Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Polite

The world seems to be going to hell in a hand-basket. Shootings, explosions, vitriolic political sniping, domestic violence. What the heck is going on?

When I was a child, one of the things my parents drummed into me is “Be polite.” I’ll never forget how I learned to watch my tongue before rudeness erupted from it.

I was five years old. My dad worked for the Boy Scouts, so we had to spend a chunk of the summer in Boy Scout Camp. You can imagine how exciting that was for a five year old girl! Not to mention for my mom, who had to try to keep me occupied.

One day, the wife of one of the other Boy Scout executives came to visit with her baby. Poor baby wasn’t happy, and began to cry. Nothing seemed to soothe him. His mother said, “I’m so sorry he’s crying. I don’t know what’s wrong.”

I said, “Maybe you should take him home, then.”

While my mother stared at me in horror, the woman said, “Maybe I should,” and she packed him up and left.

Boy, did I get scolded! But the worst part was, my mother told me I had to go over to the woman’s cabin and apologize for being rude. Naturally, I wandered out to play and in short order, managed to forget I was supposed to apologize.

Evening came, dinner was over, I was in my pajamas. Mom asked me, “Did you go over to apologize?”

I’m sure I went white. I mumbled, “No, I didn’t.” She wouldn’t make me go in the dark, would she?

“You’ll have to go now, then,” she said firmly, in that voice that meant there would be no argument allowed.

So, bundled up in my bathrobe and slippers, I slunk over to the nearby cabin and knocked on the door. The woman came to the door and when I saw her, I started to cry. I was crying so hard, I could barely get out the words: “I’m…sob!…sorry…gasp!…I was…honk!…rude today.”

She and her husband were amazingly nice, bringing me into their cabin for a cup of cocoa and assuring me all was fine. It was quite an ordeal, but I survived it. BUT you better believe I learned my lesson and never, ever was that rude again.

So what does this have to do with the sorry state of the world?

I’m convinced if everyone used their best manners, was polite when dealing with friends and strangers alike, the world would be a much nicer, friendlier, safer place. So everyone, please dust off those manners and let’s make the world the way it ought to be: beautiful.

Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Oz

When I was a kid, we had no way to record television shows. No DVR, no VCR. (Although I did make a cassette tape of a movie or two—no picture, just audio, though.)

Also, we had no cable TV, so you either watched a show when it was on, on one of the few available channels you could get with the antenna on your roof, or you missed that show.

So when something you liked came on, it was vitally important to be there in person, at the right time.

There were some special shows or movies that would play at certain times of year: Christmas movies, Easter cartoons, etc. My most-waited-for by far was the yearly showing of the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz.” My favorite movie as a kid, and my favorite still. The movie is a classic, even though it diverges quite a bit from the original book. How could it miss being a classic with Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”?

Wizard title page.jpg

But one day when I was about twelve, I decided to read the real book: “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum. published in 1900. It was successful enough that Baum wrote an additional thirteen books set in Oz. I absolutely loved it, wondering why in my entire (short) life I’d never found that amazing book before.

There are many things in the book that don’t appear in the movie. This is often true when books are adapted for the screen. I found it interesting that one such missing element, the people made out of china, was portrayed in the recent movie “Oz the Great and Powerful” with James Franco. And some things are different. For instance, did you know the ruby slippers in the movie are silver slippers in the book?

I could go on with history of the book and of the movie, but you can look it up for yourself. That’s what the Internet is for. ;-) But one last thought I’d like to leave you with. Usually when I watch a movie adapted from a book, I prefer whichever one I saw first, most often the book. But for some reason, with “The Wizard of Oz”I love them both, as if they were separate stories entirely. And that’s about as close to magic as it gets!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for Nuts

The most obvious definition of “nuts” is that food item we like in our brownies and granola. Not to mention peanut brittle. You know, one of the super foods science is now promoting.

But today I’m more interested in definition #2, where “nuts” = “crazy.”

