I planned to finish this blog series a week ago. But real life got in the way. I arrived home Sunday night of inauguration weekend. After catching up with Brian, tossing the ball with Reggie, skimming the mail, and grabbing a hot bath, it was bedtime.
Monday and Tuesday meant a return to work at the newspaper and buttoning up coverage along with normal work duties.
Wednesday would be my catch-up day and it was full to the brim, starting with a hair appointment, then an overdue trip to the grocery store. (Brian still won’t solo). Halfway through shopping, I realized I was not feeling well. By the time I got home, it was clear: I was sick.
Thursday I went to the office to spend a necessary couple hours finishing the weekend Neighbors section. The symptoms by then were familiar: cough, chills, aching body, full throat, fuzzy brain and no appetite. I got home by noon and crashed.
And so it went the next three days. I had to cancel several different plans ranging from Friday Weight Watchers, a Saturday memorial service, lunch with a friend, and helping out at church Sunday. That's not to mention some library returns, a return to the mail stack, unpacking.
But you know how those things go. You feel so bad that it’s just how it is. As Sunday pressed on, my ability to remain upright improved and Brian's lessened. Yep, he's got it.
So that’s a long way of saying I'm here to finally wrap up the trip. I thank so many of you who have traveled this distance with me on Home Row and through the separate news stories printed in The Courier-Times and its sister papers.
I thought I’d post a few random photos. It seems when you visit DC, there is a photo op and story everywhere you look.
My sincere appreciation to my employer, Paxton Media Group, to everyone at my home paper, The Courier-Tmes, to Tom and Sue Saunders who did an outstanding job organizing and implementing the trip, to everyone who traveled with the group, and to the good Lord who helped me meet deadlines and keep my health during a week I’ll never forget.
While touring the fabulous Woodrow Wilson House, the tour guide said this hallway mirror was once in the White House. She explained that at one time, the White House would occasionally purge belongings and put them up for sale. That's where this mirror came from. I wonder what other images it captured throughout history. Wilson died, by the way, in this home in 1924. His wife, Edith, lived there until 1961 until her own passing. She donated most all possessions in the handsome abode to sustain his legacy.
Trump International Hotel, the former Post Office in DC. The 5-star hotel offers luxury rooms in this historic 1899 building, recently remodeled by Trump. The photo was taken just after dark Saturday, the day after the inauguration and day of the Women's March. Protesters from the march gather in front of the hotel.
By Donna Cronk
It's hard to believe that it was merely one week ago that I picked up a sparkly jacket from Classic Collections consignment shop to complete my $43 Indiana Society Ball ensemble.
With everything else going on the past week, I left you all hanging on the topic.
Let's catch up.
Going into the trip, there were two things that concerned me most about getting my job done. In fact, I asked close friends to pray specifically for my technology!
I had no doubt about finding content. But I worried that my elderly laptop and reliance on hotel wifi would get the connections I needed to transmit stories. I was hugely (or shall I say bigly?) relieved that those were fine.
My second concern had to do with schedule logistics. On Thursday, we were booked for a full day of sightseeing, and the experiences would provide one of the stories that Indiana editors wanted for weekend papers.
That was fine but I had to miss a portion of the day because I had to return to our Bethesda hotel, change into my dressy-ish outfit, and reach the Washington Hyatt by 4 to pick up my press credential for the Indiana Society Ball.
I wondered how to accomplish this, but it too, worked out. I think my apprehension comes from Indiana not having a Metro system that whisks masses of people underground to their destinations. In DC, this is how large numbers of people live their lives and it seems to work very well.
I opted out of the National Cathedral tour and got back to the hotel, then left again via the Metro to the stop I needed for the ball. Once I got there by 4, that's where I'd remain until the bus driver picked up ball-goers at 10. At least I didn't have to navigate the Metro by myself at night even though I'm told it's perfectly safe.
I got to the Hyatt with ease, greeted by this welcome sight at the Hyatt entrance.
Yes, a row of police motorcycles spelling out a greeting.
Inside, I was directed to the press-registration where the public relations team greeted and credentialed media coming through to cover the evening. I felt a wave of excitement when I saw the check-in sign because I realized I had cleared the second worry about this assignment.
I was there! I was all set to cover the ball! The occasion required a photo in my second-hand attire.
Easy now, I'm a writer, not a fashionista.
