Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"The Beloved Daughter" Excerpt: Last Image

     Inspectors broke into our cabin in the middle of the night.

     “Get up!” a raspy voice demanded as the door crashed in. Snow blew all the way to my bedside. Partially blinded by the flashlights, I wrapped myself more tightly in my blanket. I was too stunned to even tremble.

     Is this part of the inspection? I wondered. Are they going to interrogate us here in the middle of the night? Mother moaned and wrapped Father’s coat around his shoulders. Where does she think he’ll be going on a night like this?

     A man with dozens of pock-mark scars on his face strode to my parents’ side of the cabin. He wore the badge of the People’s Safety Agency [from North Korea (WIPpeter's note)] on his dark green overcoat. His heavy boots shook the floor with each forceful stomp he took. When he grabbed Father by the neck and yanked him out of bed, I yelped like a wounded animal.  
     The scar-faced man turned on his heel without letting go of my father and pointed at me. “The girl,” Pock-Marks ordered in a hoarse rasp, and immediately two officers were towering over my bedside. I bit my lip to keep from crying when I saw the guns swinging from their hips. I covered my face with my hands, trying to disappear by sheer force of will. I squeaked as the younger of the two officers lifted me up and swung me over his shoulder so that I was hanging down over his back. Mother ran towards them with my coat, but they ignored both her pathetic pleading and my frantic kicking.      

     “Take her to the precinct office,” ordered the scar-faced leader, and before I had time to call out again, I was outside in the wind and snow. Still in my nightgown, with no shoes or coat or blanket to ward off the biting cold, I hung helplessly over the young officer’s shoulder, nauseous from fear. 

     I strained my neck and saw Father standing in the doorway as soldiers roughly shoved him forward. He was staring straight ahead. He winced in pain as they fastened his wrists, then turned to see me watching him. Weakly, Father smiled at me, nodding his head slightly in my direction. As the officer carrying me turned a sharp corner, I clung desperately to that last image of Father.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

One Lovely Blog Award - TMI Edition

     OMG (and by "G" I mean goodness) - I'm so excited! My BFF Regi just nominated me for the "One Lovely Blog" Award. Not only do I get the fame, publicity and (maybe even) fortune I dreamed of when I first started this blog, but I get to display this gorgeous picture right here on my post! Ahh! I'm so I excited I'm ROTFHMSIDPMP! (That's rolling on the floor holding myself so I don't pee my pants for those of you who don't speak text-ese.)

     So here is a ginormous TYVM (thank you very much) to Regi, who herself is OLB (one lovely blogger). Oh, and you guys should see all the really nice things she said to flatter me in her blog. Then you'll get why we're BFF. Thanks, Regi! LULAS!

     In order to accept the OLB award, I've got to tell you all seven random facts about myself. So in the name of full disclosure, here are seven tidbits about yours truly that will either have you ROTFL, or rolling your eyes and grumbling about TMI.

1. I wet the bed once, which wouldn't be so embarrassing if it didn't happen after Phillip and I were already married. In my defense, I had a horrible cough from a sinus infection and was seven months pregnant. Believe it or not, my husband (who is quite the comedian) hasn't teased me about it once. Yup, he's a keeper.

2. Want to know about my very first kiss? It came from a gay guy friend in college who apparently decided to have identity issues shortly after we met. Long story.

3. I am terrified of fish. Absolutely, paralyzingly terrified. I was attacked by a school of fish snorkeling with my family in Hawaii when I was twelve. That same year my brother's pet guppy committed suicide while having little guppy babies, which were delivered on our counter top. Fish have frightened me ever since. I dare you to tell me I'm overreacting.

4. I don't need to shave my legs when I am pregnant. You might be tempted to envy me, so let me tell you that apparently my back starts growing all the hair that my legs don't. (I warned you about TMI, right?)

5. I was a pommer in high school. During one of the spirit assemblies my squad and I performed this really cute dance routine. I discovered about five minutes later that the little grey tee that was part of my uniform had pit stains the size of grapefruits. Not the greatest boost to my poor teenaged self-esteem.

6. Speaking of grey shirts, when my oldest son was a baby he cried nonstop in the car. I once got to church after a twenty minute drive from a friend's house. Nate had been screaming the entire way. Nate's crying bothered me so much I leaked through my nursing pads and all over my shirt. Unfortunately I didn't discover my nice little fashion statement until I went in to the bathroom to change his diaper several minutes later.