There are all too many crazy days when I wonder if I’ll get through. You know the kind, where you feel like the proverbial camel who can’t handle one more straw. Somehow I survive, but I’m usually not quite sure how. A gallon of coffee? Tunnel vision? Music played at a level only dogs can hear? Maybe I’m just a little off-center myself, which would explain how I can deal with those nutty days.

While it seems to be a survival skill, I don’t like thinking of myself as crazy. If it’s necessary to put a label on me, I prefer the phrase “charmingly eccentric.” That creates an image of a woman wearing purple with lots of jewelry, waving at everyone she sees, stopping random people on the street for a chat. She’s always smiling, so people don’t mind her chatting to them as if they were old friends. When she sits down on the bench at the bus stop, she pulls a knitting project out of her huge tapestry bag and begins knitting. Like Penelope’s weaving in Homer’s Odyssey, the project never seems to be finished. After a while, she puts the project away and strolls off. She never gets on the bus. ;-)

Now you understand how I get through those tough days. So the next time you see me doing something strange, please don’t call me “nuts,” “crazy,” “insane,” or rotate your index finger next to your ear. Just smile gently, shake your head and say, “There goes Liz. She’s charmingly eccentric.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M is for The Midnight Zone

Conveniently located just after “L is for Lady of the Two Lands,” M is for “The Midnight Zone.” If you don’t count the “The.” :-D

Midnight Zone by Elizbabeth Delisi - 500

The Midnight Zone is my collection of quirky short stories. Some are lighthearted, others are bizarre and downright creepy. But all of them have a twist and are a little off-center. Here’s an excerpt from “Mirror, Mirror.”

Cassie opened her compact and peered into the round mirror. Her nose looked a little shiny. As she reached for the powder puff, a movement in the mirror caught her eye. She saw the waiter bringing a drink to the woman at the table in back of her. Served in a pineapple, it had two gaudy red paper parasols and a large pink straw sticking out of the top. Cassie watched, amused, the puff arrested in its journey to her nose.

Suddenly, the waiter tripped. The pineapple slid down the length of the steeply-tilting tray to land, upside-down, in the woman’s lap.

“Oh!” Cassie gasped.

“What?” Laura asked.

“Did you see the waiter spill a drink all over that poor woman?”

Laura twisted in her chair. “No. Where?”

“Right behind me.” Cassie turned around. The table was empty. “I guess she already left. Maybe she went to the ladies’ room to clean up.”

“I didn’t see any woman at that table,” Laura said. “Are you sure?”

“I saw it in my mirror.” Cassie held up her compact.

“Ooh, let me see!” Laura reached for it. “This is lovely! Where did you get it?”

“I found it last week in an antique store on the Cape,” Cassie said. “It was a funny little shop, full of all sorts of peculiar things. I liked the compact so much that I went back the next day to look for another one; but I couldn’t find the place again.” She shrugged.

Laura rubbed her fingers over the engraved gold case, then opened it. “Here’s your problem. This old mirror is so cloudy, it’s no wonder you’re seeing things.” She snapped it shut and handed it back.

“Here comes our lunch.” Laura pointed to a waiter carrying a full tray. Diverted, Cassie forgot all about what she’d seen in the mirror.

An hour later, the two friends finished their meal. On her way out, absorbed in paying the check, Cassie didn’t notice a waiter spilling an entire pineapple full of liquor on a woman who had just been seated.

***

To check out the reviews or to purchase your very own copy, go here: http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Delisi_Elizabeth/midnight-zone.htm

Hope you enjoy my stories!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L is for LADY OF THE TWO LANDS

I can’t resist using my “L” day to let you know about my time-travel romance set in ancient Egypt, LADY OF THE TWO LANDS:

LadyTwoLands

Here’s the blurb and a short excerpt:

One minute, Hattie Williams is in a museum, sketching a gold necklace that belonged to Hatshepsut, first female Pharaoh of Egypt; and the next, she's lying in a room too archaic to be the museum, with a breathtakingly handsome, half-naked man named Senemut bending over her.

Hattie soon discovers she's been thrust into the body and life of Hatshepsut, with no way back to her own time. Tuthmosis, the heir to the throne, hates her; the High Priest of Amun and the commander of the army want to kill her and Tuthmosis; and the best bathroom facilities in the country are the equivalent of a cat-box.

