Author Lori Stanley Roeleveld

Lori Roeleveld publicity photoYou can take the boy out of Rhode Island, but you can’t take Rhode Island out of the boy. Even 42 years after leaving there, I keep up with news from the state (as best I can in fly-over country), with old friends, and occasionally make a new friend or contact. Lori Roeleveld is one of them. I “met” her, the self-proclaimed “disturber of hobbits,” if I recall correctly, from an on-line writers group at Yahoo. Seeing she was from my home state, I made contact with her. We’ve attended the same conference, but I don’t know if she was there the year I was. If she was, we didn’t meet in person. I asked Lori if I could interview her for a blog post. Here it is.

Oh, but first, here’s a link to Lori’s author’s page at Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Lori-Stanley-Roeleveld/e/B00KZP8T26

DAT: “Disturber of hobbits”? You’ll have to explain that one.

LSR: Why Disturber of Hobbits? I care about hobbits, ordinary people, common Jesus followers like me just trying to survive from the ground to glory. Hobbits are all of us who like to be comfy and cozy, eat our meals on time, and who resist unsettling adventures. The problem is that settling in interferes with traveling on the narrow road to the heart of Jesus Christ, our true home. I write posts about faith designed to disturb the hobbit in all of us and inspire us to forget second breakfast long enough to join the adventure. I write to incite the faltering believer to join the ancient adventure.

The adventure is upon us. We are those who refuse to skim across the surface of faith. I write for all of us who have been unsettled from comfortable places and moved to follow Jesus into the adventure of our times. We may be common souls from small places and simple lives, “But, we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Hebrews 10:39 ESV

DAT: When and why did you begin writing creatively?

LSR: I’ve always written, as long as I can remember. When I was in first grade, back in the sixties, I could read on an 11th grade level. I sped through my classroom work and my teacher would send me to the library to “read a book and write about it.” That went on through my elementary years until by high school, I was writing book reports about books that didn’t exist. My first published work were two poems in American Girl Magazine when I was fourteen.

DAT: Your first book, Running From a Crazy Man, was published in late 2014. Tell me something about it.

LSR: Running from a Crazy Man (and Other Adventures Traveling with Jesus) is a siren call to the modern believer that the God-adventure can happen even when, like King David, you’re running from a crazy man. Some Christians leave their relationship with God in a sealed box like a collectible that will be worth something “someday.” I write for believers who exercise their faith and break open the box, those who wholeheartedly answered the call to follow Jesus. But then, something happened and now they’re gasping beside the narrow road. They thought they were on the God adventure but suddenly it feels as if all they’re doing is running from a crazy man. Still, they seek the strength to continue the journey.

Crazy Man is a series of short, non-fiction chapters adapted from my most popular blog posts. It isn’t reading for the happily comfortable. These are words for the restless Jesus lover, the long-suffering disciple, the openhearted believer. Be forewarned. The challenges inside are designed to unsettle as well as to incite readers to relish the narrow road even when trouble is their travel companion.

DAT: What is the main takeaway you hope readers will have from RFCM?

LSR: I want readers to walk away convinced they can continue walking with Jesus even though they’ve encountered trouble, trial, or tribulation, and they can live the adventure they dreamed, even in the midst of trying circumstances.

DAT: How has the reception been for it?

LSR: Running from a Crazy Man has received all five and four star reviews on Amazon and I’ve heard from many readers who are in their second or third reading. Some use it as an unconventional devotional. Many are sharing it with their small groups or book clubs.

DAT: I see that your next book was Red Pen Redemption, which was published in late 2015. What’s that about?

LSR: Red Pen Redemption is a novella that takes place entirely one Christmas Eve, much like A Christmas Carol. What would you do if God took you up on a dare? Helen Bancroft’s led a good life and feels no need for her daughter’s Savior. When God accepts Helen’s dare to edit her autobiography and prove her righteousness, she’s in for a lesson in her own history. One woman’s journey from unbelief to acceptance turns into the Christmas Eve adventure of a lifetime beneath the red pen of Christ’s mercy and grace.

