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WritingAfterDark

Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Nature’s Wonders

Sometime between my April 3 post and today’s posts I managed to pause for a few moments to catch nature at its best. There is truly nothing more calming than taking a breath of fresh air and enjoying one’s surroundings.

The Blue Heron—
I believe it was in mid-April when I made sure I put my camera in the car to snap a shot of the Blue Herons that nest in the same trees every year for the past decade. They are such beautiful large birds, and so graceful when they fly. I’m glad I was able to photograph them this year before the foliage covered their huge nests.

Here’s a picture of a few Blue Heron in their nest.

Here’s another happy couple in the nest a few trees away. Every spring these birds come back to the same group of trees that overlook Big Sewickley Creek. There are approximately 25-30 nests total and each year they add a few more.

I was able to catch this one in flight before he landed.

Poor Old Coon—

I stood taking pictures of this coon at the top of the dead tree wondering if he was stuck in the hole he’d climbed into. All that was visible was the fur on his back. Two Feather and I rapped on the tree. The hollow sound of the dead wood echoed, but the coon never budged. We stood watching it for a bit, then decided to leave him alone. Maybe he was sleeping. The following week we walked by the tree again. The poor old coon was still in the same hole of the old dead tree. Obviously, the coon had expired there. Each time I walk by that tree I wonder if he’d gotten stuck and died trying to get out. I guess we’ll never know what caused the demise of that poor old coon, but one thing for sure, he’s still there and the only thing visible is the fur on his back.

Screech Owl in the Daytime—

With woods surrounding our house, we hear birds all day long. That’s nothing new. But when I heard an odd sounding screech behind the house, it immediately caught my attention. I walked slowly toward the edge of the tree line listening for the screech again. That’s when I saw this tiny screech owl in a knothole in the center of an old dead oak. What is it with old dead trees and knotholes this year?

In fact…

What is it with trees this year?

I know you wouldn’t believe this one if I didn’t have a picture of it!

Treehog—

Well, actually, it’s a groundhog in a tree. Yeah, I thought it quite interesting, too, when I looked out the window and saw this overweight groundhog climbing out to the end of the tree limb to eat a few tasty black walnut leaves. It was even more humorous watching him try to hang onto the branch as he eased his way back to the trunk of the tree.
Chair Nest—

Please remind me to take my comfortable camp chair inside next time I use it. Now, that may not be until next year. Early in the morning I noticed a pile of mulch being sculpted into a neat arrangement in my chair. Mom and I had gone out for the day and when we returned, the sculpting was complete. A perfect bird nest in the middle of my chair. I still don’t know what kind of bird nested in my chair, because I haven’t seen her yet, but I keep watching. It may be for nothing, though. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why any bird would build a nest in my chair on the front porch when my mom’s cat keeps a vigil by his food dish just a foot away. I’ll bet the cat was sleeping on the back porch in his bed when the bird decided the chair was a safe place.
I’ll be back with more pictures of the beauty of nature and gardens another day. Right now, I need to catch up on my beauty sleep. Hope you all enjoy.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Support Absolute Write

The writing community of AbsoluteWrite stands strong!

I’m sure by now you’re all aware of the unfortunate circumstances that had more than 7,000 writers forced to go to a refugee camp awaiting the return of the AbsoluteWrite forums.

If not, scroll down to the post below and you’ll be able to read some of the details.

During the time of confusion, I was dealing with other matters, but I’m back and will now do everything in my power to help Jenna Glatzer and the AbsoluteWrite community recoup from this horrific debacle.

Those who would like to help, please add a support button to your website or blog.
Thanks to Matt you can get your very own button to show your support. Click on it and purchase The Street Smart Writer by Jenna Glatzer and help support Absolute Write. Here’s the code—just replace the [] brackets with <>these.
[a href=”http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0974934445/
absolutewrite” target=”new” title=”Get your copy of The Street Smart Writer and support AW, too!”][img src=”http://www.mattdinniman.com/aw2.gif” mce_src=”http://www.mattdinniman.com/aw2.gif” /][/a]

Cheers to Kira and her wonderful support of Jenna throughout her blog and adding more than 100 links of bloggers who are talking about the Barbara Bauer Ph.D BS.
Please read Jenna’s blog and if you haven’t yet donated and do what you can.