To make matters more difficult, she's falling helplessly in love with Senemut, and soon, she's not sure she even wants to return home. To protect Tuthmosis from assassination, the lovers arrange to put Hattie on the throne. But, what should she do when she suddenly finds herself, an obscure artist from Chicago, crowned ruler of all Egypt?

Excerpt:

...Hattie banged on the door. "Is anyone there? Let me out!" She shouted and beat on the door with her palms, but all was ominously silent. If someone had been watching her, they had no intention of helping her out of her dilemma.

At last, resigned to her fate, she returned to her sketchpad. "If I'm going to be stuck in here, I might as well finish my work," she murmured. "Tom's bound to come back—I'm sure he will." Her voice echoed unconvincingly in the dusty, claustrophobic room.

Picking up her pencil, she focused deliberately on copying the tiny hieroglyphics with extreme precision. Gradually, she became absorbed in her work and forgot her predicament. Minutes flowed by with the only sound in the room the scratching of her pencil on the paper.

At last, she completed the final symbol on her detailed drawing and set down her pencil with a twinge of disappointment. She was curiously drawn to the glittering possession of the ancient, yet strangely modern woman. Hatshepsut had ruled Egypt fifteen hundred years before Christ, at a time when women were considered no more important than servants or dogs. How had she managed it?

The vagrant breeze whispered past her face again, leaving a whiff of exquisite perfume in its wake. A rustle, like the caress of costly linen against bare skin, drew her attention. She felt a strong presence, though she knew she was alone in the tiny room.

"Touch it."

The words were so faint, Hattie wasn't sure she'd actually heard them.

"Who's there?" she asked, though she didn't expect to get a response. The room was too small to hide anyone.

"Touch the necklace."

Hattie spun around, searching for the source of the barely audible words. "Tom, is that you? If it's you, I don't think this is funny! Open the door right now." She thumped it with her fist for emphasis.

There was no response.

Hattie turned back to the exquisitely fashioned falcon. Maybe it was her overworked imagination playing a trick on her, but the advice seemed sound. Perhaps if she touched the necklace, she could make a connection—psychic, empathic?—with the long-dead monarch. The necklace was strangely compelling, like a long forgotten yet treasured memory.

She reached out slowly, cautiously. As her fingertips gently grazed the golden bird, an electric shock pulsed through her and a sudden wave of dizziness sapped her strength.

"Come to me," the ghostly voice whispered, stronger now. "Come to me. I have need of you."

The sweet, cloying scent of incense filled Hattie's nostrils, and flashes of light exploded behind her eyes. Her vision blurred; she felt as if she were reeling, falling down a long, dark tunnel. Gasping, she reached out blindly for something, anything, to steady herself. Her fingers skimmed across the surface of the table and fastened around the necklace. Clutching it, she fell heavily to the floor as everything went black...

***

To check out the reviews or to order your own copy of LADY OF THE TWO LANDS from Amber Quill Press, go here: http://www.amberquill.com/store/p/136-Lady-Of-The-Two-Lands.aspx

Monday, April 13, 2015

K is for Keep Away!

It’s still early in the day as I begin to write, but I fear the pattern for the day is already set. All I can think of are song lyrics, like “Don’t rain on my parade,” “Don’t let the sun go down on me,” and “Don’t let the rain come down.”

Yeah, it’s been a rough morning. Not really rain, mind you. It’s actually sunny and 65 degrees outside, and after the brutal winter we had, I’m not complaining about that at all. But things did not get off to an auspicious start.

Here’s how my day began. I was woken up by something about 4:30 a.m. I lay in bed and listened, and after a while, heard it again. It was a scuffling, gnawing, creepy-whispery sound. Well, here in New Hampshire, virtually every house has mice, and if you don’t, you will soon! Mostly we coexist in peace, as long as they stay in the walls or under the house, but not out in my rooms. Or, heaven forbid, in the food! So when I heard that sound, I figured it was just a mouse. I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.

