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Friday, September 28, 2012

I Defer to Food

I woke up Thursday at a loss.  Honeydew Ever After is in another resting stage, waiting to be emailed to one of my readers when she’s ready.  The twenty pages I’ve written on my next tome haven’t grabbed me yet. I wanted to write but I needed a topic. 

I pondered, and realized it had been a long time since I submitted a blog post to South Shore Living Magazine, so I decided to write about a restaurant/pub that opened a year ago in our town.  When visitors arrived last fall, it was brand new and we checked it out together.  Since then, we’ve ignored our constricted cash flow and eaten there two more times, first for our daughter’s birthday and then for our anniversary.  Each delicious meal left us craving another visit.  All I had to do was describe the food and decor to come up with a post. Done and done.

My point?  When you get stuck, write about something you like.  Yesterday, I chose to write about a restaurant we’d enjoyed.  Had I not though, I could have written about the calendar page beside me, open to a photo of four bottles, filled with flavored vinegars—colorful glass containers glimmering orange, purple, yellow and red on a rustic wooden table, amidst rose petals and sprigs of lavender.
If I’d been stuck later in the day, I could have written about the tart smell of the farmer’s market McIntosh apples I bought earlier, because our window of opportunity for apple picking seems to be closing and I didn’t want to miss out.  I could have described the meatballs in red sauce—gravy if you prefer, bubbling away on the stove, the aroma of  fennel, garlic and basil, conjuring up a long simmering, early autumn Sunday, reappearing as leftovers on a weekday afternoon.   

I could have told you about my memory of the cinnamon and butter scent that wafted through the house when I made a newly discovered recipe for apple shortbread bars for the senior breakfast this past Monday—or my last green tomato hanging on the vine, blushing with orange tints as it struggles to ripen before the first frost. . . as they say, the list goes on and on.  

This exercise taught me two lessons.  There is always a topic out there, and, “Write what you know,” works well, but “Write what you love,” tastes, I mean, works better.

What do you write about when you get stuck?

Happy weekend all!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sunday Stroll

Perhaps this will sound odd, but after church Sunday, my husband and I climbed into the car and drove to the cemetery, which happens to be one of my favorite locations.  I wrote about it here once, before readers found Middle Passages–if you want to see more, click on this link.  Sunday, we had a specific reason for visiting which I won’t go into, other than to assure you it was not sad, and, I brought the camera.  

Climbing up the terraced hills overlooking the harbor, the view from this peaceful spot settles with a soothing comfort.  The September sun has tipped low enough on the horizon to mute the earth in yellows and golds as the land quiets itself for winter.  As we descended granite steps to the water’s edge, the crunch of our feet on gravel startled a flock of cormorants–their wings clapped the water like applause in their haste to depart.   

Turning, we discovered a congregation of snowy egrets perched amid the marsh grass.  I had the camera, but no telephoto, so I tiptoed toward them—with each step, a bird, or two, or three, lifted into the air.  Soon, a flock of white birds decorated the pine trees on the opposite shore.  One lone egret remained, craning his neck toward the water so intent on breakfast, he stood as frozen as the granite statues dotting the terraced hills, shadowing us from behind.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

So Many Ways to Win

Okay, so I didn’t come in first, second or third.  When I entered the flash fiction contest I blogged about last week, I told you I’d post my submission, which you’ll find below.  Though I didn’t receive a prize, I won anyway—because I dared to enter a contest in which a winning result would have meant sending the first 10 pages of my manuscript to an agent or an editor. (That's a  HUGE step forward...for me.)  Then, with optimism in my soul, I crossed my fingers and looked at those pages hard, and realized I’m not there, yet.  Though I’ve cut and cut and cut, too much back story crowds my first two chapters.  Had I sent them off, they’d have been met with a yawn.  So more work to do, but knowing so is a win too, right?

