A surprising number of my friends share my love for just the right pen, just the right notebook, et cetera. But usually it stops there. You know you have a problem when you need just the right pen, just the right paper, multi-colored envelopes, index-grid post-its, a stapler in every room, and a pencil sharpener in every room – oh let’s face it, every room in our house is a de facto office. There’s a story behind every pencil (currently those Blackwing ones), every ruler (watch for them at thrift stores because they don’t make ’em like that anymore), and all the various pads of ruled paper (narrow rule, dark lines, no perforations – all the write stuff).
My kids and husband know exactly what to buy me for stockings stuffers, and even my supervisor has picked up on it and she’ll wave the perfect new pen under my nose as a bribe when making a particularly horrendous assignment.
Surprisingly, this obsession doesn’t cost a lot of money because I’m so particular, I don’t buy just to buy. The last thing I want is a stack of substandard notepads or flimsy pens. On the other hand, given the lack of stores where you can browse in person for the right implement (Staples tries, but they’re too geared to school kids), once I find something I like, I buy back-ups right away so I won’t run out.
How do you know when it’s gone too far? Well, a month ago I needed to send a gift in a hurry and Amazon offered me a free month of Prime with two-day shipping and no minimum purchase. I diligently put a reminder on the calendar so I could cancel before they charged me for a full year. Then I proceeded to have thirty days of heaven. Did I need more giant rubber bands? They arrived in two days. Pilot Precise V-fine pens in blue? Done! And most recently, the coolest mailing envelopes.
Yesterday was the end of the trial membership, which means I was supposed to log into my membership and cancel it, or I’d be billed for a full year. That’s right, a full year of having the right pen, any time I wanted it.
I knew it was wrong, but I told myself I’d use Prime for all sorts of other purposes, like streaming videos and borrowing a book a month and other built-in features. But let’s face it: I’ve got a Roku and a local library. And I (usually) plan my gift giving far enough ahead that “free supersaver shipping” is fast enough even if it does take 7 to 10 business days.
But did I cancel? Nope.
I intend to curb my addiction by this time next year so I can cancel then. Meanwhile, I’m adding index cards and graph paper to my shopping cart!
How about you? Is a pen just a pen? Or do you yearn for the perfect writing implements?
I love writing the tension, suspense, and passion in my romantic suspense books. Wrap those elements together, throw in a little fear, and give the hero and heroine a villain or a serial killer to catch. Woot, sit back and watch the fireworks. These troubled, sexy alpha males and independent minded women ease the tension in a number of ways. Full throttle danger and heart-stopping action can produce mind blowing sex. These characters love as voraciously as they defend the innocent.
This isn’t the only genre around you can find these elements, but it’s where I belong. It’s where I love to research the inner workings of the deviant mind, such as the monsters who kill without caring who gets hurt.
Even more, I loved researching the FBI and the Atlanta Police department for THE LAST EXECUTION. Learning how our law enforcement actively pursues, captures, and prosecutes criminals was interesting. I actually spoke with an FBI agent who graciously answered all my questions.
If I’ve brought all the above to the table then I’ve done a good job. If I’ve kept someone up a few hours extra, made them cheer for the hero and heroine, or touched them with the resolution and happy ending, then I’ve done a good job. After all is said and done, that’s my goal!
To survive, she must put the past behind her. To love, she must learn to trust.
Homicide detective Leigh McBride’s first assignment with the FBI brings her face-to-face with a past she’s tried hard to forget. And when her temporary partner, a cynical ex-marine, lights a fire in her she thought long-extinguished, her darkest secret is threatened.
Scarred both physically and emotionally, Special Agent J.T. Nobel is a man of few words. He prefers to keep people at a distance–until he meets Leigh. He’s attracted to her strength and drawn in by her secrecy. But in their line of work, secrets can be deadly.
When the killer they are hunting aims his vigilante justice at Leigh’s past assailant, the fine line between right and wrong blurs. To heal the past–and find their future together–Leigh and J.T. must learn that only through trust and forgiveness can love grow.
