general, teachings from much older generations and look at what we think the near future holds and try to turn it into applicable, valuable news for today. As for books, only one: My Bible. (I do have a stack I wish I could get to, I am dying to have some time to read but that is a dream and a wish. I won't let myself "taste" that reward until my mission with this book and the next is satisfied and successfully launched into readerland. When the income makes me debt free and time rich.)
What book is coming next?

The next book has been in the making for more than a year and a half. Like the first book, I entered it very naive, just when I thought I was capable. Uh UH!! The next book will have to be read about over the Internet, not enough room here. Just google "Dustin Brim," look for my name and read ALL about it.

Author is Available for Interviews. Click HERE to contact publicist for more details.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Thanks Be to God

Thank you St. Jude for your intercession---I am so grateful to you. I will never forget the miracle of being able to see my son Ryan, before he leaves for Bagdad.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Marie Chubrilo Weaving a prayer

Prayer Shawl Ministry
Karen Mahoney

Marie Chubrilo was a young girl when she took up crocheting.

The crochet needle and vivid bundles of yarn became comforting companions as Marie dealt with the blow of losing her young husband. It was 1953, and Marie was left to raise their three children by herself.

Marie, now 95, taught Kindergarten at Grant School for 25 years, and spent countless hours volunteering in the Kenosha community and at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, her home parish.

Crocheting became her way of passing the time, and is an art that Marie continues to do today. Over the years, she has crocheted intricate baby blankets and afghans for nearly every member of her family, including friends, and boyfriends and spouses of her children and grandchildren. But it wasn’t until she learned of a way to share her faith while creating the colorful works of art, that Marie felt the most fulfilled.

Tenderly weaving the hues together, Marie prays for the recipient of her crocheted masterpiece, as she is a busy member of the St. Elizabeth prayer shawl ministry. A ministry patterned after one begun in 1998 by Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo after a Women’s Leadership Institute in Hartford, CN. The two women combined compassion with their love of knitting and crocheting into a prayerful ministry to reach out to those in need of comfort and solace, health and healing. Many blessings are prayed into every shawl.

The shawl maker begins with prayers and blessings for each recipient and upon completion, a final blessing is offered before the shawl is sent on its way

After learning about the ministry two years ago, Marie has crocheted more than 100 since the program began; an impressive accomplishment, stated St. Elizabeth Pastoral Director
Marybeth Dreschler.

“Just from June 2006 to June 2007, we had 93 prayer shawls made, and out of those Marie made 45 and the other 48 shawls took seven people to make,” she said.

The shawls are given to people undergoing medical procedures, as a comfort after a loss or in times of stress, and to the elderly of St. Elizabeth’s who may be in need of some loving kindness.

“We are a parish of elderly, homebound and those in assisted living or nursing homes,” said Dreschler. “After I heard about this prayer shawl ministry at an Association of Pastoral Ministers on Aging, I thought it was good because whoever knits or crochets them prays for the recipient. It is tangible for older adults who can’t make it to church; when they look at it, they know we are praying for them.”

After driving herself to daily Mass and tending to her household chores, Marie takes the donated yarn and crochet needle and plans her unique style of afghan. She develops her own pattern and color combinations to create the 24 by 60 inch shawl. Each design takes about a week to complete, if she is feeling well.

“I always think that somebody in the family needs prayers and while I am crocheting, I can pray for them,” she said. “I also pray that I can keep going and that my health will make it, and truthfully, there are days when I pray that I can keep up and finish the shawl. So far I have finished.”

Her daughter Beth Zoephel of Kenosha reminds Marie that despite her occasional health problems, God isn’t finished with her yet, so she has to continue creating her prayer shawls.

“She also hasn’t taught me to do this yet and there is nobody to take over, so she has to do it” laughed Zoephel. “I have tried to crochet a couple of times, but it just hasn’t sunk in—I can’t seem to understand how to pick up a stitch yet.”

