Smile!

Smile! Look at the camera! Say cheese!

Okay — the actual word you ask your model (or child) to say does not matter very much. I have heard that it gives the best expression to have an “S” near the end of the word. (Hmmmm…the photographer for our high school year book was eager to prompt the girls with the word “boys”.)

Photographs, and a great many other things, have gotten more casual during my lifetime. Gone are the days when my mother (the photographer of the family) asked us to squint into the sun and smile at the same time. Now we hold up a digital camera or phone and can check for results before we’re gone from the picnic, visit to relatives, or zoo. (Granted, animals continue the habit of turning away at critical times.)

Has a smile ever made you nervous? Raised all your internal caution flags?

Do you trust this model’s smile?

I was glad for the clear barrier between us.

Vital References

Writers read books. I think I’ve mentioned the fact several times over the years.

Writers do research. I’ve touched on this topic. Sometimes, depending upon topic, this can be the most interesting part of writing. After all, unless I already had the idea in hand, why would I visit a Christmas tree farm, or interview an apple orchard owner, or attend dog agility trials, or visit three Missouri state parks and historic sites in one day?

Use the computer search engine? Yes, it comes in handy. I depend on computer information when getting background places difficult or impossible for me to visit. Or looking for historical treatment of a disease. Or what sort of fabric was popular in the United States in 1851? Lots of useful and interesting information — best to double check before you put specifics in your manuscript. (When you have a character use an invention two years before the patent was granted — you risk creditability.)

This writer — and my writer friends — also depend on books. You know, the hold-in-your-hand bound paper volumes.

Popular, and useful, references for the writer in the house. Some, like the almanac and atlas are found in many homes. The use is wide-ranging — who was vice-president of the United States in 1852 or can you drive direct from Point A to B. Others, the human body atlas and gun guide are more specialized. Specialized thesauruses aid the writer to create a better character and present them well on the page. Dictionary? Thesaurus? When you can’t find the right word they can come to your rescue. (Also a great help when your spelling leaves word-check programs scratching their electronic brains.) Are these all? Absolutely not! Books on the craft of writing fill a good sized shelf in my office. Other books — special dictionaries, travel guides, non-fiction history — are scattered from one end of the house to the other. After all — a person never knows when they’ll have the need to find the directions for making soap in the 1830’s — or the name of that particle smaller than an electron.

Cozy Cabin

In a cabin by the lake,

Mr. Moose watched you make

A copy of the view

Without me or you.

Hey! I never claimed to be a poet. My use of meter and rhyme stalled out about age nine.

Can you imagine having a quiet afternoon in this room? The light looks good to curl up beside the dog on the couch and enjoy a book. What would you read? Adventure? History? Romance? Or how about — a historical romance full of adventure?

I think you can find a volume to your liking at any public library. And the writing should be better than my poetry.

Stack O’ Books

One of my habits, familiar to those who know me in person, is making lists.

Grocery lists, shopping list for home improvement store, or Big Box store. A list of errands when making the rounds of library, bank, post office and other places. Scribbles on the calendar in my purse. (Only recently have I started using the electronic calendar connected to by email account. — What can I say: I was an adult before the current millennium?)

For years, at least a decade before the above millennium change, I recorded books read. Later, after a few computer classes, I transferred the record to electronic form. However, this old-fashioned person keeps a printed copy.

I can’t remember the occasion — but something prompted me to take a photo of a portion of my reading in the spring of 2013.

Hmmm. I remember a few of these well. I do hope I inserted a non-fiction or two during this reading span. Yes, my favorite is romance — with an emphasis on romantic suspense according to this stack o’ books. What’s your favorite?

Celebrate the Harvest

Belated Thanksgiving Wishes to Canadian readers!

Growing up on a small farm in the upper Midwest, the end of November always seemed rather late to celebrate the harvest. Grain was usually cut, thrashed, and stored by early September. (Some years it was a race to finish late in August before the free labor – children – returned to school.) The final crop of hay followed close behind. Corn, our other crop at the time, often was cut and/or picked in October.

I live farther South now — not tropical, but enough miles to change the seasons a little. (Global warming plays a part too.) Houseplants come inside late Sept or early Oct — before frost nips at the tips. Gardens are tapering off — a few peppers and tomatoes hang on for the excellent gardeners. Apples, pumpkins, and root vegetables are ready for picking and digging during October.

