Novel Inspires with Tears and Laughter #Thursday Book Feature

Where Sheep May Safely Graze

by Phyllis Staton Campbell

Copyright 2017

 

What Amazon Says

 

If you’re looking for a book with a blind character, standing high on a pedestal, surrounded by a perfect world, this book isn’t for you. If, however, you’re looking for inspiration laced with laughter and tears, read on. Jim Miller, who was blinded in Iraq, finds his faith tested, as he and his wife, Amy, struggle to adjust to his blindness, and a new marriage. When his congregation forces him to step down, because of his blindness, they accept a church in a mountain town. From there, they look up, and find the will of God.

No, you won’t find a pedestal, but you will find humor as Jim practices his first baptism with a doll, and you will find inspiration as Jim and Amy find their place in the world, and a stronger faith in God. For readers who enjoy the Mitford Series by Jan Karon.

 

My Thoughts

 

I met Phyllis Staton Campbell several years ago when she joined Behind Our Eyes, an organization of disabled writers, of which I’m president. She has published several other books, most of which I enjoyed.

Where Sheep May Safely Graze did not disappoint me. As I read this book, I experienced a wide range of emotions from joy when Jim and Amy were reunited for the first time after his accident, to anger at snooty church officials who didn’t think a blind person could be a pastor. I was moved, almost to tears, when Jim, after losing his sight, seemed to sense when Amy’s face was in front of him and kissed it. My late husband, also totally blind, was like that, too.

Phyllis demonstrates Jim and Amy’s faith in God. But unlike other authors of Christian fiction, she doesn’t let that dominate the story but subtly shows us that God is looking out for her main characters. I love the ending, where Jim and Amy are gazing at a field of sheep. Even if you’re not into Christian fiction, this book will warm your heart and delight you. You’ll also learn that blindness should never stand in a person’s way.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Coping with Vision Loss #Thursday Book Feature

When You Can’t Believe Your Eyes: Vision Loss and Personal Recovery

by Hannah Fairbairn

Copyright 2019.

 

When you’ve had sight, then lost it, the adjustment process can be difficult. According to her Amazon author page, Hannah Fairbairn lost her sight when she was 33 years old and working as a chef in London. She uses her own experiences plus insights from participants in focus groups at The Carroll Center for the Blind in Massachusetts to provide a short but comprehensive guide to vision loss later in life. Topics include homemaking, mobility, exercise, recreation, and socialization. The book includes resources and references to articles on the author’s website.

Although I’ve been visually impaired since birth, I’ve worked with senior citizens who have lost their vision later in life. So, I was curious as to what advice she would have. Although much of the book didn’t relate to me, I was fascinated by all the tricks she offered. She even gives tips for men on how to use a urinal in a public restroom. I highly recommend this book to seniors and others dealing with vision loss. For those using talking books, it can be downloaded from NLS or obtained through regional libraries.

If Hanna Fairbairn had written a comprehensive guide to being a visually impaired caregiver several years ago, it might have made things easier for me and my late husband. You can read our story in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, which, along with my latest, The Red Dress, is available absolutely free this week from Smashwords as part of its 11th annual Read an eBook Week sale. Smashwords sells books in a variety of accessible formats that can be read on computers or other devices. Click here to download my books. Thank you for reading.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Through the Eyes of Love #Monday Musical Memories

As a teen-ager, when I saw the movie, Ice Castles, and read the book, I was fascinated by the story of a young figure skater who loses all her vision in an accident but returns to the ice. What blew me away was this girl was the same age as me at the time, sixteen, when she started training.

I couldn’t roller skate without holding onto somebody because I was terrified of falling. I’d tried downhill skiing and landed flat on my back. So, I wasn’t about to start ice skating lessons, and I don’t think this had anything to do with my own visual impairment. But it didn’t stop me from enjoying this compelling tale of achieving one’s dream, losing it, then getting back in the game.

In 2005, a month after my late husband Bill, living in Fowler, Colorado, while I was here in Sheridan, Wyoming, proposed to me, this movie’s theme was on a cassette of love songs he sent me for Valentine’s Day. He didn’t know about the impact the book and movie had on me, but I’m pretty sure I told him. The song developed a new significance for me. I’ve always found it amazing that although Bill had no vision, he saw me through the eyes of love.

 

 

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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On Living with Blindness #Thursday Book Feature

Insight Out: One Blind Woman’s View of Her Life
by Mary Hiland
Copyright 2019.