The Last Execution excerpt:
Ethan turned his head sideways as he studied J.T.’s face. Wide eyed, the boy pointed at the scar with his index finger. J.T. wasn’t surprised. The kid was probably curious.
“How’d you get that?”
“A piece of shrapnel—” He paused and considered Ethan’s age. “I was in the war. A bomb went off and a piece of metal smacked me in the face.”
“Does it hurt?”
“Not anymore.” J.T. marveled at the innocence in Ethan’s eyes.
“Can I touch it?”
“I guess so.” J.T. breathed in and waited. Ethan hesitated, leaning closer.
“I’m not supposed to talk about your scar.”
“It’s okay. I won’t tell.”
J.T. turned his head to the side. No one had outright asked to touch the constant reminder of a day when his best friend caught the worst of an IUD. Hell, people shied away from his right side. Except Leigh, she looked him square in the face. He lay still while Ethan poked a finger into the scar a couple of times. After a few seconds of investigation, the kid cupped the scar with his small hand and patted lightly. The oddest thing happened to J.T.’s heart. It swelled inside his chest and then clenched.
“Mama said you were a brave soldier.”
Alien emotions swirled through J.T. and an unexplained urge to hug Ethan put a weird lump in J.T.’s throat. Unable to cope or understand, his mind raced for an idea, anything to end the moment
A student of creative writing in her youth, Jerrie set aside her passion when life presented her with a John Wayne husband, and two wonderful children. A career in logistics offered her the opportunity to travel to many beautiful locations in America, and she revisits them in her romantic suspense novels.
But the characters went with her, talked to her, and insisted she share their dark, sexy stories with others. She writes alpha males and kick-ass women who weave their way through death and fear to emerge stronger because of, and on occasion in spite of, their love for each other. She likes to torture people, make them suffer, and if they’re strong enough, they live happily ever after.
The author of THE GREEN-EYED DOLL, and THE LAST EXECUTION, Jerrie and her husband live in Texas. She loves sunshine, children’s laughter, sugar (human and granulated), and researching for her heroes and heroines.
Lady Lyonet needed help in a desperate way. Her sister, Lady Lyoness, was the prisoner of the vile Red Knight, who coveted Lyoness’ lands and fortune. Lyonet tore across the land and arrived in Caerleon before King Arthur on Whitsunday.
Lyonet told the king about the evil things the Red Knight had done but didn’t mention Lyoness’ name. Lyoness had made Lyonet promise to withhold her name because so many knights had already tried to rescue her and failed. Without knowing the damsel’s name, Arthur would not grant his knights to go. However, a young man who worked in the kitchen stepped forward and promised to go and rescue Lyonet’s sister.
Having no choice, Lyonet agreed. And after Sir Lancelot knighted the young man, they set out to rescue Lyoness. They had to go through the dreaded Black Lands and the Black Knight who ruled there. To Lyonet’s great surprise, the young kitchen knight won!
After defeating several other opponents, Lyonet began to consider there was more to this young kitchen worker than she first thought. He finally revealed he was actually Gareth, the King of Orkney’s son. Also, Sir Gawain and Sir Gaheris were his older brothers. Gareth wanted to keep his identity hidden from Arthur until he could prove himself a knight worthy of the Round Table.
Lyonet then had to admit forty knights had already tried to rescue Lyoness and been killed. But upon seeing Lyoness from the top tower window, Sir Gareth’s courage was bolstered and called out the evil knight. They fought many hours, until finally the Red Knight yielded.
Sir Gareth and Lady Lyoness were married soon after. But Lady Lyonet didn’t mind. One look at Gareth’s older brother, Sir Gaheris, was all it took to forget about Gareth. Lady Lyonet and Sir Gaheris fell deeply in love and were married as well.
What do you think about the story? If Gareth knew the truth before leaving with Lyonet, would he still have gone?
