How's Your Holiday Season Going?

My holiday season has never been easier. My kitchen was ripped out in September--and has only now been put back together--and my downstairs carpet will be ripped out a few days before Christmas to have new carpet reinstalled. This construction is due to a major leak discovered late summer.

Again, my holiday season has never been easier! I mean it! This year, I didn't--COULDN'T--cook for Thanksgiving. Christmas--I can't decorate downstairs because EVERYTHING has to be moved off the carpet a couple of days before Christmas. (There is a landing upstairs where I will put a small tree and the presents--a Christmas corner, if you will.)

No mess & no stress,
This season's a success!

True Enough

New Website Address for Danette Haworth!

Hello all!

Somehow, my dot com domain name got swiped a few weeks ago. I'm trying to get the dot com address back, but now Danette Haworth is dot net website!

Yay! I'm back online!

Marine Fish, Materiel? Material? A Former Technical Writer Investigates

So I just read an article that stated the inhabitants of old Scotland probably had as the mainstay of their diet meat and marine fish. What? asks I. Aren't all fish marine, as in, "of the water?"

Then technical writer DH appeared on my shoulder. "Remember materiel," she whispered in my ear.

How well I do remember materiel. On my first day as a technical writer--while still a student!--my boss plopped a 500 page technical report from the Army. "Edit this," he said.

I stared at that technical ream of paper in fear. What did I know of Army things? "This is what you're going to school for. You can do this," one of my inside voices said. I picked up my red pen and started reading. (In later months, I would switch to #2 pencil--the red pen made me feel as if I were yelling.)

A few pages in, I came across the word "materiel." My hand swiped up, my wrist cocked, but I held my fire. I knew only the material on my back or the materials needed for an art project, but this was a brave new world I was entering--a world wherein "materiel" might be a word. I cracked open my new Merriam-Webster and found materiel somewhere after material but before mateship. Glad was I, having harkened the internal editor, and gladder still for not having made an embarrassing edit on my first day.

Not all fish are marine fish; marine fish are saltwater fish, as opposed to fresh water fish. I will rest easy tonight with this new knowledge.

Website Down, The Mouse, and School Visits

Hello all! It's another dreary day here in the Sunshine State. I like to tell people we have only two seasons: hot, and hot and rainy. Do not visit THE MOUSE in summer! You'll likely be drenched to the bone, then frozen by the AC. (That's when they swap you out for an aminatron, ala Stepford Wives). And when it's not raining, the heat and the humidity will press you right down to a smear on the concrete, which The Mouse's minions will wipe up and dispose of before anyone notices you're missing.

Now to the subject at hand: My website is down. This is a problem for me because I wanted to update my school visit schedule. Because I don't know how soon the site will be back up, I wanted to let you know I have begun to book visits for next school year. Twenty-minute Skype visits are free to groups who've read my work. If you'd like me to visit in person, I have a variety of presentations and I also provide writing workshops for students who want to polish or publish their work.

If you're interested in having me visit, send me a message! My email address is dhaworthbooks at yahoo dot com.

Anna M. from London wins A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY!

Goodreads has selected Anna M. from London to receive a free, signed hardcover of my fourth novel, A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY!

The contest ran for only two and half weeks, yet garnered almost eight hundred entries--thank you so much to all who participated.

Anna, A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY is coming your way!

Flash Fiction Contest with Prizes and Critiques!

You don't even have to be female to enter the WOW! Spring 2014 Flash Fiction Contest sponsored by WOW! Women on Writing--you just have to write your best 750 words or less and pay a ten dollar entry fee (additional ten dollars for critique).

I've entered several of their contests, placed and not placed, and I highly recommend not only the contest, but the website itself. When I started writing seriously in 2007, I discovered Wow! Women on Writing,and I felt I'd found friends, people to whom I could learn from and whose words encouraged me.

If you've never visited their site, you've got a lot of good stuff waiting for you. Check out current articles and contests, and don't forget to pore through the archives. This is the kind of website that makes you feel as though you are in the company of friends.

Good luck, and have a great day!

A Whole Lot of Lucky: Behind the scenes look at title development

Titles--heartache city! The title must do everything a synopsis or query does: grab the reader, provide a summary, and hint at the action yet to come. A lot of time goes into working up a good title, and it's not just the author's work, either. The editor, the editor's coworkers, and sales and marketing all have their say; everyone's input must be considered.