Dawno is passing the word and helping out as much as she can. Plus, she has the CafePress Store where you can purchase all sorts of neat things to support AW.

Mac’s great! I just love her resounding support for Absolute Write.

I may be a bit late, but I’ll be adding my support button and a CafePress button to my blog and website as soon as I publish this blog. I already own Jenna’s book, The Street Smart Writer (which by the way I highly recommend) but I’ll be shopping at the CafePress soon to give my support.

If you’d like, you can also make a donation here.

HA! Barbara Bauer Ph.D. has been Wikipedia’d!!!!! Bet she never thought she’d get soooooo much attention. Bet she now wishes she hadn’t.

See you all at the Cooler!

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The Absolute Write Community

Has been treated ABSOLUTELY WRONG!!!

As usual, I’m several days/weeks late when something happens that is of true importance to me, but that never holds me back from voicing my opinion. There was an intruder in my home. Yes, the AbsoluteWrite website is my home away from home, and I was very displeased to find out that just as I’m able to find time to get back online, my home had been vandalized. During the time I was away from my computer and busy with real life, the Absolute Write website was trashed…in more ways than one.

I met Jenna Glatzer online years ago when she began her newsletter and have been a member of her writing community for years. There is no better place for writers to gather to discuss the business, share ideas, and have fun in the various forums in the community. AbsoluteWrite has been “THE” place to meet for years and the place for fledgling, experienced, and professional writers to share and learn as well. Who in the world could possibly think they have enough power to disrupt, demolish, or otherwise desecrate such a caring, sharing, and committed group as those 7,000 + members of AbsoluteWrite?

Who indeed? It seems one Barbara Bauer Ph.D. didn’t like the idea of being named as one of the 20 worst literary agents by Writer Beware. She, flaunted her formal Ph.D., and complained to JC-Hosting (AbsoluteWrite’s hosting company at the time) that she felt listing her email address on a message board was reason for the hosting company to close down AbsoluteWrite. Not only did JC-Hosting shut down the site, they held the entire database hostage, which has become a legal battle. Here’s what Jenna has to say. It seems this is not the first time that Miss Barbara Bauer Ph.D. has tried to shut down sites.

I’ve always said I trust someone until they give me reason not to. I’ve also found that is not a good path to follow. I’ve become more and more skeptical these past two years, and sometimes become angry with myself because I fall back into that trusting pattern rather than follow my heart. When I follow my heart, it never leads me in the wrong direction.

I can’t even find the words to describe how disappointed I am in JC-Hosting, owned and operated by Stephanie and James Cordray, for their actions. I find it disheartening that I don’t follow my instincts sometimes and trust people too easily. Those people whom I’d congratulated not that long ago for helping Jenna Glatzer get her website up and running when her old hosting company was unable to perform to the standards needed, are those same people who had taken the liberty to shut down the AbsoluteWrite website with only an hour’s notice, hold the database hostage and treat what “they” once called true “friends” like a bag of trash they can throw in a Dumpster when the contents have served their purpose. Why? Was it fear that the #3 worst literary agency, Ph.D. flaunting bully might bring action against them for something she had no legal means to do? Or was it because what some are suspecting; that the Cordray’s decided to open their own little site and message board (of which I’ll not link) and try to manipulate and completely disorganize a perfectly functioning community of writers in order to benefit themselves? I’m not here to judge or to answer either of these questions. I’ll simply add the JC-Hosting Company, Stephanie and James Cordray and Barbara Bauer to the very long list of those I WILL NEVER TRUST AGAIN!

Moondancer, Stephanie, JC-Hosting, WriteWise, whatever you may want to call yourself, you have in the past e-mailed me about personal situations in your life and I responded as a caring individual and friend. I’d hoped that my concern for you and your health had made each day you’d suffered just a bit easier to get through. I was and am truly sorry that you’d had health issues, but due to the recent circumstances, I must say now, this must do your heart proud! I'm still sickened by the fact that someone with an ill heart can try to break so many other's.

