Saturday, April 14, 2018

FOR LOVE OF BANJO by Sarah J. McNeal #TheWildings





For Love of Banjo 
by Sarah J. McNeal



Deceit stands between Banjo Wilding’s love for Maggie O’Leary and his search for the father he never knew.

Banjo Wilding wears a borrowed name and bears the scars and reputation of a lurid past.  To earn the right to ask for Margaret O’Leary’s hand, he must find his father and make something of himself.

Margaret O’Leary has loved Banjo since she was ten years old but standing between her and Banjo is pride, Banjo’s mysterious father and the Great War.

Excerpt: (The Promise)


In one graceful movement, he dismounted the pinto then stepped to the porch where Maggie stood with unrestrained tears that flowed down her cheeks.  Banjo swept her into his arms and kissed her.  The kiss wasn’t his brotherly, friendly peck on the cheek.  He kissed her with a slow burning need and ran his tongue along the groove of her lips then slipped inside.

He tasted of coffee and mint.  Maggie reached up to weave her arms around his neck.  She stepped on her tiptoes to better reach him and taste him.  Her heart raced and heat rushed hungry waves of yearning into places in her body she never knew existed as she responded to his explorations with her own.  If only she could slip into his pocket and follow him wherever he went.  She wanted to become the marrow in his bones, to always be a part of him.

Just when she thought he would take her to her room and make love to her as she had asked, the kiss ended.  Banjo bent his head his rough cheek rasped against hers.  The fragrance of him, a combination of horse, pine and crisp snow, caressed her senses.  He slipped his hand into her hair and gently rubbed the tender skin of her neck where her blood pulsed beneath his thumb.

His mouth so close to her ear she felt the warm moisture of his breath as he spoke his last words.  She would never forget them, not as long as she lived.  Breathless from the kiss, he said, “Don’t forget me.  Write to me every day and I’ll write back.  You are the star in my sky and my compass home.  I’ll come back, if it’s the last thing I do, I will come back.  I swear it.”

Excerpt 2: (The Battle Field in France)

Once the men had climbed out and headed for safety, Banjo climbed the wall and crawled out onto the flat, barren ground between him and the next trench.  A glance behind him gave Banjo the unfettered view of the huge metal vehicle with treads wrapped around wheels that moved it over impossible terrain.  He heard rumors about these new weapons.  Tanks.  Jesus, nothing could stop the thing.  As curiosity overtook him at the wonder of such an invention, Banjo did the unthinkable and stood to get a better look.

Something hot bit into his flesh, first in his chest and then his leg.  The support of his legs seemed to disappear from beneath him and he fell.  Just before the dark void sucked him under, he saw a face, a familiar face.  He couldn’t quite make it out because he couldn’t see through the blood smeared over the lenses of his glasses.  The lips moved but he couldn’t hear what the face said as if the apparition spoke to him through oceans of turbulent water.  Maggie.  Oh Maggie, darlin’, I’m so sorry.  Then everything went black. 



Saturday, April 07, 2018

A Dinosaur in a Strange World



Sometimes I feel like the dinosaurs...
Can't keep up with technology. Don't understand the millennials. Instagram seems too complicated and Twitter, too. Everyone pulls out their cell phones at dinner and I feel kinda like I'm alone or too boring to talk to. I am a walking anachronism. Anybody else feel like this? Maybe I can find a canoe or something and get to rowing.

Monday, April 02, 2018

THE VIOLIN by Sarah J. McNeal #BlogABookScene


THE VIOLIN by Sarah J. McNeal
 Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #blogabookscene and #PrairieRosePub. #www.sarahmcneal.blogspot.com/
Blog-a-Book-Scene is a monthly themed blogging endeavor from a group of authors who love to share s time?

April’s Theme: April showers
See my springtime excerpt from my time travel novel, The Violin






Blurb:
Genevieve Beaumont dreams of a handsome, unknown man almost every night—and has, for most of her lonely life. Inexplicably compelled, she buys a violin—and finds the remnants of  John Douglas’s life and the mystery of his long-ago death revealed within its case.

Intrigued, she makes a decision—one that will change her life forever.

Is there a way to change the past and save this man who haunts her heart?