There’s something comforting, Marie will tell you, about putting so much time and love into something that will bring someone else joy. She may never meet these people or know their need, but the volunteers and staff at the hospitals, nursing homes or hospices do. Dreschler sees to it that those in need of a special prayer, whether they are terminally ill patients or those who are grieving, receive a prayer shawl.

“For those who are grieving, or suffering, it is something concrete to help them feel like God is with them,” Dreshler admitted, adding, “It is really a circle of love, where one person helps another and the blessings come back to the person who made the shawl.”

Often, Marie receives thank you notes or phone calls from recipients who were moved by the prayer shawl.

“It just gives me the shivers,” she said. “They are so surprised to receive them and they thank me over and over for making it for them. The notes are very touching and make me cry too. The whole time I am working on the shawl, I think that maybe a man would like this or maybe a lady would appreciate these colors, sometimes it turns out pretty and cheerful and someone may enjoy the cheerfulness—and it seems that the shawl goes to just the right person.”

According to daughter Anita Kostas, also of Kenosha, the opportunity to create the shawls gives her mother something meaningful to do.

“There is a lot of love and prayers going into these shawls,” she said. “Mom says a daily rosary and it gives these people something to hope with. A comfort in knowing that someone is praying for them, they feel the warmth and strength in the shawls.”

The blessings in making the shawls are as great as the prayers going into the shawl, and for Marie, it is her way of giving to others.

“I am limited as to what I can do, so I am so thankful that I have the honor to make them,’ she said. “I am very blessed as I do this for others.”

For more information on beginning a Prayer Shawl Ministry, contact Marybeth Dreschler at St. Elizabeth Church, 262-657-1156 ext 104.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Recent Catholic Herald Story on Internet

Parents: Do you know where your children are?
Beware of information superhighway’s dangerous detours
by Karen Mahoney