Watch for Ragnell’s story next month.
Stubbornness. Pride. Obstinacy. Willfulness.
This is the characteristic that often describes our heroes and heroines in our stories. They are convinced they have to handle every crisis on their own, to manage every corner of their own lives and everyone else’s, and that they can’t display the slightest bit of weakness.
Didn’t you know that “help” is a four-letter word?
As authors, we like to cultivate that stubborn streak, to stretch it out until readers’ hearts break (and our own, too, often) and your characters learn the error of their ways. Finally, they decide they can accept what’s being offered to them, whether it’s a brother’s assistance, a mentor’s advice or a potential mate’s heart.
As you might imagine, it’s not only our characters who have this problem. Sometimes it’s the writers themselves, in their real–not imaginary–lives.
What? You can’t be talking about me?
I am talking about you–well, me, actually. Our home life has been difficult over the past several years, since my husband’s three children (who I adopted many years ago) are all diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, among other things. The oldest, who’s now 17, has Asperger’s, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD, and probably Reactive Attachment Disorder (from long-ago problems with his birth mother). He grew increasingly erratic, tearing the household apart, lying, stealing, hacking computers, and creating a generally unsafe–and unhappy– place to be. For all of us. We often thought we might end up on the end of an angry rampage like we’d seen in the news.
We tried to deal with it for almost a year until the situation was pushed to the ridiculous. Our house was practically an armed camp with alarms on the doors and visits to the local magistrate and the line being drawn; “You do this one more time and you can’t live here any more.”
Most kids, faced with that kind of ultimatum, would step back and reassess their situation, because being thrown out of your house is pretty darned serious. But not this one. He did it again. And then we were stuck.
My husband set up a tent in the backyard and sent the boy to live there. We figured it would last maybe one night. Possibly two. He had meals, hot showers, etc., just like the other kids, but he wanted to stay out there. He didn’t have to do his chores there. He could screw around and not be responsible there. Of course he liked it.
Obviously not a long-term answer.
So, after a series of difficult decisions, we sent him first to therapeutic foster care, where he was prescribed to go by his doctor after consultation with the family, and then into foster care with the county when he refused to cooperate with the therapists.
We get lumped in with all the neglectful parents and abusive parents and run through the court system, even though we have taken him for evaluation after evaluation and therapist after therapist and turned our household upside down to accommodate the three kids’ needs. (At one time when the kids were younger, we had 70 hours a week of therapy prescribed for them. 70. That’s as much as two full time jobs.)
It’s pretty painful, especially because I work with the agency as part of my day job. It’s embarrassing and feels like getting kicked when you’re down.
But we have to choke back that stubborn, obstinate streak and look at what’s best for him. He doesn’t take our direction seriously, thanks to his mental health issues, so he’s got to learn proper behavior under the tutelage of others.
Does it matter where the help comes for for him, as long as he gets it? I guess not. Obviously I want him to be the best adult he can be. If that means taking that helping hand, then so be it. I just hope this time he sees the benefit in it. Or else come December, he’ll turn 18 and be out on his own, with little or no skills to deal with life.
Do you know someone with autism or Asperger’s who’s struggling? Here’s some helping hands they may need:
http://www.autismlink.com/ (Cindy, at this organization, walked us through the first stunned months of our diagnoses–she and her helpers are AWESOME.)
Happy May, Readers! In spite of the goofy weather we’ve had this spring, and it feeling more like winter on many days, the calendar continues to flip and here we are well into the month of May. The last round of snow we saw just last week really made me want to get the Ground Hog on the phone and give him a piece of my mind. Just what the heck was he thinking when he said spring would come early this year? Boy, was he ever way off base. But, I guess he has only about a 39% accuracy rate, and he is just a rodent, after all.
But regardless of Mother Nature and Punxsutawney Phil’s disagreements over the weather, Old Man Time insists on doing his own thing. And whether we’re ready for it or not, the 2012-13 school year is winding down and the kids will soon be free for the summer.
