Monday, December 15, 2008

A Reindeer Tale

In the spirit of giving this Christmas season, I am donating all my spare time to the ministries and charities in our community I support. As such, I won't be writing again until January, 2009. Please endulge me and allow me to post a true story I wrote for my wife and two dear friends a few years ago:

A Reindeer Tale

My phone rang at 7:30 in the morning, just moments after I sent Jill off to school with her homemade breakfast and lunch, hot coffee, a love note, and a pre-heated car. Laura was on the line. “She’s here,” she said.
“Already,” I asked, thinking I had another hour before this fated moment was to come.
“She starts early.”
“How long will this take?”
“Beauty takes time,” my friend responded.
I looked down at Princess. In some cases, a lifetime, I thought. “I’ll be right there.”

I slipped on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, looked into the mirror and saw that my hair was pointing due east with authority. I grabbed a baseball cap and thought no one would notice as I shoved the errant strands underneath and out of sight. I called the dog and made my way to the front door where the leash is kept on a coat hook. As I reached for it I heard Princess shift into reverse, her nails trying desperately to obtain some traction on the hardwood floor. She was running 90 miles an hour and getting nowhere. I reached down and scooped her up. She looked at me with terror in her eyes as if to beg me not to drop her off on the side of a desolate road. I held her against my chest with one hand and managed to clip the leash onto her collar with the other. Just as the clip snapped closed she peed on me. I suddenly remembered a long dirt road in south Georgia that ended in a swamp, but I wasn’t sure I could get there and back before Jill returned home. Another time, I decided. “You get to live another day,” I said to the dog as I washed my hands.

As we walked down the street toward Laura’s house Princess kept trying to pull me along. Doing my best Caesar the Dog Whisperer impersonation I kept tugging at the leash and making a “tissstt” sound, but we’re talking about a stupid dog here and she thought I was asking her to mark the territory along our way. Four houses down the street and a dozen squats later, I knocked on Laura’s door.

“You’ve got bed hair,” she said as she greeted me.
“And overnight face,” I said, hoping my own self-deprecating humor would help me to explain the urine stain on my chest. Fortunately, Laura didn’t see it.
“Is she ready? Is she excited?” Laura asked, scratching the dog behind her ears.
“You know you’re killing me,” I remarked.
“Her outfit is here!” she exclaimed, jumping up and down clapping her hands. “Allison picked it out, it’s so special!”

I looked up as the dog groomer came around the corner and introduced herself. Then she spied Princess. As a long and screeching “Ahhhhhaaawwwwwww” began to roll off her tongue my head began to spin. I thought I was going to puke.
“Do you want me to do anything special with her?” she asked as she took the dog from me.
“Slit her throat,” I responded without hesitation.
“It’s just an act,” Laura chimed in. “He really loves her.”
“I love my wife and my tolerance of this dog proves it,” I retorted.
“Really,” the groomer insisted,” what do you want me to do to her?”
“Can you make her look like another dog? One I could get attached to?”
Laura punched me on the arm. “Bath her really well so she can get on the furniture,” she said.
“Huh?” the groomer inquired. I could tell by the way she had turned away from me and was now glancing at me over her shoulder that she wasn’t taking a shine to me.
“He won’t let her on their furniture,” Laura explained.
“She stinks,” I defended myself.
“He’s a mean man,” the groomer said without shame or reservation just before she kissed Princess.
“Here,” Laura said, shoving a reindeer costume into my hands and turning me toward the door. “You’d better get out of here before she calls the Humane Society. Be sweet and dress Princess before Jill gets home.”
“Bah humbug,” I growled as I was escorted to the porch.

Hours later, and much too soon for me, the groomer delivered a trimmed and washed dog. As the mutt sat at my feet looking up at me, waiting for a compliment I think, I saw that she looked nothing like a new dog and everything like herself. Except for the Christmas bows tied to her ears. “You’re killing me,” I said as I looked out my window and at Laura’s front door. I swear I could hear her laughing. I sat the reindeer costume on the breakfast table, determined not to get sucked into this plot to humanize what is in reality a freak of nature.

Jill arrived home as I was cooking dinner. She came inside, said hello and half kissed me with one of those Frenchie cheek kisses meant for dignitaries you’d rather spit on. She was distracted, I told myself, trying not to be hurt. It was only later, when I was getting undressed and pulling my sweatshirt over my head, that I realized the brush off might have been because I carried with me the faint odor of dog urine.

“She’s beautiful!” Jill said repeatedly, jumping up and down clapping her hands (this seems to be a common trait among the women I love), sending herself and the dog into a frenzy that looked to me like it might end with them both rolling around in embrace on the floor. “It’s a reindeer!” my smart, cultured and dignified wife (I need to reassure myself once in a while) yelled as she pulled the costume from the bag and held it up for the dog to see.
“Looks like a torture corset,” I said.
“She’s Rudolf!” Jill shrieked as she finished dressing the dog.

Princess just stood there, unsure what to do, her head weighted down by the oversized antlers over her ears and the big brass bells hanging from around her neck.
“It’s going to choke her,” I said. I hope, I thought.
“I have to take a picture,” Jill said. As she rummaged through her briefcase looking for her camera, the dog looked at me and for one moment she seemed to be asking me for help. We connected; even she realized she looked ridiculous and wanted to escape. I grinned and let the moment pass.

Jill plopped down on the floor in front of her dog, focused and snapped a picture. The flash went off and blinded the little mutt. She stumbled backwards and ran into the cabinets, making her big brass bells jingle all the way. Jill was thrilled. I noticed how the little reindeer booties made the mutt walk in a goose step.

After dinner we left the dog in her costume as we went to visit a neighbor and enjoy some holiday libations. During the visit Jill talked endlessly about how wonderful the dog looked, how glad she is Laura and Allison understand dog love and work together to counter my bad attitude about allowing Princess on the furniture and giving her a clothing budget.

Soon we headed home and I was hoping for an evening of holiday romance as I unlocked the front door. I gave my wife the look of loving lust and winked at her; she screamed in horrified panic. I followed her gaze into the house and saw the dog lying on her side in the middle of the floor. “Oh my God!” my wife shouted so many times I couldn’t count them all. “She’s choked to death!”
God answers prayers, I thought, but before I could whisper “thanks,” the dog moved; her bells jingled. Jill cried with relief.

The dog tried to approach and console her momma, but it took her a while to get to her feet, her head so over-weighted. As she marched down the hall Jill dropped to her knees, reached out with desperate hands and called her dog, who goose stepped toward her, jingling with every deliberate step. I left them there and went on to do something important.

After what seemed like an hour Jill put the dog to bed and then climbed into our own. I reached for her, my own holiday plans still in mind. “I’m emotionally exhausted,” my wife said. “What if she’d died?” I almost said something about how happy that would make me, but I was sure it would ruin my chances of seeing my agenda come to fruition. I remained silent, and hopeful.

“I can’t get that vision of her lying motionless on the floor out of my head,” Jill mumbled as she started to fall sleep.
I lay there looking at the ceiling, trying to remember when Jill and I were dating if she told me about her obsession with this dog. Eventually, I too became sleepy. As I finally began to drift off, I thought I heard a reindeer on the roof.

Laura, Allison – you’re killing me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

100 Dollar Bill

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

This story did not make the last cut of Mom’s Little Angel, but I want to post it for you as a good example of what is in the final draft of the upcoming book (Feb. 2009):

One Hundred Dollar Bill

Caroline was no less concerned about her appearance than all the other girls in middle school, each hoping to catch the admiring eye of the popular boys in class. For sometime she had pestered her parents about getting contacts, complaining that her large-framed glasses made her look like a nerdy bookworm or even worse. Mom had been the holdout on the switch – she was afraid Caroline was too young to effectively take care of contacts. But Caroline had a history of proving herself to be a responsible child and after many demonstrations of carefully following instructions from school and around the house, Mom finally gave in.

Although Caroline did take care of her eyes and contacts just as the optometrist had instructed, a year later she still found herself frustrated on occasional mornings when the eye drops stubbornly refused to land in the right place or the contact didn’t fit exactly the way it was supposed to. When she couldn’t take the frustration any longer, she packed up her contact supplies and trotted into her mother’s bathroom.

One morning while standing over the sink brushing her teeth, Mom looked up and saw Caroline entering the room. Noting this was happening every now and then and wanting her own space and privacy to get ready in her own bathroom, mom asked “Why do you bring all your contact stuff into my bathroom to put them in?”

“For some reason,” Caroline explained, leaning toward the mirror with a contact balanced on her fingertip, “it’s easier to get them in when I’m standing next to you.”
"Well then, I guess maybe I'm your lucky penny!" Mom chuckled, deciding to indulge her daughter’s presence in the bathroom one more time.

