I joined my first critique group about ten or so years ago. A woman I knew from my work asked me to join with her because she didn’t want to go alone. The group was held at a small independent book store and had three members. We were invited to sit and introduce ourselves and tell them about what we wrote. We got a glassy stare when my friend said she wrote Christian fantasy and I said I wrote historical romance. Someone said, “Oh. We don’t write genre books.” She said ‘genre books’ like a French chef would say Spam.
I’ve been writing for about fifteen years on and off and before that I wrote a little for pleasure in high school and college when I wasn’t writing papers for classes. I’ve written some long stories, like my historical romance, Reconstructing Jackson, a few essays and an occasional family story or recollection. I have found writing to be the most rewarding undertaking I have ever attempted.
I am often asked how I come up with my stories. Did you read something that made you think of a plot? Visit a historical site? Watch a movie? Were you inspired while doing research? Don’t I wish I knew what my inspiration was or is and could conjure it up any old time! But I don’t and can’t. I’ve belonged to a writer’s group for years and we have often talked about when and where the beginnings of our novels come from. Some writers do find their inspiration in another book or movie, most often mentioning that there is a peripheral character that they connect with or are curious about and a story is born. That is not true for me.
I’m in a new phase of my life. I’ve transitioned from unpublished author, begging agents to read a few chapters of my book or even my query letter, to a hot, middle-aged dame (‘hot’ is an overstatement of my general demeanor), boldly self-publishing my novels for the world to see.
I’m a new and complete convert, possibly relating to obsessive tendencies, to Downton Abbey, the fabulously produced Masterpiece Theatre hit. I watched Season 1 in its entirety in one sitting, fascinated from the first scene and amazed at how quickly the Abbey’s family, Grantham, the Dowager, Mary, Mr. Bates and Mrs. O’Brien, to name a few, became part of my vocabulary. Twenty or so, fleshed out characters, with skeletons and futures and hopes and faults. I’m equally fascinated with the setting and time period.
Let me preface this by saying I don’t care what anyone else reads or does in the privacy of their own bedroom or spaceship.
My sister-in-law shared this recipe with me about 20 years ago and I still make it every year. It is delicious and stays fresh for days and days, probably because of the rum. And it's easy too. Happy, healthy and joyful holiday to you!
I've never been a big fan of Target but we have a new one in our area and I thought I'd give it another try. I found that the purses were the same price as the ones at the mall and not as nice and the shoes had crazy high heels. But I liked the look of the store and those big, red concrete balls outside in the parking lot. I poked through the curtains and the groceries but didn't see myself buying fruit in a store that sold TVs.
Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State coach & if the accusations are true, creepy pedophile, deserves a fair hearing. It sure isn't looking to me that all of these children are lying and all the eyewitnesses are mistaken but that is up to jury of his peers. It doesn't look good for Sandusky either that these charges have been leveled against him before or during his recent interview with Bob Costa he left second after dreadful second tick away before responding to whether or not he was attracted to children.
Anyone surprised that another Wall Street firm is belly up after sticking their hand in the customer cookie jar and absconding with 700 million dollars. In someway I'm more offended/outraged now than I was during that fall of 2008 when things were so shaky that the real threat of bread lines and mayhem seemed as though they loomed closer each day.
Michele Bachmann comes from an evangelical background that subtlety and not so subtlety tells females that they are suited to assist and support a man, however, leading him or many men is out of the question. How does she not realize that her slice of the conservative Christian pie was halved (or three-quartered) when Governor Perry entered the race? To speed her own demise, she has lost the support of women that may have considered her, those conservative and libertarian women that have yet to denounce science, leaving herself with those that believe conspiracies lurk behind every vaccine and doubt math and confuse the scientific definition of the word ‘theory’ with the colloquial.
Bill Clinton. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Anthony Weiner. Elliot Spitzer. Tiger Woods. Chris Brown. Jesse James. John Edwards. Mark Sanford. Whatever the guy’s name is that ‘pees in a wide stance’ and the list goes on.
While private matters between husband and wife and/or lovers are their business, the public has unfortunately been deluged with the considerable dirty laundry of the aforementioned list. We debate about whether the woman should stay or leave, what the effect the negative publicity will have on the children and how this man (almost always a man – so far) will repair himself in the eyes of his family and the world.
