Monday, August 30, 2010

Hometown Girl

Michele Ashman Bell is celebrating her release of Hometown girl with a blog tour and $50 Giveaway. Click on her name to go to her website and get more details.

I attended a class in April taught by Ms. Bell and found it engaging and wonderful so I am excited to read her Butterfly Girls series! The back of the second book Hometown Girl says,

Jocelyn Rogers’s life is in a rut. Maybe she should step outside her comfort zone and move to Milford Falls, where she has inherited her grandmother’s house. With the encouragement of the other Butterfly Girls, Jocelyn musters her courage and starts a new life.

However, when she arrives in the small town that holds both good and bad memories for her, she discovers the house in worse shape than she expected, and getting repairs done is anything but easy — especially when it comes to dealing with Jack Emerson, a man who seems to be agitated by Jocelyn and everyone else within a fifty-mile radius.

To make matters worse, she has begun to worry that moving back to the place where she once spent a troubled summer will expose the deep personal secret she has kept hidden for fourteen years. But Jack also has a hidden secret that has prevented him from getting close to anyone in a long time. And now it seems that interfering neighbors may prevent both Jack and Jocelyn from moving forward with their lives.

Join the Butterfly Girls in this charmingly romantic story that shows sometimes it takes a leap of faith to land on your feet. 



Doesn't it sound like a fun read?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Alligator Season

Earlier this week we had dinner at my father-in-law's and we turned on a TV program called 'Swamp People.' At first, I thought, "Oooh, cool, a Sunday horror flick!" It turned out to be something entirely different. It was a show about Alligator Season in the swamp lands of Louisiana.

If I wanted to be an alligator hunter in Loosiann, what would I need?

Equipment would include a flat fishing boat (sorry all you boat experts out there, I have no idea what kind of boat it is, I'm just trying to describe it), large pieces of decomposing chicken on enormous hooks (aka bait), a strong pole and line, and a hand gun and/or shotgun with ammunition.

Non-equipment essentials would include a guide/mentor, knowledge of alligator hangouts and a great aim (or a sharpshooter).

The bait is hung just above the water along the banks of the swamp lands. After baiting several hooks and setting them out along a route, the team returns and checks the lines. Sometimes bait is missing, but when they're lucky, a 'gator is on the other end of the line. They carefully reel it in and it puts up one mother lode of a fight. This is where the sharpshooter comes in. As soon as that 'gator's head is above water the shooter is firing. If the first shot doesn't do the trick, he fires off another round into what they call the 'sweet spot'. The 'sweet spot' is about the size of a quarter and unless you hit that spot Mr. Alligator is not slowing down. Next they load the gator - head first (very important) - into the boat. Then they move to the next bait spot. They have 30 days to hunt their license limit.

It's fascinating.

One thing that really struck me was the mentors - the older men - passing their skill and knowledge on to the next generation. They were so patient, guiding the younger men through the whole process and a few mistakes. Who had taught them? Their fathers and grandfathers and so on, going back generations and generations. When those young men followed the lead of the older ones success and safety followed.

Our writing is much the same. There are so many generous and talented 'mentors' out there helping those of us who are just starting out. They encourage us and guide us and give us little tidbits of wisdom. Our writing is better because of them. I am grateful for past generations of wonderful writers. Thank you and Write On my friends!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Books Are My Drug

Sadly, when it comes to reading a good book, I have very little self-control. I am transported to another place and don't want to leave until the conflicts are resolved. My housework and laundry sit waiting, my sink is full of dishes, the kids don't get fed, I stay up until the wee hours of the morning, and basically become an irresponsible mess. Therefore, I really don't read much as I would like.

But, I love to read. I love a good story - in almost any genre. For example, I don't care for westerns, they would be one of my last resorts to read. However, my brother-in-law convinced me to read one of his favorites, a Louis L'Amour novel titled Last of the Breed. Devoured and loved - but it wasn't a typical western. A great book that, like usual, I became completely absorbed in.

