“A Tremendous Thing”

Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 11.00.21 AMI saw a quote recently that had me thinking back over the friendships I’ve had in my life as well as my children’s friendships. All three of my girls made friends easily. They’re kind, easy-going, and fun to be around. Making friends was never a problem. However, keeping friends was. What they all found out at early ages was that not all friends are real friends, and not friends want you to be the best version of yourself. I think it took me until after high school to learn this, but times were different back them. 

When I was young, we didn’t have social media or cell phones or television series like Thirteen Reasons Why to remind us that there are always those who do not have our best interests at heart (author’s note – that is not a recommendation of Thirteen Reasons Why – in fact, it’s just the opposite as Caralyn explains here). What my girls often realized was that there are many people in this world who would rather tear people down than build them up. They realized that not everybody who claims to be your friend is going to be loyal to you. They realized that not every person who smiles and says hello is genuine.

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Bailey and Rebecca – true friends

It’s so important that everyone has at least one person in whom she can confide, at least one person who will not judge, at least one person who will challenge him to become his very best self. Every Anne Shirley needs a Diane Barry. Every Harry Potter and Ron Weasley need a Hermione Granger. Every Peter needs a Paul.

In a world where it’s hard to be yourself, find yourself, and always challenge yourself to be better, it’s even harder to find someone else who will stand by your side, loving you for who you are, encouraging you along the way. My wish for all of you is that you, and especially your children, will find your Dr. Watson to keep you grounded and your Charlotte to always remind you of your worth and your Hobbes to always be your loyal friend. Love may be what makes the world go round, but a true friend is always the one who reminds you, that “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Christopher Robin

Charlotte

The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, is now available to pre-order.

What I was writing about this time last year:  Three Simple but GIGANTIC Reasons to Try Something New

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines,  and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores. 

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017).

 

I Didn’t Know I Needed You…

We’ve all heard the phrases, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone,” and “You don’t know you need something until after you’ve gotten rid of it.” I’ve said both of those many times, myself. But recently, it occurred to me that it’s also true that you often didn’t know you needed something until you have it. No, I don’t mean all that stuff they sell on HSN or on infomercials (though I use my veggie chopper at least weekly). In fact, you can’t buy the thing I acquired and now can’t live without, but my life has never been the same since the day I received that call.

A little over two years ago, I entered a lottery on the radio. I told my husband about it, assuring him I would never be picked. He hoped I wouldn’t. Those who were chosen would be able to go to the Holy Land, and the cost was not insignificant. Knowing I had little to no chance of being chosen, and even less chance of being able to pay for the two of us to go, I quickly forgot about it. Until the day I got the call.

Did that person really just say that I was among the lucky ones? Am I really being given this opportunity to go to the Holy Land? If only…

I knew the cost was high, and I knew that Ken would never be able to take off, and completely unplug, for ten days. I told him, with a fair amount of trepidation, certain he would say it was not possible. And at first, he did. He knew he couldn’t go, but maybe we could find a way to pay for me to go and take a friend. But before I left the room, he said, “Wait. Where exactly would we be going?” I checked my email, and the official itinerary had arrived as promised. Within no time, Ken and I were booked to leave in eight short weeks, with a group of strangers, on the trip of a lifetime.Smithsonian Mag - The Search for Jesus

Two years later, I’ve traveled to Texas three times to see friends we met on that trip. Ken met up with friends in California. We’ve visited New York countless times and gotten together in Annapolis, Philadelphia, and Boston. We’ve attended funerals and birthday parties, gone to women’s conferences and retreats, sang karaoke, and celebrated my book releases.

This past weekend, we attended a weekend-long celebration in Dallas where the son of one of the couples was confirmed. I can’t remember the last time either Ken or I spent an entire weekend doing nothing but having fun with friends. When we said goodbye, there were no tears. Instead, we hugged and said, “See you in August if not sooner.”  IMG_0176.jpg

On the plane ride home, I sat and thought about the way my life was forever changed in the Holy Land. First, there was the awesome knowledge that I was walking in the footsteps of God. There was the profound experience of sharing this for the first time with a group of people who shared my faith. And there was a mingling of hearts and souls that bound us together in an inexplicable way. 

