It Was the Best of Times #MFRW


Welcome to week 38 of the 52-week MFRW blog hop – The Best of Each Season.

From a romance author’s perspective, there are a few things that can be a plus to each season.

IF we go into the way back machine, back to when I got married, not quite as far back as the stone age. . . it was the thing to be a June bride.

I can see why brides choose each season and weddings aren’t just on Saturdays anymore. For the same reasons,  I can see why an author would choose a certain season to convey a mood or feeling throughout their book.

WINTER:

A chill in the air, frost on the window, those wonderful fur muffs, snow,  horse drawn sleighs or carriages, and blazing fires in a fireplace are all perks to even the harshest winter days.  I read a romance book that was essentially the couple being stuck in a cabin together for a few days after an avalanche.

SPRING:

Fresh flowers,  bright green grass, lilacs, budding trees, warming temperatures –  I have been to beautiful weddings that took place in a botanical garden, surrounded by blossoms.  There is nothing quite like the smell just after a rain, with new grass and a light breeze.

SUMMER:

Less clothes! Swimming, beaches, swimwear – the perfect setting for a tropical romance, or stranded on an island together. Notice they are never on a northern island with Inuits?  Because that isn’t sexy! Stranded on a tropical island with shreds of what were your clothes, stripped down to bra and panties and maybe the shreds of a skirt, seeking shelter together in your make shift hut made out of banana leaves. . . I can picture this one now.

FALL:

Oh, the gorgeous colors of fall. My god daughter was married in September, with beautiful fall colors.

In my book Roxy Sings the Blues,  things come to a climax during the fall. I used to love hiking and plan to get back to it as I drop more weight. Roxy has an accident on a hiking trail that changes everything. If you close your eyes, you can almost smell the crisp crackling falling leaves after a  cold rain. This is the perfect time for mulled cider, that pumpkin spice cappuccino, and fresh apple pie! Food, after all,  is an aphrodisiac.

What appeals to you about each season?

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Keys to the Kingdom #MFRW


 

Today is the 52-week MFRW blog challenge, Week 37- Five Ways to Win My Heart

Hmmm, at first  I thought –  what would it take to win my heart, but then I remembered a few weeks back, the ‘open/shut door’ fiasco. I think I’ll address both!

Hello, everyone! Glad you could stop by!  I know I’ve missed the last couple of prompts, but I have good reasons. No, really I do!  Doctors appointments and making final revisions on Roxy!

Five Ways to Win My Heart

  1. Bring me coffee – My husband follows a very strict Christian regime with the coffee, following Biblical instruction – He Brews.  Not only does he brew the coffee,  but on the weekends he brings me my first cup, made just like I like it! He scores some serious man points here!
  2. HE Gets Me – Understand me, get my jokes, my sense of humor, sarcasm, understand my point of view. It’s not even necessary to agree with me, just  GET me.  My husband gets me.  He laughs at my corny jokes,  he gets my quirky humor, and sometimes off-color humor as well.  He gets it when I am upset, although often he wants to fix it even though I just need him to listen and understand why I am upset.  More man points!
  3. Pens – Every year for Christmas Santa’s helper AKA Hubster sneaks a few pens or a lot of pens into my stocking or in a box beneath the tree. This past year, he gave me a giant box of gel pens to use for my adult coloring books. My favorite uni-ball pens find their way into my stocking.  He brings home novelty pens from salesmen at work. It’s amazing how many interesting pens salesmen use in the IT world! My name is Ellie, and I have a pen habit. Supplying my habit is a fast track to winning my heart! Exponential man points!
  4. Notice my weight loss – OK, this one is tricky. Living with a person that you see day in and day out,  it’s often difficult to notice subtle changes. A quick way to a fight comes from comments that I need to START losing weight. I go from zero to ballistic in .03 seconds. Seriously, I have been denying myself so many things, have given up many other things, have changed my diet drastically, have been exercising a little more each week, I know I still have a long way to go, but DANG IT –  lie if you have to, acknowledge something.  My skin looks clearer and not ashen, my shirts fit better, my shorts have been baggy –  but those are things that I tend to be the only one to notice.  Some day, he will notice.  It will probably be after someone else comments,  but eventually . . . I hope.  No points in a long, long time.
  5. Enjoy being with me – It doesn’t matter what we do or if we are doing nothing. Someone who wants to spend time with me earns instant points. In our cyber age,  it’s rare to still have freinds that will spend real life time with you.  Face to face time, where you can actually engage in a relationship.  It’s one thing to be freinds it’s another to want to spend time with an individual.  The fact that the hubster chooses to spend his time with me completely wins my heart!

