Sunday, 13 October 2019

Strength of the Human Spirit

I've spent a good deal of time the past week thinking about life and how the briefest moment in time can set us on a path we would never have imagined. When I was five and my little brother was three, my mother blamed me for a farming accident that could easily have claimed his life, practically destroyed our family and left him with severe physical and mental disabilities he would have to endure for as long as he lived.  That horrifying declaration, "If you had been watching him like I told you to do this never would have happened," took away what was left of my childhood and plunged me into a world filled with self-doubt, guilt and an inability to trust or ever feel truly loved again.

We never spoke of that moment until right before her death over fifty years later where she said she didn't recall ever saying it, but I was left with scars that have never really healed. I don't actually believe in fate, but I do believe that insecurity and self-doubt, along with the knocks of life that come to each of us so we can gain experience and get to know ourselves better, have a tendency to put us in places we would rather not be. I've lived through three bouts with Rheumatic Fever, the loss of half of my hair that has never grown back, being molested by my violin teacher, loosing my dad when I was thirteen, and being forced to leave home after my mother - who was suffering a nervous breakdown - tried to run me through with a butcher knife because I wouldn't do something she asked. I lived with other people until I was taken to college by my grandmother and uncle. Those were lonely days because I wasn't allowed any contact with my siblings. My grandmother died a few months later.  All of those heart-wrenching experiences, along with other less traumatic events, happened during my first nineteen years.

I remember watching "Gone with the Wind" as a teen and feeling very much like Scarlet O-Hara when she said she would think about it tomorrow after facing a life-altering event. That simple phrase  has kept me going through an entire life filled with more loss and sorrow than I ever dreamed possible because tomorrow never comes, and the daily pressures associated with living must be faced as they come. I feel blessed that my spirit would not let me give up, even when all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and never see the light of day again. I also suppose that's why I write the kind of books I do. Anyone can write about a single trial turning into a happily-ever-after kind of life. But what about all those people who never get their happy ending?

I want the bloodied, bruised and broken who refuse to give up or give in because life is hard to know that they're not not alone. Those are the people I write for because I'm still waiting for the same things I desired as a child - not to feel afraid and to be loved for the woman I am. I recognize that the chance of that happening before this life is over is minimal at best, but I also believe in a loving God who wants the best for each of his children and will compensate for every loss and hurt felt in this life in the one to come - as long as a person never loses hope and remains faithful.

So I want to invite each of readers to check out all the books I've written under the pen name of JS Ririe. I know they will bring help and comfort to even the most troubled soul. You can read about Brylee and Reagan and all the people them come to know and love in two powerful series for free as a member of Kindle Unlimited. And if you don't belong to that, I'd like to send you the first book in the Indecision Flame series of 7 books and/or the first book in the Reagan Sinclair, FBI series in digital format for free just by sending me a quick email at janhill720@gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you. All books are available at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv. Resilience came out in September and the next book in the series will be out right before or after Thanksgiving.




Sunday, 6 October 2019

So its been a few days since I wrote anything. I had a wonderful visit with my sister in Branson, Missouri, watching some of our good friends perform. It was wonderful seeing Tony Roi back on stage after suffering fall 2 years ago that left him in a coma for three months. Just as the family had decided to pull the plug, he woke up and wanted a steak. It's taken him months to learn how to walk and talk and do normal things again but he's back on the stage, with his own kind and loving spirt, performing tunes that Elvis made famous and so much more. We also saw John Tweed who performed in Disneyland years ago, a great tribute to Frankie Valli and the group Six who came out from Las Vegas several years ago and use their voices as their only instruments. They are truly amazing.

But we spent most of our time in Motown shows. It's the music we grew up on and love, and was performed by some of our favorite people: Eddie, Andre, William, Doc, Will, Rico, Kirk, TJ and others. They sing songs by the Temptations, Platters, Drifters, Spinners, Al Green, Marvin Gaye and so many others it's hard to keep track of them. I shouted and sang along so much that I lost my voice half way through our time there and still haven't recovered. We were there when some of them received a trophy for Best Morning show. We got up on stage and danced at several performances and got hugs and kisses that will keep me going for a few months since they're in very short supply at home. I've been divorced for over 25 years and have yet to find anyone who speaks to my heart. Guess I'm hoping God will provide someone for me to love forever when I get to the next life because it's certainly been lonely here.

