Happenings in Christine's World

Short stories of life, thoughts, and feelings


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Turning the Page

The past nine months have been an up and down emotional journey. I had finally completed my book and it was ready to hit the bookstores and go on sale. During this time, my dad was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. He was in the hospital for a week and a half when he took a turn for the worse. When I arrived at the hospital on September 25 he was complaining of pain in his leg. I feared he had a blood clot. The docs ran the necessary tests and put him on morphine for the pain. I sat with him most of the morning to early afternoon and then my brother and sister-in-law arrived to sit with him. I had committed to a promotional book signing event since my book had just hit the stores earlier in the week. Needless to say, my mind wasn’t on promoting my book but rather my dad and his health. When my brother and sister-in-law left the hospital around 9 that Thursday evening, my dad seemed better.

On Friday, September 26, when I got to the hospital, I learned that my dad took a major bad turn and they were moving him to the ICU. The physician assistant informed me the situation looked grave and I should contact family. I couldn’t get my head around any of what was going on – he was doing so well two days earlier. I contacted my siblings and my kids and advised them to come to the hospital. Within hours my husband, siblings, kids, nieces, nephew, grandchildren, and great niece and nephew were there. A few at a time were allowed to go back and visit with dad, although he wasn’t fully conscious.

As the afternoon turned into evening the youngest of the Clepper family went home. My husband, brothers, sister, sister-in-laws, kids, nieces and nephew remained. We were all in disbelief of how fast dad’s health went downhill. We couldn’t understand.

The physician in charge came into the room where we were all sitting and gave us an update on dad’s situation. It wasn’t good – he started to bleed internally and his blood pressure was too low to operate in order to stop the bleeding, plus the doc didn’t know what was causing him to bleed. There wasn’t much more the doc could do for dad. It was time for us to make a decision whether or not to prolong dad’s life or let him go. Not a decision any of us wanted to make or think about making.

Dad had a living will and it stated not to keep him alive by artificial means. So, with great pain we, dad’s family, decided to let him go. It was midnight when the twelve us gathered around dad’s bed in the ICU. We turned on his CD player and listened to one of his favorite CD’s – Calling My Children Home by the Country Gentleman – there we sat with dad as his life slowly slipped away. He was at peace though, he looked like he was sleeping. My niece and I watched his chest as he breathed knowing that his breathing would eventually stop and around 4:30 a.m. it did. With heavy hearts and tears, we each said goodbye to dad.

The days ahead would never be the same. The publication of my book was bittersweet. Life went on and that’s how my dad lived sorrowful and disappointing things passed his way – he would say, “life goes on.”

There are so many good memories of my dad – each of his kids, grandkids, and great grandchildren hold close to their heart. A few of us dad gave nicknames – his reason for giving us nicknames – who knows. My dad left an impression on all the people he came in contact with and with dad you always knew where you stood. He was a proud man and a little rough around the edges; his hands were huge, but his heart was bigger. There was no doubt how he felt about his family – he loved them, although we can count on one hand how many times he told any of us he loved us – he didn’t have to – his actions said it all.

These past nine months have been a journey – a learning experience. My dad was the person I turned to often for advice and for a sounding board. We all did, but now we have to figure it out for ourselves knowing that dad is still with us pushing us along.

Dad Turned 80 Today


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A Las Vegas Wedding

In January of this year, Dan and I flew to Las Vegas to attend the wedding of our friend, Brenda Miller. It was the first time either of us was in Vegas and what a wonderful experience. We ventured to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, went to Red Rock Canyon and to Hoover Dam, but the highlight of the trip was truly Brenda and Rick’s wedding.

Dan and I, along with nineteen other guests, waited in the Palace Station lobby for the shuttle to take us to the location of Brenda and Rick’s wedding. The bride and groom kept the details of their wedding a secret, but we all knew we were in for something special because of Brenda’s show business background as a Bette Midler impersonator.

The shuttle took us to The Graceland Wedding Chapel, owned by Brenda’s friend, Brendan Paul, also, an Elvis impersonator. This Chapel has been around since the 1970s and featured in films such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with Johnny Depp and When Fools Rush In with Selma Hayek and Matthew Perry. This was also the location of weddings by several celebrities, such as Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Aaron Neville.

The New England style Chapel with its white siding trimmed in periwinkle exemplified the event’s elegance. The wedding took place in a small room with golden highlights, pearl colored walls, a large stained-glass window with doves and roses, and cream colored pews. Silk flowers and ribbons in mixed colors of dark goldenrod, buff, and metallic brown were attached to each pew.

