Category Archives: Family

#NaNoWriMo2017, Day 23 or Happy Thanksgiving!


I hope y’all are having a great day with family and friends!

And today, I’m thankful for a 12yo who loves story! She always has, but she struggled for many years with words making sense – her eyes and brain didn’t talk right to each other and it made reading super difficult.

But she worked super hard for over a year in vision therapy and then her doc decided that her brain was compensating so well that it didn’t want to retrain itself. Instead, he gave her prisms in her bifocals and that has helped SO MUCH! It took a year for her to get caught up with what she should have already know but now that she has…

For the last two months, and especially the last few weeks, she’s had her nose in one book after another.

And I LOVE that!

I did get a little writing done yesterday between getting stuff ready for today and a bunch of errands. Hopefully more tonight after everyone heads home/shopping.

Yesterday’s Stats:

In Concert With the King
Yesterday: 664
Total: 67814

NaNoWriMo 2017
Yesterday: 664
Total: 58527

#NaNoWriMo2017, Day 22 or Cookie Makin’ Day!

Kid #1 was at work, but the other three all helped making sugar cookies with Grandma. It’s a tradition going back at least 20 years to when my nieces and nephew were little.

So now we have dessert for tomorrow.

I was running around all morning and didn’t get home until time to get started so blog comes now.

Hubs is working on the turkey. We’re smoking it this year. Should be interesting – and hopefully yummy!

My computer got rebooted last night and took like 3+ hours to install an update so I got very little written outside of the newsletter that just went out. You can still sign up here and you’ll get a link to it!

I DID find a work around for something that’s been bugging me since the last major update. When I right click on the icons in my tray at the bottom of the screen, it used to show recent files and let me pin the ones I use often. The pinned ones are still there but no recent ones so I couldn’t add any new pins (like my Publisher file for the NaNo blog cover pics like the one of the cookie making). Apparently you can drag the file to the icon and it’ll pin it. This also works for Scrivener (which is what I write in) which has NEVER shown recent files! YAY!

Sometimes it’s the little things ;).

Yesterday’s Stats:

In Concert With the King
Yesterday: 127
Total: 67150

NaNoWriMo 2017
Yesterday: 127
Total: 57863

#NaNoWriMo2017, Day 21 or It’s Been a Decade

I probably write about this every year but… too bad ;). It was a momentous day for us.

This is what I posted on Facebook last year:

Nine years.

It’s been nine years since this sweet boy went in for likely life-saving surgery.

At nearly four months old he’d gone from 6lbs 6oz (and 30 days early) to just over 8lbs…and back down again. He’d spent over a week in the hospital trying to figure out why he wouldn’t gain weight.

Pics from last year

Turned out it was severe GERD and he needed a Nissen Fundoplication so he wouldn’t spit up anymore. (You know how it always seems like babies spit up everything they eat? He literally was spitting up 1/3-1/2 of every feeding. We measured.)

For the four months before that and the 9 years since, people like Roberta, Dakota, Kourtney, and the rest of the crew at our doc’s office gave us the love and support we needed – and never, ever made me feel like they thought I was doing less than my best. In fact, when I was worried they’d have no choice but to call DFS (because a baby that size losing a half a pound in one week…), they just hugged me and said they knew I was doing everything I could.

He couldn’t burp for two months and had other issues growing for the next year, but this was the beginning of his recovery.

He’s now a healthy, happy, gregarious 9yo. He’s got personality for miles (can you tell?!) and is the sweetest kid.

So grateful for him, the surgeon and his team, and all the others who supported us through that very difficult year. Love you all.


I had spent nine days in the hospital with him from Nov. 9 to the Friday before (whatever date that was) then we went home for the weekend while they ordered the equipment they needed since the surgeon had done this surgery on tiny patients before but not since he’d moved to this hospital.

I didn’t go to bed the night before. I was so far behind on my grading that I stayed up trying to catch up. I didn’t, but I only got about 45 minutes of sleep before it was time to take my little guy to the hospital.

We were there until Sunday. Thanksgiving dinner? Hospital food. My sister brought a little of the good stuff from home, but we didn’t have out usual Thanksgiving since hospital and all. She also brought her TiVo and we watched TV all day ;).

I don’t miss those days. I do miss my tiny boy sometimes, but I don’t miss the challenges. After he made it through the not burping phase, he spent two months, literally, going 1.5-2 hours between every feeding, around the clock. That meant I never got more than 1.5 of sleep at a time, and usually less. A successful day meant everyone was alive at bedtime and the two in diapers didn’t stink too long.

That was a very long two months.