I wrote this story with love for all my friends who pray for unsaved parents and hold out the hope of Christ to them even into their eighties and nineties. God has surprises for us even when we think the adventure is close to an end. If you love history or could use a new perspective on your own history, you’ll love Red Pen Redemption!

DAT: Was it difficult to switch from writing non-fiction to writing “holiday” genre fiction?

LSR: Not at all. I like to choose the genre or literary vehicle that is best for each message or story I want to tell. Red Pen’s theme is most engaging through fiction.

DAT: You have a new book coming out in September. Tell me about that.

LSR: Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life) is my second non-fiction book. I started by asking the question, What if a fairy tale and ten Bible verses could free you to live an effective, fruitful life in Christ?

We live in a world populated with giants. Giant obstacles to sharing faith. Giant barriers to godly lives. Giant strongholds of sin. We come from a long line of giant-killers so, why aren’t we dodging more fallen giants? Jack and the Beanstalk could hold part of the key.

Jesus and the Beanstalk explores 2nd Peter 1:1-10 using fairy tale, humor, and modern culture to show today’s believers how to unleash that promise of an effective, fruitful life. Designed for both individuals, discipleship, small groups, or ministry retreats, readers will find this fresh take on spiritual growth engaging and motivating.

DAT: What do you see in the future for your writing? Since book 3 is in the publishing queue, I imagine you’re well along, or perhaps even finished, with book 4.

LSR: I have several fiction projects I’d like to write (or rewrite) and I’m developing a follow up non-fiction book in the vein of Jesus and the Beanstalk – right now titled, “Jesus through the Looking Glass.” And, of course, I keep on blogging. This summer, I’m taking a master class in screenwriting, so, who knows?

Restless

Today I feel restless. I felt that way a little bit yesterday. I’m not sure what to do about it. I feel like I have a lot of loose ends, and am barely closer to seeing them completed than I was three days ago.

Yet, this weekend I got a lot done. Friday evening I completed my stock trading accounting for the week. I also moved some dirt and rock from one of the two piles in the front yard. Saturday I started off by cooking pancakes, bacon, and eggs for breakfast for the ladies and myself. That completed, I went out into the heat to move rocks and dirt. I got the pile from the driveway fully moved, using only my spider and a wheelbarrow. The sun having moved to where the piles were, and the temp creeping up into the upper 80s, I went inside to rest a while. But, being restless, I went back out, this time to the back yard, and pulled weeds from the gravel yard. I did this for close to an hour.

At that point I went back to the front yard, and discovered that the sun had moved such that trees were providing shade to the remaining rock pile, the bigger of the two. I decided I could move some of that, reducing the size and making it possible to finish it in a few evenings this week. However, I kept at it, taking frequent, short rests. I kept saying, “Okay, one more load after this one.” Because my wheelbarrow tire is low on air, I didn’t load a lot of rocks/dirt in it. A few shovels full, perhaps a cubic foot of dirt and rocks, and I wheeled it over to the woods, where I’m stabilizing a path for easier walking.

That “one more load” mentality worked well, and before long (well, maybe 90 minutes later), the entire pile was moved. That has sat there since last September, as I made it when digging out a bush we didn’t want where it was, but since we didn’t know what we wanted to replace it, I left the pile there till we decided. I estimate that I moved somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds of rock and dirt. Now, if we can just decide on how to finish out the proposes flower bed, this project can be brought to completion, as much as it can until we plant flowers next Spring.

After a very light lunch, I went to the basement to finish a shelf installation project I came close to finishing last weekend. I saw that the way I was going to finish it was perhaps not best, and that I could do it a better way. I did that, and even installed a spare fluorescent light in the area, and am calling that project done. I even loaded a few things onto the new shelf.

Back upstairs, I rested a while, until Lynda reminded me that she fairly urgently needed a prescription at Wal-Mart. I had two ready, and my mother-in-law had some as well, so I quickly added a few things to the grocery list and headed out. Fortunately the store was no more crowded than usual, and I was back home after an hour and a half. Bought a pizza there for supper, and so finished my labors of the day with that. The rest of the evening was filled with trying to read the Leonardo da Vinci biography I’m working on, but not really having the mental capacity to do so.