From phone calls and visits to texts and facebook messages, not a day goes by that I don’t communicate, in some way, with multiple people I met on that trip. They are not just friends. They are as much family to me as my own flesh and blood. I cannot imagine life without them. And as that thought hit me at 38,000 feet above the ground, I realized that I might never have known before how much I needed these people in my life, but now, I can’t ever imagine my life without them.  In much the same way, I believe there are many out there in need of something, and they have no clue what that something is. Over and over, I’ve heard people say that they didn’t know they needed God until they found him. He is there, waiting to be found, and He is a friend who never fails, never falters, never turns His back on those who love Him. Even more than my pilgrim family, God is a a shelter, a treasure, an elixir of life. Once you have found Him, you will realize that it was He that you needed all along.DSC08415.jpg

The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, is now available to pre-order.

What I was writing about this time last year:  Do You Believe in Miracles?

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines,  and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores. 

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017)

You’re My Inspiration

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When I began writing the award-winning book, Island of Miracles, I never planned to have another Chincoteague Island book follow it. But as the book was coming to a close, I found it hard to say goodbye to the characters I had created.  When I got to the end, I had no follow-up story in mind, yet the words To be continued… sprang from the page. There was no doubt, by then, that the story of the Middleton and Kelly families was not over. 

Now that I have begun writing the first draft of the sequel, it strikes me that many of the characters and situations in this book, more so than any of my books, are a direct reflection of the people and events that have influenced me throughout my life. Perhaps that is why I can’t just let it go. While all of my characters take on a life of their own and become very real to me, the ones in Island of Miracles became living, breathing individuals in my mind and heart. It now makes me wonder about the impact that others have on all of our lives and if we even realize how much we are influenced by what goes on around us at the time.

I wrote Island of Miracles at, what I consider now, a turning point in my life. It was just after I visited the Holy Land, and I was forever changed as a person in ways that cannot be explained unless you have been there yourself. I was hungry to write a book that was about something more than romance and intrigue. I wanted it to be filled with inspiration, and I found that inspiration in the people I most love and admire in my personal life.

Many of the characters are named for real people who mean so very much to me. If you read Island of Miracles, you will certainly remember the young priest who helps Kate along her journey. Father Darryl is indeed a real person whose faith, optimism, and general outlook on life has had a great impact on me since I met him on my trip. One of Kate’s closest friends, Anne, is based on three of my closest friends. One has been my best friend for almost 25 years; and the others have become two of my closest friends over the past two years, beginning with the bond we shared in the Holy Land, and it now feels like they have been a part of my life from the beginning.

Ronnie is a dear friend who inspires me with her faith, perseverance, and patience. Dr. Sprance is not a heart doctor at all unless you recognize his ability to show unconditional love to those he meets. His unwavering faith touches every person who knows him. He may not be a doctor who can heal the heart, but he truly is a healer of the soul. Trevor is my Godson, and while he is still young, I see in him the gentleman he will become someday. Tammi, Shannon, and Marian are all friends who have touched me deeply through their friendship, and I cannot imagine life without them.

I am introducing a new character in the sequel who is named after my other best friend. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she was forced to begin her entire life again in her thirties, reshaping it in her forties, and learning to enjoy life as it is and not how it might have been. I don’t think she has any idea how much she inspires me every single day with her quiet resolve and desire to find joy and peace in an unsettling world.

And then there’s the other new character I am introducing, a young former Marine trying to find his place in the world. Yes, he too is a real person, and he knows exactly who he is. He’s always telling us how we helped him become the person that he is, but I don’t think he realizes how he has helped us in our journey as well. It is nothing short of inspirational to watch this young man mature and discover who he is and who he is meant to be. 

Of course, my parents and my brothers have greatly influenced me over the course of my life. As have my husband and our children. In fact, I’m not sure we ever reach a time in our lives when we cease to be influenced by the people, places, and events around us. We are all living in a constant state of growth, change, and renewal. I thank God every day for the many influences He has placed in my life. Know that if your name or your circumstance appears in any of my books, you, your life situation, your decisions, and the person that you are, have greatly influenced me in someway. For that, and for you, I am most grateful.

Who or what has influenced you?

