Friday, October 31, 2014

Alzheimer's Disease Awareness and Caregivers Month Blog Tour

President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s; today, the number of people with the disease has soared to nearly 5.4 million (Alzheimer’s Association, 2014).  The Author Community of Helping Hands Press is getting involved this month, and hopes to help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.
Staring Nov. 3rd, with Anne Baxter Campbell’s blog post, mine is Tuesday the 4th and Sue Badeau’s appearance on blogtalk radio, and finishing on Nov. 25th with Mark Venturini’s blog post, many of the authors in the Helping Hands Press Community will be sharing their personal stories.
Who are the authors, their blogs and what days?
Here is the list:
Nov.3rd-Anne Baxter Campbell-
Nov.4th –Doris Gaines Rapp-
Nov.5th-Marcia Lee Laycock-
Nov. 7th –Sheila Seiler Lagrand-
Nov. 8th –Giovanni Gelati-
Nov. 10th –Ruth L. Snyder-
Nov. 10th –Cindy Noonan-
Nov. 11th-Sue Badeau-
Nov. 12th-Peggy Blann Phifer-
Nov. 13th-Sandy Sieber-
Nov. 13th- Joy Ross Davis-
Nov.14th –Karen Gass-
Nov. 17th –Patti J. Smith-
Nov. 18th-Tracy Krauss-
Nov.19th –Melanie M. Jeschke-
Nov.21st- Andrea J. Graham-
Nov.22nd-Linda Wood Rondeau-
Nov.24th-Diane Huff Pitts-
Nov.25th –Mark Venturini-    

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Beggars’ Night

“It’s Beggar’s Night!” Mama said. “Hurry and get your costume on.”

In that magical time of long ago when I was a child, the evening before Halloween was Beggar’s Night. Vandals roamed the streets during the darkened hours of Halloween. Eggs were thrown, trees were tee-peed and in the country, outhouses were overturned. There have been times of mischief when the little “necessity house” at the end of the path was occupied. Beggar’s Night was for young children who only wanted fun and candy for their sacks.

Make the time spent at your door special this Halloween (or next). As an author, I started thinking about surprise treats for the tricksters. Plan ahead and have on hand, a small book you’ve written and signed to stuff in their sack. Or, prepare a sheet of stickers with your book cover on it for children young enough to just like to stick sticky things to paper? If your publisher supplies “book stubs,” reserve some for the little “spooks” dearest and nearest to you, and drop one in their bag, piggybacked by a rubber band to a candy bar. Create special buttons displaying your latest book cover. Order extra pins to pass out at your next book signing.

Don’t be a beggar as you try to get attention for your newest book. Have fun passing the cover art out in a form the children will enjoy receiving. Get creative! Wait . . . you already are!
Doris Gaines Rapp

Prayer Therapy of Jesus
Waiting for Jesus in a Can’t Wait World
Hiawassee – Child of the Meadow
Smoke from Distant Fires
Escape from the Belfry
Length of Days – The Age of Silence
Lincoln’s Christmas Mouse – Reformatted to smaller size – out soon

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Weeping Willow that Refused to Cry

I went out on the deck for a while late this afternoon and watched the golden leaves fall to the ground and gather around my feet as I sat on the glider. The wind blew two ticks higher than a gently breeze but it was invigorating and clean. Everywhere I looked the world was full of color. As I sat there, I continued to be amazed by one of the weeping willow trees in the yard. Beauty had overcome injury and loss.

The great ice storm of about six winters past broke many of the branches of the tree that draped to the ground like a fine lady’s long skirt. Some of the limbs lay across power lines and had to be trimmed. What was left was only a trunk, like a tall totem pole, absent the carvings that tell a family’s history. My husband got out the chain saw and cut it back to four feet off the ground. He made a circular cut around the base of the tall stump and another cut across the diameter to keep it from growing.

“It’s too cold out there and more snow is moving in. I’ll finish taking it out this spring,” he said as he started upstairs to take a hot shower.

A few months later, when the crocuses reached from beneath the soil and pushed their painted petals to the surface, the weeping willow refused to cry. It started sprouting new branches from the flat surface of the stump. Now, half a dozen years later, there are fourteen or fifteen branches on the oddly shaped tree. In the first few summers, when it was full of leaves, it looked like a very large weeping willow bush. Now, the branches threaten the power lines once again, like the tree is either mocking the injury it had received, or reaching toward Heaven in a beautiful wind-blown dance of life.

Do you let injury and hardship rob you of your ability to dance? Are you stuck in your life or in your career? Have things continually not worked out as you had hoped? Do you withhold the beauty of new branches in your life when you needs pruning? Are you afraid to become a different kind of tree?

My husband is a minister so we have moved frequently. I have held many jobs that I have loved and have had to resign because we moved . . . and then we moved . . . and moved . . . and moved again. But, God has not let this tree die. He continues to send out new branches and has blessed me with stories to tell. I love my life as an author as much as my life as a psychologist or teacher.

Choose to start again every time the ice storms come. Write a new story. Paint a new picture. Build an heirloom cabinet out of the tree trunk in the yard. Give up weeping and join the dance of life.