Early party-goers came through in gorgeous outfits, dressed to the nines, the men in crisp, black tuxes. We weren't allowed to take photos in the lobby so I'm not able to show you how stunning they looked but think about the popular, beautiful people at your senior prom and picture them 20 or 40 years later. That is, picture the most flattering versions of what you imagine they would look like. You've got it.
I talked with one of the event's organizers as we stood in line to pick up credentials. She was nice, originally from Indiana, but spent her career as a textile curator at The Smithsonian. Guess what she misses about her home state? The Indiana State Fair.
She explained that The Indiana Society is a social group of folks who are former Hoosier residents, and forevermore Hoosiers, period, only living and working in DC. The ball got started in 1953 when after a long run of Dems in the White House, Republican Eisenhower became president. The Republicans were out of luck getting ball tickets. So they created their own gala and it's gone on every election since.
Money raised goes to charity and one of the ball-goers in our tour group told me that tickets were $360 a pop. About 1,000 attended the ball. Funds that night went to Riley Hospital's Art Therapy and to benefit veterans.
After our spontaneous chat, it was time to go through a Secret Service check point, wanded and all, front and back, belongings gone through, and once clear, I was directed to the actual ballroom downstairs. I realized that's where I'd be for the night. I had left my coat upstairs. So back up I went, grabbed my coat and yes, I had to once again go through Secret Service checks.
One of the public relations women told me that the Indiana press was well-represented at the ball and that the Washington Post would be mad at her because we got so many passes. I think she was joking because the seating didn't seem so incredibly tight to me. My seat was, as seems appropriate in keeping with the name of my blog, the last seat in the press pool as I was put at the far end in the back row.
Some of the press seats remained open. The TV reporters were posted on an elevated platform. As the sound checks continued, the tables were layered with beautiful dishes, silverware, centerpieces, candles, favors and programs,
I anxiously awaited further instructions ... Would we get press kits about the evening? Would we get tables of our own? Would we get at least a bottle of water? No on a table, eventually on the water.
I was a bit .of a pest with questions. First about the programs. No programs or press kits. Then about water. Oh sure, they would bring water.
We clearly were not in Indiana anymore. We remained in our roped-off area and were expected to stay there unless we had public relations staff escorts to go see someone in the room. A reporter from Bloomberg thought the set up was pretty standard.
This is a whole different world than what I'm used to where pretty much anyone in a community is accessible, But on the other hand, this was a social event, and it only makes sense that organizers wanted to make sure guests weren't swarmed by press during their fun evening out.
I took a few photos, like this one of a beautifully appointed table.
And, I took the occasional photo of Hoosiers in our group who I recognized in their lovely evening attire, for printing in the newspapers.
Following dinner and before the dancing, dignitaries were announced, including Gov. Eric Holcomb, former Vice President Dan Quayle, incoming Second Lady Karen Pence and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence. Karen and Mike gave speeches.
And then, I waited, and felt sleepy, and longed for the clock to strike 10 so I could catch the first pumpkin back to the hotel.
I had been up since 4:15 when we made our way to the National Mall for an interview with Fox 59. So I downed a couple of granola bars back in my room for a (very) late dinner, and went to bed.
The next morning, up at 5:15 because it was inauguration day, and we had a new day's agenda. I learned that the ball-goers had a wonderful time, including some speaking with the vice president-elect and one, Ritha King, even had Pence initiate a selfie of himself with her and with his wife, Karen. Ritha is elated! You can see the photo she sent on The Courier-Times Facebook page with her comments.
I was glad for their good time, and for myself, delighted to have the event under my belt and a story in my notebook, just waiting to be written when I got the chance.
OK, I promised to get back with you today with another post. But again, where to start? I decided to explain what it's like to experience the actual inauguration day,
Our trip organizer, Tom Saunders, did his homework and was able to secure inauguration ceremony and parade tickets from elected officials. Yes, you do need both to get on the grounds of the first, and on the bleachers of the second.
For the ceremony, the ticketing process is much like attending a stadium sporting event. Our group members received tickets that took us in a variety of standing areas, designated by color. While you don't receive a specific seat, you receive a color- coded area in which to stand. Only a couple of us had navy-blue tickets so we teamed up to go together. My buddy was Kathleen Yager of Rushville. We took the Metro to Judicial Square where we saw this fella when we emerged from underground.
After taking his photo, we spotted posters pointing attendees in the right direction, according to color. Off we went several blocks. The nearer we got to the Capitol, the more the protesters increased. Interestingly, the loudest demonstrator was a Christian street preacher.
Then came this dramatic scene, protesting the Gitmo prison.
Next up, this one.