My deepest appreciation to all those faithful members of AW, the Mods, the Administration and all involved in saving the community from such horrific online terrorism and repugnance. Cheers to you all for your hard work and continued support and your faithful determination to keep AbsoluteWrite the sharing, caring and ABSOLUTE worthwhile community it has always been and always will be.

ABSOLUTE WRITE’s community and spirit CAN NOT be broken! And to prove it, the membership is nearly 8,000. AW ROCKS!!!!

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20 Worst Literary Agencies—Beware Writers!!

Below is a list of the 20 literary agencies about which Writer Beware has received the greatest number of advisories/complaints over the past several years.

None of these agencies has a significant track record of sales to commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually no documented and verified sales at all (book placements claimed by some of these agencies turn out to be "sales" to vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale is made--whether directly, by levying fees such as reading or administrative fees, or indirectly, for editing or other adjunct services.

Writer Beware recommends that writers avoid questionable literary agencies, and instead query agencies that have verifiable track records of sales to commercial publishing houses.

Note that while the 20 agencies listed here account for the bulk of the complaints we receive, they're just the tip of the iceberg. Writer Beware has files on nearly 400 questionable agencies, and we learn about a new one every few weeks.
· The Abacus Group Literary Agency
· Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
· Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
· Benedict Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
· Sherwood Broome, Inc.
· Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.)
· Desert Rose Literary Agency
· Arthur Fleming Associates
· Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
· Brock Gannon Literary Agency
· Harris Literary Agency
· The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following:
-Children's Literary Agency
-Christian Literary Agency
-New York Literary Agency
-Poets Literary Agency
-The Screenplay Agency
-Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency, formerly Sydra-Techniques)
-Writers Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)
· Martin-McLean Literary Associates
· Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
· B.K. Nelson, Inc.
· The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
· Michele Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency, Simply Nonfiction, and Michele Glance Rooney Literary Agency)
· Southeast Literary Agency
· Mark Sullivan Associates
· West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)


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Saturday, June 10, 2006

And Then There Were Three!! It’s A Girl!

Update! May, Week Three…

Katelyn Brianna—my third grandchild—my oldest daughter’s first born.

As mentioned in the prior post, Angel was having contractions 20 minutes apart during her law school commencement. After graduation, we went back to her house and timed her contractions for the rest of the afternoon. They went from 20 minutes to 10, down to 7, then to 5, then to 6. They jumped back and forth. Angel decided to take a walk. After all, who wants a bunch of people around staring and waiting and watching their minute hands go around while you’re trying to concentrate on pain. The contractions were at five minutes apart for a half hour, and then they went back to seven minutes. Angel refused to go to the hospital. “They said not to call or come in until the contractions are five minutes apart for an hour or more,” she said. She’s stubborn, so was her baby. The contractions softened and went back to 20 minutes apart. We were ready, the baby wasn’t!

Angel so wanted to give birth on Mother’s Day, but that wasn’t happening, so her and Tim took his mom and dad and my mom and me out for Mother’s Day lunch. We all left for home that afternoon thinking that we’d be nearly home when we got a call to come back. That didn’t happen either. So we figured we’d be waiting it out to the projected due date, which was now changed to May 19.

Even before Angel got pregnant she’d say, “you’d better be here when I have my baby, Mom. I need you to be there.” Angel wanted me to be there for the birth of her first child, just as I was for her sister. I so much wanted to be there too. But as luck would have it, babies come when they’re ready, not when it’s convenient. Monday afternoon Angel was having contractions again. By 4:30 they were five minutes apart and she was at the hospital. Had things been different in my life, I would have jumped in the car and drove the four hours to the hospital, stayed up all night and been in the room congratulating my daughter when her daughter was born. But I had my mother to consider. I sat waiting for phone calls and reports. After five hours, Tim called and said they decided Angel was in early labor and admitted her at 9:30 p.m. By then, Mom had already been in bed sleeping for two hours, and according to the nurse, Angel had a long way to go yet. She probably wouldn’t deliver for at least another 12-14 hours. Okay, this will work, I thought. Mom can sleep, I’ll get her up at 6 and we’ll be at the hospital by 10 am. I’d still get to see the baby born and be there for the second most important event in my daughter’s life within a week.

At 11:30 Tim called and said her water broke, she wasn’t dilating and she was in a lot of pain. All I could do was tell Tim to tell her I love her, hang in there, and I’d be there in the morning. I felt I’d let my daughter down. I sat on the bed upstairs in my mom’s house and cried—for my daughter and me.

It was about three in the morning when I’d finally fallen asleep. At 5:30 a.m. Tim’s mom called and said, “Here, talk to your daughter.” I thought she was handing her the phone to talk to me for encouragement through labor. Instead, Angel got on the phone and said, “Are you ready to be a grandma again? She’s here.” I was dumbfounded and responded with, “You had her already! I missed it! Oh honey, I’m sorry. Congratulations!” I was elated and upset at the same time. Angel proceeded to tell me that she had to go because they still had to clean up and added, “You are coming back up, aren’t you?”

Of course I was, and I did. After I got off the phone with Angel, I immediately called my daughter, Stacey, in Alabama. It was only 4:30 in the morning there. But she did tell me to call her no matter what time I got the news. Stacey answered to a loud, bawling, “I missed it!” I must have sounded really pathetic because even at 4:30 in the morning Stacey’s laugh was awake, as was her voice saying, “Mom, don’t be upset. It’s not like you missed it on purpose. I’m sure Angel understands.” Through more tears I simply said, “It’s not right! I was always there for both of you for everything. I was there for you and I should have been there for her!”

After nearly three hours, the car was packed again, I’d made Mom’s breakfast and got her moving, we finally left at 8 a.m. to head to the hospital. I called Angel and told her I should be there by noon. The four hours to the exit for her home was a cinch. Taking the Harrisburg exit was fine, but when the big 18 wheeler got up beside me and blocked my view of the road signs, it was two hours of hell from there. I ended up who knows where, turned around, called Tim and luckily he knew where and gave me directions from the pathetic gas station I’d pulled into. Finally at 2 in the afternoon on May 16, I walked into the hospital room and saw my daughter and her first born, Katelyn Brianna, who was born at 5:21 a.m. She was 20 inches long and weighed 7 pounds and 14 ounces. Of course, I cried more tears when I saw her.

Of course, we must show a picture of the four generations of women and the proud dad.

Can't resist one more picture with me holding Katelyn. And we can tell by the picture that Katelyn is already a ham. She's looking directly at the camera.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Graduation Day! Cum Laude! Happy Days!!!!!!

The end of Week Two in May.

The four-hour trip to Angel’s house was pleasant. Mom was excited about visiting her and seeing her graduate. I, the emotional ball of wax I am, had far too many feelings running through me. I was worried about how the trip would affect Mom, ecstatic about visiting Angel and watching her walk up to receive her diploma, worried about Angel giving birth to her first born, ecstatic about becoming a grandmother again—good grief there was enough emotions flowing in me for four people!
But finally, after years of perseverance, fortitude, and hours of study and determination, my daughter completed law school and graduated cum laude on May 13th from The Dickinson School of Law. I’m proud of you, Angel!

Here she is walking up to receive her diploma.

She failed to tell me prior to graduation that she was blessed with awards and honors and that she was going to sing the National Anthem at the commencement. She has a tendency to want to surprise me with things such as this. As if crying isn’t a mother’s natural reaction anyway when she’s proud of a child’s accomplishment, the tears poured more when I heard the awards and watched her sing.

Here she is walking down the steps after receiving her diploma.
In case you can’t tell from the look on her face, and her nails grinding into the railing during her walk down the steps, she was in labor during the commencement!

Here she is with her proud mother!