No such luck. The noise stopped when I banged on the wall or shouted, but resumed as soon as I was quiet. I got angry, turned on the light, marched over to where the noise was coming from, and whacked all around the area with a ruler. I didn’t know my husband was still at home, so was surprised to see him charging up the stairs, wondering what all the ruckus was. :-D

After he left, it was quiet for…fifteen minutes. Then started again. To me, it sounded like it was in the wastebasket, not in the wall. Finally, I put on the lamp again, brought the wastebasket into the light and started going through it.

There, inside an empty Cheezit bag, was a mouse, trying his best to be still in the vain hope he wouldn’t be discovered. I threw on a robe, marched downstairs with the bag in hand, opened the door and tossed him out onto the lawn. “Great,” I thought. “At least I can sleep now. I’ll think about the consequences of that mouse in the house later.”

It was 5 a.m. by then. I had just dropped off to sleep when my cell phone started chiming. There’s something wrong with the phone or the cord or the battery (or my karma) as it won’t recharge, no matter what I do. I’ve tried a new battery, a new cord, the USB port on my computer or the AC outlet, to no avail. Tech support delighted in telling me that if only my phone were still under warranty, they could send me a new charger; but since it’s not, and since getting it repaired would probably cost more than the phone was worth, I should probably get a new phone. <eye roll> Thanks, I’d never have thought of that.

In a last ditch effort to fix it, I’m going to see if the car charger works. You never know.

And if it DOES work, I’m going to celebrate with a big, fat…NAP!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Jack

Jack is a pretty common name, it seems. Here are a few childhood-related Jacks. Jack be nimble; Jack Sprat; Jack and Jill; Little Jack Horner; Jack in the Box.

Then there are movie characters: Jack Ryan in “The Hunt for Red October;” Jack T. Colton in “Romancing the Stone;” Jack Slater in “Last Action Hero;” Jack Dawson in “Titanic.” But the most well known and my personal favorite is Captain Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

And that brings me to MY Jack, named after Captain Jack Sparrow, of course:

IMG_0272

That’s my boy, Jack! My companion, my clown, my little bird. He’s an English Budgie, purchased from Bird Supply of New Hampshire. (By the way, if you live in New England and are looking for a bird companion, Bird Supply of New Hampshire raises their own birds, and you can’t do better anywhere.)

So, back to Jack. He talks a blue streak, whistles all kinds of whistles, and is trying to figure out how to whistle a short melody. He seems to have trouble with pitch…he can understand “how many notes” and the direction in which they go, but pitch is still iffy.

He loves having people talk to him, and his favorite position to be in while listening is hanging from the side of the cage, upside-down. Don’t ask me why…maybe we look better upside-down?

Although he says his own name and seems to understand it means him, he likes to add things to it. Thus we have Monsieur Jack, Good Boy Jack, My Jack, and presumably when he gets tired of all the names, he will say “Just Jack.” One of my favorites is Super Jack. I confess, I may have talked him into that one as when I call him that, I tend to sing the theme song from the old Hercules cartoon show when I was a kid (dating myself now). It goes, “Hercules, hero of song and story; Hercules, winner of ancient glory…” only in my version, “Hercules” becomes “Super Jack.” He seems to like having his own theme song.

He seems to know where the doors to the outside are, and he squawks a blue streak if he hears us going out. He likes company, doesn’t like to be left alone. He loves toys that make noise, or toys he can rip apart. And when he’s asleep with his head tucked under his wing, he’s just the sweetest thing!

So, since he gives me so much pleasure, I figured Jack deserved a post of his own. Here’s to you, Jack!

Friday, April 10, 2015

I is for Ice

I is for Ice. Here’s the type of ice we’ve been getting all winter, not to mention the snow:

IMG_0369 

IMG_0370

But it seemed winter had finally broken its stranglehold on us. Even the brave little crocuses were showing their heads.So at this point, when I turn on the computer to find we’re in a freezing rain advisory, I say loudly and to all who can hear:

I IS FOR ICK!!!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

H is for Holmes…Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes, the vastly intelligent “consulting detective” character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, has been popular in print, on stage, on radio, in films and on television ever since his first appearance in print in 1887. With his friend and sidekick, Dr. Watson, at his side, Sherlock can solve any mystery with his amazing ability to notice the tiniest detail and interpret it properly.