Sunburn, bee stings, cuts and poison ivy can take the fun out of summer. While keeping an eye on the outdoor health and safety of kids is important, overseeing the veiled indoor dangers is just as crucial. Blogs, personal Web sites, instant messaging and networking sites such as can be good ways of keeping up with friends during the summer months. A useful tool for children, the Internet can help kids do their homework, research a paper, read about their favorite television program or comic book character at home, school or in the library. While the Internet gives children access to millions of people, it gives millions of people access to them. It can be a dangerous place indeed, admitted Eric Szatkowski, special agent with the Wisconsin Department of Justice/Division of Criminal Investigation since 1991, who is assigned to the state’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force in Milwaukee. He specializes in investigating computer-based sexual predators of all types, including those who solicit children for sex online in chat rooms and through instant messaging and e-mail, as well as those who collect, distribute and/or create child pornography. MySpace ‘one of the scariest sites’ During a recent presentation of “The Dark Side of the Internet” to Waukesha Catholic Home and School Association, Szatkowski outlined examples of the online exploitation of children and offered practical advice for parents in keeping their children safe. One of the scariest social networking sites is MySpace, confirmed Szatkowski. “It’s become one of the most popular fads in the country in that almost every kid in middle school and high school has one of these sites,” he said. “It’s just in their eyes a cool thing to do. It’s their chance for their 15 minutes of fame.”MySpace allows individuals to create their own personal Web pages. The pages may share likes, dislikes, school activities, favorite movies, actors or musical groups. Some of the details frequently give online predators easy access into their lives. Teens may also provide provocative photos of themselves, seemingly innocent to themselves and their friends, but inviting the attention of unscrupulous outsiders. “They have become the new playgrounds for predators because kids put so much personal information about themselves on the Internet,” Szatkowski said, referring to sites like MySpace. “It is pretty scary; kids just don’t realize that there are so many perverts and creeps out there looking at this stuff.”In a June 2006 school newsletter, Jeffrey Johnson, principal of Racine St. Catherine High School, encouraged high school parents to monitor their teens’ involvement in MySpace and while using the Internet. “Parents, know your student’s Web site involvement and know how they interact online,” he said. “Staying in contact with friends and acquaintances is valuable and good. Let the trail students leave through their communications be one that promotes integrity and goodness. Let the destructive elements of Internet communication be expressions that students are willing to stay away from.”Educating children is important, Szatkowski said, but he is concerned about educating parents. While many tools and safety features are available to keep children safe, most often parents do not recognize the potential problem.“There is a vacuum of knowledge on the Internet,” he said. “Parents who have not been brought up in the computer generation just do not understand what their children can get into.”Safe alternativesAs a solution to the growing number of youth who are interested in social networking sites such as MySpace and FaceBook, FaithStreams network is safe alternative for online activity. Designed for 13- to 18-year-olds, FaithStreams network is not only safe, but it is designed to help congregations increase youth participation and membership. The newest offering by FaithStreams is, which serves as a digital, faith-based community and “electronic wing” where religious leaders and their youth members can co-coordinate activities, have discussions and communicate with one another. According to account director of FaithStreams, Melissa Sylvester, the service provides resources to enhance community outreach, support program activities, enrich spirituality and strengthen bonds with members. The first of the online communities, YouthRoots, allows participants to interact at anytime. “It is a powerful tool that lets youth leaders extend the reach of their programs through the Web, and build stronger faith connections with their members,” she said. “Leaders can create a group ‘portal’ with features such as forums for community discussions, calendars for promoting and managing events, publishing of original articles, photo galleries, and private messaging. A control panel puts overall group management and member permissions into the leader’s hands.”Similar to MySpace, individual members have their own pages with blogs, photo galleries, comments and private messaging features. Under the guidelines established by their leaders, members have control over who can view their individual pages. “All users have access to articles on issues of relevance to faith communities, to public forums and blogs; and to streaming radio stations that blend inspirational and positive, secular music for specific faith group audiences,” Sylvester said, adding, “YouthRoots provides leaders with the tools they need to interact with, involve and inspire their students.”Aware of the unsavory and unsafe online opportunities for youth, YouthRoots was created as a highly secure space where young adults can grow spiritually and socially, acknowledged Sylvester. “When a group leader launches a new group, he or she must identify a congregation with which that group is affiliated,” she said. “FaithStreams Network staff then personally contact the congregation to verify the leader’s identity. This is only the beginning of a very extensive set of security measures.”Each portal and member page has a permissions grid where the leader or member can determine what portions of their pages are visible to other members, friends, family, other YouthRoots members or the public. Similarly, group leaders and members can “opt-out” of the “find a group” or “find a member” functions, to preserve their privacy. Members are encouraged at the time of registration to choose a username that does not contain personally identifiable information. YouthRoots encourage leaders to invite parents, guardians or other responsible adults to the “family” role within the portal to encourage additional oversight of member pages and content within the group’s pages. Each page has an easy-to-locate “Report inappropriate content” link to alert the YouthRoots support team to suspicious or inappropriate images, comments or content for timely removal.Learning to use e-mail, Listserv (online discussion groups requiring a subscription), or Usenet groups (online discussion not requiring a subscription) are vital components in learning, exploring and having fun on the Internet. Just as important are safety features, such as software filters to block inappropriate content from kids, and practicing safe Internet habits with your children.The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests in a recent publication about online safety that setting rules for computer use should be similar to those used for television, movie and video rules. It is imperative for children to be wary of people on the Net who can be mean, rude or criminal. A few guidelines will help keep Internet usage safe, productive and fun. • Set limits on the amount of time your child can spend on-line each day or week. Consider using an alarm clock or timer in case you or your child loses track of time.• Do not let surfing the Net take the place of homework, playing outside or with friends, and pursuing other interests. • Make sure your child knows that people online are not always who they say they are and on-line information is not always private. • Never give out personal information or credit card information.• Never share passwords. • Never arrange face to face meetings unless parents approve and will accompany the child. • Never respond to uncomfortable messages. • Never use bad language.Additionally, relocating the computer into a public area within the home may help to curtail children from venturing into inappropriate Web sites. Filters block unwanted materialFor the concerned parent, there is a trove of products that block unsavory or disturbing Web sites. Software filtering programs such as NetNanny claims to protect children from “upsetting and unwanted material” for a monthly or yearly fee. It blocks porn sites and rough language that would slip by, another online filtering service. More important than the Web blocking programs is communication with children on Internet safety. It’s important to explain which Web sites are appropriate and to observe their favorite Web sites, such as RuneScape, one of the most popular online role playing games. Set in the Middle Ages, players earn “money” by obtaining skills such as archery, crafting, blacksmithing, and mining. An ongoing game, players select their own life path and meet players from all over the world by participating in RuneScape’s chatting feature, similar to other instant messenger services. While RuneScape offers the opportunity to develop skills, manage money and meet people, there are a few drawbacks, such as password stealing, scammers, and bad language.The chatting features pose a danger if children are sharing personal information and RuneScape has policies in place aimed at preventing players from using foul language. Players can hit a “report abuse” button if they feel they are being abused. RuneScape also offers a parents’ guide online that explains the game, discusses player safety and offers healthy living tips for gamers. If RuneScape is too violent for some children, other safe alternatives exist. See sidebar for examples.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Flooding in Kenosha County

