Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Aloha is Forever - Hope #2

Shortly after we arrived in Hawaii to help search for our son, John Reece, my husband began talking about how we did not despair because we had two kinds of hope. You can read the whole story in our book, Aloha is Forever.

I described Hope #1 in my last post although there was one thing I left out. I forgot to mention that John was tenacious. He never gave up on anything so we knew that if there was any way he could get out of the Kohala Mountains, he would. We envisioned him dragging himself up the side of one of the steep cliffs inch by inch. We knew he would never give up and that fueled our hope.

As the month of December progressed and it became more and more apparent that we would not find John, Hope #2 began to take priority in our minds and hearts.

Those of you who claim not to believe in God will have to give me some leeway here. We do believe in God and in His ability to fulfill the promises He made in His Word, the Bible. And that was where our Hope #2 was anchored. We knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that if we didn't see our son again here on this earth, we would see him again and be with him in our Heavenly Father's presence for all eternity.

I Thessalonians 4:13-18 sums up this hope better than I could:

"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep (died), lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words."

So even though the prospect of never seeing John again here in this life was inconceivable, terrible, horrific, devastating and whatever other feelings you can imagine, we were comforted and sustained by our Father's promises.

We knew that John's relationship with God was solid. There was not even a shadow of a doubt about that. He had recognized he was a sinner when he was only 4 years old and he had asked Jesus to forgive him and live in him and through him at that early age and had confirmed his faith in Jesus over the course of his life.

So even though our faith was tested in the fiery furnace, our hope never wavered. That is the power of Hope #2.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Aloha is Forever - Hope #1

Aloha is Forever was originally titled "Where There is Hope." Shortly after our search for our son John Reece ended, we realized from the feedback we were getting from our emails that many people, even fellow Christians, didn't understand "hope."

In the midst of the most devastating situation we had ever faced, we always had hope. My husband liked to call it Hope #1 and Hope #2. I'll talk about Hope #1 in this post and Hope #2 in my next post.

Our son left on Thanksgiving Day 1999 to cross the Kohala Mountains on the northern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii. He calculated that he could do it in 4 days. However, he didn't return in time for work on Monday following the 4-day holiday.

Our Hope #1 that he would finish the hike successfully was based on his natural ability, his training, his good physical condition and his solid faith in Jesus Christ his personal Lord and Savior.

John had abundant natural ability. He was an outdoorsman, and a rugged, lover of adventure. He had grown up in the Amazon. When he was small we had taken him with us to Indian villages, on adventurous trips, on hikes and on river and camping expeditions. He had all the gear and much outdoor savvy.

While in college, he had taken a survival course. Admittedly the course was in winter survival, but the principles were still the same. He knew survival strategies and techniques.

He was in excellent physical condition. He had gone to Hawaii as a field biology intern with the USGS. After two months of hiking up on Mona Kea counting vegetation, he was as physically fit as he could be. He had also been taking every opportunity to hike around the island and to bike around it with his new mountain bike.

His faith in God was unwavering and had been since childhood. He had grown up believing that God cared about him, had a plan for his life and that he could impact the world as he lived his faith. He'd made a point of spending time reading and studying his Bible daily and meditating and communing in prayer with his Heavenly Father.

All of these factors contributed to our Hope #1 that John would come through his ordeal wiser and better prepared to face life.

But as the month of December progressed, Hope #1 began to diminish and Hope #2 began to replace it. To be continued...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Reading the Classics

When I was in high school, one day my English teacher handed out a reading list for those who were headed for college. From that day on every book I read HAD to be on that list. Later I acquired 2 more lists for college bound students. Then every book I read HAD to be on at least 2 lists and if it was on all three, all the better.

So I read the classics, and read and read. No wonder my children and now my grandson love to read.

Just curious whether anyone else restricted their literary menu in a similar fashion. Well?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Today Was a Drag

Today was a drag...but a necessary one. Our dear friend and lifelong encourager called last night to say he was coming to help us get ready for income tax time. THAT is a friend!

