Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When Will I Stop Writing? by Marilyn Meredith

This question has been discussed recently on the DorothyL list. And to be perfectly honest, I've had people ask me that question too. Probably because I am old.

Yes, I'm the ancient one of this group. I've been around since the beginning of this blog. I've been writing nearly all my life, but didn't get published until 1982 and yes, I was already a grandmother then.

So, now, onto the answer of my question. I can't imagine not writing. As long as I'm able to sit in front of my computer and new ideas pop into my head I'll be writing.

One of the reasons I keep on is because the only way for me to find out what is happening to the characters I've created is to write the next book.

In the case of Deputy Tempe Crabtree, who is also getting older--though certainly at a slower rate than I am--I want to know when she might consider retiring from the sheriff's department. And when she does, what will she do next? Will she remain in the small mountain community of Bear Creek or move somewhere else? If she moves, will that mean the end of her interacting with the Indians on the Bear Creek Reservation?

I'd also like to know more about her son, Blair, now that he's working for the Morro Bay Fire Department. And of course there's her husband, Pastor Hutch. Moving would mean Hutch giving up his church. Would there be another in his future.

And I've got a whole other series about the Rocky Bluff P.D. Those characters are aging much slower than I am, though there have been major changes in nearly everyone's lives. Am I ready to quit writing about them? Not in the near future, in fact I'm nearing the end of the next book.

I also enjoy the other things that go along with writing. I like interacting with my readers. I enjoy some of the promoting that's expected. I have cut down a bit on some of the in-person events that I do. I only participate in book and craft fairs where I don't have to put up a tent and haul a table and chairs. I've cut down on the mystery and writers cons if they are too difficult for me to get to--and frankly, I miss seeing the people who attend.

For me writing is a part of who I am, so while I'm still of sound mind I'll continue.

My latest, of course is in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series: River Spirits.


It's available in all formats from the publisher at http://mundania.com/  and all the usual places.

Marilyn


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Happy

By Laura Bradford

As the holiday months draw closer, I can't help but find myself thinking about all of my "can't-waits." You know, the decorating, the baking, the wrapping, the music, and on and on.

It all makes me happy. Really, truly happy.

But as much as I adore the holidays and everything they mean, there are lots of things--simple things--that make me happy...

I love the sound of a baby laughing.

I love the sound of a cat's purr.

I love that very first taste of frozen yogurt.

I love the feel of the sun on my face with the ocean as a backdrop.

I love hearing my children say, "I love you."

I love photographs.

I love neatness.

I love applesauce muffins fresh from the oven.

I love long walks.

I love the way the song, "And We Danced" by the Hooters makes me smile--instantly.

I love time with my friends.

I love unexpected phone calls from special people.

I love Disney World.

I love that moment when an idea strikes...and you know it can work.

There are so many simple things that make me happy.

What are some of yours?

~Laura

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Holiday Gift Giving, the Beatles and Joni Mitchell

By Kay Kendall

Yes, of course, I admit to rushing the season. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza are all more than two months away and here I am, discussing holiday gifts. Although on the one hand I’m irked at the Christmas decorations going up so early all around Houston, on the other hand I shopped online today for gifts. It was such a snap that I bought more than half of my Christmas gifts in less than two hours.

Ah, the ease of the online wishlist. I have battled against the wishlist concept for several years. Now I’ve succumbed. I give up. I’m going with the times.

If you happen to be over—let’s pick a number—forty (as I am), then you recall when things were different. You tried to surprise the gift recipient—surprise and delight. I picked up my joy of gift giving and wrapping from my maternal grandmother who reveled in every aspect of gifting. 

In the decades of my boomer youth, I watched her decorate packages so imaginatively. She could have hired on for Neiman Marcus—a store back in the day that did elegant gift wrapping. (Their efforts today are a sad, pale imitation, fie!) What my grandmother could not do—not to save her very soul—was to keep her gifts a secret. She got so excited that she just had to give you hints--hints so major you could easily figure out what your gifts would turn out to be. I took such pleasure in her enjoyment that I didn’t mind.

Perhaps the idea of telling Santa what you wanted for Christmas grew into the concept of wishlists. But the wishlist of today has more power. Woe be to you if you give your under-forty offspring something that is not on his or her wishlist. I fought against using wishlists until a few years ago a dear friend said she had given up trying to surprise her offspring with delightful gifts. Instead she chose from the dreaded wishlist or gave gift cards. There was no pleasing her grandchildren or children otherwise. 

