Thursday, March 30, 2017

Need a tip, a resource or some motivation?

Is it really the last day of March? Is this “new” year really already 3 months old?

Well, if you can’t turn back time, you can catch up here with what you might’ve missed:  a month’s worth of links I’ve shared on Twitter and my Facebook Author Page in case you don’t frequent either one. You can search for me on Facebook @vintageromance.romanticsuspense.cozymysteries
I’m pretty selective about what I share, so I hope you’ll find some useful information.


Crafting Your Novel

Resources for Writers

Marketing and Promotion

Advice, Tips, and Motivation

 Don't forget I blog here at The Word Place on M-W-F and always try to give you something to take away! 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Take control--or not--your decision

Tomorrow is I Am In Control Day…hmmmm. In control of what?

What’s control for writers?

·        Making time to write
·        Staying focused during that time
·        Meeting your word count goal (if you set one)
·        Resisting the temptation to edit as you go
·        Deciding you have a sudden attack of ‘writer’s block’ and giving it up altogether

Making time to write

Life happens, but you know when there is a block of time available. It’s not selfish to be unavailable to others except in emergency situations.

Staying focused

Facebook won’t shut down if you’re not online. Emails don’t disappear if they remain unread for a few hours. And if you won the lottery, that, too, will keep!

Meeting your word count goal

Make it reasonable--probable--doable. If you say you’re going to write 500 words, they’ll get written--and you’ll probably wind up with three or four times as many because you’re on a roll!

Resisting the temptation to edit as you go

Everybody knows a first draft stinks. Let it. Just get the words down and fix them later. You can either fix or finish.

Allowing writer’s block to give you an excuse to quit

I know it happens…but keep writing, even if what you put down doesn’t make sense…again, you can “fix” it later.

Other things writers have to juggle/control

·        Schedule blogs (like this one!)  Spend a buck at the Dollar Tree and jot down your ideas in PENCIL--shuffle them around as necessary.
·        Queries and submissions--I think the old saying about a thousand mile journey beginning with the first step is applicable here.
·        Edits and galleys--make yourself popular with your editor by meeting your deadline! She has deadlines, too.
·        Formatting and publishing (in the case of indie authors)--at which point writer’s block seems like the sniffles compared to a raging case of the flu. If you keep at it, it’ll get done. If you don’t, it won’t. You have total control.
·        Marketing and promotion--which make you feel totally out of control, helpless, frustrated, and ready to shove it. Take a deep breath and remember it doesn’t all have to be done yesterday.

We’ve all been there-done that. Actually, writers are pretty lucky because their chosen path is a solitary one for the most part. Just about all we have to take control of is ourselves.

And that’s the hardest thing we’ll ever do in this life! But if you take control of just one thing on March 30, shout it to the world and give yourself a hug. March 31 will be here soon enough…

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Lights! Camera! Action!

I’ve been making and re-making video trailers for the past couple of weeks, so I thought I’d talk about the process of doing same. I paid to have 3 made when I still operated on the, “Oh, I can’t do THAT,” wavelength. Moved on and decided I could and would!

What you need

First, of course,  you need pictures. I get mine from Fotolia, but there are loads of stock photo companies out there. Most of the licenses for XS pics are only $1.00, and XS is really all you need. If you want to use two or more pictures in a frame, Canva or PicMonkey is the place to go. Canva is free with a paid option. PicMonkey used to be free but now appears to offer a 7-day free trial only. Both have a learning curve, so play around and get comfortable before trying to do a final project.

The main thing you’ll need is Windows Movie Maker.  It’s a free download, but I had trouble getting it before I upgraded to Windows 10. I’d had it on another computer which wasn’t Windows 10, but the new laptop refused to operate it. Again, there’s a learning curve. I took a class offered by the local computer club--best $20 I ever spent! Google “windows movie maker online tutorial” for several options on YouTube and other sites.

