Grannie's Memories · Writing

Grannie’s Memories – Firestarter…Seriously. That’s Not a Metaphor.

I'm so proud to have been able to call her my Grannie.
I’m so proud to have been able to call her my Grannie.

As promised, today’s post starts my “Grannie’s Memories” series. She wrote them down circa 1967* and these stories are what is inspiring my Work In Progress. She was born in 1923 and grew up in her father’s restaurant in Marietta, Ohio.

She doesn’t always tell how old she was in some of these stories. I imagine for this one, she was probably around 7 or 8 years old. One thing you need to know: her “rounds” is her going around to all the other businesses on her street to “help” them open for the day. 🙂

This is a map of where she’s talking about in this story and what it looks like today. I circled the area “in question.” 😉

Grannie's fire


The Set-Up

One summer day, I was all alone and no one to play with. I walked out the back door of our restaurant. The street in back of us was called Post Street. The big building there was called the St. Charles Hotel.  Miss Chrissie McCurdy – I think she was relation to our dentist – ran the hotel. I loved going into the lobby and looking at all the old-time things there.

Over at the desk along the wall was a container that had kitchen matches in it. I wasn’t allowed to play with matches, but that container fascinated me. I had watched an old gentleman go over and take one match out, strike it, and light his pipe. Miss Chrissie was always somewhere around, sometimes behind the desk or out in the dining room. I treasure now the pictures I have of me at that were taken with Miss Chrissie. Such a gentle lady.

Across the street from the St. Charles Hotel was the bank of the Ohio River. About a block down was the mouth of the Muskingum River where it joined the Ohio. On that point was a big building we called the Government Works. In the summertime, a man from there would mow the grass on the bank. A few days later, after the grass had dried, he would burn it off. I also remember in March or April, we would pick violets by the handfuls on that bank. We never had to go to the store and buy beautiful violets because they grew wild.

The Action

One particular summer day, after making all my “rounds,” I walked down to the St. Charles Hotel. No one was in the lobby. It was dinnertime, and they were all in the dining room or the kitchen. I walked on over to the river bank. The grass had been cut a couple of weeks before and it was still lying on the ground.

That morning, I had tried to come up with something I could do to help someone that day. Now, I was looking at the answer! I would burn the grass for that man and he wouldn’t have to do it!

I ran back over to the hotel lobby and no one was there. So I borrowed a couple of matches from the container on the wall and went back over to the river bank. I found a flat stone and struck one of the matches, but the wind blew it out! I struck the other match with my back to the wind like I saw a man do on the street one day to light his pipe.

In just a few minutes, the whole river bank burned out of control.

I don’t know who called the fire department. It could have been someone looking out a window of the hotel. I never saw so many people and fire engines in my life! I don’t remember if I ran home or if someone took me, but Dad met me at the door and that’s the first and only time he ever spanked me.

Thinking about it now, the whole block of Front Street could have gone up in smoke.  I’ll never know if Dad had to pay any damages or not. What I didn’t realize was only the dry grass on top burnt. Under that was wet. It had rained a few days after the man had cut it and that’s why he hadn’t burnt it yet.

I can think back then and know the Lord saved a great disaster by making it rain.


*I’ve done some minor editing for the purposes of this blog, mostly sentence and paragraph structure and some word choice. I probably should have taken out more exclamation points, but it makes me think of how animated she use to get telling the story. 🙂 But I added the headings.

I’d Love To Hear From You!

Have your grandparents ever admitted to causing such chaos? Have you? Have you ever “helped” too much?

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Writing

Graduations, Birthday Parties, and Broken Bones…Oh My!

broken footWhat a whirlwind spring! I’ve been away (says Captain Obvious), because Murphy’s Law struck again, and when I put more things on my plate, someone came along to heap more on top.

I’m not gonna be able to eat all that! I think I just need to lay down.

See? My life has spun so much that I’m mixing my metaphors. *DEEP BREATH*

What I’ve been up to…

I’ve done some local author appearances complete with reading excerpts in my attempt at the Irish brogue. I’ve played harp when I can at a weekly Open Mic.

