The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, June 18, 2018

A Birth Certificate (Finally), Getting Lost and Great Conversation

      This weekend I went out of town to Crane, a small town in southern Missouri. My sister and I went to visit a friend--Orvilene--who is in her 80s.

     On the way, we picked up my original birth certificate. More than six months ago, I requested it. (The laws about adoptees have changed, and now if our birth parents and our parents are deceased, or if everyone gives permission, we can get our original birth certificate. In my case, everyone is long gone.) 

     I was interested in seeing if a father was listed. He was not. However, it brings me a bit of satisfaction to see my birth mother's signature, along with the address where she was living when she delivered me.

    While in Crane, we drove around and revisited the family cemetery where some of our biological relatives are buried, along with the school our maternal grandmother attended. It's still standing, but no one's spending the time or the money getting it restored. Now it's fenced off and the weeds are flourishing... We drove around for a few hours looking for the school and the cemetery. The people who know about those forlorn places are dying. The younger people have no clue where the old Carney cemetery or where the old Cedar Bluff school is. We stopped several times but each time, folks just scratched their heads and apologized for not being able to help.

    As we drove up and down the rolling hills (sometimes I felt like we were on a roller coaster) we talked about the gorgeous scenery, the changes in the county (Stone county), who's moved into what house and who had died.

   Great conversation in beautiful surroundings, surrounded by fun people... a wonderful weekend. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Stumbling... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 104


I've done some stumbling this week when it comes to my WIP. I had a writing goal last week, and really did nothing with it. I'm late posting with my writing accountability group--they might kick me out, I've been so under-the-radar.

The reasons? Well, for one, the class I'm teaching. It's a fun group of teachers I'm working alongside. The writing they're sharing is incredible. However, I envisioned getting the chance to work on some of my own writing during the month-long class. The big chunks to write--like last year--are nonexistent. It's a larger group, so the schedule is more packed with teacher demonstration lessons. Also, during the time I could write, I'm sometimes chatting with my teaching partner. That's my fault.

The other reason why I haven't made any progress on my WIP is I got drawn into writing an essay on postpartum depression. The story reared its head and insisted on being told. I tried to set it aside for a while, but I kept getting pulled in.

Next week we will have our anthology ready to get printed, so I'm hoping that I can get some research and revision work accomplished. Wish me luck--and now onto the business of writing book blurbs.

           Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a coffee table book on the art that adorns money? Is it a photo collection of close-ups? You decide.

        Write an enticing blurb--150 words or less. (The title doesn't count in the word count.) Blurbs are those enticing bits that prod you into buying the book. Sometimes they're on the back cover of the book. Sometimes they're on the inside front cover. What they always try to do is lure you into purchasing the book. 
          
          Lisa Ricard Claro was the original creator of this writing challenge. She moved to Florida, and is too busy to host a weekly book blurb. Check out her blog, along with her books. She's a writer with so much talent, she writes such compelling romance novels, even readers (like me) who don't read romance novels get sucked into the stories.  
     
          Include your blurb in a blog post. Include a link to this post. Also, link your post to Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky is easy. If you've never done it, you'll be impressed with how simple he is. And then, check out the other blurb(s). It's interesting to see the different directions writers take, given the same photo.

           Here's the book cover, along with my blurb:



A Finely-Pressed Man

Franklin’s shirt was always ironed, his pants always had a sharp crease, and yet there was always a hint of something under his fingernails.

He also always had money. In town, he did lots of shopping and always had plenty of crisp five-and ten-dollar bills. What did he do for work? The neighbors wondered how he could afford to live in his small brick house… when he never seemed to leave. They knew he wasn’t into that drug sort of thing--he wasn’t that kind. Too polite. Too proper.

But something strange was going on. From what his nosey neighbors could see, Franklin was busy late at night in his basement. Occasionally (when they snooped around), they could hear the sound of some sort of machine working away.

When the authorities started asking questions, Franklin got nervous… nervous enough to do something extremely risky.

Would he get away with it? (148 words)


If you'd like to work ahead, here is the photo for next week:




Monday, June 11, 2018

Writing: A Chance to Vent

I got a pleasant surprise on Friday. An email began, "Congratulations!" and after reading it, I discovered a letter I had submitted for an upcoming anthology has been accepted.