Excerpt:

When she finished eating what she could choke down, Genevieve decided to sit in a rocker on the porch and get hold of her nerves before she went down the road to meet John. The very thought of his name sent a little buzz of excitement to the pit of her stomach. Her skin tingled as if an electric breeze had blown over her.
She chose a rocker near the climbing roses That twisted their fragrant way up the balustrade onto the roof. Once she set her bag down beside the rocker, she sat there for a few moments with her eyes closed.
Genevieve took slow deep breaths of perfumed air and set the rocker into a slow, easy motion. For an actual minute, she was able to get hold of her run away emotions. Just be in the moment. There's nothing happening at this moment. I'm just sitting here, rocking on a porch with the smell of roses in the air.
She relaxed her back against the chair, loosened the muscles at the base of her spine and began to hum. Ah, that’s much better now.
After a few minutes of relaxation, Genevieve realized the time to leave had arrived. She tried to maintain her serenity, but it evaporated completely in the face of her excitement but the fear remained that she might lose her nerve. In an attempt to outrun panic, Genevieve bolted from the chair, picked up the brown paper bag, and almost ran down the stairs. She rushed across the gravel parking lot and down the narrow road that led to another time, and John.

Buy Link:   AMAZON



Sunday, April 01, 2018

Happy Easter! Pleaceful Passover!

I'm sending out some sunshine and love...

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Pop's Microscope #Pop'sMicroscope #ChildhoodMemories




My sister, Mary, asked me to post something about Pop and his microscope, so here goes.

Pop had many hobbies. Among them he liked to study things under the microscope. I must preface here that his microscope was as basic as it gets just above a magnifying glass. A mirror reflecting light from the sun or some other external light source is all his microscope possessed in the way of illumination to view whatever was on the slide. That being said, it certainly made it a mobile device that could be used in the house or out on the picnic table.

He taught my sister and me how to use the microscope and how to prepare slides. He showed us the wonders and diversity of life along with objects of interest from nature like the difference between sugar crystals and salt.
One of the things we did that I found fascinating was to put straw in water in an old mason jar and let it stand for a few days. He placed a drop of the “matured” water on a glass slide and placed a slide cover (a thin square of glass) over the drop without a fixative to spread the drop thin enough to look at what was in it. Inside that single drop of water life had sprung up in the form of tiny creatures. They were busy creatures, too. They moved around eating microscopic bits of algae and such. As days passed we checked on the tiny world of creatures in that jar of straw water and things were rapidly changing in there. New creatures would arrive and older ones disappeared. I could only assume new creatures hunted down the older ones and ate them. After some time had passed watching the evolution of life in the jar, we found that all the creatures were gone having, I imagine, reached the end of life in their world with nothing further to eat.
Our parents gave us each a new microscope one Christmas and I loved that mine had its own little light I could plug in and see things more clearly. After I left home to go to college and then out into the world, Pop found ways to use my microscope and the wooden box it came in to improve his microscope. I don’t know what became of my microscope, but years later, Pop gave me his (in the wooden box mine had come in, but transformed to accommodate his microscope.) I still have some of the slides we made together and some pipettes and other tools left from my days at Career Academy. Pop’s microscope is one of my favorite treasures. It warms my heart to have these things that my parents held dear. And I like sharing these childhood stories with all of you.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

In Memory of Our Shared Birthday #HappyMemories


Pop looking cool like all he needs is a Panama hat

I was born on my father’s birthday. As a kid I didn’t like it much because I didn’t get to have my special day all to myself. There were times when Mom made two cakes just to make me happy. Over time though, I began to like that Pop and I had the same birthday. We began to plan what we wanted for dinner and agreed on the same kind of cake. Pop was more interested in the icing than the cake so that was easy.
Pop at work in the U.S. Weather Bureau at the Airport 


Our driver’s licenses came due on the same year, so we used to plan what “costume” we would wear for out license picture. It became fun doing these and other things on our birthday as the years went by. Mine was the one birthday he never forgot.
Pop and me


Sharing a birthday with a parent is a mighty wonderful thing…until you can’t share it anymore. In honor of Pop I play his favorite bagpipe music and, while I’m listening to it, I am sharing my birthday with him again.

