The Blank Page

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Some days are like this. I sit and stare at a blank page. It mocks me, telling me that I have nothing of interest to say, that my words don’t matter, that my thoughts are inconsequential. It forces me to blink several times, looking away from the glare that stares back. I find myself seeking solace in other people’s words – on the Internet, in books, on the phone. My own words have failed me. They hide behind the cobwebs in the recesses of my mind. The harder I look for them, the more they shrink away, like a childish game of hide and seek.

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And when I find them, they take off running, a marathon of thoughts riddled with leaps and hurdles that only I can overtake. I reach for them, trying to harness their energy before letting it explode onto the page. And when the explosion takes place, letters, words, thoughts, dialogues, settings, characters, and ultimately a plot are unleashed, a seismic wave of ideas that leave me breathless. I can’t stop it, can’t roll it back, can’t contain the beast that it becomes. For days, weeks, months, I become a slave to the words that fill the once-blank pages. Clothes go unwashed, dinners go uncooked. My fingers fly fast along the keys until, at last, a solitary tear falls. I know that I have reached the end of the story, the end of the words.

And then I am back at the beginning. Looming in front of me is a blank page. My head pounds as the taunting grows louder. “Write,” it screams at me. And so, with fingers pressed to the keys, I close my eyes, return to the game of hide and seek, and draw my characters into the open once again. 

The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, will be available to pre-order on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

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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)

 

A Long Line of Love

Nan's Family Pics68My three daughters are extremely lucky in that they come from a very long line of love. On both sides of their family, they have been blessed with a long and loving history. From their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and as far back as we can trace, they have been able to witness couples who have loved unconditionally. Yesterday, I was very happy to wish my parents a happy 52nd wedding anniversary. They learned how to love unconditionally from their own parents, and are a shining example to the rest of us.

Today, I am honored to share with you a guest blog written by my 14-year-old daughter. It exemplifies what real love truly is.

A life lesson that is important to me is to be proud of whom and what you love. This is so, so important. It wasn’t exactly told to me, but instead it was shown. They didn’t know they were showing me something that still stands out to me today. I don’t even think they realized how much so, but my great grandparents were very proud of each other. They loved each other so much and made each other so happy that they talked about how great the other one was, and they loved glorifying everything good about each other.

I strongly believe that my great grandparents, or Nan and Pop to me, were a couple of very special people. They met when they were teenagers and Nan was walking down the street, and Pop told his friends that she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen and that he was determined to marry her someday. Well, if I know something about my grandfather, it’s that he never gave up on something he wanted. I think everyone finds true love, but theirs was so strong.

I had the privilege of knowing my great grandparents for a few years of my life. I wish they were still here with us, but even in their short time with me, they showed me so many things, and they impacted my life greatly. I lived across the street from them until Pop passed away in 2011, and Nan couldn’t fend for herself, so she lived in a nursing home. Living so close to them was a blessing. I could walk across the street after school, and they would tell me stories, and I loved hearing them. They were such lively people who never ceased to amaze me.

Hearing them talk about each other really showed me how important it is to be proud of the person you love. Before I started to notice the little things they did and said for each other, I don’t think it was as big of a deal to me. As I got older and their health declined, I really started noticing. After Pop passed away, Nan told nonstop stories about how they met and how great a person he was. I don’t think, even once, did Nan not talk about Pop during our frequent visits.

Both of them have passed on by now, but one thing I will never forget is when my grandfather passed away.  They had a military service because he was a veteran. During the service, they presented a flag to my grandmother. When the guards handed her the flag she began to cry, and the only words she could manage were “I’m so proud to have loved him.” This was such a powerful moment in my life, and I could never forget it. I’m proud to have called them my grandparents, too.

  • Morgan Schisler, 2015

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 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.

It’s the Little Things

DSC04547We had another snow day today.  Ok, it has basically turned out to be a barely-any-snow-with-small-patches-of-ice day, but we got to sleep in on a 20 degree morning, so it’s hard to complain!  As I lay in my bed this morning with my three-year-old Golden Retriever lazily snuggled up next to me, her head on my chest, I starting thinking about my own snow days many years ago.  I’m sure you remember those – the days before crazy, aggressive drivers, and lawsuits against school systems, and all of the other ridiculous reasons we now cancel school at the sign of the first flake.  In those days, snow days were truly SNOW days, when you woke up and jumped out of bed, ran to the window, and the entire world was blanketed in white all the way up to the window ledge. I remember one time, the winter I was eight, when my father had to dig tunnels through the snow so that our dog, Snoopy, could go out for a run. Once the sun was high in the sky, all of our neighbors came outside and worked together to uncover cars and dig everyone out while we children made ice blocks and built igloos!  Many snow days were spent baking with mom or doing puzzles on the big card table in the basement. Those are the things I remember about winters when I was a child.

In the spring, we often took a trip into DC to visit the Botanical Gardens.  Easter was spent at my grandparents’ house and usually ended with a giant game of cousin football.  What I recall the most about those times was that we somehow always ended up caked with mud and having a wonderful time. Summer meant lots of time outside.  Once every couple of weeks, we would go to the Smithsonian for the day.  If we were very lucky, we might pay to swim in the pool at a local motel or be invited to the one house in the neighborhood that had a pool in their backyard.

