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Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Memorial Day Post to Remember

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...
 This is a post I'd written two years ago  at my website, Beyond Old Windows, on Memorial day, 2010. I'm sharing it with you here this year at the blog to encourage you to celebrate this day in the way it was intended when created. I'm inviting you to read another story that is important to my family on Memorial Day: it is called Stephen's Story, and tells of our young nephew who was killed in action in Afghanistan five years ago this coming fall. You will find that story at this link: Stephen's Story   

Following the end of the Civil War, General Logan's Orders proclaimed that on the 30th of May of each year, Decoration Day would be observed, a day when flowers would be strewn upon the graves of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation. Later, after more war involving the United States of America, the day was renamed Memorial Day. And much later, the date was altered to provide Monday holidays for working America.

The reading of General Logan's Orders is a standard at every Memorial Day ceremony in small town America, and is always accompanied by the reading of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Lincoln underestimated the profound, lasting effect his message would have on Americans for decades to come. His words are usually read by a local student, one who has practiced the phrasing carefully. When I coach my students to recite the Gettysburg Address, I asks them to first understand who the message was addressing ... we, the people ... When Lincoln said that we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground, I tell them that he most likely emphasized the pronoun we, rather than the negative verbs ... the meaning is so much more clear when it is read that way... for, as he said, it is, rather, for us, the living, to be dedicated to the task they had so far nobly advanced...that the nation, under God,  would have a new birth of freedom. And when he spoke the final lines, that this government of the people, by the people, and for the people would not perish from the earth, I believe he would have emphasized the noun, people, rather than the prepositions, of, by and for.
John F. Kennedy
Cover of John F. Kennedy
Another president that we lost too soon has his birthday celebrated the day before Memorial Day, on May 29th.   My favorite quote of John Fitzgerald Kennedy exemplifies the optimism, strength, and unity that Lincoln's efforts foreshadowed. At a commencement address shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy spoke these words, and they are words that have meaning and value to me in my classroom, and to my students and colleagues:

"What kind of a peace do we seek? I'm talking about a genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living. Not merely peace in our time, peace in all time. Our problems are man-made, therefore, they can be solved by man. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet, we all breath the same air, we all cherish our children's future, and we are all mortal." ~JFK

To hear and/or read the full text of this 26 minute commencement address, go to
President Kennedy addresses college graduates with encouragement and optimism.

As you celebrate these two holidays, one a solemn ceremony, and one a nostalgic birthday,  remember these two fine American presidents, and strew those flowers liberally, literally and figuratively. Peace is achievable.

Rick and I celebrate our wedding anniversary twice each year, once on the original date of May 30th, and once on the observed calendar date of the holiday. Flowers are an important part of our lives, and sharing them with those who have passed, along with placing flags at the resting places of soldiers, firefighters and others who have made the ultimate sacrifice in providing the protection of other Americans will always be a part of our celebration. We still believe, as President Kennedy believed,  that man's problems can be solved by man's efforts and care. It is a belief worth celebrating, and sharing, with those here and those gone on ahead.

This is a photo of Rick and I, on Saturday Morning, May 30th, 1970, leaving the church where we'd spent five years of Sundays providing child care with our CYO friends, Mal, Steve, Tom, Janet, Betty and a few more, during the 10:30 Mass ... and in those last three years gradually realizing we were each other's Anam Cara; for a beautiful explanation of the Celtic words, go to this beautiful site.

Here is the flag flying at our driveway in 2012 where, 42 years later, we are living our happily ever after years.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Why do you read this blog?

Englund as Freddy Krueger
I listened in on a free webinar this week. The host was Danny Iny, known today as the "Freddy Krueger of Blogging" He earned that title by 'popping up' everywhere in blogs dedicated to promoting businesses via the internet. I won't try to quote his statistics, but they were amazing. His home base is

After listening for well over two hours, I paused to think about this blog. It began in the late fall/early winter of 2011. I began by reviewing books I'd read. Soon I was reviewing books that were offered on Facebook's Talking Fiction page, and I began focusing on mysteries. Many of the books were part of a series, something I've always enjoyed reading.