Sunday was restful, with breakfast leftovers, church, fast food lunch, afternoon at the computer, evening church picnic, and again trying to read in the biography, but ending up watching a chick flick on Hallmark Channel. My afternoon work consisted in writing an e-mail to a high school friend I recently reconnected with, getting my household budget up to date, and my usual weekend stock market work. Quite late I packed breakfast and lunches for most of the week. By the end of the weekend, I felt that I had accomplished a great deal.

So why am I feeling so restless? Sunday I received a reply to a Facebook message I sent a month ago, to a pastor-author who has written in a similar area to me. I at first confused this man with another, an educator-author I intended to correspond with, but hadn’t yet. I discovered the confusion this morning as I about sent the wrong message to the wrong person. I wrote messages to both men, and posted them. Also this morning, I commented on the FB post by a second cousin I’ve never met (but know about), and reminded her of something. Also this morning I saw, on my desk at work, a list of my works-in-progress that lay abandoned, waiting on an opportune time for me to get back to them. It’s seven different books, and I’m not sure this is really all of them. This weekend I thought of a good new title to add to the cozy mystery series I’m planning. Also, I had been hoping to do an author interview on my next blog post, but that’s not ready, so I’m doing this instead. These loose ends make me restless.

I keep planning books, yet the time to write seems further away than ever. Sales are non-existent. I’ve decided to give a couple of books away, including one to a former pastor who was in town this weekend for our church festivities. I don’t know when he’s going back, but it would be nice to put it in his hand rather than mailing it. Oh, well, another loose end to live with, and a little more restlessness.

Book Review: 110 People Who Are Screwing Up America

I had heard about this book by Bernard Goldberg for a long time. I see Goldberg from time to time on Fox News Channel, always on the program The O’Reilly Factor, and believe him to be a thoughtful individual, who doesn’t form opinions in a knee-jerk manner based on an overall ideology, but rather thinks them through on a case-by-case basis and makes the conclusion he feels right. I like this kind of intellectual honesty.

Yet, I wasn’t about to spend money on this kind of book. Yet, when I saw one in a thrift store for 50  cents, I decided to make the investment and buy it. It’s sat on my storage table at work, in a box with twenty other books, for at least two years. Finally, looking for something to read that I could read in short spurts, ten minutes on the noon hour, five minutes on break, I chose this one.

The bottom line: I’m glad I read it, won’t ever read it again, won’t put it in my library, and will probably throw it in the trash rather than donate it back to the thrift store. It’s not a bad book, but it’s simply not worth keeping. Of the 110 people in the list I had heard of 54, I think, but knew specifics on only 2/3 of those. A lot of them I agree with; some I didn’t know enough to either agree or disagree, and Goldberg’s opinions stand without my approval or disapproval.

So what’s wrong with the book? It’s so outdated. Written around 2005, published in 2006, it misses ten years of our nation’s change. It might have been more useful immediately after being written, but now not so much. If Goldberg were to write that book now, I imagine at least 30 percent of his entries would be different.

candy-store-ebook-finalI was interested in this book because I also wrote about this topic in my book The Candy Store Generation: How the Baby Boomers Are Screwing-Up America. Of course, I focused on a whole generation rather than try to pick out a few individuals. Still, the similarity between my book and Goldberg’s helped to heighten my interest. I hope, however, that I did a better job with mine to have meaning for a greater span of years.

Sales Report for First Half of 2016

Hello to my loyal reader. Or, if there are more than one of you out there, readers. I don’t believe I made a sales report here at the end of the first quarter 2016. It’s now the end of the second quarter. Time to report sales. At my self-publishing diary thread at Absolute Write, I’ve been reporting sales in this format:

………1Q…..2Q…..3Q…..4Q
2011….2…….7……11…..15
2012…16…..73……45…..22
2013…14…..22……16…..13
2014…..7…..48……27……2
2015…11…..25……38……9
2016…. 9……6

As you can see, 2nd quarter 2016 was far from stellar. Of course, I added no new titles and did no promotion except an occasional post on Facebook, something I’m sure my friends are getting tired of seeing.

I’ll keep plugging along. In a week or two I’m make a post to tell of my current writing endeavors. For right now, the sales report will have to suffice.