What I was writing about this time last year:   Starting Today…

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy followed up her success with, Island of Miracles, which has outsold all of her other books worldwide and ranked as high 600 on Amazon. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, is now on sale online and in stores.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017)

There are no Strangers Here

“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” 

Romans 15:7

Visiting Granny (23)Last spring, as we prepared for Katie’s graduation, reality started to sink in that Morgan soon would be the only child left at home. People began asking Morgan, “What will you do without Katie?” Morgan didn’t have an answer. She had never been without Katie, and theirs is a bond that I can’t imagine ever being broken. They have been best friends since the first time Katie held Morgan in her arms. Nobody can make each other laugh the way they can (and nobody can make each other cry or get angry the way they can either). So much time and thought was going into the many changes that were about to occur for Katie, and part of me worried about how Morgan would handle the changes in store for her.

Around Easter of last year, Morgan came home from school looking like a girl on a mission. “I’ve been thinking,” she began. Never a good opener in the mind of a parent. “Since I won’t have any sisters anymore after Katie leaves, can I get an exchange student?” After the initial shock of her words settled in, Ken and I laughed. “You will always have sisters,” I said, unsure whether I was happy she was secure in Katie’s leaving or sad that she could move on so easily. “Of course, I will,” Morgan said. “But I’m going to be lonely, and our school announced today that we’re hosting exchange students in the fall, and I was the first one to put my name down as being interested.”

Ken and I didn’t know quite how to answer. What would it be like to have a stranger living in our home, participating in our family time, experiencing the ups and downs we might go through during those months? Would we be able to communicate with and understand each other? What would her family be like? Would she complain about going to Mass every weekend? Would she protest our early-to-bed habits? Would she like my cooking, our dogs, their school? Would she get homesick and be inconsolable? Suffice it to say that, after some lengthy discussions with each other, Morgan, and the school, we decided to open our home and our hearts to a stranger. 

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Morgan and Astrid meet for the first time.

In May, we received our packet with details about the young woman who would be living with us. Her name was Astrid, she was from Guatemala City, a Roman Catholic, and shared many of Morgan’s interests – tennis, music, books, school, shopping, etc. They were close in age, in the same grade, and had similar long-term goals. The one question left was, would the girls like each other and get along? We were given the date when they would be allowed to communicate, and Morgan set her phone to a countdown that rivaled in anticipation the New Year’s Eve ball in Time’s Square. “45 days until we can email Astrid,” “27 days until we can email Astrid,” “18 days until we can email Astrid.” The mantra continued all summer. Finally, the day came. As I sent an email to Astrid’s parents, Morgan sent one to Astrid. We heard back almost immediately, and a new friendship was born. Emails turned into texts and texts into SnapChats and SnapChatting into FaceTiming. The sound of laughter and squeals of delight could be heard emanating from Morgan’s room late into the night for the next month. A new countdown had begun, and we all anxiously awaited Astrid’s mid-October arrival.

Almost a month into Astrid’s all-too short eight-week stay, we’ve had our ups and downs. Morgan has gotten use to having a sister in the house all over again, both the good and the bad aspects, and Astrid has gotten used to a new room, new food, new school, and a whole new family. Sometimes they need their space, but they’ve learned that that’s okay. They’ve also learned new words and phrases (in both English and Spanish), new food preferences, and new cultural norms. The biggest thing they’ve learned is that none of us are very different. Astrid often remarks that something I do or say is just like something her mother does or says. The girls often talk about the “drama” of high school and how it is the same everywhere. And they both love my chicken and rice casserole.

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Strangers no more

With Astrid’s time here almost halfway over already, the girls have started talking about future visits. Morgan plans to spend at least two weeks, if not three, with Astrid’s family next summer. She would like to attend Astrid’s graduation next fall, and Astrid would like to come back here for Morgan’s graduation the following spring. We’ve talked about making plans for our families to get together and even about Astrid’s future plans to get her Master’s in the US, preferably somewhere close to us or to wherever Morgan is.

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Before the Homecoming dance

It seems strange now when we hear talk about “foreigners.” Americans seem to assume that everyone else in the world is so different from us, that we are somehow better, more cultured, smarter, more industrious, etc. Welcoming a stranger into our home only affirmed what Ken and I have taught our girls all along. We are all the same. We all have the same worries, fears, hopes, and joys. Teenage girls love to shop, paint their nails, and get dressed up for special occasions. And they worry about their futures, getting into universities, finding jobs, living on their own, meeting a spouse. Our world becomes smaller every day through invention, innovation, and determination.  Let us all open our hearts and homes to others and remember that we are all living similar lives and have the same needs and desires. Let us all believe that there are no strangers among us, only those who have yet to become our friends.

