Saturday, December 31, 2016

Hoag Family reunion, 1971

My mother-in-law, Carol, was a strong New England woman, one who was born and died in her home state of Massachusetts. She was taller and broader than me, had a powerful presence, softened by short brown curls and a ready smile. Back in the early 1970's, in between a full time job, a couple of teen girls and a rough divorce, she bought a fine Woolrich coat, teal colored twill with a tan-and-white wool lining.

A few years passed. Carol grew wider as folks tend to do in these United States, and the coat was handed to her youngest daughter, Abby. It probably never really fit Abby, except perhaps the winter she spent pregnant. Still, it was serviceable for bitter New Hampshire. The good twill broke the wind and the liner created an Indian blanket warmth. Like all coats of it's time, it was unwieldy. After putting it on, you became lumbering and bear-like. 

There was a hood, too, but by the time I inherited the coat, the string was gone. In deep cold or high wind, the big hood could still be pulled over a scarf for a second line of defense. You might look like the Abominable Snowman, but this senior's world, so what?

The coat is a keeper, worn weekly. Like any article of clothing that has been in use for so long, it shows it's age. For one thing, there's a dab of yellow house paint on one pocket, now hopelessly melded with the twill. That, and a fray on that same pocket, might suggest a thrift store source when viewed in cold, unforgiving daylight.

At the jolly-holly-day season, an old coat probably seems like a weird topic, but there's a part of me that a pure Yankee at heart, despite all those upstate farm New York ancestors. Still, in the midst of so much consumption--and so much compulsion do so, just pounding on the psyche from every side--there's a part of me that resists. I remember my much loved and frugal Grandfather, and that long ago rhyme.

"Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make Do
Or do without."

In later years, I'd hear it all over again, now from my husband's Yankee relatives. Even if I had the money to change it all out every year, I don't think I would. And beyond even that Yankee reason, there's memory of the two other bodies who have sheltered inside this same coat. One is a sister-in-law who has become a more of a sister, and the other was my formidable mother-in-law. When I pull it on, memories are with me just as surely as the wool and twill--which makes it so much more than just "an old coat."

Carol,  Valedictorian, Springfield HS, 1943

~~Juliet Waldron    Books by JW at Amazon  Sisters, a Two Book Series

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Coloring the Past

(This is a post I originally wrote three years ago)

I’m at a bit of a wall right now (I refuse to call it writer’s block—even if that’s what it is), so I’ve been playing on Reddit and I’ve found the most amazing page there. On this page, members take old photographs and colorize them. Now, when the old black and white movies were colorized, I wasn’t all that impressed. I am, on the other hand, impressed by a lot of the photographs here. (

I spent the better part of an hour wasting time and looking at pictures. I was impressed by several things—the least of which was the clarity of the photographs. Colorized or not, the clarity was just incredible. Details such as individual hairs and even the texture of skin was visible in many of these old photos. Who knew that those old photos could capture such detail?

I looked at a lot of Civil War era photos and was impressed with the gravity the subjects seemed to carry. Because of the photographic process of the period a smile would be almost impossible to hold, yet there was a deep sense of gravitas that each subject brought to the sitting. It just wasn’t that they didn’t want to try to hold a smile for several long seconds and try not to move at the same time. It was something else in these pictures, something deeper, more profound. Many of the portraits taken of these men were the only photographs that would ever be taken of them in their lifetimes. Very few families could afford photographs and I think many of these young men—despite the brash claims of a war being over in six months and being home by Christmas—understood that war can be and is deadly. Part of that gravity in those photographs was the fear they were trying to mask.

Anyway, go take a look. The images are amazing and humanizing.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

"Classic Ginger" Merry 2015! Wow...where did the year go? It will be 2017

As I was looking through my files for something "Christmassy" to post, I came across this old 2007 newsletter I put on my blog.  I'm going to update it in RED so you can see how time changes things and people.  The sentiment is the same.  Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Happy Holidays,
I can't believe that 2015 is almost over.  Wow....does time fly. 
I can’t believe that 2007 is almost over, although I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go.  As far as my writing career, the year was a waste. This year wasn't a waste.  I managed to re-release several books from another publisher, and now all my work is at Books We Love.  I still have a Novella in the works that is scheduled to be released for a Valentine's day promo, and also am trying hard to finish Sarah's Soul.  Whew.  I'm tried just thinking about it. I had no new releases, surrendered associations with two agents and negotiated myself from a contract with a publisher with personnel practices that I found offensive.  Oh, if only I could share all the details, but that would take us well into 2018.  J