Serenity vs. Tragedy

Once again, yesterday, I was struck at the difference between serenity and tragedy, and how the two coexist simultaneously, right next to each other.

I conducted a final inspection of a construction project yesterday. It was a big project, and we divided it into two mornings. Yesterday was the second. I met folks on the site at 9:00 a.m., though I was there early enough to drive the roads around the project and check them. The day before had been hot, and I was exhausted at the end. Yesterday was cooler, cloudy, with rain threatening. It did in fact sprinkle on us soon after we started. At one point it was more than sprinkling, and we ducked under a covered entrance. The coolness helped us; the rain hindered us. Less than two hours after starting, we had a short punch list of things to correct, and I headed back to the office.

It was pizza day at the office, a replacement for bar-b-que day since our lunch room is closed for renovation. While on site an e-mail had come through to my phone that said the pizza would be there around 11:30. I think it was just before 11 that I parked and walked to the building. Three guys from the office were standing at the door I use, so I said, “I bet you guys are here to intercept the pizza dude and get first dibs!” One man said no, they had come outside to give a certain woman in the office some space (I won’t identify her), that she had screamed loudly, having learned of some significant problem over the phone.

I walked inside. All was dead quiet. We have a relatively quiet workplace, but not like this. I wasn’t sure what was going on, and stayed in my office for a while, waiting till I heard something. I checked the woman’s Facebook feed, and found nothing. A half hour later I was still as much in the dark. Then, on the Facebook feed of the wife of a co-worker came a notice to pray for an unnamed close friend, who had lost a son in tragic circumstances. Could this have been the tragedy? I checked the pages of her adult children (to the extent they were public), and again found nothing.

The pizza was there, so I went to eat. Everyone was talking as you normally would at a lunch provided by the company. Or, perhaps slightly muted compared to normal. I couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary. The woman wasn’t around, but she often isn’t for these kinds of lunches.

The afternoon rolled on, business as usual for me, and for those I encountered. My work didn’t take me at all by this woman’s desk, and I didn’t know how to ask about what had happened. Finally, the workday over, I headed to my pick-up, and in the parking lot talked with one of our admin assistants who was also leaving. She said that our co-worker had indeed lost her son, unexpectedly in tragic circumstances.

I drove home, stopping for milk and ice cream. We heated leftovers for supper, then I picked blackberries around our circle, finding a new patch not very far from the house. It was my best day yet for picking. After that I went through the mail, did some trading accounting work in The Dungeon until my computer locked up. Then I went back upstairs and read till close to 11:00 p.m. A small but strong thunderstorm knocked out our internet and cable, so all was quiet within the house—serene.

All evening the contrast stayed with me, in a way I hadn’t felt for about three decades. All was serene with me and, in the office, with my co-workers. Except for this one woman, who started the day serenely but ended it having to bury her son. I thought how tomorrow (which is now today) would be the same way. This morning her Facebook page finally confirmed publicly what I’d been told privately.

For most of us the world goes on. Most of our times in America are serene, calm. Business sometimes brings stress, as does the myriad of simple chores required to live. But our worst problems are serenity compared to what she is facing.

Dear God, give her and her family strength through this tragedy. Bring them through the initial grieving to a place of peace, your peace. Help them to say goodbye to their loved one and to carry forward fond memories. Heal their scars from this, and bring them to a place of triumph. And may we, who live lives or relative serenity, be more observant of and helpful to those who don’t.

Very Busy

Sorry to be absent of late. I’ve been very busy with “domestic” items, including watching grandkids for 9 day, dealing with outdoor property stuff, and working on both outdoor and indoor projects. It’s my plan to get back to a more regular blogging schedule. It’s my plan. Will it become a reality? Stay tuned.

R.I.P. Arthur Miles Vick, Jr.

Norman and Arthur - cropped - about 1928

Arthur Vick (front) with his cousin Norman Todd, abt 1928

Yesterday one of my dad’s first cousins, Arthur Miles Vick, Jr., was laid to rest in the National Cemetery in Fayetteville, Arkansas. A Navy veteran from World War 2, he received military honors at his burial. Here’s a link to his obituary in the local newspaper.