We turned at that corner and proceeded another block or so until we spotted a security check for those carrying navy entry passes. That was us. I would have liked to have taken photos of the Secret Service checking folks, but I was told the night before at the Indiana Society Ball not to photograph them so I didn't try..
We had been told to take very little with us, including making sure if there was a purse, it was very small. If you know me, you know taking a small purse to anything is a feat in itself. But I did load only essentials into a smallish one that I could crisscross and wear against me.
Reports on TV went back and forth as to if we could take umbrellas. I didn't even try since I had a hooded rain poncho, which I carried and quickly put on when it started sprinkling. The skies looked as though they would open up at any time but never got beyond a sprinkle. Whew!
It was much like airport security in that our bags and clothing were checked, we walked through scanners and were wanded.
We walked to as close as we could and still remain in our section. We were near a fence that separated us from a path where a lot of good looking and well-heeled folks passed by en route to the next level of seating, hundreds of seats. I have a real feeling that had we known who these people were, we would have been impressed. Maybe governors and other pols. Or lawyers of the big wigs. Who knows, but they were of a higher order than those of us standing.
We did see a few celebs. There were Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway, country singer Trace Adkins, a famous wrestler people knew, a Fox News broadcaster and a few others who are young and famous (or semi-so) and while crowd members waved and sought their attention, I didn't know them.
The thing about standing is that once you get your spot, the crowd starts filling in behind you and edging into your space. One man asked if he could just go ahead of us to get a photo. Before we knew it, he was a permanent resident of a coveted spot leaning on the fence. I was asked if I would give a dad and his kids my spot. Um, sorry but no. As the crowd presses in, you quickly realize that you must firmly stay put or you would be nudged out of the area where you started. I spent five hours in the same spot, packed like sardines.
You look for whatever it takes to pass the time. I was fortunate to land next to a retired fighter pilot / commercial airline pilot and his wife from Las Vegas. After five hours of being up close and personal, by the time it's over, you feel as you should invite them to Easter dinner or something.
The patriotic live music helped a great deal in redirecting my focus away from my aching legs.
We couldn't see the actual ceremony, but we saw the snipers posted atop the capitol building. Security aircraft flew overhead. A pair of large-screens on both sides of the capitol allowed us to watch the goings-on as dignitaries were introduced and seated, there were prayers and short speeches, and then there was this miracle of miracles that is rare in the world at large. It was the peaceful transfer of power from one president and administration to the next.
Sworn in was Hoosier Mike Pence as Vice President and Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the U.S.
We made our way out of the area and headed back the way we came. It wasn't long at all before we heard the former Marine 1 helicopter fly overhead carrying former President and Mrs. Obama.
We kept moving and soon we saw this.
We saw no violence and no rioting but these police were ready if it happened. And it did, with more than 200 arrested.
We weren't sure how to get to the parade. Kathleen was bent on seeing the parade. I had already decided that as soon as I delivered her to the viewing stands (which also require Secret Service checks) I would head back to the hotel via the Metro to write stories and upload photos. One of the papers I was writing for needed my work by 9 that night.
Let's just say we took the scenic route to get there. Two more hours of walking and hopping on and off the Metro. At one point, the Metro personnel told us we might not be able to get off where we needed because the city is rioting. Kathleen was unfazed! I think she she would have walked through a riot itself to get to that parade. She was steady and fearless! I still can't believe that we arrived exactly at 3, when the parade was to start. I had hoped to then stick around long enough to see our new elected officials but there seemed to be a delay. So I left early but Sue Saunders caught this image.
I walked a couple of blocks to a Metro station and after a change at another station and a scramble to find my line, as well as a great chat with a young professional from Maryland, and who happens to love downtown Indy, calling it, MUCH to my surprise, a "mini Paris," I was on my way, then suddenly lost in the crowd, then an arrival at my stop, Bethesda!
I wanted to rest and relax, to eat and have a soft drink! I had not had a single drop of water or food since 7 a.m. and here it was 5 p.m. I prayed for a burst of energy and to not freak out as I had three stories to write and about a dozen photos to upload for my employer. The stories and photos would go to a variety of newspapers around Indiana.
So I ordered room service, put on my pajamas and got to work. I tried to accomplish it all in a methodical way. First the inauguration story. Next the ball story and finally the sightseeing one. The good news was that my old computer with its new power cord and my cellphone were holding steady.
I worked feverishly, taking time to eat when it arrived and for little else. My deadline was 9 and I was maybe three or four minutes late.
