Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

IWSG, Memories, and Writing

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Renee Scattergood, Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!


This month's question is: Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you'd forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

It's funny, strange, and serendipitous how this question applies to me. I've been in a writing slump for some time. These slumps have happened before and I don't fret over it, as I know no matter how long they last, I'll eventually find my way out of it.

Recently I've been posting pictures with a few lines about the history of my family on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I've been posting to my Facebook author page , St. John Travel and Life, and to Voices of St. John VI. The multitude of positive and up-lifting responses has been humbling, inspiring, and totally awesome!

These postings led the editor of a magazine - someone I've written for before - to ask me to write a story for her magazine. And not just one story, but perhaps several. And, I'll get paid for it, and handsomely too.

So, to continue in this general vein, I will post here a few of the pictures I've posted on Facebook.






My mother, Erva Claire Boulon, on a donkey at about age 14, 1931 at Trunk Bay, St. John.



My grandmother riding into Cruz Bay, St. John to pick up the mail. 1945. She ran a guest house at Trunk Bay from the late 1930s until World War II then picked up where she left off after the war ended.


My grandmother, Erva Hartwell Boulon on the upper porch of the Main House at Trunk Bay, early 1950s. She ran her guest house without electricity. Doctors, lawyers, and artists stayed there for the quietude and peace she provided.

Among her more well-known guests were the author John Dos Passos, Dr. Robert Oppenheimer and his wife Kitty, and the artist Otto Freid.





This is a postcard from the 1940s of the kitchen at Trunk Bay.
This is me at Trunk Bay, about 1957. I appear to sand skiing.


Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for the memories and for the opportunity to share them.

What are you thankful for? Has your writing ever surprised you?

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Quotes to Contemplate on the Fourth of July, IWSG



Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure
Writer's Support Group
, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Erika Beebe, Natalie Aguirre, Jennifer Lane, MJ Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!


Happy Fourth of July
It's what I'm thankful for.


Here are a bunch of quotes to contemplate during this holiday.

Stout elderly man in his 60s with long white hair, facing partway leftward
John Adams
“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.” John Adams

"The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous." Frederick Douglas

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4th, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” – Erma Bombeck

“Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.” – James Bryce

Gilbert Stuart Williamstown Portrait of George Washington.jpg
Washington
“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.” – George Washington

“Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.”
—President George Washington





James Madison by Gilbert Stuart 1804.jpeg
Madison
“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” – James Madison

"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."
—Voltaire

Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance.”
—President Woodrow Wilson

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
—President Theodore Roosevelt

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves”
—President Abraham Lincoln

"May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right." Peter Marshall

BenFranklinDuplessis.jpg
Franklin
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
—Benjamin Franklin

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
—Nelson Mandela

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”
—President Theodore Roosevelt

America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way round. Human rights invented America.”
—President Jimmy Carter

A stern middle-aged man with gray hair is wearing a dark red suit. He is standing behind a table, holding a rolled up document in one hand, and pointing with the other hand to a large document on the table.
Samuel Adams
“If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.”
—President John F. Kennedy

“If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”
—Samuel Adams

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

IWSG, Historical Romance, Being Thankful, IWSG Anthology Contest

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Diane Burton, Kim Lajevardi, Sylvia Ney, Sarah Foster, Jennifer Hawes, 
and Madeline Mora-Summonte!

This month's question is:  Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

Did you miss me last month? May slipped past and hardly left a trace...

As for this months question, it's a difficult one for me to answer. Yes, I tend to write middle grade fantasies, of a sort, that are kind of like fairy tales with a bit of realism thrown in for good measure. Deep down inside I've always wanted to write high fantasy. To that end I've created many worlds with maps and time-lines and histories going into excruciating detail like days being longer and figuring out a different kind of calendar. But the stories languished for all my clever world-building, and not one has ever been finished. 

I've also wanted very much to write historical fiction with a bit of romance thrown in. My own family's history, on my father's side, would be a fantastic subject. 