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...
When I read I post reviews at Amazon, Goodreads, sometimes Smashwords, and almost always here at Terry's Thoughts and Threads. The reviews I post are always positive, nearly always 'Five Star' reviews. There are books that I've read that I couldn't rank at that level, and so I can't say that I review every book. Sometimes I'll review a book without designating Stars, simply because I want to share the work and promote the author, who no doubt is working very hard to improve their work.

Image representing Blogger as depicted in Crun...
The software here at Blogger has enabled me to expand this blog to include my own books in the margins. I also keep adding to my "Blog List" to promote the blogs that I enjoy reading. Most of them are blogs written by authors, or by people interested in multiple sclerosis. A gadget called Zemanta links whatever I'm writing about to other related stories, which makes it look like I've scoured the internet to find additional readings for you. I do pre-read the links before allowing them to appear beneath my post - a good habit I developed as a teacher of young adolescents.

ZemantaMy 'site statistics' tells me that we've averaged about nine hundred 'pages read' per month in the six months this blog has been appearing. That's about thirty three page views per day. That may not imply that thirty three people came to the blog, as many people read more than one page once they're here. The reader counter tells me that between 7 and 14 readers is an average day.

I think that's not bad for a blog that varies between random thoughts, book promotion, book reviews, and 'other readings' links. The webinar, though, would suggest that's not even a blip on a number line. We have 47 members 'following' the blog. But the webinar suggests that 250 readers a day, or at least a week, would be a modest showing. Successful blogs reach thousands and tens of thousand of readers every day. In order to facilitate that happening, bloggers are advised to blog more often on others' blogs ... "guest blogging" ... to reach others' audiences. I have done a bit of that, writing for another's blog and interviewing an author to feature her work here.

My question for you, then, is: "What are you looking for when you open my blog? Book Reviews? Random Thoughts? The Writing Prompt Responses like April's Health Awareness campaign? "

Danny might suggest that I pick one or two of my own books at a time, and write about their content. He might encourage me to invite other authors who write in that genre to 'guest blog' here at Terry's Thoughts and Threads, optimistically bringing their own audience with them to build my numbers.

 Why do you come here to read? Whatever the reason, I am so happy that you are here!

The comment link below works, and I invite you to respond here, or to me in an email (
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Children's Literature: "The Banana Tree" by Maggie van Galen, illustrated by Joanna Lundeen

This is the second review I've done for a book written for children. ( I reviewed Paul Janson's book earlier this spring.) And I'm happy to say that I know this author, too, and understand that she grew up listening to her dad's stories, and now tells hers to her own two children.

I know, too, that the illustrator of the book is a friend of the author - not such a common occurrence in the world of publishing as you might have thought. Many authors and illustrators have never met; sometimes the illustrator and the author have very different images in mind for their characters.

The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest begins with "The Banana Tree", written by Maggie van Galen and illustrated by her friend, Joanna Lundeen who, I believe, has also added her artistic paintings to Maggie's children's rooms at their home. How special that must be, living with their mother's characters sharing their space!

Keeno is an adorable, adventurous, somewhat audacious little monkey whose bravado leads him into, literally, dangerous waters. But he is blessed with a very good friend, Ernest the Elephant. Ernest heeds the advice of parents, and suggests that Keeno try to do so as well. And when Keeno cannot resist taking a risk, Ernest, alerted by their mutual friend, Toucan Tom, is able to go to Keeno's rescue. Beyond the rescue itself, Ernest takes the opportunity to coach Keeno toward an appreciative apology to his mother for having taken such a risk.