 I'm still finding most publisher's offensive, but it's too much trouble to pull everything and try self-pubbing.  Besides, Jude at BWL works harder than any publisher I've ever been with and I have high hopes that before I die...I might become somewhat known.  :)

Wow...we haven't lived with my son and his wife for several years...there have been three different roofs over our head and we are now enjoying a new home in Baxter.  I swear this last move will be my last.  I told hubby I'm not budging from this house until Neptune comes and carries me away.  I mean it.  As for the's not as bad as it once was, but I've come to the conclusion that I'm never going to meet the standards of the weight chart doctors use.  According to the current one, I need to be 7'8".

On the home front, things are status quo.  We are blessed to be healthy, have a roof over our heads and plenty to eat…as our weight can attest.  The only person in this house who is skinny is Spencer and I have a hard time finding something he likes to eat.  The doctor assures me that Spence won’t starve to death, although I do wish I couldn’t count his ribs.  He’s getting tall, but still is very young for a five-year-old.  Can you believe...Spencer is thirteen and in middle school.  He's still skinny as a rail, but thank God, he's healthy and happy.  As far as his autism, I don't think he'll ever really be like a traditional child, but he's making good progress, goes to Karate, plays in the band, and his Mom drives a school bus now so he stays with her most of the time.  I don't see him nearly as much as I'd like to now that we've moved an hour away. I'm here to help out my sister when it comes to our 91 year young mom.  Glynda actually got to take a vacation this year for the first time in a long while.  She went to Panama.

He’s made great progress with his speech.  He and I can actually communicate and that is such a great thing. Spencer talks up a storm now, but too fast.  I have to remind him to slow down so NeNe can understand him. He’s gone from a vocabulary of approximately ten words to well over a hundred, and sometimes in whole sentences.  We have every hope that he will eventually mainstream into regular classes because the one he’s in isn’t where we want him to be.  His developmental delays and degree of autism is not nearly as bad as his peers, and we’ve had problems with him mimicking his friends.  Progress, not regress, is our motto.  J ####@@@@@!!!!!**** 

 Just playing above.  If you type after the smiley get all kinds of symbols.  Anyhow...The school has been great with mainstreaming Spencer.  He has a CDC homeroom, but goes to regular classes for his main subjects.  Don't know if he'll ever be able to live on his own, but we all continue to pray that he'll overcome his autism.
The best news is that Brett, Carrie, Kelly and I have refrained from killing one another this year.  It isn’t easy living with family, especially when the house isn’t yours and you don’t feel a sense of entitlement to anything…  Oh, I’m wrong about that.  I own the kitchen when the dishes need washing or the laundry room when it’s stacked with clothes, but other than that, Kell and I try to dwell in our one room.  I can’t complain, because I made the decision to devote my efforts to helping my grandson, but I can grumble at times.  J  Kelly grumbles all the time but takes it all in stride.  I know this has to be very hard for him.   What a great guy I’ve got, although at times I’d like to strangle him.  That’s normal, I think.  No longer share a home with my kids, but we do live in a basement with no windows.  I take lots of Vitamin D but have become pretty much a hermit.  I just celebrated my 70th birthday, and for that I'm truly grateful.  I always expected to die young like my dad's entire family, but I guess God has other plans for me.  Kelly still grumbles, but this year, bought a 1956 Olds which is in Reno being prepped for Hot August Nights 2016.  I can't wait to see the finished product and remind him that he now has back the classic car he missed.

I live with one son, but don’t hear from the other often enough.  He and Jeni still live in Sacramento, which is way too far away.  I keep connected with him by reading his MySpace Blog.  I wish someone with connections would realize what a humorous talent he is and recruit him.  If you want to check him out, his web address is:

Now that I don't live with one son, I don't hear from either of them often.  Brett, Carrie and Spencer do visit, but if I want to know what's going on with my oldest son, I have to visit his FB page.  Isn't it funny how Myspace died out and FB took over?  Scott has a huge following who all think he's brilliant.  He is, but he takes after his Mom.  *lol*  I wish all his followers would buy at least one of my books.  I'd be rich.

