Archive for May 2010

Memorial Day Thoughts

May 30, 2010

To Remember Service

For the first time in several years, we are celebrating Memorial Day on the original day, May 31st.  Originally set up, the day was to remember and honor all those who served in wars to protect us and died doing so.

As I remember the day, our family remembered those relatives who died serving our country.  We flew our American flag from our porch post.  We went to the various cemeteries to honor those family members who were buried there and plant flowers.

More recently the holiday’s morphed into that and a long weekend which people in the Midwest see as the first sign of summer.  In warmer states, summer heat has likely been upon them for several weeks.

This morning at 7:30, water skiers were already scooting along the lake’s calm waters.  The Coast Guard helicopter has made its first shoreline scout, hovering just a bit above the treeline.  One of our neighbors is flying the flag of Ireland as well as the US flag.  He and his wife were born in Ireland, and Bart served in the US military.

This weekend I’ll be thinking a great deal about those who’ve lost their lives protecting mine and our country.  My Dad and several uncles served in WWII.  I had a cousin who survived the Korean War only to die in an accident two days after returning home. Two of my brothers served during the Viet Nam conflict.  I have a nephew in the Marines now and many friends who have grandchildren currently serving.

I’ll also be remembering family and friends who have died.  They didn’t serve in a military way, but they protected family by being there and keeping up with their responsibilities and handling the life crises they encountered.  They endured and loved the country that offered them the chances to better themselves and their families.

I hope all of you take a bit of time from what promises to be a perfect holiday weekend to start our Midwestern summer and honor those who’ve given their lives to serve and protect our country, our communities, us.

Have a happy, safe, and thoughtful Memorial Day.

Fog, Weather & Life

May 23, 2010

Early Morning Fog

This past week has been rather strange here along the western shore of Lake Michigan.  Why?

A short a distance as a few block west of us, the temps were 20 degrees warmer and the sun was shining in a clear blue sky.  But here along the shore, a heavy dense fog enveloped everything in what looked like a cotton candy world.  Except the fog held a lot of moisture so all the outside surfaces were slick with moisture.  Cotton candy is never wet, just melt in the mouth sweet and dry.

This phenomenon comes because the lake waters are still very cold, much colder than the air even though our temps were much cooler than places a few blocks west.  We didn’t enjoy the sun because the fog obstructed it.

I’ve never been to London but one always here’s about the fog in that city.  I tried to pretend I was in London.  I wasn’t successful.  Because last week was one of those weeks.

Most of the time I thought I was functioning in a fog as dense as outside.  One part of my life, the writing side, was heating up as fast as the inland temps.  That was a perfect situation to help me endure the other parts of my life: family and friends.  Both of those areas had some serious roadblocks this past week.  I felt I encased in a dense fog, not able to accomplish anything or effectively help anyone who reached out to me.  I don’t appreciate feeling this way—all clouded up.  Actually, fog is a low-lying cloud and I’m pretty close to the ground.

Still Hanging Around

But fog does eventually dissipate and today is much clearer.  I can see the fog bank far out on the lake’s eastern horizon, but not here.  We have filtered sun at the moment.  Perhaps this is a sign that life and events in all sectors of my life will blend into beautiful early summer.

What do you think?  Is that too much to hope for?

I Won

May 16, 2010

The Big Moment

I’m not being a bit humble about this!  In fact I’m still jumping for joy inside.  Why?

A few posts ago I mentioned I was a finalist for the Write Touch Readers’ Award for the Romantic Suspense category.  This is a well-respected contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Romance Writers.  The judges are NOT writers but those we write for…readers.  Books are submitted which published in the year previous to the current year of the contest.

The contest coordinator handles thousands of books and each book entered is mailed to several reader judges around the country.  Those wonderful judges love reading and rank the ones they judge in each category, such as romantic suspense or paranormal, or historical.  It’s not easy to final but Black Ribbon Affair did.

