This is why I keep writing

Anyone who knows me well, knows that my dream is to make my living as a full-time writer/author.  Thus far, I haven’t been able to afford to make that dream a reality. I have many author friends who are in the same situation. So, I get up every Monday morning and go to my office where I have the privilege of serving the senior population all week long. However, having a day job in no way stops the stories from constantly coming together and bouncing around inside my head.

I write because I can and I write because I must. Those of us with creative souls must create in order to be happy.  There’s a powerful inner drive that directs us to write stories, or to dance, or to draw or paint pictures, or invent something new, or whatever our chosen creative medium happens to be. Everyone who creates, is telling some type of a story.

I used to think that I began writing stories as a teenager.  But recently, I went through a box of old school papers my mom had saved.  I found essays and short stories I had written as early as second grade and ALL of them were covered with wonderful words of encouragement from my teachers.  No wonder I kept at it.

I keep writing today in the bits and pieces of time I can find around my job and marriage and family, because I know that somewhere my stories are resonating with people.  I know this because they tell me.  They write me touching notes and emails and they leave reviews of my books.

Perhaps somewhere right now “The Button Box” is making someone think of their family button box or some other family treasure and their beloved mother or grandmother. Maybe “Which Came First?” is making someone laugh about the resourcefulness of the little girl who wouldn’t give up even though she was afraid of the rooster, Pretty Boy, and the hens.  I hope “The Day The Turkey Came To School” is making someone think of other unexpected events in life which bring people together in the nicest of ways.  And finally, I pray that my eBook story, “Coffee Without A Cup” will help someone who is on a grief journey and missing a loved one, to heal just a little.

This weekend, I checked my Amazon author account to see if I would need to ship a book order on Monday before going to work. While checking sales of each of my books, I came across a new review of “Coffee Without A Cup.”  Here it is:

“Coffee without a cup” is one of the best healing stories of love gone to heaven. With so many of the things I have had to do going through my mom’s life as well as my grandmother’s, this was so much of what I felt, cried over, and smiled over. The healing is coming. A very touching story.

Thank you, Janet Sever Hull for putting my heart back together again with your beautiful kindness through words.

Thank you to the author, Jody Fairman, for her kind words!  This is why I keep writing. 

Five years of Sharing “The Button Box”

One day recently, I realized it was the five-year anniversary of the publication of my book, “The Button Box.” During the past five years, I’ve had the privilege of sharing this wonderful story with so many people at schools, libraries, book signings, readings, and speaking engagements.

My little family story, that was so very personal to me, was a finalist in the 2016 national Best Book Awards competition, and is still going into homes five years later.  Every week, I ship book orders and pray that “The Button Box” will be a blessing to someone new.

While thinking about all that has happened since my story became a book, I came across a review written by my friend and retired librarian, Katherine Boyer, shortly after “The Button Box” was published. Here it is for you to read:

As I read Janet Sever Hull’s book, The Button Box, I went through many personal emotions, including, but not limited to, love, laughter, nostalgia and sadness. Yes, I had to wipe away tears to finish this amazing book as I thought of my own mother and grandmother saving buttons. 

My mother’s first button box was a famous antiseptic throat lozenge tin like ones that had also been used to house some of Queen Elizabeth II jewels while they were being reset and the Boy Scouts developed a survival kit that would fit in one.  There was a myriad of other little things in it that fascinated me, including her “lucky nickel” that I used one time to buy ice cream. I still have some of the buttons and have saved some of my own, but alas, the original button box has disappeared. 

            I had to tell about my “button box” story too, hopefully, convey how important something like a button box is in personal family history and the significance it held for the young girl in Janet’s charming story.  Janet Sever Hull has captured the love that goes with this all-important representation of family history. 

            As you read through the story of the mother and her daughter and then the grandmother and granddaughter pouring through the memories signified by the button box and the family treasures held in there, you will think back to your own family history.  Let the memories come and continue (or start) your own tradition with your button box.  Just be sure to read and share “The Button Box” by Janet Sever Hull.