By the way, if you want to keep up with me, I’ve switched my newsletter to a blog.  You can find me at and read my daily drivel.  According to ‘people in the know’, one must blog, so I do.  Still blogging, as you can see.  Connie Vines is my new blog partner, and I love her dearly for stepping up to help out.  For western readers, I also started Cowboy Kisses, a blog that features an array of talented western authors.  Check it out.

Well, let’s see if I can sum up this year for you like I used to do:

January – Scheduled and cancelled a bone density test.  Still haven’t had it.  Had my bone density test.  My bones are fine, as evidenced by the many falls I've had.  Stairs and I aren't friends, but I'm lucky, my bones must be in fine shape.  Scheduled for a colonoscopy and endoscopy in a few weeks, and eek...having a Biltmore lift on my face as my early Christmas present.  Too many sagging chins.  *lol*
February – In my hunger for friends, I visited a local chapter of the Red Hat’s Society.  Decided I wasn’t that hungry…or old.  I'm old enough for the Red Hat Society, but I don't look good in I may be a senior citizen in numbers but in my head, I'm not.  That's sad, isn't it.Still don't have any friends close by, but I'm still hopeful I'll find a way to connect.
March – Spent two days in the hospital.  Shared a room with a woman that I’m positive hacked up a lung while I was there.  So much for sleeping.  I've been in the hospital a few times, but the last several have been in a private room.  I have scar tissue from stomach stapling in 1991 and have to go in every now and then and have the opening stretched so I can get food down.  You'd think I'd be skinny, but I guess there are calories in the air.
April – Got the bill for the hospital…I REMEMBER that.  My oldest son turned 40!  Geesh!  Thanks for Medicare, I don't see many horrid bills, but my oldest son is now 47.  My baby is 40.  Yep...I'm 70.
May – I think I signed up for Water Aerobics.  Went three times and quit.  Whose idea was it to surround the swimming pool with mirrors???  Kelly and I went to Tunica and met his brother and wife.  It was nice to get away.  Part of my health insurance is Silver Sneakers, so hubby and started water aerobics in Gallatin before we moved.  We enjoyed the classes, and most of the people didn't look any better in their swim suits than I did.  (horrible).  We moved and started at the YMCA here, but Kelly doesn't care for the classes, classmates or instructor, so we've taken a hiatus.  I can't do anything but low impact, so, I sit and eat.  *lol*
June – I think we went camping, but it’s a blur.  We took Spencer so it wasn’t very relaxing.  Camping is my salvation.  We bought a motor home last year and I totally enjoy getting away.  We joined Diane and George Parkinson  in Pigeon Forge this year, and I hope we get to do it again.  We are planning a long trip in July and August, and maybe even going to Alaska again in June.  Being a senior has it's perks. Looking forward to seeing places I haven't seen, and visiting FB friends.  Watch out, Rita Karnopp!
July – Traveled to Southern California for my sister’s wedding.  Got to see people I hadn’t seen in a while and had a fun time.  Tried to convince myself that everyone look as old as me.  Boy...that time went by fast.  We had a spat, didn't speak for years, her husband passed and now we live together  .
August – Kelly and didn’t celebrate our eleventh anniversary.  He worked, I wondered where the time went.  Applied for Social Security. Worried the Social Security won't last my lifetime, let alone for my kids.  Kelly and I celebrated 19 years of marriage, but have actually been together 20.  If you count my first marriage of 32...I qualify for the Golden Anniversary gift.  *lol* Feel free to mail it.  :)
September – It’s a blur. Scheduled and cancelled mammogram and bone density.  Just had a mammogram and found out the positive results.  I'm having a "Biltmore" face lift in December to get rid of my saggying neck.  The plastic surgeon promises I won't look like a snake.  *lol*  I have no lips and it seems stretching my face will only maximize the slit where there supposed to be.  God, help me...I don't want those "duck lips" everyone is sporting these days, either.

October – Halloween.  We bought lots of candy and had five trick-or-treaters.  Wasn’t that just yesterday?  Still have the candy.  Will try to pass it off as Santa’s offerings in the kid’s stockings.
November – Turned sixty-two.  Having a hard time dealing with the age thing.  Oh, sixty-two is so young.  I'm still having a hard time dealing with the age thing, but I think that's because I have a 60-year-old husband.  Of course, he's going bald, has legs like a bird and a belly like an old man.  *lol*
December – Here I am…trying to be creative with a Christmas letter when I have no memory or sense of humor anymore. 

