Horror Movie Junkie

I got started loving scary movies early in life. With popcorn in hand on Saturday nights, my father and I would sit down in a dark room and watch “Creature Feature”. For those of you who never got to experience this phenomenon, it was the cream of the crop ‘B’ Horror Flicks. Dr. San Guinary and his assistant would host the movies each Saturday night. Looking back, I realize how hokey the films were, one of my favorite being the possessed chopped off hand that went around exacting revenge on people. Pretty bad special effects aside, I loved it. Ate it up. But, the show went the way most trends do, and was off the air after a couple of years.

One windy summer night when I was about sixteen, I got the special treat ofscary farmhouse being home alone. I rarely ever got this chance and I had been looking forward to staying home from fishing that night to watch “The Shining”. I had heard about this movie and it took me back to my childhood and Saturday movie nights. So, I popped some popcorn and sat down to watch this Stephen King movie. Now, I should have known better, having read some of King’s books. But, being the naïve teenager that I was, I didn’t realize the psychological twist my mind was about to take.

            By the time Danny starts seeing twins and spouting, “Redrum….redrum…,” I am a goner. Every house has its own noises–growing pains, my dad called them, as the house settles and moves. A creak here, a bang there. None of these are heard when the senses aren’t reeling and paranoia has not set in. They do, however, all show up when the hairs on the back of your neck are stretched to the limit and goosebumps have their own goosebumps. The darkened corners of my living room mocked me. Muhahahaha.

Was that a footstep? Nah. Couldn’t be. Could it? What was that scratching against the window?  Did the wind just pick up? Every noise was amplified, Hiding under blanketevery shadow was suspect. Thud, thud. Thud, thud. Was someone knocking on the door, or was my heart pounding in my ears? Well, I wasn’t about to get up and check. In fact I got so scared I couldn’t even get up to turn the T.V. off. No kidding. The afghan I had wrapped around me afforded me too many peek holes. I couldn’t pry my eyes loose. There were no such things as cell phones and I did not have a remote for that television set. We had no extra vehicles with which to use to escape. And being on a lonely farm, miles from anyone, where was I to go? I was a prisoner of my own wild imagination.

When the credits rolled I finally managed to get up and turn on all of the downstairs lights. But I was not about to make the long trek up to my room.  No way, Jose. You couldn’t have made me. It was about 2 a.m. before my family made it back home. Normally, they didn’t stay out that late at night, but the fish were biting and the light breeze had kept them cool. Light breeze? Who were they kidding? Well, the storm was all in my mind.

I didn’t get much sleep that night. Nowadays I don’t watch too many horror flicks. But there are those moments, late at night, when the shadows increase and I still hear something go bump in the night.

I’ve Got Sunshine

I have many places that I like to write, on my front porch swing, in the car during sports practices or trips, in my rocking chair, even in the family room where our family computer is located. But my most favorite place to think and write is in my Sunshine room. The first room in my life I got to plan, from beginning to end, how I wanted it when we refinished part of our basement.

The only drawback to the room is its having no windows. Close the doors and shut the lights off, it becomes cave, dark to its core. To make up for that I wanted it to be painted sunshine yellow with daffodil yellow carpet and cream colored accents. John thought I was fanatical to have so much yellow put together in one small space. But, since he had given his word that I got to chose the room, he wistfully took roller to paint and prayed we weren’t making a big mistake. To his surprise, not mine, when all was said and done it was the most beautiful room in the house. He dubbed it my Sunshine room.

Vanity tableWe went furniture shopping for my special room. After a couple of trips, I found an English Garden patterned overstuffed chair and ottoman that called out to me. I loved it, I bought it. We searched in vain for the vanity desk I so desired. I had seen them in the old movies and thought they were so glamorous. Each store we went into said they no longer sold them because nobody bought them. I found a beautiful one in an antique store one day, but the price was not close to my range. My heart broke. So, I kept searching until I found a cream colored computer desk that was simply a desk with 2 drawers that came with a matching bookshelf. I bought them.  I found a fabric covered sitting chair, one that came very close to matching my English garden furniture, to go with my “vanity”.  Add an old golden framed mirror from my late father-in-law’s collection and my search was over.

Although I am positive I will never see a picture of my room in a designer magazine, I thought I had done a particularly good job at matching everything together. Especially considering the design-challenged person I am.  The room was finally complete. Well, almost.

Before I got my netbook, in the winter I sat in the cold part of the basement on this side of some leaky patio doorsComputer family room where I blanketed up to stave off the cold Iowa winters. The computer room by necessity had to be centrally located so my sons and husband could use it as needed. This past September, on our anniversary, my husband delighted me with my own netbook. A computer that no one else was allowed to touch, and given to me solely for my writing pleasure.

Now even on the coldest winter’s day I can sit basking in the Sunshine in my own special room. I can leave out my books, piles, and papers where I don’t worry about anyone touching or moving them. And since I am a collector and stacker by nature, that is a big deal. Believe it or not, the Me in my writers nookonly time I ever lose anything is when I clean or pick it up. So if you hear someone singing off tune to a Temptations song, it will be me, in my Sunshine room happily writing in a notebook or typing away in my favorite little writing nook.