From the author of The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living comes a compelling memoir about living with blindness. Unlike most memoirs, this one isn’t told in chronological order. Instead, each chapter covers a particular facet of the author’s life.
She describes her childhood and talks about how she dreamed of being a dancer on Broadway. She shares how that dream was dashed when she was diagnosed with legal blindness at the age of eighteen as a result of retinitis pigmentosa. This degenerative disease had been progressing throughout most of her life.
As an adult, despite this diagnosis, she cross-country skied, biked, and hiked on a regular basis and participated in a variety of entertainment groups as well as Toastmasters and other organizations. She even formed some groups of her own. She describes, in great detail, her experiences and adventures.
Other chapters cover college, getting married, finding a job, parenting, being a grandparent, and how she acquired a succession of guide dogs. She also discusses some myths and misperceptions about blind people and gives advice to others facing vision loss. In an afterword, she shares, for the benefit of her children and grandchildren, memories of relatives who influenced her as well as her legacies. The book includes journal entries, letters, articles, and photos.
I met Mary several years ago through Behind Our Eyes, an organization of disabled writers, of which I’m president. Unlike her, I tried a few of the physical activities in which she participated, fell once or twice, and gave up. I admire her courage and determination. Anyone reading this book will be enlightened and educated.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Links of Interest

Happy New Year! To start off 2020, I’ve just created a new page here containing links to blogs and sites I follow and use regularly plus a few writers’ organizations. You can find it in the menu at the top or click below. Check it out!

 

via Links of Interest

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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My Amazon Author Page

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

Her First Turkey (Fiction)

The dining room table was covered with a white cloth. Linen napkins adorned the eight place settings that each contained a plate, silverware, and a glass. Two of the glasses were plastic and had milk in them. The other six wine glasses were empty. A bottle of wine and corkscrew were placed in the center of the table.

Pat admired her handiwork with her limited vision and hoped her mother-in-law would approve. This was her first Thanksgiving with her in-laws, and she willed everything to go smoothly. With a sigh, she sauntered to the dorrway and called, “Okay, dinner’s ready.”

They all trooped in: her husband Steve, his parents Harry and Lee Ann, his brother and sister-in-law Rob and Linda, and their two children; Jayson, eight, and Ella, five. As Pat hurried to the kitchen to bring out the platters of food, she heard her mother-in-law say, “All right everyone, this is Pat’s first turkey. I don’t want anyone to say a word if it’s dry.”

“Do I have to eat the turkey if it’s dry?” asked Jayson.

Linda appeared in the kitchen doorway. “Can I help?” she asked.

“Sure,” answered Pat with a sigh of relief. “Take the turkey to Steve so he can start carving it.” She carefully removed the electric knife from a nearby drawer and placed it on the platter next to the bird. “Then you can come back and get the potatoes and gravy. I’ll get the stuffing, salad, and cranberry sauce. Oh, I still need to take the rolls out of the oven.”

“Take your time,” said Linda, placing a reassuring hand on Pat’s shoulder. “This all looks wonderful.”

After the turkey had been cut and the wine opened, and all the food was served, Pat was relieved to hear the satisfying sounds of cutlery scraping against plates. Still too nervous to eat, she stared at her food.

“Ummm, this turkey is nice and juicy,” said Lee Ann.

“I knew it would be,” said Pat with a smile. She picked up her fork and took a bite. It was delicious.

“Have you cooked a turkey before?” asked Lee Ann. “I’d think that would be hard for someone who can’t see.”

“This stuffing is delicious,” said Linda. “I’d love the recipe.”

The room fell silent, and Pat could feel everyone’s eyes on her. She didn’t want her in-laws to know that she hadn’t prepared the meal, but now that someone had asked for a recipe, what could she say? She didn’t know the first thing about making stuffing. Her mother had never shared her recipes with her.

She took a deep breath and said, “To be honest, I’m not much of a cook. The turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, salad, and rolls came from Albertson’s. The cranberry sauce came out of a can. I ordered the pumpkin pie from Schwan.”

“Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done? Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!” came Ella’s sing song voice from the opposite end of the table, breaking the tension. “We sang that at school yesterday, and I told everyone we were going over the river and through the woods to Uncle Steve and Aunt Pat’s house, but it doesn’t fit into the song.”

