Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Where are the Groggs? Wow … they’re on Live Journal!

I’m turning Live Journal over to my author friend Cherley Groff, a fine West Virginian author who wants to tell folks about her YA novel, The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk. She’s offering it for free on Amazon for a short time.

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Cherley Grogg
I’m so glad to have this opportunity to share a little about myself and my children’s novel, The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk, which is free to download from Amazon for a limited time. The inspiration for the book came from my grandsons. I have three grandsons and a granddaughter.

My granddaughter loves to read, but the boys do not so I decided to write a book they would love to read. I knew it’d have to have strong kids in it, strong physically and headstrong too. The characters would all have to be realistic with problems and scuffles among themselves; it would have to be fast paced and full of adventure. Plus my grandsons like sports and girls so I needed to put that in there as well.

I couldn’t leave my granddaughter without someone to relate to so I gave the brothers in the story a female cousin who could keep up with them in most things and top them in others. In addition to the children, there are some strong, funny and interesting adult characters. This book appeals to people of all ages.

Brandon, the main character in The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk, is not quiet. He’s very outgoing and loud. He’s a leader and his outgoing, boisterous personality works well for him, but not listening gets him into a lot of trouble. Jordon, his cousin, is a female version of Brandon, but Jacob, his brother, is the opposite – a quiet listener, a thinker. The 13 year olds get in a passel of trouble because of not listening, and Jacob quietly follows them.

Here’s the blurb:

A teen’s life gets disrupted when his grand-grandmother, a stranger, comes to live with him and his family. She upsets his life so much that he stoops pretty low to get rid of her, including trying to find a way to get into the oversized trunk she has stored in the garage. Spunky Grandma keeps the trunk's key in a special place.

The kids expect to find treasure, but discover a terrible secret instead, one that puts Grandma in danger’s way. Will she turn to her grandchildren for help or to a young ghost?

Read Cherley's novel and find the secret.
And here’s an excerpt from Chapter 14:

Jacob looked astounded. “How in the world did you pull that off?”

“A girl has to have stuff.” She grinned. “You know … girl’s stuff.”

“No, we don’t know, and we don’t want to know. The important thing is you got the card.” Brandon reached for the credit card.

“I want to know,” Jacob said.

“Believe me, you don’t want to know.” Jordan laughed as she handed the card to Brandon. “Hurry up. I need to get Dad’s card back to him before Mom’s out of the shower.”

In the next chapter the kids want to play soccer. Grandma went with them. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 15:

Lilly turned to Grandma. “It doesn’t matter what she thinks, she’s not on our team. I don’t know why the coach favors Jordan. Maybe he feels sorry for her. She’s so big and clunky.”

Grandma’s eyes flashed, and her little fist doubled up. Brandon hoped she wouldn't spit. He put his hand on Grandma’s shoulder. “Let’s go.”

“I’ll go, but I want her to know that Jordan sure is big. She has a big heart, and a big personality, and she’s twice the lady that girl is. She would never put someone else down to try to make herself look better.”

"I don’t need to put her down to make myself look better. I always look good.”

Grandma turned her head and spit.

The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk is free from Amazon; I hope you enjoy it.

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores.

And here’s her FB fan page, hosted by a good friend of hers, Cindy Ferrell:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Don’t let the past stay dead and buried …

Trips and vacations are excellent vehicles for reviving memories, some wonderful, some not so wonderful.

My dad as a baby with his Grandpa Louis Iuppenlatz
A long drive gives a man – or woman – a chance to think. In my case, it was nearly nine hours of driving, 90 percent on interstates, nine hours to remember other trips up to Grantsville, West Virginia, and Beverly, Ohio, over the last quarter century.

My memories of my travels along Interstates 40 and 77 up to Beverly in 2003 are especially poignant. That year the drives were what I now think of as deathwatch journeys. We’d learned mom had ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and was slowly dying. On that first trip northward after learning she hadn’t suffered a stroke, but had somehow contracted the still-cureless neurological killer, my thoughts while driving kept coming back to this unsettling thought: How was I going to cope with watching her die, and could I handle being in her bedroom with her when she took the last few breaths?

Of course, I coped. And I was in the bedroom with her, sitting in her easy chair, when she – as the song “I’ll Fly Away” says so beautifully – flew away “to that home on God’s celestial shore.”

My sister Jody and I one Christmas in the early 1970s.
On my most recent trip around Independence Day, my sister Jody and I took walks through her neighborhood including a foray through the village cemetery and past mom’s grave, decorated with summer flowers.