Just as the contact fell perfectly into place, Caroline replied, "No, you're more like my hundred dollar bill."Thereafter, Caroline was always welcome in Mom’s bathroom.


Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Momma's Ways

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

This story did not make the last cut of Mom’s Little Angel, but I want to post it for you as a good example of what is in the final draft of the upcoming book (Feb. 2009):

Easter Tradition

Easter was a big event in Sara’s household. In addition to working for days to prepare the festive Easter Sunday meal and dying dozens and dozens of hardboiled eggs to hide in the yard, she made sure each of her daughters had a new Easter outfit to wear to the sunrise service. And not an outfit selected from the store racks, but a fine garment she had fashioned by hand. In a family with eleven children there wasn’t a lot of extra money but creativity and craftsmanship in sewing was found in abundance. Each year, Sara sewed feverishly in between household tasks and often late into the night for weeks to get her girls’ Easter dresses finished on time.

One year Sara wanted to make sure her daughter Adeline had an especially pretty dress to wear. Adeline had grown so much and the little girl dresses with lace and frills were no longer suitable. Sara found the perfect dress pattern and set about making the dress. However, being the mother of so many children, she could barely keep up with the day to day tasks of preparing meals and doing laundry for her brood.

No matter how hard Sarah tried to squeeze in a few stitches every day, Adeline’s dress was still unfinished on the morning of the event. Determined not to disappoint Adeline, she sewed fast and furiously in an attempt to finish the dresses before it was time to go. Frustrated and in a hurry, she ran the sharp sewing machine needle right through her thumb. Adeline looked on in horror and begged her mom to stop sewing. “I don’t have to have a new dress this Easter,” she said.

Sarah paid no attention to Adeline, quickly wrapped her thumb and continued sewing, finishing the dress just as dad hollered for all to climb into the cars (they needed two, of course).

Adeline stepped into church proud of her new dress; proud because she had witnessed first hand the love and sacrifice that went into making it, not to mention a drop of blood or two. Years later, trying to be like her mother and wanting her children to make a good impression, she made Easter outfits for her own daughters, too.

On one hectic Easter morning, Adeline hurried into church, the very one she attended as a child, panting and frazzled. A fellow member of the congregation observed the bustle of well dressed children and remarked he never understood all the trouble women go to over Easter. A second gentleman overheard the comment and turned to Adeline, smiling. “Your mother once said, ‘I dress my children in new outfits because I want them to experience the new beginning that only Easter can bring us.’”

The meaning of the tradition, a new Easter dress each year, changed for Adeline that Sunday morning. Grateful that man had remembered her mother’s words and passed them on, she gave a smile of longing. She wished her mother was alive to see that her daughter had finally come to understand that Easter was never about the pretty new outfits or impressing others, but instead, about spiritual renewal.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Like Momma Taught Me

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

This story did not make the last cut of Mom’s Little Angel, but I want to post it for you as a good example of what is in the final draft of the upcoming book (Feb. 2009):

Mother’s Recipe

Vanessa watched her pot attentively, wanting the olive oil to be hot but not smoking before adding the onion, green bell peppers and celery, the Creole Holy Trinity. When she dumped the vegetables in the pot they sizzled instantly and an aromatic vapor filled the room. As Vanessa stirred the mixture her thoughts turned to her mother, the chef and teacher who had taught her how to make Gumbo.

It was in the kitchen where Vanessa had learned to make the perfect roux, corn bread and biscuits, how long to let okra boil before it became slimy, when to take shrimp off the heat (as soon as they start to turn pink and not a whisper longer) and which vegetables were best in every season of the year.

Cooking was her mother’s favorite task, it was her love, and it had become Vanessa’s passion as well. She cherished the time she spent in the kitchen with her mother snapping green beans or whisking eggs for a meringue. Even scrubbing pots was fun; the task didn’t matter. Just being Mom’s Sous Chef put Vanessa on top of the world.

It was also in the kitchen where Vanessa learned that her mother preferred to prepare slow cooked meals. It gave them the chance to spend more time together than microwavable meals or stovetop hamburgers would afford. During all those long conversations they had while waiting for a stew to thicken or root vegetables to roast in the oven, Vanessa learned more than just her mom’s favorite recipes. She learned of her French and African ancestry, what it meant to be Creole, fear God and love him with all your heart at the same time, to put your family first and, last but not least, to believe in yourself.

Looking into the pot and seeing the onions had turned tender and translucent, Vanessa added garlic, a pinch of salt and gave the pepper mill a few good twists. Taste as you go, she remembered her mom’s words and dipped a spoon in to get a sample. Just right. And then she remembered the day when her mom had called her into the kitchen and announced it was time for the student to prepare a meal for the chef, but without assistance. Mom wanted Gumbo, the very recipe Vanessa followed from memory on this day.

The test came in the late spring of her senior year of high school amid making plans to leave home that summer to attend college. As Vanessa cooked with the occasional word of reassurance from mom, and once a little cough with a subtle shake of the head in disagreement about how much file’ powder to use, there was talk of independence, new experiences, temptations, and taking care not to lose your way. Mom put her spoon down when she spoke of the added responsibility that comes with adulthood, and gave Vanessa her blessing, saying she believed her daughter was prepared for them all.

It was in the kitchen were Vanessa learned the differences between living as a young girl under momma’s watchful eye, and going into the world as a young woman to build a life of her own. It was in the kitchen where mom had masterfully provided her daughter with more than a recipe for Gumbo, but also a recipe for living.


Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Forever Sunshine

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

This story did not make the last cut of Mom’s Little Angel, but I want to post it for you as a good example of what is in the final draft of the upcoming book (Feb. 2009):

Ray of Sunshine

Doris, eighty-five years old, had been showing signs of dementia for years. Yet, even though she had forgotten how many grandchildren she had or that she owned a cat, she refused to believe she had memory problems. When it was obvious to her family something needed to be done, Doris’ daughters began to take turns staying with their mother even though she protested that she didn’t need the help.

For Debbie, not having lived in such close quarters with her mother for years and not accustomed to caring for a grown woman who surprisingly needed so much supervision, this living situation became a challenge rather quickly. She missed being with her husband and became exhausted constantly cleaning the house, doing laundry and going grocery shopping for a mother who was often bitter about receiving the help.

Among other things, the women constantly disagreed about the temperature in the house; Doris wanted the heater turned on even though it was mid-summer in San Antonio. She wouldn’t consider wrapping herself in a blanket for warmth and could never understand why her daughter complained about temperature.

Tired of the growing conflict and craving her familiar routines, Debbie wanted to go home but knew she could not leave her mother alone. She needed to be there to make sure Doris ate as well as she should, took the correct medicines at the right times, didn’t wander from the house or burn down the place while trying to cook a meal in the middle of the night.

To make the best of her situation, Debbie made a point each day of finding something in her circumstance to be thankful about. At first it was sleeping in her old bedroom again, and then having a meal in the kitchen at the table where she had sat with her family years ago. There were the quiet hours spent watching television in the living room with a view into the backyard where she had played so many afternoons in days gone by, and of course having all the family photographs nearby to look through once more.

But what Debbie discovered she was most thankful for came in the wee hours of the morning, when Doris had finally tired and would agree it was time to go to bed. For it was then when the sometimes stubborn old woman became the dear loving mother who led Debbie to her old bed, tucked her in and gave her a goodnight kiss before retiring to bed herself.

It was then Doris always remembered to say, “I love you, my little ray of sunshine,” before turning off the light.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thought for the Day

Document your disappointments in the sand, and your blessings in stone.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What's most important...

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

I received this great note yesterday from someone who has a number of my books:

“What gets me through these very difficult times is my faith and family. Life's priorities are God, Family, and Work, respectively. Your books are a good reminder of what's most important, God and the family unit. My belief in this regard has become even stronger recently, my God and family mean everything to me.”

And here’s another piece I wrote recently for www.greatdad.com:

“It seems that in spite of all the differences there may be between the fathers and daughters of the world, be he a doctor or craftsman, she a student or lawyer, early or late in life, religious or not, wealthy or not, dads and daughters are very much alike in the manner in which they relate to one another.

Dads put their daughters before their own interests, striving to create special moments and lasting memories for her, protecting her from harm and disappointment, always seeking to spend quality time together, always praying never to let her down. Daughters anticipate daddy coming home, eager to show him a new trick, a report card, or request his counsel on a matter of concern. As much as daughters enjoy being a daddy’s girl, dads enjoy having one to dote on.

Daughters enjoy their dads always being available to her and never tiring of her need for his attention and affection. Daughters crawl into their daddies’ lap to hug and kiss him before resting her head on his chest, sometimes asking him to sing their favorite song. Dads never forget those moments when he could hold his daughter in his arms, and is always ready to sing to her, even if over the telephone.