Maggie van Galen's story as a read-aloud offers language that the children will appreciate, with the long drawn out pleading of Keeno's entreaties when he wants something to the wise elephant's gently-worded reminders. The animals chosen are cleverly true to their natural reputations - the Toucan flies and sounds the alarm, the elephant cautiously remembers what the parents wisely taught, and the monkey is a playful, wily risk-taker who endearingly promises to behave and admittedly finds it hard to do so.

Joanna Lundeen's artwork, painted on canvas and captured beautifully in print, will hold her young audience's eyes on each page. Her illustrations offer both similarities and differences page by page, giving the parents who share this book with their children an opportunity to lead children through the images of Keeno's environment.

Five stars, as we give in the adult world, for this beautiful, engaging story. 
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A small group of local authors met ...

Today I met with Maggie and Paul, both local authors in my hometown and willing to meet and strategize marketing our independently-published books. We sat in the cozy fireside corner of the Scala Art Center, where Pickering's hardware was established many years ago. A few customers wandered in and out while we sat meeting and chatting about our recent experiences marketing our books.

Paul spoke a bit about the convention of book authors and publishers that he attended recently in New York, and brought back a few books to share with some members of the group who wrote in a similar vein. I dream of one day being able to go to such a gathering, sharing with others the variety of books I have published, and those I intend yet to write and market.

Maggie told us about her independent publisher.Outskirts Press in Colorado, which has a range of services available to authors, who are not obligated to purchase anything they might not need or want at this point in their journey. Paul and I are both using different self-publishers, he with Lulu and I with CreateSpace. We compared the costs of such services, and the amount of marketing we've done either through the publishers or through word of mouth.

Maggie also talked of her finding a good deal at Kinko's for bookmarks that feature the illustrator's work from her book, and I spoke of the reasonable prices I find at Vistaprint. Paul spoke of how easy it is to work with Vistaprint, and to potentially buy more than one needs with such ease:) !

Social media was also discussed as a marketing tool. I talked about the various sites at Facebook that host authors who share similar thoughts and topics. We talked about having websites as a grounding core of marketing efforts, but in reality we're all just learning how to use these sites to our advantage.

I talked about my recent disappointment with a group I'd connected with on LinkedIn, realizing only recently that job offers in India would pay only wages accepted in India, which amounted to only pennies and single dollars here in America. I'd found a calculator site on the internet that would convert currencies, and learned that offering to pay 9 Rupees for 500 word articles was offering less than $2.00, and that offering 500 Rupees for a 3000 word article would garner less than $10.00 US currency. When I posted these currency exchanges at the site, another writer from India came on to advise me that this was an Indian site, and that I would never receive as much as $10.00 for a short article in India.

Maggie and Paul and I went back to the discussion of reviews, and how to garner them for our books. I said that I'm reviewing other authors' books here at my blog, but have received very few in return. That may be that the books I'm reviewing are not of the same genres that I've written so far. A discussion of paid reviewers came up, and we questioned the value of that over a real review by a reader who chose to read the book. We didn't have a real answer to that.

We'll meet again, optimistically with a fourth member who couldn't make today's daytime meeting. We'll meet in the evening, perhaps at the Scala Art Center, or at one of our homes if the hours don't work for the setting. We'll share ideas again, and bolster each other's spirits.

I'll keep you posted here in a month or so, to let you know whether this small group of mutually-supportive authors solves any great problems, or finds any new ways to further our publishing success.

Meanwhile, back at the book shelf: 

Here's another five star review at Amazon:
I found this a very illuminating story. A very personal account of disease, disability, and the failure of the medical system to be able to deal with it. There are a great many diseases, and people in this same situation who would find this helpful.

And here's a reminder:
Multiple Sclerosis an Enigma is on sale right now at, for less than $5.00. This sale will end on June 19th. Click on this link and use this code at checkout to get the discount: LY76U. The book is now available at Smashwords for all e-book formats: Kindle, Nook, I-Pad, Sony E-Reader, etc. I think it will even download to your I-Phone, if you have one! Check out the site and see how many formats you can choose from!
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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Two More Five Star Reviews of Multiple Sclerosis an Enigma!

