In my last post I wrote about the book related opportunities I was going to have during my visit to South Dakota.  There was also the birthday party for my Grandma.  Grandma Jones, THE Grandma in my book, turned 97 last week and those family members who were able to gathered in Broken Bow to help her celebrate.  She was happy to see us, but as expected at 97 she tired too easily and was frustrated by her inability to really spend time with all of us.  We were just glad for the opportunity to remind her how much we love her and how thankful we are for her.  I like reminding her that she started all of this.  “Who’d have thunk 79 years ago when you married Grandpa that there would be over 100 direct descendents!”  She shakes her head and agrees.  She can hardly believe it’s been that long…

The other two opportunities were a book signing and a visit to my nephews’ school.  The visit to the school prompted a quick finish to the power point presentation my husband created for me.  While I was visiting with my family, signing books at Walden Books in the mall, and driving to Nebraska for the birthday, he was busily creating an awesome power point.  After some angst on my part over how to get it to load on my computer etc… (I’m NOT a computer person) I had it in hand.  I was even able to show it to my Aunt Twyla and Uncle Tom as well as my sister,  her children, and my parents.  What a gift I have in this husband of mine!!!  Anyway, I digress…

The book signing was fun.  I really don’t mind sitting in front of a book store watching people go by.  It’s fun to talk to the people who stop and thrilling to sell a few books.  I was absolutely delighted to get to see my friend Barb from the Writers Group in Rapid City.  She is what I aspire to be as a writer.  The other friends who stopped by were a delight too. 

As much fun as that was I have to admit… the school visit was MY FAVORITE!  I love being in front of the children, talking to them about anything is so fun, but when it can be about my book – priceless!  My nephews were as proud as they could be and I found my new friend – the smart board and flash drive.  Wow!  They are awesome. 

So, here I am with a published book AND an opportunity to share in the lives of children.  God has blessed me beyond measure in this endeavor and I’m sure whatever comes next will be good too!

Yesterday I flew home to SD.  Home is relative, that is to say, where my relatives are.  Of course, “HOME home” is where my heart is which is SC since my husband is there…

So, what brings me back to Rapid City so soon after visiting this summer?  AHHH, the book.  What a great excuse. 🙂  Tomorrow, September 26 I’ll have a book signing at Walden Books in Rushmore Mall.  I am excited and I find it kind of funny that I almost didn’t go into that store.  When I was making the rounds of the bookstores in Rapid City I was a little discouraged and tired by the time I was approaching the mall.  I thought, they won’t be interested… they will have to check with their corporate office… and all of the other negative thoughts that bombard me when I’m doing this task.  But, since I KNEW I would never know unless I tried I went on in.  BINGO!  “Yes!  We will get your book.”  WONDERFUL!  Followed by these awesome words… “would you like to do a book signing the end of September.”  Of course!  That would be lovely.

The added benefit is that the end of September is my Grandma’s birthday.  So now I have two lovely reasons to come home.  I’ll be throwing in a trip down to Nebraska to help her celebrate!  Ah, a road trip with my sister and her kids!  Add that to the 12 nieces and nephews, two parents, siblings, siblings-in-law, etc. etc. etc. and I’m just awash in good reasons to be here.

As if that isn’t enough another opportunity popped up.  Three of my nephews are in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th grades and their teachers are enthusiastic about having me come and talk to them about my book and the writing process.  WOW!  Not only do I get to share about my book, but I get to make my nephews day! 

So, if you are anywhere near Rapid City, SD come to Walden Books in the mall Saturday, September 26th for my book signing.  If I know you I’d love to see you.  If I don’t I’d love to meet you.

A few weeks ago I was offered the awesome opportunity to speak to the 3rd-5th graders at Newberry Elementary School.  Of course I said yes.  I was thrilled with the opportunity.  But!  But, now!  Now I must figure out what I am going to say and HOW!  250 plus students are going to be expecting to hear exciting things come from my mouth for 45 minutes.  It strikes terror in my heart. 

