Archive for the 'A sense of Place' Category

My New Year’s Resolutions–What’s Yours?


Across the USA and our spinning planet Earth we suffered, fires, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes. Some unlucky folk got doubled tapped by back-to-back hurricanes, or like us in Texas; a hurricane atop flooding along the Gulf Coast. Thousands have yet to ‘reclaim’ their lives. Now, sweeping down from the Arctic is severe and frigid weather. I accidentally closed off my bathroom from circulating heat and awoke on the first day of 2018 to discover my tube of toothpaste frozen almost solid.  Had to soak it in a bowl of hot water to get it flowing again. This time last year I was recovering from surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. I had so many Hail Mary passes with my health in 2017, I bought two rosaries. My resolution for all of 2017 was: Keep breathing! Got it done.

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How is your Life? It’s the Little Things…

Living Our Lives and Making Do

Worldwide and USA events are taking up space in my heart and mind. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have touched me, my family, good friends and many of my writer colleagues. The 8.1 earthquake in Juchitan, Mexico, an area rich in history, did not get a huge amount of coverage, And even if it did, few of us had television, radio, cell phones or Internet services to learn of it. I know of the area only through Frida Kahlo’s dresses, paintings and float designers. I once wrote a book with a float designer as a main character and during interviews was astonished to learn float designers bid on jobs world wide–wherever there is a festival and exotic float parades. Now we’re watching California burn. More homes lost and this week, Christmas week, a horrible high-speed train crash in Washington state.

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Wrapping Up 2017~ an Unsettled Year

We are all fast-forwarding to 2018, but this year ain’t over yet.

My Money Jar–Kept on my Kitchen counter where it’s handy.

Telling you up front I’m older than God and younger than Death. I’m cruising eighty years old. My daughter gave me a book this week: Sub-titled: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy Until You’re 80 and Beyond. I don’t want to be sexy at 80. What kind of fool notion is that? I just hope for ordinary functions…like waking up every day, snapping in my $7,000 dental implants–which by the way broke in half the first year. I glued ’em back together with Super Glue and they’ve worked fine for three years on.  I want a good, hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning until my eyes are open to see if the sun is shining or if it’s raining.  That’s a good start for me and you, too, whatever your age.

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A To-Do List on Steroids~NOT

Plotting  a book’s life for the second half of the Year of the Rooster ~ 2017

All about Love, Fortune and Compatibility.

99c On Sale now! The Sheriff’s Woman 99c.

The first half of 2017 is used up~gone! Telling you up front, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions…except sideways, such as: Don’t buy a swimsuit. That’s a top tier resolution because then I don’t have to declare a diet to fit in the thing.  I did promise myself I’d recover my dining room chairs. Got one done. I’m good.  As for my writing, I hoped in the deepest recesses of my heart, I’d finish a WIP and get it published.  That’s happening. The Sheriff’s Woman has been through editing, is in the hands of my formatter and the ebook cover is in hand.

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The Art of Being Poor

My newest release. 2.99 or read free with Kindle Unlimited

My newest release. 2.99 or read free with Kindle Unlimited

There really is an art to being poor.

It’s funny that for most of my life I had no idea that I was poor or lived in poverty. True, I was raised poor, married poor, had a slew a kids and so stayed poor. I budgeted every nickel. Now here’s the thing. My parents came from good families. Working stock. My grandfathers owned their own businesses. All had been through the Depression. Money was tight. Next along came World War II and my uncles and dad went into the military.  We had coupons for every shortage–shoes, fabric, sugar, butter, gas. I had my first stick of gum after the War. Juicy Fruit. One pair of buckled sandals got us through summers, otherwise we went barefoot. A six ounce Coca Cola was 6 cents and a treat.

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Best New Year’s Day Food Ever

Southern is as Southern Does…

Southern Good Luck in every pea all year long

Southern Good Luck in every pea all year long

No Southern family worth its salt is going to sit to supper on New Year’s Day without black-eyed peas and cornbread on the table. For others, kissing the Blarney Stone or pressing four-leaf clovers in books may be a good luck custom.  But in my family  and others across the South’s Gulf Coast, our good luck and success all year is entwined with black-eyed peas and cornbread sticks or pan cornbread, or sometimes fried cornbread fritters. The hock off of the ham we had for Christmas dinner is boiled with the peas.  Even babies get a few mashed up peas. We don’t take chances with our good luck.

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eNovel Authors Report Promotion Results Part V

Small Campaigns Work Just Fine

Big Red. Patience Prevails

Back Porch Cyber Chatter

Welcome to the Cyber
Porch where eNovel authors gather to chat.

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One Awful Four-Letter Word

Write what You Know

One of my most embarrassing moments as a writer happened when I was standing before two hundred or so writers, editors and publishers and critiquing manuscripts as a subtext in a talk on Write What You Know. There I was standing on the podium, ego rattling away on the topic when a little old lady in the second row hollered out:

You didn’t!

