Monday, November 6, 2017

Writing Around You Day Job by Connie Vines

It’s a 5:00 world, at least that is what the popular “Vogues” song from yesteryear (1965) tells us.  In 2003, the song was reborn via the movie, “Big Fish”.

Up every morning just to keep a job
I gotta fight my way through the hustling mob
Sounds of the city pounding in my brain
While another day goes down the drain
(Yeah, yeah, yeah) but it's a five o'clock world when the whistle blows
No-one owns a piece of my time

As most writers know, writing hours are made after you complete your day job.  You time is also doled out in little snippets while watching your child’s water polo practice, Harp recital, or while boiling pasta for the evening meal.

For those of us who may find writing until 1:00 AM and having the alarm set for 5:00 AM a bit fatiguing.  It seems we are keeping good company. 

Some of these stories you may be familiar with, others may come as a surprise.
He may be a renowned author of over 50 novels, but Stephen King wasn't always a full-time writer — his time as a high school janitor helped inspire the novel Carrie. King originally threw the first draft of the story in the trash, but his wife Tabitha fished it out and told him to keep going because she wanted to know how it ended.

Before she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee worked as an airline reservations clerk in New York. She eventually quit when her friends helped support her financially so she could finally write full time.

He's a well-known author now, but before Nicholas Sparks wrote The Notebook, he worked odd jobs, including selling dental products over the phone.

She was a talented science-fiction writer and awarded the MacArthur Fellowship — but before her success as a writer, Octavia Butler worked as a potato chip inspector. She also worked as a dishwasher and a telemarketer, using these day jobs to support her writing. And they really were day jobs, because Butler would get up at 2 a.m. to do her writing before going in to work! Amazing.

She's known as a mystery novelist; Agatha Christie was once an assistant apothecary. She reportedly knew a lot about poisons, which was no doubt helpful as she created the characters of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Just goes to show that you never know what knowledge will come in handy later.

Bram Stoker wrote Dracula while working as the manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, imagining Henry Irving, a famous actor and owner of the theater, playing the vampire himself.

So how about you?  What is/was your day job(s)?

Does your day job get your creative ideas flowing?

I work in the field of education, students, staff, and events give me ideas—or at least creative thoughts.

Sometimes, after a long day. It will take me five minutes to write a sentence.
Five minutes of staring into space until the idea of writing an opening line about how long it took me to think of an opening line popped into my head.

In the grand scheme of things, five minutes isn't all that long. But for a writer, five minutes for nine words can add up.

Writing takes time. A whole lot of time.

I always imagined I'd write my first book in a vacation hideaway overlooking the beach or cabin in the Grand Tetons.   Unfortunately, most first-time authors won't get to live out this literary fantasy.
In fact, circumstances will most likely be the opposite: writing during off-hours, scribbling notes in public, enjoying less sleep than you'd like and slowly losing your mind while trying to maintain personal relationships a full-time job and run a household.

Say you've finally found a quiet hour to yourself. You know you should write, but you're tired from work and are only on season four of “Game of Thrones.” What were once simple choices become tormenting tests of will power and resolution.

As George Orwell famously stated, “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.”

In his book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” Stephen King shared a similar though more concise sentiment: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

So how do I stay on track to reach my deadline?
I’ve learned to say “no.”

I also participate online instead of driving to Orange County Romance Writers or L.A.R.A. monthly meetings; I sign-up for online classes.  I miss interacting with other writers, and my plotting group, but talking isn’t going to write my novel.

This doesn't mean you have to say no to everything, but writing is always going to require compromise.

A large part of writing for me is preparing my environment. I like to have a cup of coffee by my side, music playing. I prefer to write from 8:00 to 11:30 PM every other day. On Fridays I write until 2:00 AM, Saturdays after the gym and running errands.  I’ll write for a few hours, then spend time on other tasks, until about 8:00 PM I will write until 10 or 11:00. (though is writing until 2:00 this morning). 

Sunday, unless I have a blog post due/or am on a deadline, I do not write.  I may edit my week's work in the evening but that is the extent of my writing.  This is family time for me.