How a Romance Author Wins My Heart

  1. Beleivable characters –  I need a heroine that I can relate to. I need to connect to her, put myself in her shoes.  The hero has to be  relatable as well.  I don’t get into those billionaire books.  The likelihood of some uber rich guy coming into my middle class American world is  beyond my suspension of disbelief.
  2. Nasty villain – Give me an antagonist I can hate, which also causes me to root for the heroine that much more.  He doesn’t have to be nasty in the sense of vile or perverse,  but nasty as in mean and ruthless. The kind of person that makes you hope they get their come-uppance.
  3. Action – Action draws the reader forward, narrative can bog down the story. I want a story that will  keep me turning the pages. I’ve read enough romance books to know the formulaic approach, and if the author can surprise me, I will read them again!
  4. Cliffhanger –  there needs to be at least one low point that leaves you hanging,  makes you wonder if the heroine will make it or ever achieve their happily ever after.  This is romance of course,  so  we know the author isn’t going to kill the Main character, but when an author makes you wonder if they are bucking the system, it’s very gratifying.
  5. The Denoument – when all the ends are tidied up at the end and you are not left wondering,  but what happened to that guy that was in the hospital on life support? What happened to her dog? On page 145 her dog was lost after the tornado,  then on page 187 she searches the animal shelter,  then   she gets the happily ever after  with the hero, but the dog is forgotten. Did she give up on the dog? Did someone adopt the dog?  I know,  it seems like a petty thing,  but things like this,  the author used a certain trope or character to fill space, and tell the story from point D to E, and by the conclusion at K, there is never another mention of it. This is one of those things where I would say tell me not show me.  Because if the author is trying to show that she was heartbroken, then distracted by the guy, then that makes her seem a crappy pet owner and it maight be best if she never have another pet. Do you get what I am saying? It doesn’t necessarily have to be the pet. I’ve seen it with a neighbor,  a coworker, where it is just assumed that since they don’t matter to the final outcomoe of the story,  they aren’t mentioned again.
What about you? What does it take to win your heart in person or in a book? Share your thoughts below.

Here  are the links for other authors in this blog hop sharing  their five points.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some other posts in this series from yours truly:

  1. Raindrops on Roses
  2. They’ll Survive – I Guess
  3. Binge Watching #MFRWauthor
  4. Thank God for Grace in Editing!
  5. #MFRW Best Friends
  6. Crafty Author #MFRWauthor
  7. Musical Mayhem #MFRWauthor
  8. A Rose by Any Other Name . . . #MFRWauthor
  9. I’ll take What is Purple Prose for 50 Alex #MFRWauthor
  10. Ellie’s Guilty Pleasures #MFRWauthor
  11. How Do You Do That? #MFRW

There are more but I don’t have the links done yet. I will eventually, when I get to it.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

A Typical Day #MFRW


What? Twice in one week? What’s going on?

It’s nice to flex that blogging muscle, just like when you’ve been inactive for a while, it feels good to stretch and feel the slight soreness that lets you know you’re working.

I had planned to blog on Wednesday – because I was really psyched to share a few things. Unrealistic as it was a nonstop day.

I finished two beta reads this week and have started on a new editing job for a favorite author. In addition, I’ve been trying to get as many words down as I can. They don’t come as easily as they did prior to cancer treatment, but they are trickling in. I had my follow up visit to the radiologist now that the burns have healed and I am starting a 12 week Strong Living program next week.  This has nothing to do with today’s blog, I”m just excited to be able to get out these days!

Today is the 52-week MFRW blog challenge, Week 31 – A Day in My Life.

I’ve decided to give you a compare and contrast of the before and after cancer days because it really does change your life and make you see what’s important.

Prior to April 20:

  • Get up at 5:30 am. Make breakfast, pack my husband’s lunch. Drink coffee.
  • 6:30 shower, dress and get ready to tackle my day. Mental self-talk in the shower.
  • 7:00 to 9:00 Start on my MLO job. Go through admin stuff, check the website for inquiries, reference and respond. Drink more coffee.
  • 9:00  – noonish Take a break from MLO job, open WIP, Editing job, go through emails. Get crack-a-lacking on the writing.
  • noonish to 2 – Housework, errands, get back on the writing  – OMG I haven’t eaten anything yet today. This coffee is starting to get to me on an empty stomach. HEY, what’s in the fridge? OH, look I have this, and this, and this, oh and that sounds good.  How did it get to be 3 in the afternoon? Where has the day gone?
  • 3 -4 Afternoon round for MLO job. Go through company emails.  Feeling stuffed – gee, I wonder why?  I only ate 2 meals in one sitting because I hadn’t eaten all day and no, I have NOT had too much caffiene. I still have five things on my to do list and I need more coffee.
  • 5 – 6 Wrap up any open files – editing, writing, company stuff. I don’t feel so good. UGH, I have to start fixing something for dinner. I’m not hungry. Of course not –  you just ate! But I need to fix dinner. What’s on the menu? Darn it, I was supposed to thaw out the chicken. What else do we have?
  • 6 – 630 dinner
  • 630 to 7 clean up
  • 7 – 9  watch TV/ visit with hubby/ housework
  • 9 ish – crashed on the sofa, awakened by family member to get up and go to bed.

