5 Authors I’d Like to Meet


Happy Friday! It’s time for the MFRW 52 week blog hop for 2018!

Welcome to week 6: 5 Authors I’d Like to meet (dead or alive).

Mark Twain –  I was greatly inspired by Mark Twain when I was younger, and after visiting Hannibal, Missouri I was even more motivated. For a man who wrote sagacious wit,  he lived a tragic life. It makes me realize how much we often take for granted and motivates me to do better. I would love to sit down over a cup of coffee or tea with him and ask a million questions and let him regale me with his sardonic humor.

J.R.R. Tolkien – To get inside his head! Oh my, can you just imagine?? Where did he get the ideas for . . . (fill in the blank) What inspired specific characters?  Did he write linear? Did he write chronologically? Who did he feel influenced him?

Anne McCaffrey – The queen of all things dragon! Oh to discuss her dragon world would be amazing!

Katie McAlister – I would LOVE to sit down over lunch and talk shop with this amazing woman. I adore her sense of humor, her writing style and OK, it would probably have to be a full day’s worth because I would fangirl her so hard for the first several hours. SQUEAL!!!!   Seriously though,  I would love to meet her in person.

Chatty Chicks (Cathy Brockman, Vicki Locey, Misty Harvey, Amity Riles, and Emily Joy Grace Thompson! These women have kept me writing when I was so close to throwing in the towel numerous times.  They have shared my ups and downs.  They’ve offered a cyber shoulder to cry on, a cyber party to share our victories, and numerous hours of writing sprints! We would need a supply of coffee and cocoa, maybe some biscuits to snack on and several hours to visit in person. (OK, technically this is more than 5, but there is no way I could pick one of my chatty chick sisters and not the others, it’s a package deal!)

On a similar note, last year at Penned Con I got the chance to meet Angie Fox! I’ve adored her for years. When I found out she was a local St. Louisan, I hoped that some day I could meet her and I DID!!! By the way, she’s just as amazing in person. I hope I didn’t emberass her by fangirling her. I tried to act cool, but you know how it is, right?  I don’t think I could have been any less cool if I had met Jensen Ackles in person. GAH!!!

Go check out what the other authors are saying in this blog hop. You can find their links here:

MFRW 52 Week Challenge

Write on my friend, write on!

Twain, The Muse, and Hannibal


twain

It had been a difficult week, and lining up to be a difficult month.  I didn’t want it to continue to a year.  Rejection is part of a writer’s career, but six rejections in one day were too much.  The strain of rejection flowed into the strained relationship with my muse.  No matter how I begged and pleaded, she remained silently aloof, watching me flounder.

            After several days of writing and rewriting the same chapter to the same book I’d been working on for over a year, I reached an epiphany.  Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this writing thing after all and my delusions of grandeur were as much fantasy as those published writings I’d been reading.

            Mom was right after all.  I was just wasting time daydreaming and avoiding responsibility.  My muse must have had her ears attuned to the despair and negative vibes that surrounded me.  The fickle minx chose that as a cue for her departure.

            I knew the moment she had abandoned me, it was for someone whose talent was providing them with a generous income; an income that would keep the traitorous muse in chocolate, silk, and pearls.  I could see her in my mind’s eye lounging on a chase in a tropical location inspiring one of my favorite authors.  She stared back at me in a familiar smugness, lowered her sunglasses and smirked.  She lifted her glass of champagne to me as a sun-bronzed server named Javier brought her a sumptuous platter of crab legs and assorted tropical fruits.  I stared at the tuna salad sandwich on my plate and lost my appetite.

            Feeling like a miserable failure, I’d lost my appetite for just about everything in my life.  Not being prone to depression, my mental state obviously showed.  My husband decided we needed a change of scenery for the weekend.  Money is tight as always but sanity is worth the investment.

            We found ourselves in Hannibal, Missouri.  The term quaint was coined for this small town that is approximately one hundred miles north of St. Louis.  I wanted to be on a beach somewhere tropical–sticking my tongue out at Ms. Fickle Muse – not on the banks of the muddy Mississippi River.  I could hear her riotous laughter at my expense. Inwardly I pouted at the unfairness of the whole situation.

            Best known as the birth place of Mark Twain, this riverfront town has definitely retained the charm of history.  There is a nearly palpable sense of the slower, peaceful pace that is so foreign in our high tech instant world today.  A welcomed sense of lazy summer days offered retreat to the stressful state of mind I had been caught up in.