Remember: If you keep waiting for the perfect moment, the perfect time, you’ll never get anything done.

Pencil in you time to write on your calendar, or task journal.  Honor that time like you do all of your other commitments.

You may find your day job fits in quite nicely into your novel.  After all, if you have life experience, no research in needed.

Happy Reading and Writing,
Connie




Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Avoiding Adverbs by Roseanne Dowell (Replay Day)


Writing without adverbs? Then how can we describe people, tone of voice? Some writers think adverbs are the only way to add description to a story.
Wrong – the use and over use of adverbs distracts from your story.  It puts YOU, the AUTHOR into the story.  And we never (one of the few nevers in writing) want the author in the story.
There are better ways to add description.  Let’s take this sentence for example:  Roy walked leisurely down the street.  – Okay. You, the author, just TOLD us how Roy walked – you interfered with the story.   How much better if you would have showed us how Roy walked.
Example: Roy strolled down the street. (Notice how just changing the verb and taking out the adverb shows us how Roy walked.
Roy is not in a hurry - strolled implies leisurely without the author saying so, but it’s still telling. So, let’s take it one step farther. The author can show more.
Roy breathed in the spring air. What a great time of year with the trees budding and the smell of fresh cut grass. Just looking at the sky put him in a good mood.
Now the author hasn’t even told us that Roy strolled. We know Roy’s not in a hurry because he notices everything around him.  People in a hurry don’t take the time to notice the buds on the trees. They wouldn’t stop to look at the sky.  The author has shown us something about Roy besides the fact that he’s not in a hurry.  He loves spring, and he loves nature. Other people wouldn't necessarily notice the buds on the trees, even when they’re not in a hurry. They react in different ways to show us they aren't in a hurry. Maybe they'd lollygag along watching the traffic or kids playing. That shows us something different about them.  People see different things and so should our characters.
Adverbs can never replace strong verbs. As in the above example, strolled is a much stronger verb then walked in showing us how someone went on his way, but showing him works so much better.
Adverbs combined with strong verbs – John ran quickly – are repetitive. We already know John ran, that tells us he’s moving fast, why repeat it?  The adverb has the same meaning as the verb.  By adding the adverb, we weaken the verb and the sentence, and it shows us nothing. 
Avoid the use of adverbs whenever possible.  When you feel tempted to add an adverb, stop and think about what you want the reader to know. Is there another way to say it?  Usually there is. 
Adverbs to describe how someone speaks are also interfering.
Example: “Stop, just stop,” John shouted angrily.
Well, I don’t know about you, but if someone is shouting that usually means he’s angry.
 Why not show us the anger? “Stop! Just stop.” John slammed the cupboard door.
Now that shows us he is angry much better than the adverb angrily? And, we didn’t have to use the tag line he shouted. We can say, he shouted and slammed the cupboard door, but does that reinforce the anger? Not really. The action works better alone.
Now don’t get me wrong – there are places to use adverbs, but the key is to use them sparingly.  Readers want detail, they want to see and hear the story. They don’t want someone to tell them what happened. They want to feel the anger, sadness, happiness, laughter, and tears.  Readers want to feel our character's emotion.  Characters who display emotion are strong characters. And readers remember them. They become real, believable. And if we have believable characters, readers will remember us.
So next time you write, she hurried quickly down the street, STOP!! Reread what you just wrote.  Do you really want to repeat that he was in a hurry?  Hurried already implies he was going quickly.
And next time you write – “I can’t do this anymore,” John said sadly.  Rethink it – is there a better way to show John sad?  “I can’t do this anymore.” John wiped the tears from his eyes. Notice I didn’t say John said as he wiped the tears. You can also eliminate the he said/she said tags and insert action tags that shows us more of what’s happening. By saying John said sadly, we know John is sad – but we don’t know he’s crying. 