So, I decided I needed a visual aid.  Aha!  A power point would be great… and I know just the man for the job. 🙂  I have developed my outline including ideas for graphics and today my husband, Bruce has been helping (aka doing it all) with the power point.  I am getting exceedingly excited about it.  Just watching the story of my book and how it came to be as it  builds on the computer screen is an experience I’ll never forget.  It just reminds me of what a blessed heritage I have.  To have known my grandparents so well, and to have record of their lives in book form and on tape…  priceless!

This week is my Grandma, Mildred Jones’ 97th birthday.  Not many people my age still have a grandparent living and I sure am glad I’m one of them.  Happy Birthday Grandma!  I love you.

I just want to say that I get the biggest kick out of watching the blog stats.  Today there were a whopping 29 so far!  That’s the most ever, I think.  I have faithfully been watching the stats – so faithfully in fact that I am running out of time for writing.  Hummmm. 

Of course, watching stats isn’t the only way I’ve been procrastinating.  I’ve found over the past 10 years that I get more organizing done when I’ve promised myself I’ll write.  For instance, yesterday I went through three drawers of my file cabinet sorting through years of old papers.  I whittled it down to one drawer and leaving an empty drawer for writing “stuff” and one for bills.  Excellent!  Next I moved to the big free standing brown pantry/cupboard I use in my office.  I am 2/3 of the way through organizing that.  Wonderful!  I even found some letters my friend had her students write me after she read them a rough draft of my book a few years ago!  I just might have to put those on my website, (Rather, have my webmaster, aka my husband Bruce do it! )  But, no writing took place yesterday.  The closest I came to writing was starting to plan a presentation for the students at Newberry Elementary School.

Today did I write?  No, not yet.  Except for this of course!  BUT, my pantry has been completely organized thanks to the help of my husband… and a fit of procrastination.

Today I’m going to promote my book some more.  Yesterday I was busy with that project.  First I went to the revenue office and registered for a license to charge sales tax.  That cost $50.00 here in the state of SC.  Next I visited four bookstores and will follow up for possible book signings in two of them.   I visited 4 bookstores and came out with only one book!  WOW!  That’s a new record. 

After coming home I went online and sent press releases or emails to area news outlets and then wrote a blog about The Ranch. 

So, what’s the plan for today?  Today I am having a makeover!  What does that have to do with promotion?  Just another tool I guess.  My Mary Kay lady  called me the other day to see if I would like to have a makeover and be featured in her portfolio.  In addition to placing “before and after” pictures in  her portfolio, she will also include my business card or promotional materials.

So, there you have it.  Where promotion meets makeover!  I’m pretty sure my Grandpa Jones never thought of this when he was selling his books. 🙂  On the other hand, I bet he would approve.

The Ranch in my book is a real place.  There, now you know.  (Just in case you were wondering.)  It had to be The real Ranch, after all, without The Ranch there wouldn’t have been an idea for the book. 🙂  I have imagination, but it does best when prompted by something real.  The real “something” that prompted my book was The Ranch and specifically, our time there as children. 

Generally in the summer we would go visit The Ranch for a week or two.  There were a couple summers when our trip coincided with some of the cousins.  Those were the most fabulous summer.  We rode horses, cut muskthistles, picked berries, and went to the county fair in Broken Bow. 

When my Grandparents moved into town from The Ranch in 1983 we all went to The Ranch for the sale.  It was a sad time, but we were all glad Grandpa and Grandma would be able to enjoy living in town since life on The Ranch was harder and harder for them.

Now, you may wonder why I keep capitalizing the words, The Ranch.  There is a reason.  It sets it off as an Important Place.  You see, The Ranch was very important to me.  I can’t speak for any of my cousins or my siblings but I can say it was home base for me.

