Monday, February 20, 2012

New Beginnings

Have you ever written a story about someone else’s life? Or, while attending a funeral, you felt a bit frightened to suddenly realize how fast life moves? We are here one moment and gone the next.
Recently, I completed my first novel, “Nick, The Journey of a Lifetime,” where I introduced my husband’s grandfather as a young man about to start the journey of his lifetime. He meets a girl, falls in love, embraces an occupation, encounters obstacles, considers the unexpected and does his best with the cards of life that he was dealt. And then there’s the end - life over.
Personally, I never have been good with endings of any kind: the end of good book; a television miniseries; a friendship due to a move or death. Maybe that’s why I struggled initially with the start of my new short story after publishing my first novel. I had a hard time letting go.
My fellow writers would often joke with me that I carried the characters around with me in my pocket. “You probably go to bed with them!” they would say, with a snicker. And, I had to agree with them. I would constantly brainstorm of what was coming next, or dialogue in the following scene, or what conflict they would have to endure in the next chapter.
And, allow me to share with you - inspiration follows no rules and certainly no etiquette. I would be struck at the oddest of times with the perfect ending to a scene or a must have sentence in another. I may have been enjoying my nightly walk with my golden retriever, Rudy; following a recipe while cooking supper; or, the oddest of all, driving my car.
Oh yes, finishing a novel is an enormous accomplishment but letting go of your characters and allowing them to rest, is just as difficult. Each writer has to develop their own path of release. For me, I have to acknowledge the feelings of loss and allow them to pass over me, almost like clouds in the sky. I know eventually the clouds will clear and fade away revealing a fresh start with clear skies. It, too, is a process.  Only then, can I embrace a new story with new characters to hold in my pocket. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Birthday Bone

How do you celebrate your pet’s birthday? Do you bake a cake and enjoy it? Get them a new tug toy? Or, perhaps you create an event just as if they were human - nice dinner, balloons, gifts? This year, after baking a ham and making chowder, I wrapped the bone up and set it aside for our golden retriever, Rudy. Today is his birthday. He turns 5 years old! Being the alpha male of his liter, Rudy takes his job as yard patroller very seriously. We refer to him as being “on duty” when he bolts at rapid speeds across the yard to howl at the neighbors who dare to take a stroll passed our home, or the wayward deer nibbling on a treasure found, or the fox creeping out from under the pool deck. And you can forget about the wild cat – who we’ve heard cry out for almost getting caught by his mighty jaws - more than once! Heaven help the birds in the sky, who have been known to deliberately dart toward him then away just to tantalize his imagination of a ‘live catch.’ Oh, yes, our Rudy is not the docile, silly, overly-friendly golden you may have met in other yards. He has a job he has been hard-wired for, a purpose that overrides everything else. And he’s ready to perform for us at a moment’s notice. If anyone deserves that ham bone, it’s him. In the meantime, I’ll share with you the secret to my ham chowder, and how we honored our ‘little guy’s’ special day. Let me know how you celebrate the milestones of your favorite pet and if you liked the chowder.

Rudy’s Ham Chowder
Sauté 1 small onion with 1 cup diced celery and 1 clove garlic
Add the ham bone and leftover diced ham
Add 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth and 1 tablespoon parsley
Add 1 cup+ diagonally sliced carrots

1 cup prepared navy beans
Pass over twice with Mrs. Dash Onion and Herb (salt-free) seasoning
A shake of pepper and Penzey’s Dried Shallots
One hour before serving, add 2 diced potatoes and a handful of instant potato flakes (to thicken)
About a half hour before serving, add a heaping ½- cup barley and a sprinkle of chicken bouillon to taste
Serve with thick slices of Tuscan bread or garlic toast with homemade applesauce on the side.

Contract Signed for new book: "A Perfect Fit"

It was a great day today because I signed and mailed the contract back to the publisher for my fourth book, "A Perfect Fit "...