But now… he’s a generally happy, healthy ten-year-old/5th grader with a personality that doesn’t stop.

We still deal with the aftereffects of surgery, mainly that he can’t throw up unless he’s REALLY sick, but otherwise, he’s all good.

I did get some writing done last night. Not as much as I was hoping for, but some. Remember to sign up for the newsletter if you haven’t already because there’s news going out today or tomorrow most likely. That’s what I spent part of yesterday working on. I also looked through some of book 3 while working on something else and can’t wait to get back to it once In Concert with the King is finished!

Yesterday’s Stats:

In Concert With the King
Yesterday: 2136
Total: 67023

NaNoWriMo 2017
Yesterday: 2136
Total: 57736

2016: Day 219 or Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Changes 2

SO MUCH going on around here these days…If you “follow” my Facebook profile, you’ve seen at least some of this – but the biggest thing is NEWS! 😉

  • Top: my family with Aunt Dot Bottom: Four generations - Aunt Dot, her two daughters, me, my children

    Top: Four generations – Aunt Dot, her two daughters, me, my children
    Bottom: my family with Aunt Dot

    Jonathan’s story – Discovering Home – FINALLY releases September 15! It’s available for the preorder price of 2.99!

  • We went to Louisiana for a semi-impromptu family reunion (thrown together in less than a month). About 50 people showed up, including several of my cousins who are avid fans – which is SO COOL!
  • One cousin brought a family Bible (sadly, not OUR family) from the mid-1700s. Printed in England. BEFORE THE REVOLUTION. It was INCREDIBLE!
  • I got to spend about 2 hours with my great-aunt. Dot is 90, but we were able to have her identify a few older pictures – including one of her mother that looks JUST LIKE my oldest daughter.
  • One of my cousins was talking books with the receptionist and she said she’d read my books! HOW COOL IS THAT?! The ONE DAY she didn’t have her Kindle with her! But she made me sign a notebook instead ;).

But the biggest news…

I quit my job.

Me with the lovely Annette - receptionist where Aunt Dot is staying

Me with the lovely Annette – receptionist where Aunt Dot is staying

Well, kind of. Officially, I’m taking the fall off and letting my boss know if/when I want to teach again, but the reality is, once you give up a class, it’s hard to get it back because they have lots of people willing to teach them.


To write full time.

There’s more to it than that, but that’s a HUGE part of it. And the reason why I can consider it at all is that my books are bringing in enough income that I CAN take the fall off.

So yeah. That’s HUGE.

My great-grandmother

My great-grandmother

And I reworked my production schedule for the next six months. If I can stick to it, I’ll have the second two books in the Serenity Landing Second Chances series out by early January and have some novellas coming for you too – Christmas, plus some secret fun ones :D. If I can get into the groove, I hope to be able to release a book every 2.5-3 mos tops. Or four months with a novella in between. Or maybe even more often than that ;).

So those are the changes coming around here. It’ll be two weeks (at least) before it really sets in. My kids go back next Thursday, but the college doesn’t start for another week and a half. Hubs will still be teaching a couple of classes, but I won’t be. And that’ll be odd. I’m going to have to figure out how to find a schedule that works for me. I tend to write best late at night and into the wee hours of the next morning, but that doesn’t work when you have to be up by 630 or even 730 or 8 to get kids to school or assorted other things.

And there we go. The news around here. What’s going on in your life?

Today My Mother Would Have Been 70

Today my mother would have been 70.

The longer she’s been gone, the more my memories become vague impressions and less moving pictures of events playing out in my mind.

I’ve said this before, but it still holds true.


Me & My Mom circa late 1970s

There is this Linda Gammel shaped hole in my life. Some days, it’s virtually imperceptible, but still there. Other days, like today – and this coming Tuesday when it will have been 30 years – it’s this gaping loss. This nearly all-encompassing vacancy in my chest.

It won’t last long at those levels. It will ebb and flow, at times nearly tear inducing and others bringing a wistful smile.

I have a great life. I love my life. I have a husband who loves me. I have four children who, usually ;), are well-behaved and hard workers and get along. I have a job where I get paid to talk to grown ups but still lets me stay home with my kids most of the time. I have a second job that lets me make up stories for a living and share those stories with the world.

I also have a husband who never had the privilege of meeting his mother-in-law. I have four children who, while loved beyond measure by six grandparents, will never be held or loved on by their seventh grandparent. And while those who knew her well have assured me that my mother would be proud of the woman, the wife, the  mother, the author I have become, I will never hear those words from her.

Mom & Stacy L. - one of my favorite pictures

Mom & Stacy L. – one of my favorite pictures – love the smiles!

