Monday, December 3, 2012

Authors, will you help?

Cancer – that horrible C word – has affected us all — maybe, some of us more personally than others but still don’t we dread that word?

Another C word — cure — is what cancer survivors want — what we all want for our families, our friends, our readers and their friends and families. You can help find this cure. Would you donate an autographed copy of your book(s) for a silent auction to help us?

Your autographed books will be placed in various baskets for silent auction bidders at A Relay for Life extravaganza to be held on April 13, 2013 at the Abingdon High School, Abingdon, Virginia. In years past, hundreds of baskets have included Gospel music CD’s, books, gift certificates, personal supplies, crafts —all donated by businesses and friends of the community. The top bidder for each basket will be the lucky winner.

My friend, Luedell, knows first-hand about breast cancer because at age 69 she became a survivor. She started the Washington County Breast Cancer Support Group for cancer survivors and to help find that elusive cure. For the past four years, her support group has been the top money raiser in the community division of Relay for Life, netting more than $14,000 each year. Now they plan the largest Relay for Life event that the county has seen.

Money received through the silent auction, private donations and sales of 800 tickets to a concert event following the auction, hopefully, will surpass all previous years. The Southern Gospel concert headliner is Billy Hodges, who formerly sang tenor with Dollywood’s Kingdom Heirs. Other performers include Chosen Harmony, Amanda Faith Helton, Holston River Boys, Duty Free, Mercy’s Reflections. All proceeds go to Relay for Life.

Your book or other generous donation for a silent auction basket may be sent to the Breast Cancer Support Group, Luedell Bailey, Facilitator, 19060 Woodland Hills Road, Abingdon, VA. 24210. You will receive an acknowledgement.

Let’s all work for a cure and Celebrate Life! Celebrate – what a wonderful C word! Thank you!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Key to Continue Training is to have the Right Motivation

The following article was written by Anna-Stina Johansson. She is an author from Lapland, Sweden. A publishing house in Sweden published her children's book about animals in 2008 and now she is releasing these animal stories in English via her own firm, "The Storyteller from Lappland". For more info about her latest book, “Flame –The Animal Saver part one”, please visit
“Following the Martial Arts way is like scaling a cliff – continue upwards without rest. It demands absolute and unfaltering devotion to the task at hand.” Sometimes I think of this motto by Sosai Masutatsu Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin Karate, because this motto fits indeed very well with how I experience Kyokushin. To me karate is as precisely as hard as scaling a cliff! You see I have social phobia, meaning I have problems with body contact and Kyokushin is a full contact Martial Art, but it’s not only full contact when you fight but also when you do certain exercises. Also Kyokushin Karate has been a male-dominated sport but nowadays more women are coming to the dojos so maybe one day in the near future it will be as many women as men there : ) That’s good for me because I’m scared of men since someone I’m acquainted with got stalked and raped and I got very affected by that event.

Anyway, once we were training self-defense in the dojo and that was why I started to train karate. I can’t remember now how I pictured it would be, but I certainly probably never imagined the exercise my head instructor told me to do with a man there when I recently had started to train back in the fall of 2010. He showed us first with one of the other students how you should do the exercise. That one was supposed to lie on the back on the floor while the other one was going to sit on top of his tummy, grabbing the person who was lying in his Gi (the karate clothes) and pretending to hit him with the other hand. The person who was lying was going to pull up his knee and move his hip upwards and push away the other person in order to get away.

The clock was around 9:00 pm, the lessons normally ended that time, when the head instructor asked one of the other men if he could do that exercise with me and of course he answered yes. I thought that I was going to die when I realized what I had to do! Since the clock was so much maybe I thought that he was just showing, not that we actually had to do it! But I endured and did that exercise with a man I hardly knew. After all, that was what brought me to the dojo in the first place, to learn how to physically protect myself and in order to do that I know that I must step outside my comfort zone. By the way, if feels like I do that all the time when I’m in the dojo : ) Later I understood that the instructor had asked me in a nice way if I was willing to do that exercise. I guess I was too nervous or too scared to get it, that he actually had wondered if it was okay for me. I misunderstood him so that was why I agreed to do that exercise with a stranger. People say it’s easy to misunderstand each other if you send texts or emails but it’s easy to misunderstand a person in real life too : )

