My Mother’s Day Surprise

Celebrating holidays while living overseas and far from extended family is hard. I come from a large family who once a week regularly sits at my mother’s large table for the Sunday meal. Most holidays everyone is there – it is how I grew up. So, I love hosting get-togethers with other families, especially when they become like family. It makes me feel at home.

Mother’s Day was no exception. We had a potluck lunch after church. People ate between conversations and laughs. Kids splashed in the small pool. It was just a beautiful day.

After everyone left and I had a lovely nap, my husband asked if I’d like to try a new coffee shop nearby. “Bring your writing stuff,” he says.

I grabbed a notebook, my draft of my novel, and the book/handbook PLOT WHISPERER by Martha Alderson (if you are a writer, I highly recommend them). I glanced at my laptop, but decided time was too short for that. I noticed Uwe’s bag bulging, and figured he would work, too.

Oh, well, my Mother’s Day has ended.

I sat at a sidewalk table while he went inside to order. It wasn’t too hot with the shade of the umbrella. It almost seemed like we were in Europe, sort of. We talked about the day and the upcoming things that we were going to be involved in. I wondered when we were going to pull out “work”. Okay, honestly, I was thinking about when would I get to pull out my writing.

Uwe then looked at his watch and mentioned that we should probably go. I looked at my unopened bag and sighed.

“Wait, I think you should see the inside. You want to see this funny/cute French style hotel, don’t you?” he asks.

I followed him in. We checked out the restaurant.  We took the elevator, which has a ceiling to floor Eifle Tower painted in it. We got off on the 7th floor. While I looked at the view, he entered an empty room. I peered in nervously because he just entered without knocking as far as I could tell. I mean, who just wanders into hotel rooms without a key? 

I stood in the hall peering into the room. “What are you doing?” I yelled in as much as a whisper as I could without actually yelling. My mind told me this was all wrong, but my feet seemed to have a mind of their own and pulled me in.

It isn’t your typical hotel room with one bed, desk, TV, and carpeted floor. This room has wooden walls and flooring. All the furniture had a dark wood, including the tiny wardrobe. It had two beds facing each other, not side-by-side. And to top it off the two windows, one long and narrow and the other short and set low to the ground, had wooden shutters! It was mesmerizing in a cheesy cute sort of way.

Uwe rested his bag on the bed and began empty out the contents.  I watched as my toothbrush, toothpaste and brush bounced on the bed. He continued with my clothes and a few other books.

“Did you get us a room?”

“No, I got you a room. You have your writing books. I brought your Bible and journal. One night for you,” he said as he handed me the keys (which had an Eifle tower key chain).

“What?!? Excuse me? Uhh, What? Man, you are good. I had NO idea.”

With a kiss on the cheek he vanished out the door. I’m sat on the bed and stared out the window. I love my family and I love spending time with them – but sometimes as a person, a writer, I need to break away with no distractions. No guilt. Freedom to be creative. My husband knew this – he knew I needed a surprise.

So, that is just what I did. I began deepening my characters and hashing out scenes – all are steps to finishing this novel I started a few years ago.

And that was my Mother’s Day surprise.

Have you ever been surprised by someone? Share your story in the comments below.

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Book Review (and giveaway): ALL THE NEWS by Amy Young

Today’s book review has a bonus – a short interview with the author and a giveaway.

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Title: All the News That’s Fit to Tell and How to Tell it: How to Write Christian Newsletters

Author: Amy Young

Review: ALL THE NEWS is written for those who write newsletters. Amy has taken her skills as a writer and applied them to newsletter writing. This short book is divided up into these four sections:

  1. The Unseen Battle
  2. Newsletter-Specific Writing
  3. Simple Ways to Improve your Writing
  4. Developing as a Writer

Amy doesn’t tell you how, but shows you how to write a newsletter that is “better than an insurance report”. She explains and gives examples on how to weave your story with your explanations. The overall point of this book is to help you build, or rebuild, relationships with those that read your newsletters.

My Take: As a writer, I felt like “duh” – why haven’t I connected these dots over to my newsletter writing before now? I found her tips to be helpful and inspiring. So many times I want to make sure I “report” about everything – but Amy has given me permission to pick and choose, to save some stories for the next letter. And, she reminded me that it is all about relationship building. So, I honestly believe that if you write newsletters, even if you love to write them, this book is worth it. We can always improve in our writing skills, no matter our level – right?

I’m so glad that Amy agreed to answer a few fun questions about herself. Amy is originally from the US and worked in China for about 20 years. After 16 years of newsletter writing she started her blog The Messy Middle. She’s author of two other books, Looming Transition and Love, Amy.

Now for the questions…

1. What is the best airport you’ve traveled through?
I have spent the most time in the San Francisco airport over the years. So, for sentimental reasons it is the best :). They have a bookstore I love browsing through and a great walking area with traveling exhibits—okay, I guess it isn’t really a walking area now that I think of it. Most people probably don’t use it to do laps as they wait for their flight, but I do. 
2. During the flight, do you A) read a book  B) movie marathon  C) sleep
I always have a book, but I tend to watch a movie through the meal service and then do my best to sleep with some Tylenol-PM :). 
3. List one destination you wish to still see?
Israel, Italy, all of Africa, Australia, the North East in the US during Fall, and a train trip across Canada. Okay, so I couldn’t pick just one!
4. In your book LOVE, AMY you mentioned that while living in China you killed rats with a frying pan. How many did you kill total?
Well, this is a bit tricky because how I killed them changed over the years, but in total, probably 15. I will say, the one that haunts me isn’t one I actually killed. We kept used ribbon in a zip-lock bag so either my teammate or I could reuse it. I went to get a piece of ribbon and as I took out the tangled mess it started moving and, shrieking, I realized I had a mouse in my hand. I threw it down and as it scampered off I kept screaming. No one came. How could I have such a traumatic experience and no one heard me screaming?! So, I did what any rational person would do. I kept screaming and went down the hall to my teammates apartment, knocked, entered, and got myself a witness! 
5. You are now living in the beautiful state of Colorado. What do you like best to do in the winter months  A) snowboarding   B) skiing  C) hiking  D) other…and please do tell.
D) other. My two favorite winter activities are snowshoeing (I cannot stand the feeling of going fast downhill, so people do not like to ski with me, nor I with them) and shoveling. Warmly Welcome you all to Colorado! 
Anyone else laughing about the rat? (sorry Amy, it was just too funny!) Amy is a great story teller. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read her other books, I highly recommend them. All three books are on sale at Amazon for $2.99 on Kindle now until April 28th.
Thanks Amy for taking the time to share with us today and for offering a free copy of your book ALL THE NEWS.
One lucky reader will receive a physical copy (US only) or a digital copy (anywhere in the world). To enter comment below telling us why you would like this book, then click on the link below to officially enter. There are more ways to enter. So, what are you waiting for?
Giveaway ends May 7th.

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