So today was spent sorting, organizing, spreadsheeting (I just made up that word :) and generally getting ready for income tax time. He did have an ulterior motive; he needed to figure out whether our organization owed any taxes before the end of January since he is the treasurer.

So although it was a drag, we accomplished almost all that needed to be done - and all in one day. That was and is an amazing miracle.

Need more days to be a drag like today was.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Grandson's Favorite Book

My little 2 year old grandson chose one of the most unlikely books as his favorite. I don't remember the title but it's about Teddy Ruxpin and Grubby picking strawberries. Then the little furry fobs come along complaining about losing their color and one of the other characters, (I don't remember his name, although I should after reading it so many times) saves the day by removing the big rock from Rainbow Falls and restoring the waterfall that also restores the colors to the fobs.

To me it had several faults:
1) The names were ridiculous sounding and very hard to pronounce.
2) The writing style was horrendous with absolutely nothing to make the storyline flow.
3) The story itself wasn't fun and to my mind, not even a bit interesting.

But my grandson asks me to read it to him over and over. When he was a little younger he would grab the page like he was grabbing the strawberries and pop them in his mouth saying, "Yum, yum." Now he won't touch a strawberry with a ten foot pole. Nothing to do with the book, I'm sure.

The writer in me totally rebels at such a poorly written book. And the English major in me doubly rebels. What could be the fascination in such a book? Anyone have any ideas?

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Selling" Your Book for Free - Will it Work?

I've been toying with the idea of giving away our book for free. The only problem with that is that most things are not really valued if they are free. I was thinking about this the other day and came up with another idea. This is the idea: charge for the book, then offer to give a refund after it has been read in exchange for a short review. I would then have the option of publishing (or not) those reviews on my website or blog.

I wonder whether this would actually work. Do any of you have any ideas?

What got me thinking about this was that I just received a free e-book recently that sounded very, very interesting. But I wonder if I will ever actually get around to reading it. Hmmm...

I also signed up yesterday to get the free e-book version of Robert Kiyosaki's latest book along with the option to comment on it and "help" him write it. That one I might actually read.

So what do you think about "selling" your book for free?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Blog Authority vs. Page Rank

Well, now that I have thoroughly confused some of you...it's time for an apology and to set things right. I went to do some research in technorati.com today and discovered I was using the wrong terminology. I'm afraid I may have led some of you astray by using the term "page rank" rather than "blog authority" which is the correct term when talking about ranking in technorati.

Blog authority shows how many unique links your blog has to other blogs and the higher that number, the higher authority your blog has. Technorati does not count links to other sites, just blogs.

On the other hand "page rank" should be as small as possible. I don't know exactly how that is calculated, but sites like google, yahoo, ebay, amazon, etc. have the best page rank. These are probably all in the top 10. If you're able to get your site into the top 100,000 you have really accomplished something!

All of that being said, it may still be a good idea to get your blog listed in technorati and to "claim it." Here is a link to the FAQ that explains the benefits of claiming your blog: http://support.technorati.com/faq/topic/87. One of the benefits I see is that others can search based on keywords that interest them and find your blog.

The reason I was thinking about technorati when I wrote my previous blogpost, was because I was looking for other blogs based on my keyword so I could interact with them. That's what it's all about, isn't it? Making connections, following and being followed, commenting and receiving comments, building contacts and relationships.

If you have more questions about how all of this works, you can find a wonderful FAQ section under the "support" button on the technorati website.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cure for Blogging Disease

Well folks, after writing about blogging disease the other day, someone must have slipped me some medicine that cured me! No, actually I think missing a day or two over the weekend was what did it. Hard to get back in gear again.

Seriously, life has tackled me from every side and I'm feeling a bit like I'm on the bottom of the heap without the ball. Today was one of those days. My dear little companion grandson wasn't as sweet as usual and the more I tried to move in a forward direction, the less I seemed to be making any progress. Now at 11 PM with a kitten sleeping on my lap, computer on my knees and a cozy fire in the fireplace, I'm finally getting some inspiration. Writing is one pursuit for which I require total silence. Actually silence is my preferred mode for just about everything - probably a carryover from being one of eight siblings growing up in a very tiny house.