My great-great grandfather,
James Thomas Miller
1. My great-great grandfather, James Thomas Miller, leaves Scotland by himself at about the age of 14 or 15. Would have to make up a reason he left: a younger son who won't inherit anything? A run-away from an abusive family? A destitute child with no future in the old world? 
2. He lands in Texas, right before the 1836 Texas Revolution.
3. He is somehow involved in the Revolution because he gets a land grant that was given only to those who participated. The land is in the Houston area. 
4. He apparently doesn't like Houston and trades the grant for another in north Texas.
My great-great grandmother
Sarah Haught
5. There he meets my great-great grandmother, Sarah Haught who came to the area with her family (she had A LOT of siblings) from Ohio or some such place. James T. and Sarah are the second couple to get a marriage license in the settlement called Dallas.
6. They have a son, James Munroe, my great-grandfather.
7. In 1850 James T. decides to head west and sells his land in exchange for payment of certain debts. A detailed contract was written out on the land grant explaining where the money would go. It is important to note that Sarah's signature is also on the contract stating that she understands what is happening. I have held those grants in my hand!
8. James T., Sarah, and son James Munroe (who is somewhere between 2 and 3 years old) leave the Dallas area and travel south to the Gulf Coast. 
9. It gets a little sketchy here, but family stories say they got on a ship and went to Cuba where they lived for about a year as they waited for a ship to take them to Panama. 
10. They cross the Panama Isthmus on foot. Can you imagine taking this journey with a small child?
11. Once on the Pacific side they get on another ship and eventually make their way to California.
12. James T. does not strike gold. On the contrary, it's a struggle for them. They have 3 other children all of whom die before the age of 5.
13. Eventually they leave California and head north, settling in Victoria on the island of Vancouver. 
Lovers of the horse - brief sketches of men and women of the Dominion of Canada devoted to the noblest of animals. - (1909) (14762587561)14. James Thomas dies rather young, in his 50s, and Sarah marries a man named Simeon Duck. They have no children. There is a possibility that James T. and Sarah met Simeon while crossing Panama or on the ship they sailed to California. They may have kept in touch with him and he may have been instrumental in convincing James T. and Sarah to move to Victoria as that's where he had settled. 

15. Sarah outlives Simeon and dies at the ripe old age of 92 of breast cancer. She drives a sulky racing buggy until she is 90 which horrifies both men and women as it is considered quite improper, unfeminine, and undignified for a lady to sit with her legs spread apart. But who's going to argue with a woman who traveled from Texas to California with a small child?
James Munroe and Eliza Vincent on
their wedding day, April 19, 1872/73

16. James Munroe, James T. and Sarah's only surviving child, marries Ann Eliza Vincent. 
17. They live for a time in San Francisco where several of their children are born. They run a printing and book binding business. She is the printer, he is the binder. One day a horse thief is hung from their sign and they decide San Francisco is not the place to raise a family and so they move back to Victoria where the rest of their children are born.
18. They have 9 children, all of whom survive into adulthood. However, Leland disappears while fishing and his body never is found, and Eugene dies of TB. Their youngest is my grandmother, Sarah (Sadie) Eliza Miller, who becomes the mother of my father.









This wonderful family photo show them all, except for Eugene. My grandmother, Sadie, has her hand on Sarah's shoulder...

Yes... that would make for a rousing historical romance.

***

Annual Anthology Contest


The 2019 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest is now open for submissions!
HERE'S the link!

I'm pleased. I have a story to submit.

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for my ancestors who were pioneers and, even if afraid, dove head-first into the unknown.

What are you thankful for? Do you know anything about your family history, is it something you're interested in? What's your favorite genre to write? 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

IWSG, Washington Irving, Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  J.H. Moncrieff, Natalie Aguirre, Patsy Collins, and Chemist Ken!

This month's question is:  If you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be? (examples: fight scene / first kiss scene / death scene / chase scene / first chapter / middle chapter / end chapter, etc.)

I'm late to the party today. The first Wednesday snuck up on me unawares. At least, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. So... This post is a bit of a cop-out.

To answer the question, I would probably wish for help with a fight scene. I'm basically such a peaceful, non-violent person I have trouble writing arguments!
***
Portrait of Washington Irving by John Wesley Jarvis in 1809

Today is Washington Irving's birthday. Who doesn't know about Rip Van Winkle or The Legend of Sleepy Hollow? Did you know he had a long and deep friendship with Sir Walter Scott, that he was born in New York City the week the British surrendered at York Town, and was named after George Washington?

To honor him and give him a little love, here are a few quotes.

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.

Jealous people poison their own banquet and then eat it.

One of the greatest and simplest tools for learning more and growing is doing more.

A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.

Some minds seem almost to create themselves, springing up under every disadvantage and working their solitary but irresistible way through a thousand obstacles.

I have never found, in anything outside of the four walls of my study, an enjoyment equal to sitting at my writing desk with a clean page, a new theme, and a mind awake.

I am always at a loss at how much to believe of my own stories.

I can relate to this last one.
***
Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for Spring which seems to have finally, and firmly, planted her feet in the soil and wrapped her arms around the trees causing them to celebrate by getting dressed in their beautiful new green gowns.