 Sherlock Holmes Portrait Paget.jpg

Sherlock Holmes in a 1904 illustration by Sidney Paget

One of the early portrayers of Sherlock Holmes on stage was William Gillette. Gillette was a popular stage actor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He wrote a play based on Doyle’s character, “Sherlock Holmes, or the Strange Case of Miss Faulkner,” in 1899, and it formed the basis of a silent film he wrote in 1916, “Sherlock Holmes.” While keeping in touch with Doyle as he wrote the play, Gillette asked Doyle, “May I marry Holmes?” Doyle was tired of Holmes by this time, after writing four novels and fifty-six short stories about him, so he replied, "You may marry him, or murder or do what you like with him."

Gillette as Sherlock Holmes

Gillette is credited with creating some of the things usually associated with Holmes, such as his curved briar pipe and deerstalker cap, and gave Holmes the phrase, “Oh, this is elementary, my dear fellow,” which eventually was changed to “Elementary, my dear Watson.” When Gillette was finally able to meet Doyle, he stepped off the train and strode straight to Doyle not dressed as himself, but as Sherlock Holmes. Naturally, this delighted Doyle and they became lifelong friends.

Gillette portrayed Holmes approximately 1300 times throughout his life, and illustrations of the fictional character often showed Gillette in the role. In 1923, he retired to his estate in Hadlyme, Connecticut. There, on top of a hill overlooking the Connecticut River, Gillette built what is now known as Gillette Castle. Now owned by the State of Connecticut, it’s open to visitors, and I highly recommend you visit it if you can! There is much Holmes memorabilia inside, but it’s gorgeous just as…well…a castle. If i could, I’d kick out the tourists and live there myself. ;-)

Gillette Castle, Hadlyme, Connecticut

As you may have noticed, my topic of Sherlock Holmes has morphed into a post about William Gillette. So let me just say that although I have much interest in and respect for Gillette’s portrayal of Holmes and the fame it earned him, and the other famous actors who portrayed him, my favorite portrayer of Sherlock Holmes is:

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes.jpg

Jeremy Brett, who played Holmes on PBS. Oh my gosh, no one can beat him for a spot-on portrayal of the famous fictional character. I have no doubt that were he still alive, Brett would still be delighting audiences with his unique Sherlock Holmes.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

G is for Giraffe

If you ask most people, “What’s your favorite animal?” they’ll say “dog” or “cat.” If you specify, “What wild animal is your favorite?” they’re likely to say, “lion” or “tiger” or “bear.” These animals are beautiful, majestic, and commonly seen in all types of media. “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” as Dorothy would say.

Ever since I can remember, my favorite wild animal is the giraffe. Don’t ask me why. They’re tall, ungainly animals with a long neck and long legs, and when they run, they look like they’ll fall over at any moment. www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsaOn85TqUE

Drinking means an awkward spreading and bending of the legs and neck, in order to reach the water. www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUSD1axDwQ0

Although giraffes look awkward, they can be fierce when threatened, like this one who tried to attack a safari jeep: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/caught-tape-frightening-footage-giraffe-attack-18796606 

But giraffes, like most animals, can learn to get along and feel comfortable with humans. Check out this giraffe who was abandoned as a baby and now lives with humans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWzcPkLj2KQ 

One of my most treasured memories is when we visited the giraffes at the Garden City (Kansas) Zoo. A female giraffe came over to the fence, reached her long neck over and lowered her head just a smidgen. She allowed me to touch her nose…it felt like warm velvet. Then she strode away, but she left me with an encounter I’ll always remember.

Now I see now they have “Giraffe Encounters” at the zoo: http://leerichardsonzoo.org/2013-05-16-GiraffeEncounter.php Oh my! I would so love to visit there now.

Do you have any wildlife encounters to share?

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

F is for Fatal Fortune

I can’t resist posting a bit about one of my books today, since today is the letter F.
FATAL FORTUNE is the first book I had published (though not the first I wrote).