There are only a handful of books that I have picked up and walked away from. What was it about those books that I couldn't get into? They were books that just didn't engage me as the reader. Is this a bad thing? Does it mean it wasn't well written? Probably not, for me, it just didn't click. As a writer, I want to tell a good story, have it be well written, and I want everyone to love it. Will everyone love it? No. It's just the way things are. Not everyone will have the same opinion or feel the same way about a book. Just like in life, we all experience things differently. We look at the same mountain and my heart may warm and fill with nostalgia while someone else's would revolt.

So, ignore the critics, write what you love, write your story, but most of all, Write On!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Illusions

This may meander a bit, but stick with me. In 1995 my husband and I were expecting our second child. One day as I was walking home from dropping our oldest at the sitter (I had a job where I telecommuted 4 days) and had an experience that frightened me enough that I told my husband it was time to move. So we commenced our house hunt. Divine providence led us to our second home in a neighborhood surrounded by alfalfa fields (ahhh - a little reminder of 'home'). It was a home that we were able to semi-customize as it was being built. I loved that little home because it was MY home. I picked out the color schemes and carpets and some of the designs. We did all the landscaping ourselves (yah, that was back when we were young and had that kind of energy, sigh). We grew in that 3B2B house to a family of 6. While it was manageable, we considered that it might be time to move in the not too distant future as our kids were growing. We bought a house on more than an acre in a quiet neighborhood. I will just say that we bought it for the acreage and had plans to build. No worries, the lady we bought it from wanted to rent it back until she was ready to move. Perfect since I didn't want to live there yet.

All right, back to 1995. Scott's parents lived a quarter mile around the corner from us and went through a similar phase, just sooner than we did. They ended up also having a house built in a master community. They were so excited about it and every new thing that happened we had to jump in the car and go check it out - if you've ever had a house built, you know how it is: you get so excited, the foundation is poured, then you wait weeks and it's framed and you get so excited, then you wait weeks for the next event (rollercoaster!) - but you're out there all the time watching the pot that won't boil. Yes, I'm meandering again... Anyway, Scott's mom picked out this dark wood flooring. Flashback to the 80s when everything was whitewashed and bright - I was still in that mode. I was a little concerned about what she picked, but it wasn't my house (no, I did not pick any 'dark' wood for my house). 

Fast forward to the 21st century. 2002 to be exact. We moved into the house on the acreage and nine days later Scott's mom passed away. Dec 2003 Scott's dad remarries. Early 2004 we 'traded' houses with them to ease the facilitation of their building a house on the adjacent property of our acreage. Early 2005 I inform Scott that I really don't want to move again, so we buy his parents' house. I am now living with the dark wood flooring that I would never have picked, but it's 2005 and dark wood is all the rage. Now, normally, I'm not one to hop on the bandwagon, so I classify the wood color as 'classic' and therefore always in style.

The house also came with beautiful mauve corian countertops and matching mauve carpets in the living rooms and bedrooms. Those were top priority to be replaced, so we hired some contractors and got it done. One of the contractors asked me, "So, how do you like your wood floor?" I smirked to myself and said, "I love it, but it isn't wood!" It's true, it isn't wood, but it looks and feels enough like wood to fool a contractor - it's a lovely illusion. So you are dying to know, what is it really? (drumroll, please.....) It's linoleum. And yes, I love it. It's super easy to clean and it's incredibly durable and it appears to be wood!

Illusions. Isn't that what we do as writers, type words on a page creating a scene in the reader's head - a grand illusion. Done right, the reader steps right into that illusion and becomes part of it, wanting to reach out and interact with the scene, be there, help right prevail and the protagonist succeed. As a reader, I love those books that I cannot pull myself out of the illusion, I've got to stay with it until the final words, The End. So my friends, continue your illusions - Write On!

**side note: If you haven't check out the movie, The Illusionist, I highly recommend it. It competes with Count of Monte Cristo for second on my list of favorites.