My absolute favorite times were the weeks I spent at my grandparents’ house in the country where I picked blackberries that grew along the path behind the barn, spent many mornings on Granddad’s boat catching fish and pulling up bountiful baskets of Maryland Blue Crabs, helping Grandma take the clothes off the line (I can still smell the fresh, clean scent) or simply playing Canasta with my friend, Lynn, who lived on the farm across the road.  Back home, we spent our days playing street hockey at Cindy’s or night tag at Laura’s.

Sometimes I wonder how many children will grow up with these types of childhood memories.  Will they have no recollection at all of time spent with friends and family because all of their retention powers were eroded by video games and tiny screens of text?  I wish I could take my children back in time and share with them my childhood.  We didn’t travel or have a lot of useless gadgets and gizmos.  We never, ever made the trip to Disney (we took my parents there after I had three children of my own) or flew anywhere on a plane; but I wouldn’t trade a single day of my childhood for anything in the world.  It’s all of those little things that we did that made me who I am.

Those are the memories I cherish.  So I’ll sign off now and get the girls out of bed.  I think we’ll go outside and take some pictures, maybe try to find a big enough patch of white to make a snow angel, and then we’ll come in and bake something completely unhealthy and eat the whole batch.  I hope that someday they’ll look back and count this as a day to remember.

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

https://amyschislerauthor.com/amyschislerauthor.com/Books.html You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com

Making Memories

IMG_3301Our family has many traditions that we observe throughout the year.  When it is somebody’s birthday, we eat in the dining room and the birthday girl (or husband) eats on the “It’s your special day” plate that was given to us by dear family friends when my first daughter was born.  At Easter, the girls fill their baskets with dyed Easter eggs, the same baskets they have been using since each of them celebrated her first Easter.  We always take a family portrait on the 4th of July, each one of us decked out head-to-toe in red, white, and blue.  But there is no other time throughout the year that is more steeped in tradition for our family then during the Christmas and New Year’s season.

For many years, my mother and I were part of the millions of people who spent all day shopping on the day after Thanksgiving.  Two things that have happened in recent years have changed that for us: the first was the transferring of all of the best sales to Thanksgiving Day (we refuse to leave our family dinner table to go shopping), and the second was Rebecca’s Freshman year of college.  Since Rebecca leaves the Sunday after Thanksgiving to head back to school and doesn’t return until just before Christmas, we now spend that weekend decorating our house and putting up our tree instead of running to the mall.  It takes an entire day to strip all of the shelves and tabletops of all of our framed pictures, dozens of books, and many collectibles from our travels and replace them with our extensive nutcracker collection and the Nativity sets that my husband and I have brought back from all over the world.  The nutcracker collection really belongs to the girls.  Rebecca started the collection the Christmas she was three after seeing the Nutcracker on stage for the first time.  Over the years we have all added to the assemblage and have now amassed nearly 100 in the form of everything from the original Nutcracker Prince to my prized Washington Redskin.  Most of these will go with the girls when they get married, which leads me to the next tradition that we hold very dear, one that was actually started by my parents when I was a baby.

Every year when we put up our tree, everybody in the family gets a new ornament representative of something special that happened in their lives that year.  Some of Rebecca’s ornaments include a clarinet, a field hockey player, and, of course, her graduation cap.  Katie has an artist’s palette, a drama mask, and a piano.  Morgan’s ornaments include a swimmer, a bow and arrow, and a lacrosse player.  Just as I did when my husband and I celebrated our first Christmas after we were married, each of our girls will take their ornaments with them when they start their own married lives so that they have ornaments for their first tree.

Of course, the most cherished traditions of the Christmas season are the times we spend with family and friends.  This weekend, we will open our home to our closest mother-daughter friends for our 10th Annual Mother-Daughter Cookie Swap.  This year, the participants will make 14 dozen of their favorite kind of Christmas treat ( which may be cookies, or fudge, or bread), and everyone will take home 14 dozen different kinds of treats for the holidays.  I will prepare a gourmet meal to serve them and make homemade gifts for each of them to thank them for their friendship and support over the past year.  Later in the week, our family will enjoy Christmas Eve dinner with my extended family and Christmas Day dinner with Ken’s extended family.  It’s a lot of work, yes, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything  in the world.

New Year’s Eve will find us once again opening our home to friends as the girls will host their 14th New Year’s Eve sleepover!  Why do we do all of this, I’m sure many will ask.  Why not, I say!  What is life if we’re not truly living it, making the most of it, and creating memories and traditions that will go on for generation after generation?  I know that when my children are grown and have busy lives of their own, these will be the things they will cherish – not the materials things, the nutcrackers or the ornaments – but the memories that go with them.  And when you think about it, that’s all we can really take with us when we go, so let’s all make memories that count.

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon. https://amyschislerauthor.com/amyschislerauthor.com/Books.html

You may follow her at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com