Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for August: (8/3) Dianne Freeman (8/10) Daryl Wood Gerber (8/17) E. B. Davis's Review of Granite Oath, James M. Jackson's new novel (8/24) Rose Kerr (8/31) V. M. Burns.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


You can do it, Tilly. You're not to old to learn to swim.
A few weeks ago fellow blogger, Kara Cerise, let me know I’d be blogging on the National Day of Encouragement. So I had to think about what to write. Everyone needs encouragement sometimes. That’s true. So where and when did I get it in my life? Going back to my childhood as the oldest of six siblings, I don’t remember being encouraged to do anything in particular. My parents were good parents, but they expected us to do our best and behave well. They didn’t feel the need to encourage us to act appropriately.  We were told to do our chores and not coaxed to do them. Not that we were perfect, by any means, but we were pretty good kids. Of course, there were those times when my brother told to help me with dishes ended up snapping me with a dish towel. Or the time when he locked the screen door and pretended to read stuff from my diary to the neighborhood boy I kind of liked. It was all made up stuff, and I was pounding on the door screaming for my mom to stop him while the boy was laughing hysterically.  

Mom, Dad, Jerry and Me
When I was six, I told my first grade teacher I wanted to be a teacher and a mother when I grew up, but once I started to read, I devoured every horse book in the library and my dream changed to having a horse ranch out west with two hundred horses and marry someone like Roy Rogers – the love of my life then - and have ten children. I seldom walked in those years. Instead I galloped everywhere on my imaginary horses hitting my thigh as I leaped over logs or sidewalks. My parents didn’t encourage me to follow that dream although for almost every Christmas and birthday, I did get a new horse book. By high school my goals were rather vague more along the lines of love and marriage. College wasn’t an option because as the oldest of five siblings – another brother was born after I married – my parents only managed to save enough to send one of us for their first year, and that was my brother, sixteen months younger. He’d worked summers on our grandfather’s farm and saved his money for college. My income from working part time in a clothing store - less than six dollars a week – went towards paying for the clothes I put in layaway. However, in high school I took typing and short hand to prepare for a job after school. In those long ago days, not many in our class went to college and fewer of them were girls. My best friend went but only lasted a month before getting homesick and quitting.
John at his senior prom after cancer surgery.

When I decided to start college as an older non-traditional student, my husband and parents were pleased and very supportive, but it was my choice and decision to go. I was the last of my six siblings to go to college.  During that first year, my first English professor encouraged me to submit an essay I’d written about my son’s death to Icon, Kent’s Trumbull Campus’s literary magazine. I did and when it was published, I continued submitting poetry for every issue after that. Several professors over the years encouraged me to get a masters (which I did) and a doctorate (which I saw no need for) so I could become a college professor or at least a high school English teacher, but I always knew where I’d fit the best and that was at the middle-grade level.  I had several professors encourage me to try to get research papers I’d written published, but I didn’t follow through on that, either, because it wasn’t my goal in life. However, all these words of encouragement and praise for my work did set me on the path to eventually becoming  a writer. If they thought what I wrote was good, maybe I could write, although it was many years before I started writing anything but poetry except for a short story in my freshman year that won an award.

Still all this didn’t seem to be enough for this important day I’d never heard of before. So last week while camping with two sisters, as we were sitting around the campfire, I asked for their input. Maybe I shouldn’t have, because calling to mind that Garrison Keillor character, (Evelyn Lundberg maybe?) who tells it like it is, or at least from her perspective, they shot out the same kind of advice especially geared for writers since all too often they’ve heard my complaints. One said, “If you’re suffering from writer’s block, just give it up because obviously you don’t have ideas so get another profession.”  The other sister said, “Quit complaining about not enough time. We’re tired of hearing it. If you want to write enough, you need to let everything else go.” Since writer’s block and too little time seems to be a common blog theme, I decided that might not be the right way to go, but their comments, along with others they threw out had me laughing so I was hoping no one would be offended by what they said in fun.

As for the encouragement I get now, it mostly comes from the writing communities I belong to like Sisters in Crime and the Guppy chapter including their subgroups, Press Quest and STORY SUCCESS, plus my fellow bloggers, and a few other places including my critique partners, my local writers group and the many online friends I’ve made from belonging to these writing groups.
No, this is not me. I was much older when I taught.
As a teacher and a parent, I’d like to think I’ve encouraged my students and my children, and I hope I still encourage others to obtain their dreams. And I have to admit, it was my parents love of learning and support that set the groundwork for a lifelong love of learning. Sometimes encouragement doesn’t just come from words but from examples set.

So who has encouraged you and in what way?  And how have you encouraged others?


E. B. Davis said...

Every time one of my stories is accepted by a publisher, I'm encouraged. A kind word in a critique of my work encourages me. In like kind, I try to emphasize good aspects of a writers work when critiquing. I hope that they are encouraged by my words. In my writing, I like to end with justice being served. That in and of itself encourages people in the face of all the bleakness in our world.

I had no idea there was such a thing as National Day of Encouragement--it's a good thing!

Gloria Alden said...