And then, I dropped.
What a whrilwind this has all been. But I am blessed as a reporter to be here, to experience and write about it all, be it right now, on Facebook posts or in print or on websites of newspapers throughout the state, including my home base, the New Castle Courier-Times.
And now. It is approaching 10 p.m. We roll out of here at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, headed for home.
I have more I want to say about this trip. To be continued.
by Donna Cronk
Things sure happen fast around here. Some of you have been waiting on my blog updates. I am so sorry it has taken me a while to get back to all of you. You don't know how much I want to tell you about this week! I've been on the run.
I will have to unpack one subject at a time. The last two days I was up at 4:15 and 5:15 respectively, on the go every moment the rest of both days, and to bed close to midnight both nights. And in between, it's been nonstop. My first priority has necessarily been writing stories for Paxton Media Group's news products. By the time everything has been reported, photographed, uploaded and downloaded, my brain was mush and I didn't want to fill you in with a mushy brain.
So. Before we head off to "the hill" for a Congressional luncheon in a bit, I wanted to catch you up with today's breaking news, the Women's March. I had hoped to see some of the women once we got to DC this morning, but I did not have to wait!
I went down to the lobby to get coffee and there they were, the women above. I did an interview on the spot, and then when I went for coffee at the nearby Bethesda Metro station, the place was loaded with women waiting to board the Metro. So I did a little more picture taking.
I'm excited that the story will break in New Castle and at other Paxton Media products today! Here's the scoop for all of you, as well as more photos at the end. Read on:
Women's March is today
by Donna Cronk
BETHESDA, Maryland - Women and men from across the country are filing into Washington, DC Saturday morning for the Women's March.
At 8 a.m. Saturday, people were gathering in the Bethesda Hyatt as well as hotels no doubt throughout the area, preparing to leave for the march. Dee Seiffer of Pittsburgh said the last report she heard was that 1,200 buses filled with marchers had permits.
Seiffer, her daughter Mary Coryea, Seiffer's husband, son and a variety of friends and family members assembled in the Hyatt lobby to head toward the district early Saturday.
Seiffer explained her reason for marching. "To rally with other women and feminists to show Donald Trump that we are not going to go away quietly."
When Seiffer heard about the march, which began with a social media post by a grandmother in Hawaii and immediately took off across the nation, she booked reservations and made plans to march.
The Seiffers and Coryea left their home at 4 a.m. Saturday, bound for their hotel in Bethesda.
As with many other women marching, they wore the "pussycat" stocking-style hats to show their solidarity. Seiffer's was made by a friend and Coryea made hers during the ride to the march.
The women said they passed many buses headed for the capital, and that restrooms at stops along the way were jammed with women.
The Bethesda Metro station was full of lines of people donning pink hats and signs, waiting to board and head to DC.
Photo by Donna Cronk -- The man in the middle struck up a conversation in line with me at the coffee shop at the Bethesda Metro station before Saturday's Women's March. Turns out he is a former resident of Portage, Indiana, in northern Indiana. Two women from New York posed with him but of course, he is really "with them," as his sign says.
It's after 11 p.m. We pulled into our Bethesda, Maryland hotel an hour or so ago. I just transmitted some photos and a story for my newspaper company's print and website products. I am beat but didn't want to sign off for the night before a word with you folks who tell me you are watching and waiting!
Everything went well today getting here and throughout Bus 1 (mine) there was excited chatter, laughter and banter. Tomorrow we hit the ground running. When you do something such as this, you have to go with the flow and the flow will find me up at 4:15 a.m. to join those who want to hit the Metro early and meet up with the national Fox News Channel for interviews around 6:30 a.m. This group is on the Fox radar as reporters met us at the bus at the Steve Alford Inn this morning in New Castle as we boarded.
It's completely optional, but of the 110 on this tour, about 20 are going for it in the morning. When else will any of us get the chance to be interviewed on national TV with the Washington, D.C. mall as the backdrop? So I'll be there to see what happens and get some photos. I expect to post a couple of times on The Courier-Times Facebook page tomorrow..
After our 15 minutes of fame (well, sort of), then we're off sightseeing, then folks are going several different directions. I'll return here mid-afternoon to change clothes into my sparkly top and $43 ball ensemble and go get my credential. Then I'll stick around until the guests arrive. We are expecting Vice President Elect Pence tomorrow night at the Indiana ball.
These things are fluid. We'll see what happens and what tomorrow brings. Very soon it will be tomorrow. I'd best try for some shut eye. Four-fifteen comes early by any measure.