We add so much more to the story by eliminating needless adverbs.  We all enjoy reading strong stories, why not write them

I Smell a Story by Roseanne Dowell (Replay Day)

Did you ever notice that unless something smells especially good or particularly offensive, we tend to ignore it?
Because our sense of sight and hearing are dominant we tend to ignore every day smells.  We see the trees, hear the traffic, and look into each other’s eyes as we speak.
But we take our other senses, touch, taste, and smell for granted. We often ignore them.  Oh sure, we feel, taste and smell, but not with a lot of awareness. While the smell of bacon makes our mouth water, and we may say it smells good, or that it’s making us hungry, we don’t elaborate on it. On the other hand if we smell something offensive, say a
skunk, we go on and on about the distasteful odor.  Same thing with taste.
 The bacon and egg tastes good, and we enjoy them, but we expect to enjoy them so we don’t say much about them. On the
other hand, the sour taste of vinegar or a lemon has us spitting and complaining about the acrid flavor.
The same applies to our sense of touch. We feel something soft or silky, it’s comforting, and we might make an off-handed remark. But, if we burn, cut, or hurt ourselves, we complain and make a big deal about the pain.
But in writing all of these senses are as important as sight and sound.  We describe the setting, the background. But by using all of our senses we bring our stories to life. We can go from the real world to a new world of make believe. But we also need to make our story realistic. In both fiction and nonfiction, a richly described setting will pull your readers out of the real world of pressure and tension and into your world of make believe. So we can’t ignore these senses in our descriptions?
We need to become more aware of these senses in our everyday world?  Go outside, look around you - listen to the sounds. Close your eyes.  Inhale deeply, breath in the odors. What do you smell? The flowers, exhausts from cars, it depends where you are. You can do the same wherever you go. Walk into a department store at a mall.  Inhale the scents. What do you smell, the lingering scent of someone’s perfume or the perfume counter, if a smoker walks past you, you detect the odor of cigarette smoke. At a movie it will probably be the smell of popcorn.  Restaurants have many smells, garlic, onions, rich sauces or maybe coffee. Remember these smells. Use them in your writing.
Next time you eat, savor the food. Hold it in your mouth, relish the experience and texture of bread and the slight aroma of yeast.  Feel the surface of the tabletop or tablecloth.  Ingrain them into your memory.
Use these senses in the story. Let your reader hear, see, feel, smell and taste the story. The story and characters will come alive through these senses. It’s not enough to tell us what something looks like. SHOW US!! We want to feel it, smell it, and maybe even taste it. Readers won’t notice that you included them, but they will notice if you omit them. Without them, your world will be flat, boring, and unrealistic.
 No, you don’t have to add them to every sentence or even every scene. Maybe your characters are in a situation where they don’t notice smells or textures and there’s nothing to taste. That’s often true of tense scenes. If someone is attacking you, you certainly aren’t going to notice the sweet smell of roses. On the other hand you might notice the offensive odor of his sweat. And you’ll certainly feel the beads of perspiration on your own forehead or the taste the nausea building up from your throat to your mouth.
Other times we might be deep in thought and won’t even notice our surroundings. That’s fine, but make sure to include them when they are needed. If your characters walk into a restaurant, we want to know what they smell as well as what they see and hear. Too often, as beginners these senses are ignored.
Remember also, that some odors will smell different to different people.  Some smells are “Universal”.  Dog poop and the smell of garbage are offensive to everyone. Flowers, freshly cut grass or fresh baked bread usually evoke memories.  We can all picture a garden, or remember the first spring mowing and of course Mom or Grandma in the kitchen baking. Use these scenes to help show us the scene or bring out an emotion of our characters.  Some smells scents are less universal. Cauliflower will smell differently to me than you. If the reader loves it and you hate it, the scene will be all wrong. What you want to make sound delicious might make your reader go yuck and you’ll have lost the realism. Stick to the universal smells.
Pick up your favorite novel. Go through it page by page. Highlight the senses with different colors. What an amazing array of colors on the pages. No, you might not see all the colors on every page, but enough to make it colorful.
So how do we use these senses in our scenes?
Imagine your character on a beach by the ocean. Put yourself there. Close your eyes. Picture it. What do you hear?  Are the seagulls squawking, children playing? Can you hear the swish of the waves? Let’s take it further. Inhale, take a deep breath. What do you
smell, the fresh air, salty water?  How does your skin feel? Can you feel the wet spray from the waves? Can you taste the salty ocean? Wiggle your toes in the gritty sand. Is it hot, does it burn your feet? Are the waves coming on shore and flowing over your feet? Can you squish your toes in the wet sand?
How much stronger your words will be describing these feelings and tastes as well as the sights and sounds through your characters. Your story and characters will become more alive.
The senses are as important to non-fiction, as they are critical to fiction.
If you’re writing a how to article about baking bread, the reader needs to know that they should knead the dough until it blisters for a better, lighter loaf, and that it should be smooth to the touch. No the smell of the yeast is not important.  Some things are not important in non-fiction, but if you are writing a nostalgic piece about the memory of Mom or Grandma baking in the kitchen, add those senses. They’re an integral part of the article.
Start today, right now - observe these senses in everyday life. Pay particular attention to the feel, smell, and taste. Sometimes you can taste something just from the odor. Have you ever experienced a particularly bad odor?  It smelled so bad you could almost taste it.

