Wednesday, December 25, 2013

DECEMBER 26, 2013

Christmas has just past and now that I'm alone, I'm making some observations.

There are lots more Christmas movies and specials than when I was a child.  I don't know if that is necessarily a good thing. I've noticed that most of these movies are rather sappy love stories. The usually have some sugary sweet moral about how the message of Christmas is all about love, family, or giving.  Those are all good things, but Christmas is about a birthday.

Christmas music is played more these days.  There are some stations that start playing it on Nov. 1. I love Christmas music as much as the next person, but "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" isn't what I'd really call music. In fact, many of the songs makes me want to grit my teeth. I miss the old carols that had depth and meaning.

When Christ is left out of Christmas a void remains. People try to fill is with sappy stories and cutesy songs. Children are taught traditions that have no connection to history.  Depth and feeling come from the celebration of the birth of the Savior.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


In America we like to believe that Karma (sort of) view that we get what we deserve. We have been taught to believe that if we do good, good will come to us. Life doesn't work that way. Bad things happen to good people.  Life just isn't fair.

Like a couple of weeks ago...

While I was doing something nice for someone else, something bad happened to me. If I had been at home I could have prevented the bad thing from happening.  I was upset for awhile, but that's the way life is.

As it turned out, I needed help from someone else to fix my problem. Maybe that's the way it works--we need each other.

I saw something interesting last night. I'm a part of  a group that put together a Christmas party for kids who really need a boost. We see them on a regular basis and really wanted to do something special over the holiday. The problem was, we didn't have the resources to do what we wanted, what the kids surely deserved.

Then God brought someone to one of the planners.  She told this mystery Santa about the kids and the Christmas party. This mystery person said that Jesus had blessed him and because of that, he wanted the children to be blessed, too.

When those 10 teens opened their stockings, they got the shock of their lives and I got to witness their surprised faces and share their hugs!  As I think about it, if we had pulled our resources and come up with the money, it would have been one thing. The Secret Santa made the night all the more special.

In life we don't always get what we deserve. Doing good things to get good things in return doesn't work--at least it doesn't for me. Doing good things because it is the right thing to do, doing good things out of love, that's another story.

Friday, November 1, 2013


I usually spent Halloween night with a bowl of popcorn in one hand and a bowl of candy for Trick-or-Treaters in the other.  I watch Halloween movies and hand out goodies.

This morning I was thinking about some of my favorite Halloween movies and scenes that stuck in my mind; 1)  Charlie Brown's, "I got a rock," 2) the scene in Ed Wood where he sits in a diner and converses with the great Orson Wells, 3) the "Keep your eyes on the heaven," speech from numerous cold war alien movies.

Then I remembered Fright Night.

Okay, Fright Night wasn't a classic.  It was one of those teen, the adults don't understand us kind of movie.  The teens figure out that a neighbor is a vampire and enlist the help of the local TV horror movie host, a vampire slayer, played by Roddy McDowell.

When McDowell is convinced that they are up against a real vampire he relies on what he has learned hosting movies.  Armed with vampire fighting equipment, they face the neighbor.  When the vampire attacks, McDowell hold up a wooden cross.  The vampire responds, "That only works for those who believe."  McDowell's fate is sealed.

 For a cheesy movie, I thought the comment was profound.

Lately, I've noticed a lot of unbelievers quoting scriptures on-line.  Usually it is a meme with a single verse or picture from a Bible story, completely out of context from surrounding literature. It is much the way a political candidate might take a one-line from an opponent's speech and make it a sound bite.  The verse doesn't take into account history or culture.

The person who does this usually appears very self-righteous about quoting from a book he doesn't even consider sacred, much like McDowell holding up the cross in front of the vampire.

The words don't work for those who don't believe.  As in Fright Night, the outcome can be tragic.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I had a tree break apart a few days ago.  I didn't have the money to have it removed.  Since the economy crashed and people, especially people my age, have been forced to take jobs that don't fit their skill or their former pay scale, I have lived paycheck to paycheck. I no longer have a nest egg for a rainy day. 

I looked at that tree and my first thought was, "Well God, how are you going to take care of this one?"  I knew the tree was no surprise to God. I knew I didn't know how to take care of it.

I found an old friend who takes down trees and a deal was made.  When the tree men arrive, I put my two dogs in the house. One dog, Taz, is a nervous girl. She was abused as a pup. When we adopted her, she was about to be put down because she was so filled with fear and anxiety that no one wanted her.

The second dog, Dixie Belle, is a very calm old girl.  She was also neglected and eventually abandoned. I was always there to climb a fence and feed or water her. She ended up on my porch when she was left behind.

Taz knew the instant the strangers trespassed in her back yard. She barked, nonstop, as they felled two trees. She barked as the trees were removed.