The Fox River is even higher than it was earlier--most of the people near the Fox River or Lily Lake are under water. It is a horrible situation--one I have not seen in at least 38 years.

more flooding

This was in today's Kenosha News--it's a home about a mile from us.

The flood of 2007

Well, 15 inches into our monsoon season and many people in our area are canoeing to their doorsteps. this has been a record August for rainfall in southeast Wisconsin. Our sump pump has not stopped running in two weeks. We've had more than 7 inches of rain in three days and more is on its way. The Fox river has jumped its banks and Paddock Lake and Silver Lake have done the same. Here's a couple of pictures from yesterday--an unfortunate driver wishes he were driving one of the Wisconsin Dells Ducks rather than a mini fan, i am sure.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Interview with Allison Bottke

When I learned that I would be able to review Allison’s latest book, I was so thrilled because, while I hadn’t yet read her first book, but was quite familiar with her ‘God Allows U-Turns’ series.

I took the book on vacation with us to California and read it on the plane trip over. I was so engrossed in the book that I finished it on the four hour flight. After reading about Ursula Rhoades, and the way she created this character, I am anxious to go back and read ‘A Stitch in Time.’

While Ursula is quite content with her role as a Christian housewife, it is apparent that she left a notable career opportunity to devote her time taking care of her husband and children.

She lives in a world of opulence, glitz and glamour, but instead of becoming overly impressed by the lavish lifestyles, Ursula remains grounded and focused on her faith.

An opportunity arises to work with famous rock star, the spoiled-used to getting whatever he wants-Nik Prevel, which gives Ursula a taste at what she was missing all those years---but she keeps it a secret from everyone close to her.

This little secret causes all sorts of upset in Ursula’s world and threatens to cause damage to her personal relationships.

While she learns some valuable life lessons throughout her experience, Ursula also learns that with God, all things are possible.
And now, let's hear from Allison!
1. Where did you get the inspiration for One Little Secret?

I was inspired to write the female character first, after watching a TV interview with Meryl Streep where she told the host she wanted to work on a film where she could sing. I figured I’d write one for her. (Insert a big smile here.) I “think” in movies, I’m a movie-holic, specifically sappy romantic comedies and love stories. I figured the GRAMMY awards would be a fun setting, and then I figured if I really wanted conflict I needed a self-absorbed rock star. For me, developing a book outline is really more like writing a screenplay, I “see” the book in visual scenes first. In fact, I developed a Hollywood Casting Call Contest where readers can visit my web site and vote for the Dream Cast to play the characters in ONE LITTLE SECRET if it every gets adapted into a screenplay. I think it would (will) make a great movie! Readers can vote for actors and actresses here: So far, Catherine Zeta Jones is winning for Ursula, although she’s a tad young to be a mom to college-bound kids. J BTW, I developed ONE LITTLE SECRET first as a screenplay called JUST A HOUSEWIFE. When Bethany House wanted a second novel after A STITCH IN TIME, I immediately thought of this story, realizing that it would make some great Boomer-Lit! I’m also a People magazine addict…as well as Vogue, “W,” In Style and a handful of other fashion and entertainment magazines. :-)
2. Many who are contemplating the writing life, often wonder how much time it takes--when people ask me, it is hard to say, as some days I spend many hours and some days I spend only a few minutes. What about you, on average, how many hours per day do you devote to writing your novels?