For the past month or so we’ve been pulling double duty around our place—enjoying all the end-of-the-year activities like field trips, spring concerts, track meets, and archery club, but we’ve also been gearing up for the horse show season. We’ve logged quite a few hours in the saddle already, and have had multiple 4-H horse practices with our local club.
It’s been a hectic few weeks and I’ve been slowly checking things off the schedule, each one bringing a little sigh of relief. One more down, one less to go.
In between it all, I still have to find time to write. Some days are easier than others. Some days I make great progress and others not so much so. Kind of depends on how tired my brain is feeling after spending a day with a group of rowdy 5th graders on a bus for my son’s field trip, or sitting in the rain to watch my daughter burn up the track at the elementary track meet!
But, I’m excited to tell you that if you’ve read COWBOY FLING and if you enjoyed it and have been waiting to find out if Paige’s sister, Dorie, fulfills her side of their fantasy bet, you don’t have much longer to wait. I’m in the process of finishing COWBOY AFFAIR (working title) right now and, hopefully, with a little luck Dorie and Vin’s story will be available before the end of 2013, or at the very latest, early 2014. Trust me; Vin Sheridan is one big, tough cowboy you’ll be drooling over. At least I know I am as I write!
If you haven’t read COWBOY FLING, you might consider giving it a try. You can find COWBOY FLING on sale at Ellora’s Cave, Barnes & Noble and at Amazon. It’s a great bargain at all three sites.
And if you have read COWBOY FLING please share your thoughts on the book. I’m always interested in reader feedback. I’m also curious to know what you like and don’t like about cowboys. And in your eyes, what makes a cowboy super hot!
In the meantime, with just one full week of school left, I’d best kick it in gear so I can get COWBOY AFFAIR done as promised! Have a great May and I’ll see you back here in June during the Authors By Moonlight 2nd Annual Summer Solstice Bash! A Kindle Paperwhite will be up for grabs so, don’t miss out!
When it comes to a good story, I always start with character. Well, characters. My hero and heroine. If I can see them. Get inside their heads. Then I can’t write their story. Back when I used to do Pern fan fiction, the first thing you had to fill out was the character sheet. If your character was interesting enough then you were accepted to be part of the writing group and the more complete the sheet. the more interesting the character and the more you had to write about. I’ve found this is true now, too.
While I don’t do a formal “persona sheet” anymore, I do still do character sketches so I know my characters’ background. Here are the character sketches I developed for Joe and Mandy, my hero and heroine for Cupid Rocks. I hope you enjoy them!
Joseph Schwarzerwulf / Joe Blackwolf.
Joe was born February 9, 1973—just turned 40. He plays guitar. He’s 6’1” and 190 lbs. He has large hands. Left hand has short nails and calluses on the fingertips. Right hand has long nails and no calluses.
He feels like he’s the family “disappointment” because he went into rock music instead of becoming a classical guitarist. He legally changed his name to Joseph Blackwolf when he started playing in rock bands at the age of 20.
Joe’s musical influences: Andres Segovia, Christopher Parkening, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen – since joining The Pack he’s discovered blues guitarists due to Eddie Goldwolf’s encouragement.
Joe practices four to six hours daily. If he can manage it, he practices eight. He’s a disciplined musician who is determined to be technically excellent. He’s driven to prove that he’s as good a musician as his father even though he doesn’t play classical music. If he doesn’t have time to practice enough before a gig he can play well but doesn’t feel as “prepared” as he thinks he should be.
When he left home (and college) at twenty to pursue rock music his father gave him a Les Paul sunburst Gibson guitar. Joe has many guitars but he practices and almost always performs using the LP. He still has the Hauser acoustic guitar his father gave him when he began playing classical guitar. When he practices classical music, he’ll pick up the Hauser to practice on. He also takes the Hauser on stage to play acoustic tunes.