            A dinner cruise on the Mark Twain riverboat eased us into the relaxed atmosphere of Hannibal.  The soothing rumble of the engine as the boat chugged slowly over the water worked like a massage for our minds.  The spectacular sunset viewed from the top deck with a gentle breeze coming off the water offered the perfect sigh of relaxation to end the day.

Mark Twain riverboat            Back at our hotel, the hot tub offered further relaxation and real conversation, something we hadn’t actually engaged in for some time.  We discussed our job frustrations, family troubles, our growing teenagers, and our future.  It had been so long since we had considered, much less actually talk about our dreams for the future, it seemed strained at first.  It didn’t take long for us to look past the current circumstances to find hope again.

            As I reconnected with my soul-mate, it occurred to me that I hadn’t realized how disconnected we had become.  The busy state in which we lived, the stress we accepted as part of everyday life, and the pressure we were both feeling had been robbing us of enjoying life.  How did we get so caught up in the mess that we forgot to live?

            The next day we visited the Mark Twain museum, Samuel Clemens boyhood home, and Mark Twain Cave.  There was a walking tour of numerous Victorian homes which cost nothing, except a bucket of sweat from the sweltering July temperatures. Ironically the walking tour was far more satisfying than the other tours.

            Over cold drinks and hot pizza, we talked about Twain. I was reminded in the museum that Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer was the first book  I had read voluntarily.  I became fascinated by the adventure of the book.  A whole new world was opened to me through literature.  That book sparked a life long passion of reading, which led to a passion for writing.

            I contemplated this on a deep intimate level, suddenly aware that Ms. Fickle Muse was nowhere to be found when inspiration struck in my childhood.  Multiple notebooks filled with the tales of dragons, knights, monsters, and ordinary people that turned out to be heroes and heroines popped into my mind.  There was certainly not a lack of imagination on my part, so when did she (the muse) show up?

            We discussed the difficulties of Twain’s life.  The adversity that Mark Twain went through in his life could have easily been overwhelming to most people.  Yet, through all of it he managed a certain sagacious wit that is distinctly Twain.

All copyrights to this photo belong to Rockcliff Mansion management.

All copyrights to this photo belong to Rockcliff Mansion management.

            The final day we visited a turn of the century manor called Rockcliffe Mansion. Although renovations were going on in parts of the manor, the tour was well worth it.  It was full of lavish furnishings that were original to the home.  There were crystal chandeliers in numerous rooms.  A very large stained glass window on the landing of the stairwell was designed by Tiffany.  The servants’ quarters were more spacious than the master bedroom of our modest home.  Rockcliffe is a 13,500 square foot American Castle built to showcase Mr. John J. Cruikshank’s wealth.

All rights reserved to management of Rockcliffe mansion.

All rights reserved to management of Rockcliffe mansion.

            The millionaire lumber baron and his wife had four daughters that they raised in this mansion.  There were handles on the fireplace for the girls to hold while their corsets were being tightened by their attendants.  It was a lavish contrast to the austere home that Samuel Clemens lived in as a boy and not five miles separated the two homes.

            Twain came from very humble beginnings and a life of tragedy yet he became one of America’s most loved and recognized authors.  Very few people remember the millionaire lumber baron Cruikshank.

            I’ve heard it said that tough circumstances don’t last, but tough people do.  I’ve also heard the saying “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.”  Winston Churchill stated “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”     These are statements made by men who have succeeded in their lives.  These were men who overcame adversity in their own life by applying diligence and following their moral convictions to achieve success.

            It struck me like a wrecking ball upside my head that success is achieved, achieved being an action word.  It seemed so simple, so obvious, that I began to laugh.  The tension began to uncoil as I laughed at my own foolish behavior, my own deceptions and frustrations.  It was at that moment my husband chose to return.  The timing was so imperfect, I laughed harder, realizing he must think I’m as crazy as a loon.

            Such is my life. A series of unfortunate and inconvenient incidences, the worst timing, and a knack for outbursts of laughter at the wrong moment that could either cause constant embarrassment or the source of great writing material.  Who needed a muse when I was comedy central-live, twenty four/ seven? What I needed was to slow down and relax.