It’s depends on how close to a deadline I am (smile) in which case I give myself a “words per day” deadline. For instance, if I need to write 3500 words every day for x amount of days in order to make my deadline, then I sit in the chair until it’s done. But I’m a full time writer, so on average I spend several hours every day writing something.

3. What is the most difficult aspect that holds you back from completing a work?

The refrigerator. Email. A good book. Distractions! I have Attention Deficit Disorder and if I don’t keep myself focused I am so easily distracted. It’s horrible sometimes! But these days, email is my waterloo.

4: Your first novel, A Stitch in Time had some autobiographical elements. Are there any similar elements in One Little Secret?

Some? You’re being kind…there was a whole lot of me in “Stitch,” from the weight loss surgery aspect to the career as a professional fundraiser, to living in southern California. It’s been said that debut novels are often the most autobiographical in a novelist’s career. It’s also said that the second novel—the follow-up—is infinitely harder to write because you’ve used up pretty much everything you know in novel number one, and now the rubber meets the road for real creativity. (insert a big smile here.) That said, One Little Secret has far less of my real-life experience, which was a true joy to write! I had so much fun with this book!

5: You changed POV’s entirely with One Little Secret…your debut novel, A Stitch in Time was first person and One little Secret is written in third person. Why did you change and which style do you prefer?

Like a ga-zillion other women, I first fell in love with the genre of “chick-lit” reading the 1996 release of Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding. The intimate first-person POV allowed us to experience Bridget’s angst-filled journey right along with her. I was too green to know that first person POV is one of the most difficult to pull off. With One Little Secret, I wanted to see if I could get inside the head of a male character—as well as have more freedom of description and story telling that third person allows. I had a blast with this style. I’d have to say that while I enjoy reading first person, I enjoy writing third person more. All three Va Va Va Boom books will be third person.

6: Excuse me? Va Va Va Boom? What’s that about?

I’ve just been contracted by David C. Cook Publishers to write three new Boomer-Lit books in a series I’ve called THE VA VA VA BOOM series. All three books will introduce entrepreneurial boomer babes who own their own businesses. Additionally, each woman has a deep dark secret and a deep dream desire. The first book in the series will release in 2009.

7: Okay, since you mentioned it, what is a Boomer Babe? And how did that come about?

Here’s the definition that appears on my web site. “A Boomer Babe was born between 1946 and 1964, we are women who are comfortable enough in our own skin to realize that the mid-life years can be some of the best and most exciting in our entire life. That the hubris of youth is behind us and the wisdom of the years has made us pretty darn attractive—both inside and out. We are Boomer Babes and we’re proud of it!”

For years I’ve been known as the “God Allows U-Turns Poster Girl.” I’ve been blessed with that moniker and it’s always a joy to share with people how my life direction radically changed. Yet over the years, I found myself being drawn to the challenges my fellow baby boomer sisters were experiencing. In late 2006 I woke up one day with the idea to develop a web site separate from devoted to boomer women. We launched the new business, on January 1st of 2007. A cornerstone of the outreach is a monthly electronic e-zine that we call a “Dream-Zine.” It’s called Boomer Babes with Brilliant Dreams and our goal is to empower and encourage baby boomer women to achieve the dreams of their heart.

8. When you speak of not giving up on your dreams, how does the average baby boomer get beyond their own feelings of insecurity in order to make their dreams happen?