Kyokushin is also the strongest karate in the world. I have an eating disorder that I try to get well from so I’m not strong. It feels like I don’t have any strength at all in my legs and there are lots of exercises where you have to have leg strength to be able to do them correctly, but I think that mine has vanished. I guess I should eat more spinach so I get as strong as Popeye : )

I’m glad that I’m a person that does not give up in the first try because otherwise I would have been long gone by now. Then I guess I would have left the dojo and never looked back already after my first lesson. Everything was so new and difficult for me! The instructors talk Japanese when they tell us which techniques you should do. I got confused right away when I heard those strange words! At my first lesson my instructor told us to do sit-ups and count to ten on Japanese while we did that.

When I heard the others count one by one while we did this exercise, I started to feel desperate trying to remember the words on the papers that I had gotten a couple of days earlier when I went there to just watch them train. I wondered if I was supposed to have learned all that stood there in such a short space of time! Eventually it was my turn to count. “Ichi, Ni, San, Shi…” I think that that was the only numbers I had managed to learn back then. Then the instructor said that I could say the rest in Swedish but it felt like I had forgotten my own language too since I don’t like to talk in front of others : )

And one of the exercises we had to do then was to stand on your hands. You know when you stand upside down with the legs against another person’s outspread arm. First of all you must trust the other person if you are going to do that and I find it hard to trust people. Second you must be strong. I didn’t wear a Gi since you can train in ordinary clothes when you are a beginner, so I put my jumper inside my trousers, meaning I looked like Steve Urkel : ) because I had no intention to show my tummy there : ) I did my best but I didn’t manage to do that exercise, I felt like a worthless twerp : )

Despite all my problems I continued to go to the dojo. Later I let the instructors know about my problems and they haven’t shown me anything else but understanding and kindness : ) Since Kyokushin can be hard to train at times I believe that many can get the feeling of giving up when the feet start to hurt, the knuckles bleed and when the body is sore from the hard training. I believe the key to continue training is to have the right motivation. I wouldn’t have trained karate if I just wanted to stay healthy, then I would have chosen some easier training like walking or jogging. What motivates me is that I want to be able to defend myself so therefore I still train Kyokushin. I managed to earn my blue belt (8 kyu) just before Christmas 2011. Here in Sweden you can only take the karate test if you have trained at least three months and taken part in at least 25 classes. When it comes to higher grades there are stricter rules. As far as the technical standard Sweden is far ahead.

I think I have become addicted to Kyokushin since I use to train here at home by myself. Then my cats watch me sometimes and it’s almost like having an instructor watching you because they follow every move I do : )

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Small Town, America

One of the most exciting aspects of being an author is creating the setting and bringing a town to life. Small Town, America—pick a spot on the map (or in outer space), give it an interesting name and a history, some interesting residents and you’re off. My fictional town, River Town, is located just outside Macon, Georgia, the cherry blossom capitol of the south and maybe the whole United States. I‘ve lived in the Macon area for 21 years and I can personally attest to the massive number and beauty of the cherry trees. It is truly an amazing sight when they begin to bloom and peak. We may even have more cherry trees than Washington, D.C. (but who’s counting?) With His Dying Breath is set during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival where a canopy of pink and a veil of deception covers the evil acts by one of her own.

My fiction writing experience before this first novel consisted of short stories and newsletter articles. Most of my fact writing experience has been in writing for aviation Websites and magazines. As a reporter for a weekly newspaper near the Okefenokee Swamp, I covered anything and everything happening in our small Southern town from church socials to county commission meetings. That inverted style of writing was not very exciting to me, however. What I loved was the feature writing on the people who lived in our town.