By Donna Cronk
What most everyone wants to know about this week’s D.C. adventure is this, asked in excited, breathless voices: Are you going to an inaugural ball?
Oh, heavens no, I tell them. Those tickets are long gone and even the media passes have been maxed out. We checked. Remember, I got the last seat on this ride.
Then came Monday morning.
That's when State Rep. and trip organizer Tom Saunders sent a name and email contact for Thursday’s Indiana Society of Washington, D.C. Ball, suggesting that another email query couldn’t hurt.
I sent the inquiry, expecting nothing when up popped a response. A credential had already been issued to my boss, Katie. Was I asking for a second? The aide pointed out the “extremely limited space” available for media.
We were confused because Katie had heard nothing back after her initial request on my behalf. After further investigation, Katie discovered that indeed there had been an affirmative response. It was in her spam folder!
So the long story short is that I’m going to a ball.
That happened Monday afternoon. What in the world would I wear? I felt a little like a bride-to-be who hadn't considered her wedding gown the night before the rehearsal dinner. I had hours of work left, then a Monday-night obligation, and work on Tuesday. We hit the road for D.C. at dawn Wednesday.
I own nothing long and fancy. I own nothing short and fancy. What’s a girl to do?
Freak out of course.
Tom said not to worry, a non-fancy dress will do. But he’s a man. They see things differently.
I had to make it a power lunch and find something on the double. I visited a local bridal shop. The clerk was helpful but the news wasn't encouraging. They don’t rent dresses. The cheapest gown off the rack exceeded $200. But not in my size. The only in-stock possibility was a black pantsuit. Sorry Hillary, but no.
I felt a bit sheepish as I entered Classic Collections consignment shop the same afternoon. “Do you have evening gowns?” I asked. I’d been in that shop many times but never noticed formal clothing. That’s because they do not carry it.
Still, employee Jenny Bundy began digging around in the racks. Her eyes landed on a long, lightweight, black jacket, loaded with tiny multi-colored sparkles. It was $12. It was also pretty.
I own a black, all-purpose skirt, a favorite piece of clothing, actually. The fabric makes generous size allowances. With that, a black top and black tights, it could work in a pinch with the newly found sparkly jacket. In the glass case, I spotted a costume-be-jeweled necklace and matching earrings in the same hues of sparkle. $16.
Moving along, I scanned the shoe section and noted the black, kitten-heel pumps in my size. $13. They were comfortable and would serve me far better on the Metro and standing with the media pool than would my own high, black heels.
I bought the ensemble. But with no time on the clock for other options, and no fairy godmother showing up to outfit me in a Cinderella-style ball gown, the ensemble went into my suitcase.
The truth is, I think I’ll be more comfortable in this than I would in something Cinderella would wear. Turns out I won’t be dancing or announced on the red carpet. Oh, don’t feel sorry for me, it’s a press thing.
Here's how it works.
The Indiana Society requires credentials be picked up Thursday afternoon, hours before the event. No exceptions. That little errand will basically consume my afternoon.
Members of the press can take photos and do interviews during the gala's general reception but not during the ballroom portion of the evening. We’re to remain behind a roped-off area. And we're not to bother the ball-goers once the festivities begin.
So while it’s true that apparently I am attending an actual ball, and I will be sporting my $43 outfit by Classic Collections on Riley Road, it’s not likely anyone will ask or care about my designer.
Not even if I had chosen a dress worth hundreds, or thousands, or shown up in a black pants suit.
Oh, but that’s not the end of my fashion finds. There’s 100-percent chance of rain during the actual inauguration Friday. So Monday I shopped for ball attire and Tuesday's lunch hour found me in Walmart snagging a rain poncho.
And you thought there was nothing glamorous about a small-town reporter's life.
New Castle Courier-Times writer Donna Cronk is covering presidential inauguration festivities in Washington, D.C. Her reports appear for print and online subscribers in the New Castle Courier-Times and in Indiana newspapers owned by Paxton Media Group. She'll also post on The Courier-Times Facebook page and write this behind-the-scenes blog.
By Donna Cronk
When I was a girl, I read in my hometown newspaper, The Liberty Herald, about a prominent family in town that attended a presidential inauguration and ball. I was in awe that people from our little dot on the map had those opportunities.
I tried to envision what the women wore to the ball and if they danced the night away or hobnobbed with celebrities.