With a lot of prayer, persistence, and positive thinking! You must believe you can do it and then do what it takes to make it happen!

9. For first time writers, how hard is it breaking into the publishing world?

It gets harder every year because the competition increases every year. But it’s not impossible! Do your homework, study the craft, and I strongly suggest you attend a writer’s conference or two and meet some editors face-to-face.

10. What is the difference in your approach to writing fiction and non-fiction if any?

About the same as going to Disneyland versus the Dentist. Okay, maybe not that different, but writing fiction for me is a fun romp in fantasyland and my non-fiction is typically very heavy stuff. The “heavy stuff” requires a focus that takes a whole lotta energy out of my soul. I LOVE what I do, don’t get me wrong, but my non-fiction comes from personal experiences that I feel compelled to write about. Point in case, my next non-fiction project is a spring 2008 release from Harvest House called: SETTING BOUNDARIES WITH YOUR ADULT CHILDREN – SIX STEPS TO HOPE AND HEALING. This came from very painful life experiences with my own son.

11. How did you decide to write a novel after having so many successful non-fiction books? (Has writing a novel always been in your heart?)

I’ve always wanted to write fiction. In fact, when I grow up I’d like to work in the world of film—writing screenplays. I have a deep love for creating those sappy, romantic comedy fairy-tale love stories that women can escape into. However, I had a major life-changing epiphany at the age of 35 that brought me closer to God in a very profound way. As a result of that, I founded an organization called: GOD ALLOWS U-TURNS. A vital aspect of that organization is a compilation book series of true short stories written by people from all around the world. The GOD ALLOWS U-TURNS anthology collection took off with its first volume published in 2001 and today, there are 23 plus books under the recognized GOD ALLOWS U-TURNS “brand.” That said, I was blessed to enter the world of publishing and get my feet wet—more important—I was able to make connections with editors and publishers who were able to see how I conducted my business.

I also began attending writer’s conferences as an instructor, and while there I was able to take classes as a student with some amazing novelists who generously shared their craft in workshop sessions. I soaked up everything I could about how to write fiction—taking notes—buying tapes—listening over and over again to teachers like Angela Hunt, Gayle Roper, Brandilyn Collins, James Scott Bell, Jack Cavanaugh, Lauraine Snelling, and Tracie Peterson. It was after taking a 3-day long intensive workshop with Tracie Peterson that I was able to fine-tune my work-in-progress and submit it with a proposal to Bethany House. The rest, as they say, is history. Bethany House signed me to write two novels and the whirlwind began.

12. Your life story is a major part of the entire God Allows U-Turns outreach—in fact, your testimony given at the Crystal Cathedral is available as an audio file download on your web site. I like what you said--that the choices we make change the story of our life. What final words can you tell us about how that led to the publishing of One Little Secret?

Karen, I was 35-years old when I made the choice to fill the empty place in my heart and soul with an intimate relationship with Jesus. It was a choice that changed my life—and the story that unfolded as a result of that new direction u-turn is far more grand and glorious than I could ever have imagined on my own. One Little Secret is a small part of my journey. Yes, it’s a dream come true—being published as a novelist. But I know in my heart that I owe it all to a Sovereign God whose plan for my life requires me to adhere to living a life of spiritual integrity—and that takes conscious choices each and every day I’m alive. Being a Christian who walks the talk isn’t easy—not by a long shot. Scripture tells us, “Choose this day whom you will serve,” and that means more than going to church on Sunday. With every book I am blessed to have published comes a deep feeling of responsibility. God has greatly blessed me, and it is my desire to write work that will glorify Him. Long story short, life is a series of choices each and every moment we are alive—“choose this day whom you will serve.”

Allison, is there anything you’d like to share with readers before you go?