Titles cooked up and rejected for A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY:

  • Two Flavors of Lucky
  • The Year of My Magnificent Luckiness
  • Three Million Dollar Girl
  • The Duplicitous Luckiness of Hailee Richardson
  • Serendippitydoo
  • Lucky Me
  • Impossibly Possibly Lucky
  • Hailee Richardson, Girl Millionaire
My editor and I brainstormed pages of titles and promptly rejected most of them. The problem lies in the word "lucky:" phrases involving "getting lucky" are imbued with the wrong kind of nuance! Also, we wanted to avoid words like jackpot or other buzzwords that are too close too gambling. (This was hard, because even the buying of a lottery ticket is gambling.)

My sister suggested "A Whole Lotto Lucky," and the powers that be loved her suggestion! With a bit of morphing, my sister's words became A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY.

Now you can try your luck without all the heartache my editor and I went through! For a free, signed hardcover of A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY, just enter the Goodreads contest!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Whole Lot of Lucky by Danette Haworth

A Whole Lot of Lucky

by Danette Haworth

Giveaway ends March 31, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Be Lucky--Win a Free Book!

If you're lucky enough to be Irish, you're lucky enough. 

This month, everyone has the chance to be lucky! 
Win a Free hardcover of A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY! 

Kirkus Reviews pinned a nice, big, blue star on A Whole Lot of Lucky, so what are you waiting around here for? Enter now at Goodreads!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Whole Lot of Lucky by Danette Haworth

A Whole Lot of Lucky

by Danette Haworth

Giveaway ends March 31, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Your Friend is Grieving. What Should You Say? How Do You Comfort Them?

So many of us are grieving the death of someone close to us.

Grief comes in waves, receding, then roaring back to engulf us and batter us till we feel the tide might take us out and we will never return. It's not wrong to grieve. When recounting the scene of Jesus approaching the burial site of his good friend Lazarus, John tells us simply, "Jesus wept" (11:35). Jesus wept. It's the shortest verse in the Bible and it needs no explanation. I'm thinking today of my family and the family of John Wilbanks. I'm thinking of Rodney Wilbanks and his sister and brothers. I'm thinking of my daughter, Brooke Haworth, for whom the loss has hit hard. My mom, whose grief is a weight pressing down on her.

I am thinking of my close friend, Sima Taylor, her wonderful brother, Mohammad Mojdehi, whom she was so close to. I'm thinking of her daughter and her husband, Peter.

I am thinking of my own brother who died too early, and whose death brings daily grief to me.

I am thinking of Shannon Hitchcock and all the friends of Cynthia Chapman Willis, who recently succumbed to lung cancer.

God knows your grief and he cares about you.

This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you (2 Kings 20:5).

You have kept record of my days of wandering. You have stored my tears in your bottle and counted each of them (David, writing in anguish. Psalm 56:8, Contemporary English Version).

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain (Revelation 21:4).

Some of our friends who didn't know the one we grieve don't know how to handle the new, sorrowful version of us. If you are one of our friends, here is what you should say: "I'm sorry." or "I'm so very sorry." or "I'm sorry and I am thinking and praying for you." You can even say, "I don't know what to say."

Send a card to your friend's home. Write some version of the words above. Send flowers to the funeral home, if you are moved to do so. If not, that's okay, but the very least you can do is send a card. Your friend is in a very hard place right now, and though a card seems an impossibly frail comfort, it actually lends a great deal of comfort.

If you live near your friend, bring a meal or two over. Make cookies or banana bread or muffins--breakfast and easy snack items are generally overlooked but would be welcomed by the family.

If you can alleviate your friend of certain chores, do so. Can you pick up the kids? Take them to practice? Mow the lawn? Babysit while your friend conducts death errands?

Kids are in pain, too. Offer comfort to them as well.

Hug your friend.

If you have sweet or funny anecdotes about the person they're grieving, share those stories. They mean so much. Hand write the story even if you've told them, and send it to them in the mail. They will keep it forever.

Let your friend talk about that person when they need to. If they suddenly need a topic change, allow it. Don't be hurt. Grief works in swells; your friend needs to talk but also to be free to escape the swell. Let them.