7. I once squirt stomach acid on a complete stranger by accident. How did I manage that feat? I was "burping" my tube-fed son, which means I hooked up his feeding tube to let some extra gas escape before giving him his milk. The tube detached at just the wrong time at just the wrong angle. If you were every baptized by sprinkling with gastric juice while standing in line at the zoo, please accept my apologies.

     Now that you know way TMI about me and my strange little quirks (bodily and otherwise), it's time for me to pass on the love and nominate seven other lovely bloggers for this coveted award. I hereby nominate:

Cari at Faith's Mom's Blog. Cari is a special-needs mother who is a strong Chrisian and encouraging writer. I can't wait for her book to be out. And I'm thrilled she wanted to read mine! Cari is truly one beautiful blogger! (I also imagine she's quite busy, so there's no pressure to participate in this little award if you aren't able to.)

Out One Ear is the story of a mother with an adult daughter with disabilities. I love reading about how she supports her newly-married daughter to be more and more independent.

Rachel blogs at This Journey Our Life and is another of the special-needs mothers I'm blessed to follow. She has a tender, mothering heart and is truly one beautiful blogger.

Hidden Valley Simplicity is a blog I recently discovered and really enjoy for its Wednesday word of the week link ups. On Wednesday Melissa gives you two new vocabulary words that you need to work into a short story. We'd love to have more writers join the fun!

Baker is our Dream Come True is written by the mother of a beautiful baby boy with Down's Syndrome. Jennifer's words are true poetry and encouragement for anyone on the special-needs journey.

Vanessa's blog really caught my attention because her son has a G-tube, just like mine. Vanessa has been great at raising awareness for tube-fed children and should probably win the SuperMom award in addition to One Lovely Blogger.

Arctic Pyro is Lighly Salted's only male follower as well as the only friend of mine who replied to my Liebester post. He doesn't have a blog but is welcome to leave seven random facts about himself in the comments section. (He is limited however, to mentioning his mustache only ONCE.)

     I know you guys are plenty busy with life and writing, but if you do participate in the One Lovely Blog award, please stop back here and leave your link in the comments section. For those of you who actually read the fine print, here are the official rules: Thank your nominator (preferably by buying her book - wink, wink - and by following her blog, otherwise by just mentioning her in your post and including a link). Copy the One Lovely Blogger picture. Give seven random facts about yourself. Nominate seen other bloggers. Let the bloggers KNOW you nominated them. Come back and include a link to your post in my comments section. GLAHB (Good luck and happy blogging!)


Wednesday WIPpet: "Maternity Ward. Code Blue"

      Saving Natalie was the very first manuscript I actually saw through to the end. It has since been shelved for about four years as I focused on my second manuscript, The Beloved Daughter. I was planning to self-publish The Beloved Daughter and have in my hands by my thirtieth birthday this spring. (Nice gimmick, right? "Hey! I'm turning thirty. Don't you want to buy this book I wrote?")

     In an unforeseen, twisted turn of events, I just found out yesterday that The Beloved Daughter made it to the finalist round in the Women of Faith writing competition. Care to guess the grand prize? A shot at that traditional publishing contract I've always drooled over in private (and public, I'll admit).

     Should be good news, right? But my birthday is in two months and The Beloved Daughter truly was three clicks of the button away from being self published. But now I've got to wait out to hear the contest results, so there's no way I can have it in my hands by my thirtieth birthday. (I know, I really need to get over my disappointment, don't I?)

     So anyway, in honor of today's WIPpet, here are twenty sentences starting from page 20 of my very first manuscript Saving Natalie. I'm 98% sure I won't be able to edit it in time to have it in my hands by the time I turn 30, but at least it will give me something to focus on while I wait to hear about The Beloved Daughter's fate.