If you're ever in the Tampa, FL area and need a photographer, look up the fabulous James Geiger. He's  very down to earth and takes beautiful photos. :)
If you’re ever in the Tampa, FL area and need a photographer, look up the fabulous James Geiger. He’s very down to earth and takes beautiful photos. 🙂

And, of course, I’m writing. I’ve gotten down the first twenty-three pages of my next book…because the story wouldn’t stop traipsing through my thoughts. This is my first book that’s not Young Adult. It’s a Historical Fiction centered on the lifting of Prohibition in America. Most importantly, it’s inspired by the true story of my great-grandpa who owned a restaurant/bar during the Great Depression. He doted on my Grannie, who was 10-years-old at the time. The trouble was, great-grandma was a bad alcoholic.

And so the story goes…

And Yet…

First and foremost, I’m a mom. Sometimes, my writer/musician life gets in the way.

Charlie graduated from VPK and “Exceeded Expectations” in everything scholastic despite having brain surgery halfway through the year. *fist bump*

Charlie grad William started our annual birthday sprint (three birthdays within ten days). I’ve learned a valuable lesson about birthday invitations this year. When sending them to kids whose parents aren’t in my phone’s contact list (which was most), don’t assume that most of them know what Emily Post teaches about “RSVP.”

Cue frantic indecision about how much pizza and cake to order.

And as if there wasn’t enough stress in THAT weekend…

The evening before William’s birthday party, Charlie decided to perform some kind of daredevil stunt. Ya take your eyes off them for a second! We were in the gymnastics room at the YMCA and he tripped. Yep. That’s it. However he did it, he managed to brake the end of one of his metatarsals near his toes.

If you don’t know what a metatarsal is, then clearly you haven’t read The Stone of Kings. <=== *that’s a hyperlink right there (hint hint)* 😉 Who knew I’d use the information for my own kid?

Courtesy of The Writer's Circle
Courtesy of The Writer’s Circle.

Then hubby had to promptly leave for a few days on an out of town business trip. No wonder I managed to pick up some kind of stomach bug the last couple of days.

What? You’re exhausted? Why? 😉

At least this month wasn’t nearly as bad as when Charlie had his neurosurgery.

Now that Charlie is casted and can join day camp with his brother, I will hopefully be able to crank out my new book.

In the meantime, unless the earth swallows me up, I hope to resume blogging. But it won’t take away too much from my novel-writing effort since I’m starting a series called “Grannie’s Memories.” I’ll post the anecdotes and interesting bits Grannie wrote down. These are things she remembered about being a kid during the Great Depression. I’ve been reading them over and over for background for my book. You might like them. Grannie was quite a character. 😀

Till then, would anyone like some leftover birthday cake? …please?

I’d Love To Hear From You!

Do you mix metaphors when you get over-stressed? Are you looking forward to a bright spot of peace that’s almost within your grasp? Do you know what a metatarsal is because you’ve read TSoK?

The Stone of Kings · Writing

Finish What You Start

muse car seatDuring my blogcation, I also gave up writing in general (much to the chagrin of my muse) to focus on Charlie’s neurosurgery. The mother in me shoved Muse to the backseat, buckled it up, and let it listen once more to the audio version of the Harry Potter books just to keep it quiet so I could think more clearly about what was happening to my four-year old.

That worked for a little while.

But if you have kids, and even if you don’t, you’re probably well aware of how deafening the backseat can be. At least they’re strapped in. My ears are still ringing from the scream Charlie produced the other night. Nothing was wrong. He just felt like screaming.

Ow.

Muse did the same thing to me after we had to postpone the initial surgery date because Charlie picked up a cold. In full “Are we there yet?” mode, Muse gave me the desire to write-up a story based on my Grannie’s childhood and centering around the lifting of prohibition.

I wrote about ten pages.

Okay Muse, you need a bit of discipline. I’ve got an unfinished screenplay and the first half of another book in the works. I’ll never finish either of them if I keep starting other things.

Now that Charlie is fully recovered, Muse is brooding in time-out while I continue my screenplay to The Stone of Kings. Meanwhile, Inner Editor is shut in her room because she keeps reminding me that my page count is entirely too high for my characters to still be in Dublin and Kells.

**calls through the door** “I’ll fix it when it’s done!”

On the plus side, working on the screenplay immerses me once again into my story. So, in the spirit of finishing what I start, I’ll be resuming the analysis of characters for The Stone of Kings next Monday. Get ready to meet the fiery red-headed Hannah.

I’m picking up Wednesday Welcomes too! I’ve already got authors lined up for the next three months 😀 starting this week with the lovely Coleen Lahr! You’ll get to read a fun excerpt from her recent release, Accepted – maybe it isn’t where you belong, but who you belong with.

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have trouble finishing what you start? Do you sometimes feel like a jail warden for your inspiration? Does your muse scream louder at you during times of stress?

The Stone of Kings · Writing

Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – Ardan

TheStoneofKings_500X750

What He Looks Like

Ardan has attributes that I wish I had. Curly, red hair. Blue eyes. Wide mouth. Probably freckled. Since I’m writing the screenplay, I tried to find an actor who I would cast in this role, but I’m a busy mom and just not in the know. Does Rupert Grint have a little brother who can do an Irish accent?

His Part to Play

Everything hinges on this kid. Ardan is a twelve-year-old orphan who is being reared by his mysterious foster-father, Bresal, who found him stuffing grass and sod into his mouth when the boy was two. As rich as I found the Irish landscape to be when I was there, eating grass and sod could only be a good thing. 😉 He has no memory of where he comes from and no desire to find out. Hmm, there’s something wrong with that… *wink wink*

What He Means to the Story

The name Ardan means “high aspiration.” My Ardan aspires to meet a real faerie. Perhaps if he had thought about the meaning of his name, he’d be more careful about what he wishes for. His desires distract him to the point of not only becoming involved in faerie magic, but he finds himself involved in a dangerous adventure, the likes of which he could never have anticipated. Nothing in his knowledge of the fae folk prepares him for dealing with a future time where carriages power themselves, bones are visible without cutting the skin, and eating altered grains can make him terribly sick.

His Failing

Ardan is a smart kid – when he can focus. Unfortunately, this is also what he must learn, how to focus better. Not only does his lack of focus lead him to the wrong conclusions, but he also finds himself to be rather clumsy because he’s not paying attention to where he puts his feet.

His Strength

Ardan is also fiercely loyal. When he realizes that his actions have put not only his new friend’s lives in danger, but also Bresal’s, it cuts him deeply. Ardan develops a deeper appreciation for the man who provides him with a home and education.

But is this really all the faeries want him to learn – a better appreciation for his foster-father? It’s an important lesson to be sure, but was it necessary to send him three hundred years though time to teach him that particular lesson? What else is he supposed to know?

Have you read The Stone of Kings yet? What parts of Ardan’s character can you identify with? Would you react to his situation in the same way? What would you do if you ever met an Irish faerie?

Next week – meet Bresal!

Writing

World Blog Hop – Redo

TheStoneofKings_500X750Alrighty then! Trying this again, despite the fact that the wind has died a bit from the sails. I was asked to participate in the World Blog Hop a few weeks ago, and between my computer eating my first draft and zombie porcupines destroying my guts, I was unable to get it done. But I got it now, so…

1) What are you working on?