Happy Birthday, Pop!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! #KeepItGreen


While we're enjoying all the parades and food celebrating Saint Patrick's Day, let's think about keeping our planet green, not for just today, but all the days and years to come. Mother Earth is our home. So here is a "Green Tree" loaded with all the things we can each do keep our home safe, happy, and thriving for us and all living things that depend on her.


And, in the spirit of Saint Patrick, here is an Irish Blessing for you.


Bless you all!

 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

FLY AWAY HEART #blogabookscene #paintedponypress


Fly Away Heart by Sarah J. McNeal--March  #blogabookscene #newadultbook #PaintedPonyPress @PrairieRosePub

Blog-a-Book-Scene is a monthly themed blogging endeavor from a group of authors who love to share excerpts from their stories. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #blogabookscene and #PrairieRosePub.

March's theme is Beware the Ides of March-kidnapping  I present my excerpt of a scene in which Lilith is attempting to escape her kidnappers in Fly Away Heart.



Excerpt:


There was no choice left. The roaring river was her only hope. To escape these vile men she would have to take her chances and plunge into the deadly current of the white water. With a deep breath to gather her courage, she dived into the rapids. The icy water took her breath. She never imagined it that cold. Helpless to navigate, the current took her down its dangerous path. The weight of her dress drug on her as she attempted to nudge her body toward the rocky island in the middle of the river. Lilith gulped water and fought against the pull of the current. If she could just get to the rocks, she could keep from going over the falls. Certain death would take her if she went over, but there was no turning back now.

Shots rang out and a bullet whizzed past her ear. As she bobbed for an instant above the water, she saw that Edgar had a pistol in his hand aimed at her. He mouthed something at her, but the noise of the rushing water drown out his words. Just as well. She couldn’t get back to the shore if she tried. The current swept her in its cold embrace. Sometimes it rolled her under. She took on water. Her lungs hurt for want of air and the water burned them. Please God, don’t let me die this way.

The river dragged her along, pushed her under and turned her over and over in a mad rush for the falls and she couldn’t stop it. A picture of Robin came to her. His voice seemed to command her. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up.

Fly Away Heart is available on Amazon Amazon Trade Paperback Link
Amazon Kindle

April's blog-a-scene theme is April Showers


Monday, March 12, 2018

Nursing When It Was Like "Call The Midwife" by Sarah J. McNeal

Me at the CCU Nurse's Station at Mercy Hospital (1991?)


I binge-watched “Call The Midwife” on Netflix for days…and nights until I was on a zombie TV hangover. For those of you who know nothing about this series, it’s about nursing in London, England at the end of World War II when the country first instituted National Healthcare through 1962. I loved this series and I didn’t think I would. When I left nursing in the Emergency Department in 2009 to retire, I was burned out on nursing. After the medical center bought out the Sisters of Mercy in 1995, the demand for “excellent” care and the decrease in nursing personnel to carry that out made most nurses, including me, and especially veteran nurses who had been nursing for more than 10 years, feeling inadequate, worn out, and dissatisfied. On top of that, in order to cut costs on personnel and save money on wages, insurance, 401 K matching, and so forth, the administration decided all nurses were to work 12 hour shifts limited to 3 days a week and were dedicated to allowing no overtime. Consequently, patients were herded in and out of the department in record time. Quality care became a thing of the past. It got worse after I left according to some of my colleagues who still worked after I left.

So, when I watched this series about nurses dedicated to their patients, delivering the kind of care we used to give in the early years of my career, well, it took me back to those days when I loved my job. I actually woke up in the morning feeling a sense of purpose and eager to get to work and make a difference. My sister, who is also a retired nurse who specialized in psychiatric nursing, was on the same page I was about the change in nursing care then and now. I had the added pleasure of working with the Sisters of Mercy at Mercy Hospital. We changed sheets every single day and at night we changed the draw sheet (a thing of the past) and gave the patients a back rub and refreshments before their bedtime. We had time to do these things and it was encouraged and expected that we would CARE about those patients and spend time with them. And, for me, I had the addition of the nuns and a resident priest who not only administered to the patients, but to the staff, as well. Father King held mass every day in the chapel and he made rounds at every nurse’s station and patient’s room.