Dixie Bell was laid back. She watched what was happening, looked at me, then went to the carpet to rest. She had every bit of confidence I had it all under control. 

As life goes on, I hope God will see me acting more like Dixie Belle and less like Taz. I may not know how things will end, but know to trust the One who has control.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


One of my summer pleasures is sitting on the deck in the morning with a cup of coffee in one hand and a devotional book from a friend, in the other. I made a space on that deck that pleased me, herbs for nice smells and big leafy plants all around me. The plants are producing veggies and when I water the pots I'm surrounded with earthy smells. The sunlight traveled through the leaves of the plants and trees in lovely green hues.

A few feet away, I have a hummingbird feeder and learned quickly that they are very territorial creatures. Even though there are four spots on the feeder, those hummingbirds won't share. I am often entertained by watching the birds fight over the feeder when it would have been simpler to just enjoy the food.

There are prolong times when I won't see the hummingbirds at all, but as I've learned about their habits, I sense their presence. I hear a buzz near my ear and though I see nothing, I know a bird had flown overhead. I hear chirping noises and realize the birds are hiding in the trees. Upstairs I can see them hopping from branch to branch.
I only observed glimpses of the lives of those little birds, tiny angels or sprites flying about. I mostly hear or sense their presence. 

There is so much of our world that we don't see. We can only sense it, only glimpse what's going on, when we realize we don't ever know what's going on.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


School seems to start earlier and earlier each year. Back when I was young, the summer break was started at Memorial Day and ended right after Labor Day. Back in those days schools weren't air conditioned, so right around the middle of April the teachers dusted off the old box fans and taught over the sound of those wind machines. The teachers used them the first couple of weeks after school started in September, too.

Oh yeah, I'm that ancient.

In Tennessee, school has to last 180 days. There's a Fall Break, a Christmas Break, and a Spring Break. A few other holidays are scheduled throughout the year. Those weren't available when I was a child.  We got 2 days off for Thanksgiving, 2 weeks for Christmas, and Good Friday off.  I always thought that children should get the whole day off for Halloween.  So did the teachers.  My mother always disagreed.

Right now I am working as a substitute teacher.  There are a lot of teacher cutbacks in my community.  Still, like being a substitute teacher.  It gives me time to work on my writing.  It keeps my mind actively engaged in my community and that will give me more creative ideas.

Those kids can really make me laugh sometimes, too.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


When I was in college, one of my favorite TV shows was the daytime soap, Another World. I wanted to be a writer so the fictional story surrounding Cory Publishing Company was always appealing. Felicia was the romance writer whose "real-life" adventures rivaled those in her novels.

People do occasionally ask me if my stories are based on real experiences. My answer is "yes" and "no." Most of my magazine articles have been biographical, usually based on travels or my experiences as a teacher. My books are part escapism, part therapy.

Take the trilogy I am working on now.  Wendy in A New Season is a school teacher. She does have a son and does rescue an abandoned dog.  All that is real. Even the experience where Wendy is pulled over by a traffic cop is based on reality. The rest is mostly fabrication, an interesting story.

You see that mixture with most authors. Louisa May Alcott's, Little Women, was fiction based on her own experiences growing up with her sisters. Even the father that left his family to fight in the war was much like the father who frequently abandoned his family to take care of other matters. The women, at a young age, learned to fend for themselves.

Why do authors mix fiction with their own experiences? We are taught to write about things we know. It gives the story a sense of authenticity. In some sense, writer let others know a little about themselves that they might not otherwise share. The writer becomes vulnerable. In that respect, writing can be a frightening thing.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


For the past couple of years I've been experimenting with gardening. Nothing big, just a few large pot for some starter plants.  The patio tomatoes have been successful. The banana peppers, not so much.

I am doing better in my backyard experiment than last year and as I enjoy a sandwich, made with a tomato I grew, I meditate on how gardening is a lot like writing.

1. You start out with a seed of an idea. It may come from a dream, a "what if" idea, or an inner person that wants to be known by the outside world. Most people get these seeds.  They dismiss them and the seed is seldom planted.

2. Writers commit to the seed. They put words to paper--or electronic device. They are like the gardeners  as they outline and create a story.

3. The outline is finished. Now the writer, like the gardener, tills the soil and nurtures the seedling. The writer completes a book.

4. The gardener watches the plant grow and becomes impatient as time passes.  He has done all he can do. He feeds the plant and cares for it, but will he ever see any fruit? Boy, a writer knows about waiting.

5. Then, if he is diligent, there is finally a pay-off; fruit, the herb, the mature vegetable, or a flower blooms.  For the writer it is winning a contest, being published, having someone say your story touched them, or maybe even a contract.

