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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.


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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Recently, I was in the waiting room at the hospital and a person from my church came in. I tried to strike up a conversation with her, but it was evident she didn’t have a clue who I was. Still, I pressed on and we talked about this and that. Our church is large and it’s difficult to know everyone who attends. I recognized her since I work the welcome desk and see lots of folks coming in and out on Sundays. As the afternoon drug on, we became closer by the illness of our loved ones who brought us together at a different place. When I left, I had a new friend, because the art of conversation brings people together no matter what the circumstances.
Lots of things have already been happening in 2015. First, I made some resolutions…well only a couple. I want to have the Maine book ready for publication by winter. (Pretty broad date, right?) Second, I need to continue to work on my health, and with the right doctors, get a prescription cocktail that works. So far, this is still in the experiment mode.
I have a new daylight window in the lower level of my home. Contractors were here January to March putting in a wonderful five-foot window and finishing off both the inside and out to look as though it had always been there. They also built Penny a closet, something she has not had before. She is so happy and really loves her new room, closet and window. She says, “It feels like I have my own apartment now.”
I spent another four days in the hospital with yet another bout with Afib. No one really knows what triggers these things, but glad it is over. I am almost at the second-edit stage of the Maine book, and have started the wheels turning for the fourth book in the Plane Tree in Provence series.
Have a wonderful Easter and spring.

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The holidays are fast approaching and what comes with them are nerves stretched to capacitywith overworked folks creating perfect decorations, shopping, baking, and arranging celebrations. Seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to complete all the things you want to do. The week of Thanksgiving, I dashed to the grocery for a few last minute items needed for our family dinner. The parking lot was jammed and it looked like I would need to park a good distance away. Drat. I was already tired and it was only ten in the morning.

I circled the lot and just as I was about to give up, spotted a vacant place in the next aisle. I quickly rounded the corner to grab it when a car in the opposite direction did the same – both coveting the spot, and neither one of us having our turn signal on to indicate it was ours.

We both stopped and stared at each other. In a flash, the man in the other car gestured it was mine and pulled away smiling and nodding. Ah, what a gentlemen I thought.

Inside the store, with my arms full and a couple of things ready to drop, I stood in line to check out. The man ahead, reached for the items and said, “Here, let me help you.” I smiled and recognized him as the same man who had given the parking place to me. “Thanks, and also thanks for giving me that parking spot out front.”

He nodded. “It doesn’t take much effort to be nice, and it doesn’t cost anything either.”  With that, he grinned and said to have a good day and left.

My heart warmed with renewed energy. Kindness had calmed my frantic nerves and given a certain spring to my feet knowing that everything would get done and I need not worry.

Have a very Merry Christmas and don’t forget to offer a bit of kindness to others if circumstances arise.

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The third novel in the A Plane Tree in Provence series has been released as an eBook – paperback coming within a couple of weeks. Sarah’s Choice: with a little help from Tuscany, is available on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and wherever eBooks are sold. Sarah returns home from France laded with guilt from an affair France, but determined to change her daily routine from self-centered to considerate. It isn’t easy, and her struggles are enormous mixed with the fallout from the affair. Must she always be plagued with guilt? Read what happens next to Sarah’s storybook life in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
So, the Art of Conversation continues. My dear friend, Bonnie went to Maine with me this year, and spent a week with me at the cottage. We did not travel together, and on her way home I’m guessing she spoke freely to her seat mate about Maine and the fact I was finishing a novel. Long story short, a few weeks later, I received an email from the person saying how much she enjoyed the first two books in the series and when would the third be available. When writers receive emails like this – it does wonders for their confidence level, and for me, I was so grateful that a person would take the time to send a note. Again, it is that art of conversation that can escalate reaching the unknown and amazing possibilities. Thank you Bonnie.