And it won! 🙂

The Plaque

I was honored to final but ecstatic to win.  I keep looking at my beautiful walnut plaque and touching it every so often just to make sure it’s really with me.  I can’t thank enough the contest coordinator for all her work and the reader judges who loved my book. 🙂

The greatest message in this win is “Never Give Up.”

Secondly, this accomplishment reflects the concept of “It takes a village.”  Why?  Because without a fabulous editor, my publisher, the art department which created such a fantastic cover and the love and support of all my family and friends this joyous weekend would not have come about.

And I am humbled by all those who’ve supported me, read my book, dropped me an email about it, and told their friends about it.  I thank you all.  I appreciate also all the congratulations from those attending the terrific conference and all those whose work made the weekend conference and the contest a success.

Happy Mother’s Day

May 8, 2010

Mother & Child

To all out there who are mothers, I salute you–whether you are celebrating the day tomorrow or not.

For my niece who is celebrating being a mother for the first time this year, you’ve given us joy with your new addition to our extended family.

To those of us whose mothers have gone to their eternal reward, remember them.

To those women in my life who’ve been like a second mother to me, I thank you for the guidance you’ve given and I hope I pay it forward.

Have a great week.

The Kentucky Derby and the Writing Life

May 2, 2010

And they're making the turn...

Oh, the history, romance, life, and stories of a horse race. 

Yesterday, the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby occurred.  The beautiful people were there: women in hats that would make the British Royal women envious; men in tailored suits, coordinating silk ties and dress shirts costing more than many families’ monthly allotment for groceries.  Celebs who had no idea what comprised a great race horse or an amazing race but knew a red carpet had to be there. Then you had the inner circle of racing: the trainers, owners, breeders; their families, friends and hangers-on. 

And oh, that infield… Even with heavy rain all day, the masses who loved the horses, the pomp, the race itself, the grandeur of the day was a sea of umbrellas and rain gear. 

The Kentucky Derby is about the mint juleps, the hats, the first Saturday in May, the tradition of one of horse racing’s greatest traditions.  It’s about the beauty of the spring flowers blooming everywhere, the graceful spires of the track’s grandstand.  It’s about the racing silks, My Olde Kentucky Home being sung, the cascade of roses draping the winning horse’s withers.

The track or course the horses ran on yesterday was not the best, not even good.  Most described it as gooey peanut butter.  When I saw it on TV, I thought just poured cement.  Then I figured it would truly be a horse race where luck, the wisdom of the jockey, and the stamina and heart of the horse would determine the winner.  As for those who were betting?  Luck and big odds would likely play a major part. 

It’s a paean to a lifestyle, a state and those great horses who went into the history books because they won this fabled race, then went on to win what’s called the Triple Crown:  Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes.  Some of those great horses race for several more years; many are “retired” early to procreate potential future winners.  Some are more successful at this than others.  Whatever fate falls upon a Derby winner, the horse is pretty much guaranteed to cost fortunes for its owners.  Hopefully, it will bring in more than it costs. 

Horse racing and its stars, wannabees, and has-beens contains many downsides and pitfalls.  For every superstar horse there’s several who never make it.  For every great trainer or wealthy owner or successful breeder, you hear about those who toil in the depths of the worst of the sport.  Who don’t make it big.  Who barely scrape by in life. 

Horse racing has many stories with multiple facets. The sport draws all sorts of people who work in it, live it, enjoy watching it, betting on the outcomes.  For me I’ll always be attracted to books, movies, events relating to the sport.  However, I wouldn’t want to actually live in it. I’m more the kind of person who enjoys observing activities or lifestyles I deem to be way to stressful or dangerous for my personality. 

Heading for the Winner's Circle

Maybe that helps me as a writer though.  I can research, observe, analyze and then create whatever I want for setting, characters, and plots, but not necessarily live it.  Of course, like horse racing, I’m nurturing what I hope will be a winner: a great story which will win the “race.”  Readers will love it, buy it, talk about it, want another.  Perhaps this current work will be my Super Saver, yesterday’s Derby winner.  Maybe not. 

What do you think?  Are our manuscripts like thoroughbreds?  Are we writers a combination or breeder, owner, trainer, and jockey to the books we write?