Day K: Kerfuffle #AtoZChallenge

For more Day K posts click here.

K is obviously for Kathy, a name at the heart of a lifelong kerfuffle.

The plan was to name me Katherine for my great-grandmother and to call me Kathy. But at the last minute, when the nurse came in and asked for the baby’s name so they could type up a birth certificate, my mother added Mary for my grandmother. Later she told my father what she’d done and he said that was fine with him. He liked his mother-in-law. My grandmother liked the name.

Mother later told me she’d wanted to spell Katherine with a C, but she was afraid her grandmother would say I wasn’t really named for her (the family was funny that way).

Thus was I denied the privilege of assuming the mantle of romanticism connected with hearing Heathcliff call across the moor, Catherine! Catherine! (I don’t think he did that in the book or the movie, but I have a good imagination.)

The precaution turned out to be unnecessary, because every time my great-grandmother, whom we called Grannygirl (that’s another story) wrote my name, she spelled it Catherine.

(I was glad I’d been spared her first name, Minna. She didn’t like it either and changed it to Minnie but later wished she hadn’t.)

My grandmother, Mary Veazey Barrow, front row 3rd from left (big hat); my great-grandmother, Minna Katherine Stagner Veazey, front row 5th from left.

Otherwise, my name was fine with me, too, as long as we stayed put. But when we moved and I had to enroll in a new school in the middle of second grade, the teacher said they already had a Kathy so I had to be Mary. I didn’t mind–it was just one more of the slings and arrows of being uprooted from my hometown and moving halfway across the universe*–but when I discovered the other Kathy was always called Kathleen, I thought the teacher’s reasoning was a little off.

The next September, I sat with twenty-something other third-graders and their mothers while the teacher called names from a stack of book cards. She got to Mary K. Waller; my mother marched me up and said she’s here, and she’s called Kathy; the teacher said, No this is Mary K-A-Y. I sat back down. Mary Kay didn’t appear. The teacher went through the no-shows and once again, Mary Kay didn’t appear. My mom said she thought that must be a clerical error–one person read the names, another person wrote them down?–and so I settled in as Kathy.

The next year, mothers didn’t hang around for the settling in–I suppose fourth graders were deemed able to fend for themselves–and when the teacher called Mary Waller? I let it slide. Later when my mother asked why, I said something like, “Meh.” Vicki, my best friend from third grade, called me Kathy; others who’d known me before took their pick.

Fast forward to college: Roommates said Kathy, but otherwise, I was Mary. Once I was Mark. The first time the philosophy professor called for Mark Waller, I said nothing, but when Mark didn’t answer the second time, I raised my hand and said in a small voice–one doesn’t want to accuse a prof of illiteracy on the first day of class–Mary? he rechecked the list and laughed. Since then, two more people have made the same error. Perfectly understandable: when you’re skimming, Mary K. resembles Mark.

I was a bit miffed, however, last Christmas Eve, when the young man at Best Buy told me he didn’t have my order. I said the computer said he did have it. He said he didn’t. I said would he check again. He pointed at his monitor and said there was only one Waller on the list.

I said, “Mark?”

He said, “Yes.”

I said, “Mary K.?”

He said, “Oh,” and forked over the box. I was as sweet about the situation as I could manage, considering it was Christmas Eve and I knew he’d  been extra busy; but, considering it was late afternoon on December 24th, and I’d started shopping on December 23rd, my store of sweetness was at low ebb. My words might have carried an undertone that said, Knothead.

My adult life has comprised a series of minor tangles with officialdom. Minor, because I’ve defaulted to Mary. Sometimes I forget. Last week, the nurse assigned to handle my infusion looked up from her monitor and said, “Hi. I’m Holly.”

I said, “I’m Kathy.”

Her expression changed from welcoming to stricken. I got it, admitted I was Mary, and watched her begin to breathe normally again.

My mother once said she thought I didn’t like my name. I did, and I do. It has a pleasant sound, and my written initials have a pleasing symmetry.

 

It’s sharpened my mental acuity and flexibility by requiring me to (usually) remember who I am in (almost) any setting.

But there are drawbacks. The first hearkens back to the third-grade Mary Kay thing. I do not like being confused with a cosmetics company.