Mandy was born July 28, 1977 – she’s 35 years old. Mandy is a plus-size female who makes the most of her curves. She knows males love her full breasts and round butt, but she still sometimes worries about her body. She is the only pup of Eddie and Carly Goldwolf and while she knows she is well loved by them both, her childhood wasn’t simple or idyllic.
Her parents, Eddie and Carly, met when they were twenty and eighteen, respectively, and have been together ever since. Their mating wasn’t an easy one, despite the fact that her parents were—and are—True Mates. Eddie resented finding his mate so young because he didn’t get the chance to get wild with females and live out the whole “sex, drugs and rock and roll” dream. Also, Carly’s father looked down his regal nose at Eddie and Eddie responded by going on benders and disappearing for days. When Mandy was ten, Eddie finally chose to dry out. Now, Eddie regrets putting his mate and his daughter through such hell, but Mandy remembers it and it colors her budding relationship with Joe.
Mandy loves music. She was born in The Pack and sang with the band from a very young age. However, when she was eighteen, she had a traumatic performance experience. She participated in a competition and forgot the words to a song, completely freezing on stage. It was so bad that Carly had to come onstage to help her off. From then on, Mandy developed stage fright. It grew worse and worse until she quit performing in public.
Since she could no longer perform, she chose to follow her second love…photography. She shoots portrait work to make money, but loves to do art photography too.
Mandy and Joe together
When they meet, the attraction is immediate and fiery. But there are some bumps along the way because Joe still views himself as the black sheep of his family and keenly feels his father’s disapproval. Mandy is still fighting her stage fright and has some baggage about her parents’ history. Joe and Eddie have built a friendship, but Eddie has an almost pathological fear that his daughter will end up with a musician like him and this fear rebounds on Joe, when Mandy’s parent’s find out about the relationship.
Cupid Rocks revolves around the family issues in Mandy and Joe’s life and how they work through their problems to end up strong and together in the happily ever after they deserve.
* * * * *
Here’s the story blurb:
When her parents’ rock band, The Pack, performs at Zach’s bar, Mandy discovers her True Mate, Joe Blackwolf, the band’s lead singer and guitarist. All she has to do now is convince Joe that she told a little white lie to make her mom happy, her father that rock musicians aren’t all alike, and her new mate’s family that rockers aren’t all that different from classical musicians.
Joe Blackwolf is celebrating his 40th birthday. And what he wishes for when he blows out the candles is to find his True Mate. He succeeds when he meets Mandy Goldwolf. Problem is…she belongs to someone else. Finding out the truth leaves him free to explore every inch of her smokin’ hot curves, but now, Joe and Mandy are neck deep in overbearing relatives and everyone is in for a rockin’ Valentine’s Day!
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By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this site.
An Excerpt From: Cupid Rocks
Copyright © FRANCESCA HAWLEY, 2013
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
“Am I dead, Angel? Cause you look like you’re straight from heaven!”
“That has to be the worst line I’ve ever heard,” Mandy laughed, looking up into warm brown eyes. She shivered as he settled into the chair beside her.
“Maybe, but it made you laugh.” He took her hand. “Can I buy you a drink?”
Joe waved over a waiter and ordered for them without once releasing her hand. She could feel the rough calluses guitar playing had created on his fingers, but they turned her on. He turned her on.
This was Joe? “Good ole Joe” as Eddie called him. He was neither good nor old. No. He was gorgeous…and talented. Zach wasn’t kidding when he’d said this Blackwolf was a great guitarist and singer. For the first time since Carly bugged her, she wished with all her might she hadn’t lied about Zach being her mate. Zach might be handsome, but Joe made her throb in places that hadn’t throbbed in all of her thirty-five years.
“So what’s with the camera, Angel? Fan or reporter?”
Mandy looked down at her fingers clenched around her camera strap. If she told him who she was, he’d back off so fast she’d see skid marks on the floor. Just this once, she wanted to pretend she was someone else. Just tonight. She leaned forward pressing her lips against his ear.