I never imagined that I would attend the ceremony transferring power from the most important leader in the world to the next American in that role. And certainly, I didn't anticipate covering this for a newspaper – let alone for several newspapers.
Last week that opportunity came unexpectedly when Courier-Times Managing Editor Katie Clontz asked if I would like to go. I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. It turns out our parent company, Paxton Media Group, approved my covering the event and related festivities for my newspaper and its sister papers throughout Indiana.
Those most likely to carry my coverage include The Connersville News-Examiner, The Shelbyville News, Marion Chronicle-Tribune, Wabash Plain Dealer, Peru Tribune, Frankfort Times, The Huntington Herald-Press, Elkhart Truth and Michigan City News-Dispatch.
My approach is not that of a political writer, but as a general-assignment reporter and columnist-blogger embedded with 110 Hoosiers traveling with the Roving Elephants, organized by State Rep. Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville) and his wife, Sue.
As it happens, this all came about so last-minute that only one seat remained on the bus when we got the go-ahead for coverage. One other Indianapolis journalist will be with us.
I will accompany the group to everything I can, including a tour of Washington, D.C., the inauguration of president-elect Donald J. Trump and the Indiana Congressional Delegation’s Inaugural Luncheon. I also anticipate providing photos and comments from some Hoosiers who attend inaugural balls, and provide coverage of any concerts or parades I might attend.
Along with the planned print coverage, I’ll share those unexpected moments that emerge at an event of this undertaking where hundreds of thousands of Americans descend on their national capital – some happy and some not. I’ll be posting occasional photos to The Courier-Times Facebook page and blog here at www.donnacronk.com.
Here I’ll post updates I’m calling “The Last Seat on the Bus.” The name reflects my position as the one with the last ticket issued for this tour, as well as my point of view as an everyday Hoosier taking in all the pageantry, crowds, support, opposition and whatever else I see and experience from the front line of this historic event.
My goal is for you to have an insider friend showing and telling what this experience is like. Won’t you join me on this trip? Well then, let’s roll!
Reach Courier-Times Neighbors Editor Donna Cronk this week at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog posts at www.donnacronk.com. Paxton Media Group subscribers such as Courier-Times readers will get primary print and website reports. This post appears in today's New Castle Courier-Times and other Paxton Media Group papers.
It's been a little hectic of late in my world.
When I began 2017 with a prayer for new territory and experiences, I had in mind something such as, oh, say an Indiana library program for my books somewhere new, or the trip to an Iowa farm that my bestie Gay and I are planning for summer.
What I didn't expect was the phone to ring on Wednesday and my boss, Katie Clontz, to ask if I'd like to cover the U.S. presidential inauguration. Would I? As the word "Yes!" left my lips, goose bumps broke out all around. I didn't realize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity would find me in 2017.
I'll be traveling with Indiana State Rep. Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville), his wife, Sue, and 110 or so Hoosiers headed to the nation's capital on Wednesday. I'll be reporting on what it's like to attend an inauguration -- this inauguration-- and related festivities. Our state's governor, Mike Pence, will take the second-in-command oath, making him a heartbeat away from leadership of the free world.
I'll be writing for my newspaper, the New Castle Courier-Times as well as several sister papers in the Hoosier state. These will be exclusive to our chain, Paxton Media Group, but I'll also be posting to The Courier-Times Facebook page and blogging at the end of each day right here on Home Row. I can't give you anything firm regarding times or topics. I'm as curious as anyone.
As it happens, I got the last seat available on either of the two buses they are taking so that sounded like a pretty good name for my blog about the trip: LAST SEAT ON THE BUS.
If all that isn't enough to think about and prepare for, I had a serious technology issue that involved me tracking down replacement for an obsolete power cord that graciously quit working on me a few days before I leave for D.C.
While spending hours and many false leads chasing after a new one for most of one day was not in my plan, I am grateful it didn't blow up on the trip or I'd be up a creek. As it happens, Brian and I were able to find what may be the last one known to mankind right before closing time at Fry Electronics in Fishers the other night. SIGH of relief.
On Friday, we went ahead with plans to meet with our accountant in Rockville and get my books' Indiana sales tax squared away for another year and then as a reward for that, head north to visit and do lunch with dear friend Barbara Clark, rolling into our driveway a little after dark.
This morning, despite ice-storm warnings the Indianapolis media is gaga over, the roads were fine when I joined my author friends Sandy Moore and Annette Goggin in New Castle for a signing. They were so kind to graft me onto their event and even if folks were probably huddled tight at home for the most part (although a few brave souls did come by), the morning was not lost for me since I got to visit with my two friends. Thank you so much, Sandy and Annette, for inviting me!
