Category Archives: Writer’s Blog

3 Tricks for Tapping Muse’s Goldmine

 

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Muse has a goldmine. Wordsmiths get writer’s block unnecessarily.

Every day, from the time we’re born until the day we die, our minds are bombarded with information, sensory stimulation, and our own associations created by incoming data.

What does this mean for the writer/artist? In a word, plenty. We experience this tsunami of ever-changing data. Our creative minds vacuum it in as fodder for whatever we do.

The danger lies in a lack of focus on specifics. News stories change every few minutes. A simple trip to the grocery store garners usable scenarios, characters, etc. Unless, of course, it only generates frustration, at which time some benefit is lost.

For Muse, this constant stream of information and impression is a goldmine. Like many goldmines, tapping Muse’s vein isn’t always the easiest of tasks. Ask any writer who’s been challenged on the battlefield by that nemesis of all contenders, WRITER’S BLOCK.

Here are 3 easy tricks to gain entrance to Muse’s gold mine:

  1. Never believe the mine is empty. If you do, you might as well hang up your hard hat. Instead, allow yourself to sit in that dark shaft of possibilities and listen. That’s all. Listen. What do you hear? Your heartbeat? A neighbor outside working in his yard? The cat in the litter box? A faint tune coming from somewhere far away?

abstract_2008012903-1113int.epsWhatever it is that you hear, or that impresses you the most, focus on it for a few minutes. With your eyes closed and your focus locked on, take up a pen and write everything that crosses your mind during the focus. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to impress. All it needs to do is find outlet. After a few minutes of writing, you will have something unique that can provide the core of a story, a poem, a painting, a song, or an article; all because you closed your eyes and listened.

  1. Think back to a memory from childhood. Pick a vivid one. Close your eyes. Allow yourself to sink back into it, to feel those moments. Are you with someone? Who and why? Where are you, where did you just come from, and where are you going? What’s the conversation about, if you’re speaking with someone else? Why is this memory important to you? Did that experience color your life in a way that led to the present, and how did it influence your life? Write it down as you’re watching it in your mind. It’s your personal movie.
  2. Give yourself permission to stare out a window and allow your mind to float wherever it wants. Take notes of mind’s journey.
Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Each of these exercises asks the mind to play for a while. It’s asked to ignore the world outside your chosen parameters. Disconnecting in this way can free those impressions, personal memories, and extraneous gems of the outside world, leaving the writer/artist with a cache of usable plotting elements, characters, settings, etc.

The only limitations to these mining excavations are the ones you place on them. Play. Remember to take your hard hat.

 

At Home with George Armstrong Diggins’ Memoir—Part Two

a-smiling-police-officer-

 

Fellow cops have asked me for years why I don’t accept a promotion. Yeah, I’ve taken my sergeant’s exam and passed with “exemplary” marks. Going for detective doesn’t interest me.

The thing is, having more rank isn’t critical for me. Happiness wouldn’t be attached to a gold shield. Detectives always suspect everyone in a case of doing something wrong and needing their entire lives ripped apart, or at the very least, turned up-side down.

Good relationships with people are my perks. It’s nice, knowing there are good people out there who do the right thing for the right reasons. It’s nice being able to give back to them.

My arrest record is a healthy one, and I remember most of those arrests—even those people who were considered less than citizen-worthy. Why? Because each one of them had a story that was unique to them, giving them unique reasons for being where they were when cuffs were put on them.

I’m an optimist, and freely admit it. Recognizing negative influences isn’t a great feat of intelligence. Instead, my preference is to think that those with the white hats always come out on top in the end.

I’ve been with the force for twenty years, and in all that time, nearly every person in this town has become an acquaintance. They each gave me pause for one reason or another.

Back when I was a kid, my grand-pappy taught me a valuable lesson. He said, “Georgie, the world will show ya what’s wrong. That’s the easy part. But if you learn to listen well, you’ll hear about what’s right with people. Now that’s the hard part.”

His advice caused me to listen hard. Old people are fascinating. They have so many stories to tell about so much history from their own perspectives, and that’s what drives the world and how people behave in it.

Personal perspectives control behavior. Any good cop will tell you that. Personal history acts as a rudder for each person. Knowing that, I look at my own behavior and wonder at its direction.