FATAL FORTUNE by Elizabeth Delisi
Here’s the info about the book:

Blurb: No one in Cheyenne, North Dakota believes in Lottie Baldwin’s psychic abilities; especially not Harlan Erikson, Lottie’s boyfriend and Chief Deputy in the Sheriff’s Office.

When a friend’s husband disappears, Lottie can’t leave it to Harlan to discover what happened to Harry.

Armed with her courage and her tarot cards, Lottie tries to solve the mystery herself, regardless of who attempts to stop her: Harlan, her friend—or the criminal.

Excerpt:

Harry squared his shoulders. He’d do what he’d set out to do. He would stop the thing before anyone got hurt.

He stopped in front of the car where the figure remained on the hood. Having decided his course, Harry plunged in. “I know what you’ve been up to. I know all about it. Did you really think I wouldn’t find out? You didn’t cover your tracks very well.”

The figure grimaced. “You have more intelligence than I gave you credit for, I admit.”

“You can’t believe you’ll get away with it. If I found out, then other people will, too. Sooner or later, you’ll be stopped.”

“I don’t think so.” The voice was thick with conceit. “I have, as the saying goes, friends in high places.”

“Do you think they’ll go out on a limb for you? Jeopardize themselves, their careers and reputations, to protect you?”

“Yes. They have to. They’re in no position to do otherwise. I have certain...information about them. Information that could be very embarrassing, to say the least, if it were to come out.”

“I see.” Harry rubbed his hands together in the frigid night air, stalling for time. “That still leaves me. You can’t possibly have anything incriminating on me, and I don’t intend to back down.”

There was a short silence. “We’re both reasonable people,” the figure said at last. “I can make it worth your while to keep this quiet. Think of all the things you could do for your family with a large ‘bonus.’ You’ll find I’m very generous with my friends.”

Harry waved his hand. “No deal. You can’t buy my silence.”

The dark figure clenched its fists, raising them to chest level. “Then, you give me no choice. You can’t stop me.”

“Oh, can’t I?” Harry shook his head in disgust. “When you asked me this afternoon to meet you here, I hoped you’d had a change of heart, and I was willing to support you. I would have stood by you all the way. Obviously, I was wrong. I’ve been a fool.”

He turned away and started back toward his own car. The night air was crisp in his nostrils; a light snow was beginning to fall. Though disappointed at the outcome, he felt shaky with relief that the ordeal was over.

He heard a sudden, furtive noise behind him. Harry jumped, started to turn. Before he could see the source of the sound, face his foe, he felt a crushing blow on the back of his head. A million hot sparks exploded behind his eyes as he sank down toward the frozen ground.

For a moment, Harry lay motionless. The quiet night air was full of unwonted sound: heavy footsteps; muffled rustling; the jingle of keys. The car door slammed and tires spun. Above it all, he heard his once pounding heartbeat slowing as his body relaxed. The last thing he saw was the car’s red tail lights fading into the distance. And then eternal blackness overcame him.

Where to get your own copy:

http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Delisi_Elizabeth/fatal-fortune.htm
http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B008B8FR10/
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/171546

Hope you enjoy reading about Lottie! Her next adventure is coming soon.











Monday, April 06, 2015

E is for Education

Something thing a writer needs a lot of, on his or her way to successful publication, is education. Luckily for writers and potential writers, education is available in lots of different places and formats.

One of the most popular ways to get educated about the type of writing you want to do is to take an online class. Many classes are out there, ranging from free to moderate to expensive, and from amateur-run courses to professionally produced and conducted.

As a potential writer, you no doubt know about Writer’s Digest Magazine, a valuable resource full of writing-related articles by professionals: http://subscriptions.writersdigest.com/Writers-Digest/Magazine And perhaps you’ve also seen Writer’s Market, which provides up-to-the-minute marketing advice: http://www.writersmarket.com/ :

But do you know about Writer’s Digest University, the teaching arm of Writer’s Digest Publications? I’ve been teaching for WDU for many years, and I find their course offerings to be exceptional and nicely varied. For more information on my latest course…Writing the Romance Novel, beginning April 16…go here: https://www.writersonlineworkshops.com/courses/writing-the-romance-novel

What about getting a degree in writing, not just taking a course? A Google search for creative writing degree programs in my state (New Hampshire) yielded this: http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/undergraduate-degrees/creative-writing-BA-online.asp Never underestimate the power of a Google search!