You’ll probably want music to accompany your “movie”. I highly recommend Music2Hues. They have a wide variety of tracks at reasonable prices--and offer specials. I usually stock up if there’s a special going. Also, their customer service is excellent. On the two occasions I’ve had trouble downloading (and I know now what I did wrong), they made sure I got what I’d paid for without delay. They’ll be in zipped folders in your downloads--unzip and save to your music folder for handy access.

I’ve heard the ideal trailer is 90 second-2 minutes, but you can adjust.

How to do it

My trailer-making usually goes like this:

1.      Write a brief script--captions, if you will, to go with the pictures.
2.      Find photos on Fotolia to go with the captions.
3.      Once purchased and downloaded, they’re ready to be uploaded to your Windows Movie Maker.
4.      Move them around until you get the order you want.
5.      Begin adding captions to each picture. (If you want two pictures together in the same frame, go to Canva to create your own collage--use the Facebook post option.)
6.      Add a title frame at the beginning.
7.      Add ending frame (usually the book cover), a frame to tell where the book can be purchased, and a frame crediting the cover artist (unless it’s you), the photos, and the music.
8.      Preview--weak--use the “save as” option “for computer”--then move to your video     folder for easy access.
9.      The last step is uploading to YouTube. The reason I do this is because my blog and my website require the YouTube URL in order for the video to be placed on these sites. You can start your own YouTube channel to have the videos in one place. (Other sites, like           FB, let you upload direct from your computer.)

As I said, there’s a learning curve, so don’t get in a hurry, become frustrated, throw up your hands, and pay someone else big bucks to make the trailer for you. If I can do it, so can you!

To get an idea of what you can do (or maybe what NOT to do--LOL) visit my website and click on videos to see what I’ve done.

Once you get the hang of it, it’s a fun exercise--and you can always go back and edit everything at any time.

Questions? Leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you!

Here’s a sample of my latest:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Holiday Hallelujah!

Sunday, March 26, is Make Your Own Holiday Day! Boy howdy, do I have a good one! (Drumroll--Trumpet--Clash of Cymbals)

Have Your Belated Adolescent Rebellion Day

   Never having been allowed to have one at the appropriate time, I’ve been having mine for several years now and enjoying every minute of it! I think it actually started when the Commemorative Air Force brought some of their vintage planes to the local airport.
   When it was the Confederate Air Force (am assuming the PC police did their number on the organization!), it came regularly to Midland, Texas, about 40 miles from where I was teaching at the time. There were still quite a few WW II vets around to put in appearances, sell their books, and display their memorabilia. Wandering around one of the huge hangars, stopping to chat and listening to them talk--what a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Then, of course, the restored planes would take wing and amaze onlookers.
   But I digress--back to the day at the local airport. In previous years, I’d gone out to see the planes and chat with the folks who restored and cared for them, and I’d watched wistfully as groups boarded the planes for a short flight--at a long price! But that particular day, I pulled out my credit card, forked over the price, and climbed (all right, was shoved along!) into a B-24 built the year I was born (1944) though it never saw action overseas.
   Strapped into my seat beside a gun mount and fighting some airsickness as we flew low and slow, I knew I’d made the right decision. I can’t take it with me looped through my brain as I tried to imagine the crews who’d crossed the Channel into Germany and other destinations--and those who didn’t cross back to their bases in England.
   So that was the beginning. Other adventures beckoned. About a year later, sitting in my study looking out into the empty street, I decided it was time to go somewhere I’d always wanted to go--Charleston, SC. Within a couple of days, I’d researched sites to see, made airline/hotel reservations, checked on a shuttle from the airport when I arrived somewhat late at night--then packed my bag and toodled off.
   Since then, I’ve packed and re-packed that little bag for a variety of trips when and where I want to go. My daughter-in-law said my son commented (but not to me!), “Mom’s getting to be a gad-about, isn’t she?”
   Hey--I raised two boys single-handedly after their father’s death, went back to school for a master’s degree, worked full-time, then took care of my parents and their business when they both became terminally ill. Don’t get me wrong--I did it all willingly and without complaint. But then I retired, and it was my turn.
   Well, almost. Granddaughter #1 showed up, and I found myself providing daycare for eighteen months. Finally, I had to say, “No more.” I don’t regret the strong bond we forged which endures to this day, but I wasn’t getting any younger--and I’d had an adolescent rebellion waiting in the wings all my life. On my own, with no one to deny me the privilege--and, yes, the right!--I’ve been not “walking the line” ever since.
   Believe me--the old adages are true:
You can’t take it with you.
You’re not getting any younger




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Twiddling the toes...