 

 

 

 

 

The second concerns two questions I’m asked more and more frequently by young people who don’t understand that Mary Katherine was a perfectly acceptable, mainstream, plain, ordinary, everyday name before it gave way to Lisa and Jennifer and Ashley and Madison:

Are you Catholic?

Are you a nun?

Neither.

I’m a member of a large Protestant family that recycles names.

 

 

 

#####

* About 250 miles to the southwest, to Del Rio, on the border with Mexico. It was a nice place, and after a few months, I loved being there. Sometimes I wish we’d stayed.

** Serendipity! [An English major thing] Attempting to find a reference to Heathcliff calling Catherine, I came across this article–Heathcliff and Cathy, out on the wild, windfarmed moors–by Lucy Mangan, published in The Guardian, April 12, 2012.

I hate to admit it, but I like Ms. Mangan’s starcrossed lovers much more than I like Emily Bronte’s.

 

 

Day H: House of the Seven Gables #AtoZChallenge

In November 2016, I posted about my upcoming visit to Salem, Massachusetts for UnCon, the writers’ conference hosted biannually by Writer Unboxed.

And in my usual flippant fashion, I said, “Cold is what I wanted when I registered for the conference last summer. Sweater weather. I don’t get nearly enough.”

The truth is that I’d heard good things about the conference and wanted to go to it.

But there’s also truth in the flippancy: the Austin fall was unseasonably warm, and I wanted to wear sweaters.

So my wishes were granted. Good conference; cold weather.

The the other draw was Salem itself and specifically, the House of the Seven Gables, the house Nathaniel Hawthorne used as his setting for the novel by the same name. What English major could resist?

I attended a class in the annex, a modern building on the property, and during a break walked around outside. Across a courtyard are the Counting House and Hawthorne’s birthplace.

Photo: detail of a portrait of Hawthorne hanging at the House of the Seven Gables Museum store

Hawthorne and his wife, Sophia Peabody, moved from Concord to Salem in 1845 and the next year he was appointed “Surveyor for the District of Salem and Beverly and Inspector of the Revenue for the Port of Salem.” While in the position, he had difficulty writing, and told writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, whom he’d met in college, “Whenever I sit alone, or walk alone, I find myself dreaming about stories, as of old; but these forenoons in the Custom House undo all that the afternoons and evenings have done. I should be happier if I could write.”

After Whig Zachary Taylor’s election to the presidency in 1848 election Hawthorne, a Democrat, lost his job. A letter he wrote in protest was published in a Boston newspaper, and his dismissal became known and talked about throughout New England. But he returned to writing and in 1850 published The Scarlet Letter

It was one of the first mass-produced books in America, selling 2,500 volumes within ten days and earning Hawthorne $1,500 over 14 years. The book was pirated by booksellers in London and became a best-seller in the United States; it initiated his most lucrative period as a writer. (Wikipedia)

It has been called the first psychological novel, and writer D. H. Lawrence later said about the book that there “could be no more perfect work of the American imagination.

Unfortunately, Hawthorne died long before Lawrence expressed his opinion; the novel became the subject of controversy among his contemporaries.

Hawthorne’s friend Edwin Percy Whipple objected to the novel’s “morbid intensity” and its dense psychological details, writing that the book “is therefore apt to become, like Hawthorne, too painfully anatomical in his exhibition of them.” (Wikipedia)

It also added to his troubles. There was a “furious” response from newspapers, politicians, and members of the clergy. (Hawthorne also mentioned his job in the introduction and referred to certain politicians, so he shouldn’t have been surprised that those readers weren’t complimentary. Just my opinion.)

In A Chapter from Nathaniel Hawthorne: Studies In The House Of The Seven Gables, Thomas St. John quotes Hawthorne on Salem:

I detest this town so much that I hate to go into the streets, or to have the people see me. . .I feel an infinite contempt for them, and probably have expressed more of it than I intended; for my preliminary chapter has caused the greatest uproar that ever happened here since witch-times.

“He half-expected the crowds to tar and feather him,” says St. John: ‘from such judges as my fellow-citizens, I should look upon it as a higher honor than a laurel-crown.'”