I’ve wondered to myself over the years how different things would be if there were more women in charge, if more women took charge? If we were less at the mercy of testosterone?
Would Maria Schwarzenegger have gotten pregnant to the pool boy? Maybe but I doubt it. How many nuns would say to a seven year old, ‘Show sister your privates. God says you should.’ Would eighty some more Norwegians be alive today if Breivik had been born a girl? Probably.
Somebody asked me, rhetorically I suppose, what Representative Weiner had been thinking when he texted pictures of himself to women in his twittersphere. Who knows? Who knows what makes the Congressional version of Kim Kardashian do whatever he did? Some outsized view of his own importance in the main scheme of things? A genuine belief that his junk was spectacular enough that we all want to see it? News flash for you Weiner – weiners don’t necessarily trigger a hot and bothered moment for women. Most of the time they just look funny. Or maybe, hard as it is to believe, the Representative thought what he was doing was in his own little peep show room for his most ardent admirers. Does this dufus not get the internet?
I read the editorial page because I like to read and I especially like to read what smart people write, regardless of their conservative or liberal bent, and mostly because it tends to make me consider my own position, even if only to reinforce that position.
My hometown newspaper, Lancaster County's Intelligencer Journal's opinion page is actually a combination of two editorial staffs as the morning news and the evening news merged at some point. The left side of the sheet is the liberal side. The right side, the conservative side. But that description isn't entirely true. They've got George Will on the left side of the sheet, as if this bastion of less governance and multi-syllable words was some big government tax and spender. (In this county conservative doesn't mean small government or personal accountability. Conservatism has a lot more to do with your choice of religion and how loudly you profess your own righteousness.)
But back to the subject at hand - I want to read diverse considered thought. The female contribution is weak. The Sunday News isn't so bad as Kathleen Parker and Maureen Dowd are printed. Both are terrific writers and the liberal Dowd is hysterical. On the conservative side we get Michelle Maulkin. Her constant use of alliteration drives me to distraction and leaves me unable to discern her argument. I'm too busy beating back battalions of 'b's.' Content is poor as well. She inevitably attacks the person rather than the argument.
I was at the local ice cream shop last night intending to wipe out any recent weight loss victories that I had managed to accomplish during the previous week. I stood in line and debated the sundaes - the Big One or a regular, hot fudge or a nod to the fruit category with strawberries and whipped or no whip.
"May I help you?" the fifteen or sixteen-year-old girl asked me with a smile.
"I'll have a large strawberry sundae, whip, no cherry."
The young lady picked up a pencil and a notebook. "Did you want the Big One?"
"Yes. The large," I said.
"Not the regular?"
There is certainly argument about whether Madonna's God given talents and the lack or bounty thereof fits her enormous fame and success. I always felt her lasting popularity was due as much to delivery as to content. And Glenn Beck reminds me of her.
Had some family and friends over last night. Sean made great frozen drinks like Strawberry/Kiwi juice with fresh strawberries, blueberries & rum and margaritas. We had burgers, shrimp kabobs, corn salsa, fresh asparagus, chilled with balsamic vinaigrette & potatoe salad. Garden tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and tossed salad from Jim's garden. Topped off with the Fourth of July dessert. All cold and all delicious! This recipe is from the Pillsbury Barbecue and Fixin's from July '91.
There was a recent hullaballoo at some of the message boards that got me to thinking. A poster at AAR really dissected some sentences from a new book by Adele Ashworth. Miss Ashworth responded with some measured replies. Some posters agreed, some didn't. And then . . . . . an 'anonymous author' weighed in with the sort of comment that made me and many others cringe. His/her main thread related to bothersome, nit-picky readers who demand books with few or no grammatical errors. The proverbial gloves came off. Long, technical rants about verb usage and dangling modifiers followed by many angry replies on both sides of the fence.
I couldn't help but wonder how this whole thing would have played out had the participants been men. Perhaps the argument would go as written below.
Poster # 1 "Didn't like your book."
Miss Ashworth "Oh yeah?"
Poster #1 - "Yeah."
Anonymous Author sucker punches a bystander. Riot erupts.
A single voice from the crowd - "Ya want ta get a beer?"
Poster #1 and Miss Ashworth reply in unison. -"Yeah."