In case I didn’t mention it—I’m proud of my daughter!
Love you, Angel!

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Update! May, Week One.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that my daughter Angel’s little April Fool’s joke of going into labor two months before her due date of May 23 did sort of backfire on her. Two weeks after her little joke, she began having contractions…and I got a call from Tim at 5:30 in the morning telling me they were on the way to the hospital…false alarm. Though I really, (honestly honey) didn’t wish it on her, she continued to have false labor throughout the month of April and into May.

Of course during all the running, packing, scurrying, directing, worrying about Angel, and everyday pulling my hair out, I failed to mention the tiny things that just make one’s day—like the showerhead at my house springing a slow leak, which turned into a fast leak, which needed an immediate call to a plumber because the water suddenly just dripped. The plumber, luckily, was able to come out within the hour, replaced what was supposed to be a gasket in the shower handle, which controls the showerhead, and the well eventually filled back up to where there was water in the house again.

Then, there was the garage door opener that decided it was tired of going up and down. It stopped midway and stuck, SOLID. Wouldn’t budge. The garage door repairman came the same day and replaced the worn and shredded gear.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I’d ordered mulch for my mom’s flower beds the day before my uncle went into the hospital and it was sitting for two weeks getting water logged by all downpours of rain.

And the Kawasaki Mule hitch pin that slipped out of the hole unnoticed, until it was time to mow and we realized the hitch was missing, hence taking Two Feather a day of traipsing through the woods on all his trails trying to find the hitch and pin to hook up the wagon. Yes, he did find it, covered in mud and sticking out of a mud hole filled with water from 10 straight days of rain.

Yes, let’s not forget the push lawn mower that spit fire and smoke and finally died just before the lawn was completely mowed and…well never mind, I think you have an idea of what the first week of May was like. All this while I’m trying to get things packed and ready to leave to visit my daughter, Angel, for her graduation from law school on the 13th.

It gets better!

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Update!! Where Do I Begin?

It’s been toooooo long!

I can’t believe it’s been two months since I’ve posted anything online. Good grief, where did the time go? I suppose that’s what I’m here to do…give all my friends the lowdown or, in other words, an update on what’s kept me away.

First I’d like to thank all of you for your comments, e-mails, greeting cards, and snail mail letters, and for keeping me in your thoughts and checking on me. All of you are most appreciated. Each and every one of you brightened my days, made me smile, and reinforced my thoughts that there are truly wonderful people in this world. Thank you!!

April and May, at the time, seemed to move by at snail-like speed, but now that they’re past it seems they went by quickly. Where do I begin?

I suppose I should begin where I left off—at the beginning of April. Most of you know that I take care of my mom, but I don’t believe I had mentioned anything in my March posts about my uncle. Since last July, I’d also been running to Pittsburgh to take my Uncle Joe to doctor’s appointments and tests. As a result of those tests, I was running to Pittsburgh to help my uncle in March and April, taking him groceries and cleaning for him, during the few days that I take my mom to Adult Day Care. I won’t go into his health and personal details here, but by the end of April, he ended up in the hospital and needed to be transferred to a nursing home. I spent the entire last week of April scurrying to make arrangements to move his belongings and clean his apartment. I thank the Creator for my significant other, Two Feather, being in my life, because it was he and his son who moved everything into the U-Haul as I stood directing. I’m not able to lift anything, so the only thing I was good for was pointing and driving.

“You can’t take care of me, too, Joanne,” my uncle said. “You have your hands full with your mother. You’re doing the best thing for me.”

His words were trying to comfort me because he knew if there were any way possible I would have pushed myself to the limit to try to take care of him too. It breaks my heart that I can’t do for him what I’m doing for my mom, but there is a limit in what one person can do. I think I’m finally learning that.

Had it not been for Two Feather, his devotion to me, and his respect for those I love, I would not have been able to accomplish what needed done in this situation. There truly are no words to express the respect I have for a man who needs to do nothing, but gives his all when it comes to my loved ones and me.

So ends the month of April and leads me into another month of which disappeared quicker than it came.

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