How about you? How and where do you work best?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Utilizing Technorati

I know this is going to be a bit on the technical side, but maybe this information will be helpful to someone else. Some months ago, I learned about technorati.com. It is a social networking place for bloggers. I began "claiming" my blogs on technorati and also using technorati to "ping" each blog update. I also used it to search for other blogs that utilize the same or similar keywords. By doing this I quickly discovered many blogs in my "niche" that already had high page ranks. Just a word about page rank - the higher, the better. Then I was able to go to their blogs and comment, thus piggybacking off of their high page rank.

So last night I decided to go into technorati and claim my new blog (this one). Imagine my delight when I discovered that Grandma is a Writer already had a page rank of 4 in just a little over a week. That shows the power of commenting, following, visiting, etc. All my other blogs only have page ranks of 0,1 or 2 after months and even a couple of years of existence. Most of them get very little traffic, if any.

Amazing! I hope this encourages you to rush over to technorati, claim your blog and find out your page rank.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blogging Disease

Blogging must be getting to me. I didn't have a chance to write my blog last night so in the middle of the night I woke up wishing I was really awake and could be writing my blog entry for today. Now THAT is crazy!

It reminded me of years ago when I was learning typing in high school. I would dream I was typing, practicing the strokes and fingering in my sleep. Is there anyone else out there like me?

So maybe I've identified a new disease - "blogging disease." What do you think?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Working Best

Last night I was thinking about what to write about today and I thought about a short training snippet I listened to several months ago. The basic gist of it was this: in order to get the optimum production from your time, you need to know yourself and when you work best. In other words, are you most alert in the morning, afternoon or evening? What are the exact time frames in your day that allow you to be most productive? Then you need to block off those productive times to work on your writing or other productive endeavors. So in other words, if your most productive time is from 10 until 2, don't take time out of that block to make a big meal or do busy work. If it's from 3 until 7, get your supper made before then so you can stay focused and productive during your best working time.

I happen to be a person who is most productive (and creative) from about 10 to 1 and then again from about 4 until midnight. So don't even ask me to put on my thinking cap before 10:00 AM and if you call me at midnight, I'll probably still be working on some project. However, there are rare occasions when I just flake out at about 8:00 PM and might as well just watch a movie or go to bed. If I curl up with a book, I won't last more than 10 minutes when I'm in "flake out" mode!

So what about you? When are you most alert and productive? Plan your day around it and you'll get a lot more done.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Self Publishing

Today's post will be short. Lots going on today on the home front. We decided to self publish using an on-demand printing service. Does anyone have experience with either on-demand printers or has anyone done self publishing? What are the pros and cons?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Finding Time to Write - Aloha is Forever

When we started thinking in earnest about writing our book Aloha is Forever, we discovered that it was going to require a lot more focused time and energy than we had anticipated. After all, it was our story. We had lived it. We had all the e-mails and letters that had been sent during the search. We had our journals. What could possibly be difficult about just sitting down and writing?

We were in for a big surprise. Since there were two of us writing one book, it was a challenge not to overlap and repeat things that the other had written. But the challenge of writing together is the subject of another post.

Actually carving out time to write was our biggest challenge. We tried writing while traveling - that sort of worked because we were out of our normal routine and the constant daily demands upon our time.

What really worked well was having access to a vacation property. We began taking working vacations for the specific purpose of writing. It worked! Even though there was TV to distract, we agreed to take short breaks and watch a favorite program, but to spend the majority of our time on writing. There was no internet connection and no emergency surprises to take us away from our focus. It only took a few of these working vacations to get the book "done." Then several more to edit and re-edit.

In the process we discovered that we have several more books to write. Our goal for this year is to get at least one of them written. (My husband has the goal of getting 3 written, but I think that's biting off a bit more than we can chew!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Busy Days

I used to think I was busy. I find it laughable now. I'm so busy now that I find myself unable to stay in bed late even if I could.