I'm happy to share two more reviews of my book; these are posted by readers at I want to acknowledge the assistance I had from Lucinda Campbell, a formatter who helps writers trying to meet the demands of Smashwords' premium style. Thank you, Lucinda. Your work was noted and appreciated in one of the following reviews!

Review by: Cat Mahoney on May 08, 2012 : star star star star star
This story is a honest look inside the world of a multiple sclerosis patient and woman trying to adjust to the MonSter.It is a good beginner's guide about plotting through the world of auto immune diseases.

She is honest and refreshing sharing her thoughts with the readers and tells the pros and cons of this vague disease. She has a strong support system and knows how to advocate to the physicians for the treatment all ill individuals deserved.

I like the upbeat positive attitude she is developing along her journey to transform her life from a Type A personality to a mellow lady with I do not care attitude and lives for each day.

She was brave enough to put in the Almighty's hands and release herself from Western medication and looking for an better approach to deal with the symptoms of loss muscle and cognitive capabilities.

She explains how it affects her and her husband and the adjustments they made to learn how to dance and not be furious with a personal storm some of us experience everyday.

Kudos for sharing your experiences and trials with others who might of just received the news "You have MS". This is a good book to start to comes to terms with the diagnosis of any autoimmune condition.
(reviewed within a month of purchase) 
Review by: Dana Gagnon on April 27, 2012 : star star star star star
In "MS: An Enigma," author Terry Palardy takes a reader along with her through the process of her MS diagnosis. This book, however, is not just for MS patients and their families, and it’s not just a list of medical tests. Readers will relate to many of the author’s experiences: childhood memories, combining work days with family and illness responsibilities, and caring for aging parents. Terry’s writing style is easy to follow, and the book is well-edited. I read the ebook edition, and was happy to find the pages well-formatted.

From the first chapter of the book, Terry is completely transparent with her readers, inviting them to share the emotion and frustration of the moment. She also shares the support she receives from her husband, Rick. The author does not separate descriptions of the illness and treatment from her daily life, and instead tells a story.

In this book, it’s clear that a diagnosis is not an event with a date that can be marked on the calendar, but rather a series of moments that begin early in life. Terry begins with moments in her childhood, and her writing is engaging as she creates in herself and her family complete characters for us to follow. Rather than simply list medical tests she was subjected to, she tells the story of how the test impacted her work day and how the constant interruptions affected her emotions. A careful description of her MRI experience will encourage anyone about to go through the same test.

Terry ends her story with a treatment experiment, and I hope she revises the book at some point to include her results. As the author is about the same age as my own mom, I was also looking for her experiences telling grown-up kids about her diagnosis and their reactions—but perhaps that is a story for them to write.

True to her academic roots, Terry ends the book with a section of reliable resources readers can turn to for information about multiple sclerosis, along with a list of online forums readers can go to for a community of encouragement.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rambling Thoughts and Loose Threads

It's time to catch up with you again. April was an extraordinarily busy month for Rick and me, and I want to share some of the highlights with all of you.

Early in the month, I went up to Maine to be a full time Nana, staying with my two grandchildren while their mum, my daughter, took a well earned vacation.  Rick decided to stay here at home, but did Skype with me every morning and evening, which helped minimize the gap we'd feel apart from each other. Inevitably, he'd call when I was preparing a meal or a snack, breakfast, supper, or brownies. That is fairly unusual for me - cooking is something I stopped doing almost five years ago, when my menu and his became different from each other's. I was still teaching full time then, and bringing home the unending bag full of correcting and grading to do, and so he began cooking two meals each night. He never complained, and found ways to make our meals compatible. Whole grain spaghetti with tomato sauce for me, and regular pasta with meat sauce for him ... but brownies for both of us!