That's good stuff.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


I spent an amazing day with my singles class at a Boys Ranch. The boys, ages 10 to 18, live about 6 to a cabin, along with a married couple and their children. It is like a large family unit.

We committed to monthly birthday parties for the boys and today's unusually mild weather made the cookout most successful.  As the food grilled the boys were eager to talk to the adults. They shared their summer schedule, up by 7:00 and off to work on the farm by 8:00. Then a 2 hour lunch break, then back to work by 4:00 or 5:00.  They didn't seem to mind.  Hard work was rewarded.

Just before we ate, one of the cabin parents shared that the cow had just given birth to a calf. A few of the boys were called to help and the rest of us could see the calf after the meal.

After everyone was full of burgers, hot dogs, and chips, there was birthday cake and ice cream. When we sang to the two teens who had July birthdays, both looked emotional.  This meant something to them.

Then we saw the cow and calf.  Both looked beat, but soon the calf was stretching his legs and learning to walk. What a perfect place to teach a boy to grow into a man.

At the end of the day one of the boy was helping me carry my lawn chairs to the car. As he chattered about the ranch, I asked, "How long have you lived here?"

"A year and a half," he replied.

"You really like it here, don't you," I continued.

With a big smile he said, "Yes. It's home."

I guess that's what we all want, home.

Monday, July 1, 2013


So here it is.  The book is finally available for downloading.  What is that like?

Relief is the first thing I feel.  This has been a long, long road.  My first draft was written in 2006. I received a multitude of rejection letters, trying to find the right publisher.  With each rejection came a new rewrite.  The story grew more and more interesting.    I can't recall how many times I wanted to give up, yet here I am.

Next there is a sense of satisfaction. People will meet my characters and live their lives for awhile. For a writer, it doesn't get better than that.

I must admit that there was a sense of pride.  I pull up my name on Amazon and there I am. Then there will be interviews, meet & greets, and public speaking engagements.  This book is my baby and I am a proud momma.


Right about the time I get to feeling really good about myself, I call a family member.

"Hey, guess what," I say. "The local news paper is running a story about me and the book release."

"Really," the person says. "I guess you're lucky that it's a slow news week."

And that, my friends, sums it all up.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Here is a link to the promotional video for A New Season.  Please enjoy.
My Desert Breeze author's page for  A New Season is: 

Friday, June 21, 2013


Toni Lamparter Mabry
Notation: Book Event


Shelby Co., TN –  Desert Breeze Publishers is proud to offer the first book in the Friends of Scrapbook, Etc., series from Toni Lamparter Mabry. A New Season, will be available for download at

A New Season is an inspirational romance, focusing on the theme of second chances.

A series of reoccurring dreams, a mysterious motorcycle cop, and a child who insists that he has seen a U.F.O.; how would these help Wendy find her missing son?

Toni Lamparter Mabry is available for interviews, book talks, meet and greets.


Saturday, June 8, 2013


I finished my final read and will be sending my manuscript off by the end of the weekend.  It is a little like watching my baby go off to summer camp.  I knew it is a good thing to send him away, I was just a little frightened to see him go.  Still it is an exciting time.

This has been a humbling experience.  I thought I knew a lot about writing.  I do know a lot about creating a story, it is putting it in the right form that I had to learn, and I have.  I have learned about head hopping.  I don't do that anymore.  I learned about editing programs and learned--the hard way--to ALWAYS keep a back up.  Editors don't like exclamation marks, so much.  You think I would have learned that from the Seinfeld episode on that very topic.

Ah, it has been an adventure.  It will continue to be an adventure. Now, for the promotion end--and editing book #2.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Several months have passed since my last post.  I have spent every spare moment working on the edits for A New Season . It is a difficult thing to have your work gone over, line by line, and have someone question what you have written, how you have written it, and even question your use of punctuation marks. You suck it up because that is what the craft is all about. You know that you and the editor are working for the same purpose, creating the best manuscript possible.

This was a grueling activity. I worked during the day, came home to schedule a new job for the next day, and then worked on my edits. Not much time for a social life.

I learned a lot and my editor was patient with me. What I have learned will help me as I work on my second novel for the Friends of Scrapbook Etc. series.

I might take a weekend to just relax first.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I know it has been a long time since I have posted here.  Sorry, again.  I am listed to work at 13 different school and the holidays kept me busy, but that is not what kept me from posting here.  It was all about the edits for A New Season.  Desert Breeze assigned me a very careful editor. 

The process of editing is painful.  It shakes the writer to the core.  The writer has created a world and the editor says, "Here is how we can make it more real."

Honestly, I didn't want to change a thing.  It was my baby.  Honestly, the process of editing the book makes it much better.

A New Season should be available in February.  I will give you more details very soon.