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The annual Maine trip was yet another huge success. My cottage was beachfront with views to awaken even a determined snoozing soul. Mornings were spent editing my WIP (third novel in the Plane Tree Series) sitting on patio with the beach no more than five feet away and the crashing sea waves providing a symphony in the background. This particular area has a wonderful Market that makes delectable lobster rolls and about anything else you would want, so lunch always a treat. Afternoons, we antiqued, shopped, visited art museums, and walked the beach. Each time I visit the area, I have to pinch myself to make sure it isn’t a dream. I was blessed to spend ten days doing all of the above and I’m glad to report that this stage of editing the book was accomplished. Now for the final final edit.

Remember, we talked about the art of conversation? On this trip, my friend, Bonnie and I gave it our all. Shoving our electronics aside, We talked to locals and tourists and gained a wealth of knowledge about the area and it’s year around citizens. We visited the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, at Ogunquit. The museum is a “must see” if you are in the area. Walking toward the museum we were amazed to see the sea beyond the front door from panoramic windows lining the back wall. Sculpture gardens, worth the admission alone, are sprawled on three sides of the museum with the sea on the fourth side. Here is the link: We only took one day trip as we were so busy with the beach, (did I say the weather couldn’t have been better) to Rockland where we found a new restaurant where each day, the owner catches his own lobster and then cooks it in the restaurant. Talk about fresh. It is The Lobsterman Restaurant, right on Maine Street.

Remember to take some time and rekindle the art of conversation – neglected, but never forgotten.

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For the past month, I’ve been spending time with a friend in the hospital. Although her illness is serious, our conversations have been inspiring. The sessions last from an hour to five hours and cover everything from dreams, personal challenges in life, interests, and even the pranks we’ve both enjoyed during our lives. Strange thing is, we’ve known each other for many years, but until now, we’ve never enjoyed each other in a deep “best friend” way. Cocktail parties, lunches and dinners with friends do not allow for one-on-one visiting and conversations are limited to superficial information. But, that said, I’m perplexed as to why we don’t make time to really talk.

Today, sitting at my desk texting my daughters, and checking email, the answer and reason became clear. Technology. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, and know it has opened up doors and opportunities for business and wordsmiths, not to speak of things like using my cell phone to find my daughter when shopping at Target, or whipping out that portable device to let a friend know I’m held up in traffic and will be late. I’m even guilty of arranging a night out with girlfriends by text.

As a writer, it’s easy for me to become a recluse and send messages without picking up a phone, but it doesn’t at all unleash a barrage of dialogue necessary to know how a person “really is” or what is “really” going on in their lives. Realizing that the art of conversation is slowly disappearing is startling. The last time I picked up the phone to have a meaningful conversation with a friend….actually, not sure when that was.

Still, getting an immediate answer to a question or receiving a report without waiting for the phone to ring has merits. So my thought is, maybe I can achieve a balance to both. It can only deepen my knowledge of friends and at the same time, improve my conversational skills. How about you?

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Well, it has been a long time since I’ve posted, but want everyone to know, I am doing great. Had a few setbacks from surgery but have now turned the corner. Almost have my old fighting spirit back. Back in Yoga and back walking the track. YEAH!

I believe I’ve mentioned that my seventeen-year-old grandson is a hockey player for the KC Saints. Lucky for me, his team played a tournament in Wichita two weeks ago and I attended six games. Pretty rough sport for this Nana, but he loves it and is a great player. This past weekend, I attended my nieces wedding in Kansas City. Had a wonderful time with my sister and brother along with all the other relatives. It was a non-stop party and the wedding was beautiful. Both the wedding and reception was held at The Berg which is an event venue downtown. I think the most fun was watching my eleven-year-old grandson dancing and then dancing some more. Tomorrow I will be traveling to Branson, MO with my traveling buddies, and hope to see beautiful foliage. We expect to do some shopping, attend four shows, and veg out on food and wine. The weekend of the 23rd my hockey player comes back for another game in Wichita, so looking forward to that.

The writing is going slow because I’ve changed this novel twice now and started over. Surely this will be the last time for changes. It just didn’t read right, but now I believe it flows better. Sent off an article for the Lookout magazine: “Abraham and Issac” and also two to Chicken Soup books. I continue to write for the East Wichita News also. All this has kept me really busy, but that’s how I like it.