Once we were all seated, Rick took his place at the front of the room and then our attention was drawn to the back of the room where the gorgeous Brenda Miller stood in her silk eggshell colored, strapless wedding dress holding a bouquet of purple and white roses accented with purple and pearl beads. She looked so radiant. Brendan walked her down the aisle singing the Elvis ballad, “I Can’t Help Falling in Love” bringing tears to everyone’s eyes.

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After the vows were exchanged the guests exited the Chapel. We waited outside for Brenda and Rick to exit and when they did it was like a paparazzi frenzy with cameras flashing simultaneously.

Brenda, being the thoughtful person she is, wanted to make the occasion of her wedding special for everyone, especially the first time Vegas visitors. As I said earlier, Brenda and Rick kept the events of their wedding and reception under wraps. But, before leaving the Graceland Chapel she told us we were going to Bally’s Hotel and Casino. Once there, she led us to the where the show Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding was being performed. Brenda had previously made arrangements with the show’s director to have her wedding reception take place during the show. This was a first in the show’s history.

Tina ‘n Tony’s Wedding is a comedy full of bride and groom shenanigans and an ongoing Italian family feud. The show originated on Broadway and is still performed there today. The show is mostly ad-libbed; very little is scripted. The audience is encouraged to participate in the show and the more audience interaction the better the show. As part of the show the audience enjoyed a dinner buffet of Chicken Parmesan, pasta, brochette, garlic bread and wedding cake.

Brenda had her guests’ tables covered with white table clothes and decorated with white calla lilies, shot glasses engraved with “Game Over” inside bags made of  purple tulle and chocolate covered strawberries arranged on three tier crystal plates topped with Marge and Homer Simpson.

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The night was full of laughter and so much fun; certainly an experience that Brenda and Rick’s wedding guests will never forget. Thank you Brenda and Rick for a delightful experience.

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To view more wedding photos go to Brenda & Rick’s Wedding.

 


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The Importance of Backing up the Backup

What Every Writer and Artist Should Know

So, I’ve been hard at work on my manuscript for Arcadia and finally, I’m down to writing the last of the captions and BOOM, my external hard drive – where I have been saving all my personal documents, photos and my  Arcadia manuscript and photos  – is no longer recognized on any of my three computers. What do I do now, besides panic? The deadline is midnight Wednesday, February 27 ; the drive issue happens at 10 p.m.;  night of deadline

I called the Seagate, the external hard drive manufacturer, they are closed and won’t be open until 8 a.m. central time the next day, I’m on eastern standard time – what do I do next? Grasping at straws I live chat with HP, my computer manufacturer, nope, they can’t help, I live chat Norton, my computer protector, nope, they can’t help, sooo, what do I do next? I locate the first draft of my manuscript and start using it while trying not to cry from all the hard work I’ve already put into the revised manuscript. As most writers know, trying to recapture the words originally used in a lost manuscript doesn’t happen or comes little close to being as good. All I can do is grit my teeth, shake my head and try to write.

At the risk of sounding like “woe is me” I have spent so many sleepless hours working on the final draft of the manuscript and by the time the drive went MIA I was totally sleep deprived. Once I realized the drive was missing; fear kicked into action, and I did my best to resolve the issue, but to no avail, it came down to two things I didn’t want to do or wait to do – 1. Email my editor to let her know what happened and hoped she wouldn’t tell me the publication for the book will be delayed and 2. Contact Seagate in the morning to see what they can do to help me. Fortunately, the drive is still under warranty. And the other good thing is that I had previously sent all the photos for my book  to my editor prior to the drive gone missing. There is a positive to the negative situation.

Issues with Word 2010

While working on the old manuscript, I began having trouble with Word shutting down. Ugh. I already thought my computer might have a virus, now I was really thinking it, so, I started my Norton scan. Meanwhile, I continue to work on the writing and Word continues  automatically to shut down, recover the document, and I resaved it. This keeps happening over and over again. I finally say to myself, “okay, okay, I will contact Microsoft.”  By now I am so frustrated, tired, and I have no patience. I had previously read that the shutting down issue with Word may be resolved by starting it in safe mode, well, I had no idea how to do that. With Live Chat the customer service person told me they could access my computer remotely and try to fix the problem but it will cost me. I replied back to them by asking if putting Word in safe mode would help, they said it could. I ask them how to do it; they told me and yay; it worked, and I didn’t have to pay Microsoft anything!!

