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Rolling, Rolling, Rolling ...

I'm past the one-third mark with Book 20. That's right on schedule for me, so it keeps my blood pressure low. Not that I worry too much about that. I hide in a cabin in the woods and have three cats who love me - where's the stress in that?

October is a fun celebratory month for me. All three of my cats showed up in October, begging to let into my world. We don't do too much to celebrate. Mostly I just hug them and get emotional about how much I love these little fur-kids. They struggle out of my arms and proceed to lick their backs - cleaning off any remnants of my tears.

There are milestones ... goals for me ...  between the publication of each book. The newsletter marks two of the big ones. This newsletter always tells you about the publication of the previous book's vignettes and by the time the next newsletter comes out, the book will be written and deep into the editing process. The title and cover will be prepared so I can share those with you and then, in the final month's newsletter, the book comes out. As soon as it releases, I begin this process again. 

Plenty of things are happening in Bellingwood this time around. It's nice to be part of a community that is constantly growing. I can't wait for you to find out what's going on!

Happy Halloween!

P.S. It's 3:08 AM and Amazon has not yet sent up the vignettes to the store. I am so grateful for the opportunity to publish through them and hate to complain, but sometimes technology frustrates the heck outta me. I'm going to bed. The link for Book 19's vignettes isn't making it into this newsletter. I have every confidence that about the time I'm falling asleep, it will arrive. Do a quick search for Bellingwood Book 19 Vignettes if you're desperate. When I finally wake up, I'll check and post a link on the Facebook Bellingwood page. Thank you!

Book 19 Vignettes

This book contains four very short (approximately 1500 words each) vignettes written from the perspective of characters other than Polly Giller.

In the first vignette, Simon Gardner of the Antique Shoppe meets a rather surprising new friend. Vignette #2 is a sweet conversation between Kayla and Hayden as they paint one of the upstairs rooms. She has a lot of questions about growing up. In the third vignette, Marie Sturtz is attempting to convince Noah and Elijah that it's time for bed. Two energetic little boys are a lot of work for their grandparents. In Vignette #4, Heath offers to check on children who are playing in the basement of the Bell House. The tunnel is a perfect indoor playground in the heat of the summer. He discovers that he has a talent for spinning tales, at least when it comes to impressionable children. Ghost stories, it is!

The Bellingwood books are written from Polly's perspective and every once in a while it's fun to look at what's happening behind the scenes from the viewpoint of other characters. 

Download your own Nammynools bookmarks.  Click on the image or this LINK to be taken to the download page. Simply download the PDF, print them (preferably on cardstock) and cut them out. Voila! 
Friday, November 17

Join us on the Bellingwood Facebook page for our second Creativity Friday this fall.

On Friday, November 17, I will create a post and ask for your comments. On Sunday, the 19th, I will select several (I never know how many - at least three) random winners. I have fun bean bag frogs to give away and there are always other prizes in my bag of tricks.

The focus of our November Creativity Friday will be thanksgiving. What are you grateful for? Who are you grateful for? What have others done for you and what are you creating for your friends and family? Whether it is the Thanksgiving Day meal or place settings, fall flowers and decorations, or family pictures. Anything that expresses your gratitude for what you've been given in this wild and crazy life.

One of the greatest joys I have is the community you are creating on Facebook. It is incredible to see you get to know each other.  The other day I was reading comments on a random post and thought about just how many friends have come into my life because of this community. Thank you.

Of the three journals I've created so far, my favorite is "Find Joy: A Gratitude Journal." There are so many prompts in there that help me think about what I am thankful for. 

Use this prompt today: Think of a family member and write about why you are grateful for them.

Click here for more on the journals.
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
A Short Bellingwood Vignette

"Outside and do your chores first. You know the drill," Elva said when she walked into the living room. All four of her children were sitting on the floor watching something on the television. 

"But we worked hard in school today," Gabriela whined. "It's not fair."

Ana picked up on her sister's complaint. "We didn't have to do chores when we lived with Daddy."

"First," Elva said, holding up her index finger, "you were much younger then and chores were things like cleaning your rooms. Two, you've been doing this work every single day since school started. You've also complained every day. I'm tired of it. Three ..." She unplugged the television and left the room, heading through the kitchen to the back door. They all knew there would be further consequences if they didn't follow her.

As she suspected, Samuel was the first one out the door. "What was three?" he asked, catching up to walk beside her.

"I'll let your imagination create whatever comes next. Now go on. If you all hurry, it won't take that long, and I made cheesy chicken burritos for dinner."

"My favorite," he said and took off for the barn. 

Samuel reminded her of Eliseo when he was a boy. His easy-going way, his willingness to get along, just to please his mother. She kept walking, knowing that the girls would be the last to come out and help. Matty had already run past her. He loved feeding the chickens. He loved being with all of the animals she and Eliseo were bringing out here. If he could skip school and help all day, he'd be in pure heaven.

She felt her temper rise as she waited to hear the back door slam and Gabriela and Ana's footsteps on the sidewalk. Those two girls both had way too much of their mother in them. Independent and sassy. Though they weren't twins, they were close enough in age to play off each other to get their way. 

Gabriela was getting to the age where her looks had become very important to her. Working with animals and messing up her clothes was not something she appreciated. Fortunately, Ana still liked getting down and dirty. She treasured the pair of work boots her uncle had purchased for her last birthday. The more she wore them, the more beat up and comfortable they got. She tried to wear them to school a couple of times, but Elva wouldn't let her. She didn't need her daughters dragging horse manure into the school building at this age. She tried to make them keep those things clean, but that was as difficult with them as anything else.