I still have a sense of humor.  You have to have one to get through life.  Sadly, I believe the world is beyond repair.  People tend to think posting on FB is going to change things, but the violence continues and all we do is pray. Last year we rode in two Christmas parades with my son.  He drove a jeep and pulled a decorated trailer.  We threw candy to the local kids, and loved it.  Talk about a great way to get into the spirit.  I hope we do it again this year.  In fact...I bought a new coat and scarf.  *lol*

Although it looks pretty dismal on paper, I thank God for everyday I’m here.  I pray that we all have a bless 2008 and that I’m still around to bore you next year.
No changes here, but life isn't so dismal if you don't count what's going on because of our President (oops...I promised not to be political.)  I'm still praying to be around next year, and look a lot better.  I promise to share before and after pictures on my blog, and as dismal as things looked in 2008...they look much brighter if we can find peace among ourselves.  So...there you have it...another year in a nutshell.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Ginger & Family

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Children of Perseus

Because I've been under the weather for the past several days, this blog post almost wasn't made. I went back into my old posts and found this one from August of 2012:

I have just spent the last hour or so sitting outside in a reclining lawn chair gazing up into a very clear sky. The Milky Way was brilliant tonight—and while looking up into that dazzling display, I remembered a trip to Wyoming when we took the daughter of a family friend with us and we went to the observation point on Libby Flats in the Medicine Bow Range. Rachel’s awed comment of “They really do twinkle” when she saw the stars from that vantage point still echoes in me and makes me smile.
Milky Way over Devil's Tower, WY

Tonight, the Perseid meteoroid shower was spectacular. The Perseids are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle and are so-called because the point from which they appear to come, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Perseus.
Perseid meteor shower
The shower is visible from mid-July each year, with the peak in activity being between August 9 and 14. The Perseid meteor shower has been observed for about 2,000 years, with the earliest information on this meteor shower coming from the Far East. Some Catholics refer to the Perseids as the “tears of St. Lawrence” because August 10 is the date of that saint's martyrdom. During the peak, the rate of meteors reaches 60 or more per hour. They can be seen all across the sky, but because of the path of Swift-Tuttle's orbit, Perseids are primarily visible in the northern hemisphere. As with all meteor showers, the rate is greatest in the pre-dawn hours, since the side of the Earth nearest to turning into the sun scoops up more meteors as the Earth moves through space. The name derives in part from the word Perseides, a term found in Greek mythology referring to the sons of Perseus. In that mythology, Perseus is the demi-god who finally brought an end to Medusa.
Perseus taking Medusa's head

The sons of Perseus…shooting stars originating in the constellation Perseus…watching those bright splashes of light streak across the sky made me think of something that Carl Sagan once said. All the building blocks to life can be found in the stars, so we literally are the children of the stars.When I first saw the PBS series Cosmos, I fell in love with science and math, thanks to Dr. Sagan. He explained things in a manner that even I could grasp. I will admit, readily, that advanced math scared the crap out of me and I struggled with advanced mathematical concepts. The first book I ever bought for myself that wasn’t fiction was the companion edition of Cosmos. I devoured that book.

If you get the chance, if you live in an area without a lot of light pollution and the skies are clear around dawn, go outside and look up. Follow the path that a shooting star makes across the sky. Make a wish. And, live up to your parentage. You are a child of the stars.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

"Classic Ginger" Can Reviews Confuse the Hell Out of You????

Title: First Degree Innocence

Author: Ginger Simpson

Publisher: Books We Love Publishing Partners

Rating: You Gotta Read (highest rating on site)

Reviewer: Val

Carrie Lang’s sheltered life ends with a prison sentence for involvement in a bank robbery. Her arrest comes on the day she’s called in sick and stayed inside, so she has no explanation how an eye-witness describes her in great detail, down to the make and model of her car. A terrible mistake’s been made, and her insistence of innocence falls on deaf ears, even among her fellow inmates. A plan for retribution is brewing, and naive Carrie finds herself smack dab in the middle of an evil scheme concocted by the prison bully. A ten year sentence seems mild when she’s threatened with death for refusing to participate. Can Carrie find a way out of this horrible nightmare, or is she destined to spend her days locked in terror, isolation, and the cold gray interior of prison walls?
Carrie's character is one that readers will easily identify with. Vulnerable to a certain point, we see Carrie coming into her own and becoming a stronger person as her jail time progresses. Her character will evoke just about every emotion, especially despair, frustration and finally hope.