The Scarlet letter was published in mid-March 1850. In late March, the Hawthorne family moved to Lenox, Massachusetts, in the Berkshires. In 1851, he published The House of the Seven Gables, which poet  James Russell Lowell said was better than The Scarlet Letter and called “‘the most valuable contribution to New England history that has been made.'”

When I began this post, I intended it to comprise mostly pictures of the House of the Seven Gables. But to ensure I got my facts straight, I googled, found the chapter by St. John, and was struck by the above quotation. I’d assumed Hawthorne had positive feelings about Salem. After all, he’d set a novel there.

Never assume. Research instead.

I also thought I would post early for a change. Vain hope. Once I began clicking, I followed one bunny trail after another–for over three hours. And I enjoyed every minute. I learned Hawthorne translated The Aeneid  for entrance to Bowdoin College when he was sixteen , and that The House of the Seven Gables is closely linked to Virgil’s epic. That in itself makes the search worthwhile.

Now, end of digression and on to the heart of the matter.

 

For more Day H posts click here.

 

 

 

 

When a Writer Quits . . .

Novelist Nancy Peacock on quitting…

“I’m writing again,” I told Ben.

“I thought so,” he said.

Ben has the good sense to never say, “I told you so,” no matter how many times we go through this. And we’ve gone through it a lot, because I am a serial quitter. Like an alcoholic, I need to put this statement in the present tense. I don’t think I’m cured. I could quit again when the going gets tough. I know I’ll feel the urge. 

But quitting exacts a price, not just on my writing but also on my soul. When I can’t give my soul what it needs through writing, I go off in search of some other bright ball of yarn. And what I need to learn is that I don’t have to be so extreme. When my soul yearns for the tactile, it’s okay to weave. In fact it’s a good thing for a writer to be nonverbal for a while. It’s a big lesson for me to learn that being a writer shouldn’t mean that I’m chained to my desk twenty-four-seven.

Another big lesson is to finally understand that once I am a published writer I will always be a published writer, but that I will also always be an unpublished writer. I will get rejection slips, no matter what the New York Times said about my first novel. And hopefully I will always have material in need of some work, because if I don’t have the pages I hate I will never have the pages I love.

***

Nancy Peacock, A Broom of One’s Own: Words on Writing, Housecleaning and Life
Harper Perennial (2008)
ISBN: 987-0-06-135787-9

Other books by Nancy Peacock

Life Without Water

Home Across the Road

Dirt: The Quirks, Habits and Passions of Keeping House

The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson

How Much Money Do Writers Make?

Question: I’ve written a novel. Should I quit my day job now or wait till I’m published?

In A Broom of One’s Own: Words on Writing, Housecleaning and Life, author Nancy Peacock answers that question with a story:

*

Two women are walking down the road and pass a frog sitting in the grass. “Hey,” says the frog.

“Wow. It’s a talking frog,” says one of the women. She picks the frog up and holds it in her hand.

The frog says, “Listen, I’m not really a frog. Actually, I’m a critically acclaimed writer. A spell was cast on me and I was turned into a frog. But if you kiss me I’ll turn back into a critically acclaimed writer.”

“Well, I’ll be damned,” says the woman, and puts the frog in her pocket.

Her friend asks, “Aren’t you going to kiss it?”

And she answers, “Hell, no. I’ll make a lot more money with a talking frog.”

*

Read my review of A Broom of One’s Own here. You may have already read the review–it’s been around for a while–but the book is so good, I can’t help mentioning it again. After you’ve read the review, read the book.

[P. S. Did you know that when you buy a used book, the author doesn’t receive any money from the sale?]

Nancy Peacock, A Broom of One’s Own: Words on Writing, Housecleaning and Life
Harper Perennial (2008)
ISBN-10: 0061357871
ISBN-13: 978-0061357879

Isabel Allende: January 7th

 

I start all my books on January eighth. Can you imagine January seventh? It’s hell.