Dads find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in their important role in their daughters’ lives. They do not shy away from the unfamiliar girl stuff, the hard tasks of parenting, nor their daughters’ tears or demonstrations of independence and revolt. Dads stand ready to help whenever the need arises, even if in the darkest hours of the night. Daughters never forget those moments when her dad proved once more that he was indeed the hero who would never let her down.

Daughters look to dads for help with school projects, his applause during her performances or events, to be a friend when she is lonely, and to help her out of sticky situations. Daughters give their dads an affection he cannot find anywhere else, and a love he will cherish to the end of his last day.”

A note on the new book proposals: HarperOne is going to wait to see how #2 does before moving ahead with #3. That makes sense to me, although I’d rather have heard they were going to option one of the proposals. Such is the writing life – books are published for profit, not fun, and a writer needs to understand that clearly if he/she is going to survive the contest. SO here’s to the success of #2, Mom’s Little Angel (wine glass held high in the air)!

And on my novel TREES – still searching for its eventual home, but the faith is strong: it shall see print one day!

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just Good Sense

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

I’m not usually a fan of billboards but it is time to make an exception. I saw this great billboard several times as Jill and I drove the highways last weekend - a dad asleep on a couch with his toddler daughter asleep on his chest, her cheek placed over his heart. The message: Have you been a daddy today? Wonderful!

Daddies never stop thinking about their daughters, and daughters never stop thinking about their dads. Daughters young and mature share a common desire for the company and comfort of their fathers. They want their daddies to take care of them, in different ways, perhaps, but to offer their fatherly love and comfort nonetheless. Daddies live to give that love and comfort to their little girls.

From my front porch I’ve watched dads walking the streets of the neighborhood with an infant asleep on his back, or running while pushing a stroller, complete with a child yelling, “Faster, faster, Daddy!” I’ve watched dads and children play Wiffle Ball, dive onto a water slide, and climb trees, all from the comfort of my wicker chair.

There are more young girls living in the homes in my neighborhood than there are boys; the dads I observe are more often enjoying those activities with their daughters than with sons. My daughters are among the oldest children who live nearby, and now and then a dad asks me for fresh ideas about what to do with his daughter when she grows up and tires of climbing trees.

“Take her to get a pedicure, and get one yourself,” I often say.

My recommendation is universally met with a little shock and a lot of disbelief.

“That’s women’s stuff,” is the most common response I hear.

“Precisely,” I say.

My point in suggesting a pedicure is simple. Little girls want to do everything little boys do, which plays right into dads’ hands. However, teen girls want to do what young women do, which nearly never makes sense to grown men.

I’ve had many a pedicure (please, no polish). I let the girls do my hair before we go out, help me select clothes and shoes, and give me a fashion make-over once in a while (once I inadvertently went to work wearing a pair of stick-on earrings, so be careful). I take them shopping, an excruciating experience for me because we cannot purchase anything until we have visited at least fifty stores, but I tag along with them without complaint. It makes them happy, which in turn, delights me as well.

Dads should understand the importance of making children feel special in ways that are meaningful to them. I know a father who has triplets; two daughters and a son. One can understand why the parents of multiples might elect to host only one birthday party, but that’s not how he does it. Each child plans their own party, and then he facilitates all three, one after the other on three different weekends. Each child gets to be his special person of the day. Believe me, they love it; I’ve seen their faces.

So, as you can see, being a good parent isn’t rocket science; it’s just good sense. Have you been a daddy, a good mom, today?

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Say It Loud

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

I got this email the other day:

“As an elementary school teacher I try to find new ways to reach my young students. Here in our area we have a lot of young boys and girls who live in single parent homes. My role as a teacher has rapidly expanded from classroom teacher to: a dad, nurse, nurturer, counselor, nutritionist, social worker and too many more to list!! I couldn't have made it through the last two years had it not been for your books. I just want to thank you for all of your excellent work; it has not gone unnoticed or unused.”

And it made my day, too.

Here’s my most recent column for www.greatdad.com:

While signing autographs one day I noticed a man lingering nearby after he purchased my book about fathers and sons. “Is that your daughter?” he finally asked, pointing to the book I had written for my daughter.

“Yes,” I answered.

“Do you let her know you love her?” he asked.

“Of course,” I answered, surprised by his question.

“Good,” he said. “Too many men aren’t comfortable saying that, especially to boys.” He smiled and walked away.

I remembered then a friend who once told me about his father, a man of few words.

My friend is a huge sports fan, largely because it was through sports that he spent time with his dad. Yet, as time passed, he and his father stopped attending games as often as they once did. “Dad wasn't much of a talker,” he confided; “and we began to lose touch with each other.”

One day he and his new bride hosted a brunch for their families at a sports bar decorated with memorabilia. “At one point I looked at my dad,” he said, “and he pointed to a picture on the wall and smiled. It was of the old stadium where he and I used to go see ballgames.”

“All these years I thought I was the only one who held those memories sacred, but in that moment I knew my dad did, too. I promised myself then I would never let a day go by that I don’t tell my children how much I love them.”

I glanced across the bookstore and saw the man who had asked me if I told my daughter I loved her. He pushed the door open and with his free hand on his son’s shoulder, led him outside. I smiled, confident that that child, too, heard “I love you” often, if not everyday.

Although boys and girls may be different, they are identical in their need for love and acceptance. Say “I love you” as often as you can.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Restoration & Adjustment

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and learn more about my published works and photography.

Now on to today’s post~

Jill and I had a great, restorative time in the NC mountains where we hiked eleven miles (once on a trail with a sign that warned of “aggressive bears”), exhausted ourselves in the process, slept eleven hours Saturday night and woke up to a view of snow in the mountains Sunday morning. We stayed at the Fryemont Inn, one of our favorite places and the setting I used for inspiration to create the old inn called The Poplar Inn in my novel TREES.

Some good news about “Mom’s Little Angel,” the publication date has been moved up to February in order to take advantage of promotional opportunities at a few major retailers during the Easter and Mother’s Day seasons. I’m chatting with my editor tomorrow afternoon so will be sure to post other news about the book on Wednesday morning.

This review of my book “Why a Son Needs a Mom” comes from the blog Punky Monkey, written by a mom I know only as Tena:

This is by far my favorite book about the bond between mother and sons. In fact I own two copies. I got them when I had "M", one from the boys, and one from a dear friend. It captures it all so beautifully, without going over the top. Thought I would share some of my favorite ones that hit close to my heart:

“A Son Needs A Mom to teach him that all people are worthy of respect". Seems so simple huh? Yet, in today's world it seems to be a trait missing in so many people. It's up to us as parents to instill this value into our babies at young ages. Step it up folks!

“A Son Needs A Mom to remind him to say his prayers". "D" is an old pro at his prayers now; still melts my heart every night to hear him say what he is thankful for, and then ask the Lord to "Rock his world." Can you just imagine hearing your 6 year old say that? "J" still needs a little help with his prayers, but he has the best little voice when you hear him say "Amen". Times like these melt away the bad spots of the day.

"A Son Needs a Mom who understands that what he needs from her changes as he grows older". I will be the first to admit that I have had a hard time with this one, especially when it comes to "D". There used to be a time when I was his Number One, when spending his afternoons with me, playing and reading were all he ever needed. Now he has learned about time alone, boy stuff (that he thinks I don't get) and his friends, and I have been pushed to the sidelines. I try to be okay with it; each day I put on my uniform, ready to resume my spot on the field when he is ready to have me back. Maybe I need to realize that it's just as important to be his Number One fan from an admiring distance, than to be in the mix of it.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Into the Woods We Go

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

It is official – my book sales have reached another Milestone – 3 million books (shipped to retail stores)!

I’ve seen the first pass pages of Mom’s Little Angel, including all the book design features and layout of the pages. It looks great! Now on to the next phase, the last step before heading to the printer. I’m excited about it; most of my other books feature Meagan prominently (I’ve been writing about her the longest), then Jill, and then Linley. This book, however, features Jill and Linley as main characters, along with Joann, my mother-in-law. I hope they are pleased with the end result.

No word yet on the four non-fiction and one fiction ideas I’ve floated past my editor, but I remain hopeful she will want to acquire at least one of them.

News on the Volunteer front: I’ve been touched deeply recently with the desire to serve, and so have joined the Global Outreach Ministry at our church. I’ll be working on efforts to improve the conditions of orphanages in under-developed countries, and ease the challenges of international adoption for families here in Atlanta. Exciting stuff; important stuff.

Just finished reading “Lord of the Flies” and tried to remember why it was my favorite book as a pre-teen. Came up blank. But now I’m reading “The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox.” Can’t put it down! It and the “Bright Forever” are shaping up to be examples of where I want my writing style to go, with a little Capote, Irving, Updike and Harper Lee tossed in for a truly robust reading experience.