 Remember these senses. Concentrate on the feel of the smoothness of a baby’s skin or the texture of your sheets, vegetables, everything you touch. Make a mental note of these feelings. Use them in your stories. Make your characters real to the reader and enjoy the senses that we take so for granted.

Monday, September 25, 2017

"Classic Ginger" Snippets from Culture Shock Ginger Simpson

This week I'm sharing snippets from Culture Shock, my mystery romance that takes place in San Francisco.  Cynthia Freitas moves from the Midwest to the big city, expecting a different lifestyle.  Imagine her shock to find a serial killer loose in her own backyard, and he's killing women that look just like her...or her body when the old wiring in her run-down tenement causes her first kiss with her handsome neighbor to have a jolting outcome.


The sun was setting when they got back to the Cairns. Alex held the door open. “Here we are, back to reality.”

Cynthia stepped inside, but paused at the bottom of the stairwell. “Does reality have to smell so musty? I’d prefer something more pleasant.”

He smiled. “I agree, but the reality I referred to is we both have to work tomorrow, and that
sucks. I wish I’d been born rich instead of handsome.” He flashed a wink.

Did he know how attractive he was? His good looks had drawn the admiring stares of so many
women during their outing…and they all envied her, little ol’ Cynthia Freitas.

He followed as she climbed the stairs. She paused at the first landing and faced him. “Too bad
we can’t have everything we want, but I’d say today was a great ending to the weekend.” She smiled.
“Seriously, this was a great afternoon. I really enjoy looking in all the stores, although I can’t believe I didn’t find anything I wanted to buy. Maybe I should see a therapist.”

He shook his head and grinned. “Maybe, but push on, my dear. We have another flight to climb,
and dogs are barking.”

At her apartment, Alex took her key and unlocked the door. “I had a great time too. If it wasn’t
Sunday evening we could have made our time together last a little longer. Maybe we can do this again another time?”

Her excitement bubbled to the surface. “That would be wonderful. Hey, as a matter of fact, my
brother Kevin and his girlfriend, Sara, are coming to visit in a few weeks. They want me, of all people, to show them around the city. Would you be interested in joining us?”

She held her breath hoping he wouldn't decline. She'd like to show Kevin she did have some
confidence in herself. 

"I'd like that very much." He leaned down and brush his lips against hers.

Her heart skipped a beat then resumed its normal pace. She took a quick breath. "That was nice."
"Good. I was hoping I wouldn't offend you."

"No offense taken." And no defense either. Her knees turned to jelly. She opened her door, but
paused, hoping for maybe yet another, and longer, kiss.

Instead, he took her hand and held her knuckles to his lips. "Goodnight," he whispered, warming
her hand with his breath. He smiled and walked toward his apartment.

Cynthia went inside her place, closed the door and rested against it. She pondered the emotions
Alex stirred within her. She feared falling for him, too afraid of what might happen if he didn't
reciprocate the feelings. Could she handle rejection? She had no idea.