                Jake walked into the birthing room and stopped in the middle of the doorway. Jessica was reclining in the hospital bed, cradling Natalie in her arms. Jessica’s face was turned away, but Jake could see the baby perfectly.
                She wasn’t the picture-perfect, rosy infant with chubby cheeks that Jake had expected to meet. Her skin was dark and blotchy. Her hair was curly, with a pronounced point at the top of her skull – a black cone head with a bad case of dry scalp.
                Jake expected his baby to somehow steal his heart and change his life with that first glimpse. He came prepared to feel overwhelming emotions of joy and love, even fear. But the only thing he felt was surprise and a little bit of guilt for being so numb.
Baby Natalie squirmed and adjusted in her sleep. A plump nurse strolled in the room wearing Snoopy smocks and a smile that reminded Jake of some absentminded nanny. “Just checking on Mom and baby,” she bustled.
Jake silently watched the nurse check the hospital monitors and write something on her clipboard.
"How’s the baby doing?” Snoopy Pants turned down part of the baby blanket covering Natalie’s face. Immediately her smile faded. 
“Get the doctor!” she shouted. 
Only a few seconds later, the hospital intercom announced, “Maternity ward. Code blue” -  a heavy, dull echo in Jake's ears.

Do you WIPpet? You should! Give us an excerpt from your Work In Progress. Just make sure what you're including something that has to do with today's date! (Twenty sentences from page 20 posted on February 20, for example.) Then link up here or at My Random Muse.

Monday, February 18, 2013

When Life Gives You Lemons...

What's up with this photo?
 This post appears in Christian Home Magazine's 101st edition. Check it out!

     Did you know that Tube Feeding Awareness Week just ended? Unless you (a) follow me on Twitter, (b) keep up with my blog about raising my medically-needy son Silas, or (c) have a tube-fed child of your own, you probably missed it completely. I usually stick to A Boy Named Silas when blogging about special needs, but in the name of tube-feeding awareness, my column in this week's Christian Home Magazine is about my son's feeding tube.

     I find the term "blessing in disguise" a little irritating. Sometimes life just gives certain people a higher than average lemon-to-sugar ratio. But in our case, however, I'm forced to admit that having a tube-fed son really has come with a few perks. Be jealous if you dare.

1. I can get out of any jury duty summons. Since I am the one who handles Silas' feeding tube, I can make a great point (backed up by the medical community) that finding trained, qualified care for Silas would be prohibitive. Silas' tube feeding doesn't stop me from enjoying the occasional night out with the hubby, but you certainly won't find me in any jury box. Jealous yet?

2. I never have to fight Silas to take medicine. I just hook his tube up, squirt the medicine in with a syringe, wash it down with a little water, and my son is good to go. (Any mother who has tried to give fever meds to a toddler should be drooling by now with envy.)

3. I don't have to stress too much if Silas eats something he shouldn't. Remember that post form last week, where I admitted that I have poison control center's number set to speed dial? The last time I called poison control was during a science club I was leading for some of our homeschool friends. Silas decided to take a sip of the silver nitrate solution I had just stirred up. Yes, I felt like a horrible mother. Yes, Silas complained of having metal-mouth for the rest of the night. But Silas didn't get an upset stomach because as soon as the chemicals went down, I was able to suck them right back out of his stomach thanks to his feeding tube! (See ... told you I'd have you dripping with envy before this post was done.)

4. I don't have to worry about a "balanced" diet. I know so many moms struggle with kids who are picky eaters or who have severe allergies. With Silas, I never need to force-feed, threaten to disown him if he doesn't eat his green beans, or worry if he is developing too much of a sweet tooth. I just pour the formula into his backpack, and off he goes. I realize this isn't the "ideal" organic diet I once imagined preparing for my family every day, but I got to admit it's pretty easy. (If you're not enviously green yet, let me remind you that there are no dishes to clean up after a tube feeding, either.)

     So, as I think about it this Tube Feeding Awareness Week, our lemon-to-sugar ratio isn't nearly as high as you might imagine if you knew all our family's medical history. But of course my taste buds are still craving the sweetness that will be ours when Silas outgrows his feeding tube completely. I'm doing my best to hold on to faith that that day really will come. Then Silas and I can both enjoy some of that sweet, refreshing lemonade.

     Let's just hope I won't be drinking mine from the jury box.
Would you like to learn more about Silas? Follow my other blog at, or check out the Alana Terry bookstore for information about my book, "A Boy Named Silas: The First Five Years," available in paperback and as an ebook.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Word Blog Hop: Lethe's Temptation

This fun blog hop is hosted by Melissa at Hidden Valley Simplicity. The rules are straight-forward. Write a story using the two vocabulary words Melissa provides, then link up and enjoy what others have created!