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These are Not Reading Rooms

San Blas Island Shower Room pottyparlorVery few of my photographs survived my life in the tiny mountain village of el Cacao. Termites ate them. I came across two that somehow managed to survive. Panama is considered a developing nation. Donald Trump just recently completed a grand edifice in the main City–but once on an island or off the Avenue of America’s, village life and island life remain primitive by our standards.  There is no infrastructure such as mail service, gas stations, newspaper delivery, air-conditioned grocery stores or sewer systems as we know it. One will find tepid to hot water only in grand hotels or wealthy homes. I don’t consider a nation developed until it can provide door-to-door mail service–or at the very least, a post office.  Outside the city in tiny villages and on islands no one has street addresses. So here are snapshots of two necessaries–one of which natives built for me on the tiny plot of jungle I rented for twenty-dollars a month, and the other on a Cuna Indian/San Blas Island that caters to tourists.  The necessary on the island was relatively safe–no snakes, no tarantulas, no scorpions. Not so with my own necessary. Its damp, cool interior was a magnet for creepy-crawlies. To use it I had a routine. Light a stick soaked in kerosene from my cook fire and while blazing, wave it beneath the ‘seat’ and all around the base and in dark corners, then wait for the scorpions and spiders and bats to scatter. I will admit to being in a hurry once and ignored the routine. I reached for the toilet paper perched on a stick and discovered a juvenile bushmaster curled atop the roll.  For two hours it watched me and I watched it. Of course, I only moved my eyes. At dusk the geckos came out and the baby snake shot out of its coil.  Truth: I thought I was dead right there, but no; the little gecko met his demise. I learned something about myself though–I can do a fifty-yard dash with my pants around my ankles.

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Big Momma Freeman from Beyond Fate

Writers are often asked where we get  characters for a book. I am always hard pressed to find an answer. I think they live in a parallel universe and spend their time flitting about the ozone until they land in my brain. When they’re in a book, they’re characters. In my mind, they’re actual people—and they want their stories told.  However, one character in Beyond Fate actually arrived in my life as a living, breathing human being—not a person conjured up out of quarks and anti-matter.          
I actually found Big Momma Freeman who owns the fish camp in Beyond Fate sitting on a bench outside the bus station in Midland, Texas. Folks, there ain’t nothin’ in Midland, Texas except blazing sun, sand, grit, wind and oil. If you plant a tree, you pray over it. Otherwise the hole you just dug thinks it’s an oil well. I had stopped in at the bus station moments before it closed at four in the afternoon to ship a package to my daughter. A bus had pulled out after disgorging one traveler—a tiny, gray-haired woman with one of those old-timey Southern carpet bags for luggage. She was struggling with the bag so I helped her to the bench outside and went on to the grocery store while the stationmaster locked up.
On my return an hour later the tiny old lady was still sitting on the bench in the blazing heat. I drove on by, but a niggling sensation in my mind told me something wasn’t quite right. The  woman was just sitting on that bench, so patient, so still, as if she were posing for a Norman Rockwell painting. You’ve had that sensation haven’t you? In certain situations where you ask yourself: Should I? Should I not? I made a U-turn.
The elderly woman told me she was in Midland to visit to her daughter. The daughter had recently remarried. In fact, she didn’t know the daughter’s new married name, where the daughter lived, and the phone number she had for her daughter was no longer in service. The only tidbit the elderly woman recalled was that the daughter and her new husband boarded horses.
I waited with her for over an hour on that bench in the suffocating heat knowing full well the ice cream I bought was melting all over the back seat of my car, not to mention our dinner steaks were probably already medium rare.
The daughter was a no show. Holy smokes! I took the old lady home with me and told my kids I’d found them a grandmother. Excitement reigned. She had an archaic way of talking. I looked it up. Old English from the 1700’s. While I prepared supper she entertained my boys with tales of hants (ghosts), her vegetable garden, a king snake that lived under her front porch and killed every rattlesnake that had the gall to slither into her yard. She told about earlier years when she turned her hogs out into the swamp to fatten up, but sometimes they stayed wild or a painter (wild cat) got ‘em. I think that old lady would’ve happily lived with us for the remainder of her days. But in real life you can’t keep foundlings. Well, we did keep her overnight. I thought the daughter might be berserk with worry.
Early the next morning I called the postmaster, explained the situation and after questioning all of the carriers he said he might have found the daughter. I made the phone call. New name, new service. He had.
That daughter royally annoyed me. She swore she hadn’t known her mother was coming to visit. Her sweet, seventy-nine- year-old mother in her home-made cotton dress with a hand-tatted lace collar had ridden a bus across Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and half-way across Texas. The daughter wouldn’t come pick her up. My kids and I took her to the horse farm, and that was the last I ever heard of her, but she stuck in my mind all of these years.
She probably had a bit of dementia, but she displayed the kind of moxie I needed in a character who could cope with living in the Okefenokee Swamp. She tidied up the story. She became Big Momma in my book—and the off page daughter she was always hoping to hear from, Francine.
The reality is as writers we take ordinary people and places and raise them to the level of reading art. We do it with words—I admit sometimes stringing those words together can be difficult but word art is how you write books.
When you get to Fargo, Georgia, you can go north into Atlanta, south to 1-10 and Florida, west until the road peters out or you run into a sink hole. Or–you can turn east into the Okefenokee Swamp.  I turned east. It was just the right setting for Beyond Fate.  I believe I was pulled to exactly that magical spot by the spirit of that spicy-sweet old woman who had once been a part of our lives for less than twenty-four hours.
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Beyond Fate

Beyond Fate is on $ale $2.79  at Liquid Silver Books.  Hop on over and don’t forget to download some of the free reads, too.

Or buy on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AIEPBMU (but it costs more).
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