~ Isabel Allende

 

Isabel Allende by Mutari. [Public Domain] via Wikipedia Commons
“Paula is a soul-baring memoir that, like a novel of suspense, one reads without drawing a breath. The point of departure for these moving pages is tragic personal experience. In December 1991, Isabel Allende’s daughter Paula became gravely ill and shortly thereafter fell into a coma. During months in the hospital, the author began to write the story of her family for her unconscious daughter. In the telling, bizarre ancestors appear before our eyes; we hear both delightful and bitter childhood memories, amazing anecdotes of youthful years, the most intimate secrets passed along in whispers. Chile, Allende’s native land, comes alive as well, with the turbulent history of the military coup of 1973, the ensuing dictatorship, and her family’s years of exile.”

“Note from Isabel: I have received more letters from readers in response to Paula than for any other book.”

 

 

 

 

 


Allende quotation from Why We Write. Meredith Maran, ed.

Remiss but Not Missing

I have been remiss.

I haven’t posted here lately, probably because I’ve been posting more on Writing Wranglers and Warriors. I hope you have, or will, check out the blog. It’s currently second home to Cherley Grogg, Mike Staton, Neva Bodin, Abbie Johnson Taylor, S. J. Brown,  Cindy Carroll, Cole Smith, Debra Easterling, and Keri De Deo. Next week, Stevie Turner will guest post.

We write about everything from the U. S. space program, to tap dancing, to writing and editing, to wildlife photography, to obsession with elf ears–and more.

Changing directions now, I’ll mention few blogs I read:

Travels with Kaye
Kaye George is the author of four mystery series: Imogene Duckworthy, People of the Wind, Fat Cat (as Janet Cantrell), and Cressa Caraway Musical. I mention Immy Duckworthy first because it’s my favorite, drop-dead funny and unlike any other mystery series ever written (I’m sure of that). Last summer Kaye published a short story anthology she edited, Day of the Dark: Stories of Eclipse.  She has stories in many publications, including Austin Mystery Writers’ Murder on Wheels and Lone Star Lawless and was instrumental in getting four writers published for the first time. I shouldn’t mention this, but I will: Kaye is also Grand Pooh-Bah Emerita of Austin Mystery Writers. She was facilitator of AMW before she escaped for greener pastures, but the eyes of Texas were upon her. We gave her a title so she could not get away.

 

Contemplation and Elation and All Else

“Who am I?” the blogger writes. “I’m still discovering just who I am, I suppose.” She shares books and photographs. Her posts are brief, eye-catching, and–eclectic. I never know what she’ll post next, but I’m always glad I found out.

 

Abbie’s Corner of the World

Abbie Taylor Johnson was a registered music therapist and worked–and still volunteers–in facilities that serve senior citizens. In addition to writing about music, she posts about love and marriage, family life, holidays, vacations, her volunteer activities, and more. She also posts books reviews and recordings of her poetry. Her essays are personal, covering, she says, “my writing and other aspects of my life. It’s a life worth reading about. She also posts on Writing Wranglers and Warriors and has published several books, including the memoir My Ideal Partner and the novel We Shall Overcome.

***

I blog occasionally on Whiskertips, mine until cats (like the one trying to lie on the keyboard) took it over. I also post on Austin Mystery Writers, which has been quiet for a while as members worked on their books. Laura Oles recently published her first, DAUGHTERS OF BAD MENAlthough my skin has turned a lovely Shreck green, I’m not at all jealous.

My stories are published in MURDER ON WHEELS, LONE STAR LAWLESS, and DAY OF THE DARK, and on the e-zine Mysterical-E.

My friends know me as Kathy, but I now write under the name M. K. Waller. The CFO of Coca-Cola is also named Kathy Waller, and she keeps coming up first in Google searches. M. K. fares better, at least when I look for her.

One Dollar and Eighty-Seven Cents

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing left to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

“Pocket watch” by Isabelle Grosjean ZA (Self-published work by ZA) is licensed under GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0,  or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the look-out for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”

The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, the letters of “Dillingham” looked blurred, as though they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard. To-morrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling – something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honour of being owned by Jim….

O. Henry, The Gift of the Magi

***

O. Henry Museum

The O. Henry Collection

 

 

Bloggers: Interested in Writing Guest Posts? Joining a Group Blog?

Used with permission. © David Davis

*****

A group blog I write for is seeking bloggers to write one or two guest posts next month.

We’re also looking for bloggers interested in posting once or twice a month on a regular basis.

