Dana Mentink

Hello, from Northern, California! Dana Mentink, here. I write novels for Love Inspired Suspense and Harvest House. At the moment, my family is sheltering in place and I must say…things are strange, aren’t they? I have always said that the truth is far stranger than fiction. This pandemic business has proved my point for sure. I thought I’d take a break from my third grade remote teaching duties, and my current inspy suspense series, to bring you three observations about this wild and wacky time we are experiencing.

  1. The old ways are turning out to be pretty handy after all! Case in point…do you know what we did to help keep our third graders connected? We sent them postcards! Good old fashioned snail mail. You know what? They were THRILLED. A young teacher at our site wondered how the kids would stay in touch with each other. How about we try that old school technique known as…a phone call! Yep, the old dinosaur ways are still useful after all!
  2. Privacy is at a premium. Yep, we’ve got four people (two college kids and Papa Bear and I) living in a teeny tiny house along with a dog and a box turtle. There are online classes, work meetings, and personal calls going on all over the place. Having a private conversation is really a challenge. I have taken to sitting in my car in the garage to chat. Weird, huh? My mode of transportation has morphed into a private office! Stranger than fiction!
  3. And the final strangeness…in order to celebrate our fifth graders graduation from school, we were asked to video tape ourselves clapping. You haven’t experienced awkward until you are cheering and clapping by yourself in the back yard while your hubby records you. Odd! Even weirder, my older bear cub is graduating from junior college and they were afraid the caps wouldn’t arrive in time, so they sent them a Snap Chat filter to photoshop a cap on their heads.

In a million years, would you ever have expected the world to change so dramatically? Me neither. Stranger than fiction indeed!

What strikes you as strange these days?

Julie B. Cosgrove

Cats Are Wiser

When my husband was alive, we moved seven times in ten years to seven different cities in order to find a job in his career with a stable company. Third time was not the charm, neither was the fourth, fifth or sixth.

Each time we moved, we had a routine. When we heard the rumbling diesel engine of the moving van and the hiss of its brakes, we’d each grab a cat and lock them into the guest bathroom. We’d post a sign on the door— DO NOT ENTER – CATS INSIDE!

At first, we’d hear a questioning “Mew?” Then the scratching on the door. The meows would become a bit more emphatic and the scratching more fervent. A paw would appear under the threshold. Rattle, rattle.

But, as soon as they heard strange voices, the unfamiliar thud pattern of men’s feet, and the sound of shrink wrap winding around our furniture, they’d honker down. After the commotion died down and the movers left, I’d open the door. Inevitably I would find two pair of iridescent eyes amidst whiskers peering from behind the commode.

Did they dash out when they saw the door open wide, knowing freedom lay beyond it? I probably would have. I’d been so ready to get out of there I’d make a beeline for the door jamb and not think about it.

But no. Cats are wise. They’d take turns inching out from their hiding place. One would creep forward, then the other. Through some telepathic cat language, the two would decide who would be the brave one to sniff the air, twitch a tail, and then with the stealth of a trained soldier, step over the threshold to see if the coast was clear.

Little by little they’d emerge, surveying the lay of the land, bobbing craned heads, feeling the air with their whiskers. They’d sniff corners, walls, and the indentations in the carpet where their beloved couch or favorite chair once sat.

Then, we’d scoop them up, shove them into carriers and plop them on the back seat for the long ride to our new state, new town, and new abode. Once we were all at the new place, the scenario repeated. Back into a bathroom. Back to listening to those thudding feet, strange men’s voices, and chaos as they cowered in the tub or behind the toilet.

Then quietness would reign. Once more we’d open the door. Once more the two would inch their way out, sniffing the air and bobbing their bodies as they crouched low to the ground and surveyed their territory. Magically, their familiar furniture appeared half hidden amongst boxes. But the walls were different and what lay outside the window was unfamiliar. It was all old and yet so very new at the same time.

Soon, we’d all adjust to our new surroundings. Life once again found a sense of order. Cat bowls and box were located, and a favorite windowsill established. Within no time, the cats would curl up on our laps as we watched TV, or completely take over the couch.

So, what have I learned from observing this cat behavior?

