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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Swope Clan in Edgerton

I don’t think I’ve ever received as many hugs in as short a time as I did during a 48-hour period last weekend. I went to Edgerton, my home town, for a book tour with mom and my sister Allyn. Mom and I weren’t the stars of that show; Allyn has kept in touch with many people and has some really close friends who are her cheerleaders. They became our cheerleaders too. But all of us, including those of us not there as pen-wielding celebrities, but rather as supporters, got a huge dose of Home Town Pride, and it was nice to be a small part of that pride.

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Our hostest Susan Herman of Susan’s Hair Flair and president of the Edgerton Chamber of Commerce

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Verna and mom

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Allyn & Sondra

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Mr. Smith (center)

A few highlights:

We were sitting at breakfast the first morning, already happy to be together and sharing laughs when my nieces walked into the restaurant. They flew in from Texas to surprise grandma and grandpa—arriving at 3 a.m. the previous night after a grueling flight on a cheaper airline. Once I saw them, I knew that—no matter the results of our book events—the weekend had just become something I’d never forget.

Our high school English teacher Richard Smith came to the Edgerton Public Library signing. I am quite certain I never hugged Mr. Smith in high school. Hugs were not so plentiful in those days. But neither Al nor I could help ourselves when we saw him. He is the teacher that got us interested in words. He laughingly explained he doesn’t read fiction (though he read our first book) anymore because his life was so consumed by it when he was a teacher. But he still has that delicious acerbic wit that delighted us as teenagers so much that we paid attention to him in class.

Verna Wortkoetter, the friend mom has remained closest to, not only had the clan and some old neighbors over for lunch, she invited some of mom’s old sorority sisters. The gesture was especially thoughtful because Verna was not part of that club. But she knew how important it was to mom, and she knew they’d all soon be trading memories of the parties they had and what had happened to the rest of the crew. I believe my nieces got a taste of grandma’s (and grandpa’s) wilder days by listening to the stories.

My husband saw his first parade, and (as I expected) instantly transformed into a kid. He kept himself from scrambling into the street after candy, but it couldn’t have been easy.

All of us choked up when grandpa struggled up out of his chair to sing the star spangled banner word for word. Alzheimers has nothing over patriotism!

God seemed to be smiling down on the whole weekend as the weather, which is usually hot and humid and miserable this time of year in Ohio, was gorgeous and sunny and cool.

The number of people who told us they were proud of what we’d done was incredible. It just kept coming and coming from old classmates and neighbors and friends of friends.

One of the signings we had was at Susan’s Hair flair right downtown Edgerton in the building that used to house the Edgerton Public Library. As I looked around at that building, I realized that it all really began there with mom pushing us all to learn to love books. Here it was, 50 plus years later, and we were back, signing books we had written ourselves. Thanks Mom, for getting us started on this path.

 

–Genilee Swope Parente

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The computer ate my homework

Ironically, I am writing this for the second time. A few minutes ago, I lost my thoughts to this new computer system, which seems to be a regular occurrence with me these days. I really thought masharkybe I had conquered this computer, but it keeps letting me know who is in charge. At 85, I don’t seem to take to change too well, and I don’t really like being beaten by the computer. But I’m learning it’s part of today’s world. And it all sort of fits with the blog column I wrote because I was addressing the great changes in the world people my age have seen. Life at 85 can be a constant adventure.

For example, today my husband and I decided to venture out to find the local Dairy Queen.  If the two of us weren’t old and didn’t live in such a traffic-mess-of-a-city, I wouldn’t label this effort “adventure.” However, since my husband can no longer remember where he is going, and I am blind and can’t read road signs … you get the picture. We usually only go where I can give him instructions these days—go right at that corner, turn left here, keep on going straight.  But I’m afraid the places I am certain of in this area, which we’ve been residents of, for only half this decade, are few and far between. Also, I spent 74 years letting my husband drive while I basically daydreamed and didn’t pay attention; thus, we are now usually limited on where we can go. That’s why these outings are “adventures.”

Surprisingly, though, we had no trouble—we made only one wrong turn. However, the adventure this time occurred after we arrived. There we were standing in line to order a meal, and neither of us could read the menu on the board.  Bob insisted I tell him what he wanted to eat (something that happens a lot these days), and neither of us could understand the clerk who had a strong foreign accent.  We felt like idiots holding up the people waiting behind us.  Finally, we got that ordeal over, and I returned to our seat to wait while Bob got the order.

Suddenly, I felt like it was lunch hour for school and a lot of kids were skipping class.  The restaurant filled with a dozen young boys – all high school students, all almost six feet in height and none of them weighing more than 130 pounds! I never saw so many thin boys in my life.  They all looked like their pants were about to fall off.

Three high school girls came in next wearing short shorts on their also-slim bodies. They looked cute and quite nice but the fact they could go to school looking like that shocked me.  Now readers, I’m not so old I can remember when it was sinful for a girl to show her ankles, but I am of the generation when girls did not wear long pants in public.  Back in my youth teenage girls wore skirts (poodle skirts if you were cool) or dresses with sweaters and saddle shoes (which were, no matter what, NOT supposed to be clean).  When my daughters were teens, they wore short skirts or short dresses.  My own “modern” mother assured me those skirt lengths were all right, but to this day, I am not convinced. The short shorts those girls in the Dairy Queen were wearing were actually a lot better cover than the miniskirts of the late 1960s, early 1970s.