Jill and I are off to Bryson City, NC and the Fryemont Inn this weekend to enjoy a few days in a rustic setting (no TV, Internet or phone in the rooms, claw-footed bathtubs and similar accoutrements from days gone by), long hikes in the deep woods, and a chance to take photos at the Joyce Kilmer National Forest, all pivotal settings in my novel TREES. I hope to get a shot suitable for the book cover.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Clacky McSnackins

Clacky McSnackins, a 25 year old parent to a 2 year old son, is in active duty with the U.S. Air Force and lives in Anchorage Alaska. This is his review, posted on Helium.com, of my book “Why a Son Needs a Dad”:

Concept
This book goes through all of the great things about being a father. Not just the good times, but the hard times, and the life lessons as well. It offers a large number of pictures and after each are pithy statements. For example: a picture of a son and dad playing soccer together on the first page, and on the next page it says “A son needs a dad to teach him to be a gracious winner, as well as a gracious loser.”

The book is pretty much a focus on what it says is a boy's very first hero, his father.

Personal Thoughts One of the greatest events that has ever happened in my life has been the creation of my son. Without my child, I don't know what I would do. He has meant everything in the world to me. I love my wife with all of my heart, but having someone that is a piece of you, is truly amazing, and there are no words that can fully describe the way that a father feels for his first son. I know that he's going to be a little demon, but I know that I am going to love him, laugh with him, and help him throughout his life.

To see a book that really goes to show that special bond between a father and a son, that is unlike any other relationship on earth, is truly special to me. I see a lot of myself and my own son, even though he is still quite young, in the pictures that they display throughout the book. The moments that I have shared with Jordan, although they are stupid to anyone that hasn't had the opportunity and I truly stress the word 'opportunity' to have children of their own, are truly amazing.

While I know that I don't have any of the memories that are in the book yet, as Jordan is barely even born, I look at the book and think about what great times we are going to have together as he grows older. I imagine all of the trouble he is going to get himself into and how I'm going to have to stick up for him when he is in trouble with mommy (when I say stick up, I mean I'm just going to sit there and shut-up, mommy wins). I think about how great of a relationship we are going to have together and of all the memories that we will share and who knows, maybe we'll have our own book, just like this one.

Overview The book is filled with loads of different pictures of father's and son's interacting with one another. From playing soccer, to fishing, to just hanging out, they definitely capture the relationships between father and son perfectly. I don't think there's a single interaction that could be better than the ones depicted in the book.

The best thing about the book is rather than just being a picture book, it is filled with wisdom that we fill our children with and inspiring phrases that make you feel so much pride about being a father and having a son.

I can't think of a better gift for any father than this book. It truly does summarize what it means to be a father and to have a son, especially a son as your very first child.

Thanks McSnackins!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Honorable Mention

Roseann Keegan, a freelance writer, wrote this article mentioning my first book for RGJ.com. I think it’s great and wanted to share it with you:

When our daughter was a baby, my husband would say there were two people in her life: "Mommy" (me) and "Not the Mommy" (him). I would explain that nursing mothers have an unfair advantage since babies depend on us for food. My husband was not assured.

Five years later, I didn't realize how comfortable I'd become in my self-perceived superstar role. My husband has always been a capable parent, even from the beginning, and present in every sense of the word. But somewhere along the way I started to believe there were many things only a mother could do, in addition to lactating.

My bubble burst abruptly one night.

"Tomorrow, I get to be a 'mommy helper' at school," I chirped to my kindergartener.

My daughter thought for a moment. "When does Dad get to be a daddy helper?" she asked. "He has not had a turn."

I was glad she was embracing the kindergarten concept of taking turns, but I was sad that I was going to have to share. I love my weekly visits to the classroom: learning the kids' names, hearing their funny stories ("Mrs. Keegan, this one time, my dog bit me because he thought I was food, and then another time ...) and watching my own daughter navigate the day.

But I knew it wasn't fair to hog the experience, as much as I wanted to. And my husband was thrilled to have been asked.

Still, I worried: would he do OK? I mean, there's craft glue and cutting out letters and playing alphabet bingo and story time -- it's a lot for a first-timer. But he went to college and has a grasp on the basics, so I guess he'll be OK. Plus, he is a photographer and deals with brides so he knows how to handle someone who needs a nap really badly.

So, I sighed. It was time to let go and let dad have a turn.

When the fateful morning arrived, I held onto my daughter's backpack with a Kung Fu death grip as we said goodbye. After "Not the Mommy" pried the pink bag from my hands and they left, I walked into the empty house.

Now what? My son was down early for his morning nap, exhausted from waking me up at one-hour intervals the night before. (See? I totally earn this pedestal thing.)

But instead of relishing the quiet, the house seemed eerie. I admit that in my most frazzled moments of parenthood I have fantasized about the kids being older, a little more self-sufficient. Europe would be nice this time of year, I've thought. But now I was alone and I hated it.

I sat quietly at my computer and thought. This is good, this asking daddy to be involved. I've always told my husband that the father-daughter relationship is one of the most important relationships our daughter will ever have. That can't flourish if I don't share.

Five years ago, when we were expecting our daughter, I bought my husband a book called, "Why a Daughter Needs a Dad."

I am gently reminded that our daughter doesn't just need her mom to be present; she needs her father in a starring role, too. So I have to step aside, take a cue from the kindergartener and wait my turn.

I bet there are military wives and single moms who would forfeit every day in kindergarten just to have the option.

My husband's turn seemed to go well. As expected, he had some funny stories to share when he got home. While the kids were working on numbers, he asked them to guess his age. "I think you are 88, maybe even 100!" one girl exclaimed.

My daughter was eager to tell me about her day at school with Dad. Then she asked if I would play one of her favorite games, veterinarian.

As a bonus, she promoted me to the role of nurse, instead of my usual role of wounded domestic animal. And once again, I enjoyed taking my turn.

Thank you Roseann for sharing your insights about dads, and for the mention of my book!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Peas in a Pod

During this most recent weekend Linley spent the night in Athens with Meagan, getting her first taste of what life is like at the University of Georgia. They went shopping, dined at a student favorite café, attended a gathering at a fraternity house, mulled around downtown among the bohemians, stayed up late painting their nails when back in the dorm, and maybe a few things they didn’t bother to tell me about.

Jill and I were delighted: our girls were acting like sisters. Linley told of when they were introduced as sisters and others commented that they look nothing alike, no explanation for their physical dissimilarity was given. For them, our girls, the “step-” modifier has fallen into uselessness. I couldn’t be happier with how they have take important places in each others lives, and will still have each other long after Jill and I are gone.

I am reminded of a post I wrote two years ago and want to share it again:

As we all sat on the front porch to enjoy the last warm days of autumn, Meagan turned to Jill and said, “Hey, you’ve been my step-mom almost two years now.” It’s true, just under two years have gone by since the day my life took a surprise turn in the road and headed down the aisle into matrimony.

Once a confirmed bachelor who vehemently vowed to never remarry, I had lunch with a high school friend in early 2004. She brought along a friend of hers, a beautiful woman named Jill. I fell in love with her within an hour. We wed that December and each brought a daughter into our marriage.

Jill and I had our share of concerns about combining our families; after all, each child had already lived all their lives as a doted on only child. Both girls had their own expectations, which they expressed without reservation, about what parent-child traditions would remain in place or be replaced, who would get the bigger bedroom or the final say in sibling disputes. My wife and I braced ourselves on the day we all moved into the new house together. We hoped for the best and prayed we had not just boarded a train destined to run off the tracks and into a dark and murky swamp.

Sure, we went through an adjustment period, when at one time or another each daughter cried tears of frustration about something the other had done or said. But Jill and I stood firm, united and expecting our children to work it out for the benefit of our newly blended family. We were determined not to be two families under one roof.

Now in retrospect, I could not have asked for a better experience putting our families together. I have only to think about scenes on our front porch or from our family vacations to find evidence our girls have indeed become siblings; not just two girls peacefully coexisting, but living together as sisters.

This summer while on vacation we rented three rooms at the bed and breakfast inn where we stayed. We did this to make sure the girls had their space and privacy, so they could take a break from each other if need be. Much to our surprise, they decided to sleep together in one bed rather than apart in their own rooms.

When I hugged them goodnight I realized there had not been one spat between them in spite of a mad rush at the airport, my annoyance when Jill, the navigator, got us lost, and all those hours spent in the car driving from Boston to our destination in upper Maine. I pictured them as they held hands to run across the street earlier in the day and when they shared ice cream on a park bench. In that moment I knew Jill and I were succeeding in giving the girls something special they had not had before - each other. We knew that by bringing them together through our marriage we were giving them a richer context for personal growth; we were better preparing them for their adult lives.