Doris Gaines Rapp 

Prayer Therapy of Jesus
Waiting for Jesus in a Can’t Wait World
Hiawassee – Child of the Meadow
Smoke from Distant Fires
Escape from the Belfry
Length of Days – The Age of Silence
Lincoln’s Christmas Mouse

Friday, October 24, 2014

Reviews Are Precious Jewels

Well thought out book -   June 22, 2014     (Amazon Customer)
This author picks the subject that nags us today but looks back from the future, which contains the results of our actions today. Our grandchildren suffer a future that was initiated while we sat staring into a piece of glass that changes 60 or 120 times per second. We believe that we are seeing the truth as those dots appear and vanish before our brains can reconstruct the message. They are only dots that vanish as quickly as they arrive, leaving an impression that we believe to be true as we ignore the person sitting next to us.
The author asks us, “Should we act within those things that we know to be true or should we live in a lifeless gray world which is ruled by a government that treats our grandchildren as a bowl of mashed potatoes to be used for their own purposes?”
The book begins slowly as the author sets the stage for the main characters to begin the realization that they have been drugged all of their life. They soon discover that they have minds and instincts that we were born with and that they are perfectly capable of living without those controls.
The class system allows a certain group to live outside the law.
The author develops the characters as the story flows. I was happy to [see] the strengths arise as the characters met each new problem. Even the antagonist was developed further as the crises developed.
The author manages the problems that arise quickly to move the characters along to a conclusion.
I like the idea that men many years ago thought far enough ahead and wrote the rules that led us to this year. Will we be able to pass those rules to the next generation or will we be complacent, uninformed with our little glass in our hand?
Thank you Doris Rapp for a well-constructed book, and for being concerned for our grandchildren.
I stayed up late last night in order to get to the last page…..Oh, yes there is a cliffhanger.
I recommend this for for everyone, especially the young generation
Thank you to this anonymous reviewer on Amazon! Your words sparkle like  diamonds! To all of you precious readers, please remember to post a review for a book you enjoyed reading. It is vital to the success of the book and the author! Each review is a precious jewel, my reward for months of work.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Christmas Feathers Now Available on Amazon

NOW! My short story, Christmas Feathers, a prequel to Smoke from Distant Fires, is now available as an eBook on Amazon! It is part of the short story compilation, Christmases Past, published by HHP. Christmases Past will be available in paperback near the holidays, with all eight short stories, by eight different authors in it. 

Writing is so much fun. I hope you have found an activity that you hold close to your heart. It may be your "day job," or that which occupies your evening hours.

God blesses us with ways to lift him up and call attention to his love and grace. I have been touched five times: as a wife; mother; public school, college and graduate school educator; psychologist and author. Not all at the same time, however! When we try to "do it all" we often do nothing well. Some like to claim they are great multi-taskers. Lots of luck, there! A task worth doing, may be worth doing with focus and singular attention. Now, I write. I am enjoying every new story the Lord gives me.

Download my short story, Christmas Feather, at Amazon today and, if you have time, please write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Thanks a million and enjoy the read!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Do You Know Your Brand?

Saturday, at my book signing at Bread of Life Christian Bookstore in Greenville, Ohio, a reader came up and asked if I am a Christian Writer? I said, “I am a Christian. That flows through everything I write and do.” He said he has a pastor friend who writes and doesn’t want to be identified as a “Christian Writer” – just a writer. I wondered how that could possibly work for him.

Who your readers know you to be, is your “brand.” Even the font on your book titles and your name on the covers of each books, are part of your brand. Readers begin to recognize you in a variety of ways.

If you write a book about an in-depth study of the New Testament book of John, certainly readers should recognize you as a Christian writer. If you are writing a seven-book series, whose central character gets home from Afghanistan only to lose his job and family, who sinks into depression and then relies on the strength of friends, family and church community, you are still true to your brand. Maybe, you have started writing an unlimited series about super heroes who use their powers for good, to save the world from the evil forces that have risen from the underbelly of the world. Perhaps they fly through the air or tunnel underground by the sheer strength of their fingernails, that’s all good, if their morals are true and pure.

What if you also write YA books on the Adventures of Slush Bucket, the Avenging Vampire, who is only interested in satisfying the appetites of his own perverted self, and those round him must suffer their own loses when they are near him?  Now, you have a real problem with your brand. If there is some redeeming quality that can be found in the vampire stories, if you must write them, at least use a penname. If the saving-grace of the blood-sucker books is only the royalty check, you may want to rethink that series. There is always someone who will write the long missives that tarnish the soul. That may not be for you. Or, assign that writing to an alter-ego and, at the very least, help them discover some goodness in the stories.

Your brand should be creatively dependable. When a reader buys one of your books, they should be able to trust you to not betray them. Decide who you are and then write from that voice. Use as much humor as you can, as much drama and adventure as you can create, and as much inspiration as you can draw on.

Once, when I had disappointed my sixth-grade teacher, she asked me, “Who do you think you are?” I made it my task, at the age of eleven, to be able to answer that question if I were ever asked again. “I am a child of the Living God, a sister and follower of his son Jesus Christ, a wife and mother, an author and psychologist.” It would be impossible for me to write anything beyond the bounds of who I know myself to be.

When I was asked to write a short story to be included in the Christmases Past collection with editor, Anne Baxter Campbell, I didn’t have to think long. HHP is a Christian Publisher and Anne is a Christian author. I knew I would fit right it. My story, Christmas Feathers, will appear on Amazon as a stand-alone short story very soon and will then be combined in the collection toward the holidays.

When you know who you are, you will know your brand. Your brand will not confine you. It will liberate you to claim your voice and speak for the God you believe in, in all the stories that come to mind. Or, you will write about the gods you cling to. Which will it be?

Copyright Doris Gaines Rapp 2014