            I had a goldmine inside me!  I already had the mining tools and the raw material.  I just needed to start the mining process.  Being abandoned by my muse turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened.  When left to my own devices I was faced with the reality that finding out whether I am made of the right stuff is totally up to me and no one else.

            This modest weekend getaway wasn’t at a tropical resort, or even anywhere I would have chosen.  It was in fact exactly where I needed to be to get myself straightened out mentally and emotionally.  After reading about the adversities that Twain overcame in his own life, I felt embarrassed with myself for the pity party I had been indulging in.

            I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel and quit, and I had yet to begin  singing.  The secret to Twain’s success was an old tried and true method.  He didn’t wait for a muse to inspire him. Twain worked many varied jobs.  He worked and he kept at it, never giving up.  He wrote at every opportunity provided and created a few for himself.  “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” (Winston Churchill)

            Zig Ziglar, a well known motivational speaker, states that success is made of the following characteristics:  conviction, commitment, hard work, love for what you do, integrity, character, consistency, persistence, discipline, heredity, environment, humor, luck, faith, passion, and connections.

            Mark Twain had commitment; he kept at it when people told him he couldn’t or that he was a hack.  Yes, even Mark Twain had to deal with rejection.  Twain has been quoted as saying: “There are basically two types of people; people who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things.  The first group is less crowded.”

            As I went through the list checking all the facets that Mark Twain had, I realized that not one of them was having a muse.  Luck didn’t count in his life, unless you counted bad luck. Overcoming adversity provides confidence that the next adversity may be conquered as well.

            That fact had me wondering how my husband and I lined up against the list.  We had lengthy discussions.  We evaluated our strengths, our weaknesses, areas that we needed to improve, and realized there were things we had no control over.  We also realized that there were many more things we could do to achieve our own goals.

            “Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain.” This quote by Mark Twain is one of my favorites.  It now held new meaning for me.

            Our circumstances do not define who we are.  What we do with those circumstances determines where we end up.  Armed with that bit of information, I made a new plan.  The drive home was enjoyable with real conversation, laughter, smiles (something neither of us had done in a while) and the sense that we were going to get through this mess that we called our lives.  We decided we need to laugh more often and seek the brighter side.  After all, sometimes it comes down to whether you laugh or cry and laughing is much more enjoyable.  The choice is ours.

            That is the whole key.  It is our choice how we handle adversity. Even though Mom always said I was a dreamer, she also took every opportunity to remind me I came from strong stock.  We are stronger than we think we are and able to do much more than we think we can.  It was time to revisit my dreams, and apply myself to achieving them.  Those dreams became a vision.  The vision became a plan to which I added the determination and perseverance.  I made up my mind to pursue those dreams, and not let anything stop me.

           I posted the words of Winston Churchill next to my desk: “Never, never, never give up.” 

            Less than a week later that fickle muse returned in her lazy manner.  She made a grand entrance.  The large brimmed white sun hat tossed on the sofa, she sank into the easy chair with a resolved sigh.  I ignored her.  She brushed an imaginary piece of fuzz from her gloriously tanned arm, then smoothed her designer dress over her flawless figure.  I continued to work.  There was a great deal of gesticulations and posturing before the slightest whisper of exhaled breath as she stated “Well, I’m here.  I guess we can get started now.”

            I mentally told her to go back to where she’d been.  I politely stated there were other writer’s who were waiting for her and she was wasting her time with me.  That mischievous smirk of hers appeared.  She was rather dense and didn’t catch on for a few minutes.  Never looking away from my screen as my fingers flew fast and furious trying to keep up with my brain, I reassured her she could go.

            Several minutes later she sidled up beside me to critique whatever tripe I had been working on while she’d been away.  That was when I had to be blunt.  “This just isn’t working out.  It’s me, not you. You’re fired.  You can let yourself out.”

            As I continued working on the scene that played out on the screen before me, a sense of achievement and a new-found freedom settled in.  Even if I fail, I’ll give it my best efforts.  It won’t be for lack of trying, or from fear of failure.  My conviction is that I will succeed; it’s only a matter of time.

            “History is” as Churchill stated, “written by the victors”.

Write on my friends – I know I will!

Ellie’s Top Ten


This week on the MSHP blog tour, we are supposed to share our top ten favorite books of all time and on the flip side of that, our top ten most hated or disliked books. This is a hard assignment for me.  First of all I have to narrow it down to only 10 I like.  Do you have any idea how difficult that is?