After making sure the door was locked, she went straight to the bedroom. Alex’s reminder about
the deadbolt flashed through her mind. She’d buy one tomorrow and ask him to install it. His offer of
help provided more opportunity to be with him, and she'd take him over the super any day.

*******************

This is where the excitement really begins.  You can get your copy at Books We Love, using my author's page and clicking the cover you like.  Please take advantage of the BOGO sale going on right now....buy one, get one free.  A great holiday special.

Now hop on over and visit my other Sunday Snippet Pals:


http://yesterrdayrevisitedhere.blogspot.com/ (Juliet Waldron)

http://triciamg.blogspot.com (Tricia McGill)


Don't forget to come back next week for more Sunday Snippets.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

To Plot or Not by Roseanne Dowell (Replay Day)



At one of our chapter meetings of RWA, the speaker talked about plotting a novel and writing a synopsis before the book was written. She suggested if we had never done that to try it.
So I did.


I had an idea for a story that was taking shape in my mind. As usual, I knew how it would begin and how it would end. What happened in the middle? I didn’t have a clue. Oh, I had a few ideas. 







I knew there was a secret about my heroine’s birth, and she’d find a dead body But I had no idea who he was  (yes, I knew it was a male) or why he was killed. So I tried plotting. I came up with a few ideas about his identity and even about who murdered him and even why. 



I was totally blocked. The story sat for the better part of the year without me typing even one word. Every time I opened it, I read it, made a few changes and then I got to the part where I was stumped.
I stared at the computer, sometimes for hours, trying to come up with something, anything –even if it was garbage – just to get me past that hump. I couldn’t do it. So I’d move on to something else. I revised several other stories that I’d written a long time ago, then I’d go back to it. The problem was –I was locked into the outline, I didn’t know how to make the transition to the next thing. It didn’t feel right.                                                                                 
It wasn’t until one day; I was emailing my writing buddy about my dilemma. I needed help and any suggestions she could offer would be most welcome. I wrote what I had so far, and where I wanted the story to go. For some reason, in that email, I started to ask what if, which is how I usually wrote. I threw out a couple of ideas to her and answered them myself. Finally, I was unblocked. I even created a new character and another conflict. I ignored the plot outline and went a completely different way.
That was how I usually wrote, asking what if as I wrote, coming up with new ideas. For me, plotting and outlining doesn’t work. I’ll never do it again. For others, it works fine and good for them.  I understand it’s not necessary to stick to the outline, but for me, since I  outlined, I had trouble deviating from it.  It blocked my creativity. Yes, I should have ignored it long before, but it was too fresh in my mind. It took a year and then some to forget what was on that outline so I could move on.
I guess my whole point is – write the way it’s comfortable for you. There is no right or wrong way, there’s only your way. There are few hard and fast rules in writing. We all have to develop our own style, our own voice, and our own rules. Some authors get up in the morning and sit down to write. Some write later in the day, and still others write in the middle of the night. Again, whatever works best for you. The important thing is to write.

My current novels are available from Amazon at: http://amzn.to/tnqgR2  
Visit me at my website www.roseannedowell.com 


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My Hobbies by Roseanne Dowell (Replay Day)



 I thought I'd talk a little about one of my hobbies instead of writing. That's right, you won't find anything about any of my books on this blog. It's all about my hobby.
One of my favorite things to do when I’m not writing is embroidery. 
Another is quilting. I've found a way to combine the two. First, 
I made baby quilts for my nieces. White on white, I machine
 embroidered them with the darning stitch so I had control. They turned out really pretty, but I really love to hand embroider. 
That’s when I discovered red-work. During a quilting shop-hop, one of the stores highlighted red-work. For those who don’t know what red-work is – it’s embroidery done in all red floss. Just the outline of the picture, not filled in like other embroidery patterns. Anyway, I fell in love with it.



Every year I make something for Christmas (usually a Santa) for my children and give it to them on Thanksgiving. Sometimes it’s ceramic, sometimes wood. I found a Santa pattern and did it all in red-work, framed it and gave it to them one year.