Oh, please. I don’t need a National Goof Off Day. I can do that every day with no apology or excuse. Hey, I’m retired!

How do I do it? Let me count the ways!

I don’t have television service--and won’t have it in my house, but someone told me about Amazon Prime and…do you have any idea how many great FREE documentaries, movies, and old sit-coms are available there?
Happy Hour for me is a large diet Coke with vanilla at Sonic. Can you guess how long I can make that beverage last when I’m playing Solitaire or Gin Rummy on my Kindle?
Our local mall doesn’t seem to be thriving--it’s practically empty on weekdays--but I can spend a couple of unhassled--and unproductive--hours browsing stores on one of my rare trips out there.
Warm sunny days draw me to a local park, usually with a fish filet sandwich from the nearby McDonald’s. I can kill an hour there easy.
Arriving at the airport 2-3 hours early is another way to kill time without anything to show for it--but I don’t want to miss a plane in case security is having a bad day and wants to examine the soles of my socks!
For a while after retiring, I didn’t touch my piano more than a few times a year--in contrast to the time spent when I was actually playing for a church pretty regularly and needed to plan and practice. But lately I can sit down and poof! An hour’s vanished.
Finally, there’s social media, namely Facebook--which I tell myself I only stay on to keep in touch with friends I don’t see often and to promote--via my author page--my books. Do I need to ask if you can guess what a five-minute check-in can become?

What I should be doing instead…

That’s easy.
                                             …well, you get the picture.
And most days I’m pretty good at staying focused. Other days not so much. And today-well, hey, it’s National Goof-off Day, so Sonic’s calling. Have Kindle, will answer.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Will you marry me...and other proposals

March 20

In honor of National Proposal Day, I decided to share the proposals from three of my books:

“I haven’t worn this dress in years,” Celeste said as Kent opened the door of the car. “I’m surprised it still fits.”
“It looks a little loose to me.”
“Not really.”
“Too loose is better than being too tight, isn’t it?” He closed the door and went around to the other side. “You’re gorgeous, Velvet. More beautiful than ever, and that’s going some.”
They didn’t talk in the elevator that whisked them to the top floor. Kent paid their admission fee but didn’t move to help her with her coat. “Leave it on and come outside with me.”
“It’s cold out there.”
“Just for a few minutes. I’ve got a couple of things to tell you.”
Unease began to nibble at her stomach. “All right.” She stepped through the French doors onto the tile of the outdoor pavilion. When she shivered, not altogether with the cold, Kent put his arm around her shoulders and moved her close to him.
 “First of all, I’ve thought about college and law school and decided it isn’t what I want.”
“Oh, Kent, why? Are you sure? You have the money, and everything’s all set up.”
“I’m sure. It’s like you said—it was something that was going to change my life, only now my life doesn’t need changing. I have what I want, Velvet.” He reached for her hand. “I talked to Mr. Bozeman, and he said he’d rather have me manage the warehouse than anybody else. I’d actually sent him a couple of guys to talk to last week, but he didn’t hire either one of them.”
He brought her fingers to his lips and kissed them. “Look, I can always take some business classes at the junior college here, if I decide I need them, but I know the plumbing business inside out. I like it, too. Mr. Bozeman said since I was staying on, he wanted to open a wholesale store in the front and sell to contractors. There’s lots of building going on since the war.”
“But what if you look back and wish you hadn’t given up this chance at school?”
“Did you look back, Velvet? When you took Jonny, you said you knew it was what you wanted. So did you look back?”
“No, and I never will.”
“I won’t either. It feels right, doing what I know, what I enjoy. Not going off to tilt with windmills. I’ve done my share of fighting, in Europe and at home, too. I’m tired of it. I made it through the war alive, which is more than a lot of guys did. It’s time to live. Really live.”
He slipped a jeweler’s box from his pocket. “Will you marry me, Velvet? I’ll be the best husband I know how to be. The best father, too. All I can do is try, but I think now… I think I just might succeed.” He opened the box and took out a ring. The small, perfect diamond gleamed in the reflected light from the ballroom. “It’s not big, but it’s a good one.”
He slipped it on her finger. “And, by the way, Jonny helped me pick it out.”