Caring for my family and most importantly my grandson take top priority. We spend lots of time together while his mother works. He loves to read, go out and see if there is a fresh egg from the chickens, help feed the rabbits, play with the cats and dogs, and watch his new Thomas the Train DVD (all the others got demoted after Christmas). But most of all he likes to sing and he's learned a few new songs from Youtube (also a favorite pastime). His favorites are The Wheels on the Bus, The Itsy, Bitsy Spider and most recently There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly. Anyway, he keeps me busy most days, which is why I'm writing this post now so I won't have to worry about it tomorrow. It will be a 10-12 hour marathon of babysitting. I may not have too much time for commenting either tomorrow but I'll do my best!

I also have a winter garden this year as an experiment. Most of the work is covering it with a tarp when it's going to go below 30 degrees and then taking the tarps off again before it gets baked by the sun. Looking forward to fresh spinach salads soon!

Then there is marketing of our book and of other products via the internet.

In the midst of all this, I try to keep hubby on track without derailing myself. And keep him supplied with coffee and all his favorite foods. I cook almost all our meals myself from scratch. He recently convinced me to make a large batch of chili which is one of our favorites. It's been nice to have ready made meals in the freezer.

Then of course there is laundry, house cleaning, spending a little bit of time with the Lord, reading and meditating each morning, e-mails, entertaining, church responsibilities, family seminars - one coming up in mid-January, etc, etc.

I actually used to take naps but I've decided that sleep is way overrated! And all these things that keep me busy are so much fun. I love it! And I thank my Father in heaven every day for good health and lots of energy to enjoy everything He has given me to do.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Ice Storm

Well, last night I wrote a blog entry and saved it as a draft to publish today, but when I went to publish, it was dated yesterday's date. So I guess today's will be written today! (Next time I'll write them ahead in notepad - or does someone know how to write posts in blogger and publish them at a later date?)

Anyway...today the forecast was an ice storm. That makes me jump for joy because it means I get to stay home and work on blogs, marketing, writing, etc. Hey, I even have leftovers in the refrigerator so I shouldn't have to spend too much time cooking. Couldn't get any better than that!

So let the storm blow and please let me stay in!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Our Book - Aloha is Forever

We knew before we left Hawaii at the end of December 1999, that we would write a book. It was essential. It was a mandate from our Heavenly Father. We both knew it. The question was - when.

We had just spent most of the month of December helping with the search for our middle son, John, who had gone on a hike in the mountains of the Kohala on the Big Island of Hawaii. He had set out on Thanksgiving Day, with the objective of hiking across from Pololu to Waipio. The research he did indicated that he could conceivably cross the valleys and ravines that etched the Kohala in the four day break he had from his field biology internship with the US Geological Survey.

He sent us an e-mail mapping out his plans before he left. We received it only after we received a call from John's supervisor telling us he had not shown up at work the Monday after the long weekend.

Aloha is Forever tells the story of our search, but it goes beyond that as we seek to share spiritual truths that comfort, encourage, challenge, inspire and bring hope to anyone facing devastating circumstances. We share our hearts, our love for our son and our love for our God.

We have published it in e-book format and the print version will be available early in 2009.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Grandma is a Writer

I've had in mind to start this Grandma is a Writer blog for some time now. So here we go. I never imagined I would be a grandmother before I got a book written...but at least I got it written together with my husband.

His mother talked for years about writing a book - The Torrey Story. But she didn't have the help of a computer. So we found multiple copies of page 1 of her manuscript. It was a good start, but only that. Now she suffers from Alzheimer's Disease and the book will never be written.

Makes me wonder how many other unwritten books there are. I'm sure each and every one of us has at least one book; one story to be told. And most will go unwritten.

Over the years from time to time I have kept a journal, maybe someday to be read by my children and grandchildren.

But you may ask what inspired the book my husband and I wrote. That will be the topic of my next post.