When Seth's character was introduced, I wasn't sure if he was a good guy or bad guy. I won't tell you which and trust me when I say, you will be flipping the pages as fast as you can to find out. The interaction between Carrie and Seth gives depth to this book and the end .... well, all I can say is my mouth was hanging open. It was a very surprising ending that you just don't want to miss.

Then we meet the prison bully, Jet. With a score to settle, she will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Jet's character was exasperating. I found myself strongly disliking her and wishing she would get her due punishment. Ms. Simpson created the perfect villain in Jet, a true manipulator, while at the same time giving her some very real qualities that one minute had you liking her and the next wishing she would drop off the face of the earth.

First Degree Innocence is an extremely unique book in that it gives the reader a legitimate glimpse into the lives of the incarcerated while throwing several twists into the story. It was a riveting and highly entertaining read. Ms. Simpson writes about interesting characters and complex plot lines while at the same time drawing the reader in with each new page. This is one author who sure didn't pull any punches with First Degree Innocence and you will be immersed in Carrie's world within the first paragraph. This book starts out with a bang and continues through to the last page. First Degree Innocence is an exceptional book that will have you hooked right from the beginning. If you love to root for the underdog, look no further, you've found the perfect book.


Author: Ginger Simpson
Genre: Suspense / Mystery
Reviewed by: DawnColclasure
Received 2 Stars

Carrie Lang is wrongfully convicted of a crime and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Despite claiming her innocence, she is harshly treated by the prison guards – except for one she has her eye on, and who seems to have his eye on her, too. Targeted by the prison bully Jillian “Jet” Duke, sweet and innocent Carrie, who has never even had a parking ticket, seeks comfort and protection among the friends she makes with other female prisoners. Then Jet tries to set Carrie up, but is she willing to go through with the evil bully’s plan, even if it means death should she say no? Will she ever prove her innocence and be set free? And will she ever have a future with Seth, the prison guard she can only dream of sharing love with?

This story started out as it would for any innocent woman wrongfully imprisoned: Carrie is scared, humiliated, harassed and alone. She is naïve – and it would seem too naïve, as she trusts everyone so easily and is afraid to speak her mind. She’s afraid to show how she really feels towards her cellmates and afraid to stand up against Jet. Innocent or not, it would not seem that Carrie is that innocent, as she puts so much energy on thinking of Matron Ogden as the one with the “ugly face” and how she’d like to punch Ogden “in her ugly face” on her way out once she is set free. Carrie tries to adjust to prison life by joking around with her cellmate Susanna, and it would seem there is so much “sisterhood” between her and her other cellmates who she often plays bridge with during rec. It just didn’t seem realistic. Also, even when Carrie tries to act tough later in the story, she crumbles when it’s time to face the music. She talks the talk but she can’t walk the walk.

This book should have shown what life is really like for an innocent woman behind bars but I suspect it majorly fell short in that regard. Because Carrie is so spineless, naïve and unreasonable to even fall for a prison guard was a huge turn-off. She was not a likable character; I prefer a story with a leading female character who is strong, confident and smart. Also, the prison guard who falls for Carrie in return did not strike me as someone who could actually be a prison guard in real life. He is too emotional and lets his guard down easily – dangerous factors for a prison guard.

First Degree Innocence by Ginger Simpson was a lukewarm story that could have been better. The only thing interesting about it was the huge plot twist the author throws in at the end.

Note from Ginger:  Perhaps you'd like to read it for yourself and be the judge. *lol*  I also would like to point out that I was a Correctional Officer for a year and I have first-hand experience about how  inmates interact with one another.  You either acclimate, make friends, or become a loner who isn't treated very well.  I guess that's where the saying, "When life gives you lemons, you make lemmonade."  lol.  Amazing how people assume they know more than they do, but that's why everyone needs to make their own decisions and not be swayed by someone elses.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hell Minus the Heat

Those of us who are Western history buffs sometimes view winter through the lens of what was called the “Great Die-Up” on the Western Plains in the winter of 1886-87. There was absolutely nothing normal about that winter. 