They ate chicken salad and deviled eggs to the sound of rain spattering the top of the car and skidding across the windshield. When they’d finished and transferred the basket again, Ruthann moved across the seat, careful to keep Drew’s leg level, and leaned back in his arms.
He scattered soft kisses on her neck and cheeks and buried his face in her hair. “I love you, precious girl.” He slid his hands down her arms to her hands. “Someday—someday soon, I hope—I’ll lead you up a mountain, and then we’ll take the last few steps together and fling ourselves into the abyss.”
“That’s almost like poetry.”
“Does it need interpreting?”
“I don’t think so. No, it doesn’t.” His warm breath on her neck stirred feelings Ruthann savored rather than shrank from.
His breath came faster. “You make me hope again. To remember what it means to be young and in love.”
“Maybe those two things don’t really go together.”
“Why not?”
“I suppose you can be both, but maybe one doesn’t appreciate the other.”
He laughed softly. “I’ve rubbed off on you.”
She turned in his arms. “You have a beautiful soul. I want to deserve it.”
“You will. You do.” His hands drifted up to her shoulders. “Marry me, Ruthann.” His eyes searched hers as they’d done the first day she’d met him. “Marry me soon. I love you…need you…want you.”
 “Yes,” she whispered. “Yes.”

Sam’s Last Stand (Book 6 of the Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series)

Jake had just finished asking the blessing over what he said was a piddling supper of sandwiches and soup, even if he was going to stuff himself at the Christmas party the next night, when Sam strolled in. Wearing a white turtleneck stretched across his broad chest and a tan leather jacket falling just below his denim hips, he took Penelope’s breath away.
“Hello, Nell. Mr. Kelley.”
“Welcome home, son! Hate to tell you the pickings are pretty slim tonight. We’re supposed to save our appetites for the party tomorrow.”
Sam stripped off his jacket and hung it on an empty hook beside the back door. Penelope realized her mouth was hanging open and closed it. “No hello Sam?” he asked, bending to kiss the top of her head.
She tensed. “You just walk in and out of here like…”
“Like it’s home,” Jake finished. “Nellie, get the man something to eat.”
“He can get it himself. The soup’s in the crockpot.”
Sam laughed, took a bowl from the cabinet, and ladled soup into it. “Mr. Kelley—Jake—I have a question for you.”
“Shoot, son.”
“How about if I take your daughter off your hands?”
Jake cackled. “I’d like that fine. She’s been talking about the old folks home again lately.”
“I have not!” Penelope sat up straight and glared at her father.
Jake winked at her. “Just how far do you want to take her, Sam?”
“Oh, about as far as St. Hyacinth’s and back.”
“Then that’s okay. I won’t miss any meals.”
“Daddy, stop it!”
Sam reached into his pocket and pulled out a velvet ring box. “I think this is what you wanted.” He flipped open the box and held it under Penelope’s nose.
She stared at the wide gold band gleaming against white satin. “I…” She pursed her lips and looked from Sam to her father and back again. “You both take a lot for granted,” she snapped.
“I just don’t want to mess with the status quo,” Jake said, reaching for another sandwich half. “Meals on time, laundry done, dry-cleaning sent out.”
“You can get all that at the old folks home,” Penelope muttered.
Sam wiggled the box. “So, what about it, Nell?”
“What about what?”
Sam’s eyes sought the ceiling. “Do you want me to get down on one knee?”
“It might help.”
Jake grinned. “Aw, Nellie, I didn’t get down on my knees to propose to your mother. We were sitting in the swing out back of her house, and I popped the question, sort of like Sam just did.”
“That was then, and this is now,” Penelope said through tight lips.
               Sam slid out of his chair to his knees. “Penelope Corinne Louise, please marry me. Tonight, tomorrow, anytime you want to. Just do it.”
Penelope closed her eyes against the hot tears forming. “Don’t be so melodramatic.”
Sam took her hand and brought it to his lips. “Nell, I love you. Will you marry me?”
Her eyes flew open and searched his which were also suspiciously bright. She nodded.
Sam brought his face close to hers and kissed her. “Thank you,” he whispered.
“I’m ready for dessert,” Jake said in a husky voice.