I encourage your readers to tell me what they think about One Little Secret. I really do want to hear reader feedback. I’m working on my next novel to release in summer of 2009 and I take to heart reader comments. They can reach me here: and please, I’d love to invite everyone to participate in the Hollywood Casting Call Contest where a lucky winner can win an all expense paid trip to Hollywood! Visit my web site and select the actors and actresses you think would make the best lead characters in One Little Secret! Check it out here:

And …we have a monthly newsletter that we call a “Dream-Zine,” I’d love to invite your readers to subscribe:

And …we have a co-authored blog with six best selling authors blogging each and every day – BOOMER BABES WITH BRILLIANT DREAMS: I hope your readers will check us out.

However, more important than all of that is my final word of the day…and that is for your readers to take the risk and reach for their dreams! God has placed a desire in your heart—He has given you special gifts—and he wants you to use them. No matter how old we are—there is still time to discover God’s purpose for our life—and to make the choices that will change the story of our life.

Thanks for taking the time to interview here at Write2thePoint. I look forward to the times we connect in the future!

Thanks so much for having me!

Allison Bottke Blog Tour

Stay tuned! Tomorrow is the day!

Erin Received is SERT Training

Erin took a First Responder Course through Homeland Security last week. He is part of the School Emergency Response Team. He had a great time and is now trained in CPR, First Aid and dealing with Terrorism and School Bullying. Congratulations Erin!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Erin's First Camping Trip

While we were in San Francisco, my brother Mike took Erin to his property in Jump River, Wisconsin. Erin learned to fish and was given a fishing pole from Mike. He also learned to shoot a rifle and a quite a bit about hunter safety. Thanks Mike! He had a ball.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

Of course the trip would not have been complete without making a visit to Bubba Gump Shrimp Shop--Molly only knows every single line in Forrest Gump and can recite them from any portion in the movie at the drop of a hat. After a day of shopping and sitting on a bench discussing comfortable running shoes--we spent some time on the cable cars. We had a fantastic time and look forward to taking Erin on his trip when he graduates in 6 years!

More California Pictures

Here are a few misc pictures--of San Fran. The beautiful dress on Molly came from Chinatown

Making Alcatraz Your Home

Do Not Feed the Prisoner! We finally got the guy locked up--he is very dangerous so don't encourage him!

Well, Alcatraz is always interesting and each time we go, I feel the same way, sadness mixed with a sense of impending darkness magnified by the lingering stench of human depravity. Unless you visit the place, and walk through the cells and into the kitchen and shower areas, you could not begin to comprehend the almost choking sensation. And while it was fun to see the cells and view the prisoners' artwork and personal effects--the evil seems to hover as a cloud in every crevice. Will I go back? Absolutely, it is a part of our nation's history and frankly, even though it is a terrible place to call home, there should be more prisons like this rather than the cushy country clubs that we know today.

Molly trying to escape

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Alcatraz Prison Blues

We took the Alcatraz Cruise line to see the famous prison--Molly is posing on the pier before we boarded the boat. On the left you can see the city with the Trans America Building in the background. On the right, Alcatraz.

I left my wallet in San Francisco.......

Well with all the extra taxes on parking, eating, souveniers, walking down the street, using the rest rooms, you get the idea........we came back with very little of the green stuff. One of the ways we got some cheap entertainment was in filling the cup of these silver guys who would move around in robotic fashion to some rap type music.Cheapest Entertainment of all!
See the bird?
See the white stuff on the roof of the car?
And.....see the open sun roof?

More Sutro Bath House

This was an amazing cave leading out of what was once the Sutro Bath House--notice the underground tunnel leading to the Pacific Ocean below! Almost makes me want to go spelunking!

Molly looking at water inlet that filled Bath House during Tide changes.

Sutro Bath House and Cliff House

These first two pictures were taken on the balcony of the Cliff House in San Francisco. It overlooks the ruins of the Sutro Bath house--one of my favorite historical places to visit. I am in awe of the architecture and craftsmanship of Adolph Sutro so many years ago when he created this landmark. I only wish it could be rebuilt to all its original splendor.

Blaise and the Monkey on Pier 39

Yeah, well, this picture pretty much says it all---they do say that a picture is worth a 1000 words, right?