Harvesting Prayer

I love old sayings, quotes and aphorisms. Proverbs are among my favorites. These verses have been printed and taped to various places around my home. My Bible’s book of Proverbs has indentations, highlights, underlines, and notes marked all across its 31 chapters. I find not only words of wisdom, but promises from God on how we decide to live our lives-good or bad. 

There, in its final chapter, chapter 31, is described a wife of noble character. I don’t know about you, but this chapter was not exactly my favorite at first. The words from verse 11 “her husband has full confidence in her…lacks nothing of value” pricked my conscience. Others such as “speaks with wisdom…faithful instruction is on her tongue” and “does not eat the bread of idleness” or “her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also and he praises her” left me well short of this noble woman’s attributes. 

So, what’s a girl to do? Mourn for the life I didn’t have? Bemoan the state of life I had sown to date? Nah, not me. I’m no quitter. I may never sew a straight line or make fine linen, but never let it be said that I back down from a challenge. I did the only thing I knew to do. I studied the scriptures and I prayed. When my children weren’t happy with me, I prayed. If my husband complained, I prayed. As I saw other women who had the qualities I so desired to achieve, I prayed. 

Slowly I began to see God at work in my life. My circumstance was not changed to become perfect, but my attitude Vegetable-Garden[1]changed. I plowed through my doubts and fears, making deep lines with which to plant in. Patience and gentleness sprung up in my empty garden. Days that were tough to get through came and went. Self control was planted and took root. Disappointment hit from all sides, but mercy shined and peace rained upon my garden. Kindness sprung up next to gentleness and goodness next to mercy. Joy became the weed that grew amongst the lot. I fertilized with faithfulness and love. The plants, embedded deep in the promises of God’s word, began to bear fruit. Years of trusting in God and his plan for me started showing promise in my life. 

My harvest is not yet complete. The green is fading from the crops of my life. They are beginning to turn the golden color farmers wait for. So now, noble woman of Proverbs, you no longer intimidate me. I take verse 30 and 31 head-on, “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”   

Harvest pathProverbs 3:5 & 6 assured me of this: “Trust the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  Don’t take a ruler to my path, it is not straight as an arrow yet. But it has less the circles that I walked in before, trying to learn the lessons He gave me. There are fewer detours than before, not as many bumps in the road. My walk is much easier on the path He has plowed for me to take. His is the true harvest, a harvest full of prayer in my life.

Back in the Saddle, Again.

I hide my face in shame. I have done less reading in the past year than I ever have. I have been working hard on my own manuscript, which included reading how to articles (too numerous to mention). And after learning more about writing I find it harder to enjoy reading because, like Shannon, I break down the writing instead of letting the author take me into the story. But, true to nature, I am getting back in the reading saddle again.

I was so excited a couple of weeks ago when I received in my mail a large envelope. I love receiving mail, so I dug right into it and found a wonderful treasure. It was Judith Miller’s book, The Carousel Painter. Judith did not let me down. Her characters are always so full of life, I can see them clearly in my mind’s eye. I loved the conflict and how she didn’t make it an easy resolution. It was a very welcomed break from pulling my hair out over my own writing. Thank you, Judith, now I won’t have to wear a wig to Denver.

Inkspirational pictures 1I am also researching the genre I am writing in. This past Saturday Lorna and I had the pleasure of seeing Mary Connealy at her book-signing in Omaha. While we were in the bookstore I picked up not only one of Mary’s books, but also four juvenile fiction books. The first book that I finished from that excursion is “Just Call Me Kate” by Dannah Gresh, which is part of the Secret Keeper Girls series. Dannah did a good job of honing in on the angst that so permeates pre-adolescence. She added a great mentor for our main character Kate in her art teacher Mrs. Velasquez. She gives Kate assignments which helps her to realize her crush is no more than an infatuation. In the end Kate is able to focus on the important things in life instead of obsessing over her older brother’s friend.

Inkspirational pictures 2I am currently reading “Sophie Under Pressure” by Nancy Rue, a Faith Girlz series book. So far I have found this book to be closer to my own writing. Although I am only a third of the way into the book, she has brought into play an undercurrent of conflict in which Sophie’s parents are not getting along. Sophie herself is in therapy once every two weeks. The part of the villain is played well by a group of popular girls our heroine has named the Corn Pops. Her group, from an earlier book in the series had been coined flakes, so they call themselves the Corn Flakes. Another conflict shows through with a group of boys who taunt the girls, whom they aptly name the Fruit Loops. I actually identify with the main character, not only for the conflict she is beginning to go through, but also due to the fact she is constantly side tracked by her imagination and day dreaming. I feel like I am back in school and wanting to come to Sophie’s aid.

Inkspirational pictures 3The other books I chose to research, but haven’t read yet are: “All That Glitters” by Nicole Dell and “What’s Up With Her?” by Bonnie Compton Hanson. Bonnie’s book is a Ponytail Girls series book, having come complete with a hair scrunchy attached. I also have Mary Connealy’s book “Cowboy Christmas” in my pile of must read books. I think I am remembering how to ride that horse. If not, I am sure Mary’s cowboy tale will remind me.