Word of the Week: verdure: The greenness of growing vegetation; A condition of vigor and health
Super Challenge: lethe: A river in Hades whose waters cause the drinker to forget their past; Oblivion; forgetfulness

Lethe's Temptation

     Jonas ran through the verdure meadow until his foot finally stumbled on a gnarled root. He had reached the woods at last.

     "Through the forest," he whispered to himself to remember the old woman's words. "Through the forest on towards the mountain."

     Jonas' lungs burst with each breath of icy air. His hands were red and raw from the biting wind. He picked himself up from the leaf-covered forest floor and began to run again.

     Into the forest.

     Tears stung the eight year-old's cheeks. He panted, leaving a wispy trail of steamy breath behind him. "On towards the mountain," he said, louder this time. The sound of his own voice made Jonas feel braver.

     The woman told him to run. She said he only had eight hours, ten at most. By sunrise, it would be too late.

     "Through the forest," Jonas breathed in rhythm with his stomping feet. He clenched his fists but didn't notice when one began to bleed.

     There was very little moonlight. Jonas kept on racing, weaving his small frame in and out of massive tree trunks, stumbling every now and then on the roots that reached out with knobby hands to slow his journey.

     Jonas tripped and stopped. He turned to view the path behind him. He leaned his head back and stared straight up. The trees were denser now. He couldn't see the sky. He couldn't see the mountain.

     He was lost.

     Jonas slumped to the forest floor and wrapped his arms around his heaving chest. He had never been this far in the woods before.

     Jonas thought he heard the old woman's voice. "Rest for a moment," it whispered. "You'll be warm in my bed of leaves. See?"

     Dry leaves covered Jonas' shivering body. He was lying down on a mossy embankment. "Good." Jonas didn't know if that was his voice or not. His eyelids drooped. He was weary, ready to give in to the lethe of exhaustion.

     Jonas' felt as if he were floating. "Good."

     The faintest beam of moonlight penetrated the cloud covering. Jonas could just see it through the trees above him. He craned his neck and could make out the moon directly overhead. He thought he saw the shadow of the mountain to his right. How much time was left? Six hours? Maybe less?

     Oblivion thwarted, Jonas picked himself up, clenched his raw and bloody hands, and continued to run. He would not allow himself to stop. He would not give in to her.

     He had to make it in time.

Word! Blog Hop

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WIPpet Wednesday: "What's Internment"?

Since today is 2/13 (unless you're on the other side of the world where it is probably already next week sometime), I have included 13 sentences from chapter 2 of my first kids' chapter book. "What, No Sushi?" is book 1 in the Solar-Powered Time Machine series, an early chapter book series about three boys exploring their family history.

     “It’s a flying machine. It’s going to take us to Sacramento so we can talk to Bachan about the internment.”
     “What’s internment?” O’Malley asked. He had taken off his ninja headband but was still dressed in black from head to toe like an ancient Japanese fighter.
     “It’s when all the Japanese-Americans who lived on the West Coast during World War Two had to leave their homes,” I answered.
    “Why?” O’Malley asked.
    “Because Japan was at war with the United States, that’s why,” I responded.
     “Mom’s half Japanese,” O’Malley remarked.  “Did she have to leave her home too?" 
     “Mom wasn’t alive during World War Two,” I explained. “It was a long time ago.”
     “Oh, good,” O’Malley replied.
      “Good for Mom,” I answered, “but not for Bachan."

"What, No Sushi?" (working title) is scheduled to be published in April, 2013 by Do Life Right, a publishing company offering fiction titles about regular, contemporary homeschooled kids. You can see more of Do Life Right's titles at the AK Learning Adventure bookstore. Make sure to follow me on Twitter if you want to be notified when "What, No Sushi?" is ready for publication.

About WIPpet Wednesdays: I first learned about this fun little bloggy event from my friend Regi. Every Wednesday, authors from literally around the world post a teaser from their current work in progress (WIP). What makes it fun (in addition to the fact that Wednesdays in New Zealand occur before I've even seen Tuesday's sun set) is that everybody's blurb has something to do with today's date (thus explaining why I posted 13 sentences from chapter 2 on 2/13).

Thanks to R. K. Schewengel for including the Linky tool. Do you have a WIP? Join the fun!