Calling Seagate for Assistance

It finally became time to call Seagate!! I explained to them the problem. I downloaded the Seagate Tools from their website, ran three scans. Two of the scans passed, and one didn’t. The customer service person told running the scans were good because the tools can locate the drive. They said; it sounds like a partition issue, which means the drive hasn’t crashed and that it’s possible my files can be retrieved. They gave me two options – 1. I do the scan myself that can take up to 48 hours depending on how much I have saved on the drive and see if the files are retrievable, then pay $99 for the software to retrieve them. 2. Have Seagate do the scan, pay $199 for them to retrieve the files if they are retrievable, but first I would have to pay a $49 non-refundable fee for them to scan the drive, and it would take the same amount of time as it would me to scan it. The non-refundable fee  of $49 would go toward the $199. Seagate’s customer service was great, mainly I could understand what he was explaining, very and most important to me, and he recommended that most probable the $99 option if I’m comfortable with doing it myself. Nice, because he didn’t try to push the higher fee. I opted for the lesser fee, and now I’m down to   seven hours and four minutes till it is done. I am hoping so badly the files are retrievable and boy, have I learned a lesson.

And, as far as my editor, she was great – emailed me back words of encouragement and told me no matter what the book will get done. I was so relieved.

It Is Worth Taking the Time to Back Up the Backup

Part of my reason for not backing up the backup is the extra time it takes to do it. What I have realized after this experience is that backing up the backup is worth EVERY minute taken to do it. When I think about the amount of time it has taken me to resolve the problem, in all it will have taken me three days, backing up the backup would have only taken maybe an hour or so, and I would have avoided all the stress, frustration, and sleepless night.   I have learned a great lesson here and hope those reading this post, heeds the warning and back up their files to different places and, therefore, if one backup drive fails you will at least another place or places to get the files. I am more than likely to become an obsessive backerupper (new word), but I say “rather safe than sorry. “


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Letting Go of 2013

Arcadia Photo031Photo courtesy of Mel Raudabaugh

At the beginning of this year I never thought I would be where I am today. It’s interesting how things work out and it seems I am one of those people who has to be careful what they wish for, because I just might get it.

In late April of this year I attended The American Society of Journalist and Authors (ASJA) conference. My main goal was to network, learn how to build my freelance business, and to learn how to get a literary agent for a biography I have been working on for years. The last breakout session I set in was the most informative for me. It was on how to build a platform, get an agent and get your book published. I had never heard of the term platform before and had no clue what it was. I soon learned and felt discouraged.

A platform is the term used in publishing to define the achievements of the writer and how large of a following the writer has. This does not mean friends on FaceBook or followers on Twitter. It means a writer that has hardwired credentials. What has the writer published? How many books have they sold? And so on. After the breakout session I talked with the agent and author who were on the panel and they clarified that my presentations, the Holocaust article that is published in the Advance Placement Test booklets don’t count. I need a legitimate following who is interested in what I write and what I do. As I mentioned earlier, I was discouraged, but knew I had to get busy and work harder at getting The Wandering Pen grounded and start producing the kind of writing it took to build interest and followers.

During this time I worked full-time in a position that was not fulfilling and I knew it wouldn’t benefit me where my writing career was concerned. I wasn’t happy and eventually I lost the job, which at first was upsetting to my pride, but I soon realized that the door of opportunity just opened for me.

I remembered that a year and a half earlier there was a blurb from Arcadia Publishing in the township newsletter looking for someone to do a pictorial history of the township. I contacted the editor and yes, they were still looking for someone to do the book and I jumped on it. I put together the proposal with the assistance of the editor and sent it to Arcadia. Within a week or so I got the word saying my proposal was approved. Next, the decision on deadlines, I hoped for a January 2014 deadline, but nope, it had to be December 2013, that meant I had four months to gather photos, which the funding to purchase photos came out of my pocket without reimbursement, and arrange the layout for the book. Of course, my first thought was I would get the photos from the historical society and then I learned the cost involved for the photos. I had to come up with a plan B, which I did.

I started making cold calls to people who lived in the area asking them for stories and photos. Feeling relieved that most of the contacts I made were willing to meet with me, share their stories and their photos. I really began to feel that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. Some people would call what happened to me coincidences, but I don’t believe in coincidences, I knew there was a higher power looking over me, helping me to fulfill my dream of publishing my first book.

So, here I am, four months later and the layout and the manuscript are now in the hands of the publisher. I understand there will be edits and an eighteen week process till the book is ready, but that’s okay, because by spring I should have my first book selling in Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, and local bookstores. I look at this first publication as my stepping stone to finding an agent and getting the biography I’ve wanted to publish for almost twenty years now published.

So, although there was a period of disappointment I felt when I lost my job, in the end it turned out for the best. I was able to take what I learned at the ASJA conference and put it into action. I still have a lot of work to do to make The Wandering Pen successful, but I feel that at least now I’m in a better position to make it work.