Simple right? Yeah, not like I created my own stress or anything. Did you know that high stress is one of the commonly shared things with over 60% of cancer patients? Hmmmmm.

A Day in my Life now:

  • Get up at 5:30 am. Make breakfast, pack my husband’s lunch. Drink coffee.
  • 6:30  Sit down and read, meditate – take at least 15 minutes to get my head on straight for the day. shower, dress and get ready to tackle my day. Sometimes I still do a self-talk in the shower, but more days it’s trying to encourage myself and speak what I’m thankful for. Have something for breakfast. Breakfast is still a challenge for me but I make a point to eat something.
  • 7:00 to 9:00 Some days, I go back to bed. My stamina is still pretty low. Most days though I spend some time reading then start on my writing or editing. Go through admin stuff, check the website for inquiries, reference and respond. Limit myself to 2 cups of coffee. For the last two weeks around 8 o’clock, I’ve been doing a low impact cardio workout that only lasts about 15 minutes. Sadly, it’s about my limit right now but I hope that stamina will begin to increase.
  • 9:00  – 10:00 I try to schedule my numerous Drs appointments for the mornings. If it’s a day for an appointment, then the drive time will eat up most of the day until afternoon. Whatever time I get back, I start on the MLO job.  I have a small snack around 10-ish whether it’s a pack of nuts from my purse in a waiting room or piece of fruit.
  • noonish to 2 –  Lunch –  something light. Most often a salad with some sort of protein in it. Snack wraps, . . . I could start sharing about some of my new recipes if anyone was interested. My diet has changed drastically between cancer and now diabetes and I’m still learning. I am seeing a nutritionist in a couple of weeks, hopefully, I’ll have a better idea of balance with these new dietary restrictions. Again- cancer sucks!
  • 3 -4 Check back on the company site and see if there is something I will need to tackle the next day. Do a little housework, sometimes just one or two simple chores. A couple of days a week, my afternoons from 2 until 4 are work at my office, but that’s only 2 days a week. I’m grateful that I still have the job and I hope to increase my hours gradually.
  • 5 – 6 Wrap up any open files – editing, writing, company stuff. I need to fix dinner. What’s on the menu? I start on my menu plan –  I work up a balanced menu for the week.
  • 6 – 630 dinner – conversation and catch up time with my husband
  • 630 to 7 clean up – sometimes.  Or I have my grown children do it.  After all, I cooked.
  • 7 – 9  Relax, unwind. Have conversation. On Wednesday, we watch Master Chef. On another day we have been watching American Grit. I don’t really watch much TV.
  • 9 ish – Read, sometimes I play a game on my kindle. Look at Pinterest – the bottomless pit.

I’ve made some improvements  and I know there is plenty of room still for more improvement.  I don’t stress over what’s not done. I will do what I can today, the rest will have to wait. My stamina is improving ever so slightly each day but is still pretty weak.  If you compare the two,  there are a few things that you may notice are different.

Reduced coffee.  I can’t quite give up my coffee, but I have cut down considerably.

Reduced stress. I just can’t go there. I really don’t care if twenty other people are running ninety to nothing with their hair on fire.  I can’t. My life is valuable to me. I’ve been given a new lease on life and I am going to make the most of it. At my own pace with no apologies to anyone ever again. I’m alive and I’ll take each day and be thankful for it!

Reduced irons in the fire.  Nope my house isn’t spotless. The laundry isn’t caught up. The dishes occasionally pile up. I need to dust. Nope, I’m not making any record breaking pace for writing, editing or  the paid day job. I still have to juggle a lot of Drs visits and tests. I need down time.  I went for thirty some odd years with little to no down time.  I can’t anymore.

Me time.  This is a whole new thing and it still feels awkward and uncomfortable.  I have a little breathing room, it’s nice!

It’s like I’ve become more Jamaican mahn. Don’t worry. Every little ting, gonna be alright. It’s all good mahn. The sun will come up tomorrow and we get to do it all over again and if it don’t, it don’t matter anyways. So chill. Enjoy the sunshine,  the  cool breeze, the people in your life –  that’s what is important!