Suppose you don’t want to take courses online. A good resource for in-person writing classes is your local community college. A quick Google search for community colleges with writing classes in my state (New Hampshire) came up with this: http://www.rivervalley.edu/academics/academic-programs/creative-writing 

Then, there are workshops of all types, both online and in person. One of the most well-known workshops is the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop: http://clarion.ucsd.edu/ Clarion is an intensive six-week program in San Diego, where you eat, sleep, talk and work on writing science fiction, fantasy and horror. Founded in 1968, it has produced many well-known writers.’'

Books about various aspects of writing are also available. For example, Writer’s Digest offers books on just about any writing-related topic you can think of: http://www.writersdigestshop.com/

It’s also helpful to do a search on a book-seller site like Amazon, so you can read the reviews to find out if a particular book is for you. For instance, a search on Amazon for “creative writing” turned up titles as varied as “The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing” and “Write Good or Die.” What did their purchasers think about these books?

And finally, you can educate yourself in another way, in the privacy of your own home. How do you do this? You read, read, read. Read widely in the genre in which you’d like to write, taking note of how those authors do everything, from writing a compelling opening sentence to punctuating dialogue. If you focus on the mechanics when reading instead of allowing yourself to float away on the story, you’ll begin to see patterns of how things work, which options work best. Read in other genres as well, for you never know when you’ll come across something that gets the wheels turning and teaches you a new trick.

So, choose your education method and begin!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

D is for Duh

I’m not sure what I originally planned for the “D” entry on my blog. But now it can only mean one thing: disaster. Not a major disaster, but one that gets on your last nerve and plucks it like a guitar string.

I did a big grocery shopping on Thursday, in preparation for baking for Easter. Got everything I had on my list. So I was all set…or so I thought.

Duh. Just when you dare to think everything is perfect, Fate knocks you down like a bowling pin.

I made cookies Friday, and noted we were low on flour and sugar; so I put them on the start of a new grocery list. I made a cake this morning, and there were plenty of ingredients.

Then, while I <a.k.a. the Easter Bunny> was coloring eggs, my husband started on his famous cinnamon rolls. Pretty soon he walks over to the pantry cupboard, opens it, looks around. He squints, shuffles boxes and cans, looks again. Then he says, “Don’t tell me there’s no more flour?”

Flour? My mouth drops open. My brain refuses to work. I stammer, “Isn’t there enough left in the cannister?”

He answered in a deadly quiet voice: “No.”

Duh!

I offered to go fetch some, but he declined. I think he needed a few minutes in the fresh air to remember it was only a bag of flour we needed, and put things in perspective.

Luckily, the nearby convenience store had flour…at an exorbitant price, but they had it. Had they not stocked it, the next nearest grocery store is 12 miles away. And then the title of this blog post would have been, “D is for Debacle.” :-D

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it and a lovely weekend to all!

Friday, April 03, 2015

C is for Crocus

If someone asks me in late spring, “What’s your favorite flower?” I’d say “Lilac.” Gorgeous purple flowers, and a scent so heavenly, you want to wrap yourself in it.

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If asked in summer what my favorite flower is, I’d have to respond, “Iris.” They are so unusual-looking, with curled petals and spots of velvet, not to mention the plethora of colors.

In fall, my favorite flower would be the chrysanthemum. They look like summer giving one last blast before fall freezes end the growing season for another year.

But if you asked me in winter, “What is your favorite flower?” I’d have to respond with the lowly crocus. It’s small but brave, the first flower to poke its head through the barely unfrozen earth, opening its pretty petals to the weak, almost-spring sun. It gives me hope every year: that spring will come, and everything will be all right.

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Happy spring, everyone!