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What I was writing about one year ago this week:  Saying Goodbye to Worry and Regret.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy followed up her success with, Island of Miracles, which has outsold all of her other books worldwide and ranked as high 600 on Amazon. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available. Amy’s novel, Summer’s Squall, is on pre-sale and will be released on December 1, 2017.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017)

Finding Joy in the Most Unlikely Places

15123466_1119754048131554_8208288262123507430_oYesterday morning, I drove two and a half hours to the funeral of my friend’s mother.  While on the phone, taking care of some business while driving, I was told, “It’s nice that you have the time to do that.”  I assured the person on the other end that I did not have the time, but that I was raised in a family where attending funerals is just what you do.  You make the time.  People flock to showers and hospitals to welcome new babies into the world, but few people take the time to usher someone out of this world.  I went because it was the right thing to do.  And what did I gain from it?  Simple; the joy on Anne’s face when she glanced up and saw me there.  It’s all about spreading joy even in places where you expect to find none.

We’ve actually been talking about joy a lot lately in our family.  It has been a hard few months for us.  Rebecca is juggling the LSAT, law school applications, the hardest classes she has taken so far, and an impending change as she crosses the street from childhood into adulthood.  Katie, my homebody, is facing leaving home for a college between two and four hours away.  For many, that distance seems inconsequential; but for Katie, it’s monumental.  Morgan, my baby, is grappling with hormones, shifting friend groups, and all that comes with being fifteen.  Of course, Ken and I are staring into the future and contemplating what life will be like in just over two years when we are empty nesters.  Sometimes, when faced with the trials of every day life, joy can be hard to find.

Pope John Paul II, said that “God made us for joy.”  It seems so simple yet so hard at times.  Recently, a friend suggested that, when finding it difficult to get past the hard times in life, it can help to keep a gratitude journal.  This was the most beautiful advice and can really make a difference.  Best selling author, Brené Brown, tells us that “There is no joy without gratitude.”  The more we are thankful for, the more we see the good in the world, and the more joyful we are.  To take the small things throughout the course of the day, and see them for the joy they can bring is so easy, so why don’t we do it more often?  Just look around.  Witness the thrill of a child with a new puppy.  Savor the taste of a hearty meal or a good glass of wine.  Feel the warmth of a fire on a chilly night.  Experience the calming effects of a beautiful song, a good book, or a meaningful prayer.  Be thankful for time spent with friends, no matter the occasion.

On a recent mission trip to Guatemala, Ken was humbled by the poverty of the people he visited and amazed by their constant expressions of happiness.  He said that they had so little but radiated such joy.  It reminds me of St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians that, as Christians, we should be “in pain yet always full of joy; poor and yet making many people rich; having nothing, and yet owning everything” (2 Corinthians 6:10).  We tend to put so much stock in material things, always looking for happiness in grand ways, but it’s in the every day, little things, that we can find true joy, even at a funeral.  We must look, always and everywhere, for the things that that make us happy.  For in finding true joy, we not only create better lives for ourselves but for all the world around us.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three inspirational fiction eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016)

6 Ways Friends are Like Wine

DSC04828I have had many friends over the course of my life, some loyal and true, others only after their own gain.  I’ve learned the hard way whom to trust and how to make friendships that last.  I’ve watched my three daughters go through ups and downs with friends as they progress through the various stages of life, each stage with its own set of criteria for relationships.  I’ve made mistakes in choosing friends and in properly being a friend, and I try to impart whatever wisdom I have gained on my children and their own circle of companions.

Over the past year, while doing research for my upcoming novel, Whispering Vines (Summer, 2016), I have had the great pleasure of learning about wine.  I have been a lover of wine since childhood when my grandfather, an amateur vintner, allowed me the first taste of each bottle he opened (ooops, sorry Mom!).  Even in my youth, I could tell a good wine from a bad one.  I’ve not always been that smart with friendships.  However, much like my taste in wine, my knowledge about friendship has matured.  Here is what I have learned.

1.  All good things are carefully cultivated.

A good wine is cultivated and harvested by hand.  There are many reasons for this.  It ensures that each grape is perfect, is at just the right stage of ripeness, and will not spoil the rest of the batch.  Have you noticed lately that wines are getting harder to drink?  Headaches come more frequently, and the alcohol goes to your head much faster.  No, it’s not age, it’s the wine content.  Wine has become such a huge industry that giant producers bottle more wine than they can sell.  In order to not lose money, they add sulfates and sulfites and even more alcohol.  This preserves the wine longer and causes you, the unsuspecting imbiber, to drink more wine.  After all, once the alcohol hits you, you crave more.  This is why I seek imported, lesser known vintages where the harvest and cultivation is done by hand and based on quality, not quantity.