The winter of 1886-87 came on the heels on one of the worst droughts that the settlers and ranchers on the Great Plains had seen in their limited time there. Prior to that winter, for many years of the preceding three decades of settlement, rainfall in a usually semi-arid land had been well above normal, creating lush landscapes on which to graze cattle. After the American Civil War, land was basically free for the taking under the Homestead Act and the land they grazed their cattle on was owned by no one so these cattlemen established codes to govern the West and to protect it from outsiders. Principal among such codes was the Law of the Open Range, the unwritten rule of free access to grass and water. Most did not own the land on which their cattle grazed, and thus the Law of the Open Range secured their rights, by warning farmer-pioneers “not to stand in the cowman's route to the ranges, not to block his way with towns and fields--and of all things—fences.” The cattlemen had settled the West prior to the Civil War. It wasn’t until after the Civil War that their empire was built. After the Civil War the demand for beef reached unprecedented levels, driving the cattle to higher and higher values and more and more cattle were brought to graze the “free land” of the West.

Because of the railroads, that beef could be transported quickly and efficiently (either on the hoof or in rail cars specifically designed to transport meat kept cool with ice) to markets back East. 
In the 1870s, barbed wire made its first appearance on the range, following the passage of The Homestead Act in the late 1860s. Now, smaller homesteaders could settle the Plains, keep their crops protected from ranging cattle and prevent access to water. The cattlemen were furious and range wars became the normal—but that’s a story for another day.

The rains dried up and the lush grasses that had first lured the cattlemen burnt in the summer sun. Two years of extreme drought was followed by one of the worst winters on record. The snows started in late October of 1886 and didn’t stop until the following May. There is a recorded period, from November 13, 1886 until December 24, that it snowed every single day. When it wasn’t snowing and would warm up to a few degrees above freezing, it rained. This rain created a cap of ice several inches thick on the snow cover. And when it would momentarily stop snowing or raining, the bitter cold would return.

In January of 1887, the blizzards came and with the blizzards came a kind of cold that locals call “freeze-eye cold”—a cold so intense and bitter it would freeze the moisture on eyelashes. Blizzards came howling over the plains, blasting the unsheltered herds. Some cattle, too weak to stand, were actually blown over. Others died frozen to the ground.

Starving cattle, already weakened by a lack of grazing fodder because of the drought, would attempt to paw through the ice and snow to what was left of the drought-blighted and sun-burnt grasses. “The cattle had the hair and hide wore off their legs to the knees and hocks. It was surely hell to see big four-year-old steers just able to stagger along” (Teddy Blue Abbott). The cattle would drift with the howling winds. Cattle won’t stop “drifting” until they run into an immovable object: a dead-end canyon, a rock face, a barbed wire fence. The results were horrific as one account states: 

They moved “like grey ghosts” . . . icicles hanging from their muzzles, eyes, and ears," directly into the fences. There they were stalled; they could not go forward, and they would not go back. They stood stacked together against the wire, without food, water, warmth or shelter. They pressed close against each other in groups all along the fence line, and sometimes they gathered in bunches reaching as much as four hundred yards back from the fence. Still there was not enough warmth in their huddled forms to counteract the cold, and within a short time they either smothered or froze in their tracks (Hill, J.L.. The End of the Cattle Trail. Austin, Texas: The Pemberton Press, 1969).

The spring thaw of 1887 (in late May) revealed the extent of the devastation. More than fifty percent of the cattle herds died that winter from hypothermia and starvation. Some ranches lost upwards of seventy-five percent of their livestock. Dead cattle were found everywhere; observed bobbing in the streams as the ice broke up, large groups were discovered that had died where they stood; littering the plains as far as the eye could see.

It was a perfect storm of conditions: decades of unusually high rainfall in a semi-arid land, overgrazed land, a severe drought that ended the wet period, too many cattle and the open range cut-up and sectioned off with barbed wire. The “Great Die-Up” as cattlemen called it in a dark attempt at humor marked the end of open range ranching, that supposedly sure way to riches which Theodore Roosevelt called “the pleasantest, healthiest and most exciting phase of American existence.” And it proved again that nature can at any moment shatter all sense of human control.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Art of Lying (aka Creating the Bad Guy) by Connie Vines

A compulsive liar is defined as someone who lies out of habit. Lying is their normal and reflexive way of responding to questions. Compulsive liars bend the truth about everything, large and small. For a compulsive liar, telling the truth is very awkward and uncomfortable while lying feels right.