If you’ve published books or stories, or if you aspire to publish, blogging with us is a good way to publicize your work and to show readers what you do.  Other members of the group will share your posts on their social media, so there’s the potential for hundreds, maybe thousands, of readers to see your work.

We’re family friendly, but aside from that, topics are up to you.

If you’re interested, leave a comment and I’ll get in touch.

 

 

Scrimshanking

“After the Edit” licensed by Laura Ritchie under CC By-2.0

At my office/coffee shop/bookstore, sitting at the computer bar at the side of the room, laptop plugged into an outlet beneath,  iced Atzec mocha against the wall where I hope it won’t spill, two industrious critique partners on my right.

I am scrimshanking.

The spell checker says scrimshanking isn’t a word. That’s what it knows.

Scrimshanking is a word, because I saw it on Dictionary.com five minutes ago, just in time to use it.

We are sixteen days into National Novel Writing Month. Writers following the plan are 26, 762 words into their projected 50,000-word  novels.

I am 75,000 words behind.

I DO NOT WORK THE NANO WAY.

Someday that will sink in.

It sinks in every year, but someday it will sink in.

 

LONE STAR LAWLESS!

Austin Mystery Writers’
second crime fiction anthology
now available for Kindle!

Paperbacks coming soon

 

ONE MORE TIME by V. P. Chandler

WILD HORSES by Alexandra Burt

LIFE OF THE PARTY by Mark Pryor

ARCHANGEL TOWERS by Gale Albright

BAGGAGE CLAIM, Part 1: THE DEVIL’S LUGGAGE
by Janice Hamrick

BAGGAGE CLAIM, Part 2: CARRY ON ONLY by Laura  Oles

THE TEXAS STAR MOTEL by Terry Shames

POINT BLANK, TEXAS by Larry D. Sweazy

THE BLACK WIDOW by Kaye George

THE SANDBOX by George Weir

TEXAS TOAST: THE CASE OF THE ERRANT LOAFER
by Manning Wolfe

WHEN CHEESE IS LOVE by Kathy Waller

THE BIRD  by Scott Montgomery

LITTLE RED by Gale Albright

EDITED by Ramona DeFelice Long

No, No, NaNo or, Just Do It

NaNoWriMo –National Novel Writing Month–the month* in which participants vow to write a 50,000-word novel–and some of them do–began yesterday.

The goal–if you want to reach 50,000 words and win NaNoWriMo (which from this point on will be called NaNo), you need to write an average of 1667 words a day.

I’ve registered for NaNo–there’s a website–at least three times, maybe four. Unfortunately, every year, as soon as I signed on, I became claustrophobic and began to hyperventilate. Mentally, not physically, but mentally is bad enough. There was something about having to write a novel in a month that made me feel the walls were closing in, as if I had to do something I didn’t want to do, as if someone were forcing me to write that novel in a month. No one was forcing me, but seeming can feel a lot like being.

Eugène Delacroix (1834): Hamlet, I, 2 - The qu...
Eugène Delacroix (1834): Hamlet, I, 2 – The queen consoles Hamlet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Public domain. {{PD-Art}}

For example, consider what Hamlet** says to his mother the first time we see them together. He’s been going around wearing customary suits of inky black day after day, and suspiring all over the palace, and although his mother knows he’s grieving for his dead father, she says everybody does that at one time or another, and asks why he seems so much more miserable than others in the same situation.

He answers,

“Seems,” madam? Nay, it is; I know not “seems.”

In other words, this isn’t put on, he’s genuinely perturbed. Of course, there’s more to it than he lets on: After his father died, before the funeral baked meats, like the casseroles and tuna sandwiches the neighbors brought in, had been consumed, his mother went and married her husband’s brother, who doesn’t have much to recommend him. That would make any prince suspire. And Hamlet must be irritated that his mother is so clueless. She asks a silly question, and he sasses her. “Nay, it is; I know not “seems,” is, in modern terms, something like, Well, d’oh.

Anyway, back to NaNo. The mere act of registering gives me a serious case of the fantods.

David Garrick in Hamlet, I, 4
David Garrick in Hamlet, I, 4 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Public domain. {{PD-Art}}

Hamlet could have addressed his fantods by confronting his mother and his uncle and asking  straight out what in the world they thought they were doing, but instead he takes the passive-aggressive route and pretends he’s unhinged.