When I was in kindergarten we moved back from California and actually lived on The Ranch for a couple of months while my parents sought the Lord’s will as to where we should start a church.  When we moved it was to North Platte, less than two hours from The Ranch.  For the next 8 years we lived there, going to The Ranch several times a year.  It was a short enough drive that if we needed a quick “get away place” on a Friday evening, we could drive up and come back Saturday. 

When I was going into 8th grade we spent a few more months at The Ranch when my dad was between churches.  We ended up moving to California again.  We were there three years and when we came home to visit, home was The Ranch.  Wherever we went, from there on, going back to The Ranch always felt like home.  It was that stable place, the unchanging in the midst of change.  Even after Grandpa and Grandma moved to town, we all were thrilled when one of the cousins bought the old place.  And when Grandma had to go to the nursing home and they emptied out her house, the  picture of The Ranch (available for you to see on my website was returned to The Ranch where it hangs today.  It belonged there because The Ranch was home.  Just as it has been for as long as I remember.

Nebraska State Song Lyrics!

Beautiful Nebraska Written by Jim Fras

 Beautiful Nebraska, peaceful prairie land,
Laced with many rivers, and the hills of sand,
Dark green valleys cradled in the earth,
Rain and sunshine bring abundant birth.

Beautiful Nebraska, as you look around,
You will find a rainbow reaching to the ground.
All these wonders by the Master’s hand,
Beautiful Nebraskaland.

We are so proud of this state where we live.
There is no place that has so much to give.

Beautiful Nebraska, as you look around,
You will find a rainbow reaching to the ground.
All these wonders by the Master’s hand,
Beautiful Nebraskaland.

When I was a child, living in Nebraska, I learned this song. How or where I learned it is not really known. I assumed I learned it at school. My older sister believes that we learned it when our mother sang it for a Historic Society event. At any rate, it is embedded deep in my mind as anyone who ever rides with me in a vehicle as we cross into Nebraska will testify.

It’s something about that sign, “Welcome To Nebraska”, or is it “Nebraska Welcomes You?” Funny, I can’t remember WHAT the sign says, but I do know what the sign DOES to me. As soon as I see that sign I am compelled to burst forth in song. Out of my mouth comes this song. It’s not the prettiest of renditions, but the song does get sung, usually loudly, nasally and a little flamboyantly! Hard to imagine, I know.

I suppose this started when we moved away from Nebraska when I was in 8th grade. We moved to California where we all were born but I am here to tell you, California wasn’t Nebraska. No snow, little rain, and very few family members! My Great-grandma on my step-mom’s side was there for a few months until she died, and my dad’s cousin and family were within driving distance, but other than that it was a “family desert” as well as a natural one. Suffice it to say that the first time we went “home” on vacation and crossed into Nebraska we were just giddy enough to start this tradition. And why break with tradition, especially such a satisfying one!

When my husband, AKA my webmaster, found this song online and put it on my website he called me into his office and played it. I burst into tears… its perfect-ness overwhelming me. This book I’ve written–I hope it helps others remember their “home” and just how important those places and people are in our lives.

This morning we got word that a dear friend of a dear friend lost his battle with pneumonia last night. I couldn’t help but wonder–what did Michael sing when he saw the sign, “Heaven Welcomes You?”

It seems each day brings a new opportunity.  Sometimes it’s nothing more than keeping a cheerful attitude in the face of a humdrum day.  Other times it’s something totally new.  Something that lights up your entire world.  Like this week.  I received a call with a request to visit Newberry Elementary School and share with the students about my book and the writing process.  WOW!  I wasn’t expecting it quite yet, and I’m not at all ready, but I will be by October 9th. 🙂

Anyone who know me at all knows that I love spending time with children.  My world lights up when a child comes around.  Children really are many of my favorite people.  For the last couple of years I have been praying for an opportunity to interact with more children.  Ask and ye shall receive is absolutely right in this case.  I will be speaking to between 250 and 300 3rd through 5th graders.  Now that’s an answer!