We were encouraged to go to classes and some of them were expensive, but we were allotted the money to take courses that would advance our knowledge and level of care. I went as far as Virginia Beach to take a 2 day seminar from Dr. Marriot, a well respected expert on EKG interpretation, to learn how to interpret electrocardiograms. It was fascinating and enlightening. Later on, I even taught 12 lead EKG interpretation and heart rhythms to nurses in the coronary care internship program. I loved that stuff. And I loved those patients and their families.

Things have changed. The Sisters of Mercy could not compete in the financial world medicine had grown into and sold Mercy Hospital to Carolinas Medical Center. New technology has saved numerous lives through the advancements made in medicine like stents and angioplasties along with so many other medicines, treatments, and diagnostic procedures. Nurses aren’t taught to give tender loving care to their patients anymore the way we were. It’s all about cost effectiveness and time management. But I will always remember with the greatness fondness that time I spent delivering care in the same way those nurses did in “Call The Midwife”, and the support and care I received from the Sisters of Mercy and Father King.
By the way, I saw in the news yesterday that the shortage of nurses is so great now hospitals are offering 5 digit sign on bonuses as well as benefits, better hours, and great pay. It’s a hard, often grinding job, but maybe things are changing. Maybe they are coming full circle now and nurses can give the kind of care that nurses and patients both want.

One more little bit of trivia. Do any of you remember when there were ashtrays in the patients’ rooms and patients and visitors were allowed to smoke anywhere and everywhere? I remember one of the nuns, who shall remain nameless, who used to smoke in the utility closet. Just sayin’…


Thursday, March 08, 2018

My Great Grandmother, Sarah Jane

My Great Grandmother, Sarah Jane

I was named for my maternal great grandmother, Sarah Jane Long. She was married to Peter Long, a musician and band leader.
I know very little about my great grandmother except that she remarried an Englishman was not kind to her or her five children (3 boys: Harry, George, and King and 1 girl: Carrie, who was my grandmother). She and her children all died of tuberculosis except Harry and my grandmother who was still just a kid when her mother died. Both Harry and my grandmother had tuberculosis, but lived.
I met Harry Long when I was a child. He seemed kind and robust. In a family of all brothers in a time and place where only males were treasured, I am certain my grandmother had an unhappy childhood. She was expected to do the cooking, cleaning, and sewing on her own...such was the expectation of girls in those days.
I only have 2 pictures of Sarah. One is a charcoal rendering of her around the age of 12 and this picture I posted of her as an adult in her finest Sunday clothes. I wish someone had had a journal back then and had written something about Grandmother Sarah and what their lives were like back then.
Do you have a family namesake? Did anyone in your family keep a record of the family? Do you journal about events and our time in history?

Saturday, March 03, 2018

It’s Only Make Believe by Sarah J. McNeal – March #blogabookscene #thewildings#PrairieRosePub @PrairieRosePub

Blog-a-Book-Scene is a monthly themed blogging endeavor from a group of authors who love to share excerpts from their stories. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #blogabookscene and #PrairieRosePub.

March’s theme is , Beware the Ides of March. An excerpt of betrayal from my western romance novel, It’s Only Make Believe.
April’s Theme:   April Showers




June believed Kit Loved her…until she married him

Excerpt:
A loud slap echoed through the house. June’s hand stung as she placed it back in the pocket of her dressing gown, part of her vast trousseau paid for by her parents.
Kit stepped back and rubbed his reddened cheek with his left hand while Snort, Kit’s dog, barked. June couldn’t help but notice the flash of his golden wedding band in the light of the dressing room. Her heart clenched at the sight of it. They’d been married only a few hours and now this…
“Hush that barking, Snort.” The dog quieted, but kept a sharp eye on June just in case. Kit glanced from the dog to June. “What the hell was that for, June? Did I do something wrong by trying to kiss my wife?”
“You bet you did. I thought you loved me and now…” She wasn’t quite sure how to say it to him now that she knew the truth. Honestly, she could barely believe what she had overheard at their wedding reception. How could she explain to him what she heard and express the doubts she had about his love because of it? Well, best to find a way because it seemed quite evident to her that he wasn’t about to leave her be until she did.
“You’d best tell me what this is all about, June, because I’m beginning to have doubts about your sanity and beginning to wonder about my own.” He cocked his head and narrowed his blue eyes at her.  If this is one of your cockamamie jokes, it isn’t funny—and please don’t tell me you married me just to spite your parents. I’m fairly certain your mother doesn’t think I’m good enough for you. She’s only spoken to me about four times in all the years I’ve known you. It’s a little late for second thoughts, June.” Snort began to pace between June and Kit as if to decide whose side he should take.
It's Only Make Believe is available on Amazon  Paperback   Kindle 