 Visit my website for free reads at 
"I'll Tell You a Story"

Friday, March 17, 2017

One day ends...another never does

After today’s parades end, the speeches are given, the corn beef and cabbage eaten, the glasses lifted, St. Patrick’s Day will be over for another year. But some things don’t stop:

  • the police officers who put on their uniforms and hope they get home at the end of their shifts
  • the firemen who wait for the alarm to sound and hope it doesn’t
  • the soldiers, sailors, and Marines who’ll wake up today and for days to come far from home and loved ones and often in harm’s way
  • the first responders who hope they can get their patient to the ER in time to save his life
  • the medical staff whose shifts are long, stressful, and sometimes fraught with danger
  • the mothers and fathers who give up their own leisure for the benefit of their children and those who deal with ill or special needs sons and daughters
  • the husbands who forego a golf game to lend a hand at home
  • the priests, ministers, and rabbis who go where they’re called even if they’d like to stay where they are
  • the teachers who know they’ll be tossed under the bus for the least unintended infraction but who stay in their classrooms anyway
  • the honest politicians who know their moral stands will bring them nothing but criticism and may cost them the next election
  • the grandparents who planned to make dreams come true in retirement but are not raising a second family of grandchildren
  • all the people who consciously give up their individual desires for the welfare of the many—history is full of them. I'm sharing one whose story touched me recently.

Every March 18 is Supreme Sacrifice Day. If you don’t have to make regular sacrifices, say thank you to someone who does—and remember them when you’re tempted to gripe about your own petty concerns.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What's wrong with your world?

Today is Everything You Think Is Wrong Day. One could interpret that a couple of ways: (1) Everything about the day goes wrong. (2) What are all the things you think are wrong with…(insert person, place, thing, or idea). There’s already too much negativity floating around out there, but I’m going with number 2 anyway.

Everything I think is wrong with the world today.

Let’s face it--the world’s a mess. But I can’t fix the world. I can only fix my world.

So what’s wrong with my world?

Not much, come to think of it.
I have everything I need--maybe not everything I want, but I probably don’t need it anyway.
Since retiring with the idea that grandchildren weren’t in the picture for me, I’ve acquired five. The two boys are special needs children (Down Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome), but they were born to parents who can cope and have a grandmother who spent many years in special education and knows small steps are great victories.
Also since retiring, I’ve realized my dream of becoming a published author: eight traditionally-published novels and novellas, several short stories, and a number of independently published works.
With no real responsibilities, I can pack my bag and go wherever the road leads…with a little bit of wise budgeting.
My health is great for my age.

What I’d like to change

The messy world in which my grandchildren are growing up.
But I can’t change anything except how I live in the world--so I pray that I can leave them all a legacy of faith, integrity, and the will to survive--and give them that example while I’m still here

And on that note…

Visit my website and live vicariously in the worlds my characters inhabit:
…and learn how they survive with

 They’re imperfect people like all of us, but somehow they manage to find joy in an imperfect world.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Take your pick...

March 13

Well, today is either Jewel Day or Ear Muff Day--take your pick. I think it’s a no-brainer. While a diamond necklace can’t keep you warm, diamonds have been around a lot longer than ear muffs (1877) and have much more allure.