Friends should be chosen the same way.  Quality is much more important than quantity.  Does the most popular person in the room truly have loyal and trustworthy confidants?  Have they been chosen wisely?  One bad friend can spoil the entire bunch.  Harvest your friendships and cultivate them.  Attend to them with care, striving for the best friends, not the most friends.

2. Time Matters

It has always been said that wine is better with age.  However, that is not really true.  The best wines are the freshest wines.  Leaving a bottle in your cellar to age doesn’t improve the wine.  It actually causes it to become heavy and bitter, soiled with deposits that lie at the bottom and then end up in your glass when you pour.  No, the aging of wine is part of the process.  Wines that are meant for aging are chosen by the vintner, not the consumer.  They are aged in barrels, not in bottles, and they are sold when the time is right for drinking.

Good friends are like good, aged wine.  They are kept in a special place, perhaps in your heart, held onto and cherished, and brought out when you need them most.  They are not neglected nor forgotten.  On the contrary, you always know they are there, and they know the same about you.  I am very blessed to have a friend who has been there for me since the 2nd grade.  We don’t see each other often, but when we do, we treat it as something special.  Our friendship has aged, and we know that when the time is right, we can pour out ourselves for each other.  Cheers to you, Cindy!

3. The perfect vintage doesn’t happen often

Everyone has heard someone remark about a certain wine, “That was a good year,” or “That was a good vintage.”  There are simply some years that are better than others.  This is due to a combination of reasons, mostly climate-related, that create the perfect harvest – grapes that have just the right amount of sugar, water, and plumpness.  Those are the years that truly matter when it comes to wine making.

There are times in our lives when we are blessed with better friendships.  College friends tend to be better than middle or high school friends.  Friends made during child-bearing years can last for the rest of your life.  I’ve found that friends made during spiritual highs can become the friends who will last a lifetime.  There are stages in our lives when we have the ability to meet just the right people.  When that happens, I call it divine intervention. The friendships I developed as a young wife and mother are the strongest ones I have.  I raise a glass to you, Anne and Debbie.  And the friendships I have made through my faith journey are the ones that ground me.  Those are the people I go to for prayer, guidance, support.  There are too many to name, my Bible study group and my fellow pilgrims among them.  God has brought you all into my life, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

4. Blends are Best

I am partial to Italian wines, particularly to Amarone, a blend of red grapes which make the wine dry and robust.  Three different varieties of grapes are used to make this award winning wine, and the prize is well deserved.  Those who produce this variety of wine know that it takes more than one kind of grape to make a good wine.

Thus it takes more than one kind of friend to make a good friendship.  Every person I count as a friend is different.  They are from various backgrounds, live in a myriad of cities around the country (even around the world).  They have their own interests and even contrasting lives.  Yet they all blend together to make me who I am.  Each has touched me in some way that has made me, I hope, a better person.

5. Taste changes with age.

In my younger years, I was partial to any wine that was sweet and fruity.  Strawberry and plum were favorites, perhaps a throwback to Granddad’s homemade varieties.  I loved any wine that was pink.  Over the years, my tastes leaned toward less fruity, dryer whites, a good German Riesling or an Italian Pino Grigio.  Today, I prefer Amarone or Chianti, rich and very dry reds.  As I have matured, so has my taste in wine.

The same can be said when it comes to making friends.  For most young people, the goal is to be friends with the “in” crowd.  As we age, we realize that we are much more discerning about whom we allow into our inner circle.  When young, we have many friends and almost no acquaintances.  They’re a friend, or they’re not.  I have found that middle school girls are pros when it comes to distinguishing between “friends” and “non-friends,” though their criteria for making these determinations is far from perfect.  As an adult, I have come to realize that I have many friends, but my reasons for seeking out certain individuals has changed greatly. Again, as I have matured, so has my ability to choose friends.

6. How it makes you feel is what counts.

So what’s the best way to choose a wine or decide what your preference is?  By taking a step back and seeing how that wine makes you feel.  Does the very bouquet make your head spin when you take that first sniff?  Do your toes curl as it slides down your throat?  Does it make your food taste better?  And how do you feel after a glass or two, or in the morning when you wake up?  Choose your wine based on what makes you feel good, what it adds to your life.