Here  are the links for other authors in this blog hop sharing  a glimpse into their day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some other posts in this series from yours truly:

  1. Raindrops on Roses
  2. They’ll Survive – I Guess
  3. Binge Watching #MFRWauthor
  4. Thank God for Grace in Editing!
  5. #MFRW Best Friends
  6. Crafty Author #MFRWauthor
  7. Musical Mayhem #MFRWauthor
  8. A Rose by Any Other Name . . . #MFRWauthor
  9. I’ll take What is Purple Prose for 50 Alex #MFRWauthor
  10. Ellie’s Guilty Pleasures #MFRWauthor
  11. How Do You Do That? #MFRW

There are more but I don’t have the links done yet. I will eventually, when I get to it.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

How Do You Do That? #MFRW


So, you know how I said I was debating about just using the bloghop prompts? I have this OCD issue . . . leaving things undone is like nails on a chalkboard to me.  There is no way I can go back and do over all of the weeks I’ve missed,  but I can still use the posts

One of the weeks that I missed was Week 11. Plot Away. . . My Writing Process. 

Oh boy, this is going to be difficult!

LE SIGH!

I definitely need to improve my process. I have numerous books that haven’t been published and I need to get on the ball!

THE PROCESS:

  1. The Idea Garden – every great story starts with an ideal. Every idea doesn’t have to be great. You can have five writers use the same basic plot and write five different stories and one of them might be great. Take for instance romance- the basic plot of any romance is boy meets girl, they fall in love, *complications* they live happily ever after. The thing that makes each story unique is that *complications* bit. An inspiration for an idea can come from anywhere – prompts, pictures, people at Walmart.
  2. Plotting or Pantsing – I’m a Planster. That is mostly a plotter with a bit of pantsing. I take my initial idea and make a rough outline. For the WIP that I’ve been working on and revising, this process has been a bit different than in the past. I’m trying to write a better book. The wonderful Karen Docter gave me a few pointers which I have taken to heart, revamped the plot which was weak leaning towards lame, scrapped most of what I had before and began earnestly writing in this new method that makes more sense to me. My new method is using the W Plot method. I am embarrassed to admit that I had to go through the course 3 times before I got it. Well, I think I got it. Time will tell. Making sure that I hit the nine major points,  I then begin to write. It takes me a while to get from one point to the next because there could be ten chapters between the two points. Or in later sections, it’s only five chapters between points. The W does not have to be symmetrical! Nobody told me the plot has to be symmetrical. You’re warned, so don’t be leaving some comment in the review that says the pacing isn’t the same when things start escalating and moving faster and faster until the climax. I’m just going to leave that.
  3. Write the Words – Write LIke the Wind BullsEye! This is the nitty gritty day to day word count. I’ve only recently been able to get back into my author’s chair and have clear thoughts to be able to focus on my plot. Hey, don’t judge me! Chemo brain is a very real thing. Just another little thing cancer robs you of. There were days, it was like I was absolutely stoned out of my mind. Not that I would know what that was like. *Cough cough*  The point here is that I’ve been back to writing this week. My story sits at 52,764 words and I have about ten more chapters to add. I can’t tell you how long it will take me because it’s a new world for me. I don’t know what my new normal is. I don’t know which days are going to be good days and which are chemo brain days. Yesterday I got 1200 words down, then was sick the rest of the day including when we went out to celebrate our anniversary. JOY!
  4. Revisions, Beta Feedback, and Editor woes! – To be honest, 50K of the words have already been revised. I will have to get new beta readers because I had asked my beta readers to read back in April before I got my diagnosis. *Hangs head* It’s been a long, long arduous four months and my journey isn’t over yet. AS soon as I can get the other chapters done, I’ll send it off to my betas and then make corrections before sending to my wonderful editor.
  5. Covers! –While the editor is going over my book it’s time for cover creation! Unfortunately, what I had originally planned for this cover isn’t going to happen because medical expenses are astronomical. The out of pocket isn’t anywhere near the total charges which are over $100K, but still, I don’t know where we are going to come up with the thousands we need.
  6. Correction Center – It takes me a while to go over the calls made by my editor. As an editor myself, you’d think the calls are easy to go through using Word, but it’s so easy to get confused and lose track of where you were, especially now with this brain fog!
  7. Release the Kraken! Or erm, your baby – the project that you’ve toiled over, created the world for your characters to live, made your reader love them or hate them, all of the dirty deeds you’ve done to your characters in practice runs or in the final print, it’s finally ready for reader’s eyes. You pray, you chew your nails, you have a few drinks while laughing nervously and alternately crying, and have a few moments of “I finished a book!” before the “Get your butt in gear on the next one” hits.

Yeah, that about sums up the process. Of course, I’ve omitted the psychological process of going from the brilliant idea when you feel absolute genius to useless failure to chasing dreams to the determination to see this through to the end. But that’s a whole other post.