The puzzle artist stylized a harvest from days gone by — perhaps you can find elements of your childhood in the scene. Did you grow up rural? Or take a fall drive to admire colorful leaves and end up at an orchard?

Visiting an Orchard?

Have you visited an orchard this year? Last year? Ever?

Commercial orchards offer more than apples these days. Depending on size or location — you can get a ride on a wagon behind a tractor, get lost in a straw or corn maze, pick a pumpkin, or attend a lecture about apple varieties.

When I was a child, we visited a small, commercial orchard each year. No fancy rides or entertainment. A shed full of the sweet, welcome scent of apples and bushel after bushel set out with names for each type. Fresh cider if you went to the largest. Mother had a list — either written or mental — of which varieties she wanted. Cooking apples found their way into pie and cobbler. Eating apples offered dad a nutritious evening snack. We bought them by the bushel (sometimes a peck) and stored them in the basement. With luck, and planning, we didn’t need to buy apples at the grocer until well into the summer.

Have you ever thought an orchard at the other seasons? Spring brings the blossoms– and maybe a little more if you are reading about Hilltop Orchard near Crystal Springs, WI. (Don’t look on a map — the village is fictitious.)

Ebook on sale for limited time — try a sweet romance for .99

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Do you Brew?

One thing I learned early in my cooking life was brewing — coffee, that is.

In our house, at that time, my father was the primary coffee drinker. The drink was prepared in a percolator on the stove. When larger amounts were needed (work crews for haying or threshing), mother used the boiling method.

Coffee’s not the only beverage you can brew. Tea comes to mind. Of course, don’t forget a very popular drink among my ancestors — BEER!

Several men I know in the next generation have experimented with making their own beer. Kits and directions are available at specialty stores and on-line. Or—if you happen to have a mother who’s good at gardens and following directions for storage and harvest — you can cut your shopping list by one item.

Growing hops in the back yard. The support is out-grown play equipment.

Brewing beer pairs well with baking bread. Yum! Yum!

Craft Show Season

Welcome to October!

Let the gift buying for the end-of-year Holiday Season begin!!!

No — this non-enthusiastic shopper has not been hijacked. I do experience positive emotion at both the purchase and receiving of gifts. However, I do try to accomplish my seasonal shopping in a small number of excursions.

Are you looking for something unusual? Perhaps a handmade item you don’t have the talent or time to create. Do you want to support some local, very small business persons?

Perhaps you should take a look at local ads and attend a craft show. Many are sponsored by organizations associated with churches and schools. Give them a little boast — even if they don’t charge an attendance fee, they often operate the snack bar. How about a drink and snack during your stay?

Outdoor author table at craft show.

The season for outdoor events is drawing to a close in Missouri. See you inside, with mask, at my next event. November 6, Mary Queen of Peace, Webster Grove, MO. (Reasons to give a book as a gift: easy to wrap, quiet, no batteries required.)

River Street

River Street. Wharf Street. Water Street.

Small towns and large cities alike frequently have streets with one or more of the above names.

Yes, they often parallel a river — whether the river marks the city limits and cuts through the center of town. It’s a natural — rivers served as liquid highways (many still do) long before the network of roads in the United States was developed to support more than a man leading a pack horse.

Roads have improved — in number and quality. Often they served the many factories which were built along the rivers. Transportation has always been important to industry. A large number of the factories, many outdated, others closed for dozens of other reasons, no longer receive or ship goods on the rivers. Instead, fleets of trucks arrive with raw materials and depart with finished product.

Exceptions do exist.

A freighter passes through a draw bridge while using the Fox River as a liquid highway. From a riverside path (re-purposed railroad right-of-way) we followed along at a brisk walk as the ship headed toward the third and final drawbridge before entering Green Bay — leaving the city, entering the bay.

Can you imagine traveling this way from one city to the next in the Great Lakes?

Read a good book?

Have you read a book in the last week? Month? Six months?

Did you like it? Did you laugh? Learn something? Do you want to find another that’s similar?

If you answered any of the above questions with “yes” –I urge you to write and post a review.

You don’t need to be fancy. Forget about the paragraphs or columns you find from professional reviewers in your local newspaper or popular internet feed. Can you string a couple sentences together? That’s all it takes.

Where to post? Reviews are generally welcome on any internet site where books are sold. You can post to the large retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple) or find author oriented sites like Goodreads or Bookbub. Post on your favorite social media site — remember, short is okay!

Reviews welcome by authors with the initial “B”.

And authors who write blogs twice a week.