It got to me thinking about family and how not everyone we love is connected by blood. One of my favorite things is doing genealogy using family search. I can spent literally hours looking at names of family members who paved the way for the life I live. Some of them have wonderful names like Deliverance, Thankful, Obedience and Echo. I love finding out what countries they come from and often wonder where I get some of my characteristics that are very unlike anyone else in my family. Perhaps some day I will have my DNA tested to see which countries from all over Europe, the British Isles, America and even South Africa I have legitimate ties to. But sometimes it's just nice to wonder. I am truly grateful for the sacrifices they made and can't help but wonder what experiences they had that turned them into the people they became. Guess it will be fun to see them again once this life is over because I truly believe we will go on forever. That comforts me when it comes to thinking about leaving my children and grandchildren when the time comes. I hope I have built happy memories and will leave behind a legacy they can remember with pride. I guess that's what we all want to do, but we will go about creating it in very different ways.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Families and Learning Curves

I just got back from visiting my daughter, her husband and my adorable six year-old grandson. There's always a certain amount of trepidation when visiting family members. Living in such close quarters for even a few days at a time is hard. As a mother, I remember the days of childhood when I was more in control and knew what to say to make things right. Adult children have evolved from the days of learning what you want them to learn and acting like you expect them to. They make choices that define what their lives will become and must learn to live with whatever circumstances that brings. It's a time for parents to step back, listen more and make only comments that are necessary and hopefully wise. It's easy to see adult children as still needing your help and guidance, but they mostly just want your support and friendship.

My relationship with my children has been more difficult than most because they were adopted as babies and found their biological parents as adults. That changes the dynamics of normal parent-child relationships considerably. Patience and undying love no longer make the difference they once did because you are no longer the center of their universe. You must decide to bridle your own wants and desires so they can add two additional families to their lives without feeling like they've hurt feelings or caused too much sorrow. Understanding is complex because feelings do get in the way and hearts feel like they might actually break. It's one of those times when tears shed in private rule most days and a pleasant countenance is expected but hard to maintain.

Watching my daughter face her own challenges helped me to see her more as a person in her own right. I still see parts of the child I raised where stubbornness and the need to be in control rule the day. But I also see a woman who is raising a son who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at three and caring for a husband whose heart is only working at 20 percent capacity. He is going in for a second surgery next week that might raise the pumping capacity by another 20 percent, but that's as good as it will ever be.  I'm amazed at how she is able to handle such difficult circumstances without falling completely apart and am beginning to see why making phone calls or texting happens so rarely. Talking about what she is facing makes it harder for her.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is that no life is perfect, and it isn't meant to be. We are supposed to change and grow each day. I love being able to see into someone else's heart for even a few moments. It helps me see that we're all alike -- just doing the best we can and hoping that others will accept that as being enough.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

A new year of learning

It's been a few weeks since I posted anything, but it's not for lack of desire. I've just been incredibly busy with my ten year-old granddaughter. I've had her with me at least three days a week all summer, and with work and church there hasn't been much time for writing anything else--even writing my books or working in the yard and garden. But while it's been a very intense and exhausting summer, I  can't complain about spending time with a child whose imagination is boundless and whose energy far outlasts my own. My little gal prefers animals to most people, but she's my little shadow, and nothing is more satisfying than curling up with her in a chair to watch a movie after a busy day of sewing doll clothes from homemade patterns, baking treats from recipes she finds online for her hamster and rabbits, watching her dance, playing with Barbies and baby dolls, constructing Shopkins' villages or entertaining ourselves in the castle that was constructed in my basement. She's almost outgrown that now, but she's an only child who loves having my undivided attention.

It got me reflecting on my own childhood. I had four sisters and two brothers and we tried to exist in a two bedroom and one bathroom house. We lived on a farm and our toys consisted mostly of sticks, cans and pieces of cardboard. But we did have one great place to escape. In the old fruit orchard were several old cars and trucks, some them laying on their sides. They were rusted and torn up, but we could climb through doors and windows and slid across seats that were loosing their horsehair stuffing and make believe we were traveling to far away and exciting places. We also had a favorite game where we would run along the top boards of the pigpen and try to make it across the sloped roof of the pig's house without falling inside where an angry boar was waiting to rip us apart. 

There were bikes to ride, an empty granary with several rooms we could turn into apartments, and willow tree branches to swing on. It was a fearsome delight each summer to watch our mother chop the heads off a hundred chickens so they could be skinned, washed, packed in milk cartons and stored in the freezer for winter use. There were cats, horses and cows to feed and miles of garden to weed. We seldom had outside friends to play with, and there was never any money for extras, but in many ways I feel lucky because life seemed much simpler then with party telephone lines, no television or computers and two or three outfits to wear to school.

When I tell may granddaughter about my childhood she has no conception of what I'm talking about. Automated life has its advantages, but sometimes I'd like to turn back the years and give the children of today a chance to be free to explore life on their own terms without constant planned activities and cellphones that can't be relinquished. It makes me wonder what my granddaughter will remember when she gets to be my age. I just hope I'm part of her pleasant memories. 


Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Pioneer Day

It's July 24th. In Utah that means honoring our pioneer ancestors who traveled across the plains on foot and horseback, and by wagon and handcart, hoping to find a place where they would be free to worship God without persecution and violence. I admire mine greatly for the sacrifices they made. The stories about their lives fill me with gratitude and admiration and make me want to do everything I can to live up to the heritage they gave me. Perhaps part of my added focus comes from being older myself and knowing that it won't be that much longer until I meet them again in heaven to give an account of what I did with my family name. It's a rather daunting thought, but I really do want them to be proud of me.