I know I sound old fashioned, but I don’t really think of myself that way. However, so much has changed in the last forty to fifty years.  In fact, so much has changed in the last ten!  I have enough trouble with my cell phone and have to go to my granddaughter for help with that.  And then you add the many new programs on the computer, the pop up ads I can barely see that the Internet produces, and you can understand how much I’m facing.

I do try hard, but days like today convince me that, despite the dictation program I use and the read-back program that helps, I am fighting a mighty hard battle. I am much more adept at losing copy than producing it.  Is there anyone else out there who feels the same?

Sharon Swope

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Christmas Miracles

This Christmas, God tied my present up with a big silvery bow and presented it to me early. It was the gift of wonder.
We feel wonder frequently when we’re little ones: discovering a four leaf clover in our own front yard, feeling the fragile softness of a baby kitten in our hand, seeing the lights of the Christmas tree we just decorated go on for the first time of the season.O
Most of us experience that balance of awe and warm happiness less and less the older we get. It still comes in giant stages—I remember exactly how I felt when I realized I was in love with someone I could spend the rest of my life with and when I saw my first sonogram of my daughter. But our adult daily lives are too often busy surviving the stresses of reality.
However, this Christmas, I became an author. And as I saw my book in print on ebook and then held it in my hands for the first time, I was filled with amazement and joy. What’s more, like many Christmas presents, I was able to share this one with my family, not just the sister who got both my mother and I writing, but the rest of the group of people I love, who have given mom and I so much support as we struggled through the phases of getting a book published.
Not very many people get to experience such pure satisfaction in their lifetimes. I have wanted to be an author since I was very little and have never been more fulfilled than seeing my own words come together the right way. But like most people, I allowed my adult realities to block out even the possibility.
And that, dear readers, is the source of the wonder. To believe again, as I did when I was small, that I can do anything if I look for the right path. To believe again, that good things do happen on their own—the world is not meant to be a cruel place. I know I was lucky to have found the right publisher; to have a sister that believed in herself enough to become a children’s book author; to have been born to a woman of creativity and a man who would support me even if I’d decided gutting fish was my calling in life. I also know I am blessed with a happy marriage and a happy teenager (yes, it can happen!).
But I also know that what I feel when I see my book is a gift.
I wish I could pass it along to every person who reads these words. But that’s now how it works. Instead, I just want to say: find your own path to wonder. It can be a rocky road, but none of those rocks is big enough to prevent you from moving forward if you’re driven by passion.–Genilee Swpe Parente

Twist of Fate is now available in both print and ebook at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. The first author signing event occurs Monday, December 17 at Victoria Apartments, Woodbridge, Virginia. AND CHECK OUT THE INTERVIEW ON ALLYN STOTZ’s BLOG: http://allynstotz.blogspot.com/2012/12/author-interview-f-sharon-swope-and.html.

Thanks, Allyn!

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Writer’s Cramps

For two years I had no trouble writing stories. Of course there were the inevitable slow periods when you have to establish a routine to keep yourself writing. But after the agreement came in from Spectacle Media Publishing Group to get my first book out there, my creative juices were really flowing. At least until the time for that group’s staff to do their part in getting us published came into play and the waiting period began. Although I know it hasn’t been unusually long in getting our book in print, I seem to have lost some of my enthusiasm. I guess at my age, I need to know that someone is reading what I write.
For over thirty years I had that satisfaction because I wrote a column for a weekly newspaper. I guess this made me used to having almost instantaneous response to what I was writing. The column, which was called “Apron Strings,” was about my children and my life back then, but it always ended with a recipe, especially once I got that helpful tip established. Then people were not only anxious to read the escapades of my family, but they wanted that final benefit: a recipe, and they began to send me scads of suggestions. I would weigh ten tons today if I had tried every recipe sent.
I know most people reading this blog don’t care about recipes, but blogging is similar to writing that column in that the readers want to hear aspects of your life as an author. Fortunately, what I have to report right now is great news. That wonderful time when our first book, Twist of Fate, will be published is nearing: the ebook should be out end of October/beginning of November and printed versions will be available before Christmas. As I’ve waited, I haven’t really slowed much: I have rewritten book number 2, Wretched Fate, and reread and corrected book number 3, Fate of the Violet Eyes. Meanwhile, book number 4 in the Sam Osborne series, which doesn’t yet have a title, is completely written but needs work. I even have first drafts for nine-tenths of book number 5, which is a compilation of short stories.
Still, while I’m steadily picking away at all of those projects, I must confess that until I actually see something in print, I feel I’ve reached a stumbling block, which has extended to trying to come up with blog topics. So, dear readers, I’m returning to my old habits and ending with a recipe today. Try it: it doesn’t sound like much but it’s really delicious and just enough different to make it fun to prepare. Oh, and we really should give it a writing theme so I’ll call it:
INSPIRATION SALAD
½ head broccoli
1 cup chopped pecans
½ head cauliflower
1-cup raisins
1 large onion
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Sauce Mix
1/2 cup sugar or splenda
3 T. vinegar
1-cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
Instructions: chop broccoli, cauliflower, onion, raisins, and pecans; place in large salad bowl Add cheese. Mix sauce ingredients; toss with vegetables, etc. Will keep well for several days.

And while you’re waiting: get to work on that next book project!

— Sharon Swope

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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