I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

How to (almost) guarantee that Queen Elizabeth II will visit with you

Delores E. Topliff

This post could also be called be called, How to turn flaws into art, because that’s what my British friend Elfreda (Freda) Alexander did throughout her life. Her daughter, Helen, told me that in 1921 at age 14, Freda went to work in a pool of girls trained and then sent two at a time to stately estate homes like Downton Abbey to repair ancient tapestries, and sometimes, even Royal tapestries. 

As a result Freda loved threads, yarns, wools, and all kinds of fibers all of her days. In a retirement home in old age when her mind was not clear, her daughter Helen cut small holes in certain things so Freda could enjoy mending them. Freda would ‘play’ for hours in the safety of the care home or a nearby park, 
I knew her after their family emigrated to Canada years before Freda entered a retirement home. Until then any sweater, towel, fabric, or blanket with a hole ended up not just being ‘darned’ to replace missing threads, but wonderfully embroidered until a new bird or flower or star or vine provided an end result so much lovelier than the original. I’m privileged to own two of Freda’s creations and show their photos here. The photos below are two halves of one piece but I couldn't quite get my technology to join them.

In married life, besides raising three children, she and her husband, Hugh, nurtured over one hundred Foster Children in their home in Middlesex and later Sussex, England. There, too, I imagine Freda identifying gaps and holes in those children and choosing the needed emotional threads, colors, and stitches to add loving designs to those who came to them. Perhaps they received some government ‘subsidy, but no payment could adequately repay the wonderful investment made.

How do you thank a devoted couple like that? Queen Elizabeth II found a way. When the queen once visited the area Freda was invited to meet the queen who personally said ‘thank you'. I’ve enjoyed seeing the photo and story from their local paper.

What about you? When you find blemishes or holes in writing or life, how do you mend them? What creative design do you bring to life's tapestry better that is better than what was there before? That is our wonderful life opportunity.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Hardest Part About Being a Writer

(Hint: it’s not grammar.)

Face it. Writing ranks right up at the top of the list of difficult tasks for many people.  It scares folks.

But the hardest part about being a writer isn’t grammar or spelling. It’s not even criticism although that does sting from time to time.

And believe me, the hardest part isn’t coming up with new ideas.

To be honest, new ideas create the most trying aspect of being a writer. Ideas! Those voices inside our heads keep popping up.  They never stop. Just as we try to relax for a moment, the topic of the next blog post pops into our head. How many of us get the next best idea in the shower? We begin to fall asleep and—bam! The next chapter of our book unfolds in our heads. Of course, we have to get up and jot it down.

Then a rebellious character says something we hadn’t planned at all. It takes us in a new direction.  Rewrite!

Well, type away. Oh! An idea for a brand new book intrudes in the middle of the scene!

So I suggest that the most challenging part about being a writer is that the voices never leave our heads. The intrusion never stops.  

But it’s also the most exciting part. We cannot shut out those voices anyway, so we embrace them and keep a pencil handy. Besides, for a writer, there's nothing worse than for the voices to go silent. 


Do you agree? If not, what makes the toughest part to you?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

More "What's in a name?"



Delores E. Topliff

Words perfectly-suited to life situations are coins for the realms we travel and do business in, just like we exchange currencies at international borders to exchange goods with the people there. Similarly, authors define their writing audience to choose words that will achieve the best impact in hitting targets for successful communication.

Let's mint great expressions that survive like many fun general domain phrases passed down to us, along with the interesting stories behind them.

Whether we say Heaven’s to Betsy, or Heaven’s to Murgatroyd, depends on cultural background. “Betsy” (as in Sweet Betsy from Pike) is very American while Murgatroyd comes from the Middle English and Norse words, Mooor Gate Royde meaning “district leading to the moors,” and became the surname of a Yorkshire, England constable.

To be worth our salt means to be worth our pay and the word salary originates from it. If we’re not worth our salt, we’re in trouble.

Being below the salt goes back to medieval times.  As a valued seasoning and preservative, salt was placed in the middle of dining tables. The lord and his family were seated above it while other guests and servants sat below the salt.

Sincere from Roman times literally means without wax, guaranteeing that the sculpture or stonework presented is genuineno wax was applied to fill or hide imperfections, a subterfuge easily discovered when heat was applied.
Authors show sincerity in characters. When heat is applied, are ours genuine? Or do cracks appear as their beauty and/or stability is seen to be flawed and needing repair.

There are a million more, and I still love place names, too. I’ve been to Moose Jaw and Medicine Hat. My sons have visited Cold Foot, AK. And there are more places I want to see to hear their storiesplaces like the Foggy Bottom part of Washington D.C., Yellow Knife, NWT, Accident, MD, Cut and Shoot, TX, Hell, AZ (that one’s easy to guess), and the Highway leading there.

What about you? Tell us your favorite phrases or place names, and if you know their stories, pass them on.