Celebrating – November 27, 2015


This is the Celebrating the Small Things blog hop, run by Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.



Thanksgiving was yesterday.  I spent it with my mother, enjoyed a nice meal at the ‘clubhouse’ (it’s at a senior living condo community) and last night watched a whole lot of cooking shows including ‘Chopped’.

(‘Chopped’ involves giving people a basketful of impossible ingredients – stale cheese biscuits, raspberry jam, wild boar meat, homemade pickles and leftover tomato soup – and telling them to make an entree or an appetizer or whatever in 30 minutes)

Around 10PM I put together ham and cheese sandwiches and we watched TV.  It was a very enjoyable evening.

So I’m celebrating:

A day where we actually sit down and look at what we have to be thankful for.
Television (I don’t watch it at home, but it’s fun with Mom)
Getting some editing done on my WIP, which is coming out in April, God willing.
A beautiful moon last night
Panettone in the toaster this morning.
Thrift-shopping later today (lots of fun, actually!)

And…What are you celebrating?  

A Bouquet (Celebrations Blog Hop, November 19, 2015)


This is the Celebrating the Small Things blog hop, run by Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.



Today I am celebrating two things.

First, if anyone has been following this, my mother is home, considerably improved, and talking about moving closer to her family.  She’s one of those elders who made the cross-over from being a respected parent to a good friend.


Several grownups that I knew as a child did that.  Friends’ parents who became friends in themselves, as valued as their children, my friends.  Sometimes more so.  I remember once being asked to speak at the funeral of one.   Delightful man, full of wisdom and goodness and humor, who lived to a lovely, ripe age.  I had never delivered a eulogy before.  


And a bouquet:

…this week, checking my website, which is getting an overhaul, I happened to stumble across this comment from a reader, aged 80, who had read my Egyptian series  The Memphis Cycle:

I enjoyed reading your books. They make historical names come alive. I had been to Egypt and seen the Pyramids. I was even fortunate to see the mummy of the boy king &and all the artifacts. It made me wonder how come such a well developed and great civilization came to an unknown end. How come they disappeared from the face of earth? I was always curious to know about them.Your books made me feel that they had a very similar life to ours. Thanks for writing these books.I do hope you will continue with Memphis Cycle. with regards (name)

What a lovely thing to read!  I am smiling as I write this.  …And that is why I write.  

I hope you all have wonderful weeks!


And…What are you celebrating?  

Veterans Day, 2015



        Happy Veterans Day to all who served, giving their time, and often their health and their lives, in the service of their countries. 

        Veterans Day always makes me remember something that happened when I was a Docent at the Civil War Museum in Philadelphia.  It was an interesting place, originally started by an association of retired Union Army officers, who donated their collections of memorabilia, much of it legendary. As they died off, the house in which they met was established as the museum. 

        People often came to look up relatives or ancestors (I found two of mine, and it was like meeting old friends) and research for theses or novels (as did I).   

        I enjoyed the time, and the collections themselves had interesting stories, some of them sad, some of them very amusing.

        I remember one afternoon, though, when I paused to speak with another docent.  He was laughing at something that had just happened. 

        “Oh, someone came in and wanted to look up his great-grandfather or someone.  Said he’d served in the Union Navy!  He wanted to know about the fellow, find the name of his ship.” 

        “Did you find him?” I asked, remembering how hard it had been to find Josef Myers of Ohio, my great-great grandfather. 

        “I certainly did.”  The other was laughing.  “Yeah, I found him!  Hah!  He spent the entire war assigned to a ship that stayed in Philadelphia.” 

        I frowned, but said nothing more.  I did mention it to my father, who had served as a naval officer in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.  Dad, bless him, summarized things in his usual pithy fashion. 

        “He thought that was laughable?” Dad said.  “I bet he never served.  Listen: that man went where he was sent and did what he had to do.  He had no say in whether they were fighting other ships or enforcing the blockade.  For all he knew he might have been sent into battle at any moment.  He was a veteran, with no reason to hang his head and feel foolish.  I hope that fellow was proud of his grandfather, no matter what that idiot said!”

Ah, Dad!  I still miss you.  Happy Veterans Day to all who served.

Insecure Writers’ Support Group November 4, 2015


Today is the first Wednesday of the month, which means it is IWSG day. The once-a-month blog hop started by Alec Cavanaugh . IWSG = Insecure Writers’ Support Group (click the words to visit)


Today’s cohosts are: Stephen Tremp,Karen Walker, Denise Covey, and Tyrean Martinson.  

They will be visiting everyone and his brother and adding useful comments (I can attest to this) and are, in addition, interesting and useful contributors in their own rights.  Go ahead and visit them.  While you’re at it, stop by the web page for the IWSG: http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/

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Like everyone who writes, I have spent time trying to stem the spate of fabulous (to me, at least) words that came tumbling from my fingertips (or my ball point pen, depending on where I was).  Words that said just what I wanted to, that surprised me, that were a delicious surprise and so very fitting to what I was hoping to produce.  Better, in fact.