While each daughter retains many of her previous “only child” habits, they have also formed new ones, “sisterly” ones. They advise each other on what to wear, share their shoes, shop and get their nails done together, consult one another on boyfriend matters, keep secrets for one another, and laugh out loud as they make fun of the adults they must endure.

These moments reassure me that Jill and I are teaching the girls a valuable life lesson, that is, what a loving family looks and feels like. If there were only one thing we could do for the girls it would be to serve as the models for what marriage and family they will want for themselves one day.

So as we sat on our front porch together, planning weekends, holidays and future vacations, the sisters entertained themselves by making fun of each others’ habits, debating about which would end up a super model, and arguing with me about their need for a new suitcase just for shoes. Jill and I smiled at one another, delighted with what we have accomplished.

Just the other day Meagan told me she looked forward to the day she would become an aunt, a role not long ago she thought she would never get to play, a role that Linley makes possible for her, and vise-versa.

Yes, our home shelters one united family. Praise God for all good that comes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

This and That from the Past

Forgiveness is to give love when it seems there is no reason to do so.

Friendship improves happiness and abates misery by doubling our joy and dividing our grief.

The bridge you burn now may be the one you later have to cross.

We stopped in the Arcadia National Forest in Maine to climb to the top of a rock formation and look out over the bay – there was the city of Bar Harbor below, Nova Scotia on the horizon, and the Atlantic Ocean for as far as you could see. Jill and I marveled. I looked over my shoulder, certain I would see that the girls were as impressed with the view as we were. I spotted Meagan busy sending a text-message from her phone and Linley holding the portable DVD player, taking care not to miss a single scene of Moulin Rouge.

I took the family to Statesboro, Georgia one weekend to visit the campus of Georgia Southern University, one of the candidate colleges on Meagan’s list. I really don’t want her to be four hours away from home but wasn’t sure how to say that without being the overbearing dad she sometimes accuses me of. As I was pondering a mini-speech, she was looking out the window as we drove though the sleepy little southern town that offered little to a metropolitan kind of girl. “Where in the world would I get my nails done,” she asked. I knew then I no longer needed to worry.

Meagan called me one morning just before school was to begin to tell me she had forgotten to take her medicine. I reassured her it was noting to worry about, but to no avail; she was nearly frantic. Finally she whimpered, “I don’t want to die.”
“No, honey, I don’t want you to, either,” I said, “but they are just vitamins.

This morning I studied my hands as my fingertips moved slowly across the keyboard, waiting to warm up and become limber again. Dry, wrinkled and cracked, a ragged cuticle and the knuckles red and rough. Years digging in the dirt, bending gold and silver, sculpting clay, wrapped around a wrench or hammer, wiping baby bottoms, shelling peas, scrubbing potatoes and peeling rutabagas, clipping on necklaces, pulling out splinters and putting on Band-Aids, rubbing tired eyes, clasped in prayer at night, touching my wife’s beautiful face. I should take better care of them.

Girls and their excitement about bedding, it escapes my comprehension. But the best part was the five hours we spent alone in the car talking about everything under the sun. I’m grateful for such times, when I get to be dad, friend and advisor, not just disciplinarian and Daddy Warbucks. Oh I complain but you know as well as I do how much I am going to miss the times when she hugs and kisses me, smiles with sparkling eyes and tells me I’m handsome just before asking for a $20.

Why does it upset the girls so much if when I agree enthusiastically with a point they’ve made I shout “Boomshockalocka!”

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Woe is I

At one time I was in the healthcare business. Specifically, I worked in mental health and brain injury rehabilitation for most of that 22 year career. Behavior Modification Therapy was a frequently used intervention in both fields, so sometimes the terminology of that methodology leaks into my vocabulary.

For instance, the book Mom’s Little Angel has been completed and submitted to my Editor, thus I am in a phase known as the Post-Reinforcement Pause. The goal has been achieved, and pleased with myself for having done it, I’m relaxing. It’s quite like having a cigarette after sex.

For the record, I don’t smoke, but I thought you might get the picture quicker this way than after laboring through a paragraph of psychobabble.

So I’m taking it easy as I wait for my Editor to review the book and give her feedback. While I wait, I daydream of finally cracking into the Top 5 on the New York Times’ Best-seller List. I’m tracked in the Hardcover Advice category, which only lists the top five books. I’ve never risen above the #6 spot, so when I mention I’m a NYT best-seller, most people say, “Nu-uh.”

I’m telling you, by the time you explain the Top 5 thing and move on to explaining how to click the link that says “Complete List,” folks have moved down the buffet line toward the Swedish Meatballs.

I also daydream of being interviewed on Fox and Friends by Alisyn Camerota, Rebecca Gomez or Jane Skinner. At present I’m practicing my “maintain eye contact” technique as I fear my wife seeing me admiring their legs and other noteworthy attributes a bit too much on national TV.

And of course the girls are already hitting me up for an increase in their allowance and Jill wants to buy more clothes for her smelly dog. It seems she thinks Oprah will want Princess in the audience during my onstage appearance.

And then I wonder, what if I don’t get into the Top 5, or Fox or Oprah?

It’s about that time when I slip into a mood one might call “fraught with anxiety,” but which is more commonly called “flippin’ out” where I come from. Let’s go back to the guy with the cigarette. For a moment he’s thinking, “I’m a stud!” But then he questions himself, “Did I do OK?” and before he gets an answer, he bolts from the bed and jumps out a window.

What if my Editor hates it? Are my pronouns and gerunds used correctly? Did I say “really” and “nevertheless” too often? Did I interchange “as” and “while” when I should have? How many of those damn infinitives did I split!? Oh, woe is I!

So now ends the pleasure and relaxation of the Post-Reinforcement Pause. I’ve swung fully into Acute Anticipation Anxiety, Severe. I won’t sleep until I hear, “We love your book.” Until then, should those words come, I can only wait nervously, biting my nails.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Best of 2007, Part II

Meagan and I were sharing some daddy-daughter time on the couch the other night watching one of her programs when I turned to her and said, “I can’t believe you will be leaving for college in just over a year.”
“I know,” she said, then added, “I’m scared.”
“Why would you be scared?”
“I’m such a baby.”
“And whose fault is that?”
That was when she reached out and smacked me on the back of the head. “What were you thinking?” she asked.
I wonder myself sometimes.

I took Meagan to school yesterday, the first time since she got her car and license 13 months ago. Nothing has changed: she was still late for the time of departure; ate breakfast in the car, leaving crumbs everywhere; insisted on listening to her music instead of my talk radio; put on her makeup during most of the ride, leaving smudges on the mirrored visor; snapped at me a few times because apparently I was “asking too many questions”; and warned me to behave myself as I pulled onto the campus parking lot. Then she said “I love you” and kissed me as she got out of the car. Thankfully, nothing has changed.

Linley had a minor medical emergency that required a visit to the ER. During the check-in process she was asked if she had any allergies. She does, to horse and cat hair. They actually put that info on a wrist band and made her wear it. Whew, I was reassured then they would not accidentally bring a horse into the room! As we were led into the only available room we discovered it was a psychiatric emergency room, one with almost nothing on the walls, restraints on the bed, a locking door that could not be opened from inside the room, and a surveillance camera. As she sat on the bed and looked out into the ER she asked me why everyone stared at her. It was field day at school that day and the kids wear weird outfits; today she looked like a homeless Pippi Longstockings. Soon we learned she needed to have blood drawn and she hates needles, so I tried to distract her by restraining myself to the bed. Just then the fire alarm went off – no not really but for a moment I imagined this as a scene on Seinfeld – me trying to run from the room with a bed attached to my leg.

Jill asked me to go to Moe’s Southwest Grill to pick up a meal she could take to work the next day. She wanted a Naked Home Wrecker to go (a burrito in a bowl instead of the wrap). I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Best of 2007, Part I

You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.

Jill and I got up to go to the bathroom at the same time while on an international flight recently. When I got to the toilet I looked over my shoulder and my wife was no where to be seen. I went back to our section of the plane and found her, sprawled out in the aisle, her foot caught in the earphone wire that I had hung on my armrest. For some reason I got into trouble for this.

After untangling herself and visiting the loo, Jill commenced to reading a British tabloid. After some time she looked at me and confessed to reading the paper with a British accent.

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.

Jill, Meagan and I were watching the news when they did a segment on eye surgery. Meagan grossed out and started talking about the kind of medical conditions or procedures that make her nauseous. She asked Jill which, if any, disturbed her. My wife’s answer? “Beheadings.” I’ll say.

Devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing.

The person who pays an ounce of principle for a pound of popularity gets badly cheated.

There is no greater love than the love that holds on when there seems nothing left to hold on to.