My process may be different from everyone else. I’m trying to focus on one project at a time. A quick update on progress – Roxy Sings the Blues is the current WIP that I have about ten chapters left to write. It was supposed to be finished in April then my world fell apart.  Valkyrie’s Curse: The Awakening is written. I’ve been holding off on that one until I get my major points in book 2 far enough to feel comfortable that I am not going to need to add that bit to book one or omit that other bit that foreshadows book 3.  Realm Wars series is basically waiting on me to finish book 1, which is a prequel to Passion’s Price and Faere Guardian. I got hung up on Egyptian gods and their system and fell into a research pit with that one and shelved it. Guess what? Soon I will dust them off and get them out there.

Anyway, now you know my publishing goals for the next year. Three of those were supposed to go out this year, but CANCER. Anyone who feels the need to comment on my slow writing can suck it!

You can find previous posts in this series here:

 

 

Write on my friends, write on!

 

Old School Reader


Hey, I’m back!

It has been a while. The radiation treatments were totally kicking my butt for a while there,   but I survived and am making my comeback.  This week has a been a learning curve in what my new normal is going to look like as my stamina is measured in micro bursts. It will increase, however slowly.

I debated about borrowing the prompts for this on my own schedule, or jump back in since I’ve missed so many weeks. A good friend said just go for it and jump in again so here I am.

Welcome to Week  30 of the 52-week MFRW blog challenge: Paper, e-book, or audio?

Quotidiandose does not own the rights to this image. All rights reserved to http://amysvintagethoughts.blogspot.com/2012/01/broken-resolutions-stack-of-books.html

I am old school, I prefer to have a hard-copy print book in my hands.  Whether it is hardbound or a paperback, I prefer the print copy to an e-reader. That isn’t to say however that I don’t own an e-reader because I do. It has nearly 300 books on it, many of which I have started but not finished. When I have a print book, I will read it through. I usually have a couple of books that I alternate between but lately, it is all I can do to focus on one.

I have been working my way through the digital material as I have been spending a lot of time in waiting rooms. *ROLLS EYES*  By mid-August, I should be able to leave a dozen reviews.

There’s just something about the smell of paper and the gratifying sense of touch to handle the print copies.  I own a shelf full of first edition books which are part of my treasure hoard. There are only a handful of authors that I care enough to get first editions. A couple of my prized first editions: Arabian Nights. YES, the 1704 edition! I don’t dare handle it too much, as it is delicate. Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Then I have some more modern first editions by Karen Marie Moning and Clive Cussler.

One of my greatest thrills is going to author events and getting signed copies from other authors. Sometimes I trade my book for theirs, which is a complete thrill to me that they think my book is worth trading theirs for!

I’m not much on audio books other than when I am listening to them at the gym and since I haven’t been to the gym for a while. . . .  yeah, that’s a whole other story. I have listened to audio books during my cancer treatments. I got through 2 Clive Cussler books, a Stephen King, and Anne Rice.  I find though that if I am doing anything else, I lose my place in the story and have to rewind and listen to that part over whereas with a print book I am less likely to get lost.

We each have our own preferences! One thing I do like about ebooks though is the price. I can get three books for every one of my print copies!

You can find other author’s take on this top here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do you read? Which format do you prefer for your books?

Here are some other posts in this series from yours truly:

  1. Raindrops on Roses
  2. They’ll Survive – I Guess
  3. Binge Watching #MFRWauthor
  4. Thank God for Grace in Editing!
  5. #MFRW Best Friends
  6. Crafty Author #MFRWauthor
  7. Musical Mayhem #MFRWauthor
  8. A Rose by Any Other Name . . . #MFRWauthor
  9. I’ll take What is Purple Prose for 50 Alex #MFRWauthor
  10. Ellie’s Guilty Pleasures #MFRWauthor
  11. How Do You Do That? #MFRW

Write on my friends, write on!

 

Memories in the Corners of My Mind #MFRW


This is week 21 -A Childhood Memory

 

I don’t know if any of the others participating in this blog hop have this problem, but with every prompt comes a flood of questions. It takes me a good while to go through the questions and decide if they are valid or not. This is a process that started with me way back, . . . yeah back to my childhood days just shortly after the stone age.

How far back? What topic? I mean, a scary memory? fun memory? life lesson learned? funny memory? sentimental? How can I narrow it down? Should it tie in with last weeks post about movies?  Does it tie in with writing somehow? What does this have to do with writing? What if . . . . and then I have to tell my brain to SHUT UP! This pattern emerges somewhere before kindergarten.

I learned fairly quickly to keep them to myself as I often got in trouble for asking too many questions. That is a whole other post and that’s not the memory I decided to share. That will go under the category of my mother, learning to deal with ADD, and a creative mind. Maybe I should do that.

Anyway, the memory I decided on is one I will never forget.

I grew up in a small town south of the St. Louis metropolitan area. It’s a rural area just outside of a small town. In the midwest , e get hot summers, sudden thunderstorms and are always ALWAYS aware of the possibility of tornadoes.