Thursday, March 01, 2018

WELCOME TO MARCH! #HereComesSpring





I like March. It's the divide between Winter and Spring. No matter how windy and cold it may be in the beginning, I always know it's going to end well--and I like happy endings. I realize that that is true of the south where I live. Some of you may still have cold weather and snow. Still, on March 21, Spring officially arrives and at least there it that bright ray of hope that things are about to change. The Earth is going to come alive again. So, I guess you could say March is the month for hope.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

#The Old Oak Tree by Sarah J. McNeal


Our House and the Tree


Like my father, I love trees, especially those ancient oak trees that have lived a century or more and have stories they could tell. I bought my house because it had a deck and a huge white oak tree to shade it. I called it Grandfather Tree because it provided a home for all kinds of wild things. It seemed so wise because it have lived a long time and knew stuff.
Pop under the tree


Pop loved trees, too. The old house where I was raised stood in the middle of a bunch of very old elms and oak trees. His favorite tree was a huge oak tree in the middle of the front yard. Everybody in the family ended up having their picture taken standing under that old tree at some point in their lives.
Mom under the tree


One of the oak tree’s limbs stretched out over the roof and was maybe only a foot or two above it. When my maternal grandfather came from Buffalo to visit one summer, he noticed that tree limb hovering over the house and told Pop he ought to cut that limb before it fell on the house. Pop, of course, wasn’t about to cut that limb. He said, “That’s the owl limb. I can’t cut that limb and take away their favorite place.” I should mention here that Mom loved owls. They were her favorite animals. So, anyway, the limb stayed for many years. All was well because Mom had her owls and Pop had his tree and the limb that hung over the roof.
My nephew, Matthew under the tree


Many years later Mom died and six years after that Pop died unexpectedly while he was on vacation at the beach in Wilmington. It’s an odd thing though that right after Pop’s funeral, the owl limb fell. A year or so later, my oldest sister, who had inherited the house, sold it. One of the first things the new family did was to cut down that big oak where we had all had our pictures taken.

The old house is on the other side of town from where I live. I rarely have reason to go to that side of town anymore. I don’t go by to see the old house because everything I loved about it is gone. Strangers live there now.  
Me under the tree

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Parkland Shooting in Florida by Sarah J. McNeal

The Parkland Shooting in Florida by Sarah J. McNeal

I want to take a moment and mention the Parkland school shooting in Florida in which 17 people were killed. Since the Columbine shooting, it seems this kind of violence keeps escalating. I can't imagine the trepidation parents must feel sending their children off to school each morning and wondering, "Will my kids make it home alive?" As if bullying wasn't enough, the threat of kids losing their lives in school has become our new reality.
There are so many questions that come to mind. Why is it happening? What measures are being taken to protect children? What about mental health? Surely it must fit into this scenario somewhere. How are kids or mentally unstable people getting guns legally? Are guns being properly secured in homes where there are young children? Are other countries experiencing this kind of violence, or is this just an American problem?
My heart goes out to the parents, relatives, and friends of those who were murdered in Parkland. I know they must be completely devastated. I am so sorry they are having to experience this pain.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!



I wish everyone a day filled with chocolates and love and maybe even bouquets of flowers. Lily (my dog) and Liberty (my cat) are sending out some free kisses today. Y'all be good now, ya hear?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

It's Only Make Believe by Sarah J. McNeal February #blogabookscene #PrairieRosePub @PrairieRosePub

Blog-a-Book-Scene is a monthly themed blogging endeavor from a group of authors who love to share excerpts from their stories. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #blogabookscene and #PrairieRosePub.