I’ve learned when to push and when to back off, how to smile when smiles come hard, and how not to interfere in business that isn’t mine. I’ve also learned how to wait and that patience has a price.

My eyes have seen more of the seamy side of life than most. Yet, tucked away inside grimy spaces are sometimes those who know nothing different and who ask little of the world aside from privacy and respect.

Along the way, a certainty has grown inside me; a certainty that says each of us holds at least one secret we don’t intend the world to know. The secret doesn’t need to be heinous or forbidden. It might only be something cherished.

Silly thoughts, perhaps, for a beat cop, but they are a part of me.

 

Memoir & Backstory Blog Challenge,
2013 Participants:
(Read about the 2013 Challenge – click here)

Jane Ann McLachlan
Joy Weese Moll @joyweesemoll
Amanda M Darling
Katie Argyle
PK Hrezo
Stacey Rene
Claudette Young
Kay Kauffman
Leslie
Deb Stone    Twitter: @iwritedeb
Gerry Wilson
Susan Hawthorne
Satia Renee
Bonnie
Angie
Pearl Ketover Prilik
Terri Rowe
Talynn (starting 2nd week)
Rebecca Barray (occassional)
Lara Britt  (occasional)
Linda G Hatton (occasional)
Stephanie Ingram (Unable to join us now – maybe later)
Anastacia (signed up but hasn’t posted yet)

 

At Home with Anna Belle “Spicy” Hutchins (Part Two)

Spicy

Everybody asks me why Dreamie and George call me Spicy. It’s really not a long tale.

Early on in school, my Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Waverly, asked us what our favorite food was. When she got to me, I had my answer all figured out. I was a pert little girl and seldom hesitated.

I said, “Fried okra, Cajun style.” That’s how Dad always said it when he put in on the table.

She looked at me and came back with “My, you are a spicy one, aren’t you?”

Her remark sailed over her students’ heads. They were too young to get it. I remembered it, though, and so did Dreamie. At recess she asked me what the teacher had meant. I explained that Cajun food from the swamps of Louisiana had lots of spices in it and was very hot to the taste. I figured since I ate a lot of it, all those spices would flavor me, too.

I was always glad to explain things to people, even at age five, whether they wanted to hear all about it or not. Mom used to call me “Little Miss Margaret Ann,” from that old TV show about the naughty boy. I never saw the show, so I didn’t get the reference.

I always felt sorry for Dreamie. Poor thing, she didn’t have a father who used to live in New Orleans and who still loved to cook some of his favorite dishes. She didn’t understand my explanation, but from then on, Spicy was her name for me. Much later, when George became our staunch protector and friend, he began using the same name for me.

The funny thing was that I didn’t mind them calling me that. “Spicy” was different and sounded much more exotic than Anna Belle. Heavens, in the South, there’s an Anna Belle behind every fifth shrub you come to. My parents used the name for me, too, when they heard about it. Dad, especially, thought it was cute. But nobody else was allowed to use my “special” name.

A few people tried over the years and were promptly corrected. They hadn’t earned the privilege of using that name for me. But poor Dreamie couldn’t help getting stuck with her name and never liked it.

Shortly after I got my nickname, she asked her mother why she was named Dreamie. Her mother told her that after she had given birth to her, she was worn out and only wanted to sleep. She was in pain and wanted to escape from everything going on in the hospital room. When one of the nurses asked her if she’d decided on a name for her daughter, she was already half asleep and said something about “being dreamie” and the nurse had taken that to mean the baby’s name. The birth certificate was filled in before Mrs. Tucker knew any different.

So, all her life, she’s stuck with that peculiar moniker. Mrs. Waverly had a good time with that name, too. “Miss Odd and Dreamie” she called my shy little friend.  It’s sad that she’ll never get away from it.

At Home with Dreamie Simple

Dreamie

People are terribly conflicted creatures. Take secrets, for example. I was incensed when I learned that my best friend, Spicy, had kept a major secret from me.

I’d been involved on that occasion, but she never told me all of that truth. In fact, she’d even asked Martin not to tell me the grim details. I had my own crisis with Martin’s mother that took me out of town at the same time and never realized that she’d omitted critical information.

When I learned the whole truth, I felt anger over her secrecy, Yet, I held most of my own life secret from everyone. Why did I feel so betrayed when Spicy did what I had done?

The question spun around in my head for hours that day. We all talk about how honesty is the best policy and how real friendship has a cornerstone of truth. But if my cornerstone is nothing other than a lie by omission, how can I fault Spicy for keeping a few of her own pieces of life to herself?

What would she feel if she ever found out about my real childhood?

Thankfully, my mother is gone–may she spin in a personal purgatory forever. The thought of having to go into detail about how my average day went, back in elementary school, makes my skin crawl. It may have been a lot of years ago, but I still have the same spine-chilling reaction to surfacing memories.

I feel vindicated every time I remember how, after Mother’s death, I had that place razed to the ground and then gave it to the town for a neighborhood park to take its place.  I was determined that something good come out of that hell-hole.

I’ve worked hard to be who I wanted to be. Aunt Amanda saw to that, bless her spirit.

Spicy never knew that her parents and their shop were my refuge and my only contact with real parents. I never told her how much I loved them and that I kept learning from them throughout high school. They wanted it that way. They were an anchor to normal life for me. There are times, though, when I suspect she’d figured out that part. I was a different person when I was in her home or at the shop.

I didn’t keep Aunt Amanda a secret, either. Spicy and her parents always knew what I was doing during the year I  spent with my aunt. Spicy shared my letters to her with George, as well. And yet, she knew nothing about her parents’ involvement with my aunt and the arrangements to get me away from my mother for a while.

Protecting people from my life’s influences had always mattered to me. Spicy never came to my house to play. I never invited her over. She only met my mother in the front yard a few times. Even in church, I never sat with her for services.

That separation was for Spicy’s benefit. I was window dressing, respectability on two thin legs. Mother’s future depended on my appearance and demeanor, and my ability to keep secrets.

No day went by when I wasn’t reminded of that fact. The real secret is that kids believe what they’re told on a regular basis. I believed my welfare depended on silence.

At Home with Carroll Watson, Attorney-at-Law

I apologize for the delay in posting this offering for the October Memoir Challenge.  Circumstances preventing me from posting yesterday. Please enjoy this new character’s memoir for the day.

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Watson3Mr. Carroll Watson, Attorney-at-Law

I never really wanted to go into criminal law, but I had student loans to discharge.  My only choice of employment after passing the bar was in the Public Defender’s Office. It kept my bills paid.

Fortune smiled on me, at times, when I got called out of my cubbyhole in the PD’s Office.

Take the case of a sassy, little red-head who was charged with solicitation. She was like Belgium’s best to a chocoholic, and I could understand why men lined up for a chance to get closer to her. Her bail was set at the usual level—high enough to match the charge but doable for someone with connections or a good pimp.

I got her case simply because my name came next on the duty roster. No qualms deterred me from doing my utmost to get her released and acquitted.

The docket was light that week in our small burg. It took less than that week to get her home and resettled as a free and enterprising woman. Getting paid twice for the same court case didn’t compromise my ethics at all.

Romance is a sham, you know. Anyone who’s looked hard at life knows that. My new, red-headed doll, Anita Bryonby, kept me entertained at a deep discount. Her attentions guaranteed that emotional entanglements with other young women never got off the ground. I liked that idea.

I met Anita’s pimp one Saturday afternoon when I got a call from Anita about a business proposition. I suppose the proper term for the woman was madam. She lived in one of the older neighborhoods in town. That surprised me. I hadn’t expected a brothel contained in a two bedroom bungalow. I also hadn’t expected a minor child to reside there.

The madam wanted to talk to me about becoming a bona fide client on a small retainer. I needed the extra money at the time—getting a raise at the PD’s office was not likely. Small jobs on the side seemed the way to go, especially since it didn’t necessarily involve a full-time contract. A professional conflict of interest was also something that didn’t disturb my ethics.

When I learned about the child, though, I found the whole situation despicable. Anita was worried about the girl. The junior high kid had always lived with her mother. I informed Mrs. Mobley that I would consider the job if, and only if, she removed her daughter from the brothel. Otherwise, I would turn her in to the authorities.

Anita’s sparkling eyes lit up even brighter. Mrs. Mobley looked sick. I felt good about my decision. I didn’t mind doing jobs for consenting adults, but I drew the line at possible child prostitution.

That’s when my life turned toward a better financial future. I advised Mrs. Mobley to move the business to a different location. I couldn’t understand how she’d stayed out of jail all those years, considering that the neighbors had to have noticed all the customers coming and going at odd hours of the day and night. No argument ensued. At least the child wouldn’t be subjected to the continual rotating inventory of clients.

While I didn’t take over day-to-day operations of the business, control of it came through my knowledge of the law. Never let it be said that criminal law has little to do with the commercial side of things.

Within a few years, my debt had turned to a nice profit in the bank. My practice had gone private in a modest office downtown. And my business sense had grown exponentially with my new interests.

A Yellow Pages ad and a weekly one in the newspaper brought potential new clients to my door. With my name and a proclamation of ‘Business and Family Law’ on the door, the small office boasted simple but classy furnishings.

I was set for success.

 *  *  *

Memoir & Backstory Blog Challenge,
2013 Participants:
(Read about the 2013 Challenge – click here)

Jane Ann McLachlan
Joy Weese Moll @joyweesemoll
Amanda M Darling
Katie Argyle
PK Hrezo
Stacey Rene
Claudette Young
Kay Kauffman
Leslie
Deb Stone    Twitter: @iwritedeb
Gerry Wilson
Susan Hawthorne
Satia Renee
Bonnie
Angie
Pearl Ketover Prilik
Terri Rowe
Talynn (starting 2nd week)
Rebecca Barray (occassional)
Lara Britt  (occasional)
Linda G Hatton (occasional)
Stephanie Ingram (Unable to join us now – maybe later)
Anastacia (signed up but hasn’t posted yet)

At Home with Amanda Liesens

Following October’s memoir dictates, we have another character from “Dreamie’s Box” to give us insight into relationships, histories, motivations, and all things between. Please meet Mrs. Amanda Liesens. I hope you enjoy her tale from the past.

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Senior woman2She came to stay with me for a year when she was eighteen. That experience is one of my fondest memories in life. Great-nieces are treasures to enjoy, and she came along at the best possible time for me.

I’d lost my beloved husband the previous year. I felt lost, too. Joy had fled from my days, and nights were nearly unbearable. Harold and I had no children, and his death left me feeling abandoned by family and exiled to loneliness.

While I leafed through an old family photo album, my nephew’s face lit up one small image at the bottom of a page. He’d been such a sweet child, always tinkering with motors, telling anyone who listened how he would build them when he grew up. He wanted to make engines and motors that used something other than gasoline for fuel.

Years later, on a fine spring day, I heard through an old neighbor that Lester had been killed. Details were difficult to come by. I certainly wasn’t informed about the funeral.

Condolences were sent to his widow, but she never responded. Her silence roused my curiosity. I was Lester’s only living relative. That’s when I hired someone to get details about Lester’s death, his family, and whatever else seemed relevant. The information that came back kept me interested, but only for the baby’s sake.

For years, regular reports on the family’s activities were sent to me, complete with pictures. Several times during those years, I traveled south to see the child for myself from afar. From those accounts, I knew that the girl called Dreamie deserved a much better life than the one she’d been handed.

Getting close to the Bigelow family was a bonus. Mr. Bigelow was a tailor. His wife helped him in the shop, and their daughter was good friends with Dreamie.

I confided in the Bigelow couple about my connection to Dreamie. In the end, they helped watch over her for me and gave me personal insights into the mother’s activities. None of us could do anything about those suspect activities, but at least I wasn’t in the dark.

When Dreamie was ready to graduate high school, I sent her a letter via Mr. and Mrs. Bigelow, asking to meet her and have her visit me in Philadelphia for several months. With sincere apologies I told her that she might not want her mother to know that I’d contacted her. If she would like to meet me, my letter read, she had only to leave a letter for me with the Bigelows. They would send it on to me.

She wrote and agreed to come if her mother never learned the truth. The final plan was for her to wait for a letter from Mrs. Liesens, offering her an apprenticeship in high fashion design alterations. I told her that Mr. Bigelow suggested the ruse and that he would make sure to keep the secret from everyone.