So, you have your “perfect” hero and “perfect” heroine’s character sketches and novel outline at your fingertips.  What about your “not-so-perfect” villain, aka the bad guy?  He’s just the bad guy.  Ah, but the villain is a key player in your novel.  And, you’d like him to be a compulsive liar.  However, you really want to keep the reader guessing. . .

In law enforcement, these actions are called “tells”.

How do you make the “perfect” liar?  You need to know the rules before you can break them.
What will your villain have perfected?  Why, the art of lying, of course.

Nine Tips your Villain Can Teach you about the art of lying

1. Keep your head up:

“In all shows, there is always that moment when the magician risks being discovered,” explains Jacques H. Paget*, illusionist and negotiations expert. For example, when he makes a ball “disappear” as it remains hidden in his other hand, he may tend to tilt his head to the side, a movement which, however small, may be unconsciously perceived by the viewer as an indicator of cheating. “This is an instinctive gesture that we all do when we are afraid of being caught.”
Conclusion: Your villain knows to keep his/her head straight up. This will prevent the other person from getting suspicious.

2. Use the phone:

Sometimes lying is much simpler over the phone.  Deception makes our voices drop a pitch, in order to sound more stable and assured, but lying also exposes us to three negative emotions – fear of getting caught, shame and guilt – and these may just manifest in our voices.  Your villain knows this.  Your hero/heroine may believe the action was unintentional—the first time.

3. Repeat the scenario:

If you are telling a story, the villain knows he/she first needs to integrate it as a complete theater role. Being an actress does not mean just to learn words. It is also necessary to be at one with your thoughts and emotions. These are the things that will generally reflect your words. And some techniques can better reflect what it feels like:

– Begin and end sentences clearly.
– Take note of punctuation marks, especially full-stops.
– Sustain consonants that make words ring.
– Speak clearly.
– Work on your expressive diction.
Playing your role with sincerity.

 4. Control your actions:

“Our body speaks its own language and never lies,” says Dr. David J. Lieberman, hypnotherapist and a doctor in psychology. If you’re not careful, some little gestures will only end up betraying you.
Embarrassed by your hands, you slip them into your pockets or you lay them on your hips.
You sputter, your smile trembles and cracks as you declare how much you love the gift you received.
You touch your face, you scratch your ear, place a finger on your lips, you rub your eyes or nose to justify your delay in response.

Your face, your hands, your arms punctuate your words belatedly, and in a somewhat mechanical way.

You display a grimace instead of a grin while expressing your joy of learning promoting a colleague.
You pull a folder, a book and computer against your abdomen, as if it were a shield. Without understanding why your partner says there was something wrong with your story…

5. Do not say too much:

You call a friend to postpone a lunch for the third time. Listening to you presenting your perfectly oiled explanations, she begins to find this suspicious, there is just too much justification. To avoid getting caught, you think, better increase the size of your tale: the bigger it gets, the more credible it will seem. Because of its magnitude, it cannot possibly be invented. Your villain knows less is more. . .believable in this case.

6. Put on your sincere face:

Instead of looking your interviewer in the eye, aim for the tip of his nose. It is less destabilizing and you do not have the look diagonally, distant and elusive, whilst you spin your yarn. “Establishing good communication requires eye contact for 60-70% of the time of the dialogue,” says psychoanalyst Joseph Messinger. Also, be wary of your eyebrows wrinkling, your eyes crinkling and your eyelids blinking – they raise doubt.

7. Deviate from the truth:

A good lie always contains an element of truth. “In this case, the truth functions as a decoy.” For example: “I have an appointment with the dermatologist…” is a good primer. Then the embroidery comes in: “… to check my moles,” but you casually omit “…and to complete my Botox sessions.” It’s just a shot you have to take.

8. Do not say I:

Your villain knows to entrench himself/herself behind objective, impersonal, irrefutable facts.  “My company recruits only its sales executives with a certain diploma/certificate” … that your friend’s son happens not to possess, of course.

9. Camouflage:

Sharpen a pencil. Hang a picture. Drink coffee. Practicing an activity to pass the time is unquestionably the best camouflage for a lie. Is what any expert in non-verbal communication will tell you. The ideal situation? Lying whilst you are behind some sort of wall or partition, in order to neutralize body language, which is less controllable than words. It is essentially a way of saying that
those with mowing the lawn or trimming hedges are at an advantage for if they want to lie.

Little lies?  Big lies?  Huge lies?

It’s your story.

It’s your chance to create the “perfect” villain.