Several years ago I put pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keyboard) and wrote The Legacy of Diamond Springs which featured a rare and extremely valuable blue diamond. (See blog for February__ to learn more about blue diamonds.) It wasn’t rejected, but the first reader seemed lukewarm about it for reasons which didn’t seem to make much sense to me, so I pulled the manuscript from consideration. In retrospect, rewriting now seems to be the best option, so I’m hard at work.

Rewriting a book is often slow going. One can see where characters need to be fleshed out for more appealing personalities and also for motivation. In this case, I slashed three peripheral family members from the story and gave another a more integral part in the action. I also decided not to kill off one and weave a secondary romance into the novel. (Not to worry--I’ll kill off at least two more along the way! I kill off characters quite well--or so I’ve been told!)

The opening scene--in which the female protagonist narrowly escapes death at the hands of a hit and run driver as she leaves an outdoor café--didn’t need tweaking. It introduced the setting, which is important, and three of the main characters’ relationship to it. Here’s a quick look:

Jewel heard the car coming before she saw it. By the time her feet left the flagstone paving of the sidewalk café, the panicked screams of the other patrons buoyed her mid-air flight, which ended amid scattered tables and overturned chairs. Flat on her back, she blinked up at the face between her eyes and the early afternoon sun.
         “Are you all right?” A voice, its clipped accent definitely distinguishable from the cacophony of others, nibbled at the edges of her confusion.
         “I think so.” She curled her toes, then her fingers which no longer clutched her handbag. “My purse.”
         “Here it is.” A teenaged girl pressed the worn leather bag back into Jewel’s hands. “It didn’t even come open.”
         The face above her shifted slightly into the shadows and gave her a better look. Two deep creases, more like a glare than a frown, formed between dark eyes matching the curly black hair falling over them.
         “Don’t move. Someone’s calling the paramedics.”
         Jewel glared at him. “I’m not hurt.” Despite the hands which tried to restrain her, she rolled to one side and pushed herself up on an elbow. “Did the car actually hit me?”
         The restraining hands became supportive. “No, I did.”
         “You pushed me out of the way.”
         The girl kneeling beside Jewel struck a dramatic pose. “He tackled you! I’ll bet he was a football star.”    
“Thank you,” Jewel said, pulling the skirt of her pink cotton shirtdress over her knees. The wail of an ambulance propelled the crowd away from her. “I’m all right,” she repeated to the medic who squatted down and began to assess her.
         “Just let me make sure. What happened?”
         “Someone tried to run her down with his car, and this guy saved her life,” the girl said, shaking her head so her old-fashioned ponytail bounced from side to side.
         Jewel’s mouth went dry. “Is that what happened? The car deliberately tried to hit me?”
         “Looked that way to me,” her rescuer said. “Where are the police?” he asked of no one in particular.
         “Right here,” someone said. Jewel turned her head toward the familiar voice.
         “Hi, Larry.”
         “Hi, yourself.” The officer with a chief’s insignia on his wide-brimmed hat, hunkered down beside her. “What happened, honey?”
         “I’m not sure. It sounded like someone lost control of his car, and I happened to be in the way, but…
         “Someone tried to run her down,” the man said.
         Larry’s jaw twitched. “You’re sure about that?”
         “I wasn’t the only one who saw it.”
         “That’s what happened.” The girl’s ponytailed bounced non-stop. “What he said.”
         “That puts a different spin on things.” Larry unbuttoned his shirt pocket and removed a small spiral notebook. “Okay, nobody leave ‘til I get some statements here. Jewel, sugar, you sure you’re okay?”
         “Nothing’s broken,” the older paramedic said, “and everything’s ticking. She should probably come in and get checked out though.”
         Jewel didn’t have to calculate that the deductible for an ambulance ride. Just a walk-in visit to Diamond Springs Memorial, even if she barely saw the inside of the ER, would wipe her out with seventeen days left in the month. “No,” she said. “I don’t need to go to the hospital. I’m fine.”
         The paramedics picked up their bags. “Suit yourself,” the older one said. “You’re probably all right, but if you experience any dizziness, you really should see a doctor.”
         “Thank you,” she said. “I appreciate what you did.”
         She watched Larry working the crowd, jotting down notes without seeming to so much as look at the little notebook. “He’s a good cop,” she said to the man whom the ponytail—now following Larry at a worshipful distance—had hailed as the person who saved her life. “I’ve known him all my life.”
         He lifted her to her feet with hands oddly delicate considering their strength.  She noticed the dark hair on the backs of his hands was also curly. “All right?”