Everyone giggled, and Pat said, “You’re right, sweetie. It doesn’t, and I’m sorry I missed your program yesterday. I had to work.”

“That’s okay,” said Ella. “I really like your turkey.”

“I do too,” said Jayson. “It’s not dry at all.”

“The potatoes are great,” said Steve. “I think they’re just like Mom’s.”

“Oh you,” said Lee Ann with a laugh.

“I like the salad,” said Rob.

“The rolls are wonderful,” said Harry. “Excuse me. I’m going to have another.”

“This was a great idea,” said Linda. “Maybe the next time I host a holiday dinner, I’ll do the same thing. It would save a lot of time.”

Lee Ann cleared her throat. “Linda, surely you realize that nothing compares to a home-cooked meal. However, this is rather nice. Pat, I’m sure it would have been next to impossible to prepare a meal like this from scratch when you can’t see.”

There it was again. Pat’s mother-in-law expected less of her because she was visually impaired. Maybe she should have tried to cook a turkey. She’d seen plenty of articles on cooking in Dialogue and other magazines for the blind written by sightless cooks. In fact, there had been step by step instructions on how to cook a turkey with no sight.

The rest of the family continued eating and chatting as if nothing were wrong. But Pat put down her fork and hung her head, as shame washed over her. Her appetite was gone.

***

“What are you smiling about?” asked Steve a month later, as they were driving to Rob and Linda’s house for Christmas dinner.

“Promise me you won’t say a word,” said Pat. “I told Linda I wouldn’t tell anyone, not even you.”

“You and Linda can trust me. My lips are sealed. Now spill.”

“Okay, Linda ordered the prime rib, twice baked potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, and apple pie from Warehouse Market.”

Steve burst into loud, uproarious laughter. “Mom’s gonna be pissed.”

“Not if she doesn’t know,” said Pat. “If she or anyone else asks for a recipe, Linda will promise to email it to them and send them a recipe she finds online. I wish I’d thought of that last month.”

“I do too. I didn’t think Linda would ask you for that stuffing recipe. It was pretty good, though. But I think this Jell-O salad you’re bringing is going to be a hit.” He tapped the Tupperware container she held securely in her lap.

“I figured if my friend Jackie could make this recipe with no sight at all, I could make it with some vision.”

“I think you’re right, honey.”

“If anybody asks for the recipe, I have it right here.” She tapped her pants pocket that held the printed recipe. “I saved it on the computer so if more than one person wants a copy, I can email it.”

“Good for you,” said Steve. “That talking computer of yours sure works wonders.”

“I downloaded a book from the National Library Service for the Blind called Cooking without Looking. Maybe next year, I’ll feel more confident about cooking a Thanksgiving turkey.”

“Maybe we could do it together. It’s about time I learned how to cook.”

 

THE END

 

The above story was published several years ago in Magnets and Ladders. It also appears in the November issue of The Writer’s Grapevine.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Announcing BOE Fair #Thursday Book Feature

Today, instead of reviewing one book, I’m going to share an event where you can learn about fifteen books from nine different authors. I’m president of Behind Our Eyes, an organization of disabled writers scattered across the country. We meet at least twice a month for critique sessions, guest presentations, and other activities and publish an online magazine called Magnets and Ladders. We’ve published two anthologies of our work, and we’re working on a third.

We recently held a book fair, showcasing work by nine authors, myself included. This was recorded and is available to the public. Below, you’ll find information about the event plus links to the recording and to more information about Behind Our Eyes. Happy reading!

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Good Books, Unique Gifts, and New Opportunities at your Fingertips
First Book Fair

Behind Our Eyes, an organization of writers with disabilities, held its first book fair and two-hundred-seventy-third call attended by nine presenters and many Behind Our Eyes member listeners. Bonnie Blose and Marilyn Brandt Smith hosted this two-hour event. A brief introduction to the focus and activities of the organization was followed by a parade of books: novels, memoirs of personal challenge, writings of the holiday season, adventures and essays with agendas, and a sure-to-be-classic disability awareness book written to assist blind and visually impaired consumers in navigating the healthcare system. Fifteen books were presented by their nine authors. Visit http://www.behindoureyes.org/wp/bookfair/ to read more and download this conference recording. Share it with your friends and newsletters, magazines, etc. Visit http://www.behindoureyes.org for a contact or membership form to offer feedback, ask questions, or join this amazing organization.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.