My brain is scattered this afternoon as I figure out what clothes to pack, what other goods I need to stash away for the trip, and I make a list of what not to forget before we roll on Wednesday. That's not to mention the household chores I need to attend to such as bill paying, a run to the library, some research for the trip, schedule-rearranging calls to make, and a few other things before my mind can even begin to focus.
This has been quite a month. Over Monday and Tuesday, I need to put the winter issue of her magazine for women to bed, get some pages planned and paginated for the daily paper and prepare to be gone until next week. I need some training about some technical details of transmitting content besides.
The month unfolded with a newsroom "rush" on a project that normally allows the entire month of January to complete. It was a lot of work but the good news there is that it's now finished on our end.
So pardon me if I'm a bit daffy today. And please, join me on this journey through this blog as I plan to give you an insiders' guide to this peaceful transition of power, a hallmark of this nation. And, I'll show and tell whatever else unfolds.
Maybe you'll call me a late bloomer, or maybe you've never heard of it, but the website / social media site Goodreads is a terrific tool for readers. Today I wrote a review of the book in the photo, "The Excellent Lombards" by Jane Hamilton. I also just became a Goodreads Author and have created a profile there.
Several years ago, when the online farm game was popular and Facebook friends tried giving me goats or cattle, nudging me to join them with a cyberfarm, a loved one became a big fan.
When I failed to accept her livestock or produce, or have anything to do with a fictitious property, I finally told her that I don’t do games on social media. Having a beautifully run farm in cyberspace is one thing, but I had my hands full maintaining my real home and life.
She told me that was fine because – here’s the kicker--she got points for my deteriorating online farm.
I was amazed by the comment, and that it was possible for me to have my name attached to a farm she could see in cyberspace. And, that the farm was apparently in sad shape because I ignored it.
I thought of that when Goodreads came on my radar in a big way. I knew about the online interactive reading resource. I even knew that my first book had been mentioned and rated on there by some folks, although I had done nothing to put it there.
But because of, I don’t know—neglect, because I was busy maintaining a blog, updating a website, posting to Facebook author and personal pages, reading others’ blogs, emailing friends—as well as busy living my walking-around life, I hadn’t given Goodreads much thought and no attention.
Then all at once, I was told of two close friends’ affinity for Goodreads, and separately, learned that two people had newly posted nice reviews of my second book.
So I checked it out and was both delighted and horrified.
The delight came in the reviews and ratings newly posted, and that a dear friend’s daughter, an avid reader and busy career woman, had taken the time to read both my books and give them high marks.
The horror came in seeing that my books seemed to be fending for themselves with no help from their “farmer,” me. My poor second book didn’t even have a photo of its cover. There was no author page.
With all the avid readers who use Goodreads in all kinds of ways to connect with books, get recommendations for what to read, speak with other readers and many other things of which I haven’t begun to tap into, I was crazy to have ignored the site.
So … I set about improving things. I applied to become a Goodreads author, and was accepted! Then I went about building a profile and adding this and that. Goodreads could be addictive.
There’s still much I need to learn about this very cool site, this world really, where writers and readers meet and greet and grade.
As with the Amazon system, anyone can comment on my books favorably or not. Or they can curse me with faint praise. Or ignore me. All of that happens. It goes with the territory.
Odd things happen when anyone can comment on or review a book. Once, an Amazon reviewer said she enjoyed my first book and then referred to the murder that took place inside its pages. What? There was no murder in my book. Although I reported the inaccurate review, at least she gave my book five stars, causing me not to worry about it too much.
Another reader trashed my first book, saying she was returning to her usual smut. I don’t know what she expected in a women’s Christian fiction genre, but apparently, with a 1 rating, she didn’t get it.
It’s all part of putting myself out there before the public and what I signed on for when I published both books.
That said, if you are of a mind to do such a thing, I welcome connecting with you in the Goodreads world. I would love it if you consider rating my books, reviewing them, (gulp!) or indicating that you might like to read them. You can follow me if you want! You can find me under Goodreads author Donna Cronk, Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast or That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland.
If you use Goodreads, would you be so kind to share your thoughts and uses for the site here in the comments or private Messenger me on Facebook on the Donna Cronk page?
Trying to navigate the various social media sites and keep up with them are works in progress.
Welcome to my little piece of real estate over at Goodreads. I hope the pasture is green.