“I’m more than a fan. I’m a groupie. Can’t you tell?” He shuddered, turning his head he met her gaze. The fire glowing in his eyes set her boiling. Yes. She had to have him. Now.
“A groupie? For just any rock musician?”
“No, Joe. I want you.”
“Fuck, yeah,” he growled, standing so abruptly his chair toppled over. No one nearby noticed as he dragged her to her feet. “Where?”
Mandy looked over toward the hallway leading to Zach’s office and smiled. They had a clear path. She pulled him after her and they ducked into the shadowy space. He pressed her to the wall and took her mouth in a deep kiss. Their mouths meshed together. Joe pulled back to nip at her lips, then ran his tongue along the inside edge of her lower lip. She caught his long dark hair in her fingers, holding his mouth to hers.
Fire. Heat. She’d never felt anything like this in her entire life. She moaned as his mouth slid to nuzzle her neck. Mandy wrapped her free arm around him, clutching his leather jacket. She lifted her right leg along his hip. He stepped into the opening she’d created, thrusting his hips against hers.
She shivered as his rough fingers slid along her leg and under her skirt. He slipped his fingers under her panties and cupped her ass. Grasping her, he pulled her more firmly against his hard cock. He reached up to her peasant top, untying the drawstring to bare her bra covered breast. His hot breath teased her neck and then his warm tongue grazed her skin as he licked his way over her curves
“Hey. Anyone seen Joe?” Mandy and Joe froze as she heard Eddie’s voice. He was close. Too close. She looked out of the entrance of the hall. She didn’t see him, but he was right there. She knew it. Mandy closed her eyes, fighting to keep her panting excitement from giving them away.
“I think I saw him with a hot chick earlier. I didn’t get a good look at her though. Just noticed she was his type.” Tom responded with a laugh.
Joe groaned in her ear, and kissed her cheek. She turned to look up at him. He was still on fire, she could see it but there was a definite question in his dark eyes? Stop or go?
She lowered her leg and he sighed, then she smiled and grabbed his hand. “This way,” she whispered.
Mandy knew there was an empty unlocked office back here and she wanted this wolf and she wanted him now. He chuckled as they moved into the darkness. She found the door on the right and turned the knob. Hearing the click, she pushed, wincing at the creak when the door stuck. He pushed her through and they shut the door behind them. Mandy flipped the light switch, blinking a bit to adjust to the table lamps that came on. She’d been expecting an overhead. They looked at each other and grinned.
Joe pulled her over to the empty desk and she climbed up onto it. He stroked her cheek. “You’re sure?”
“Yes. I don’t want to stop. Not now.”
* * * * *
Released from Ellora’s Cave on February 22, 2013.
* * * * *
Francesca Hawley, author bio
I’m Francesca Hawley and I’m a fat chick. A woman with dangerous curves just like my heroines.
I first began to read romance when I was in my teens. I loved the genre, but the heroines were all thin. Their thighs didn’t rub together…had never rubbed together…and frankly I had trouble relating to these ladies. The stories were great—full of emotion and well told, but the heroines weren’t like me and that was a major disappointment. I kept wondering where were the fat heroines? I found some occasionally, but to have their Happily Ever After they usually had to lose weight and go from ugly duckling to swan.
Well, I wanted a fat heroine who loved herself—or at least learned to love herself—and a hot alpha hero who liked her jiggly bits just the way they were. Since I didn’t find many big girls to read about, I decided to write about them myself. After all, I loved to write anyway and had been writing almost as long as I’d been reading, so Francesca Hawley – author of Romance with Dangerous Curves was born.
In a Francesca Hawley romance, my readers will find authentic, sensual, fat heroines who love and are loved by their intense, passionate, and seductive Alpha heroes. I hope you enjoy their dangerous curves just as much as their hunky heroes do.
web site – http://www.francescahawley.com/
blog – http://francescasmindstream.blogspot.com/
facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FrancescaHawley.author
twitter – https://twitter.com/francescahawley
goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/608399.Francesca_Hawley
pinterest – http://pinterest.com/francescahawley/
yahoo group - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/francescahawley/
I’ve been helping my mom find a new house for the last few weeks, and it’s been an eye-opening experience. Where my mother goes from room to room finding something wrong with every place she looks at, I look around and catalogue what I could live with, what could be fixed, and what is ‘right out’. The funny thing is, both of us have valid points! As a writer, I have to recognize when to go with ‘good enough’ and when not to.
‘Good enough’ is important when I’m getting the first draft of a scene down. The amount of detailed description, the flow of action, the rhythm of the dialogue may not be exactly what I want, but it’s good enough to show character motivations and conflict. There’s enough background information. I know when the scene is finished what needs to happen next. As I am blessed (or cursed) with a detail-oriented brain, it goes against my nature to leave a scene in its rough form, but sometimes I have to just so that I can keep moving forward.
I have learned to appreciate ‘good enough’ in day to day life as well. It’s liberating to look around, say “This is nice!” and not obsess over every aching detail. ‘Good enough’ allows me to prioritize the big picture. The patio set that almost but doesn’t quite match the trim on the house, but it’s on sale? Good enough for me. The small gradation in color won’t keep me up nights and I’d rather have the cash. The dress fits correctly and flatters my figure and coloring? I’ll take it and be on my merry way, instead of going through racks again and again looking for a better price or the absolutely perfect dress. (By the time I hit the dressing room, I’ll have gone through the sale racks already, lol.) I’ll take extra care shopping for my mother of the bride dress, but I know I’ll find something I’ll like. ‘Good enough’ gives me a lot of options.
I don’t look for the perfect anything, to be honest, except for shoes. I have a small foot and it’s hard to find shoes that fit right. Finding cute shoes that fit right is even harder. I can buy them online, but sometimes sizes don’t match up or the color is off. I hate bad shoes because I’ve had to settle for so many pairs of them over the years.
Footwear aside, I learned a few decades ago that ‘perfect’ is my enemy. Perfection belongs to the Divine; us humans aren’t going to measure up. I’ve known a few perfectionists in my time, and all of them were terribly unhappy people. They expected the perfect mate, the perfect body, the perfect job — and doomed themselves because no human or place is ever perfect. No one gets every single thing they want all the time! Perfectionists make everyone around them pretty miserable too, since their friends and family have to listen to their complaints.
This is not to say we shouldn’t try our best! When I revisit those first draft scenes, there are plenty of things to fix. On the second pass, and the third or fourth, the thesaurus and dictionary come out, so I can find the exact words needed. I close my eyes to visualize precisely what I want the reader to see or feel. I pull out research notes to check historical details. Then I show it to my critique partners so they can identify weaknesses I missed. The ability to write is a gift, and readers who pay good money for my work deserve the best I can give. My best writing shows my true voice, for better or worse. It won’t be perfect, but it will be MY best.
And as for Mom? She’s just looking for her best, too. After all, she’ll have to live with her decision for years. Nobody wants a house that makes them cringe every time they walk into it. Where I can make allowances for small issues, she wants to find something affordable, where she’ll feel secure and comfortable, with room for her furniture and pictures and knickknacks. Once she finds the house that is her best option, she’ll stop fussing and settle in. It won’t be perfect, but will be her best choice.
What are the things you can shrug off and say ‘good enough’ to? What do you really need to be as good as humanly possible? What do you love to do your best at?
Remember, all comments that aren’t from Moonlighters go into the drawing for April’s gift card!
