Another Year …

2013 was kind of crazy. In an awesome sort of way. 2013 saw the publication of my first novel, something I’ve been very seriously planning since second grade.


2013 saw my husband start seminary, something we’ve been working toward for seven years.

2013 saw the birth of my niece, my sister and brother-in-law’s first baby.

2013 saw my mother receive her MA.


2013 saw us pull up roots from the city we’d lived in for five years to move to an apartment on a college campus, five minutes from the ocean.

2013 saw my oldest girl lose her first tooth.


2013 saw my littlest girl learn how to pronounce her r’s, her l’s, and her th’s.

2013 saw my dad’s church grow (both in number and, more importantly, in love and understanding) beyond what anyone ever thought possible.

2013 saw Joy falling head-over-heels in love with ballet, and Grace conquer her fears of falling to persevere with figure skating.

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2013 saw my grandfather die.

And 2013 saw me come to new understanding about life, me, God, and all that good stuff.

Big year.

Who knows what 2014 will bring? Not me, but I’m OK with that. I think it’s going to be a great one, no matter what happens.

Life Talk

Grief and Joy


 by Louise Bates


With laughter, song, and courage he met the world

Fearless, great-hearted, and strong.

Never hesitated to help anyone in need

Despised meanness and cruelty.

He worked hard his entire life without complaint

To take care of his own, and others too.


A single life can touch so many

Bring hope, give inspiration, share joy.

Like ripples in a pond

Radiating from a single tossed pebble

The goodness of one man’s quiet life

Has spread – and keeps spreading.


He is gone, but his legacy endures

Love, faithfulness, compassion

Kindness, hard work, music

And laughter – always laughter.

In the hearts of all who knew him

Who he was lives on.


We buried my grandfather this morning. It’s been a rough few days. Thank you, everyone who offered condolences and comfort (and poetic assistance) on Twitter.

(Seriously, the above poem (which was printed on the hand-out at Grandpa’s calling hours) would not have been written without help from my Tweeps.)

Many times this past week I’ve said that I don’t mind getting older myself, but I really wish my grandparents’ generation would stop aging. I’m never ready to say goodbye.

The grief has hit me oddly this time around. I’ve not been extremely emotional, just tired. So, so tired. I’m not sure how much posting I’ll be doing in the next few weeks. With holidays coming and more traveling planned for immediately afterward, I’m not sure when my creative well will get a chance to be refilled. I had been participating in the #nerdlution (check it out on Twitter) before all this happened, and I hope to get back to my goal of 30 minutes of creative writing a day soon. Maybe when we get home (and unpacked, and laundry washed, and Christmas tree set up and decorated) I’ll be able to get going with that again.

In the meantime, thanks again for your friendship, and your patience while I’m sporadic with social media.

Malcolm W Bates, September 7, 1925-December 5, 2013
Malcolm W Bates, September 7, 1925-December 5, 2013
Baby Joy with her Great-Grandpa, 2007
Baby Joy with her Great-Grandpa, 2007
fiction, humor, influences, philosophy, writing


I remember reading Agatha Christie’s autobiography (which I looooooved and read in one day even though it’s non-fiction and it usually takes me MONTHS to read non-fiction) and being amused and a little taken aback at how casually she referred to herself, her writing, and her reading as “lowbrow.”

“Max is highbrow,” she says casually, of her second husband. “And I am decidedly lowbrow.” And then she goes on to detail all of their differences in taste, in a comfortable, matter-of-fact manner.

I read beautiful prose, writing that is definitely “highbrow” even when it is, say, MG fiction, and I think “Ooh, I wish I could write like that.”

But I’ve tried, and it’s ridiculous. Seriously, I can’t even read it myself without snickering.

I’m lowbrow. My writing’s never going to be considered great literature. No one’s going to talk about Tolstoy and Bates in the same category. I write for pleasure, for enjoyment, for fun, for a chance to put a smile on someone’s face. I hope, usually, to also sneak some Deep Themes underneath it all, but let’s face it, nobody’s reading Magic Most Deadly in hopes of finding out the Meaning of Life. And they aren’t going to find it even if they look.

In one of the Anne books by LM Montgomery, Anne and Gilbert are discussing their future goals. Gilbert has decided he wants to be a doctor, to fight disease and help people live better lives. Anne, though she knows wanting to help people and teach them is more noble, just wants to add some beauty to other people’s lives, to give them one or two moments of joy that they might not have had otherwise.

You know what? That honestly seems pretty noble to me. If that’s lowbrow, I’ll take it.

I don’t have to write Great Literature to bring joy to others. I just have to write joyously. And that I can do.