Happy Reading & Writing,


Friday, December 2, 2016


(Okay folks! I'm back again and will attempt to Dishin' it Out a la Ginger, our fearless founder!

I write historical novels. Some are romances, some fantasies, some straight out bio-fic, like A Master Passion, which is about Alexander Hamilton and his Betsy. The settings I work in range from the Middle Ages to the American Revolution to 1870's Pennsylvania, just after the Civil War, so sometimes I'll talk writing and sometimes history. Seems my own childhood has lately become "historic" too, so sometimes I'll reminisce and/or grumble  about "nowadays."   :)

Lizzie helping me write    Books by JW at Amazon

Remember when we were little girls, and boys had “cooties?”

Now, I wasn’t a prissy child. I played with frogs, pollywogs, and worms. I did outdoor tasks, such as pulling weeds and mowing, and I knew the correct flip of the wrist to toss dog poop into the acre of weeds which surrounded our house. In summer, when I was little, I made “roads” and built little towns and set my plastic cowboys in the gravel of the driveway and then flooded them with the hose to create a flash-flood disaster upon those dusty plains, like the budding writer I was. Whatever, the point is I was no stranger to grub, grit, and sweat.

But little boys were definitely a level-up gross. They smelled funny, like members of some other tribe—which, of course, they were, especially in the 50's. Hair was cut short in those days, so their big heads and pink scalp was always in view. Lots of them picked their noses. They sneezed and burped and farted—and then laughed about it. Their ears might be full of wax. (A girl’s ears might be full of wax, too, but she at least had hair to hide it.) Boys were rough and loud, likely to start pushing and shoving when they were asked to line up, instead of just stand and wait for the bell sensibly like the girls did.   

Then, the inevitable change. Suddenly those scalped boys—some still not as tall as we were—became, for the first time ever, extremely thought-provoking. Friends started to-- “like” was the euphemism--some of these boys. High School Romances began. The participants traded each other like cards, one by one, entering the lists of drama & heartbreak. Sometimes a girl was popular and sometimes she was not, mostly depending, back in those days, upon how dreamy/eligible her boyfriend was or whether she was a cheerleader. Boys became men and girls became women. The mating game began in earnest, with all those triumphs, tragedies, ecstasies, and Nymph-and-Satyr-Aphrodite-in-her-Nightie lusts and longings.

I’m sure you remember all that—some good, some bad, some bleeeh--so I’ll fast forward, because it’s easy to forget now, too, here in my Crone age. Maybe, in my case, it’s because all the organic bits that made the other sex desirable have been chopped out, for one pretty good reason or another, by surgeons.

Many older women, I know, do not share this experience of aging, but frankly, I'm back to square one. I have looked in the mirror and what I see reflected there is no longer any sort of goddess. The same holds true for my male age mates. Testosterone burns (and burn-out) have scarred these long ago super-cool, motorcycle ridin', guitar pickin', greased-lightning heart-throbs.  

I have one of these senior gentlemen at home, who, despite 50+ years of marriage--Purple Hearts all around--and despite pleading and wiles, has remained steadfastly impervious to domestication. I'm still living with a “Bear with furniture.” I have to sneak his outer clothes, those vests, jackets, and gym clothes into the wash, because little matter that these garments are about to achieve sentience and walk on their own, they "aren't dirty yet."  

His principal lair is a special chair in the living room, around which I may not clean because I’m can't return it to the exact spot. Daily, there are certain paths that he walks, this old caged bear, TV breaks to the fridge, or into his sanctum sanctorum of a workroom filled with sawdust, tools and firearms, and or to his computer, or to the liquor cabinet for a late afternoon libation said to be in honor of a certain deceased uncle of mine who introduced him to this venerable Celtic practice.

Male and female have never been reading from the same instruction manual, particularly when we attempt to express our feelings to one another. Books have been written on the subject of communication between male and female. Even so, on top of the ordinary Mars/Venus thing, for me, the old otherness is back again. We're in hitch--we're used to it--but we're just by nature a tad alien to one another. 

Doesn't mean we can't get along and work together, though, which, I guess, is the change from childhood. Sort of like this amazing old photo:

Kenya, 1929

~~ Juliet Waldron    Books by JW at Amazon

Sisters Series, #2, Pretty German girl hopes to find herself a nice Pennsylvania husband...  Butterfly Bride    B01MEENIRA

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