         “Yes, but I think I’ll sit down for a few minutes.”
         “Let me get you something to drink.”
         “Iced tea will be fine.”
         “Something stronger might be better.”
         “Not at one o’clock in the afternoon.”
         He grinned. “Be right back.”
         She watched him stride toward the door. He wasn’t that tall, under six feet, but he gave the appearance of being a large man. No doubt he’d learned his life-saving tackle on a football field like Miss Pony Tail said—though from the streaks of white at his temples, it had been awhile and not around here. His speech and the way he dressed, more preppy-casual than business, labeled him an outsider.
         She unzipped her purse and checked the contents casually so it didn’t seem she was suspicious of those who had helped her. Holding her compact mirror out of the sun, she used a tissue to wipe a smudge of dirt from one cheek and freshen her lipstick.
         “I need something stronger even if you don’t,” the stranger said as he set two glasses on the table and dropped into the chair opposite her. “They didn’t have my usual, so this will have to do.”
         “What’s your usual?”
         “Planeta Chardonnay. It’s Italian. Sicilian, actually.”
         “Why an Italian wine?”
         “My grandmother introduced me to it. She still lives in Sicily, near Ragusa in the south. It’s her favorite, too.”
         “I see.” Jewel reached for her iced tea with an unsteady hand.
          “You’ve had quite a shock. Take some deep breaths.”
         She took one and closed her fingers firmly around the frosty glass. “Here comes Larry to talk to you.”
         Larry pulled out the third chair and straddled it. “So, how you doing, sugar?”
         She extended both of her hands. He enfolded them in a brief squeeze. “Did you see the car?”
         “Not really.”
         “I saw it,” the man said.
         “So did half the people in the café—at least, they saw a car, but they can’t agree on the color and model--and God forbid anyone got a license number.”
         “I did, part of one anyway.”
         Larry’s eyebrows went up. “Well, don’t hold out on me.”
         “It was a Subaru, late model—maybe the last couple of years—cranberry red, and the license number was…” He fumbled in his pocket and took out a notebook similar to the policeman’s. “…B-something-68-something-Q. I wrote it down while I was inside ordering our drinks.” He tore out the page and handed it to the officer.
         Larry shook his head. “That doesn’t sound like a Mississippi plate.”
         “It could’ve been a rental.”
         Larry tucked the paper into his pocket. “What makes you say that?”
         “I’m not sure. Just a feeling I have. I’m driving a rental myself.”
         “You a cop? P.I.?”
         The man laughed, though Jewel got the feeling he didn’t think the question was funny.
         “No, I’m an investigative reporter. That’s why I pay attention to details.” From the same pocket which had held his notebook, he extracted a business card. “Torr Whittaker. Behind the Story Magazine.”
         Larry took card from Torr’s hand. “What brings you to Diamond Springs, Mr. Whittaker? No mystery here.”
         “I flew into Jackson yesterday and drove over this morning to interview Barrett Ainsleigh, president of the college.”
         Jewel, reaching for her glass as Torr spoke, had to grab for it with both hands to keep it from flying off the table. “Why are you here to talk to him?”
         Before Torr could answer, Larry leaned toward him, his eyes narrowing. “Do you know who this young lady is?”
         “No. Should I?”
         “She’s President Ainsleigh’s daughter, Jewel.” He stood up. “I’m going to ask you to come down to the station with me and give a statement about all this.”
         Torr glanced at Jewel’s face, a study in confusion and suspicion. Her lips, slightly parted, were the only spot of color between her pink dress and the honey-colored hair falling just below her ears.  Her blue-violet eyes appeared slightly unfocused.
         “I’m sorry,” he said. “I had no idea…” His eyes cut to the uniformed officer who loomed at least three inches above him. “Am I the only one being asked to come to the station for a formal statement?”
         Larry nodded. “For now.”
         “Do you think I had something to do with Miss Ainsleigh’s near miss?”
         “Let’s just say it’s an odd combination of circumstances.”
         “I see. I’d like to telephone my editor and let him know my situation.”
         Larry nodded. “Sure, go ahead.”
         Torr took out his cell phone, punched in a single number and conveyed his message in a few clipped sentences. “All right,” he said, flipping the phone shut, “I’m ready to go now.”
         “You need a lift, Jewel?” Larry asked.
         Her words came out in a whisper. “I have my car.”
         “Then go on home. I’ll check on you later.”
         “Miss Ainsleigh, I…” Torr began, extending his hand.
         She kept her hands in her lap and looked away. “Thank you for what you did,” she said. As he walked away with the officer, she added, “I think.”