This year is an extra tough one for me. That husband offered a birthday party to mark the likely halfway point of my life. Forty just a few months ago.

But by the time I went to bed three days after my birthday, I had lived longer than my mother did.

I have seen more milestones. I’ve seen more teenage days. I’ve seen more concerts, more victories, more defeats, more life in my children than my mother was ever privileged to see… from this earth anyway.

There is less than no doubt in my heart and in my mind where my mother is. She is spending her days worshiping her Maker, her Prince of Peace, the Lover of her Soul. Basking in the presence of The One who knew from the foundations of the earth, that we, those left behind, would believe she was taken from us far too soon.

My oldest daughter – named Linda Margaret for my mother – several years ago, suggested we mark this day with cake. I’m spending the day writing, but there will be some sort of remembrance while I’m here.

Page dedicated to my mom in the next yearbook - click to enlarge

Page dedicated to my mom in the next yearbook – click to enlarge

And three days from now, we’ll celebrate her entrance to Glory with cookies – because she made the world’s best. I wish I still had the recipe, but instead, I make my own version – and I’m teaching my children to. (And this year, I’ll have a brand spankin’ new KitchenAid to make them with.)

Thirty years. In three days, it will be thirty years.

Most days go by with just a passing thought or two. Some days, the grief is nearly fresh enough to be new.

They say time heals all wounds. And with some wounds it’s true. But some leave scars. And sometimes, if you pull or tug on those wounds just wrong, it brings fresh pain despite the healing.

I thank God for the time I had with my mother – far more than many will have. And I thank God I’ve had more time with my children than my mother did. All but one of them are older than I was when my mother went Home. And soon, I’ll raise a piece of cake in her honor. I’ll remember that she made the world a better place. I’ll remember that she loved me. I’ll remember that, more than anything, she loved her Savior.

And I can rest in that knowledge, knowing that someday we’ll meet again, and all the pain will have melted away.

Until then, the Lover of my Soul brings me peace that passes understanding.

And it is enough.

More Pics for Seekerville’s Historical Party

WOOHOO!!!!! I found the pics!!!! YAY!!!

Now to see if I can get them to post properly…

While the first set is pretty cool because I look sorta like her, I think the last ones are the coolest overall.  Make sure to scroll all the way down to see dozens of people, possibly in the Missouri River area of MO [nearish KC], including a kid who looks like Huck Finn ;).

Any help on eras/dates anyone?

This is the picture I’ve been wanting the most.  This lady looks enough like I did a decade or so ago that we have to be related.





Is this the same lady? The dress is the same.
And that’s my daughter several years ago.
Is the resemblance just my imagination? (I do think she looks more like the lady in the first picture though)


This is a series of pics that I think are the same family over time, but I don’t know who they are and can’t prove it… (I posted them to Facebook and it ‘grouped pictures of people who might be the same person together’ and it grouped this guy so…)






As Newlyweds?

A bit later?

After a couple of kids…






A few more kids later?





And these are the ones of my family.  The first one, obviously, is much older than the second one.  Original?  My Mark Twain prof agreed that it looked like it could be up near the MO River [this side of my family had land there at one point in this time period] and she’s the one who pointed out the Huck Finn/Tom Sawyer kid [on the right near the front…]

Edit [again]: When in doubt, find the family tree :p.
‘Grandma Tallent’ should be Dolly Reynolds Tallent, b. 1854
‘Aunt Maggie’ is Maggie Tallent b. 12/1883
‘Aunt Ida’ is Ida Mae b. 1882
‘Mom’ should be Amanda (Mandy) Ellen Tallent, b. 1891

‘Mom’ went on to have 7 daughters and 2 sons.
Vesta, Elva, Josephine, Dolly, Rosie/Rosalie, Naomi Ruth and Dot/Dorothy
Carl Eugene and Rhueben Allen

Only Dot is still with us :(. She and Jan are the ones who helped me figure out that ‘Grandma’ is the mother of the two girls, not the sister.

This is the restored version.

Pretty cool, huh?!

Catching Up

Current Facebook Status: stayed home from church after a long weekend in KC, a 7yo who has a hack-y cough and a hubby who doesn’t feel great. Had a great time in KC though :).
Currently Playing in the Background: Backyardigans, Secret of Snow – until the 3yo falls asleep then onto something more grown-upish 😉
Nano update: 11710, should be at 23338 so am 11628 behind

AH!  The last week and a half has been pretty crazy!  So much has happened, and that’s a big part of the reason why the blog hasn’t been updated.

Wednesday last week, Matt’s great-uncle passed on.  It wasn’t unexpected but still sad.  He went to St. Louis with his family last Sunday and Monday for the services.