I find small town people fascinating with the proud stories they tell of their town heritage. There’s always at least one person who was born, raised and will die there and he or she will be glad to tell us why. They’re not leery of strangers and it’s fun to play the “do you know?” game to determine if we’re kin! When time permits, my husband and I enjoy taking the back roads when we travel, dining at the mom and pop restaurants, shopping in small antique stores and other locally-owned businesses, visiting local landmarks  and making new friends. Our bucket list includes visiting all 159 counties in Georgia and we’re getting close in our quest.
So next time you’re on one of the Interstate speedways, avoid the hustle and bustle and take an exit to ride through the rural towns and view the beautiful scenery. Just a short ride off the Georgia Interstates, you can visit the Okefenokee Swamp, the Ocmulgee or Etowah Indian Mounds,  the numerous State parks, Cloudland Canyon, the Little White House and on and on and on. Forgo the fast food pit stop and join the locals for lunch. While waiting on your food to be delivered to your table, you might find that long lost relative.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

We Cried Then We Rose

(Dedicated to the memory of those lives lost in the 9/11 attacks and to honor all who survived.)

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.  Isaiah 41:10

We watched in shock with disbelief the day the towers fell
We joined millions across the world, our faces drenched in tears
I heard a voice speak from deep within my soul
A comforting presence calmed my innermost fears

He whispered I am the Lord your God and I am with you   
Be not dismayed your faith must not be shaken
Have no fear, listen to my words
In this realm of disaster, my child is not forsaken

We watched in horror as neighbors escaped from dust and smoke
From terror—that chased them down a crowded street
Succumbed by a deathly cloud of hate
And rejoiced when the gray figures escaped defeat

He whispered in a small still voice ‘Fear nothing
My righteousness will lift you up and prevail
By My force of promise to be faithful and just
Wait for God’s time, I will not fail'

I watched weeping as firemen carried babies and fathers carried sons
Hospital patients shared their grief
Mothers and fathers searched names on posters
Strangers gave their all in sacrifice where love empowered belief

We were lifted with His right arm of assurance
And provided strength only He can give
To withstand hatred and right the wrongs
To dwell in harmony where all can live

Stranger to stranger, neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend
The terror of evil struck us down but terror was weakened by love
And we rose above sorrow, horror, doom and gloom 
We cried and with assurance and strength from above

From the ashes, we rose!
Copyright© Nancy Hogue


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nancy's Writings: I'm Married to a Sawyer

Nancy's Writings: I'm Married to a Sawyer: With retirement after a 37 year career in mining just around the corner—for my husband that is—I began to think of the wonderful times ahead...

I'm Married to a Sawyer

With retirement after a 37 year career in mining just around the corner—for my husband that is—I began to think of the wonderful times ahead. As newlyweds of just a year, we had been through several life moments—my retirement and move from Virginia back home to Georgia, his mother’s passing, my son’s marriage, his back surgery and recovery and his cat adapting to two more in the house! We came through the year just fine but the three cats need regular visits with the cat whisperer.

His new life meant finally realizing a lifelong dream of buying a sawmill. I remember the first time he dropped that little bombshell. Buy a sawmill? As a visual person, I pictured a huge operation over several acres where truckloads of trees were brought in by loggers that huge grabbers would unload from the beat-up logging trucks and transport them to a large platform to be cut into boards for Lowe’s or Home Depot. But honey, we’re retired! Don’t we want to travel, see the world, visit our relatives in California and Hawaii, friends in Alaska? Don’t we? I offered no encouragement to buy a sawmill. Of course, he had no idea what I was thinking because I had no idea what kind of sawmill he wanted—until October two years ago.

 At the Georgia National Fair in Perry, we sat in the stands waiting on the quarter horse team roping competition looking over our program when he lit up like a firecracker. “Let’s go get some peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream.” That enticement worked well and off we went to the sawmill aisle.  

Tim of Wood-Mizer gave us a wonderful demonstration with a huge log on the bed of the portable sawmill. That blade sliced through that huge oak log like a knife in butter and made the prettiest boards you’ve ever seen with the most refreshing woodsy smell. I was hooked! As a visual person, I began to picture a dark brown wood board fence around our pasture and down our long driveway with the crape myrtles and Bradford pear trees flanking either side. Hmmm, a sawmill might be nice. But he didn’t commit even with the fair special. I guess some dreams are too big to grasp so easily and we walked back to the team-roping event with our dessert.