 That’s when I decided to make a baby quilt for each of my grandchildren – not for them, but for their first born, my great grandchildren. I'd already made lap quilts for each of my children and grandchildren. 
But where to find patterns? I started out with coloring books for designs. I traced the images onto 12x12 squares of muslin and embroidered them.  After I finished embroidering the squares, I cut sashing and sewed them together. For the backing I used
various fabrics, not nursery print. None of the quilts have nursery fabric in them at all.
I also used patterns from zoo animals to Winnie the Pooh.
Eventually, I found transfer books and used them for designs, much easier than tracing the. I just ironed them on. 
I looked everywhere for baby designs. It took several years, but they're all finished. I have 14 grandchildren, that’s a lot of baby quilts. Most of the quilts are done in red work, but several are done with various colors of embroidery floss, too. 


  I also made quilts for my niece’s twins. One of the patterns is kittens and the other is bunnies. She had a girl and boy, so I thought the bunnies would be good for him. Recently, she had another child. A boy–so I just finished q baby animals one for him. 


So far I've given quilts to two of my granddaughters. It looks like I'll be giving another one next year. I recently found out another great grandchild is due in June, so another quilt will be delivered at her shower in April. We don't know the sex yet, but the quilts aren't gender specific. 
I've marked each quilt with the name of the grandchild they’re supposed to go to in case I’m not around to give it to them. My youngest grandchild is only four. I'm already in my sixties, there's a pretty good chance I won't see him married, let alone his children.
My daughters have been instructed to pass them out. I hope I’m still around to give each child their quilt, but if I’m not they’ll each have a piece of me for their children. I hope they treasure them as much as I do. Below is a collage of a few of the ones I made.

 To store them, I put them in large store bought quilt bag. Yes, I bought a quilt for my bed. But I did make one too, I embroidered wild flowers in each square – and yes, I filled them in, not just outlined. I use it on my bed in the summer. It took over a year to embroider all the flowers, but it was worth it. Besides, I have nothing better to do in the evening while I’m watching TV. That’s the nice thing about embroidery, you can sit in front of the TV and still work on it. The hard part was quilting it.

One of my favorite quilts is a queen size I made for my bed. It took the better part of

a year, and several times I was sorry I started it. But I persevered and I'm glad I did. 

So now you know a little more about me. I'm not just an author, I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother.  I enjoy writing, but my family is my first love. 



Find all of Roseanne's books at Books We Love or Amazon

Monday, September 11, 2017

"Classic Ginger" Snippets Time Tantrums with Ginger Simpson

This week I'm sharing a snippet from Time Tantrums...my time-travel romance with an historical twist.  In this story, a modern day attorney and a pioneer wife change lives and eras and discover what it's like to walk in another's shoes.

 Let Me know what you think.  You cacn get your own copy via Books We Love.  Just click on my name and you'll be taken to my own page where you'll find all my books.   Take advantage of the BOGO sales.  Buy one, get one free...a great holiday value.

Time Tantrums



David sat beside Taylor’s bed, his heart aching at seeing his beautiful wife swathed in bandages, an IV in her arm, a tube down her throat. The large hospital bed dwarfed her five-foot-eight frame and elevated her head. 

The breathing machine’s swooshing and the heart monitor’s steady beep were the only sounds in the room. 

“Everything will be okay, baby. Just wake up.” He held her hand and offered words of encouragement even though he wasn’t sure she heard him. 

“Mr. Morgan?” The doctor entered with a serious look on his face. 

David rose from the chair, his pulse racing. “Yes, doctor. Have there been any changes since I spoke with you in the recovery room? How is she? Is she going to be all right?” 

“Mr. Morgan, as I told you, we don’t know right now. We did all we can. She suffered a lot of trauma. We’ve taken care of the internal bleeding and removed her spleen, so all we can do now is wait and hope.” He glanced at her chart. 

“Money isn’t an issue, doctor. If you think she needs a specialist—” 

“I assure you, Mr. Morgan, the surgical team consisted of the finest doctors. Now, only time will tell.” The doctor patted David’s shoulder, then turned and left the room. 