We had such fun during her “apprentice” year. I hadn’t laughed as freely since before dear Harold’s stroke had taken away his smile. My job was as a tour guide. Philadelphia laid its history at our feet. New York City became a new playground, filled with Broadway shows, haute couture, and galleries. Boston lent its own flavor to our meal of city adventures.

Dreamie blossomed into a beautiful young woman. She gained more confidence and poise with each excursion. Along the way, she met the people who could make or break any future she could name, and she charmed them all. By the time we landed on the continent, she was alive and looking to drink deep of what the Old World had to offer.

Once a month she sent a letter to her mother. It didn’t matter what the postmark said. The explanation was always something like; “Hi, mother. I’m in Paris and learning the difference between combed cotton use and Egyptian cotton use. I never knew it mattered so much which one was selected.”

Alas, our sojourn among some of the world’s great cities came to an end. Dreamie had conquered her early life, and I’d been gifted her friendship. Each of us prospered.

I watched her leave, tears escaping my eyes. Hers leaked as freely, though perhaps with more reason. She was going back to a place she in which really didn’t want to live. She knew she could return at any time; that we would communicate regularly. My prayers were frequent that she would make it out again.

She never did make it out. I’ve done what I could to insure that she will get out when she’s ready to live again. Everything I own I’ve left to her. She’ll want for nothing for the rest of her life. It’s the least I could do for the granddaughter I never had.

 

If you’ve liked this, take a chance to pop in on any of the others listed below. Each carries a marvelous entry for each day of this challenge.

Memoir & Backstory Blog Challenge,
2013 Participants:
(Read about the 2013 Challenge – click here)

Jane Ann McLachlan
Joy Weese Moll @joyweesemoll
Amanda M Darling
Katie Argyle
PK Hrezo
Stacey Rene
Claudette Young
Kay Kauffman
Leslie
Deb Stone    Twitter: @iwritedeb
Gerry Wilson
Susan Hawthorne
Satia Renee
Bonnie
Angie
Pearl Ketover Prilik
Terri Rowe
Talynn (starting 2nd week)
Rebecca Barray (occassional)
Lara Britt  (occasional)
Linda G Hatton (occasional)
Stephanie Ingram (Unable to join us now – maybe later)
Anastacia (signed up but hasn’t posted yet)

At Home with Martha Tucker-Mobley

I had plans for my life, you know, like every other girl in school. I certainly didn’t plan on marrying so young. Well, I probably would’ve married at eighteen, but I wouldn’t have latched onto that first lump of manhood I got.

Elderly womanWillis Tucker was the worst excuse for a bread-winner I ever saw. Oh, he made enough money to keep food on the table, but if I hadn’t kept my small garden in the backyard of that shack he called our home, we would have had a lot less on that table. He wouldn’t even drive a decent car. He had to be proud of his dad’s old pick-up that looked like it had come out of the salvage yard.

He gave me barely enough extra spending money to get a new pair of shoes and good dress for church twice a year. He had me buying all of our baby daughter’s things at rummage sales and the second-hand store. “There’s no sense spending lots of money on thing’s Dreamie will out-grow in a month,” he said. “Something good for church is all she needs right now. When she’s a toddler, then she can have things that are new.

I’m so glad that I made sure I never birthed another child. Shame wasn’t going to be placed on me because my husband was too miserly to pay for clothes. My poor hands wouldn’t let me make my baby any pretty things. I’m all thumbs when it comes to needles and sewing. They’re only good for working the dirt and cleaning the house.

‘Course, Willis didn’t live long enough to mend his ways, not that he meant to mend them anyway. He had a fatal accident in the truck shed one Saturday afternoon. Dreamie was only about two at the time and down for a nap. He was working under the truck, fiddling with something, like he did most weekends.

It’s not like he’d ever spring for a movie or something in town for the night.

Sorry, where was I? Oh, yes, the accident.

The sheriff thought that a dog, maybe, had come through and brushed against the jack that was holding up the front of the truck. Willis was crushed. Back then they didn’t have all those fancy ways to figure out how things happen. They never came up with a sure time for the accident. They knew what time I went out and found him dead—just not what time the accident happened.