The morning started out as any summer morning. It was my job to go out and pick strawberries. My parents had June bearers, which means they put on fruit for about three weeks heavily then are done for the season. School had just let out the week prior and it was my parent’s method to make sure I knew that I wasn’t going to be a slacker. Chores had to be done before my fun started. Most of the time, picking strawberries was an easy task as I love strawberries and I would wash about a pint for myself and eat them. Cost of labor, right? Plus it was a nutritious breakfast. Trust me, I wasn’t thinking about nutrition at that age, I was thinking strawerries – yummmm!

While picking the berries, about three forths of the way down the row – the row was about twenty feet long and three feet wide – I reached for a big juicy berry when movement caught my eye inches from the berry. A snake! Not some little five inch snake, NOOOOOOO! It was a full grown three to four footer. I know now that it was a king snake, not harmful but tell that to my ten-year-old self. OH heck no! He could have the rest of the berries. I grabbed my buckets that I had filled and ran to the house. I set the berries on the counter and realized there was one more bucket out there. Out there where the snake was. I had to go get it. It was going to rain and I needed to get them. Berries don’t keep well once they are picked.

Anyone watching would have thought that the entire garden was infested with cobras. It may as well have been. I knew from experience of where we lived, snakes could move fast. We had a few blue racers around the yard, we had the occasional copperhead show up, and black snakes were common. It could have been anywhere.

Two steps, then looking all around. A couple more steps, watching the vines and foliage around the beans, the cucumbers, the tomato plants. There weren’t any vegetables on them, but there was foliage where a clever snake could hide. I could see the bucket ahead about ten feet away. The closer I got, the slower I moved. My heart was in my throat, pounding out a tattoo of terror. I was bending, reaching for the bucket when I saw it less than three feet away, slithering from the strawberries towards the neighbor’s yard through the fence.

AAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHH!

I grabbed that bucket and ran like my clothes were on fire.

Three gallon-sized buckets of berries sat on the counter. I wouldn’t eat any. Dad wouldn’t know that I didn’t finish. I would offer to mow the lawn, wash the car, clean the garage, anything that didn’t involve the garden area or snakes.

I finished my other chores then hopped on my biketo meett up with my neighborhood friends and do the all important stuff of summer vacation. (Which roughly translated to riding our bikes till exhaustion, stealing grapes from Mr. Winslade’s vines that poked through the fence, swiping apples from Mr. Eaves tree that hung over his fence, more bike riding, finding a shady place to stop and talk about what else we would do over the summer, more bike riding until our parents were home, and what we’d do the next day.)

I couldn’t tell you what time of day it was other than at noon Mike’s mom would call him for lunch. That was our cue that it was lunch time. I’d cycle back home, grab a tuna sandwich or peanut butter, drink a gallon of tea then vacuum mom’s big rug in the front room, wash the dishes then run back out the door. When Brooke’s dad pulled into the driveway it was time to head home. My dad would be pulling into the drive shortly after his. That meant it was time to clean up and start on dinner. I offered to cook dinner in order to get more allowance. I liked to cook and every kid needed money to get pop and candy at the local gas station.

Dad asked about the strawberries. I said yes, I had picked them. “Was that all of them?”

“Was that all of them?”

“Ummmmmm.”  I’m a terrible liar.

“Well,  I picked all the way down to the telephone pole.”

“Why didn’t you finish?” He showed no emotion, no anger, just a simple question.

“Dad! There was a snake. I could have been bitten. He was huge!” My heart began to race.

“Well, I’m sure he’s long gone so go out there and finish up.” As a parent, I can appreciate this now but at the time, I would have sworn my father was sending me to my death sentence.

“But, I started cooking dinner. Mom will be home at six.”

“You’ve got time. Just go finish up. It shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes.”

I knew there was no reasoning with him. I knew he was right, I had seen the snake leaving. But what if he came back? What if he was waiting for me? What if he wantto curlurl around me and constrict me then eat me whole like Kaa?

I grabbed an empty bucket and walked, head down, towards the strawberry patch. My steps weren’t cautious like before, what did it matter if the snake shot out like an arrow and latched onto my leg. If I were going to die,  then it was going to get me one way or the other.  I knew exactly where I had left off.  The telephone poll was about a foot behind the place I stopped. Plus for anyone who has ever picked berries, it’s easy to see there are red berries here but not there.

I knelt down, picking the berries as quicly as I could. I wasn’t as careful as I should have been, seeing a few green bottoms when I dropped them into the bucket. I knew dad would have something to say about that, reminding me that they needed to ripen. I stood, one foot on either side of the patch, so that I could move quicker down the row. There was only about four feet of row remaining and if I managed to get to the end of the row without being bit by a snake, or the imagined tangle of multiple of snakes that I knew were just waiting to strike. My heart pounded as I filled the bucket.