I kept thinking about that wood board fence though. Two weeks later, we went to the Sunbelt Ag Expo at Moultrie, Georgia, “North America’s Premier Farm Show”® where you can see displays of every piece of farm equipment in any color. We got to the gate and headed toward the sawmills! Several companies’ representatives demonstrated their product but we both liked Wood-Mizer. We picked it up a month later at the Newnan facility. What a great day!

He’s had so much fun with that sawmill. Friends have offered trees they wanted cut down and he’s turned the boards into tables, benches and shelving. Several weeks ago, a huge pine fell in the city park and with the outside air temperatures one hundred plus, he cut that Georgia pine up in four fourteen-foot sections. He winched them up on the trailer one at a time and, three gallons of tea and two trips later, that seventy-five year-old pine lay in our back yard. The boards are cut, stacked and drying to eventually become a wrap-around front porch we’ll enjoy with friends and family.

 I think my fence is still dropping acorns on somebody’s south forty! 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night!

A dangerous stalker approaches a community. Violent winds loosen window shutters, heavy rain, rising floodwaters and severe thunderstorms produce loud, deafening noise and dangerous lightning strikes occasionally brighten your room in the absence of electricity. The flashes provide brief glimpses of sight as you attempt to locate your flashlights or candles. Phone lines are broken by falling trees. You cell phone battery is dead. Now what? All of this makes a brilliant setting for a delicious murder mystery. But these are acutual conditions found in the bands of a hurricane. As Hurricane Isaac tracks north toward the Gulf of Mexico and Florida’s west coast, I hope all of you in his path will be safe and heed any advice to evacuate if necessary.

Living in Georgia, we get our fair share of hurricane scares. While living in Brunswick and working for the FAA at the Flight Service Station, weather alerts of Hurricane Hugo stalking the Eastern coastline gave us reason to pause. Hugo had already committed several crimes of damage and fatalities and now, the projected track had this killer moving toward my fair city. Most of the island residents voluntarily evacuated for higher ground but we determined to ride it out since our house was on higher ground on the mainland—26 feet above sea level. We brought out the heavy artillery AKA the generator, updated the communication devices AKA bought batteries for the boom boxes and flashlights, spruced up the Coleman camp stove and joined other brave (?) souls to buy out the grocery store. Friends and their children joined in on our hurricane watch and we settled in for who knew out long playing cards and board games.

We remained glued to the weather channel watching and waiting while feasting on fried chicken, potato salad and other Southern staples. Finally, the skies turned black as the storm passed by a great distance offshore and our anticipation was short lived. Sir Hugo produced just a little rain, moderate wind and a minor tidal surge. He slowly turned north and went inland over Charleston, South Carolina.

Interstate 75 through Georgia became a parking lot in early September 2004 when Hurricane Frances was the proverbial straw. She was the third major storm in just a matter of weeks and Floridians and tourists could take no more. My destination was the funeral home of my sister’s service and I somehow felt the loss of many of these travelers seeking a safe haven. We were all in slow motion as we crept along side by side.
When I worked for the FAA, I had the opportunity to go inside the Hurricane Hunter P3 temporarily located at the weather service station at Falcon Field near Atlanta, Georgia. The technology onboard was incredible and I found it fascinating to hear the pilot talk about flying into the eye of the storm. As their Website says, “Slicing through the eye wall of a hurricane, buffeted by howling winds, blinding rain, hail, and violent updrafts and downdrafts before entering the relative calm of the storm's eye, NOAA's two P-3 turboprop aircraft probe every wind and pressure change, repeating the grueling experience again and again during the course of a ten-hour mission.” Ten hours in a hurricane, now that’s a story!
Hurricanes are fascinating to watch—on the Weather Channel while sitting on the sofa enjoying a cup of coffee under blue skies like I’m doing on this beautiful Saturday morn in central Georgia. We’re forecast to get several inches of rain next week when Isaac comes up the Georgia/Alabama line. Be safe everyone, I’ve got to fry up some chicken!