Arthur was born August 5, 1922, in Providence Rhode Island, either in the Olneyville or Silver Lake district. His parents were Arthur Vick Sr. and Mabel Evers. He joined a sister eight years older, Madeline, and they completed the family. He was part of the larger Vick family of Rhode Island, which included the Todds, Willises, and Millers. The extended family scattered, as most do these days, to Michigan, New Jersey, Chicago, and eventually many other places.

When World War 2 came, Arthur was drafted into the Navy, and served on the USS Woonsocket in the Atlantic. After the war he returned to Rhode Island and married Agnes Boyd. They had three children: Alan in 1950, and twins Robyn and Gail in 1953. These would eventually add seven grandchildren to the family.

I knew Arthur. I won’t say fairly well, for often one generation doesn’t come to know the one next to them all that well. Arthur and my dad were first cousins. We living in part of Cranston close to Providence, and they living in part of Providence fairly close to Cranston, we got together with them more than any other of the Vick family. In winter we would go to their house and walk to the sledding area of Neutaconkanut Hill. In summers they sometimes rented a cottage for a week or two right next to my grandparents’ home on Point Judith Pond, and we would share times there.

We all attended church together at the Church of the Epiphany, Episcopal denomination, on Elmwood Avenue in Providence. The Norman Todd family sat on the first row, left side, and the Arthur Vick family sat on the second row right behind us. Discipline being the way it was, we didn’t “cut up” back and forth between rows. But we knew family was close.

Through all these encounters I knew Arthur and his wife Agnes, at least a little. I have memories of being at certain places with Arthur at certain times. Family gatherings in Providence, Cranston, and Warwick. And of course summers in Snug Harbor. I actually must confess I knew nothing of his profession until after his death, learning he owned a construction company. That makes sense, as his father owned a construction company, his grandfather worked as a plasterer, and many Vicks in prior generations in England worked in the building trades. Arthur continued in this tradition.

At some point they gave up their home on Harlam Ave. in Providence, and moved to a retirement place in Wakefield RI. Two decades later, Arthur now in his 90s and Agnes approaching that, they moved to the Northwest Arkansas areas to receive help from their two children who had relocated here. However, it wasn’t but a couple of weeks before Arthur left this world.

Yesterday, after a time of visiting, remembering Arthur privately and between relatives, an Anglican funeral mass was held in the funeral home in downtown Fayetteville. We left there in caravan, wrapped once around the Fayetteville square, and headed to the National Cemetery. A bright sun shone on us as we drove slowly, only to be obscured by clouds as we parked in the cemetery. The rain that was coming held off, however, until late afternoon. Under the roof of an outdoor chapel, a short service was held. A recording of Taps was played. Two Navy honor guards in dress blues folded the flag with extreme care and presented it to Agnes. The Anglican priest said a few more words, a very appropriate closing to a sad few hours.

Arthur will be missed, especially by Agnes, Alan, Robyn, and Gail. I pray for their comfort in this time. As I write this at work I have no photo of Arthur to upload, except the one at the top, cropped from a larger one. My dad is the boy in back, Arthur is the one in front. If I find another photo of good quality at home later, I’ll add it.

 

I’m Not There Yet—Writing, That Is

Every night when I go home from the office I have a to-do list that can’t possibly be accomplished that night. Last night, Thursday, was a good example. I’m writing this at the end of the work day on Friday, and I think I left the to-do list for yesterday at home. I remember it included a certain item of yard work, something I’m spending 60 to 90 minutes on every evening. It included adding entries to the checkbook, totaling it, and entering items in my budget sheet. It also included: measuring for shelves in the storeroom; stocks research; moving certain items to their proper storage location; and some leisure things such as reading a chapter in a book. Oh, yes, and fixing supper.

I arrived at the house and fixed supper for me and my mother-in-law (my wife being out of town, helping with grandchildren). Since we had a leftover main course it didn’t take long. Then I went out for the yard work. Back inside around 8:15 p.m., I discovered I had left my checkbook at the office. Obviously that significant part of my to-do list had to be postponed. So I tackled some of the other items on the list, with some success. I found five potential stock trades to make today (made one this morning, successfully). I put some things in their storage location. I read a chapter. I cleaned up some papers, putting them in the right recycling bin. When I headed to bed at 11:15 p.m., my breakfast and lunch prepared and packed, needing only to be taken out of the fridge in the morning, I felt good.