Have a great Thanksgiving. I’ll check in after the holiday. I will be hosting my entire immediate family this year. Oh, and those of you who follow my daughter, Penny’s recovery, she is doing fine and we are hopeful for a complete recovery in the next few years. Take care, arlene

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We have had more than our share of rains this month. Currently, we have had 10.97 inches and it is only the 22nd. One more inch and we will break the long-time record for rain in August. Seems strange to not be using the sprinkler system, but added relief to my water bill.

Plagued with more health problems this past month, but after surgery just last week, I feel like I am back to my old self. So this month I have replaced the motherboard on my washer, two burners on the stove, had Roto-Rooter clear plugged water lines, and today the hot water tank exploded. Thank goodness for Frederick Plumbing, who came right out to replace the tank. Home ownership is wonderful, huh?

Obviously, my novel took a back seat this month, but happy to report I’m hard at it again. Those Cape Elizabeth Ocean Society women continue to have numerous problems and challenges. But then what forty-year-old doesn’t. Rose has exciting news for us, Penny is wading through new motherhood, Vernie is rethinking her new career choice, Wendy has reservations on all of her decisions, and Sarah….oh my whatever will that woman do with her new wrinkle to life. Of course there is another trip in this novel and off they go to Italy.

Also working on an article for the Lookout Magazine, and two for Chicken Soup for the Soul. Take care, friends. arlene

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What a nice summer we are having. We’ve had our share of tornado scares, but nothing like Oklahoma. Our weather continues to confuse with lows in the 60s and highs in the 80s. Nice. I’m just home from a wonderful vacation in Maine. I enjoyed five consecutive days with lots of writing, walks on the beach and good lobster. Then the unimaginable happened. I collapsed on the beach and suffered a TIA. Off to the hospital for three days. But the wonderful thing was that shortly after I fell, a woman saw me and came over to see if I needed help. AFter she observed things she signaled her friends to come also. Turns out they were five nurses in all and they sprang into action. Do I have a guardian angel or what. I thank God for looking out for me and my continued improvement. I love the phrase, God is Good All the Time.

Now for the update on the fourth novel. I’m about halfway finished but never fear, those edits will take some doing. I’ll run it by my critique groups, then my daughter, Shan, who is the best editor bar none on the planet, and then I’ll do the final edit. In no time, we will know what happens to Sarah and her household.

I’m staying put the rest of the summer in Wichita, but intend to go off on retreat again in October. By then, I’ll know what Sarah has decided (in the novel) and the conclusion. I write the plot as I go along and never make an outline. When I started writing novels, I made an outline, but found I never stuck with it and was always changing it. Now I just write what is in my head at the time.

Good news. Chicken Soup for the Soul has purchased another one of my stories for its Lemons to Lemonade book due out in August. You might want to pick up a copy. My story centers on my daughter Penny’s traumatic brain injury last year and how I dealt with it. Very difficult to write, but at the same time healing.

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This past month and a half has been awesome. My daughter, Penny finished speech therapy for this quarter and is scheduled to take a medical driving test at the Shawnee Medical Center in Kansas Center next week. Great progress there. My youngest daughter and her family took a much needed vacation to Hawaii for nine days, and my oldest daughter, Shan received a nice award from Wichita State University ( where she works) Our drought has ended and Kansas is enjoying moisture once again.

My newest book, The Cape Elizabeth Ocean Avenue Society (second in the Plane Tree in Provence series) is doing nicely in both the world of cyber space and print. Too boot, while I received two rejections for articles, also received two acceptances. Hey, I’m even, huh? The new Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspirations for Writers arrived and my contribution is on page 83. It tells the story of my first ever writing retreat to the Flint Hills in Kansas.

Just last week, I attended the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc. writing conference in Oklahoma City. Again, I came away with new knowledge, and most of all, lots of updated technology snippets. For my writer friends, I’ve posted a summary on the KWA website.

I’m busy getting ready for my annual Maine retreat coming up in less than a month. I’ll post photos and maybe even an excerpt from my new novel.

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