When my number one daughter was very small, I was bitten by the quilting bug. Now all the women in my family quilted to some extent by necessity. I had grown up watching ‘nine-patch’ squares turn into bed-sized blankets. I’d been fascinated by the colors and the optical illusions that came together in their skillful hands. Somehow I’d not quite come to the realization that I could make that happen, too, though I’d been sewing since I was a child. Then the bug bit me. I had all the scraps left from making toddler pinafores and summer play clothes. I had tons of remnants from stitching up garments for myself. A good many scraps had gone into miniature gowns I created for a museum display when I copied the gowns worn by figures in a collection of portraits. Somehow I hadn’t latched on to the idea of turning those varied scraps into a crib-sized quilt. But the moment came. And it came with a little family history that my beloved Little Grandmother shared. When she was a young thing, and a number of suitors came to call, one in particular caught her eye. As he nudged out the competition and she began to think of making that relationship permanent, she also began to think about a wedding dress. White satin and orange blossoms didn’t come easily to hand in the dusty small town in the Panhandle of Texas where she lived. Young ladies, for the most part, made their wedding dresses out of the prettiest and most durable fabric available. In Little Grandmother’s case, it was a bolt of cherry red gingham. The young man proposed, was accepted, and the date set. Little Grandmother cut and stitched, hemmed and tucked, and finished her red gingham dress in time for the early spring wedding. And so she and her handsome cowboy were married.
In due time, of course, the couple became a family, first a boy, then another boy, and at last, the girl Little Grandmother had hoped for. Baby Girl grew from tiny baby to toddler, and Little Grandmother wanted to dress up her little girl in something special for Easter. Times were hard, the market had crashed, and banks were failing. Not much money for buying pretty dresses. But Little Grandmother didn’t give up easily. She looked through her own things and saw the red gingham dress in her wardrobe. She’d worn it a lot, and the durable cotton had begun to show a bit of age. But the wide skirt had good fabric in it. With careful snipping, there would be enough yardage to make a new Easter Dress for Baby Girl. And so the second generation wore that cherry red gingham.
Years passed and Baby Girl grew to adulthood, and as is wont to happen, she married and produced a Darlin Girl of her own. It was war time and fabric was scarce, especially something suitable for a tiny child. The young wife looked through the things she’d had in her early life and found the little red gingham dress her mother had made for her. There wasn’t a lot of fabric there, but there was enough to make a nice skirt. With a bit of solid red to make a top, Darlin Girl would have something pretty to wear when Daddy came back from the war. And so a third generation wore that soft bit of gingham.
You know what happened. Darlin Girl grew up and what do you think? Into her life came Angel Girl. And there I was, a young mother trying to juggle college, a house, a husband, and a baby. We counted pennies from pay check to pay check. But I wanted to make my angel child a quilt. Little Grandmother was visiting, and she offered to help me over the hard spots. So I pulled out all the scraps, put this and that together, and somewhere turned up the red gingham skirt my mother made for me when we were waiting for Daddy to come home. When Little Grandmother told me the history of that bit of red gingham, I knew it was meant to be. What could be more appropriate? I snipped and stitched and created that first-ever quilt for the little girl in my life, the fourth generation to share the dress that Little Grandmother made so many years before. Now Angel Girl has a Precious Girl of her own. And I’m glad to say the quilt, and its red gingham squares, has gone to one more generation.
I treasure the story of the red gingham dress and the cowboy who loved the girl who wore it. And I understand the longing and uncertainty of the young wife waiting for her husband to come back from the war. I like to think that some of their dreams and hopes linger in the bits of faded red stitched into that quilt. Like putting together the patches for a quilt, using the bits and pieces left from other projects, when I write a story I’m using the bits and pieces, the hope and dreams, of those who came before me. Maybe somewhere in time to come, someone will read something I wrote, faded and worn thin by time, and hear an echo of the cowboy, the war bride, or the college wife, and be comforted by the story as my special granddaughter was comforted by her quilt and the memories it held.
DON’T CALL ME DARLIN’
BLACK RAIN RISING
ELOPEMENT FOR ONE
HALF PAST MOURNING
CRY AGAINST THE WIND (to be released in June, 2013)