Secondly, we’re suppose to express why they are  our favorites.  This one really  made me think. I know you’re chomping at the bits so let’s get on with it.

tom1.  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.  This was the first book I read willingly.  When I was in grade school, I hated the assigned reading.  When I checked this book out of the library, my adventures began.  I imagined myself as Tom.  I lived on the Mississippi – I could be an adventurer too.  It kicked off a lifelong love of reading for me.

nancy drew        2.  Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene  Pick one ,  pick a dozen.  I        would challenge myself to solve the mysteries faster and faster.  Granted, having gone back to read them  in my adulthood they are a little corny.  Never the less, Nancy got me through to High School where I found Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple.  I think my initial love of Nancy has led to my love of Richard Castle.  Can I get a witness there?  Anyone?  I’ve read many mysteries and I always love a good mystery.  If the author can surprise me at the end, he/she is a good writer!  It’s like playing Clue, and I am determined to win.  Although I don’t read the books anymore,  I recently got a new Nancy Drew game for my PC; LOVE IT!

sherlock    3. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  Well, wouldn’t you expect  me to upgrade to Sherlock from Nancy?  Somewhere in high school Agatha Christie lost her hold on my imagination and I discovered the world of Sherlock Holmes.  I love his scientific mind, his deductive reasoning, and intriguing capers.

Lord of the Rings         4.  Lord of the Rings by J.R. R. Tolkien; yep nerd from way back.  I read these in junior high, long before there was any blockbuster movies.  Long before Orlando became Legolas, long before Viggo Mortensen player Aragorn,  I was tucked away  on the porch swing, or on the sofa, or in a bean bag chair, on the bus, wherever I found to read I lost myself in Middle Earth.

Le Morte de Arthur              5.  Le Morte d’ Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory;  I read this book my senior year of high school. I had already developed a love for mythology and legends and later that year the movie Excalibur, came out.  It remains one of my favorite book and my favorite movies.   There are many versions of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, but this remains by far my favorite.  I find myself fault-finding with  lesser versions.  KIng Arthur shall forever live  on in my mind.

dragonriders              6. Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey.  OK,  you caught me I’ve cheated.  I’m giving you series instead of books.  Sometimes you just cant’ pick one out of a series, you have to go with the big picture.  Anne McCaffrey painted a magical world for me, one with dragons that were beautiful, fierce, magnificent creatures.  If I had to choose one, it would be The White Dragon, but that’s just not really fair.  The world of Pern was vivid, the writing articulate, and the imagery was astounding.

sense

7.  Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen;  I adore Jane Austen’s books. Of all of them this is my favorite.  The foolish notions of a young girl that is trusting and naive, a scoundrel without morals, the intricate delicacies of proper etiquette in the English country side – her books have it all.   “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds. Or bends with the remover to remove. Oh no! It is an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken. Willoughby. Willoughby. Willoughby.”      Deeply pouring out her heart in the midst of  the pouring rain, Marianne quotes Shakespeare to convey her  despair at Willoughby’s betrayal.

outlander                 8.  The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon; Jamie Frazier and  Clair – wow what a tale of romance.  This series  sweeps readers into her mesmerizing world brimming with history, romance, and adventure.  It involves time travel, the Scottish highlands, men in kilts, warfare, danger, betrayal,  and let’s not forget the  passion.  Of all the books, Dragonfly In Amber is my favorite, but I love the whole series.

dark highlander         9. The Dark Highlander by Karen Marie Moning;   OK, i have Dageus’ book showing, but  in all honesty all of her highlander books are amazing.   I’ve already told my readers I love the Fever series.  Of all her Highlander books it’s a toss-up between Dageus, or Cian.   Once you open the covers of a Moning book you won’t want to put them down.

angus         10. The Georgie Nicholson series by Louise Rennison; this is the first book, there are ten books in this series and they are hysterically funny.  Lousie Rennison had me laughing  from the first chapter all the way through.  I read this first one because my daughter brought it home from school and I was like  ” what the heck?”  Then I bribed her to bring me the rest from the school library until we could get to Barnes & Noble to buy the set.     this is all about teen angst in hysterical stereophonic Dolby surround sound.

As it’s taken me nearly 3 hours to narrow my liked books down to ten,  you’ll have to come back next time for my worst ten list.  SORRY!  Family life calls.

Until next time keep reading and write on my friends, write on!