Ana's asthma made it hard for her to clean out the stalls, but Elva had no issue with the girl hauling the wheelbarrow loads out to the back to dump. Her girls were going to be strong and confident ... well, at least strong. She'd forgotten how much work it took to care for horses. She'd had way too many years off and her muscles had gone soft. The work she'd done preparing the land out here for the stables had rebuilt some of those muscles, but it wasn't until she started hauling bales of hay and bags of feed around again that she felt her body come back to life.

Elva knew that as the kids got older, they might not choose to work at the stables with her. She hoped they would fall in love these animals like she did, but she wasn't going to hold her breath. Matty might. He loved it and the little boy was growing stronger every day. She was careful with Samuel because of his diabetes. Just about the time they thought things were under control, something else in his body would go out of whack and she was back to fretting over him. He'd learned so much on his own. It killed her that he was so adult about the whole thing. All of the kids watched out for him. They'd become highly sensitized to what foods could hurt him and it made her proud that they were willing to forgo things just so he wouldn't feel left out.

Just about the time Elva began to wonder if Gabriela had finally called her bluff, she heard them coming her way. She took a deep sigh of relief. The day that Gabriela decided to challenge Elva for real wasn't too far in the future. She wasn't looking forward to that. Her own mother's inflexible stands on things had finally pushed Elva away from the family. Elva always believed it was because she was a girl in a man's world and girls weren't supposed to be stable hands - at least not according to her father. 

As she grew older and watched her own children come into their own, she realized that much of what had fallen apart with her parents was her own problem. She wasn't willing to take much structure from them and pushed back against every bit of it they handed out. She worried about crossing that line with her daughters. Gabriela was as rigid as Elva. She knew that she needed to pay attention and not push her daughter too far. But when did you know to stop hovering and let them define their own lives?

Gabriela had already started working in the donkey's stall, so Elva took up a rake and joined her. "How was school today?" Elva asked.


"How was that math test you were studying for?"


"Did you have music today?"


"How about recess. Who did you play soccer with today?"

"The same people. Nobody special."

"Did you have pork lips for lunch?"

Gabriela started to speak, then realized she didn't have a good answer for her mother's question. "I don't feel like being funny," she said, while lifting a particularly heavy pile of hay and muck into the wheel barrow. The girl lost her balance and before Elva could get to her, she'd face-planted right into the top of the pile.

"Gabriela!" Elva cried, rushing across the stall to her daughter.

The shout brought the rest of the kids and Ana lost it when her sister stood up, covered in all sorts of unpleasant things.

"It's not funny," Gabriela yelled and ran out of the stall in tears.

Matty looked up at his mother. "It's kind of funny."

Elva grinned at him. "Go back to your work. I'll take care of this. All of you, now go." She chuckled to herself. Matty was right. It was kind of funny, but with Gabriela's mood, she wasn't going to see the humor in this for quite a long time. 

She found Gabriela in the center of the wash stall.

"Look at me," the girl complained. "How does this always happen to me? It's not fair. Why can't I just be a girl sometimes? Why do I have to do all of these things like boys do? I don't like getting dirty, but you make me do it anyway. Why can't I ever do what I want to do?"

Elva grabbed some rags and started brushing Gabby off. "These are your work clothes and it doesn't matter if they get dirty. A quick shower and you'll be as good as new."

"But I never get to wear pretty clothes and go to the salon and have my hair done and wear makeup and all of that. I'm always in dirty work clothes." She slapped at her shirt. "These stupid ugly work boots and worn out jeans. My hair has hay in it and now I stink like sh ..." Gabriela stopped herself, knowing that her mother didn't like hearing those words. "Donkey-poop."

Elva bent down on her knees and took Gabriela's hands in hers. "Everything you are talking about is on the outside. Everything. Whether it's donkey-poop or fancy dresses. Those are all things that can be changed with no effort. You can take a shower and all of the donkey poop will wash away. You can put on a fancy dress and makeup and doll up your hair. Then you can take those things off, take another shower and you'll be back to my Gabriela. It doesn't matter what you wear or how you look - whether it's work boots or high heels, blue jeans or a fancy dress. As long as you're Gabriela on the inside. 

She reached up and touched Gabriela's hair. "Are you asking me to take you to a salon for a hair cut and style?"

Gabriela's eyes lit up. "Would you? Could I get highlights?"

"No highlights yet. You're still too young for that. But I think we could get a professional to cut your hair." Elva touched her own hair. "It's been a long time since I've done anything other than pull mine back into a pony tail. Maybe I should join you. We can do a girl's day. Well, maybe a girl's morning on a Saturday. What do you think about that?"

"Does Ana have to come? Can it just be us?" Gabriela asked.

"This first time, it will just be us, but later on, don't you think it would be fun if all three of us went?"

"I suppose. Ana doesn't mind her hair like I do. Do I have to go back and finish my work?"

Elva smiled. "What do you think?"

"I guess I might as well. I already stink."

"That's my girl."
Don't forget to dig through the menus and tabs on my website. There is so much more information there about Bellingwood.

My Amazon Author Page has all of the books and short stories I've written.

Be sure to join us on the Bellingwood Facebook page. When I'm writing, I need distractions and I enjoy spending time with you.
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