            At the end of the book, the author gives us a short history of button boxes.  You will want to explore this history in more detail.  I did. The beautiful illustrations in the book done with, I am sure, love by Vicki Killion Guess can be considered representative of our own “button box” stories.  You will picture you and your daughter or granddaughter going through your own box.

With illustrator, Vicki Killion Guess the week “The Button Box” was published

You can find “The Button Box” in a library near you, a bookstore or gift shop near you, on Amazon, or for a signed copy, on my author website

For the love of stories

From the time I was a young girl, I have loved stories. I would sit propped up against the pillows on my mother’s bed, listening to her read a chapter each night before my bedtime. I remember the comfort of the warmth of her body and her soothing voice as I snuggled up next to her. Reading books was simply a part of our evening routine and we delighted together in the stories. 

Some that stand out in my memory are “Heidi”, “Little Women”, “Charlotte’s Web”, “The Secret Garden” and “Black Beauty.” I used to wonder if my mother read to me every book that she ever wanted to read but never did before she became a parent. 

Once I could read on my own, I devoured book after book from my school library and often read them to my younger brothers. I would check out a stack at a time…as many as the library would allow.  It didn’t matter what kind of books they were…biographies, mysteries, love stories, classics…I read them all.

Of course, when I became a mother, I read to my children every day.  It’s one of the best things I did as a parent.  It was a time I looked forward to as much as my children did.  Often at night when I would read to my daughter, I would find her two older brothers sitting and listening just outside her bedroom door. We never get too old to enjoy stories!

Stories are so important for our development.  They help us make sense out of life. They stretch our imaginations and teach us basic concepts as well as complex ones.

Stories teach us new words and introduce new ideas.  They show us how diverse this big world is and how vastly different people’s lives can be.  These things help us develop kindness and compassion for others. Stories foster a sense of security and confidence in us because they help us see where we fit in the world.

My two grandchildren both have birthdays this week.  They will be three and one.  My son and daughter-in-law have read to them since they were in the womb.  As an author, this makes me happy.  As a grandmother, it makes me ecstatic!  I hope they will always love stories and books just like their grandmother does.

If you’re wondering if I sent them books for their birthdays, I think you already know the answer to that!

Keep your face to the sunshine!

Not long ago, I stopped by our local Kroger store on my way home from work. I had gone in for one or two items, but as usual, had trouble getting past the floral section in the front of the store.  Flowers have always attracted my attention…the colors, the smells, the unique beauty of each stem. My husband knows that if I come up missing in the grocery store, it’s fairly certain that I can be found in the middle of the flowers. 

That day, I was pulled to the floral display by a rather large and stunning offering of sunflowers. It didn’t take long for one of the bouquets to make its way into my basket. After I had admired the sea of yellows and golds, I made my way to the next display to view the other flower varieties.

About that time, a little girl, maybe three or four years old, came into the store with her mother.  The mom was busy with her phone and grocery list and I watched the little girl make a beeline to the sunflowers. She stopped in front of them and oh so gently touched a small finger to one of the yellow petals.  Her face had an expression of pure delight.  I understood that expression completely.

Her busy mother came up behind her and said, “Yes, they are pretty” and pulled the small girl away toward the produce section.  Holding her mother’s hand, the disappointed girl looked back at the sunflowers until the two of them rounded the corner out of sight.

Oh, how I wished her mom had picked up a yellow bouquet for her. But then, I still remember the busy mom years when it felt like there were always more things to do than time to do them. I wondered if my own daughter had ever looked longingly at the flowers and I had pulled her away to get the shopping done.  Probably not, since my daughter loves flowers as much as I do. 

I was still enjoying the flowers when the mom and daughter reappeared.  This time, the daughter pulled her mother toward the sunflowers and stopped and looked up at her mom with a pleading smile. I held my breath and watched from my position between the bouquets of stargazer lilies and the alstroemeria. “Please buy her flowers,” I whispered to myself and to fate.

The mom hesitated, then told the little girl to pick out the ones she wanted.  The girl giggled and jumped up and down with joy.  She chose a bouquet of sunflowers and holding it with both small hands, walked happily toward the cash registers with her mom. 

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.” – Helen Keller