Disneyland for Writers


The Northwest Christian Writers Renewal in Redmond took place  Friday and Saturday. It’s been several years since my last writers conference, and the publishing world has been moving on without me. Terms like “e-blast” and web site titles and names of electronic gadgets I’d never heard of swirled through the conversations. Instead of sending carefully-printed proposals and other communications via postal service, everything is done electronically (and more cheaply) now.

Publishing itself is changing radically. There’s still a need for print books and magazines, but many companies now publish e-books which cost much less than the same book in printed form. Many writers self-publish their work, either as e-books or in traditional format.

Then there’s marketing. Authors have long done all they can to help their books sell, but now, most marketing is up to the writer. That’s why one hours-long class dealt with public speaking for writers. And that’s why authors need to know about “e-blasts” (communicating with possible readers through e-mail newsletters), web sites, blogging, Facebook posts, “tweets” and other social networking methods.

Many agents, editors, and professional writers shared their knowledge and encouraged writers to perfect their craft.

It was all fun and exciting, if a little overwhelming. When I commented on how there seemed to be a smile on every face, author Peggy King Anderson replied, “This is like a Disneyland for writers!”

The best part is, we weren’t just entertained. We came away with up-to-date new ways of sharing our work and the inspiration to keep on with what can be a lonely occupation.

Laughter, the Best Exercise

A favorite topic is food.
Sometimes we do more than talk about it.
Here we’re at the Mt. Vernon Kiwanis salmon barbecue
at the tulip festival.

In the Stanwood Community and Senior Center fitness class, we talk about anything and everything. With more than fifteen members, we share a rich pool of experience and knowledge, and sometimes our laugh muscles get the best workout of all. One part of the session we look forward to is “one-liner” time. Betty “Be Happy” Sunde started the custom of bringing a pithy, amusing saying to class each day. She’s entertaining her friends in heaven now, but Ray Lee picked up her mantle. Here’s a few that made us laugh recently. Hope they brighten your day, too!

Headline: Police were called to a day care where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.

Advice: Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.

Question: Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but checks when you say the paint is wet?

Verse: Trains don’t wander
     all over the map
     ‘cause nobody sits
     in the engineer’s lap. Burma Shave!


    A closed mouth gathers no feet.

    Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

And one last chuckle: If at first you do succeed, try not to look astonished.

Checker Marathon

Our friend John Rupert in 1981 with our Checker Marathon

When I married Bob Biggar, I knew he liked to tinker with cars, but I didn’t realize just how much. The story of our thirty-two year marriage was interwoven with stories of his various automotive projects. Most of the time he’d find unique used vehicles and rebuild them to his own specifications. He only kept them until he came across the next project. But one memorable vehicle was brand-new.

The Christmas of 1974, we lived outside Fairbanks, Alaska. The temperature hovered between -30 to nearly 60 below, but the children and I had a good time making our own Christmas tree decorations. We’d enjoyed a special morning of gift-giving and receiving. Then Bob told me my present was in the front yard. I looked out through the frosty window to see a big, battleship gray “tank” looming in our driveway. One glance at his pleased face told me this was no joke. I choked back my dismay.

He went on to tell me the car was a Checker Marathon, brand new, and we could have it painted any color I desired. Yes, it was made by the company that made the big yellow cabs with the black-checked trim, but he assured me it wasn’t a cab. It would carry nine passengers when the jump seat was down. It had a powerful engine and air conditioning, although I didn’t think we’d need that in Alaska.

Still suspicious that Bob had really picked out this vehicle as a present for himself, I chose a beautiful green metallic paint that changed the whole personality of the car. It soon proved its value as transportation for our kids and their friends. It was heavy enough to feel safe on snowy back roads, and after the snow melted and dust from the unpaved roads billowed around us, the air conditioning pressurized the car and kept the dust from entering.

Although we had other cars during this time, that faithful Checker was mine for ten years. It made several trips up and down the Alaska highway and helped us move to Anchorage. When we had to leave Alaska because of Bob’s poor health, we left it behind for 18-year-old Rob to use while he worked in Anchorage for the summer.

Its heavy frame kept Rob from injury when someone ran a red light and T-boned him. The insurance company totaled the Checker and we never saw it again.

And what did Bob do? He bought another Checker Marathon, this time bright red.

Our Children

Robbie, Age 3 and Lenora, Age 2 1/2 months

God’s most precious gifts, our children.

Rob and Lenora were His gifts to me and their father, Bob Biggar. I savored the moments of their growing up.

Six years after Bob went on to his heavenly home, 
God brought Hank to me, and along with Hank, five more children. Though Carmen, Kathi, Larry, Kari and Nate were already grown up, each one became precious to me in their own unique ways. I wonder if other moms feel, like I do, that Mother’s Day is the most personal of the days we celebrate? I revel in the memories, both old and newer, of God’s precious gift of family.

I wish I’d written these two poems. They are  entwined forever with my memories of the little ones that called me “Mom.” Enjoy!

Little Boys of Three 
        Isabelle Bryans Longfellow

Look tenderly on little boys of three;
Their softness is as fleeting as a flower,
The cheeks like petals such a little hour,
The deepest dimple theirs so transiently.
Even tomorrow, softness may be hard,
The little cotton cushions on the knees
Turned into bony knobs for climbing trees,
The fists so like a rose grow lean and scarred.
His full-moon cheeks will narrow to a line,
The silken hair become a brush of bristle
As mother’s little flower turns to thistle,
And there will linger not one little sign
To prove the cuddly cupid that was he.
Look tenderly on little boys of three.

To My Daughter
      Stephen Bender

Bright clasp of her whole hand around my finger,
My daughter, as we walk together now,
All my life I’ll feel a ring invisibly
Circle this bone with shining: when she is grown
Far from today as her eyes are far already.

Grumping Toward Spring

Too wet to play outdoors    

Looks like we’re repeating last spring’s weather. Now and then we’re gifted with an absolutely gorgeous interval, surrounded by gray, drizzly, grumpy days. At this moment we’re again being deluged, with rain washing in bucketfuls over the  windows and turning the scenes outside into impressionist paintings. This spring, every sun break makes us stop, look, and enjoy. I’m reminded of a poem by Don Blanding I found many years ago.

(What I should feel, I suppose)
Spring is Nature’s teen-age daughter,
April eyes and petal cheeks
Blossoming through maidenhood
To womanhood in transient weeks.
(What I really feel)
Spring is Nature’s teen-age daughter
Doing things she hadn’t oughter.
Wish I were as young as spring. . .
I’d be doing the same darned thing.