Here are a few pictures of the bees in our bluebonnets, their pollen sacs filled with red pollen.




What are you thankful for? Do any of Irving's quotes resonate with you? What scene or chapter would wish for help with? Is Spring showing up where you live?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

IWSG, Titles to Write By, Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

This month's question is: Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

I like writing from the hero's POV because I tend to be one of those hopeful, idealistic people who isn't all that comfortable writing about bad people. Besides, I don't think I'm all that good with villains and confess that my antagonists tend to be the environment/setting/weather or an internal conflict that the hero has to overcome or come to terms with within him/herself.

If you're interested, K. M. Weiland, a prolific author who produces tons of writing advice, has a nice simple explanation of the various antagonists that aren't human HERE.
***
"Titles to Write By" is an occasional blog post in which we play with a single word and turn it into, what else, titles! Afterwards the object is to pick one of them and write a little something.

It was Ray Bradbury, in his book ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING, who taught me about making lists of words and turning them into titles. If you haven't read it I highly recommend that you do.

For no particular reason, today's word is:
Freedom


Here are a few possible titles:

Freedom on Wings
How I Learned the True Meaning of Freedom
Freedom Isn't What You Think
The Freedom Flood
The Road to Freedom is Filled With Potholes
Inner Freedom and Enlightenment
Freedom Within the Beehive

Now, think up some titles of your own and go forth and write!
***
Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for food in my belly and dishes to wash.
So many are hungry and don't have dishes or hot running water.

What are you  thankful for? Do you like writing from the hero's or villain's POV? Do any of the titles spark an idea? Have a title suggestion of your own?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

IWSG, Crafts and Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Raimey Gallant,Natalie Aguirre, CV Grehan, and Michelle Wallace!

This month's question is: Besides writing what other creative outlets do you have?

Interesting question. I used to have a lot of other creative outlets, but not so much any more, and the reason is mostly because I don't have the time, space, or inclination.

I used to draw... a lot. 

 

 The World Turtle was drawn loooong before I ran across Terry Pratchett and his Disc World series.

 I still color from time to time.

I used to play the guitar and sing but my voice isn't what it used to be and arthritis makes it hard to play. I also sang for a short time in a jazz trio, for which I designed our logo that we put on t-shirts.


Then there were the crafts. Lots of different kinds of crafts. Had a shop called The Kit and Kaboodle where I sold stuff I made and things I bought from around the Caribbean. I made everything from seed and shell jewelry to macrame belts, guitar straps and purses. Even worked with ceramics and clay.

Then there was all the tatting I did. Pictures don't really do it justice.

While the crafts have come and gone, writing has remained the one thread that runs continuously through my life.
***
Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for all things I've been able to do with my hands. I'm also thankful to my wonderful and most talented mother who had me using real scissors by the time I was about six, who taught me to read and who was the first to recognize I might be a writer at heart, even though I was (and am) a lousy speller.

What are you thankful for? Do you do any crafty things? Is there something you wish you had done or could do?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Cover Reveal of NEW THESAURUS! And some free education!

This is a special edition of my blog. I'm helping Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi promote the latest book in their thesaurus series. 



***
Have you ever held onto a secret you've been dying to share, and then finally...you can? For the last few weeks I've been helping Angela and Becca at Writers Helping Writers keep a BIG secret...what the next book in their thesaurus series will be. It might seem strange to not tell one's readers what book you're planning to release...unless you happen to write books on Show, Don't Tell like Angela and Becca do! They couldn't resist the opportunity to show, not tell, by waiting for the cover reveal. They even created a *REDACTED* cover for it, which you might have seen floating around.

We're revealing the cover at long last!

*drum roll*
The next book in the descriptive thesaurus series is The Emotion Thesaurus Second Edition! It's been 7 years since the original Emotion Thesaurus hit the shelves. Many writers have credited this unusual book with transforming their writing. This guide is packed with helpful lists of body language, thoughts, and visceral sensations for 75 different emotions, which makes it easier for writers to convey what characters feel. Since 2012, many have asked the authors if they would add more emotions, so that's what Angela & Becca have done. This new edition has added 55 more emotions, bringing the total to 130. There are other new additions to the book and in fact, it's almost doubled in size! I recommend checking out the full list of emotions (and some sample entries) HERE.
And more good news: this book is available for preorder! You can find it on AmazonKobo, and Indiebound.

One last thing: go grab some free education!

Angela & Becca are giving away a free webinar recording of one of their popular workshops on Emotion, so head over if this is an area of struggle for you. It might really help!