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What Do You Think?

What Do You Think?

Email inquiries

Being a writer and blogger isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We don’t all live in our parents’ basements and slouch around all day in pajamas. Some of us slouch around in yoga pants and sweatshirts.

Why? Because blogging and writing gets messy. If my email inbox is any indication of what other writers go through, a lot of blood, sweat and discernment goes into sifting through frequent queries sent by wannabe guest bloggers.

Some of the queries lead to productive and mutually beneficial relationships. The guest bloggers who contribute to, my blog for parents if kids with special needs, are good examples of this. But some queries make me wonder how gullible stupid gullible and stupid these wannabe authors and/or the organizations they think bloggers are.

To give you an idea, here’s the text of an email that landed in the inbox this morning:

Hi Team, (Team? What Team?)

We have better unique content on psychotherapy which we want to publish
this on your site as a guest post. (Tip: always begin a query by dissing the content published on a site.)

This content is good matching and useful to the readers of this blog.(Good matching and useful. What does that mean?)

Once this content is published will not be shared with any other site. (How reassuring!)

Do let us know if we can send the content to you for review.

Looking forward for your positively reply. (My positively reply? Someone’s clearly suffering from adjective/adverb confusion!)

This email is not made up. It was copied and pasted exactly as received. So what do you think? Is the email legit? Would their “better unique content on psychotherapy” lend credibility to

I’m kinda waffling on how to reply to this one, so leave your positively reply comments below to help decide. Thanks!

Meet Jane

Meet Jane


Meet Jane.
Not quite this Jane.
But not quite not this Jane.
Meet this Jane, all grown up.

Jane’s the protagonist of the mystery novel I’ve been writing at the end of each day when my other serious writing is done. Her name is a deliberate harkening back to the Jane of Dick and Jane fame. Because in addition to being the solver of the mystery, Jane is an elementary school teacher.

But not just an ordinary elementary teacher.
She teaches in a country school.
In northwest South Dakota.
Kinda like I did way back when.

Except Jane isn’t exactly like me. For one thing, she’s single when she moves from Iowa to cowboy country in 1978. Which means she’s much more interested in getting to know cowboys up close and personal than I ever was.

Also, she has curly hair.
And freckles.
Plus she’s quite independent for a 21-year-old, fresh out of college.
And she doesn’t mind getting her clothes dirty.

She speaks her mind, too, more than I did way back then. She says all the things I wanted to say but didn’t ’cause nice young ladies didn’t say that kind of thing in 1978. Especially nice young ladies who want to keep teaching school in a very small community where everyone knows what everyone else is doing.

Jane’s not always a nice young lady.
She pokes her nose into places she shouldn’t.
She window peeks.
She sneaks around in pastures populated by bulls.

Even so, Jane’s a fun friend. Sometimes, I pull her out of the messes she gets into. When we’re together, it’s like going out west again. The wide, empty horizon opens before up. We smell the fresh, short-grass prairie air. But without a 15 hour drive to get there. Or 55 miles of gravel on the last stretch of road. Or any need for me to get dirty. Because Jane takes care of those kinds of things. That’s part of what makes her so fun to be with.

Go, Jane.
Go out west, Jane.
Out west is fun, Jane.
Go, Jane. Go have fun!

Top 10 Reasons to Join Different Dream’s Online Book Study

Top 10 Reasons to Join Different Dream’s Online Book Study

Different Dream Online Book Study

This week’s top ten list may appear to have escaped from or be lost on our little gravel road. In truth, I’m so excited about the upcoming online study of my first book, A Different Dream for My Child, that my enthusiasm is bigger than what one blog can contain. So, bear with these top ten reasons to join the study. And if you aren’t part of a special needs family, pass the information onto someone who is and who needs encouragement on the journey. Thanks!

10.  Discovery House Publishers (DHP) is offering a 30% discount. Go to (USA) and (Canada) and enter the promotional code DDJP. (Psst–the 30% discount is also good on my second book, Different Dream Parenting. But only at DHP. Not at Amazon.)

9.   It’s fun to see the book’s Amazon rank rise…thanks to diehard Amazon ordering fans who pass up DHP’s discount.

8.   The study results in more sales which keeps this author from starving for her art.

7.   The study is an excellent winter pick-me-up. Think of it as a drug-free means of stamping out post-holiday depression.

6.   The study is an excellent way to wile away your time until daylight hours increase enough to be noticeable.

5.   A Different Dream for My Child chapters are very short, so you’ll have plenty of time to read them and still tune into Downton Abbey, Season 3.

4.   The study begins during January, which is EA/TEF Awareness Month. A Different Dream for My Child will make readers more aware of this life-threatening birth anomaly because it tells the story of our son’s struggle with EA/TEF. And the stories of 15 other families whose kids had/have a variety of special needs.

3. is generously hosting the study. Without them and their technological expertise, this would not be happening.

2.   You can participate the study any time of day or night. In your jammies. Without needing to hire a babysitter.

1.   Parenting kids with special needs can be a very isolating experience. This online book story is a way to end the isolation for you and for other parents who need encouragement and a sense of community.

How Was Your Week?

How Was Your Week?

We called the kids this weekend, like we do every weekend. Sometimes, they’re excited to share the adventures of the week. Sometimes, they’re frustrated and need to vent. Sometimes, they’re unsure and want advice.

But sometimes, they don’t have much to say. (If you know our kids, you know this doesn’t happen very often.) However, this week was apparently a slow one. For both of them. And their spouses. So instead of telling about their lives, they asked, “How was your week?”