Suzy’s (Hayes) Palmieri’s contest required writing a piece— 300 words or less, telling the story about the picture below.  My entry follows the pic.  If you feel like offering constructive criticism, I’d be delighted to receive it.    


Here's my take:
Annabelle stepped on the sand, her ankle twisting at the unexpected give. The hard pack of the Kansas plains hadn’t prepared her for this alien place, where the earth shifted and as far as the horizon, dark water undulated. Mama hadn’t arrived yet, or she’d have lifted an eyebrow, demanding Annabelle stand up straight. “You’re not married yet, dear. What will Wilfred or his family think if they see you slouching?” She pushed her shoulders back and, heeding her mother’s warning about the sun’s weathering effects, opened her parasol.

A man sat on the sand in front of her. Blood rushed to her face at the sight of his bare legs. Beyond him, two women stood near the surf, clad in short skirts and wool tights, their calves outlined in spite of the knit coverings. Their lack of attire reminded her. In two days hence, when her betrothed, Wilfred Hapford Allings, III, twenty years her senior and a stranger until last week joined her in their marriage bed—she’d be wearing less than those immodest women at the water’s edge.

Annabelle had no illusions. At eight and twenty, she was long in the tooth—a catch like Wilfred far beyond her station. The only living son from a family of vast wealth, he needed to produce an heir. She’d wondered why a man of such fortune would arrange for a mail order bride from Kansas. But when she gazed into eyes as cold as this first glimpse of the ocean and his grip on her arm left bruises, apprehension transitioned to fear. Then she overheard the maid. Two older brothers dead accidentally. His first wife—simply gone. Nothing proved, but she’d been a Wigglesworth and scandal ensued.

Annabelle Tougas from Far Prairie, Kansas? Who would miss her?

If you'd like to read the other entries, you can find them in the comments here. 

Addendum: 9/19/12...and speaking of winners, the winner of an E-Book copy of Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright by J.B. Chicoine, is Robin.  Robin, contact me with your email address and I will forward the information to Rhemalda Press. Congratulations to Robin and once again to Bridget (J.B)!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Uncharted, by J.B. Chicoine

What do shipwrecks, deserted islands, a spear tossing warrior woman, treasure, romance, an aspiring writer and Maine boat building all have in common?  These parts piece together to form the plot of Uncharted, Story for a Shipwright, by J.B (Bridget) Chicoine released by Rhemalda Publishing.

I confess.  I read an earlier version of Uncharted almost two years ago.  Now, having read a review copy, I am delighted to share Bridget’s good fortune, and her story, with the rest of my blogging community.  Bridget, a talented writer you can find here, and a gifted water color artist you can find here,  treasures all things nautical, a passion that conveys itself through the pages of Uncharted, her first published novel.  

Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright tells two tales, one past and one present, while weaving connections between swashbuckling nineteenth century seafaring history, and a reclusive shipwright on the coast of twenty-first century Maine.  These ties bind love, intrigue and delightful imagery into a page turner of a story.

The jacket blurb reads as follows:

When a peculiar young woman shows up at the Wesley House Bed and Breakfast with a battered suitcase and stories to tell, shipwright Sam Wesley isn’t sure if she’s incredibly imaginative or just plain delusional. He soon realizes that Marlena is like no other woman he has ever met. Her strange behavior and far-fetched tales of shipwrecks and survival are a fresh breeze in Sam’s stagnant life.

Sam isn’t the only one enchanted by Marlena. With his best friend putting the moves on her and a man from her past coming back into her life, the competition for Marlena’s heart is fierce. In the midst of it all, a misunderstanding sends Marlena running, and by the time Sam learns what his heart really wants, it may be too late to win her back.

Uncharted is currently available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble or as Bridget says, order it from your local independent book store.  

Please join me in congratulating Bridget on her success…AND to support this talented author, I will draw one name from all the folks who comment here on this post by Wednesday, September 19, 2012.  One lucky winner will receive an Ebook copy of Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright from Rhemalda Publishing.