A Daughter In Disguise.

Men! All of my life I have been surrounded by men. Disgusting habit wheedling, dirty sock wearing, testosterone pumping creatures. I grew up with three older brothers, had more male cousins than female ones and ended up having, yep-you know it… three boys.

I spent most of my pregnancy months in prayer for a daughter. I ignored all the opinions of the ultrasound techs and doctors who all stated, “Congratulations, it’s a boy!” Bah, humbug. It seemed to me that everyone I knew (at least those I cared to count in my mind) could have daughters. My husband’s sister Lori had two, Nichol and Heather, both blue eyed blondes just like I prayed for. I loved my nieces, but surely God wasn’t listening to me.

My husband didn’t want any more children, but seven years after my middle son Dylan was born, I talked John into trying to have that girl. I vowed if God didn’t give me a daughter then, I knew He was telling me no. Colton was born in September of 2000. God succinctly told me no; there was no more denying it.

Back in the fall of 1994 my sister-in-law Lori died in a horrible car accident. She left behind her then 4 and 6 year old daughters with a father who was unable to take care of them. They ended up in the care of his mother and step-father.

Two years after Lori died, my mother-in-law died leaving us to care for John’s disabled father Ronnie. We stayed in close touch with the girls, keeping them for birthdays, holidays and anytime we were able. We maintained a close relationship with them, and between Ronnie and his granddaughters. Then three years ago John’s dad along with his grandmother died, both a day apart. To make matters worse, their grandfather (their father’s step-dad), whom the girls were very close to, died a few months later.

It was a dark time for all of us, but mostly for the girls, whose lives began to unravel. Their grandmother’s health began to decline and the girls began to rebel. We were finally told some of the incidents that were happening and in a swift moment of decision became the guardians of Heather. Having lived on her own and after making many bad choices, Nichol moved in shortly thereafter. The girls had a tough time fitting into my strict/religious household. I didn’t know if they were going to love me or hate me because I stood firm on what I thought was right. I questioned the reasons why I stepped in to take over for a spirited and headstrong 16 year old, and allowed a wild 18 year old to come live with us.Nikki & Heather

One afternoon Heather asked if she could call me mom. She was so young when her mom and John’s mom died that she didn’t remember them much, and she and her guardian grandmother had never really seen eye to eye. She told me she knew I was doing what I thought was right for her, even though she fought it. I was the closest thing she would come to having a real mother. I cried.

Now every mother’s day and on my birthday I can count on Heather to call me, give me a card or take me out. She still calls me mom. I do many mother-daughter things with both her and Nichol and am a surrogate grandmother to Nichol’s children Ryan and Olivia.         

I know it’s not what I asked for, but it’s what He gave me. It is more precious than gold.  My unexpected blessing. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Once upon a time…

… in the land of Boondocks there lived a little girl who dreamed in stories. Living among the corn fields and pasturelands miles from any neighbors, she created her own world of make-believe. She saw fairies disguised as butterflies and wood nymphs in the synchronized sway of the fields in the wind. Her best friend was an imaginary one named Pinkie and her favorite pet was a pony named Tinkerbell. That little girl was me, Dawn Ford.

            Being the youngest of four children and the only girl, I had a lot of time to daydream and pretend. My paper dolls and Barbies were my characters and I would play a scene time and again differently until I came up with just the right story line. By the fourth grade social groups became established and I was left outside of the circles with the others who were different or odd. I took to escaping reality into the stories in my head. That summer I had a dream that is still as real to me now as it was then. It is the basis for the manuscript I am currently working on about a girl and a magical traveling bubble.

            As you can tell, one of my favorite genres is fantasy. Some of my favorite stories are The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Lord of the Rings and in the past few years the Harry Potter series. Romance comes in very close and it can be any romance as long as it has good angst. There is a certain magic in those pages that draws me in time and again. That is the fire that burns within me to impart my own tale of what could be if only you just believe in that magic. Dawn's rainbow    

 I have been married 21 years this September to my high school sweetheart, John. He puts up with me and my head in the clouds way of living. My life continues to be full of testosterone with our 3 sons, Austin who is 20, Dylan who is 17 and Colton who will be 9 shortly (as he continually reminds me.). I have lived in the heartland all of my life, mostly in Iowa and Nebraska. John and I work with the outreach programs of our church and I am involved with the women’s ministries as well as writing women’s studies.

            I could not have made the leap of faith to actually writing without the support of the best friend I could have ever asked for, Lori (Lorna) Seilstad. She believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself and gave me the confidence to put pen to paper. She made me realize that dreaming in stories was not a sign of insanity but of creativity. It is amazing that God put us together and I am eternally grateful that He did. She also introduced me to the ACFW last year which has proven to be invaluable as I grow into this role as writer.

            I strive to do His good will in all that I write with the hopes that it will be something worthy of an audience. Romans 8:28 is a promise I hold near and dear, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called to His purpose.” Luckily, I am funnier on paper than in person and I can’t wait to go on this fantastical journey with you.