Do the same with your friends.  Choose wisely.  Do you happily anticipate seeing them, talking to them, spending time with them?  Do they make whatever you’re doing even better just by their presence?  Do you still feel the same about them the next day?  Do they add something good to your life, make you feel better about yourself, encourage you, support you, build you up?  Would you pair them with your family, your favorite movie, your husband?

And remember, a good friend should enhance your life just as a good glass of wine should enhance your meal.  Make good friends, but more importantly, be a good friend. Be the friend you want to have.  Your own kindness, compassion, loyalty, and attentiveness will come back to you.  And it’s never too late to start.  At Cana, the headwaiter remarked, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”  Be the good wine for others.  Your life will be sweeter in the long run.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her next book, Whispering Vines, is due out in the summer of 2016.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books:   Crabbing With Granddad (2013),  A Place to Call Home (2014),  Picture Me (2015)

Amy Schisler, shares her secrets for writing a 5 star novel – April 30, 2016 01:00AM Wicomico Public Library, Wicomico, MD, US http://wicomicolibrary.evanced.info/signup/EventDetails.aspx?EventI… 

Carroll County Public Library Author Panel  – May 01, 2016 02:00AM  Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library, 50 East Main Street, Westminster, MD, US http://library.carr.org/about/westminster.asp# 

My Best Friend

1016935_10152444890701349_6188218071191815940_nI consider myself an extremely lucky person.  I have a wonderful husband, Ken, to whom I can talk about anything.  I have a remarkable group of women on whom I can count without question – Debbie, Anne, Ann, Julie, Linda, Angie, Alix, Kimberly, Trissy, Judy, and my sister-in-law, Lisa.  As my daughters grow and mature, we are developing that wonderful kind of friendship that I know will keep us close forever.  But above all of this, I am so lucky that my best friend truly is my mother.

From the time I was a little girl, my mother and I had a special kind of relationship.  Maybe it’s because I was the only girl, and we banded together amid the high level of testosterone in our home.  Maybe it’s because my mother, grandmother, aunt, and I were all just very close.  Mom’s friends always said I was very mature and treated me like one of the gals, so maybe that part of it.  Whatever the reason, I have always seen my mother as both my mother and my friend.

This was especially so after I got married.  Moving two hours from home and living in an area where I had no relatives and no friends was very hard on me.  It was the winter of 1993-1994 when the entire Eastern Shore was covered with ice and snow and all normal life came to a screeching halt.  Ken was stuck in Annapolis and unable to get home for almost a week.  I was in our new home with our new puppy, and I was miserable.  It was my mother who talked me off of the ledge, so to speak.  I don’t know how many long-distance fees we racked up that month, but Ken never complained.  Even he could see that Mom is my lifeline – the person who keeps me holding on and inspires me.  When Rebecca was born, my mother spent two weeks with me helping me get settled.  I don’t know what I would have done without her.  I firmly believe that is why Mom and Rebecca have such a strong bond today.  Actually the same can be said for all of my girls – Mom was there when they came into the world and was there for their first two weeks of life, and she’s still there for them today.

Over the years, Mom and I have always tried to spend some special time together.  We’ve taken trips with just the two of us to Williamsburg, Lancaster, Asheville, Niagara, and other places where we could just relax and have fun together.  Now that Mom works as my assistant, we have even more reason to travel together.  This past weekend, we drove from Maryland to Georgia for the Decatur Book Festival.  It was a great weekend where we met other authors, sold my books, and gained more knowledge about promoting my craft.  But the best parts of the trip were the times we spent just talking.  There’s a lot of road between St. Michaels and Atlanta, but we never found ourselves with a lack of conversation.  Whether we were talking politics, religion, family matters, or pop culture nonsense, we enjoyed every minute that we were together.

Someday I hope that I can have the same type of relationship with my own daughters.  They already know that they can come to me with anything, and they usually do.  Sometimes they preface what they have to say with something like “I need to talk to you as a Mom,” or “I need advice from a friend.”  I like to think that they have watched my mother and me over the years and understand how someone can be both a mother and friend.  I hope that I can be whatever they need me to be for them.  I don’t think I will have a problem.  I’ve had a great teacher.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.