“Well,” I quipped, “since Thursday your dad’s back went out, my camera died, and the check engine light came on in my car.”

Long pause with both kids. I could hear the gears shifting in their brains. “Mom’s supposed to give us good news. Tell us funny stories. Not dump on us.”

What they said was, “That’s too bad.” Another long pause. “Did anything good happen?”

I thought back to earlier in the week. “Well, yeah. Discovery House Publishers is doing a second printing of A Different Dream for My Child. And they’ve hired a freelance publicist to promote Different Dream Parenting for the first four months after its release. They told me it’s not because I’m a pest, either. It’s because they want to help parents of kids with special needs tap into the resources and support the book offers.”

Their responses this time were immediate.
Obviously, somebody taught them good manners growing up.

This morning, I got more good news.

The Toyota fix it man advised tightening the gas cap before bringing the car in. Lo and behold, the gas cap was loose.

The camera repair would cost half the price of a new camera…and I’ve been coveting a new, lighter camera which will also qualify as a business expense…and I still have unspent birthday money.

Hiram’s back didn’t get worse over the weekend, but metaphorically speaking, his check engine light is still on. So this morning he’s getting tuned up by the chiropractor who is much cheaper than the Toyota fix-it man.

Now I can give expected response to, “How was your week?”

“Good, kids. Thanks for asking. Good and getting better by the minute.”

Welcome to the World, Baby Book!

Welcome to the World, Baby Book!

I am proud to announce the arrival of Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special Needs. The cutie arrived this morning with very little warning. I barely had time to answer the door before the UPS man delivered the bouncing, baby book, swaddled in a bubble wrap envelope.

The man in brown left in a hurry, so I had to remove the protective covering alone. One rip and one pull, and the new baby was in my hands. After a few glorious minutes checking to see if all 24 chapters and 6 appendices were present and accounted for, I snuggled this little charmer next to the cherished family teddy bear and started taking pictures.

Different Dream Parenting (nicknamed DDP) is heftier than older sibling, A Different Dream for My Child (known as Different Dream). The new arrival weighs in at 336 pages compared to 272 pages for Different Dream. But one look at both of them, and there’s no doubt they’re from the same family.

If you want to see DDP this month, you’ll have to stop by the house for a visit. If you want your own copy before November 1, you can visit the Discovery House Publishers website and purchase your own beauty. (List price is $12.95, but the website price is $11.65.)

After November first, DDP will be available at books stores, Amazon, Christian Book Distributors. From that day on,  DDP will be running around FaceBook, Twitter, the blogosphere, and who knows where else. So keep your eyes open for this busy member of the Philo clan.

If you see DDP when you’re out and about, help the new arrival get around. Give my baby legs and wings. Buy the sweet thing. Take DDP home to read. Or give the book to someone who needs the encouragement inside its covers. Help DDP find the special needs families it was born to touch.

Welcome to the world, Baby Book!

Thank You, Discovery House

Thank You, Discovery House

Whew! Just one week ago, the index for Different Dream Parenting winged its way to the inbox of my editor at Discovery House Publishers. I barely had time to dust off my hands before our road trip to Ohio, where we helped the kids move into their apartment. Once they were settled in, more or less, we headed back to Iowa via Michigan.

Turns out, the detour was a blessing and not because we avoided the nasty toll road across northern Indiana and Ohio. The blessing came in the form of a dandy visit to Discovery House Publishers (DHP), the book publishing division of Radio Bible Class (RBC), located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. DHP and RBC are not as big into initials as this post makes you think. No, the organization is into ministry and compassion and people and sharing the gospel through radio broadcasts, DVDs, Daily Bread devotionals, and a wide variety of books and Bible studies.

I know this because Hiram and I were given the deluxe RBC tour by Ed Rock (and believe me, Ed rocks), and he filled us in on all the details. He showed us the cubicles where all the writers, editors, and marketing people do their ministry magic. He took us through the traditional printing and packing area, and we got a peak at the new digital printing room where Different Dream Parenting will go to press in a couple weeks. He even walked us by the audio/video editing booths and into the sound stage.

We were thoroughly impressed before the entire DHP publishing team treated us to lunch, and I got to sit next to my editor, Miranda Gardner. We’ve been email pen pals for months now, and meeting her was the highlight of my day. Turns out, the whole team is a comfortable, welcoming bunch. I know this because they got my crowd-shy husband to talking a blue streak about the life-changing effects of our son’s birth. (Notice, he talked a blue streak, not cursed a blue streak.)

He impressed them so much that after lunch, when it was time to record some video for the Different Dream Parenting book trailer, publicist Katy Pent asked Hiram to be in the video, too. What could he do but say yes? After all, they bought us lunch. So my normally shy hubby joined me in front of the video camera, and we talked away.

Of course, you’ll have to take my word about all of this, at least until Katy releases the book trailer because I forgot to take my camera. So there are no pictures of our RBC tour, no pictures of us posing with the DHP staff, no pictures of us schmoozing at lunch. No proof whatsoever. I blame my lack of forethought on the whirlwind of the past few weeks of meeting deadlines and moving kids across the country.

But, I credit the sense of well-being that enveloped Hiram and me on our drive home to the warm reception and prayers of the dedicated professionals at Discovery House. Thanks to all of you for believing in my book ideas and making them a tangible reality. You are a blessing to many!