Like you, E.B., every time I've had a short story accepted, I was encouraged. The first one for FISH TALES was a validation that I was a mystery writer worth reading and each additional one adds to that feeling. My long time Guppy critique partners, Ann Godridge and Mary Wilhite have been my most encouraging as well as helpful readers I could want.

Jim Jackson said...

Who knew we needed a National Day of Encouragement? Since I don't recall Hallmark cards for that one, I figure it's the other reason that causes us to have such a day: Encouragement is something we should do all year round, but don't do enough or think enough about.

So as a nation, we now have a day to remember and then ignore the practice for the next 364.

Kind of reminds me of the minute a year we're to set aside for prayer together.

However, I have a feeling, Gloria, that giving encouragement was not a problem for you when you were a teacher. I've read about the things you did with your kids and I can easily imagine your kinds words of encouragement.

Some people are just built that way -- thank goodness.

Hope your day is filled with virtual and real pats on the back.

~ Jim

Paula Gail Benson said...

I think it's appropriate that a National Day of Encouragement follows our remembrance of 9/11. It's good to take time to acknowledge that support helps us all survive. Like you, Gloria, I appreciate the encouragement received from the Guppies and from the members of the blog. Congratulations to you and to all our partners on your and their accomplishments. May there be many more to come!

Kara Cerise said...

I hadn’t heard of this day until I flipped through the calendar, Gloria. It seems that teenagers thought up the idea because they believe lack of encouragement is one of the greatest problems facing young people today. Congress agreed and dedicated a day to remind people to encourage each other today and every day.

My mom, in her no-nonsense way, encouraged me. I remember her saying, “You should write. And get that thing taken off your leg.” That thing turned out to be precancerous melanoma. Smart mom!

Gloria Alden said...

I think it's a strange kind of day, too, Jim. I know once a year at 7:00 we're supposed to light a candle in a window for a child we've lost. I've never once remembered to do that. Like you we should do it every day and not just one day. That is if we think of it in our busy lives.

Gloria Alden said...

Nicely said, Paula. I also listened to some of the helpful and encouraging things others did for the survivors of 9/11 on NPR yesterday. All too often the news that is now 24/7 focuses on the bad things that happen. It's always nice to hear of the giving people that our country has more of than any other country according to the statistics.

Gloria Alden said...

Kara, I need a calendar like yours. I'm sure there are a lot of teens, maybe more than any other age, who need encouragement.

Thank goodness for your mom, Kara. I was talking to my cousin yesterday about my blog, and she agreed that our parents took good care of us, but they worry about our self-esteem and praise us for every little thing like many parents do today.

Patg said...

I've seen a calandar with almost every day of the year celebrating something. They are fun.
I wasn't the kind of kid who fit into much that prompted encouragement, so I don't remember much enthusiasm for what I wanted or did. Molds are popular for a reason. So when I left smallville behind and headed for the big city, I found a lot of like minded weirdos and learned to be happy.

Gloria Alden said...

Pat, I think it was the age. Most of the parents the age of mine had just come through a depression and WWII. For them we should be happy with what we had and not be yearning for anything more. Although, my father did go to college for one year during the depression because he had two unmarried brothers and their unmarried sister who believed he should go to college because he was highly intelligent and loved to read. They paid for that first year.

Barb Goffman said...

I've received a lot of encouragement from the mystery community for my writing and editing, but one person in particular deserves a nod: Karen Cantwell. It was Karen who encouraged me to open my own editing service in July while I was dealing with my grief from losing Scout. I can't say the idea hadn't crossed my mind before. And Karen certainly wasn't the first person to suggest this idea to me. But she said the right things at the right time, and for the first time, I really came to believe I could make it work. And now I have a new business with four likely clients who all contacted me in the first few days. So, Karen, if you're reading this, thanks!

Shari Randall said...

Thanks, Gloria, for this thoughtful piece. Like Paula, I love that it fell on the day after 9/11.
I've had many "encouragers" all my life, and some of them were the quiet type like your parents - they didn't need to tell me encouraging words, they were encouraging by their actions and belief in me.

Gloria Alden said...

Barb, how wonderful that you have a friend like Karen, and I'm glad you already have four likely clients. I know how hard it is to lose a beloved pet because it has happened to me. I didn't want to get another dog for a while, but my daughter didn't listen to me and so I found my beloved Maggie, still a collie like my Molly, but with a totally different personality and just as lovable. I hope your friend stops by to see what you had to say.

Gloria Alden said...

Shari, we're the lucky ones, aren't we. My heart aches for those youngsters who grow up with cold and/or abusive parents.

Today I was lucky enough to find someone who needed encouragement. Well, actually it was the wife of a writer, who has no writing friends and has been working on his book and rewriting it over and over. I was at Radio Shack and the conversation got around to my writing, and the manager told me about her husband. He writes Sci-fi, and I told her he needs to go online and find a writing community of sci-fi writers. I also said he needs to look up small publishers as well as checking them out at Editors and Predators. I said he should look for Sci-fi writers conferences, too. She was so appreciative of the advice I gave her. So I did my encouragement for today. :-)

Anonymous said...

Encouragement is important. And your story is both an inspiration and an encouragement to all of us.