Things I’m going to teach my grandchildren to do:
1. Be 20 minutes late for anything and everything.
2. Leave shoes all over the house.
3. Never rinse your dishes.
4. Listen to your music loud enough that no one else in the house can hear anything.
5. Wait until the last minute to share important information.
6. Impose only on your parents, never your friends.
7. Keep your plans a secret until the time when revealing them will wreck other’s plans.
8. Beg shamelessly for money, even when you have some of your own.
9. Look in the refrigerator and identify what are essential ingredients for the night’s meal. Eat that for a snack.
10. Leave sticky fingerprints in conspicuous places, especially in the guest bathroom.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Best of 2006 Part III, and Baby Girl Drives

My neighbor, his friend, and I, had lunch together the other day. My neighbor and I have daughters, his friend, boys. His friend got caught checking out the waitress. My neighbor and I agreed that having daughters changed the way we looked at and thought about women. His friend asked why. My neighbor summed it up beautifully. He said, “When you have a son you only worry about one penis. When you have a daughter, you worry about all the penises.”

Teaching is the art of raising good questions and challenging students to think differently through considering hypothetical scenarios. It is not a license to stand on a soapbox and indoctrinate a captive audience.

Last night my neighbor and I watched our wives dancing on the kitchen counter. We easily agreed the martini shaker was a worthwhile investment.

While taking photos at a friend’s house she showed me her new pet, one of those ugly hairless felines, like Doctor Evil’s cat, Mr. Bigglesworth. “Touch it,” she said. I did. “Feels like a penis, doesn’t it,” she said. Realizing this was a trick question, I asserted my rights under the Fifth Amendment.

Driving home from dinner I looked over at Meagan and she was sniffing her loafers. Huh?

On the same trip, I saw a Chihuahua hanging her (wearing a pink fuzzy collar) head out the car window, barking at its reflection in the mirror. It reminded me of a time when one of Meagan’s girlfriends came running back to the table to tell us how she saw a girl in the restaurant bathroom wearing the same dress she had on, only to realize a minute later it was her own reflection in a floor-to-ceiling mirror. “I did that once,” Meagan said. Must be a girl thing.

Second-best Quote (Caiylyn, Meagan’s girlfriend, as they were getting ready for our dinner out on the town): “Shoulders back, boobs out.”

And on a realtime note, I took Linley out on the far back country roads to begin her driving lessons yesterday, just as I'd promised her I would do. The little critter drove 45 miles without major incident and only four near misses, quite a feat, I think, it being only her second time behind the wheel outside of our neighborhood. No sooner than I'd said "avoid small towns and the police," we turned a corner and found ourselves at a red light in the middle of a small town, stopped alongside the police station. I once heard someone call such things "ironical." Thank God I didn't warn her to take care and not run off the shoulder of the road, which is exactly what I did the first time my Dad put me behind the wheel of his old puke green pickup truck way back in 1975. Lordy, Baby Girl won't be a baby much longer.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Best of 2006, Part II

Meagan had a little talk with me about posting the details of her bodily functions. I promised not to identify HER bodily functions in the future. In the future, if it is necessary to write about a bodily function, I will attribute the function to Somebody, who could be anybody.

It rained yesterday and was cold, too. I was driving around town with the windows closed up tight and the heater going to keep the interior warm and toasty for all. Somebody farted and nearly killed me.

Meagan has informed me you can tell if you are sick or not by the sound of your poop splashing in the toilet. Says it’s something she learned on Oprah. I hope she remembers her homework, too.

Jill and I landed Saturday evening reservations at one of Atlanta’s hottest new restaurants, a gourmet Mexican place. She loves Mexican and southwestern food. Saturday afternoon I went with her to a medical appointment, one that had her bit nervous. Being a good husband, I rubbed her shoulders and went through some relaxation techniques with her, including visualization. After she said she was good I asked her what she had thought about. “Guacamole,” she said.

Somehow Linley and I got on the subject of how we would want to die. We agree that passing in your sleep is the best way to go. Number Two would be in an explosion, because it would be quick, and we both like fireworks.

I’ve learned that if the conversation with your daughter lulls, ask what’s going on in Desperate Housewives. She’ll talk so much you’ll want to take a nap afterward.

The funniest thing about watching reality television is hearing the stuff people will say without realizing they will have to live with it later. Just the other day, after escaping a scary experience, some church lady said “I just crapped a big load of turds.” Nice, grandma.

I took the kids to Target to buy a pack of pencils and two 3-ring binders. How did we manage to leave with that and three CDs, game software, mascara and a new bikini? All I got was a pack of mints.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Best of 2006, Part I

I have four book proposals out and am working feverishly on a fifth, so to save time I'm posting a few of my favs from the archives:

My wife insists that ice is a rock, thus explaining the term “on the rocks.” This is why I do all the cooking at our house.

“How does deja-vu work?” Meagan asked.
“It’s a neurological glitch, when the right and left hemispheres are not synchronized when encoding a memory,” I explained.
“What?” Linley asked, as Meagan rolled her eyes at me.
“Memories are stored on both sides of your brain. Do you know what that part of the brain that connects the hemispheres is called?”
“Juicy stuff?” Meagan said.
The badulla,” Jill interjected.
I rolled my eyes. “No, it’s the corpus callosum. It connects the hemispheres and coordinates the transfer of…,” I continued.
“I prefer to think it’s magical,” Jill said.
“Yes, it’s magical!” Linley shrieked.
“You’re such a freak, Dad,” Meagan concluded.

Linley damaged her cell phone so badly it hardly worked, so we replaced it. She’s a bit forgetful and promptly lost it within a week. She searched for it for days, but to no avail. Jill and I decided not to replace it, thinking a lesson needed to be taught. Last night I dropped myself onto the couch for a bit of relaxation watching television. I landed between the cushions, my butt pushing them apart somewhat. A shooting pain went through my spine. Guess what I found.

Why does it always take 20 minutes to fill a prescription, even if you are the only customer in the pharmacy?

I turned 46 today, and Meagan cheerfully announced that I am now more than half-way to 90!

“Good, that hot waiter is here.”
“Is that why you picked this restaurant?”
“Do you think he notices me?”
“How can he not, you’re prancing around for him.”
“I’m going to tell him I want to have his children.”
“Tell him before we order, perhaps we’ll get extra calamari.”
“How much are you going to spend on my birthday?”
“I don’t have to think about that for another two months.”
“Well I do, I need to pick stuff out.”
“You don’t think I can pick out something?”
“You have no fashion sense. By the way, what are you wearing to the parents’ reception at school tomorrow?”
“I thought I would just stay in my pajamas.”
“Freak.”
“Just write your phone number on the table. If he’s interested, he‘ll call.”
“I just farted. Do you think he heard me?”

Friday, October 17, 2008

I luv u 2

I mentioned a few posts ago that I’ve been reading two humorous books: “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” and “Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies.” Both are laugh-out-loud funny and were quite helpful as I was completing the final edit of TREES. Both authors made the point that email and text messaging have done a great disservice to American punctuation and grammar usage. Let me offer an example (an exchange between Meagan and me):

Meagan: what does it mean when ur eyelid wont stop twitching
Me: Just a spasm not enough sleep
Meagan: its been doing it for 2 days n I’ve had lots of sleep
Me: Mine does it 2. Nothing 2 worry about.
Meagan: K sweet. Ps how’s ur hearing
Me: What?
Meagan: Your hearing duh
Me: That was a joke
Meagan: Dad that would only be funny if we were talking. We’re texting.
Me: Oh the irony
Meagan: Hahahahaha omg you r a faREAK. How is it 4 real
Me: No change
Meagan: Ugh lame at least you’re not blind
Me: Or stupid
Meagan: That’s debatable. We should learn sign language that would be so BA
Me: BA?
Meagan: Bad Ass DUH
Me: DUH
Meagan: Woohoo 92 on my poli sci midterm
Me: cool
Meagan: Calm down n get control of your excitement
Me: ???
Meagan: Sarcasm Eugene
Me: Who?
Meagan: You
Me: You what?
Meagan: Wait what? Now Im confused
Me: Me 2
Meagan: DUH
Me: I luv u
Meagan: U 2. Ps feel free to send a care package sometime soon

Good news – an Acquisition Editor has agreed to read TREES. The only words sweeter than “I’ll take a look at it” would be “We’d like to offer you a (insert nearly any six-figure dollar amount here) advance for the right to publish this amazing book.” I can daydream, can’t I?

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trees: A Synopsis

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

I’ve finally gotten TREES ready to send out to publishers, thanks in large part to the help of my sweet neighbors/critical readers Heather and Deanne, and the lovely wife Jill. With their input I’ve developed a few characters, filled in some gaps, increased some drama, and added an additional 6,000 words. Now I’m working on improving the pitch letter, which in its current form is as follows:

Love is ecstasy, but love is painful. Love is bold as thunder, and delicate as rain. Love in any manifestation is but the unique song each lover sings in his own heart while he waits for that special person who will understand his voice.