For many people, writing is a vent. It's a way of expressing feelings. Anger lessens through writing. Joy can be re-experienced via writing. 

We finished our first week of class by writing eulogies. On one side of the handout was an example of a eulogy, to help with the format. On the other side, there was an explanation. (It was similar to this: "This class is life-changing. The other instructor and I were transformed when we took the class. We're hoping it's just as transforming for you. Hopefully something will die while we're together. Perhaps your inner critic needs to expire? Maybe your lack of self-confidence needs to be smothered?")

The expectation: write a eulogy to what has died or will die.

What I did not expect: A couple of the teachers who shared shed some tears as they read their letter aloud.


Feelings of rejection. Feelings of inadequacy. They run deep... and those horrible feelings that are buried way below the surface prove how necessary writing is.

How is writing a vent for you? Sometimes angry minds want to know.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Power of Scents... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 103


         This week I was reminded of how powerful scents are, how they can trigger memories or inspiration.

      A couple of weeks ago I was given a scarf by a friend. The scarf belonged to her daughter. Her daughter died in a tragic way back in February. It was their only child. I cannot imagine the sorrow she felt as she sorted through her things... the grief she feels every day... the sadness she'll feel forever.

      I felt honored. 

      A few days later, I unfolded the scarf to see how I could drape it around my shoulders to best display the gorgeous colors. As the scarf leaped up into the air, I caught an unmistakable odor from the fabric.

     Sunscreen. Her daughter had used this scarf as a pool or beach cover-up. And with just that smell, it triggered the need to write.

     How many trips to the pool, to a sandy beach, will this woman miss out on, now that she's no longer here? How many experiences will never be enjoyed, now that she's gone?

      They say that our sense of smell is the most powerful one... the one that can evoke the most memories.

       For me--when I smelled all that lost potential embodied in the scarf--it certainly brought up memories that will never be...

       And now onto something a bit lighter--looking at how writing an imaginary book blurb can prepare us for when we really need to write a real one:  

         Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a coffee table book on tiny dogs who menace the community? Is it a photo collection of wiener dogs? You decide.

        Write an enticing blurb--150 words or less. (The title doesn't count in the word count.) Blurbs are those enticing bits that prod you into buying the book. Sometimes they're on the back cover of the book. Sometimes they're on the inside front cover. What they always try to do is lure you into purchasing the book. 
          
          Lisa Ricard Claro was the original creator of this writing challenge. She moved to Florida, and is too busy to host a weekly book blurb. Check out her blog, along with her books. Time and time again, she's proven herself to be encouraging--when it comes to both personal and professional things.  
     
          Include your blurb in a blog post. Include a link to this post. Also, link your post to Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky is easy. If you've never done it, you'll be impressed with how simple he is. And then, check out the other blurb(s). It's interesting to see the different directions writers take, given the same photo.

           Here's the book cover, along with my blurb:



      Wiener Dogs Gone Wild

Their legs were short, but these were powerful dogs. The dachshund was bred to ferret out badgers, after all… which made them logical partners for Madge.

      Madge would sashay into the bank, her pack of furry thugs trotting in front of her as she dismissed the insistent cries of, “No dogs allowed.” The lead dog: Libby the Tiny Terror. She looked sweet, but could bend people to her will with just a look… or a snarl.

    Once Madge let the leash loose, the dogs would swarm around one teller. After they attacked the bank employee’s ankles, Madge handed over the note demanding money, a bag of cash would exchange hands… and they’d scurry out, too quick to get caught.

    But then Libby the Tiny Terror screwed up--threatening to end their crime spree. Will they be end up in prison and crates forever? Read Wiener Dogs Gone Wild to find out. (150 words)

(Note: This story was inspired by the recent news story about a woman mauled by a pack of dachshunds. Here is the link if you'd like to read about the incident. And, since I don't want anyone to leave with a negative opinion of dachshunds, here is a video of dachshunds to make you smile.)


And for those who want some time to think ahead, here is the photo for next week:




Monday, June 4, 2018

My Grandpup... and Back to Work

Now that my granddaughter (a gift from my daughter) is 12, it's time for another grandbaby--one from my son.

Unfortunately, my son and daughter-in-law's baby has breathing problems. (His face is all smooshed up.) He's malformed. (He has 4 legs instead of 2) And, he has a strange name (Dewey, named for my son's favorite pizza chain).