Acknowledging your friend's pain tells them that you care about them; their pain is valid; you care that they are in pain; the person they are grieving for was valuable. I encourage you to not be afraid of your friend who is hurting. If you don't know what to say or do, I hope you find the words above helpful. Your friend is in an extremely vulnerable place right now. Rise above your discomfort and help them; however, a few things can actually hurt your friend, so be wise, choose your words and actions carefully:

Do not avoid your friend. Their sorrow makes you uncomfortable; your avoidance makes them feel that you do not care about them; you don't think their grief is important; you don't recognize the value of the person they grieve.

Do not offer platitudes. "It was God's timing," "You can still talk to him; he's watching you from heaven!" "He's in a better place now." These are throwaway lines. They have no power and they do not help.

Do not interrogate your friend on the details of the death. If your friend doesn't mention the cause of death, you don't need that information. When or if your friend wants to share that with you they will.

Do not mention and then launch into your own grief story. Your friend is suffering NOW. Be selfless and pay attention to their grief. This is not the time for you to claim your crown of grief. This is your friend's time. Let them have it.

 I hope anyone grieving has found some words of comfort in this post. And if you are a friend of someone grieving, I really do hope you've found this post helpful. Many people don't know what to do when their friend suffers a loss; the best thing you can do is to be there in simple, quiet ways.

T'Kaiyah's Video Review of The Summer of Moonlight Secrets

T'Kaiyah, I discovered your video recently and loved it so much, I had to share it!

The Deceit of Weather

The Deceit of Weather

O weather, you weather, thou fair weather friend--
your promise of sunshine I will never again
I'm aggrieved
You betray me so.
'Twas outside sixty
and felt like snow.

Was a trick when once your ribbons unfurled
Ribbons of light and warmth that twirled
Enraptured me and made me whole
Today is gray and all are cold.

O weather, you weather, thou friend foul and fair
entrelacé your ribbons to braid in my hair.
Dash away gray and cold and the rain
Restoreth my heart and my soul once again.

The State of Sunshine

The State of Sunshine

To my friends up north
there's something you should know;
I'm sweating in the heat
while you start the snow blow.

Inside, outside, fun in the sun
but you wear your mittens
'cause it's twenty-one
I crow
My weather has bling.
Even when it rains,
there's a rainbow ring.

I know you've got it bad,
the wind so shrill.
I'm in O-town
and I am just chill.

So pack up your bags
and drive through the night.
Last one to leave,
turn out the light.

'Tis Eighty-Four Degrees, My Ladies

'Tis Eighty-Four Degrees

The golden yoke of our sun breaks aloud,
cleaving through wooly heads of thunder clouds.

Birds trill songs of gray winter, now gone,
our week of wintertide--degrees, fifty, or fifty-one.

Away with our mittens and cloaks, no more freeze;
still in our closets hang our tanks and capris.

Hear now my ladies, the heat--how it begs
We must to our razors, and shaveth our legs.

Blue Springs, Florida

I snapped this photo from a boardwalk overlooking the springhead at Blue Springs. More than a million gallons of water a day rush from the deep, creating this oasis--a Garden of Eden. Home to manatees during the winter, the year-round seventy-three degree water sometimes is host to upwards of two hundred manatee. Just don't call them sea cows. They hate that.

For my Sima, My Cherished Friend (Sima Taylor, March 29, 1968 - January 7, 2014)

For my Sima, my cherished friend whom we will remember today, 

Sima, I counted you a sister, a friend, and a Christian--now I count you a saint. Whether we sleep in Christ to rise with Him later or whether we are immediately with Him--I know you are in the palm of God's hand.

You are one of most gracious persons I have ever known. I know you had many, many friends, but you made me feel special. Whenever we were together, I felt you there in the moment with me. Never judged; always loved--I treasure our friendship and guard it. And my family will never forget the comfort you offered us when my brother died.

You cared about people, and they felt it. You offered warmth and hospitality. Everyone who knows you knows your kindness, and you are the woman spoken of in Proverbs 31.

I loved our conversations, and how they'd cover things from the nature of sin, to our kids, to what was happening in the world (or at the movies!). It's easy to talk to you and hard to keep track of time. I remember one lunch we had, and how I didn't really notice that the crowd in the restaurant had changed over several times and the waiter kept filling my coffee long after our food was gone. We suddenly realized it had been more than three hours and we were almost late picking up our kids!

You are beautiful, inside and out. Your eyes are like onyx. You have a pretty little laugh. You are a good friend and a safe place, and I miss you, Sima.

Sima (right) and her mom