Last November I turned 61, and more often than I like I find my thoughts returning to the past. I had believed that my Uncle Denny had my Grandmother Mid’s photo scrapbooks. No, Jody told me, she had them. “He didn’t want them,” she said, bringing them out from a closet for me to thumb through.

My re-enactment days ... Gettysburg 1976.
Jody lacks the scanning equipment to turn the old photos into jpegs, so I took some of them – as well as some of mom’s – back to my house in Wilmington to scan and save. I intend to post some of them on Facebook with newsy captions, maybe even a short story or two.

A few days earlier, dad and his wife Linda had picked through a box of old photographs looking for Brownie snapshots of his mom Nan, his dad Bud, his sister Emmie and other Staton and Iuppenlatz relatives. One photo in particular stood out for me – a slightly out-of-focus shot of the extended family taken sometime in the mid to late 1940s. By then dad’s Grandpa Louis Iuppenlatz was no longer living. The photo shows Emmie as a child, and dad's brother Steven is a toddler.
I love that photo, even if it doesn't include Great-Grandpa Iuppenlatz. I never knew him and barely knew my Grandpa Bud; he died in August 1960 when I was eight. But I spent many, many fun evenings chit-chatting with my Grandmother Nan and her sisters, Hortense (my grandma’s identical twin) and Avis.
Staton/Iuppenlatz family in 1940s.
They lived together in a supposedly haunted two-story house in Sharon Center, Ohio. I never stayed overnight in that house until one summer when I was in college, and I have to concede … I had trouble getting to sleep … I half expected the ghost of a young woman in a Victorian era dress to make its way down the hallway past my open doorway.
The stories these photographs summon to consciousness could someday give rise to scenes in yet-unwritten novels. My books now are fantasy-genre tales, but future endeavors could see me wandering far from that genre. First, though, I have to finish Assassins’ Lair, the last book in my trilogy, and see it published by my publisher.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Some thoughts on how we’ll be remembered

I wrote my mom’s obituary.

My great-grandmother
burned to death.
Hand-delivered it to the mortician, a big brother of a high school friend of mine.

He offered to let me see my mom in the embalming room. I turned down the offer; that was too brutal even for a grizzled old reporter like me who has covered murders and fatal vehicle accidents.

And like seeing my mom in the embalming room at the funeral home, I have no intention of writing my own obituary.

Fellow Writing Wranglers and Warriors blogger Neva Bodin recently wrote a blog about how we view our lives and if given the opportunity, would we write our own obituaries. Neva said, “… an artist friend and I once joked about publishing our own obituary just to become famous – you know it seems artists become or are more famous after their deaths. And we certainly needed help!”

She compared an obituary to a company’s mission statement that states its purpose, its reason for existing.

At my first-ever newspaper reporter job, my responsibilities included writing obituaries. It was ho-hum work for me, but I soon came to realize that an obituary is the last chance for a family to show that their loved one lived a fulfilling life and followed the biblical principle of shining his light before others so that they could see his good works.

Newspapers, especially the last bastion of local news – weeklies – thrive on the various notices that
A great-uncle owned and operated an Ohio carnival.
people mail and email to the newsroom. People buy the newspaper to read about themselves and their relatives and neighbors.

Think about it for a moment. People send in:

·         Birth announcements;

·         Graduation announcements;

·         Engagements and marriage announcements;

·         Military service announcements;

·         Job promotions;

·         Family reunions;

·         Wedding anniversaries;

·         Children’s special parties;

·         Scholarship awards their children receive;

·         High school and college graduations;

·         Sports awards;

·         Death notices.

My mother's birth
Truly, a person’s life is chronicled in the local newspaper.

During my days at the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette in Ohio I edited the copy of small-town columnists who wrote about the everyday lives of their neighbors who lived in towns like Rushville, Bremen and Millersport. They didn’t know it at the time, but they were creating “memory treasures” for later generations of genealogists and for descendants who want to learn about the lives behind the photos in old scrapbooks.

I have photocopies of my mom’s birth announcement, the obituaries of my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, and a news story about the death of my great-grandmother who died in the 1930s when she caught on fire as she lit her cooking stove. I also have a copy of a news story about a relative who owned a carnival in the 1920s and 1930s.

My 86-year-old dad likes to say that in 100 years nobody will even remember that he lived.
That could turn out to be entirely true for the grandchildren of his new great-grandchild, Griffin Goff, who will be one year old in September, if they have no curiosity to learn about their families. But I think with all this rich genealogical information in the past editions of newspapers that will be available on microfilm and online, our descendants will want to attach lives to the names on the tombstones in local cemeteries. If they don’t, shame on them.