February's Theme: All You Need Is Love--Marriage of Convenience


June believed Kit loved her…until she married him

Excerpt:

A loud slap echoed through the house. June’s hand stung as she placed it back in the pocket of her dressing gown, part of her vast trousseau paid for by her parents.
Kit stepped back and rubbed his reddened cheek with his left hand while Snort, Kit’s dog, barked. June couldn’t help but notice the flash of his golden wedding band in the light of the dressing room. Her heart clenched at the sight of it. They’d been married only a few hours and now this…
“Hush that barking, Snort.” The dog quieted, but kept a sharp eye on June just in case. Kit glanced from the dog to June. “What the hell was that for, June? Did I do something wrong by trying to kiss my wife?”
“You bet you did. I thought you loved me and now…” She wasn’t quite sure how to say it to him now that she knew the truth. Honestly, she could barely believe what she had overheard at their wedding reception. How could she explain to him what she heard and express the doubts she had about his love because of it? Well, best to find a way because it seemed quite evident to her that he wasn’t about to leave her be until she did.
“You’d best tell me what this is all about, June, because I’m beginning to have doubts about your sanity and beginning to wonder about my own.” He cocked his head and narrowed his blue eyes at her.  If this is one of your cockamamie jokes, it isn’t funny—and please don’t tell me you married me just to spite your parents. I’m fairly certain your mother doesn’t think I’m good enough for you. She’s only spoken to me about four times in all the years I’ve known you. It’s a little late for second thoughts, June.” Snort began to pace between June and Kit as if to decide whose side he should take.

It's Only Make Believe is available on Amazon  Paperback   Kindle   

March's Blog Theme: The Ides of March

Sarah J. McNeal

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Hollow Heart by Sarah J. McNeal—February #blogabookscene #westernromance #PrairieRosePub @PrairieRosePub

Hollow Heart by Sarah J. McNeal—February #blogabookscene #westernromance #PrairieRosePub @PrairieRosePub

Blog-a-Book-Scene is a monthly themed blogging endeavor from a group of authors who love to share excerpts from their stories. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #blogabookscene and #PrairieRosePub.

February’s Theme: All You Need Is Love

HOLLOW HEART




Madeline Andrews is a grown up orphan. Sam Wilding made her feel part of his life, his family and swore he’d come home to her when the war ended, but he didn’t return. With the Valentine’s Ball just days away, the Wildings encourage Madeline to move forward with her life and open her heart to the possibilities. But Madeline is lost in old love letters and can’t seem to let go.

Excerpt:
Madeline folded the letter and slipped it back into its envelope. Her heart ached as she put the envelope back into the box. She placed it with reverence on her dresser beside the picture of Sam and her, laughing into the sun on that beautiful summer day, years ago. She twisted the gold ring with the little heart-shaped ruby around her left ring finger. Sam had given it to her the day he left for deployment to Europe. He said it was a promise ring. The ring would remind her of his love, his promise to return, and his pledge to wed her when the war ended. A sigh escaped her. None of his promises had come true.

Excerpt:
“C’mon, fess up. I can tell you’ve been reading those old letters and digging up misery again, haven’t you?”
Madeline sighed as she collapsed in the chair opposite Juliet. “Yes. I confess.” She smoothed out the skirt of her dress and avoided Juliet’s gaze. “I can’t help it. It’s just so hard to believe he might really be gone, that he may never come back.” She swallowed against the rising tide of emotions gathering in her throat. “I feel so empty inside, as if someone has hollowed out my heart with a pocket knife. I can’t imagine my life without him in it. If I just knew he was alive and in the world somewhere, I could bear it.”
Juliet reached over and patted Madeline’s hand in comfort. “You have to stop this, Madeline. Somehow, you have to come up with the courage to go on with your life. I want you to go to the Valentine’s dance and just open up to the possibility that there may be a Mr. Right out there for you besides Sam. If you don’t, you’re going to wither away into a crone like that old Mrs. Havisham in her wedding dress with her dried up wedding cake in Great Expectations.
“What are you suggesting I do?”
“Go to the Valentine Ball. Just go and dance a little.”
Madeline stood and walked to the window to stare out at the white landscape below. “What earthly good would that do?”
Juliet left her chair to join Madeline at the window. “You’re too young and beautiful to closet yourself away like some old hermit. You need to get dressed up, fix your gorgeous, wavy black hair, put on some lipstick and enjoy a dance or two with some handsome men. God knows, there’re plenty of cowboys to go around, here in Hazard.”