I, on the other hand, have, every year, faced my dilemma head on: I’ve dropped out. No novel, no problem.

 

This year, however, I’m confronting it by plowing on through. I shall, and I will, write 50,000 words by November 30. I’ll go from beginning to middle to end, I’ll  submit my scrambled manuscript through the NaNo website, and I’ll win.

On the basis of my experience, both past and present, I’ve come up with some helpful hints I’m happy to share:

  1. After you register for NaNo, be proactive. Fill out your profile. You don’t have to use your real name. Title your book. It doesn’t matter what, just name it and record it on the website. Join a community. Then write a synopsis. If you don’t have a plot, wing it. Nobody’s going to read it, and it might end up working out. Complete these steps and you’ll receive badges. I got one for filling out my profile, one for joining my community (I told them where I live), and one for “creating” my novel. I take issue with that creating business, but if it makes them happy to think so…
  2. Badges make you feel better, so award yourself some for personal achievement. I gave myself a Plantser badge, because I usually have to write for a while before my characters tell me what they want to do (flying by the seat of my pants, or pantsing), but then, once things get going, I come up with a rudimentary framework (plotting). Plotter + pantser = Plantser. I also gave myself a Rebel badge to declare myself a NaNo Rebel!, state my belief “that rules are meant to be broken,” and admit that on November 1, I’ll “start writing anything but a brand new novel.” I could not have phrased that better myself. Plantser and Rebel might seem contradictory, but who cares.
  3. Relax. Getting all het up won’t help. By Thanksgiving you’ll be so antsy your family will make you take your plate and eat out on the porch.

Now for the Don’ts:

  1. On November 1, don’t let a podiatrist operate on your foot. It won’t hurt, but it’ll take a chunk out of your day that you should spend working on your novel.
  2. On November 1, don’t have two meetings, even if they promise to be interesting and you want to go. See #1 regarding chunks.
  3. On November 1, when you want to quit, don’t. If you feel the queasies coming on, follow Eloise’s lead: Say, “Pooh pooh to you,”***  and get over it. (Eloise and Hamlet’s mother have a lot in common.)
  4. Don’t schedule the Sisters in Crime chapter newsletter you edit (and write) to post on November 1. Before you post, you’ll have to tweak, and you’ll tweak everything, even things that don’t need tweaking, and you’ll add content, and it’s already too long, and it’ll be 9:00 p. m. before you press Publish.
  5. Don’t download the trial version of Scrivener**** that’s available to every NaNo participant. Even if you’ve used it before, you won’t remember how it works, because it’s big and complicated, and you don’t need it right now anyway, you can get it later, and MS Word is sufficient, and if you have Scrivener, you’ll open it and work out how to color code, and then you’ll spend the rest of November color coding everything from plot points to red herrings to subplots to your cats, if you can figure out how (blue for Ernest’s gray coat, much of which currently adorns my sweats, and rust for William’s elegant cream tabbiness).
  6. On November 2, don’t open your email. Don’t open Facebook. For goodness’ sake, don’t open your blog. Opening your blog will lead to writing a post, any post, because you’ll do everything in your power, even write, to get out of making up 1667 words, which by now have increased to 3334 words because you had surgery and two meetings and a newsletter on November 1. Email might not pose a problem– it depends on how popular you are–but Facebook will take you directly to Candy Crush and you’ll be lost. (Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga, and Candy Crush Jelly Saga, all of which you sneered at during the years sanity prevailed.)
Screen shot of Scrivener; ready open a new project

There are other d0’s and don’ts, but I’m too tired to remember what they are. Except for the one about getting enough sleep. Last night, I didn’t. A nap is inevitable, but there goes another chunk of writing time.

Anyway, that’s my take on NaNoWriMo. Contrary to the what you’ve read here, I have a positive attitude. I’m going to make it.

Because I want to call myself a winner. I want to experience the satisfaction of a job well done. I want to finish a novel so I can go back to short stories where I belong. I want to be a winner. I want a tee-shirt.