This friend's example was my first glimmer hinting at a mass societal change. A generational difference, clear and simple. And that’s when I threw in the towel.

But I remember a different time. I recall a December when I was a graduating high school senior. How I wanted several Beatle albums and 45s to add to my collection. When any grownup relative asked what I wanted for Christmas, “Beatles please” was my instant answer.

Meantime my mother and grandmother would sit in the kitchen making cranberry loaves, fudge, and mounds of cookies...all the while talking about the Christmases of their youths. My mother said she’d been pleased with mandarin oranges and pecan nuts in the toe of her Christmas stocking, back in the 1930s. My grandmother recalled helping her mother go into the farmyard in Ohio and select a goose for neck twisting, in the first decade of the twentieth century--the holiday meal to be! I loved their quaint tales of the good old days. (Probably these stories helped grow my lust for history.)

The following week saw the morning of December twenty-fifth dawning. I went into the living room with my parents (I, an only child, admittedly a tiny bit or more spoiled). I had expected to call this my very own Beatles Christmas. But it was not to be. Arrayed in front of the brightly lit tree was a set of three luggage pieces.

“You’re going off to college next year,” Mother explained, delight shining in her eyes. “We knew you could use some nice suitcases.” I murmured what I hope sounded like a sincere thanks but kept eyeing other presents, looking for the telltale signs of even one 33-long-play album lying under the tree branches. But John, Paul, George, and Ringo were nowhere to be found.  

All was not lost however. My paternal grandparents sent a check that I promptly cashed and turned into the longed-for Beatles albums. But, oh, the rush of emotion, up and down, the dramatic upheaval.

Things are so different now in the high season of gift giving. Well something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day. That’s the way the song goes, Joni Mitchell’s beloved “Both Sides Now.”

So then, what’s your opinion of the wishlist phenomenon? What do you remember about gift giving and receiving in the “good old days?” What’s the routine at your house? I’d sure love to know.

*******

Kay Kendall set her debut novel, Desolation Row—An Austin Starr Mystery, in 1968, in an anti-war group. The sequel is Rainy Day Women, set for 2015, and this time her amateur sleuth Austin Starr must convince police her best friend didn’t murder women’s liberation activists in Seattle and Vancouver. A fan of historical mysteries, Kay wants to do for the 1960s what novelist Jacqueline Winspear accomplishes for England in the perilous 1930s–write atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit of the age. Kay is also an award-winning international public relations executive who lives in Texas with her husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to the bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too. 

*******



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Behind the Stone Face

by Marjorie Brody




Dull brown rocks over dusty, dry sand. That’s what you see from the outside.



But if you take the time to get to know her, to see what she's like on the inside, behind the rough, hard, monochromatic facade and really explore who she is, you'll be able to see her beauty. 



Tsé bighánílíní, the Navajo name for this part of Antelope Canyon, Arizona, means "the place where water runs through rock". 



It's pure. Unadulterated. Unique. Breathtaking. A gift from Mother Nature to teach us about looking beneath the surface. 

How often do we make judgments about individuals based on exterior appearances—it’s just a rock, a hill of dirt? How often do we make judgments based on classifications and stereotypic labels--they're a Muslim, a Jew, an African American, a democrat, an environmentalist, a homosexual. The list can go on . . . and on . . . and on. 
In fiction, authors may hide what's beneath a character's facade for a little while, but eventually, they will point their flashlight into the cracks between the boulders and direct readers toward concealed mysteries. We readers leap into that abyss eager to discover the subtle lights and darknesses of the character's inner life. We value delving beneath surface actions. We yearn to uncover, to understand, the complex motivations that form the bedrock of the character's personality. When we meet a persona on the page, a view of his or her external life, by itself, is not sufficient. We demand to experience, with all our well-tuned senses, the character's heart and soul.

Why can't we do the same when we meet someone off the page?

Let’s not miss the opportunity to look beneath the surface of our fellow human beings. Sure, we may not always like what we see, but often we’ll find something we can value and/or admire. And just perhaps, looking beneath the surface will enrich our own lives.


Marjorie Brody is an award-winning author and Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her short stories appear in literary magazines and the Short Story America Anthology, Vols. I, II and III. Her debut psychological suspense novel, TWISTED, was awarded an Honorable Mention at the 2013 Great Midwest Book Festival and won the Texas Association of Authors 2014 Best Young Adult Fiction Book Award. TWISTED is available in digital and print at http://tinyurl.com/cvl5why or http://tinyurl.com/bqcgywlMarjorie invites you to visit her at www.marjoriespages.com.