In Maine, having begun to feel more like my real self months earlier, I found myself up early in the morning to wake the kids for school ... making simple items on school days and French toast on a weekend morning. Suppers were easy, as my daughter had prepared and frozen some favorite meals, and all I had to do was heat things in the oven. It was a turning point for me ... a time when I became responsible again for others' foods, laundry, and transportation. And yes, I drove my daughter's cute little five speed manual transmission Chevy - fifteen years since I'd driven a standard! But like riding a bike, we never forget, and I only stalled twice when I forgot to clutch as I stopped at an intersection. Not bad for a Nana out of practice.

Upon returning home, I then had a two hour radio broadcast book discussion arranged by my friends at But Murphy, who often plagues my daughter in Maine, apparently followed me home and exerted his Law on my evening. Both portable phones downstairs suddenly were inoperative fifteen minutes before the telephone conference was to begin. Not panicking, I calmly went upstairs with my laptop, and plugged it in there, and brought my pot of tea and cup and found a space on my bureau top for them. But the upstairs phone also had a tired battery, and began beeping for help. My husband interceded then, and said that we could go into my son's study and use his phone, which was a land line complete with cord-attached receiver. I resettled into his office chair, laptop now on my knees (thank goodness we'd bought a fan-cooled lap desk that plugs right into the computer's USB port. A very good $15.00 Clearance Deal!)  Rick brought me a single cup of tea, for there was no room for the tea pot and cozy, and with a minute to spare I was ready for the conversation. Phew! (And, if you missed the broadcast but want to listen to the recorded book discussion, look to the right margin of this blog, and find the BlogTalk radio icon. My 'show' is the third one in the list. It really did take the full two hours, so settle yourself in with a cup of tea!)

A few days later we drove down to Washington D.C. We'd planned to make that trip over two days' time, stopping somewhere along the way, but traffic was cooperating and we were looking forward to spending some time in the city, seeing the monuments, before checking into the National Institute of Health for the Parkinson's Risk Study that I participate in every eighteen months. So we made the full drive in one twelve-hour day, and checked into the hotel just before bedtime. Up early the next morning, we shared the continental breakfast in the tiny dining area before walking to the nearest metro station and figuring out the ticket dispensers. In the city, we walked for hours and hours, seeing many of the veterans monuments, and one Smithsonian, and the Roosevelt and Jefferson Memorials as well. We ate lunch and afternoon snacks at outside tables as the weather was perfect ... high sixties with a bit of partly cloudy shade and a light breeze. We took the metro back to Bethesda, and on our walk to the hotel, we came across a French cafe, where we had delicious French food and fresh fruits for supper. We slept in the next morning, worn out from all our walking. Just before noon, we rose, packed up, and headed over to NIH, just a few miles from the hotel. We checked Rick into the family lodge, and me into the neurology inpatient room, and began our week there.

Five days later, many tests later, a few outdoor walks together between tests, and another packing, we set out for home. We left Bethesda after eating lunch one more time in the hospital cafeteria, and again planned to stop along the way rather than driving straight through, But as luck would have it, we were not in sync with any city rush hours, and as we were (were!) making good time, we continued on to the Massachusetts border stopping only for a quick supper. We would be home by eleven, we thought.

The Mass Pike was repaving, and had an odd traffic snarl of scores of eighteen-wheel tractor trailer trucks at the toll gates.  The multi-lane highway comfortably had approached six open toll gates, only to find that immediately after passing through those gates, the highway was reduced to one lane, and no one seemed quite sure of which lane that would be. Arrows to go left, more arrows to go right, and all six lanes merged into one center lane within a quarter mile of those gates. We lost at least an hour there, and weren't home until 1 in the morning. Finding a bathroom between eleven and one was tricky, but we did finally find one near midnight.  Again, Phew!