I can’t end this post without acknowledging my family and friends who have stuck by me through my difficult moments this year. I also need to thank all the people who helped me with the pictorial history of Silver Spring Township. I am feeling very bless and fortunate and I do know that there is a higher power in control – that power is referred to as Him, Her, Mother Nature, Great Spirit, Mohammed, Buddha, God, and Goddess to name a few, for me it doesn’t matter what title is used, it’s more important to just believe.

Here is a 3 minute, 16 second video I put together using the photos I posted to Instagram. The photos are from the Susquehanna River to Blackwater Falls, wildlife and flowers, sunrises and sunsets, and seasons.

Cheers to you and to 2014.



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Off the detour and back on track

All along I knew what I wanted to do, but never had the nerve to follow through until now. I need to write and I want to write. I want to tell stories that are passed from generation to generation.

Having the opportunity to submit a book proposal on local history has brought back to life my enthusiasm for American history. I have never lost the desire to discuss, teach or write history, I just didn’t know how to embrace it while working a job that had very little to do with history and even writing for that matter. But now that has all changed and for the first time in my life, I am taking the leap and doing what I believe I am meant to do.

Experiencing the past

Because of my passion for history and my belief that everyone should have some knowledge of historical events I have literally gotten down in the dirt in order to have a better understanding of a historical event so I am able to write a much better piece on the topic.

Some years ago I had the opportunity to work with Steve Warfel and the Pennsylvania State Museum on an archeological dig at the Ephrata Cloister in Lancaster County. I learned so much from that experience not only about the history of the those who lived there, but about archeology. I have a whole appreciation for what archeologist do and how hard they work to get the facts.

With this new found freedom, I am able to dive into history the way I want to. For example, in studying the history of Silver Spring Township I plan to take a kayak the Conodoguinet Creek from the Middlesex/Silver Spring Township border to the Silver Spring/Hampton Township border. I want to get the feel for what it was like for the early Indians and early settlers to travel the creek. The Indian name for the Conodoguinet is “a long way with many bends”.

I believe this is the beginning of a career I was always meant to have. I know the path will be challenging and will involve sacrifices, but I truly believe I am where I’m meant to be.


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Finding Peace from Writing

Recent changes in my life have brought me back to my writing life.  It seems writing is the one constant in my life and past situations have proven that I am not happy unless I am pursuing some sort of writing goal.  My heart is telling me that this time I must pursue my vision and not be distracted by those who do not understand the passion of writing or what it takes to be a successful writer.

With writing comes a lot of self-doubt, at least for me it does. I have dealt with that little imp sitting on my shoulder and whispering in my ear “you can’t write, you’re not going to make any money writing, you are a failure”.  Then on my other shoulder are the hands of mentors and friends.  With their touch and with their voice they tell me to press on. They say, “You can do this, it’s time you focus on what you love”.  Those positive voices are beginning to overpower the negative voice.  For the first time in my writing career, I feel confident about achieving my goals as a writer.  It may not make me rich, but I am certain it will make me happy.

Becoming a successful writer
One of my previous professors told me that the difference between a successful writer and an unsuccessful writer is perseverance and that I have what it takes to be successful.  Those encouraging words alone have kept me fighting my way through the “tall weedy grass” where I sometimes tripped, never knowing where, or how exactly to make my writing known.

I think back to Rapid City, South Dakota.  It was my first trip alone.  I took this trip as my first step towards my writing career.  That was sixteen years ago and here I am now. I have studied and studied the writing process.  I went back to college to get my degree and with that I was trained how to write but some of the best writing professors in the state of Vermont.

I have learned that in order to be a good writer one must write and willing to have their work edited, but not to the point where your voice or style is not detected.

My most recent learning opportunity took me to the American Society of Journalist and Authors (ASJA) conference in New York City.  There I sat in on several workshops, but the workshop that educated me the most was the one on writing a book proposal.  In that seminar, I learned that in order for me publish the Bosler story I have to work my butt off.  The major thing I must do is build my platform as an author.  That will take a lot of determination, discipline, and focus.  I am ready to take it on and I am at peace with the challenge.

Steps I’m taking as a writer
Besides this blog I have two others: Around Cumberland County, Pennsylvania and The Wandering Pen.  Both of these blogs are rather new and I am in the process of posting material to them.  I also have a podcast site called The Wandering Pen Podcast. Here you will find my interviews with people who have traveled to various places and what they liked and did not like about their travel. I will also interview writers on writing and ask them what they believe it takes to be a successful writer. These podcasts are available on ITunes.  Please consider following all of the sites I have mentioned and please do give feedback.  I welcome your thoughts on current topics and your ideas for future topics.

In addition to my blogs I have a writing gig with Decoded Past.  This website is somewhat like the previous website I wrote for, but this time my historical events topics will connect with current events.  For example, the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and how it was observed.

Peace like a river

Peace like a river