Google image


I had to snag this image from Google, because Dewey's too fast--he refuses to pose for a picture. But seriously, don't all pug puppies look alike? He's three months old, has puppy breath and those needle-sharp puppy teeth.

He really is cute (almost all puppies are cute--but there are a couple of breeds I would label "breathtaking"). This weekend there was a combination 30th birthday/graduation party for my son, and Dewey enjoyed some taste-treats outside of his normal dog food choices. I saw him eat a blueberry that had fallen onto the patio, and he drank something that could make him tipsy. (I looked down, and he had his whole head in the red Solo cup that belonged to the person next to me. Dewey was slurping away--for how long?--before he was caught, and the cup taken away.)

Today I'm back at work. I've had a week off, haven't vegged out too much, but am looking forward to the next month. (I'm working with teachers, and we're going to be writing and sharing for all of June.)

I'm also working on my manuscript. I'm revising, casting aside sections and reworking others.

What are your plans in June? Truly nosy people (like me) want to know.



 

Friday, June 1, 2018

Where I'm Going and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 102


Oh, don't get excited. This summer I'm not going to Turkey (again)/France (I wish)/stalk Viggo Mortensen (any more). I'm not going to quit blogging. (Sorry!) The place I'm going this summer is into my head and on paper.

I recently served up my beautiful baby manuscript to an editor I hired. The pregnancy lasted a couple of years. It was a C-section--that baby was stuck and didn't want to come out. When it was finally delivered, I thought my stack of papers was ab. So. Lute. Ly. perfect.

However, Margo Dill didn't score my baby a perfect 10. (Gasp!) There were problems. Major problems. However, they were fixable problems... and Margo has given me a handbook to ensure I raise this baby up right until it can toddle off on its own.

To be completely honest, I was not thrilled with hiring an editor. I'd heard from writing friends how good Margo was, but really... What was she going to tell me that I didn't already know? It's brilliant? It's engaging? I already knew that. (Ha!)

Margo honed in on the strengths and the weaknesses of my manuscript with the accuracy of a laser. As soon as I read her thorough and detailed critique, I knew she was right.

So, this summer I'm headed off to more research... lots of writing and lots of revising... and I'm so excited. Margo's specific suggestions have energized me and encouraged me to make this story the best one it can be.

If you'd like to read about some of her suggestions and get an idea of how eagle-eyed she is when it comes to editing, check out my post on The Muffin. 



And now onto back-of-the-book blurb stuff...


          Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a coffee table book on why Speedos and skimpy suits for men are bad fashion choices? Is it a photo collection of deranged old men? You decide.

        Write an enticing blurb--150 words or less. (The title doesn't count in the word count.) Blurbs are those enticing bits that prod you into buying the book. Sometimes they're on the back cover of the book. Sometimes they're on the inside front cover. What they always try to do is lure you into purchasing the book. 
          
          Lisa Ricard Claro was the original creator of this writing challenge. She moved to Florida, and is too busy to host a weekly book blurb. Check out her blog, along with her books. Anything she writes is wonderful, and not only is she a gifted writer, she's also a generous friend. She has several new books in the works, and that, along with walking the beach on a daily basis, fills up her days.
     
          Include your blurb in a blog post. Include a link to this post. Also, link your post to Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky is easy. If you've never done it, you'll be impressed with how simple he is. And then, check out the other blurb(s). It's interesting to see the different directions writers take, given the same photo.

           Here's the book cover, along with my blurb:





Marcia had gotten rid of her man. All he did every evening was watch Swamp People (a show that provided a translating caption for viewers, even though the stars supposedly were speaking English).

“Shootem, Libeth. Shootem!” fill the void between them every night.

Now that Barney was out of her hair, it was time for his left-over junk to go as well, so Marcia Magic marked up a big sign. She dragged the stuff out to her front yard. And she waited for the cars to drive up, stop and unload… because (she hoped) the stuff was too good to pass up.

Stuff like a complete set of dribble glasses… a Lost in Space chess set… a Miami Vice (signed) poster… a miniature Ice Road Truckers truck.

Will Marcia make money from this left-over junk? Or, will she make Goodwill happy when she carts the unbought stuff over to them? (150 words)


And if you want to play next week (because I've finally gotten my rear end back on track), here is the next photo/book cover: