Writing. Something I am doing almost all the time. Even in my dreams. I may not be physically committing words to paper but, in my head, stories are being created, or poems, or current events noted. At some time during the day, I try to find a space to scribe those thought forms with the symbols we call words.  

Every year a new list of words is published by a variety of sources including Oxford House and Webster. Last year ‘staycation’, ‘metaverse’, and ‘shrinkflation’ were offered in the listing of new terms. They were words I understood and may use. I’m particularly fond of ‘badassery’. Other words like ‘finfluencer’ (a financial influencer), ‘crunk’ (full of energy), and ‘ASMR’ (autonomous sensory meridian response) will probably never enter my lexicon of jargon.

I love to play with words, so welcome the expansion. However, I’ve noticed that some old words are being abandoned or profoundly changed. Some very nice old words at that. As our culture changes so do the words to describe it. One prime example is ‘gay’ used today to indicate a homosexual male and in the past to describe a happy, carefree feeling. ‘Literally’ used to mean something actually happening now but has been converted to a word of emphasis such as a ‘literal’ smash hit.

I believe the world is a sadder place without ‘nizzled’ (slightly intoxicated), ‘chuffy’ (haughty, puffed up), and ‘quixotic’ (absurdly romantic). I made myself a promise to discover some great old words and apply them in my next story.

A book I discovered last year is Dreyer’s English, an Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer. Great word ‘utterly’. Mr. Dreyer has taken Strunk and White, the absolute bible of English grammar, to a whole new level. While the little tome of Misters Strunk and White is in my portable writing folder at all times, I prefer to look things up in Dreyer’s bigger book that sits on my desk. He always has a good story to go along with the lesson. Anytime I can laugh as I learn, I learn much better.

Happy wordsmithing to all.

Furry Family Members

Our book, Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets, speaks to the passion of Sally, Diana, and Linda (who chose to not participate in writing our book, but was a longtime member with us) regarding cats. I am a loner in the group because my passion is dogs, although I’ve had many cats throughout the years. Dogs just “suit my taste” more. Anyhow, during my week in Tucson recently for the Tucson Festival of Books, I spent seven nights divided amongst the three writing group members and good friends. I was surrounded by felines – all in all, six of them. No dog anywhere to be found. It was okay, considering I like cats, too. Diana has three, Sally two and Linda one. Scooter tends to be shy. She also spends more time outdoors. She’s a pro at it although Sally checks on the cats when they go outside. A lot. There ARE bobcats and other critters who wouldn’t mind catching one of the innocent felines enjoying the back yard. Mazey has a long, very long bushy soft tail that could nearly wrap around her twice. She’s a beauty and mild tempered. Linda’s Cocoa is a one-year-old wild child that pounded up and down the stairway steps chasing a worn stuffed mouse. I heard her early morn, but rolled over and fell asleep again, a smile on my face. 

Diana has Oliver, Nunny, and then, there’s…Sadie. A very unordinary extraordinary cat. A  kleptomaniac. One time, while Sally was visiting Diana, she left her purse open. Sadie proceeded to pull keys and a pen from her purse. Another time, she took lipstick from a friend’s purse and put it in Diana’s shoe. While staying at Diana’s, we went into her personal library so I could see Sadie’s favorite book, The World’s Best Fairytales. Regularly using her paw, she pulls it off the bottom shelf and places it in the middle of the room. I imagine she does so after reading one of the tales. I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me. Somehow, as we watched a movie one evening, Sadie decided my chest was a good place to curl up and sleep. Rubbing against my face first, I spent the next couple hours lifting cat hair off my face. I was honored to be her bed.  

I just have to say, I cherished the time I stayed with my close friends in each of their houses. But maybe even better was being around six cats, their personalities as different as ours, though ours maybe not quite as independent! 

Thursday Prompt 3.16.2023

“Asking for advice about what you should write is a little like asking for help getting dressed. I can tell you what I think looks good, but you have to wear it. And as every fashion victim knows, very few people look good in everything. But in my experience, a writer gravitates toward a certain form or genre because, like a well-made jacket, it suits him.” – Betsy Lerner; The Forest for the Trees.

What is your genre? Do you know? Write a paragraph or two about the genre you are most comfortable writing in.

Rebirth and Roots

Now that I can take time to look at spring, it sits next to my favorite of autumn. The rebirth of waiting seeds, plants, tendrils, and thoughts awakening after a winter slumber so to speak. This winter in Tucson, we sampled more days of frosty mornings, measured over two feet of snow on Mount Lemmon, day after day of intermittent rain, and a barrage of sleet all over the Old Pueblo than in recent years. The winds were persistently wearing, snappy and downright mean. As I mentioned last week, two and half days before the Festival of Books, this is what my backyard looked like. All the small bumps under the snow are wild California Poppies doing their best to root up for spring. Once the snow shook off, the poppies shouted and here they are, six days later with a few Lupine and Peri Penstemon.  