Excerpt:
Joey glanced through the kitchen window at the snow falling in the yard. “I’ll do it right away. I wouldn’t want any of Dad’s patients sliding off the road into the ditch. When Mom and Juliet come home, they’ll need a clear road, too. I’d feel terrible if anything happened to them.” He turned back to Madeline and took the broom and bucket of cleaning supplies from her and followed her down the steps to his father’s office. “Did Juliet talk you into going to the Valentine Ball?”
Madeline smiled. “Who could resist the persuasive powers of Juliet Wilding? It’s like trying to take down a brick wall with a wooden spoon.” They both laughed.
“I’m glad. It won’t be so bad, and I can tell you for a fact all my cousins will be standing in line for a dance. Before you’ve had a dance with those idiots, I’ll take a turn first, before you’ve suffered too much damage. Hope you don’t mind some broken toes. None of us can dance worth a hoot.”
“Thank you, Joey. It makes me feel better to know I’ll be surrounded by men who are like brothers to me.” Madeline gave him a friendly swat on the arm.
“You can count on us to get you into trouble or get you out.” He spoke as he headed back up the steps toward the kitchen. “Well, guess I better get on a warm coat and hat and get out to the tractor. Get busy with those mops and brooms, girl; daylight’s wasting.” With a chuckle, he disappeared beyond the kitchen door.

Buy Link: AMAZON



March Theme: Beware the Ides of March

Diverse stories filled with heart


Friday, January 26, 2018

Straw Men, Foxes and Monsters—the Markers of a Writer’s Imagination




I was a weird kid. Sometimes my imagination really got the best of me.
Before we moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, when I was about four or five years old, my parents talked about foxes, rabid foxes that is, and how numerous they had become. According to what they read in the newspaper, rabid foxes had invaded the city streets of Philadelphia. Well, that IS ominous news, even for adults.

Of course, I had no idea what rabies was, but I did absorb the feelings of my parents about the danger foxes were to people. Naturally, foxes became a source of fear for me. Their size, in my imagination, grew into mammoth proportions. Somehow I developed the idea that foxes sought out people, especially children, to prey upon and eat.

About this time, we moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. Maybe moving to a place so different from what I knew had something to do with my increased fear of foxes. I started to have nightmares about them. I worried about foxes coming out of the woods to get me. My mother was hanging clothes on the line one day in the back yard. The woods bordered our backyard. I felt the fear come up in me that a fox might be lurking in those woods. I asked my mother, “What would you do if a fox came out of the woods to get me?” Mom answered, “I’d grab you up and take you in the house.”
Although I’m certain Mom wanted to reassure me that she would let nothing harm me, it validated for me that foxes were definitely something to fear. I wouldn’t sleep without a night light.
In those days, we had a little amusement park nearby. It had a small zoo, mostly comprised of animals from the wilds of North Carolina. Pop was concerned about my fear of foxes. He said I was building “straw men” and then becoming afraid of them. I didn’t really know what he meant back then. Anyway, the family went on a trip to Airport Park one evening, and Pop took me to see my monster, or straw man, in the flesh. I was terrified. And then I saw it…a sweet little fox only a little bigger than a house cat. What a relief! The nightmares stopped after that and I began to love foxes. They became a kind of special symbol to me. When my husband and I bought my first house, Pop gave me a framed limited edition of a fox print to hang on the wall and a brass door knocker shaped like a fox.

The reason I wanted to share this story from my personal history was to show how a budding writer might very well start with a big imagination and empathy. It may not be obvious back in their early years, but later on, kids just might start telling stories and then writing them because they have those two qualities already in place just begging to come out.


Were you a kid with a big imagination? Did you build “straw men” and then get scared? Did you sense other peoples’ feelings? When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?



Diverse stories filled with heart