But above all, I want Scrivener. I want Scrivener when I create, plot, organize, research, file, write, revise, prepare a final document. I want to join the legions who say Scrivener is the greatest gift to writers since the eraser. I want the 50% discount on Scrivener that winning will earn me.

But above all else, I want Scrivener so I can color code. 

 

***

* A man invented NaNoWriMo. We know this because it takes place in November.

** For a quotation, an example, a whatever, go to Hamlet. Hamlet and Mark Twain. Everything you need is there.

*** I think Eloise says “Pooh pooh to you.” Somebody says it.

****Scrivener is a sponsor of National Novel Writing Month.

***

I’ve now written about 1370 words. Only 1964 to go before midnight and I’ll be caught up. Blog posts don’t normally count, but if your main character participates in NaNoWriMo and writes a blog, they do.

Everybody’s Politics

Isabel did read Italian; if she had any difficulty with La Repubblica, it was with understanding the complexities of Italian politics. But that, she suspected, was the case with everybody’s politics. And it was not just a linguistic difference; she could never understand how American politics worked. It appeared that the Americans went to the polls every four years to elect a President who had wide powers. But then, once he was in office, he might find himself unable to do any of the things he had promised to do because he was blocked by other politicians who could veto his legislation. What was the point, then, of having an election in the first place? Did people not resent the fact that they spoke on a subject and then nothing could be done about it? But politics had always seemed an impenetrable mystery to her in her youth. She remembered what her mother had once said to her about some American politician to whom they were distantly related. “I don’t greatly care for him,” she said. “Pork barrel.”

Isabel had thought, as a child, that this was a bit unkind. Presumably he could not help looking like a pork barrel. But then, much later, she had come to realise that this was how politics worked. The problem was, though, that politics might work, but government did not.

Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia). By TimDuncan (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

~ Alexander McCall Smith,
The Charming Quirks of Others

Friday Fictioneers: Used to Be

The Friday Fictioneers Challenge: Write a 100-word story based on the photograph.

 

PHOTO PROMPT – © Roger Bultot

*

USED TO BE

“The convention center? Well, go about six blocks, to where the old movie house used to be–the one that burned in ’87–What’d you say, Fred?”

“It’s The Oaks now. Condos.”

“Oh, that’s right. Well, just before the condos, turn right, and when you get to where the Masonic lodge used to be, there’s a–What’s that, Fred?”

“It’s the Hyatt–”

“All right, the Hyatt. Turn right again, and almost to where Milton Badey’s furniture store used to be–”

“The Omni.”

“Omni. One day they’ll knock down the diner and this’ll be where we used to be.”

 

***

On my husband’s first visit to my hometown, I took him on a walking tour: There’s where Miss Blanche Harris used to live, and my great-grandmother lived there, and when my grandfather moved in from the farm he built that little house, and the house across the street was Uncle Carl’s, and that one belonged to Aunt Bettie and Uncle Maurice, and Rob and Nell’s grocery store was there, and right next door was where Dick Ward sold double-dip ice cream cones for a nickle, and next door to that was Earl and Lorene McCutcheon’s store, and that was the Masonic lodge, and across the street was Dr. Luckett’s office, and that was the cotton gin, and there are the scales where they weighed the cotton wagons, and there’s the old post office that was a bank before it was a post office, and that was the gin yard where they stored the cotton bales, and the skating rink was back there on the river before they moved it to Lockhart . . .

And when the tour ended, I realized everything I’d told him was history.

*

(The the event pictured below happened before my time. And it’s Fentress Resort. That’s the skating rink in the background.)

Cottonwood School Reunion – Fentress Resort–Fentress, Texas–1930s (?)–Row 1, 2nd from left – Carl Waller; 4th from right – Jessie Waller Meadows (white collar); last on right – Ethel Waller (polka dots). Next-to-last row, from left: Maurice Waller (partially hidden); Bettie Pittman Waller; Pearl Daniels; Frank Waller; Barney Waller

***

Friday Fictioneers Challenge

On Tuesdays, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields posts a photo prompt on her blog. The following Friday, writers post 100-word stories inspired by the photo on their blogs.

To read what other Friday Fictioneers have written, click the blue frog.

 

Coming July 21: DAY OF THE DARK & More of the Murderous Marva Lu

“The good old days.” Joe turned his eyes up to the ceiling and sighed.