Kyle Montgomery, a young attorney living in Atlanta, and Nicole Fischer, his girlfriend, both hindered in their quest for love by the scars of their pasts, struggle to keep their cobbled together relationship from falling apart.

At a time when the tenuous bond they share is most vulnerable, Kyle’s former fiancée Shawna suddenly reappears and fuels the anger and self-doubt that has driven Kyle since their breakup. When faced with keeping promises to Nicole or proving to all that he is a more capable lawyer than he is given credit for, Kyle comes home to tell Nicole that he cannot go with her to visit her grandmother during a long holiday weekend.

The fact that he must face Shawna as opposing council raises Nicole’s suspicions and Kyle’s mother’s hopes that her son will return to his former lover.

Nicole, a woman tough as nails on the outside but lost and fearful within, keeps Kyle at a safe emotional and physical distance. Haunted by the harsh lessons of her deceased, embittered mother who never recovered from a failed love, Nicole sees herself fulfilling the tradition of her mother and grandmother, fiercely guarding her heart and living according to her own terms, never compromising herself in the name of love.

Traveling alone to visit her grandmother, Nicole begins to learn a lesson or two about overcoming the obstacles life throws in one’s way, finding hope and offering forgiveness, and falling in love for all the right reasons.

Trees is a southern tale set in an old inn in the Appalachian foothills of western North Carolina. It unfolds against a back story of the grandmother’s role in founding the Joyce Kilmer National Forest, and a few secrets she has kept, one secret so powerful that when it is finally told, Kyle and Nicole’s lives are forever changed.

Trees is the quintessential love story about a lasting bond and a lover’s promise that even death cannot put asunder.

If you have thoughts on the above, please share them!

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mermaids

The following is an excerpt from my book, "Daddy's Little Girl":

"Fran’s fondest memory of time spent with her dad is of when he took her on her first boat ride in the bay. As they leaned on the railing, wind in their hair, watching the waves roll past and the sun approaching the horizon, she pointed forward and announced she had just spotted a mermaid.

Her dad laughed, scanned the horizon and said he wished he had seen it, too. Once back at the marina, he took Fran by the hand as they stepped off the boat and together they walked to a nearby bakery. Looking into the glass case, they mulled over whether they wanted chocolate or hazelnut dessert. Unable to make up their minds, they closed their eyes and randomly pointed. With their surprise selections in hand, they sat at an outdoor table and munched on crème filled pastries, talking until the sun finally slipped into the ocean.

Although dad told Fran quite a few things during that evening and the many others like it that followed, he never told her there really weren’t such things as mermaids. It was her youthful innocence that he treasured, and he hoped they could hold on to it just a bit longer."

I remember well how much I hoped Meagan would be saved from learning one of the great cruelties of life, that she be spared the heartache and disappointment of a failed young love. I now have those same worries with Linley as I watch the 14 year old woman in my life begin to have an interest in boys, or as I sometimes call it, take her first steps into the brambles of relationships. I'm sure she will do well, she has three adults looking out for her best interest, but I'm not sure how well Jill is doing. It seems she is always on the verge of fainting whenever the idea crosses her mind that her daughter might be making sugar with someone.

And relationships are only the start of a long list of all things a parent fears for his child.

But the truth is parents should never save their child from the experiences of life: a child protected from life's aches and pains in all their forms is a child not permitted to grow up, a child unprepared for living when the parents are no longer able to provide shelter and rescue.

A mermaid is at her most beautiful when allowed to swim confident and free in the open sea. I have one mermaid now out in the ocean blue, and another on the way. She will stumble, she will fall, and one day she will set out on her own, able and sure.

OK, 'nough said. Now go out there and hug somebody!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hump Day

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

It will be busy in our household the next few days - two football games this week (Jill and I work the concession during one of them) and my photography show opens Saturday evening, plus I’m reviewing my novel Trees with a ghost editor later today. I wish staying busy made me skinny. At the very least I guess it helps keep my joints loose, although the older I get the more convinced I become there is a place for yoga in my future.

I went to Athens to see Meagan on Monday; it seems she misses her Dad more than either of us thought she would. It's nice that she's so close; I can dash over for lunch and still have dinner on the table when Jill gets home (baked chicken, creamy mashed potatoes and sautéed fresh green beans last night, Veggie quesadillas tonight) – she’s so spoiled. Linley and I went on a 45 minute safari yesterday in search of a bagel (she gets "urgent" food cravings right after school) but finding none, she settled for two donuts.

I pitched three new book proposals yesterday to HarperOne. It may be a week or more before I hear a reaction. The best case scenario would be “We’ll have all three,” but that’s being a bit too optimistic. I’ll happily settle for selling just one. I’ll plummet into despair if they say “We’ll have none.” This writing life – it’s like being evaluated at the end of each date, the probability of the next date occurring being directly proportional to how well you knocked her socks off with the last one. Geez, some guys get performance anxiety under such pressure!

My agent says I should write a book about dogs. Jill loves my agent. I really don’t like our dog. I think my time as a happily married man is limited, but Jill and my agent have a promising future.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Thanks Dad

A son needs a dad to teach him that family is more important than work.

When I wrote that statement for my second book, “Why a Son Needs a Dad,” I was working nearly seventy hours a week and much of that time was on the road. I was not committing nearly enough time to my relationships at home.

One evening while at the desk in my hotel room, I thought of my father as I began work on what would become a tribute book to him.

I remembered he worked hard to provide for our family, sometimes at two jobs to make ends meet. He pushed himself beyond his education to acquire the skills necessary for a better career. He traveled, too, and because of his efforts, rose through the ranks.

But he also made time to be with his five children, both together and one-on-one. He made sure the treehouse we built ourselves was sturdy and safe, that my mini-bike was always tuned, and once we were big enough to see over the steering wheel, each child got a chance to drive through the neighborhood in their choice of the station wagon or the old pickup truck.

With these memories in mind, I began to slow down. I traveled less and I turned down new and more promising, as well as more demanding, opportunities. No, I didn’t make a million bucks before I was forty and I never became the president of a company.

But I do attend every event at my daughters’ schools, cheer at each cheerleading competition, attend most of their medical and orthodontic appointments, and still have time to horse around in the yard. And not once while having a good laugh with my girls have I ever wished I was negotiating a quota busting sale instead.

No, I haven’t made that million, but I am rich nonetheless. I have my dad to thank for that.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Circumlocution

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

A note I received yesterday: “Thank You for being my new favorite author. You and Mitch Albom are on the top of my list!” Now that’s good company (albeit a comparison I don’t deserve, it flatters me nonetheless).

I finished “To Kill a Mockingbird” last weekend and “The Great Gatsby” this morning, and while I’m tempted to read “Gods in Alabama” because I watched Jill laugh out loud so many times while she was reading it, I should face the fact that I am in the final edits of my own novel, “Trees,” thus instead must review “Eats, Shoots and Leaves,” “Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies,” “Rewrite Right” and “The Plot Thickens” to assure my own book is as polished as it should be before turning it over to an editor. Some might think that was a long sentence, but believe me I’ve constructed much longer ones; it emphasizes the rhythm of dialogue. And provides contrast to shorter sentences. See?

Mom’s Little Angel (don’t you love the cover?) is in the hands of the designers now and I should get a mock bound copy by the end of the month to review. I usually keep copies of the various stages of my books, from red-lined pages I printed at home to the Editor’s mark-up to the final product. I doubt I’ll ever be asked to donate my “papers” to a library, but at least the grandkids will have something to laugh about, and plenty of scrap paper to doodle on.

My photo show goes on the walls tomorrow with an official opening reception next Saturday; it will hang for a month. I’m showing 30 images from my Southern Allegories series. Regrettably, the gallery owner didn’t get the show listed in the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Guide, the big annual photography event in GA, and her website hasn’t been updated to announce my show, but who’s watching? UGH! Thank God for Jill who calms me with a few words, or dumps a bucket of water on me when cautionary words fail.

Last night we watched Linley cheer at a very exciting football game. She did a great job, our team won and it was loads of fun watching Jill cringe every time Linley did her tumbling routine, but the real agony was in the getting to and from. You see, my SUV holds 5 people and lots of luggage, or 7 people and some luggage. What it doesn’t do is hold 6 people, four gym bags, four loaded backpacks, five purses, two loaded ice chests and a grocery sack of chips and power bars. It was a crowd. And add to that all the uproarious conversations the girls were having with each other plus chatting with guys on their cell phones while singing too loudly to Bob Marley. I’m not sure which was worse, that or the blinding effect of driving home in the dark in a car full of girls each with her own with camera, flash blazing all the way home.