In many ways, I consider myself, and every other person who lives on the earth, a pioneer in his or her own right. We each must carve out a place for ourselves in a world that is often filled with challenges and heartache that test our strength of character. I see people all around me who are rising above tremendous hardships and still giving back to others. They see the positive when the world around them is filled with chaos. They smile when their lives have fallen apart, and they rejoice with others who are enjoying success. They never become part of a newscast or enjoy any worldly accolades, but they live lives of hope, happiness and service.

I wouldn't want to be the pioneer who had to endure the extent of physical hardship many of my ancestors did. I'm afraid I might have stayed behind or given up during the journey. There are people in many countries who still exist that way today. I admire the selfless sacrifice of others who devote their lives to serving them and try to do my part, but I know it will never be enough. Perhaps that's the reason I wrote my next series. Final Allegiance, the first book in Reagan Sinclair, FBI, series came out today. It's about a 21st century woman who loves family, country and others and is willing to put everything on the line for what she believes. I'd love for any of you to read it and tell me what you think. It's now live at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv in both print and eBook. 


Saturday, 20 July 2019

It's Okay to Fail

So after three months of frustration, lack of sleep and feeling rather hopeless I’m finally admitting defeat when it comes to being able to design covers for the books in my new series. There are plenty of free and relatively non-complex options for designing eBook covers that look okay. Canva is great. I’m sure that’s why so many authors on a very limited budget only go digital, but I love the feel of a real book in my hands. So I sought help from a wonderful and talented friend who will do them for me at a very reasonable cost. I’m sure all of you will appreciate it because the ones I tried did not look good. Now I can quite worrying and feeling bad because the graphic art genes missed me completely and can get back to doing something I feel good about. The first book in the new series should be out in a few days. I’m really excited about it. The story will keep you guessing from first chapter to last. 

I guess my real message for today is that not everyone can do everything well. We need to discover where our talents and limitations lay and be okay with it. I know a great many people who seem to be able to do it all, but I'm sure they have things they feel less than confident about. Sometimes I wish I didn't have so many but I'd stack my work ethic up with most anyone even half my age, and can I ever cook, clean, sew and work in the yard. I was raised without any fluff or fanfare, but that's okay too. I just want to be the best person I can in my own little corner of the world.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Hot Summer Fun

  This will be a little personal since I'm talking about my writing, but I hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful summer months with all the warm weather, gorgeous flowers, family vacations and grass to cut. I'm not a fan of hot weather but so far it hasn't been too bad, as long as I get up by 6 in the morning so I can do yard and garden work before 9. After that, I can spend time writing, doing things with family members and friends or giving service to others two days a week. I love giving back to people who cannot do certain things for themselves  I have been blessed with good health and the ability to do so. It is a great blessing and one I thank God for each day. There is so much suffering in the world, and I want to be part of the group who isn't always taking. That's so easy to do in our society where wants more likely than not outdo needs and people are more concerned with getting ahead than doing good to others. I believe every kind and thoughtful turn comes back a hundred fold in ways we would never expect.
  But back to what I would like to say, and it is about giving.  I'm really excited to announce the July 4 winners of the digital copies of Betrayal - Indecision's Flame - Book 4. I love sharing what I've written with others almost as much as I like writing. So here's a big congratulations to Judy Norris, Misty Mendenhall, Letitia Brower Klein and newrozunak@yahoo. For those whose names have not yet been drawn in a contest, I will be sponsoring another giveaway when the first book in the Final Allegiance series comes out in a few weeks. I'm working on cover-design. It’s very different from writing what goes inside, but I will endure. This new series is very different from Indecision’s Flame, but it does take place in some very exotic locations as Agent Reagan Sinclair begins her extraordinary and challenging service with the FBI. Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter.
    My knees trembled slightly as I walked past the empty desks of other agents in our division. Some of them were out of the building on assignments, while others would start trickling in as the clock ticked closer to the hour. This was going to be either a very good or a very bad day. The knot that had formed in my stomach while I was in the elevator traveled upwards until it lodged in my throat. What if I was being overly confident?  Nearly half of the new agents washed out the first few months on the job. There were few nine to five assignments and arrival at work didn’t always mean going home at night. Some cases took several days or even weeks to complete, and families couldn’t always be apprised of what was going on. 
   I’ll be sharing more later on my Facebook page and blog, and don’t forget that you can still get the first three books in Indecision's Flame as a Trilogy and save a little money, along with the rest of the books in the series at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv. If you’ve enjoyed any of books I’d love for you to leave a review. They’re what help us get noticed and would mean a lot. Just use this link to help me out. http://bit.ly/IFReview


  This is the setting for the first book in Final Allegiance. Doesn't it look like a fun place to visit?