Thursday last week, the brake light in the van started blinking at me.  More on Friday.  Talked to my mechanic and he said to bring it in on Monday.  He even said he’d get me home from the shop and bring the van by later [it’s about 2 miles away though it seems shorter – plus Brent rocks ;)].  Matt was out of town Monday, remember?

Sunday, after Matt left, the van wouldn’t start.  We ended up having AAA take it to Brent’s.  A neighbor watched the girls while the neighbor wife and I took C and went to get the car from Matt’s mom’s house.  Sis came over and we all went to Walmart for groceries and winter accessories for the kids.

Monday, we spent about 470 bucks fixing the van :p.  It’s the front brakes, not the back ones like we’d suspected [the thing hit 179K last week and has never had the rear brakes changed as far as we know].  Matt can do the front brakes himself so that’s good.  What it needed was a good tune-up and we have expensive spark plugs :p.  Of course.

The door handle also broke.  It was fine when it left my house and when Brent went to go open it, it was broken.  The tow truck driver denies responsibility.  That said, the other two door handles were already broken so it may have just been a matter of time before this one went, too.  We’ll be replacing all three in the next few weeks.  One of them is already at the house.

Thursday, I left for the HACWN conference in Kansas City!  My first writer’s conference!  Thursday and Friday were fine.  I learned a lot.  Cried myself to sleep Friday night but apparently a lot of people had a rough night Friday night.  Saturday was much better!  The EIC/CEO of an indie publisher requested a FULL MANUSCRIPT!  I liked her a lot and I think she liked me, too :).  We have a ’10K Day’ tentatively planned for the Saturday after Thanksgiving to help us with our NaNoing :).

So both good and bad the last week and a half, but mostly just busy!  I didn’t have much internet access the last few days so no FFF.  Jan and I did do it on Wednesday but I didn’t get the post set up before I left so… I’ll post it early this week, perhaps.

Have a blessed Sunday!

What I’ve Read Wednesday

YAY!  I’m finally getting to post a review on Wednesday :).  I’ve been planning to do this for like a month and a half now, but things like Christopher’s ‘let’s play the stop breathing game’ and hospital visit stuff then school got in the way.  I have about fifteen books sitting on the table next to me that need reviewed and returned to the library.  The plan is to do that then they’re all ready to go each Wednesday ;).

So for today’s book… Candace Calvert’s Critical Care!  I just discovered Candace’s books last week thanks to a blog post and then a rabbit trail from that blog to another one, then another, then scrolling through then… Well, it was like a pachinko machine, to be honest and I don’t remember the exact path, but that’s okay =D.

Christopher and I did our early morning school/babysitter thing, grocery shopping, stopped by the school to drop off Emily’s snacks for her Star student snack day [her teacher said she loves being Star student – shocking!  Em loving the center of attention?!  Couldn’t be!  Of course, her shorts are on backwards but that’s because Dad was home this morning ;)], talked to Miss Julie [Abbie and Emily’s preschool teacher who was outside with this year’s preschoolers], stopped at the library [love the drive up window!], the bank then home to put up the groceries, feed the 3yo and watch too much Mickey Mouse Clubhouse [the new Road Race episode in which Mickey’s voice sounds funky – did they get a new voice actor?] and I settled in to start Critical Care.  We got home about 11 am.  I finished before 2pm.  That’s a good thing.

Initial thoughts:
It’s a bit shorter than most of the books I’ve read recently but I’m good with that.  It actually gives me hope because it’s about the same length as Unbreak Her Heart.  Mine is about 72K words and I’d be interested to know what Critical Care came in at.

From the cover:

After her brother dies in a trauma room, nurse Claire Avery can no longer face the ER. She’s determined to make a fresh start–new hospital, new career in nursing education–move forward, no turning back. But her plans fall apart when she’s called to offer stress counseling for medical staff after a heart-breaking day care center explosion. Worse, she’s forced back to the ER, where she clashes with Logan Caldwell, a doctor who believes touchy-feely counseling is a waste of time. He demands his staff be as tough as he is. Yet he finds himself drawn to this nurse educator … who just might teach him the true meaning of healing.