Why would you assume I’m working on anything? Oh, yeah, I’m a writer. 😉

At the moment, I’ve been working on the screenplay for The Stone of Kings. And while it would be a dream come true if it were made into a movie, that’s not really why I’m writing it. I studied screenplays briefly in high school, and I’d always wanted to write one. What I’m learning in the process is fabulous. Writing in this style is forcing me to think about my story visually. We writers tend to slip into telling the story instead of showing it. Screenplay writing is a fantastic way to remedy that tendency. I may just write the screenplay before I submit any of my following works and cross check to see how I can make the novel form better. 🙂

A project that I have on pause right now is a mystery/suspense about the American Civil War. It’s about halfway finished and has been that way for almost a year. 😉 I’m stuck on the technicalities of a major plot point. Wrapping up and publishing The Stone of Kings has put it to the back burner.

2) How does your work differ from others in your genre?

My genre? Hee hee. That’s a funny question.

I don’t really have a set genre. Harp Lessons is a sweet romance, The Stone of Kings is a historical fiction/fantasy, my WIP is a mystery/suspense. After that I have two more ideas, one is a dystopia, the other is a historical thriller. But all of them share a general theme of investigation and getting “the whole story” before making a decision about a person or situation. It falls into my theme of finding ways of working together as people, instead of focusing on differences and using them to tear us apart.

Which leads me to…

3) Why do you write what you write?

The answer to this is basically in my author bio. It’s incredible to me that there are still parts of society haven’t moved past racism and bigotry. What I write is my effort to help.

4) How does your writing process work?

Gotta do it in longhand. I can’t seem to create on a computer. The words simply don’t flow.

I’m also a pantser. I have no idea how my story will end until I’m more than halfway through. I usually let the characters decide how the story goes. Sometimes, I get too bossy. That’s when my characters put me in my place and do the opposite of what I thought they would do. 🙂

I’d love to hear from you!

Are you a writer? How would you answer these questions? 

Gluten

Zombie Porcupines

Zombie PorcupineDue to a recent re-exposure to gluten just one week shy of when I was supposed to start feeling better from my last exposure, I do not have a post ready for today. I do however have a lesson learned since this exposure happened almost the exact same way as the last one. I’ve learned not to order gluten-free pasta just because it’s the least expensive thing on the menu.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to curl into a ball and hope that the porcupine, which I seem to have swallowed, gets gunned down by zombie-grade rifle.

Writing

Please Take Care of What We Teach Our Children – A Lesson from Ferguson

History quoteI know I was going to post my response to the World Blog Hop today, but I was struck with this inspiration and felt that this was seriously more important. It also falls in line with my theme as a writer. I was listening to NPR in the car this morning, and heard an interview with an anonymous black female officer from Ferguson, MO. I have scoured the NPR sites trying to find the interview so that I can hear it again and link to it here because some of the things she said resonated with me. If anyone has the link I would very much appreciate it.

Okay, so bear with me. I’m operating on a scattered gluten brain and wasn’t taking notes (since I was driving), but after explaining how she felt like an outsider in the police department, but was okay with it, the officer was asked about her thoughts on officer Darren Wilson who shot Michael Brown. If I remember correctly, she was more concerned with what made the Wilson so scared of Brown, that he felt his life was threatened.

She went on to describe the stigma that is taught to you from a young age in that area. Whether you are white or black, you have to fear those whose skin is a different color. But she couldn’t explain why it’s that way.

How sad. And look where that kind of teaching has gotten us. An unarmed young man is killed, and a town riots.

We’ve been down this road before.

No one likes it. Except maybe the media (which is why I hesitate to talk about this at all).

What I’m most concerned with is why history seems to be constantly repeating itself. I challenge people to stop and think about why people have these fears and feelings. Were they taught to feel this way? Are they still unknowingly teaching their children to feel the same? I know from experience that children are very observant sponges and sometimes parents aren’t even aware that they are teaching their children to think a certain way.

Please, PLEASE think about how you respond to people who are “different” from you and your children. Whether the other people are white/black, fat/thin, disabled/”healthy,” etc., please teach your children to get to know people, before passing judgement on whether or not that person is a “threat.”

Chances are, a perceived threat can be a great friend. And you would miss out.

Please help to break this cycle of fear. It starts at home. Teach your children not to miss out on friendship.

I’d love to hear from you!