Never mind the fact that everyone else was reacting to my (read aloud) words in a fashion that made me realize that they had ears stuffed with earwax and could not hear my wonderful words.  I  knew they were good.


And, actually, when I looked the words over and worked on them and straightened them out, they actually were pretty decent, said what I wanted to say in a way that I thought was good (you do, after all, have to have some confidence in your own ability.  Running around and saying ‘I’m just terrible!’ is no more modest and truthful than shouting that you’re the best writer ever to come along.) 

The times do come, however, when the words themselves won’t come.  When I’m too tired to write, even though I want to tell a story and have an idea where the story is going.  I”m just too tired.

That has been happening recently.  Things get in the way.  Time gets away from me.  I just don’t have the time (I think), or I just don’t have the strength.  Or – and this is a major concern for me – the two stories that I have in the works have become stale.  I just…can’t…move.

And we all, or at least I  do, need to write.  I’m a writer, aren’t I?

I joined NaNoWriMo, thinking that cranking out 50K words to flesh out one of my WIPs would be the perfect way to kick off a new, lively, vital endeavor.  1400 words per day is not bad.  Let us be reasonable, here.  1400 words equals about 6 pages of double-spaced 12 point font typing.  A piece of cake.  

The first day of NaNoWriMo, I got in late, sat down, fired up my trusty laptop, and got ready to just write.  I closed my eyes, positioned my fingers on the keyboard, and typed my little heart out.  And, ladies and gentlemen, here is a part of what I wrote, as I discovered the next day, trembling with anticipation.  I kid you not, cross my heart and hope to die:


(Note: this would be book 3 of my Memphis Cycle, set in the Egypt of Ramesses the Great)

It was midnight and he was in the library of Opet.  Room after room, filled  with the scent of parchment and ink.  Tallow-topped torches at in the brackets along the wall. The golumes stood in rows against the walls, their contents carefully noted, tyheir writers loggedin the register.  He knew there were some there written by Amunhorkhebechef, Crown Prince of Egypt He di dot try to locat them.  His memory of the dispatches he had written were devastaig to thos wh o did hot know better.je [pire dfrp the fasl at jos be;t/  oOt was

He was writing by tye light of a single lamp.  Troop movements, ,bits of wisdom from thutors Iii. This was wor that he enjoyed, but it was gruelojng  His ajestywrote I a tight hand, rigidly daoj Ahw dlla  OR DE HWWLRH, ” HW iwa deo ou

 Je njad dpe jos dit9oes [er the guidance received fro hiu pve tjselves  She was a queen, a beauty, a woje to love a follow through light.

Dang, that’s good, no?  Just makes you want to read more, right?  Rush right out and pull out eveything that Diana Wilder has written, it touches your soul so profoundly.  Yeah, I agree.  743 words of pure fabulosity!  Wow, whoopee ding!

Yeah, right…

I scrapped NaNoWriMo.  It was a rough patch for me, and I might as well accept it, thought I.  These times come.  They’re the bad times that balance the good times through which you must work.  Hitch up your courage, take a deep breath, resolve to hang in there and put out a word here, a word there…  Watch it add up…

Well, folks, let me tell you what happened today.  I was sitting at my ‘real’ job, and a sudden twist of plot popped into my head. What if…?  Hmmmm…  It was a busy day.  I paused and thought about it, long enough to make an impression so that I could remember it, and moved on.  This evening, sitting with friends, I had a sudden idea for a conversation that would follow that twist.  Perfect!  It would work!  It brought new life to the story and added depth!  I opened my purse and looked for my notebook.

Not there.  Dang!  I cast about for something to write on: anything at all!  And I found some cash register receipts.  The backs were blank.   I did have my trusty pen (three, in fact).  I started jotting.

My friends watched me in silence, their eyebrows raised.  One of them said “Do you want to borrow my notebook?  I have one in my purse…”  I gave her The Look and kept writing.  And here is what I have:

Not terribly legible, but it captures a bit of conversation that I can work with.  And, more importantly, it captures that spark of inspiration I had at my desk.  I am very familiar with these characters, I know their quirks, and if they existed outside my own head, I’d invite them to lunch in a little local place I discovered that makes the best BLT sandwiches and has moreover, poetry nights with open mikes.  It would be a lot of fun.  They are people of humor and substance.  And they had, somehow, stepped in and saved my story.

…And NaNoWriMo is back on.

The point to all this is that, yes, the difficult times are there.  Creating anything always involves a struggle, as a philosopher said.  We all tend toward Chaos, and creating something out of nothing is fighting against that chaos.  Or so one writer whom I really admire said.  Whatever the underlying cause, my lesson, which I pass on, is not a new one:

Hang in there.  Let things work together, do what you can – and be prepared to be surprised.

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Visit the other blogs on this wonderful hop.  I guarantee, the other bloggers have a lot more to say, and a lot more on point.  (Cough!)

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