What I Loved:

  • Jeremiah 29:11 – Yep, my favorite verse makes several appearances :).  It’s written on my bathroom mirror right now and displayed prominently in Claire’s home.  Is it God telling me something?  Or random coincidence?  I know what Jan would say… 😉

What I liked:

  • I’ve spent too much time in the last couple of decades [eep!] watching medical dramas of one kind or another.  Reading about one is a bit different!  Critical Care is inspirational ER without the ‘drama’ [in the off-screen sense; ER went on a few seasons too long…]  I could see the emergency room in my mind’s eye both from those shows and from our all too recent visit ourselves [see: Overwhelming Gratitude]
  • I love Claire.  I feel for her after the tragic loss.
  • I love Logan.  I didn’t like his picture on the cover :p.  I kept thinking ‘but he doesn’t have long curly hair in his picture!’  I know – author’s don’t have much choice in that ;).
  • I love the rest of the supporting characters!  They’re so real!  Erin struggling with relationships.  Sarah dealing with her past.  How those things are resolved.  Or at least starting to resolve.
  • Logan finally opening up – not just with Claire but with everyone.  The resolution in his life with so many things in his past.
  • The ending left me with a smile on my face.
  • I’m glad that Disaster Status was on Amazon for like 1.50 or so yesterday – the Kindle edition – so I already have it on the iPhone waiting to read because the library’s two copies aren’t due for at least a week – but I still wish I had an actual hard copy to read :/.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The ending :p.  Yes, I see what I wrote up there.  But I also know that Disaster Status picks up at another hospital with one of those supporting characters who moves at the end of the book.  Okay, I can deal with that.  But my inner literary voyeur wants more Claire and Logan ;).
  • Um… that’s about it ;).  Except that I wish the one character, minor though he may be, would have gotten his comeupence [how do you spell that?!] because it so annoys me that he didn’t.  But that particular kind of situation is a bit near and dear to my heart.


It’s going on my Amazon wish list.  I liked the characters.  I loved the romance.  And I liked the medical aspect of it – maybe it’s too many hours wasted watching ER, House, or true stories on Discovery Health, but I liked it!  I also found an interview on Title Trakk that said that she has other books out for the general market – comic mysteries with a wacky cruise nurse or something to that effect.  Think I’m going to have to try to find those :).

9 of 10 stars

Now to finish those query letters and get my main webpage up and running instead of having the ‘coming soon’ thing on there forever.  It needs a bio and the first chapter posted – though I did post the first page here on the blog :).

Heading Home!

After three days in the hospital, we’re headed home.  The general consensus is that Christopher doesn’t tolerate the codeine very well.  After mentioning that, Matt’s mom and aunt both mentioned that they can’t take it :p.  Would have been good to know but now we do :).  It’s not bad enough to list as an allergy, but to use with extreme caution and mention it to health care providers in the future.  He had another episode in the hospital, but it’s all good now that he’s off those meds.

He’s eating and drinking in the other room with Matt right now but as soon as the papers are filled out, we’re on our way home!  PTL!

Update on Son

Before going any further, know that Christopher is fine ;).

Well, our 3 year old had his tonsils and adenoids removed Thursday – as planned.  Not as planned, he refused to cooperate when it came to eating and drinking afterwards.  We think he was nauseated as a second dose of nausea medicine seemed to help A LOT.  Because of a surgery he had as a baby [to be expanded on in the Christopher posts], he has to be REALLY sick to throw up, so it’s likely he would have if not for that.  Anyway – instead of being released an hour or so after surgery, we were there for about 4.5 hours.  They were pretty close to sending us to the hospital [about .5 mile away] for observation overnight, but we avoided that and got home about 2:30.

At about 4:45, he refused to take his meds.  I had to hold him tight and squirt it in his mouth while he was fighting, something I’ve done dozens of times before with all the kids.  This time, something went wrong and he stopped breathing for a moment.  As soon as I got him upright, he was fine.  A little freaked out, but fine.  He went to sleep pretty quick and slept until about 9.  He sat with a friend who had come over so I wasn’t alone [Matt had a meeting] until about 940 then moved to the kitchen for some applesauce.

The friend left [I told her to] as she had an early morning and Matt would be home in about fifteen minutes.  I went to change Christopher’s diaper only to have him stop breathing again.  This time, I couldn’t revive him so 911 was called.  The girls did fabulous following instructions [Em got Maggie so Maggie could call Dad on the cell, all of them going downstairs so they wouldn’t be in the way for the ambulance, etc].  About the time the operator answered, he was breathing again.  We took him to the ER in the ambulance about 10:30 Thursday night and there we remain.  Well, on the peds unit [for the 4th time in his life :p – plus once for Maggie; we’re no strangers to these fabulous nurses!].

In the overnight on Friday morning, he had to have a nasal cannula for a while [he did not like that!] and we’ll see how he does overnight.  Depending on how he does, we hope to go home tomorrow but… we’ll have to see.

Prayers for his continued recovery [and Mom and Dad’s peace of mind!] would be greatly appreciated!