The end was in sight. There was only about ten inches of row left. I could do this. I might survive after all and not end up with the epitaph on my tombstone: Done in by strawberries and the snake that resideth therein.

A particularly large berry, at least four inches wide, red and luscious. My mouth watered remembering that I hadn’t eaten any that morning. Maybe dad would like some strawberry shortcake for dessert. I reached for it. Confident that I was about to cross the finish line unharmed and return to the house victorious.

Then the brown stick that was laying at the end of the row curled up and moved.  I had been bent over, knees slightly bent, one foot on either side of the row  as I worked my way towards the end. I shot up arrow straight, eyes wide, shaking like a leaf. This was not a king snake nor a black snake. It was a copperhead. Copperhead’s are poisonous.  I didn’t dare move. Any movement might make it strike.

I was frozen. Well, aside from the shaking bit. My jaw clenched tightly as I  stared at the snake. I couldn’t let it out of my sight. I couldn’t turn and run. I couldn’t move.

“Stay still, don’t move.” Dad’s voice behind me was both comforting and disconcerting as I detected a note of seriousness in his voice that wasn’t usually there. Slowly, he walked down the path between the strawberries and beans. One step at a time, stalking his prey. When he was just about even with me, he raised the hoe overhead and held it there for a minute before bringing it down with every bit of strength he had. In one move he had chopped it’s head off, picked up the tail end and tossed it behind the neighbor’s garage, then picked up the head with the hoe and flung it in the same direction.

“How about we have some ice cream with our shortcake tonight?” He nodded towards me as he used his hoe to cut a few weeds from the beans. ” Don’t forget that last berry, that’s a beaut!”

I let out a deep breath as I plucked that last berry, grabbed my bucket and walked as quickly as I could towards the house.

My father’s two joys were gardening and fishing. I am grateful that he  taught me about gardening even though I didn’t listen half as much as I should have. I’ve had to learn some of his wisdom through my own trial and error. I am glad that I was his “fishing buddy” for many years. He didn’t often talk, but occasionally. . . occasionally  he would offer pearls.

We had our differences at times, but my dad was always my hero. I miss him terribly.

That night after dinner we enjoyed our strawberry shortcake, and dad made sure I got the biggest berry. When I sat down on the sofa reading a book, I overheard him telling mom that he was proud of me.  That I finished the job even though he could tell I was scared. He had followed me out, going to his garage/ work shop. He watched me out the window for a few minutes and he knew the minute I saw that snake.

My wild imagination often got me in trouble as a kid. Asking a million questions also got me into trouble.  My father was far more patient than my mother. His method of dealing with my questions was to answer them to the best of his ability until he could find something else to distract me.

At some point in our lives, all we have left of our parents are our memories. We sift the bad and keep the good, choosing to hold onto the moments that shape our lives.

Father’s Day is coming up soon, if your father is still with you do something to honor him. Take time to visit him. Share a memory that means a lot to you with him.

Ironically, this wasn’t the memory that I was originally going to share, but it’s the one that came up. Perhaps another time I’ll have the opprtunity to share about the tornado.

Until then, go check out what the other’s are sharing on this blog hop!

 

Leave a comment below  then visit the other authors. Write on my friends, write on!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

My Favorite Movie Inspired by a Book #MFRW


Greetings everyone! It’s a been a while since my last post and even longer since I made an MFRW post.  Life has been – different. I’ll address all of that later, but for now . . . . on to the fun stuff!

The topic for this week –  week 20 – is My Favorite Movie Inspired by a Book.

I realize that many of my constituents (aka other bloggers participating in this blog hop not to be confused with political opponents vying for same geographic region) will probably reference some of the most recent book/movies such as Divergent, The Hunger Games, 50 Shades. Not me.

The subject is MY favorites.

There are many movies made from books, then made into screenplays. There are movies based on books.  Quite often I find that I greatly prefer the book to the movie. There are a few that have translated well to the big screen.

The Polar Express

It’s amazing what they can do with animation these days, isn’t it? Well, the book made me cry when I first read it to my kids, and that same emotion hit me when I watched it the first time. No, it’s not a sad movie. It’s a wonderful story. They were tears of joy, heartfelt compassion. Yeah, I’m a softie. I cry at commercials sometimes as well.

The Princess Bride

Inconceivable how anyone could not like this movie! This is one of the rare instances that I prefer the movie to the book. If you haven’t seen it, why not? GO – get it now. Download it on Netflix or Amazon and watch it. I’m serious!