But, the one thing not on my to-do list was writing. And it’s not likely to be on it anytime soon. Too much to do in too many areas leave me no time for writing. Oh, I could squeeze out 15 minutes here, maybe even an hour or two on Sunday, and get something done, but it seems pointless. I have no sales of what I’ve already published, and no time to correct a few errors in two of them. And, no time to promote them. Why write more stuff if I can’t properly manage the things I have published now? So the only writing I’ve done in the last three or four months is a little bit of work on a possible family history book in my wife’s family. It was probably time wasted, and what I was able to accomplish has about convinced me that I will never be able to write the book I had in mind. Alas.

One day, I hope, I will be able to return to writing. Creative writing. Novels, non-fiction, Bible studies. One day, I hope, but not now. Not in the foreseeable future.

Caring

I need to give up caring. It only leads to pain.

Of course, without caring there is no trying.

Without trying there is no living.

Without living there is only dying.

A small part of me died yesterday and today. There’s not much left.

Research while Searching

I’m searching for a topic to write on right now. Well, I’m sort of searching. I have six or seven things I know I’m going to write. Hopefully, someday in the future (the nearer the better), I’ll be able to carve out meaningful time to write. At present I can only carve out a few quarter hours at a time. That’s not enough to make the effort worthwhile, so I don’t carve out that time and write.

So instead, what I’m doing is researching. That may sound strange, especially when I say that I let the time I spend researching drag out to hours at a time. How can I justify the time to research when I can’t justify the time to write? My only answer to that is: All time spent researching will eventually show up in writing, somehow, somewhere, sometime in the future.

In 2015 and a little in 2016, my research project has been Thomas Carlyle, leading to two different works of his. I’ve discussed that on this blog before. However, that is perhaps useless research, as I’m not certain I’ll ever actually get those two works written. Both of them are started, and both are well along. However, they will have limited appeal, and I don’t know that they will add to any scholarship on Carlyle. Anyhow, I’ve set that aside for now, all except for occasional reading in his letters (I did a little of that last night).

About two weeks ago I decided to get on with research on another project. My wife’s immigrant ancestor in her paternal line is John Cheney. He came to Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635, residing for a few months in Roxbury before removing to Newbury. A history of the Cheney family in the USA was written in 1897 by Charles Henry Pope. As is typical of genealogies written about that time, it focuses on the men, all those who carried the Cheney name forward. The daughters and granddaughters are given very short treatment.

My goal with this book is to document John Cheney’s life in a more expansive way than Pope could in 1897, given the limit of the resources available to him, and to list all (or as many as I can identify) of his descendants for three generations. Much has been learned over the years, especially in the Internet era. More is coming available every year as more and more documents are scanned and made available for viewing on the Internet, sometimes for a fee, but often for free. I won’t be able to identify all the descendants for those generations. John Cheney had 12 children, 10 who lived to adulthood, 9 of whom had offspring. They produced the third generations, and had a total of 65 children (at current count; trying to verify three more). Of those, it appears around 50 married. If they produced an average of 6.5 children, as their parents did, that would be 325 names in the fourth generation, the third generation of John Cheney’s descendants. That’s a lot of people, even in the Internet era.

So, I’m doing this research, trying to verify what Pope has in his book (which includes no sources for specific data), and trying to add information on the daughters and their offspring. I’m reasonably complete on John Cheney’s children, and can see an end coming for his grandchildren. I have only nine left with no information other than a name and who their parents are, plus the three that people. While I’ve been writing this blog post I’ve been going back to this research, and have found reliable publications that goes a long way to documenting the children of one of John Cheney’s daughters. I had their names from Pope’s book, but not a lot of data. I still don’t have as much documented data as I’d like, but with this new source I have a lot more. Yea!

I think I’ll end this. Time to button up this new find, write the name of the source, save the URL, and put this info in a place where I can find it later, on my Nook and on my computer at work. Progress as promised. I love research.

Author | Engineer