“Oh, I remember it all. Fried chicken, sunbathing, you grabbing me and holding me under the water till I almost drowned before you let me go. . . . What I don’t remember is anybody actually swimming.”

“We had too much fun doing other things. I wasn’t a strong swimmer anyway. But I loved playing in the water. And just being with y’all.”

I personally believed what he loved most was Bonita and her bikini. My sister Bonita was the youngest in the crowd, but she developed early. Mama absolutely forbade her to wear anything but her blue gingham one-piece, and as long as Mama was taking us out to Paradise Bluff, that’s what she wore. But when I turned fifteen and got my driver’s license, I started driving us out there. And every day, as soon as we got to the Mobil station on Main Street, Bonita would set up a howl, and nothing would do but we had to stop so she could slip into the restroom and change.

Joe goofed around with me, but when Bonita was wearing that bikini—there wasn’t enough cotton in it to stop up an aspirin bottle—he only had eyes for her.

Joe leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. He had a faraway look in his eye. “I haven’t been out there in years. It’s kind of sad, you grow up and get responsibilities, seems like you to forget the simple pleasures of youth.”

“Um-hmm, sad.” Watching him leave with that silly smile on his face, I knew he was thinking about Bonita’s little red bikini.

~ M. K. Waller, “I’ll Be a Sunbeam”

 

Marva Lu Urquhart is on the move again. This time, she’s celebrating the 2017 eclipse with a picnic at Paradise Bluff.

If you remember Marva Lu from “Hell on Wheels,” in Austin Mystery Writers’ anthology MURDER ON WHEELS, you’ve probably already guessed the picnic has less to do with the eclipse than with–well, it has more to do with knocking the memory of Bonita’s little red bikini out of Joe’s head and replacing it with–let’s put it this way: Marva Lu hasn’t been taking belly dance lessons all these years for nothing.

“I’ll Be a Sunbeam” will be published in DAY OF THE DARK, a crime fiction anthology edited by Kaye George and due out from Wildside Press on July 21st–a month before the August 21st eclipse.

All twenty-four stories in DOTD focus on those crucial minutes at midday when the moon devours the sun and anything can–and does–happen

Especially if you’re Marva Lu Urquhart.

Austin will see only a partial eclipse, so David and I will watch from Kansas City. Our eclipse glasses arrived through the mail this week.

 

Now there’s nothing to do but pack, grab my copy of DAY OF THE DARK–a little escape reading for the drive–drop William and Ernest off at their hotel, and head north. Where we trust our experience will be much less eventful than the one Marva Lu has planned for her friends.

Friday Fictioneers: The Red Shoes

The Friday Fictioneer Challenge: Write a 100-word story based on the photo.

Photo Prompt © Magaly Guerrero

 

 The Red Shoes

“A photo prompt? Ooooh. High-heeled lace-ups.”

“What’s that book?”

“So retro—art reference—I want.”

“No. That one. Red cover, gold letters, dog… E-G-P-U-something-C-A-R-O—

“Zoom in. RECRUIT. Dog?”

CAROLINA.”

“Which Carolina?”

OUTHD-E-R—”

DEPOT. Red pumps.”

“ND OUTH CAROLINA…”

“MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, Iwo Jima Memorial. That dress at Nordstrom’s . . . ?”

“The dog–“

Where?”

“On the ‘memorial.’ English Bull. Eyes, ears, big red tongue.”

“Going shopping. ‘Bye.”

Ohhhh. Not a tongue. The cover. There’s the Marine’s bottom… his leg… I thought it was a dog.”

“A Rorschach cover.”

“What’s a dog mean?”

“What’s a bottom mean?”

*

Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island South Carolina 1968  ~~~ Not the same, but similar

*

Afterword
Word Count: 42

Ernest and William © MK Waller

Speaker # 1 didn’t go shopping for red pumps. He stayed home, worked on his cartoons, did laundry, and massaged William the Cat. “Rorschach cover” is his.

Speaker #2 said, “Thank you,” then wrote and cut and cut and cut. And wrestled with Ernest the Cat.

*****

 For more stories by Friday Fictioneers, click the Froggy.