I also spent a bit of time in my potting shed (I plan to introduce the history of this gem another time). I opened the vintage French doors and six pane farm windows and sat in a yellow chair. I had the luxury to revisit several worn gardening books, whether essays, poetry, how-to, or decorating. What uprooted me out of the yellow chair was to get rid of all the book jackets, some of which were either tattered, soiled, or too many creases, and toss them in the garden bucket.  

What bloomed forth was a delicious array of spring tones with embedded lettering along the spines. Perfect for decorating in parts of the house; a few on the fireplace mantel and a short stack on the entry table with a large porcelain shiny green pear on top.

I will admit I get excited over tiny discoveries within my space. Whether it be in a drawer, hidden on a shelf, tucked behind pots, or in cabinets. I love to reassess, rearrange, and create a new look, even if for a short period that a new season contains. Nature provides consistent recommendations for action. So here I am, fudging and fiddling with the tuffs and petals of spring, all the while, uprooting undiscovered spaces for fresh writing. My writing mind is digging into the soil of words, repotting, and planting for growth. Greetings lovely spring!

Mental Feng Shui for a Peaceful and Orderly Mind

I was given this reminder in 2008 and I refer to it often. I hope you find it helpful.

 1. Exceed expectations and do it cheerfully.

 2. Remember the three R’s: Respect for self; Respect for others; Responsibility for all your actions.

3. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

 4. When you lose, DON’T lose the lesson.

5. When you say ‘I love you’ mean it.

 6. When you say ‘I’m sorry’ look the person in the eye.

 7. Believe in love at first sight.

 8. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it’s the only way to live life completely.

 9. Be engaged at least a year before you get married – know the person through all seasons.

10. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.

11. Never laugh at anyone’s dreams. People who don’t have dreams don’t have much.

12. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling. Speak your truth without rancor.

13. When someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer, smile and ask, ‘Why do you want to know?’

14. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

15. Talk slowly but think quickly.

16. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

17. Remember memories are made with people, not things. When all is said and done, it will be the experiences you have and people you love that will be important – not the car or jewelry.

18. Don’t judge people by their relatives.

19. Don’t believe all you hear, use your common sense; don’t spend all you have, give some away; don’t sleep all you want, just all you need. Life is short – be part of it.

20. Smile when you answer the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

21. Be kind to animals, we share their planet.

22. Say ‘bless you’ when you hear someone sneeze.

23. Daily – Spend some time alone. Spend time with God.

A true friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart.

Weekend Finale

Sunday’s book signing took place at the Barnes and Noble in Foothills Mall, Tucson. It was our last hurrah for the weekend. There was a constant stream of people during the time there. Many were friends of Diana and Sally. They’d either purchased a book or brought one to sign. Due to our family’s many moves over the past years, most of my friends are dispersed in different states, with me now in Colorado. However, I was able to watch their hugs and listen to them, some known for years. The only word to describe it was “sweet.” There’s nothing like friends.

We prepared and happily anticipated the weekend for so long, it’s amazing how fast it went. It was such a new experience for us, and every moment was treasured. So, now what? We didn’t even discuss it. Instead, I flew home to Colorado and all three of us curled up into our home nests and crashed. For now, we’d like to once again pursue our individual writings. But before saying good-bye, we met at Sally’s, toasted each other with a decaffeinated berry iced tea (too early for Bloody Marys) and almost simultaneously looked at each other and said, “We did it!” 

The past three years have been intense, hard work, and a rewarding experience, far beyond our imagination. We want to express again how grateful we are to those who edited and reviewed our book, to our families for supporting us in our venture and to all our friends and readers. It’s been a great ride!     

Thursday Writing Prompt 3.9.23

For this week’s prompt, have a character develop a pretend relationship. That is, the character may pretend to be in a relationship with a fake person (who may live in another country or just always be gone when people ask about them). Or the character pretends the real person in the relationship is someone else.

Thus Far…

Saturday we were out my front door at 8:15 a.m. We needed to snag a spot in the parking garage close to the University Mall. After waiting our turn to enter the garage, we found a great parking space, loaded up our cart with wheels and trekked through the tents, crowds, and found help to locate our tent #252 and table. What an ordeal to get set up. I can only speak for myself but I am a people watcher and my husband nudges me constantly when out in public…”Would you quit staring?” I finally got my eyes focused on my tasks and was raring to go. 

This gorgeous Saturday morning was like broad doors swinging open to welcome everyone after days of high winds, sleet, and snow just three days prior. Hilary and Nancy, two of the main organizers for the Indie Authors and their assistants could not have been more courteous seeing to all of our wants. Hats off to that group!

The sun burst forth, opened its early March arms, and draped itself across hundreds of lookers, readers, writers, children, and the curious. Once again we met all of the above, made connections, sold books, gave away pencils, contact cards, and tons of smiles. Diana moved to the front of our tent and greeted anyone that gave a slight blink our way and handed them a bookmark. Flash conversations emitted all around and from side to side. What a joyful day.

We then had to pack up by 1:00 p.m. to allow the next round of Indie Authors to set up. Once again, we loaded our cart on wheels and dumped it in the car. All morning we couldn’t wait to walk through the tents, listen to other author presenters at selected venues, and, buy books! As we set off, we discovered how exhausted we were. We gave a half-hearted determined effort to catch a second breath walking the entire distance of the grassy mall. Standing on aching legs and feet, the thought of comfy jammies, a footstool, and a glass of wine dangled in front of us like a huge carrot leading us back to the car.  

After all, we still had Sunday for a third book signing event! Jackie will share that event this Friday in her blog. Lastly, I want to add a big shout out to our many individual personal friends who came over the three days of our signings, either with their copies or one to buy, for us to each sign and boost us with their support. You know who you are and we love you for it!

A Very Successful Weekend

Jackie flew to Tucson from Colorado on Wednesday to join Sally and me for the Tucson Festival of Books. She brought a snowstorm with her. Fortunately, we live in a high desert where snow can stomp in and wrap us in a big downy blanket in the morning and by afternoon the snow disappears under the gentle smile of the sun, and all is clear. Snow lingers in the mountains to remind us it is still winter, but we can go about our tasks with no restrictions of weather.  

Our weekend began Friday with our appearance at the author’s table at Barnes and Noble on Broadway. We greeted customers and introduced them to our book, Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets, a collaborative memoir of twenty-five years of writing and being friends.  We sold some books and had great conversations with readers, other authors, and would-be authors. Our book is designed to encourage writers to create critique groups to enhance their skills and help them toward publication. We share stories we wrote throughout our time together, so the book is also an anthology of fiction and non-fiction, short stories, essays, and poems. Something for everyone. It was hard for the store to put us in just one genre because we fit in many so they call us “Local Authors”.

Saturday was our turn in the independent authors’ tent at the Tucson Festival of Books. The Festival attracts thousands of people from all over the world for the two-day event. We met dozens of readers and writers who came to our tent to learn about and buy our book. We made new friends and met new readers. Some old friends stopped by too. We were invited to do a podcast in the near future. Stay tuned for more information on that.

The third day, Sunday, of our marathon was at the Barnes and Noble store on the northwest side of town at the Foothills Mall. Again, dozens of old friends, new friends, and readers surrounded us. The two hours sped by in a blink. Sally and Jackie will add more pictures to our story in their blogs this week. Even better than the book sales engendered we were filled with the excitement of people learning about our journey as writers. Some readers shared their opinions of our stories and said it was the kind of book they would read over again because the stories are so varied, and they get something new out of each reading.

At the end of the weekend, we were exhausted and exhilarated, but ready to put pen to paper and start a new journey of words.

Focus! Focus!

These past three weeks, I’ve traveled more than usual. Once on the road, and twice in the air. It seems there’s always some story to tell. Some situations are clearly a result of my lack of “focus”, as my younger sister says. She’s analyzed what it is that makes me lose my phone, over and over, then over again, until it’s found in the refrigerator. How it is I’m able to find and salvage it lying smack dab in the middle of a busy street, smashed, but working enough for our cell phone insurance to replace it. There are too many “lack of focus” issues to relay here, but a recent one wasn’t all due to that.

I was flying to my sister’s 70th birthday party for the weekend to surprise her. My husband dropped me off at the United Airlines check-in and I hauled my luggage and cumbersome, over- the-shoulder flowered tote bag and stood in line. It was barely moving. Impatient, I looked around, wondering why there weren’t more agents to check us in. I looked at the sign above that plainly read Delta Airlines. Lack of focus. I rushed over to the zillions of United kiosks and fumbled, bumbled as I attempted to self-check and put the luggage tag on myself. A younger, savvier passenger helped me. I thanked her profusely.

On to security. The line nearly reached to downtown Denver. Finally arriving at the scanners, a woman barks at me to “remove this, put that there, take off your vest. Put them in a bucket.” I toss them in and step into the rotating “put your feet there, hold your palms out” machine. The security agent tells me to remove the rope dangling half-way over my shoulder. I look, wondering what he’s talking about and see my necklace clasp has come undone, and the hook is caught inside my blouse. Panicking as people stand in line, I grab it and pull as the disgruntled line behind me grows exponentially. I tug and tug until it unhooks and springs out of the inside of my blouse. The pendant is gone, most likely sailing into the vast unknown as I rushed to put items in the bucket earlier. Not necessarily my lack of focus.

I move on and ride the commuter to the United gates. Sweating and wondering if I forgot deodorant, I finally make it to Gate B64 and plop down in a seat. My text dings, informing me my gate is now B68. Never mind it’s clear around an expansive gateless corner of the building and in the far distance. I hurry to the new gate and check the sign above, wondering why it names a different town rather than where I was going.  I ask the gate agent; she looks at her phone. “Oh, it’s at Gate 54 now.” Little drops of sweat trickle down my tailbone to my bum as I charge to that gate. Their bad. I wasintensely focused.

To summarize: I arrived in Tucson yesterday for the Tucson Book Festival. The airlines and I must have been totally focused. The flight and all leading up to it ran as smooth as a baby’s bottom.