  • First, I am not in control. Someone bigger and wiser than me is.
  • Second, I am being protected from the chaos outside that door. Whatever is being prepared on the other side, I don’t want to be underfoot while it is going on. It is better for me to stay put until the chaos dies down.
  • Third, I need to trust my Master has my best interests at heart. I am in this closed of place for a reason. He has not forgotten about me and has provided for my immediate needs.
  • Fourth, whatever lies beyond, I must trust that when the door opens, it’ll be different, but safe. I must take my time, move slowly, and wait for encouragement.
  • Fifth, I will adjust and my Master will guide me. Having Him near will make it all better in the meantime.
  • Sixth, it might just happen again. But that’s okay, too.

My mother had a plaque in her home which read, “Faith is not hope without proof but trust without reservations.” My felines are living proof of the truth of that statement. They have learned to trust me. The more I care for them, provide for them, and show them I love them, the deeper that trust grows.

Pets are wise. They adjust. They know being with their master is the most important thing. All else may not be permanent, but their master’s love is.

May I behave likewise.

Marji Laine

Author Interview with Marji Laine

Tell a little about yourself:

I’m sort of a graduated homeschooling mom of 17 years. My hubby of 33+ years and I live in a suburb of Dallas, Texas with my twin college daughters and our two rescue dogs. I spend my days helping other authors realize their publishing dreams, and in my spare time, you can find me writing my own books, working with my church’s women’s ministry, and hosting Zoom game nights for my family.

What are you most looking forward to doing once the Covid19 lockdown is released?

I’m looking forward to fellowshipping with my church family again. I’m looking forward to getting my hair cut. Oh, and going out in public without having to wear a mask. I’m tired of people not being able to see me smile at them as I pass them. And I can’t wait to give my mom a hug. She’s not quite understanding all of this, but her senior living center has been working hard to keep all of their residents safe.

But I haven’t really minded the lockdown so very much. My daughters are both doing their semesters from home – what an unexpected blessing. My hubby has been working from home. It’s been so nice to have him here, even though it meant he needed to move into my office. I’d be happy to never move back into my office if he could keep working from home.

What things in your life have changed over the course of the last month and a half?

My family and I are very close. Every weekend, we’ve had a remote Zoom meeting like a party room that opens for several hours each day. We get “together” and play some online games as we chat and laugh together. That’s been a delightful change. Another change has come from other Zoom meetings that I’ve been having with some of my writing buddies. With their help, I’ve been able to set aside time every day to write. What a joy! I’ve so missed being able to immerse myself in a story. I can’t wait to share this one!

In what ways do you think life going forward will change because of the lockdown?

I can only answer for myself on this. I don’t believe that I’ll be taking things for granted like I did before. I think I’ll treasure every hug that I can get. And I will not readily miss another church service, connect class, or choir rehearsal. Boy do I miss all of those!

What is the story on which you’re currently working?

It’s a contemporary romance based on a fairy tale. My poor heroine is an idea person, a Miss Fixit who isn’t used to being trapped in situations that she can’t correct. But I get her wrapped in a spider web that starts twisting around her from the first page. I’m loving both my heroine and my hero, and I can’t wait to find out how they get themselves out of their predicaments.

Here’s some short questions:

  • Mountains or beaches? Mountains – I don’t tan at all.
  • Cats or dogs? Dogs – my hubby jokes that my first house was actually a home for my dog.
  • Floral or food scents? Both – love bluebonnets and Bath & Body Works scent Pumpkin Pecan Waffles.
  • Sweet or savory? Sweet – especially chocolate.
  • Coffee or tea? Water, or a sugar free fruity, sparkling drink.
  • Favorite color? Emerald green, but I also like a deep blue
  • Favorite type of food? Tex-Mex. Let me clarify – GOOD Tex-Mex! LOL!
  • Favorite sport? I like football, baseball, and volleyball, too.
  • Favorite flowers? White roses and tiger lilies.
  • Favorite classic book? Pride and Prejudice, oh and most anything by Agatha Christie, Phyllis A. Whitney, or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • Favorite movie? I love pretty much all of the Marvel movies, and the mysteries on the Hallmark channel.
  • Favorite day of the week? I love Mondays. They stir up excitement for possibilities that the week might hold.

You can contact Marji Laine at her website: MarjiLaine.com and learn about all of her books on her Amazon author page. Check out the second book of her Grime Fighter series, GRIME WAVE, which is only 99¢ right now.