The one thing I was always grateful for was Willis’s insistence on having life insurance. I had to agree with him on that point. He wasn’t much of a man or a husband, but he did think ahead about that. I suppose that’s why I kept adding a bit more to the policy every few months with money I’d saved from my small allowance each week.

I felt I had to have some kind of guarantee that I’d be taken care of in case anything ever happened to him. Oh, and have something for Dreamie’s future, too, of course.

At Home Memoir: Hello, My Name is George Armstrong Diggins

a-smiling-police-officer-

 

A patrol cop sees a lot of things in their day. I think to be a good cop you have to be able to stay calm and keep your prejudices to yourself, regardless of the provocation. I learned that long ago in school.

Back when I started at the local school, things were different than now. Bullies were dealt with quickly–at our school anyway. The Principal didn’t allow that behavior.

I tended not to bother the principal about such situations. I went ahead and corrected them myself. Call it my duty.

Take the case of Spicy and Dreamie, for instance.  Two girls in first grade, one shy and meek, one social and sometimes loud, always traveled together. They played on the playground. Sometimes others would join them, but more often than not, they were off in a corner, playing games by themselves.

The little meek one, Dreamie, was a natural target. The fact that she wouldn’t look kids in the eye set her up for bullying. Spicy would do her best to safeguard her friend, but her efforts weren’t always effective.

That’s when I would step in. Self-appointment to playground patrol had given me an edge over others on that patch of asphalt and jungle-gym equipment. Standing nearly five and a half feet tall didn’t hurt either. What can I say? I was big for my age and in the third grade.

One of the second-graders was a born control freak. He liked to take charge and order people around. One bright winter day, he decided to teach these two little girls the meaning of respect. I took offense at his tactics.

Somehow I couldn’t understand how respect was taught by poking fingers into someone’s chest and calling the pokee a bunch of names that the pokee probably hasn’t heard before. The boy didn’t seem to grasp that concept. Spicy leaped between him and Dreamie, took a few pokes in the chest for her trouble, and was winding up a great right hook when I stepped in.

I should say here that I was a born cop, so my behavior was quite natural.

Just as Spicy was ready to let fly with her fist, I caught her wrist and held her back. “Let me take care of this,” I said. She glared at me but didn’t protest too hard.

The boy’s face took on a slightly green shade when he looked up at me. I told him, “If you don’t want to have this little girl’s fist break your nose, you might want to find somewhere else to play.”

Of course, he bluffed. “I can play anywhere I want to. I’m older than them anyway.”

That’s when I hit him with my killer smile. (Spicy once told me that I had that smile from the first time she ever saw me.)

“Yes, you are. I just wanted to save you a trip to the nurse. Spicy has a wicked swing, though. You just stand there and she’ll show you.”

I stepped back and bowed to Spicy. “He’s all yours, Spicy.”

That’s when she decked our mayor, Will Harrison.

October Fest: Character Memoirs At Home

 

Today begins a challenge for October from writer friend, Jane Ann McLachlan. It’s a memoir challenge with a twist. The recollections don’t have to be about our own pasts. It can be about another person, a fictitious character, done in prose or poetry, and done for fun as much as anything else.

I’ve chosen to do mine on characters from my women’s cozy mystery “Dreamie’s Box.” This is the first time I’ve sat down to place the characters in the past. When I’m working on a novel, the emphasis is always of back story and the movement forward.

By the end of this memoir exercise, done every other day throughout the month, my goal is to learn all I can about pivotal characters in my novel. My hope is that you’ll enjoy these characters enough to want to know their futures, as well.

Here’s Memoir Back Story #1

Tailor at work

My Name is Anna Belle (Spicy) Hutchins

Back when time began for me, I lived down the street from a little girl who became my best friend for life. We made a pact in Kindergarten that we’d never have another real girlfriend but each other. Kids do that.

My folks had a shop down the street from the school. Dad was a tailor and Mom took care of the office and helped Dad pick his fabrics and threads. He was color blind and she sorted out his colors.

I guess that’s where I picked up my sense of fashion and clothing. He and Mom would design the most fabulous outfits for me and he’d sew them up in the shop. They never bought fabric for my clothes. Dad used leftover materials from his commissions or second-hand clothing Mom picked up at rummage sales. I used to sprint to the shop as soon as school let out to see if something new had been added to my wardrobe.