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Based on: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Wang Dulu

Year published: Between 1938–1942

The novel is actually the fourth book in the Chinese author’s five-part Crane-Iron Series. This martial arts extravaganza is well-written, with a wonderful plot, great characters, action, drama plus it has Donnie Yen, Jet Li,  and Michelle Yeoh! Maybe you aren’t a martial arts fan, but this movie is worth your time. I never read the book for this one either but I saw an interview with Jet Li where he stated about reading the book and he was excited that it was going to be made into a movie. I’ll warn you though, most Asain movies don’t have a happily ever after. Often they are tragic. This book/movie – and the movie followed the book fairly closely – has a dynamic plot that engages the reader/viewer, keeping you on the edge of your seat.

It’s not just another cheap Martial arts movie – this one is worth your time!

Probably not what you would have expected, but there you go! I could list twenty others that I liked but these three are at the top of my list.

What’s your favorite book adapted to the big screen?

Leave a comment below and let me know. Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

O Brother – #AtoZChallenge


 

My A to Z challenge theme is writing terms.

O  my soul cries out!

 

Ode: A lengthy lyric poem that often expresses lofty emotions in a dignified style. Often relayed in meloramatic tones.

On Acceptance: When payment is given to the writer after the editor accepts the finished nonfiction article. This is more often used in article writing, not novel writing. 

On Publication: When payment is given to the writer when the piece is published.

On Spec: When the editor is not obligated to publish the piece as the writer was not officially assigned to write it.

Onomatopoeia: The use of words that resemble the sound they denote. For example – hiss or buzz. Batman was rife with onomatopoeias. POW BANG CRASH!

Outline: A point form or list of short sentences that describe the action or major ideas in a written work. Some pantsers abhor the idea of outlining so much, they won’t even write down a vague outline such as: MC goes on quest to save the world. Meets with opposition from the antagonist. Overcomes obstacles, saves the world! That is a basic outline. 

Overview: A brief description of a novel or non-fiction book intended to introduce the work to a publisher. 

Oxymoron: A phrase composed of two words with contradictory meanings. For example – original copy.

This morning at six am, the only O word I could think of was outline. After three cups of coffee, hours of waiting for a phone call, my nerves were shot and the only other O word that was on my mind was oncology.  I’m still waiting to hear the verdict, in case you wondered what the ‘O my soul cries out’ bit is about. Trying to remain positive!

Write on my friends, write on!

Till next time,

Ellie

M and N – #AtoZChallenge


 

My A to Z challenge theme is writing terms.

 

Since I missed posting on Saturday, I’ll start with M.

Manuscript – literally meaning written by hand. A term used to refer to the finished novel of an individual.  Back in the day . . .  it was required to send a printed copy of your finished manuscript one-sided, with one and a half inch margins all around, boxed to a publisher. Yes, I’ve been doing this for a while. Thank God for the digital age!

Meditation: A thoughtful or contemplative essay, sermon, discussion, or treatise — especially one that encourages introspection and self-analysis.  A meditation is a window into the author’s soul. It’s a glimpse of the beauty or darkness within. It can shed light on how they think, how they feel, what’s important to them, what hurts them, what they rejoice over. It makes the author vulnerable.

Muse – As a noun, it means a person — most often a woman — who is a source of artistic inspiration. The author’s muse specifically is often referred to in the female gender because she is the most fickle of creatures. She may bless you today with a brilliant idea then disappear leaving the writer pulling their hair out not knowing how or where to begin, only returning weeks later laughing giddily at the writer’s frustration. She’s not only fickle but fiendishly wicked as well.

Today is brought to you by the letter N.

Narrative: A collection of events that tells a story, which may be true or not, placed in a particular order. The narrative part of the story fills in where the dialog leaves off, where the action leaves off.  It is the backstory that tells you why your characters flaws make him vulnerable.

Newbie: A new writer.

Novel: A work of fiction consisting of 45,000 words or more.

Novella/Novelette: Short works of fiction consisting of between 7,500 and 40,000 words. I am currently working on a novella – I know shocking for me, isn’t it?

Nut Graf: In journalism, the paragraph that contains the main point of the story. I”ll make a confession – the only reason I remember this one is because when I took my online writing course, this term sounded ridiculous. At that time my kids were watching Over the Hedge, and there is this character in it that is a squirrel and  he forgot where he puts his nuts. The main character voiced by Bruce Willis commented on ‘he should have a nut graf and a stand by drink’ that was the equivelant of Mountain Dew. I had just read the section about nut graf. The squirrel was integral to the nut graf of the movie, but that’s all I am going to tell you. I will forever remember nut graf with that squirrel and his fizzy drink! 

Hey, I didn’t say they were all going to make sense. These are my terms and my understanding of them. You are free to alliterate terms on your own blog!

Do you have any interesting anecdotes of why you remember certian things? Care to share them?

Write on my friends, write on!

Till next time,

Ellie