I’m just learning the ropes over there. But I’m glad I got out the toolbox and started mending the fence and caring for the crop. We’ll see what kind of harvest may come or at least have fun trying.
Since Annette Goggin guest-blogged last time, and we mentioned the upcoming signing with Sandy Moore, I thought it would be fun to have Sandy visit Home Row.
So today, welcome to my friend of 27 years, Sandy Moore. She'll tell you about her children’s book, Sadie’s Search for Home. I am privileged to have written a blurb for the back of this sweet story. Child or adult, you’ll enjoy the enduring theme of how it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
I met Sandy in 1989 when I came to work at The Courier. She was friendly with a ready smile and pleasant demeanor, the kind of veteran employee that puts a newbie at ease.
For many years Sandy sat across from me in the newsroom and we shared life stories, as well as paper stories. Back then, Sandy wrote another book set on the farm for younger kids. I knew of her desire to publish. Now she has a new story to tell and the beautiful book is out.
I’ve always admired Sandy for her dedication to the Lord first, and also to her family and the paper, and looked up to her for her wisdom and faith. She has never failed to encourage me in numerous ways.
When Sandy retired to join husband Mike full time on their farm, she said her dream was to have a horse. She had wanted a horse her whole life and finally got one in retirement. Now her horses are her top hobby, one she shares with granddaughter Carly as well as friends and neighbors.
A leap of faith
by Sandy Moore
As I start a new year, I have begun to reflect on the past year and wonder what’s coming next. So many blessings last year, and one of those was writing a children’s novel entitled, Sadie’s Search for Home.
Why did I write a book for young readers? Reality would say that books are becoming the dinosaurs of children’s entertainment. Technology is the thing for children – there is not market for books these days.
But I could not push my desire aside. I have wanted to write a children’s novel most of my life. The fact is that I love kids, I love books, and I love horses so it seemed the perfect storm. I threw all caution to the wind and penned the novel, enjoying the adventure will all my heart.
My desire for connection to children has stemmed from my childhood. My parents were both hard-working people who simply adored my sister and me. They were the best parents ever. Mom made doll clothes by hand and Dad taught me how to drive the tractor. They worked six days a week and on Sunday they seldom felt like getting in the car and heading to our local church.
I was full of passion for our church and did not want to miss a Sunday with my friends so they always made sure I could be there even to the point of dropping me off at the church steps.
Inside the church doors, I found the greatest gift ever. It was there that I met the Lord and learned Bible stories.
I had two of the most wonderful teachers God has ever created. Ruth Webb and Viola Ryan were stellar teachers who were diligent in teaching about Jesus and stories about God’s heroes in the Old Testament, as well. We had Bible challenges, memorized Bible verses and learned to give ourselves and our meager finances to the Lord.
Through the eyes of missionary-minded Mrs. Webb, I learned to look farther than the cornfields that surrounded our rural-Indiana home. As a class, we adopted an orphan in China. Each week we brought our change to help pay the adoption fee for the child. I am sure Mrs. Webb paid most of the money but we wrote letters to the child in China and she wrote back to us.
When it was time for church camp, someone in the church donated money so I could attend. I went for five years and had a blast.
Another childhood passion was reading. We did not have all-day television then or cell phones or electronic devices but we had the local library.
The local library allowed children to take out only 20 books per visit and I always took the limit. Then in two weeks, Mom took me back and I gathered up another batch of reading excitement. I love books to this day.
So I wrote a book for kids this summer and wondered about the feedback from children. Would they take the time to read it?
I have been thrilled to discover that so many children and their parents have enjoyed the book. The feedback has been very positive, bringing joy to my heart and tears to my eyes.
Another perk that has developed from Sadie’s Search for Home, is that kids want to meet Sadie. Several have braved the cold to come and give her a treat or ride her in the round pen. It has made the winter go from ho-hum to exciting.
I can truly say that I took a leap of faith writing this book, but I have jumped right into the best time of my life. I hope many more children and adults decide to join me in this adventure. Who knows what 2017 will hold? I’m ready for the ride!
Annette Goggin, Donna Cronk and I invite you to come to the Foursquare Church bouquet room Saturday, Jan. 14 from 9 -11 a.m. for a book signing. Stop in and have a donut and hot chocolate on us.
Sandy Moore is retired from a career with the New Castle, Indiana Courier-Times and embraces retirement on the beautiful farm she and farmer-husband Mike share outside of town. Sandy also writes a popular column in her magazine for women. Connect with Sandy at email@example.com.