So back to Trees – I’ve added nearly 6,000 words, it’s up to 320 pages now and, I think, a better story than it ever was before. I so want to see this thing in print!

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Behold, the cover of the new book

Much is happening right now; will give an update tomorrow, just wanted to share the cover with you ASAP. More later!

Monday, September 22, 2008

First Day of Spring!

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

Now on to today’s post~

The copyedited version of Mom’s Little Angel has been returned to HarperOne. A new editor worked on this book and she did a great job. You don’t realize how often you use the same words or sentence structure until someone else points it out to you. So the manuscript will go to the designers next who will add my photos, create the layout that will include space for the buyer’s own photo and personal story, and add in the quotes I collected from those I interviewed. I should see that version of the book in early October, and then it will take its place in line at the printing press. It is exciting to see what began as an idea formed while drinking a cup of coffee materialize into something you can actually touch.

I’ve also recently completed the ump-tenth revision of my novel Trees and have recruited three readers to take a gander at it and give me feedback. I wrote the first draft of this book in four months, but have been revising it for six years. I hope it works this time; I’m ready to send it out. It is a real challenge for a writer to jump genres but I’d jump in a hurry of I could finally break into the fiction market.

One thing I’ve learned in the last six years – it really is true that in order to write well you need to read a lot. I did not read much fiction when I began writing Trees, and it showed. Now all I read is fiction and what a difference it has made in my efforts to write fiction. BTW, right now I’m reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Just for fun, here’s a sample from Trees:

“That girl is going places,” Dr. Lewis Montgomery remarked, watching his son’s fiancé saunter across the room at the Paces Ferry Club, gliding toward a select cluster of Atlanta’s elite.

“But she’ll run over anyone she thinks might get in her way,” Kyle murmured, “and won’t think twice about it.”

“You can’t fault ambition, son.”

“That depends on whose ambition we’re talking about,” Kyle frowned.

Dr. Montgomery (rather ambitious himself and had the burgeoning practice and wife to prove it) and son stood a comfortable arms length from each other and watched Evelyn work the crowd, she being very careful about the order in which she greeted people and how much time she graciously allotted each. Funny how you can act like you’re going to kiss someone yet never your lips touch their skin.

“Have a drink, Kyle,” his father said before walking away. They didn’t talk much, both finding that much easier than to risk having to speak out loud about the things that disappointed them in each other.

So I cross my fingers and hope to see Trees in print one day too.

Weight loss update – I’m now down 32 pounds. It has taken longer than I’d hoped but at least I’m still headed in the right direction. I’m only three pounds away from what I weighed when I asked Jill to marry me, and six from what will be my lightest weight in ten years. No salt, sugar, caffeine and alcohol did it (my neighbor calls it the Amish Diet, I call it HELL), albeit a very hard diet to stick with.

Jill, Linley and I drove to Athens to have dinner with Meagan last night. She’s doing well at UGA, loves her boyfriend, roommate, classes, and independence, and she seems to be very, very happy. What more can a dad ask for - his little girl is blooming just fine.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When Family Pulls Together

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

NOTE: The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story for “Mom’s Little Angel” has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

As the book went through its last review before going into production, we discovered there were too many stories about death. Certainly death is a part of life. It is a time when family pulls together and the love shared between the one passing and those left behind is made obvious, but we didn’t want to book to be a downer. To that end, several of these kind of stories were cut. Here’s one, although not appearing in the final book, I thought you’d want to know about:

“A single mother in Texas in the mid-70’s, Florence held down two jobs to make ends meet yet still found the time and way to make sure Gena felt like the most important person on the planet. Whether it was waiting tables at night after working all day in an office or selling Tupperware on the weekends, she saw that Gena got what she needed and more. No amount of fatigue kept her from finding ways to provide for her child, and still she made it a priority that they spend quality time together.

Even after she remarried and began to have additional children with her new husband, Gena remained Florence’s confidante, her special buddy. Their time alone had cemented a bond that was not undone by remarriage or new babies. The days back when it was just the two of them were gone but not forgotten and certainly not minimized in their hearts and memories. Often when they were alone in the house they relived the mischief and fun they had once gotten themselves into, laughing about things only they held dear and understood. They were more than mother and daughter to one another; they were best friends.

Now, more than thirty years later, Gena sometimes struggles to get out of bed in the morning but she always does. She loathes her exhaustion, the sore muscles and tired bones that rob her of sleep and precious time, time to spend simply visiting with her mom. Pushing past the desire to collapse back into bed, she dresses quickly and goes to the spare bedroom where Florence now lives. Gena steps through the door, breakfast and medications in hand, and greets her mother with a cheerful “good morning” where she rests in her hospital bed.

Florence’s brain tumor took from her every familiar facial expression and personality trait as it grew. Once a vain clotheshorse who boasted nearly two-hundred pairs of shoes, she now wore only a single pair of hot pink slippers and cares little if she even has them on. Nor do the food spills her face and gown seem to bother her. Gena dutifully takes her mother to the toilet on the hour every hour in the hope that some modicum of dignity can still be preserved, knowing though that this too will one day be lost. The tumor has robbed both women of much.

Feeding her, Gena wonders if her mother really knows just how much she is adored, or if she has any clue that the strong woman she raised sits before her now afraid of the life she will soon have, a life without her beloved mother, in her eyes the still beautiful and once vital lady who taught her everything about everything.

Gena, the mother of four active boys spread from elementary to high school, curses her exhaustion but does not miss a beat, for she does not know how much more time she will be given to spend with her mom. She does know, however, that in spite of the physical and emotional drain of giving care to her dying mother, she is thankful for every day that they do spend together, just the two of them, as it was when it all began.”

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dog Redux

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the joys and frustrations of writing for a living, and a few points of interest along my life's meandering journey.

I write inspirational stories about relationships that share wisdom and teach important moral and life lessons, stories in which the reader might find hope, guidance, rekindled affection and a reason to smile.

Please visit www.gregoryelang.com and click the red corner on the home page just beneath the “Projects” tab to learn more about what projects I may be working on.

NOTE: The deadline to offer a mother-daughter story for “Mom’s Little Angel” has passed. Please continue to visit this blog for updates on the book as it begins the last leg of its journey toward publication (Spring, 2009).

Now on to today’s post~

A book update – the final draft has been accepted and the book has entered production! I expect to get my first line edited copy on Monday and then I’ll spend a few days reading through it, deciding whether I agree with the changes made (I almost always do, I’m a terrible speller and can’t accurately remember a single rule of grammar and punctuation). Great, another milestone passed!

For the benefit of a few new readers I’ve meet recently who, due to Jill’s participation in the conversation, have become fans of Princess’ blog: http://www.oneprettydog.blogspot.com/ (Let the record show I created that blog only as a gag gift for my wife, not as a gesture of attachment to the dog. Be that as it may, my wife operates under the delusion I am attached to the dog and am simply putting on a show when I dismiss the stupid mutt. Oh well, it's her delusion). By request and an arm twisted behind my back, I repost an entry I wrote almost two years ago:

“My wife is so dang beautiful I sometimes feel guilty she’s stuck with me. She’s sweet, attentive and a good soul, too. Her only shortcoming is her psycho-attachment to that little dog that annoys the beef stew out of me.

Let me explain by way of example: Jill is helping me revise my novel, TREES. I’m trying to drive up the conflict between the two main characters, hoping to add more drama to the story. Her valuable input sounds something like this:

“There needs to be a dog in this story.”
“I didn’t ask you to make it a dog story, I asked you to suggest how to up the conflict.”
“I know - they have an argument because he doesn’t want the dog to sleep on the bed.”
“Jill, it’s a novel, not an autobiography.”

Once my wife and I were sitting on barstools on the 24th floor of a great hotel in NYC, sipping great wine, chatting about the events of the day and looking down at the activity in Times Square. We spent part of our honeymoon in NYC, it is a place we like to visit when we need a getaway weekend; it represents romance to us. I watched her as she gazed at the street below. She looked beautiful; her hair pulled back, her face lit by the lights outside, her long elegant fingers delicately clutching her goblet, a bit of red lipstick on its rim. I reached out and placed my hand on her leg. “What are you thinking about?” I asked.

“I was just wondering what Princess might be doing right now,” she said. Damn that dog.

I do think Princess and I have one thing in common, though. Neither wants the other around. I believe this because yesterday after returning home from a hard workout at the gym, I decided to soak in the tub. I had almost fallen asleep when I heard something bumping across the tile bathroom floor. I looked over and saw Princess dragging a hair dryer toward me. When I told Jill she laughed her rear off, proud that her dog had the intelligence to understand that water and electricity don’t mix.

As you might guess, my wife was of the opinion that if I’d been electrocuted it would have been my own fault. It’s what I would deserve it seems, for denying my love for Princess.

When it comes to a dog, sometimes a husband just can’t win.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody!