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Arlene Rains Graber

'To write something that brings a smile or initiates thought is truly one of life's pleasures.'

Arlene has written for newspapers, magazines and Christian periodicals for over thirty years. In 2010, her first non-fiction book, Devoted to Traveling, was published by AWOC Publishers. The book traces the author's travels throughout the world. In 2011, her first novel, A Plane Tree in Provence, was released, and a Christian novel, Angel on My Shoulder, was released. In 2012, Arlene published The Cape Elizabeth Ocean Avenue Society, the second book in the Plane Tree series, followed by Sarah's Choice in 2014. All books are available in paperback or as e-books.




Over the holidays, last year, our family enjoyed a wonderful season of celebrations with family and friends. Little did we know what the future had in store for 2020. I’d like to say that the year started well, but in reality, not the case. It has been one disaster after another for both our family and the world.

My daughter experienced several setbacks in her progress to accept life after a traumatic brain injury which caused our family much stress. After much searching, a new therapist is helping and we’re hoping for progress.

Then, Covid-19 struck and resulted into a huge pandemic, and the political world grew into a chaos of hatred and unrest. All trips were put on hold, lockdown arrived, mandatory masks and social distancing became the norm, and life as we knew it—ceased.

Could things be worse? Certainly! I remember saying often things like, “Once this pandemic is over by say June…” then again, “Things should be better by October…” and now I’ve quit speculating as there is no reasonable end in sight. On the political scene, perhaps after the election is over hateful emotions and caustic attitudes will soften. And, regarding my daughter? Prayers and hope are ongoing.

During lockdown, I will say that we were most productive in cleaning out closets, cupboards, and areas which had long been neglected – like the garage, storage bins, and those hidden niches that never receive attention. So, after eight months, we are clean as a pin here, tidy beyond expectations, and decluttered.

For my writing efforts, I was fortunate to be included in the June/July edition of the Upper Room and have sent out a couple of stories and a devotional to various publications.

So, after eight challenging months, my days are spent searching for things to do at home, planning what I’ll do first after the pandemic is over, and watching more television that I’ve done in all of my 80+ years. On the bright side, there is face time and zoom meetings to keep in touch with family and organizations. Thankfully my Yoga class has sessions on zoom and video to crank up when the yearning for exercise sets in.

Looking ahead to the holidays, we’re not sure how celebrations, if any, will be handled. Kansas is experiencing a weekly rise in Covid cases with no relief in sight. Ah, 2020, the year of Covid-19, setbacks, and political turmoil – yet there is merit in a clean decluttered house, right?

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I have news! The last book in the A Plane Tree in Provence series has just been released. Vernie: One Year Tops combines intrigue, strife, and success in the life of Vernie Olander. Recently retired from the Portland, Maine Symphony Orchestra as its executive manager, Vernie has just completed her first novel as a stay-at-home writer. She could not be happier huddled in a three by four-foot closet office pounding out chapter after chapter in the life of fictional characters. But then a detour presents itself.

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it. As I mentioned before, this is my last novel. From now on, I will be writing for various non-fiction publications. It has been my pleasure to share personal stories in the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and I am also blessed to be included in several devotional publications.

Wishing all of you the best Christmas Season ever with lots of family fun celebrations. I hope the New Year brings happiness to all who are suffering, love to those in crisis, and prosperity to those in need.

Merry Christmas, arlene

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It occurs to me that some of you might not know what I write and how it all came about. If you take a look at the page “About Arlene” it will tell you the story. Long story short, I started in journalism writing as a correspondent for The Wichita Eagle in Wichita, Kansas. Later, I wrote for the East Wichita News for over two decades before retiring to write novels, articles, and short devotionals for magazines. At this point, I am finishing the fifth novel in the A Plane Tree in Provence series, titled Vernie: One Year Tops, and will continue to write devotionals for publications and articles for the Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

I continue to travel to Maine each June for some much-needed R & R. I love Maine, and sitting by the ocean meditating is the highlight of my year. Time marches on, but God has blessed me with continued good health and energy. Whoever said 80 is the new 60 —were right. Although the body doesn’t always cooperate and slowing down tries to wedge its way into my life, I choose to ignore and march onward.

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My time in Maine during June was again everything and more. Bonnie and I walked the beach, read, antiqued, ate lobster, drank champagne and I pulled together the last novel in the Plane Tree in Provence series. Weather was wonderful with highs in the 70s and 80s and nights in the 40s and 50s. Again we found new fantastic restaurants and sights to visit. We saw three plays, two at the Ogunquit Playhouse and one at the Portland Music Lyric theater. I cherish these trips as it is always a wonderful therapy experience.

The summer flew by with lots of good times with friends and of course the usual challenges. The year 2018 brought more crisis than ever but we survived and onward we go. No need to mention all the family squabbles or the ongoing trauma with health, as now fall as arrived and things are once again smooth.

This past month, I celebrated my 80th birthday and although I warned them not to do any surprises – it landed on deaf ears. They arranged for a surprise birthday dinner at Georges French Bistro with seventeen family members in attendance. Cousins, nieces and nephews along with my sister and broth-in-law came from Seattle, Washington, Texas, San Diego, California, Wichita, and Lawrence, KS to welcome me to the official Octogenarian Club. A wonderful time getting caught up with each other’s lives, feasting on French food, and toasting my longevity. I was blessed to note cell phones were absent except for photos during the celebration. More fun to communicate.

Now, the pre-holiday season is upon us. We are holiday-decorating-folks at my house, so let it begin.
Wishing you all a fantastic holiday season.

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After a whirlwind year, once again I am packing for my June sabbatical to Maine. Last summer, I had a fight with the garden hose and the water nozzle spewing at full throttle hit me in the right eye. Lucky for me I was wearing contacts and no permanent damage was encountered. However, it took almost five months for it to heal. Lesson learned. Never leave the nozzle at full speed while you are hauling it around the deck. During the year my excursions with friends took me to the Art Museums’s traveling exhibit Monet to Matisse and also our brand new twenty million dollar Mark Arts center which houses a comprehensive studio offering sculpting, painting, cooking and a fantastic 5,000 square-foot art gallery.
With the new year, came the realization that I will soon be an octogenarian. Good news is I still feel like I’m in my fifties. If my mother were alive today she might say I also act like a twenty-year-old, citing some of the daring things I try. At any rate, I’m blessed with good friends, a church family, children and grandchildren who are making this a total year of celebrations. Let the fun begin.

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“For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land”
-Song of Solomon 2:11-12 (NRSV)

Spring has arrived on the prairie. Love the first flowers and trees. Makes a person want to clean out, renew, get started on new projects, but most of all to listen to the sounds of lands rebirth.
I am excited to report that the fourth book in The Plane Tree in Provence series is now available in both paperback and digital. Take a look at The “Casting” of Wendy Holcomb at or and see what you think. My daughter at Tallgrass Studios has created yet another award winning cover. This book details the impending acting career of Wendy and all the problems and challenges associated with it. There is one more book in this series and then onward to another brand new series.
Once again, I am in the planning stage of another visit to coastal Maine. While there, I will work on the new novel as well as a revised edition of Devoted to Traveling. Get out and enjoy spring and I wish you success with your “to do” list for spring renewing.

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Goodness, spring came and left, summer came and left, fall is trying it’s best to arrive amidst temps still in the eighties. The summer was a tough one for me as I lost my brother to cancer. We grew up like twins as we are only eleven months apart in age. He was my best friend and always kept me on the grounded during life’s challenges. Jerald always had my back and was so supportive of my writing and anything else I tried in life. He was always quick with the compliments, advice, and when he thought I needed a good talking to – he did that also. The most important thing he taught me was “forgiveness”. I have to admit I leaned on him for this and now that he is gone I’m having a struggle with it once again. We talked every weekend and the last year of his life every Friday. I still have an urge to call him each Friday. Some tell me that never goes away.

Once again, I traveled to Maine in June. My good friend, Bonnie Dakan travels with me most of the time and this year we stayed ten glorious days at our rented beach house at Higgins Beach, Maine. The weather was perfect in every way with highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s. Nothing like snuggling under the covers listening to the roar of thrashing waves against the sea bank within ten feet of our back door. I completed the first edit on my new novel, The “casting” of Wendy Holcomb, along with reading two books which is something I rarely have time to do at home. We ate plenty of lobster, found some new wonderful restaurants, and attended Anything Goes at the Ogunquit Playhouse. The play was a welcomed highlight to our trip with third-row seats and a professional cast. We visited Perkins Cove after the theater and had a delightful dinner of lobster while watching the sail boats drift in the ocean.

This summer has thrown the nation into chaos over electing a new president. From all the bickering, name-calling, and personal attacks on moral behavior it has been a very stressful campaign. I can’t wait until this next two weeks is over and we can once again concentrate on other things. I try to focus on the fact that God has a plan and is in charge of all – so we need to sit back and pray for his guidance in all matters.

Now at summer’s end, I am into my final edit on the novel. Carey, my artist daughter is working on the cover and I hope to have it published by the first of the year. This novel centers on Wendy Holcomb, who has embarked on a new career at age 40, much to the chagrin of her family who are not at all happy about it.
I’ll sign off for now, and my best intention is to do more frequent updates from now on.

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I looked out my back door this morning and was greeted with an abundance of things in bloom. The Forsythia was a blaze of bright yellow, the quince bushes had sprung white and pink flowers overnight, and the huge Bradford pear tree had buds the size of acorns ready to burst into flowers. We’ve had an extremely mild winter for Kansas, and spring is coming early. I took photos galore and will post one soon in the gallery. For this writer, spring brings renewed energy and ideas. Love love love the balmy days with flowers beginning to bloom and the birds singing hymns all day long.

So many things have been happening since the first of the year. First, I’ve been marketing my memoir, Lessons from Maine on various social media sites plus emails and newspapers. In February, the book ranked tenth in the top ten best seller list at Watermark Books & Cafe here in Wichita. Sales are steady on the other various sites and word of mouth is always a good marketing tool also.

I will be traveling to Maine again in June and this time, my writing efforts will be focused on the fourth fiction book in the Plane Tree series. The main character is Wendy, who you remember has a hidden dream of becoming an actress. She makes the move and Wendy, being Wendy, experiences many ups and downs from that decision. Thank goodness she has her friends in the Cape Elizabeth Ocean Avenue Society to shoulder her cries for help.
I’ve also started an intense (at least for me) aerobic program at our local YMCA. That first day was humbling to say the least, but now things are getting easier. I can’t say I’ve lost weight, but I’ve sure tightened up and gained some much needed strength. I’ll write more later about my gardening efforts and Wendy’s new career in Maine.

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Just a quick note to let you know that my non-fiction book: Lessons from Maine has just been released and is available in both ebook and paperback forms. You can find it at: You can also order the eBook from Smashwords.

The holidays are always a busy time of the year, but love the shopping – don’t you? I love seeing all the new items and decorations,all the while remembering to thank God for sending his son to give salvation to the world. If you’re like me, Christmas music is important and always brings a tear visualizing about how Jesus the Messiah was born in a simple manger on the countryside.

Christmas is a lively time at my house. We start on Christmas Eve with a brisket dinner including cheese grits and veggies. That evening will find us putting together a challenging puzzle in the dining room on my rickety antique table. The grandsons park themselves on the floor by the tree that night and early the next morning is gift time followed by Champagne and caviar. There might be a movie that afternoon. The best part of all is being together.

Have a wonderful Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

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Goodness, I have not posted all summer and now it’s coming to an end. I won’t bore you with excuses as there isn’t even one that would merit this type of neglect.

I’m still on my soapbox about the lack of verbal communication between folks, and here is a book that might interest you.  Author Sherry Turkle’s book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, gives several thoughts to ponder.

Turkle states that “today there is more talking than ever, but not to each other in direct conversation.” She gives some painful illustrations, like watching the lunch bunch ignoring each other while favoring wat comes out of a small metal hand-held device, mothers in parks not talking to their children preferring to talk or text on their cell phones, or families oblivious of one another at the family table choosing to text or read emails instead.

It’s easy to get caught up in the smart phone era and abstain from actual communication where one can observe facial expressions and see emotional reactions. Join me and put that smart phone in your purse or pocket and concentrate on who you are with.

My summer whizzed by with a ten-day trip to Maine, a long weekend in Nebraska, and a couple of weekends in Lawrence. In Maine, I edited and rewrote several chapters in the Maine book which is scheduled for publication before the end of the year. Weather was fantastic, shopping productive, museums wonderful, and the beach calming while still providing renewed energy.

In July, my sister met me in Denver and we drove to Sidney, Nebraska to visit our brother who is having intense health issues. We spent hours reminiscing about our grow-up years, took excursions in and around Sidney, and enjoyed many hours around the family table. My niece from San Diego joined us on the last day making our trip even more enjoyable. On the way back to the Denver airport, we took a side trip over to Cheyenne, Wyoming for lunch, then drove south to Longmont, Colorado for the night before catching a plane for home the next day. More on this later.

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