We slept in the next morning, and awoke to find we were already five days into May. The bills were due May 1st, (while we were still in Bethesda) and the pension for the month necessary to pay those bills had arrived in the bank account while we were away, and so we sat at the table late that morning and wrote checks and sealed envelopes. A few were late but forgiven, except for the car insurance, which immediately earned us a cancellation notice a few days later. I called our agent here in town, and told him the payment and notice crossed in the mail, and that we did the best we could, being away at the first of the month. He checked with the insurance agency, saw that they had received the payment and rescinded the cancellation notice, and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Today I had two doctor appointments locally, and scheduled a third with a new doctor (dermatologist) in Brighton for later this month; then I asked  a fourth doctor's office to schedule my once a year osteoporosis infusion in the next few weeks, as planned. So we are back on the local circuit now, but had a great time in Maryland, and will go again in eighteen months.

Meanwhile, it's almost summer! Wow, what a quick season Spring was!

Before I go, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you about the Mother's Day special offer for my book, Multiple Sclerosis an Enigma. I have created a new coupon code at Smashwords: for just under $5.00 you can purchase the download in any format: kindle, mobi, nook, sony, and many others. Just enter the discount code LY67U at this site: .

And please, if you have already read the book, let me know what you thought of it by writing a review here or at Amazon or Facebook or in email ... I would love to know what you thought! Perhaps you could share this site with your friends so that they can catch this discount before it expires on June 9th?
Happy Mothers' Day, all!
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Friday, May 4, 2012

Reading and Reviewing: Armed and Outrageous by Madison Johns and The Crystal Needle by Daniel Peyton

It was my privilege to proofread this book before publication.
Armed and Outrageous is a funny, warm, charming story of two mature women who have experienced life's losses but have come out stronger and wiser. Madison Johns has captured their enthusiasm, their confidence, their courage and their friendship, telling a good story while bringing the reader into the world of today's 'spunky seniors.'

Young women are disappearing from this small town in Michigan. The residents don't want to believe that anything serious links these disappearances ... just as they didn't want to pursue finding the killer responsible for a crime decades old. But Agnes and Eleanor have a personal interest in finding out what is going on, as Agnes' granddaughter is one of the missing girls.

With humor and bravado they persist in asking pesky questions. They learn to fire pistols after an unintended shot wounds one of the newcomers in town. Their exchanges with the local sheriff and the state police vary widely, ranging from scorn to hilarious scenes.

Madison Johns weaves romance sensitively into the story, allowing her senior characters to express their romantic interests realistically. The younger generation of local teenagers in entry level jobs is portrayed as being uninformed and disrespectful of the human side of elders. And the vulnerabilities of the families of those missing are gently exposed.

If you want a chuckle, a mystery, a beautiful, serene setting with a vicious criminal being pursued by incompetent local police and these ladies, you will love this book, and no doubt look for more from these characters and their creator, Madison Johns.  Another Five Star Review!

The Crystal Needle by Daniel Peyton is a delightful mix of American history, Japanese lore, stitchery, witchery, and fantasy. It is also a sensitive story of a young man who finds himself reluctantly relocated to a small New England town where his parents are opening a Bed and Breakfast. Having graduated from high school in another state, he is starting a new chapter in his life, in a new setting, providing new relationships and new insights into his own desires.

Joseph finds his first friend in an elderly neighbor, Elsebeth, a woman who shares his enjoyment of stitchery. She in turn shares her friendship with a young woman who also stitches, and Joseph is 'smitten' by Allison's gentle mannerisms and beautiful eyes. He realizes that Allison's deformities, though evident and mysterious, are not relevant to his relationship with her. He looks retrospectively at his earlier friendships and relationships, with their typical age-appropriate superficiality; he realizes why they remained only at a surface level, while this one is growing into a more mature, caring, lasting one.

Daniel Peyton has cleverly woven character development, coming of age, realistic history and fantastical mystery into a beautifully designed tapestry of good versus evil. So many themes present and are developed in this deceptively simple tale. Readers will come to understand each character and will no doubt want to learn more of their unique relationships and stories.

I give this five stars, and recommend it to readers who want to learn a bit more of needlework and love.