What do you think causes these cycle of racially charged riots? Do you think it’s caused by the parents teaching their children to fear? Do you think that we can finally end the cycle?

Writing

It’s So Quiet…

It was eerie. My car was quiet on a Monday morning. No shouts of “He’s copying me!” “He took my Mickey!” “Are we there yet?” “I’m hungry!” “I’m thirsty!” “I wanna hear ‘Nation Once Again’ song!” “No, ‘Brian Boru’s March!'”

I went to the grocery store…by myself. I was in and out in 20 minutes. It would have been faster if I knew where they stocked the WD40. Charlie’s bedroom door is squeaky.

Yup, it’s the first day of school!

Charlie’s in VPK so I have 3 hours every morning to GET STUFF DONE!

But I have to admit, it was hard not walking William to his 1st grade classroom. We’d already been there last week, so he insisted that he could do it himself. *sniff*

Anyway, I’m going to make this post very short so I can get as many chores done with no kids underfoot as I can. And I’m going to listen to an audio book while I do them! Woo hoo! 😀

Happy first day of school, everyone!

Books I Love · The Stone of Kings · Writing

Introducing…The Stone of Kings!

TheStoneofKings_500X750

It’s been live on Amazon since the wee hours of the morning, but I was waiting for it to roll over to Barnes & Noble and Smashwords before writing this post. So, without further ado…

If you love a good Irish adventure as much as I do, you’ll enjoy The Stone of Kings. I wrote this book for those who, like myself, have enjoyed the Harry Potter series and The Alchemyst series, with a touch of By the Light of the Moon and The Chronicles of Narnia. In other words, these are some of my favorite books, so that is the kind of book I wrote. I sincerely hope you enjoy! 😀

Here are the links where you can find it:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

 

Friday Fun

Friday Fun! Surviving Summer via Miracles and the YMCA

Cool CharlieYeah, I missed Wednesday again. *Sigh.* With the exception of popping Tylenol for this weird constant headache, I think I’m on the mend. 🙂 At least I’m not glutened.

Wednesday was the first day of Summer break. I remember last autumn, watching William’s small body walking himself out of the car line to his Kindergarten class for the first time. I remember thinking, “I can’t believe he’s going to be gone for most of the day till the summer!”

Now I’m thinking, “I can’t believe he’s going to be home all summer! How am I going to keep him busy?!”

We got a new above ground pool because Charlie popped a hole in the inflatable ring of the last one when he kept letting the water drain from the side to make mud puddles. But will they swim in it?

Funny question.

Apparently, neither of the boys know the meaning of “refreshing.” They complain that the water is too cold even after it’s been heated by the Florida sun all day. O_0

So Wednesday, I spent most of my day inside in the A/C while the boys fought over a toy of some kind. Did I mention that my head was about to explode at any moment? Yeah. This didn’t bode well for surviving my least favorite season of the year.

Maybe it was inspired by Charlie wearing water wings on his ankles because he wanted to walk on water – when it was warm enough. But we got a miracle in the mailbox Wednesday afternoon.

We’ve been trying to save money for moving to Georgia by the end of the summer, so we let our membership at the YMCA expire last January. It was fine when it was just Charlie and me all day.

Wednesday, I was seriously toying with the notion of summer camp for William, thereby spending any money we’d saved. But then the Y sent us a letter telling us how much they missed us. AND they were going to waive the join fee if we came back!

Cue the burst of breeze, bright light, and choir singing, “Ahhhh!”

Yes, I know it was an ad. But I missed going to the Y so much, just for a place to take the boys and have an occasional break when I needed it. The folks at the Y totally spoke to me when they sent that letter.

So we’re back at the Y. It’s cheaper than summer camp, and not something we’re obligated to bring William to. It gives me a nice break when I need it, and the relief is like a cool swim after working in the sun all day.

Hmm, I wonder if I can insist they make the boys play outside so they’ll swim when we get home?

Do your kids throw you curveballs? Are they weirdly picky? Do they walk on water? Please share!