When I was in third grade, Dad talked with my friend’s mother about teaching us girls how to sew. Dreamie’s mother was thrilled to think he was willing to spend precious time teaching us something so useful for our adult lives. Her words, not mine. I think what she was really thrilled about was the idea that it would make Dreamie marketable on the husband circuit. Mrs. Tucker was on her third—husband, that is.

Dad gave each of us a small sewing kit that he and mother had put together for us. In it were Several spools of different colored threads, all silky and shiny. A packet of needles in various sizes lay on the bottom with a sharp, slim pair of scissors on top. A measuring tape, thimble, and hem guide all had their places inside a sturdy, yellow cigar box.

Every afternoon when school let out Dreamie and I would get to the shop, breathless, to see what we’d be doing that day. It wasn’t glamorous, and we always ended up with pricked fingers. We would sit in the back, under my dad’s enveloping smile, and attach small pieces of scrap fabric to each other, making clothes for the dolls he’d gotten for each of us. They weren’t Barbie dolls, though there were similarities.

Each outfit had to be precise, measured to the individual doll, and sewn with the tiniest stitches we could make. We had to take care with color combinations—this was my mom’s contribution to our education. Above all, we had to take pride in our work and our accomplishments.

By the fourth grade, we’d graduated to designing our own clothes for our dolls. A corner of the shop had been set up as our work area. Dreamie always faced the north and I faced the south. I always said we were the anchors for the Earth’s magnetic poles and what we did determined how the world spun on its axis. It may have been childish, but we’d giggle and feel special about what we were doing at the time.

I was the talker. Dreamie listened to my passions, plans, aspirations, and newest schemes. She never laughed at me. She would nod and say “You can do anything you want.” For a long time I never understood why she sounded so wistful when she said that.

Then one day, the puzzle all came together. I’d walked home with her from Dad’s shop. Her mother was standing on the porch, watching for us. As soon as she saw us, she started signaling for Dreamie to hurry into the house.

“Come on, girl. Your father wants to spend some time with you before work. You’re late.”

I knew that Dreamie’s real father was dead and that her mother must be talking about the current man of the house. I didn’t know for many years why that sudden, instinctive chill rushed down my spine and stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t have to see Dreamie’s face. I saw how her body began to contract. This singling out for attention by her stepfather wasn’t a good thing.

“See you tomorrow, Dreamie,” I called as I waved goodbye.

Racing wasn’t fast enough for me to get home and my safe life. All the way home I prayed that nothing bad would happen to my best friend and that I could help her in every way I could.

 

If you’d like to visit Jane’s website for a list of all those who are participating this month and use the links for them, go to:  Participants: 
(Read about the 2013 Challenge – click here)

Jane Ann McLachlan
Joy Weese Moll
Amanda M Darling
Talynn
Pearl Ketover Prilik
Katie Argyle
Terri Rowe
PK Hrezo
Stacey Rene
Claudette Young
Kay Kauffman
Anastacia
Leslie
Deb Stone    Twitter: @iwritedeb
Gerry Wilson
Susan Hawthorne
Satia Renee
Lara Britt  (occasional)Jane Ann McLachlan @ http://janeannmclachlan.com/

 

First Kindle Launched

U.S.A.This will be a short and very sweet announcement tonight.

My first book on Kindle, “How-to Slay a Writer’s Dragon: Or, Poor Richard’s Twisted Sister” went live on Amazon tonight. Getting it ready was a challenge–more because of interruptions and unexpected obligations than anything else.

This first volume of six has breached the envelope for me. Now I can proceed to get the others written. One of the dragon books will launch every other month now.

Between these short, instructional books will be either flash fiction anthologies, short story collections, or non-fiction books for middle grade readers. I have several series being written in tandem at present.

And there you have the news. You’ll find the book at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FIU6C86

Anyone who wants to write a review of it is encouraged to do so, good or bad. Good is wonderful, bad is instructional for me. I’ll ask you questions as to how to improve it or add to it.

Have a terrific week, peeps. I’ll be back soon with more doings.