Comments and questions are always welcome! Don’t forget to visit my  website, for a new story every month. Click on the tab “I’ll Tell You a Story” and enjoy a quick read over coffee or lunch.  (This month’s story has a “jewel” theme also!)

Friday, March 10, 2017

First, Last...and Maybe Middle

The Name Game

Today is Middle Name Pride Day. Alas, when I was born in 1944, I had a name common to everybody and his dog--Judy--but no middle name. Neither of my parents had middle names either. Then, about the time I went off to college, someone with my first name married someone with my last name, and a great deal of confusion resulted. So, when I turned 21, I decided to change my name from ‘Judy’ to the more formal ‘Judith’ and take my grandfather’s surname as my middle name. (It was a pretty simple procedure--my father applied to have my birth certificate amended, but I don’ think it’s that easy anymore.) A few years later, when I married, I began to use my maiden name as my middle name, and the other one disappeared forever.

Ancestral names

Middle names seem to abound in earlier generations of my family:
·        Julia Ann
·        Martha Ann
·        Mary Eliza
·        Annie Laurie
·        Clara Mattie
·        Margaret Elizabeth
·        Rebecca Delilah
·        Myrtle Elizabeth
·        Jewel Madeline
·        Bessie Marie
·        Willie Pearl
·        Pattie Thomas (No, the ‘Thomas’ isn’t a surname!)
·        Rebecca Jan
·        Mary Ella
Some are elusive:
·        Louisa B.
·        Susan P.

Male vs Female

One oddity I’ve noticed seems to be that boys are given middle names 99% of the time. It’s the female offspring who do without. I’m sure there’s a reason for that--perhaps because the American family is traditionally patrilineal and a middle name is needed to differential between a dozen or more Johns or Thomas’s.

The Newer Generation

All my granddaughters have middle names. In fact, two of them have TWO! I had nothing to do with their naming, but I like all the names chosen.

In Retrospect

Though I don’t use my grandfather’s name now, it pleased him when I took it. An orphan by the time he was eight, he set great store in family, and that name was all he had left of the father who died when he was six or seven months old.
I like to play with names for the characters I create in my writing. They have to be era-appropriate as well as functional in the story. And, I grow attached to them as if they were family.
·        Lenore
·        Roberta Annette ‘Bobbie’ who became Annette Lenore ‘Annie’
·        Celeste
·        Jean
·        Ruthann
·        Penelope
·        Mary Lynn
·        Susanna
·        Gail
·        Beatrice ‘Trixie

Upcoming Characters

Jewel, Cordelia (Corey), and Maeve The Legacy of Diamond Springs
Serafina, Dalee (a play on the name of the man Serafina didn’t marry) Unnamed story
Ivy Nadine Keeping Promises

Do you have a middle name? Is there a story behind it?