Tears welled and David blinked them back. He turned to his wife and took her hand. “Taylor, darling, you can make it. I know you can. I’m going to be right here. Do you hear me? Squeeze my hand if you do.” 

Her fingers curled around his hand. The grip was weak, but she responded. 

“Doctor, doctor!” David yelled. “Come quick. I think she’s waking." 

The doctor rushed back into the room.

David gazed at him, heart filled with hope. “She squeezed my hand. Squeeze it again, Taylor.” 

The physician put a stethoscope to her chest. He raised her bandage and lifted her eyelid. “Mrs. Morgan, if you can hear me, blink your eyes.” 

David watched her closely. She blinked, not once, but twice. 

“That’s good, Mrs. Morgan. You’re doing fine, just fine. You’ve been in an accident and were badly hurt, but you’re going to be okay. Your husband is here.”

David stood and leaned in. “Hello, darling. I’ve been so worried about you, but like the doctor says, you’re going to be fine.” 

He brushed a kiss against her cheek. 

* * * * 

You aren’t Frank! Where’s Frank? Why are you kissing me? I don’t know you. Somebody help... 
Who was this man? Mariah fluttered her eyes and barely lifted her head off the pillow. The mere movement caused her temple to pound. Her gaze darted around the room. Nothing looked familiar. Why did she feel so sore?  Nothing she saw made sense. Strange machines, dials, sounds, and the room—so white, so pristine. She tried to raise herself, but couldn’t. Where was she? 

Glancing down at the strange tube in her arm, she gasped, then raised her hand and touched her head. Bandaged? God help her. Where was her husband? Her mind formed Frank’s name but her lips failed to speak it as darkness shrouded her. 

* * * * 
A woman in white stood over Mariah. “Oh, Mrs. Morgan, you’re awake. We’ve been so worried about you. Your husband just went down to the cafeteria for something to eat. He’s been here every day for the past two weeks. You gave us quite a scare.” 

The stranger fluffed Mariah’s pillow and checked the tube in her arm. “Wouldn’t you know you’d wake up the minute he left? Poor fellow, he’s barely had time to change his clothes.” 
Cafeteria? The word meant nothing. Two weeks? She’d been here for two weeks? And where was here?   She tried to ask, but nothing came out. Vaguely recalling something thick and painful in her mouth, she swallowed. Thank goodness whatever had been there was gone. 

“Don’t try to speak, Mrs. Morgan." The stranger patted her arm. "Your throat is probably pretty raw. We just took the breathing tube out yesterday. You’ll be able to talk soon, but now you just need to rest and get well. Let me give you a little more pain medication.” She fiddled with some sort of bagged liquid hanging above the bed. Her fingers followed the tube down and smoothed the tape holding a needle in Mariah’s arm. “There, that should make you feel a little more comfortable.” 

Breathing tube? Mrs. Morgan? What’s happening? Somebody tell me, please. Confused and frightened, Mariah’s teary eyes focused on the man who walked through the door.

“Ah, Mr. Morgan, your wife is finally awake.” The woman in white greeted him. “She seems pretty alert.” 

“Taylor, sweetheart.” He rushed to the bed. “Thank God, you’re awake. I’ve been so worried about you.” 

Mariah turned her head to the side, avoiding the stranger’s kiss. “I’m not Taylor.” Her words were merely a whisper that no one heard. 

“What are you trying to say, darling?” He bent lower.

“I asked her not to try to speak yet.” The white-clad woman rubbed her own throat. “The breathing tube you know.” 

“Of course." He nodded. "The nurse is right. Don’t talk, sweetie. When you’re healed, we’ll have lots of time to chat. Just rest.” 

Confusion shrouded Mariah. Why did they keep calling her Mrs. Morgan, and mentioning Taylor? Why weren’t they using her own name?  A tear slid down her cheek. She’d rest for now, but when she could speak, she’d insist on knowing where she was and why a strange man considered her his wife. 

The man she knew only as Mr. Morgan stretched his hands over his head then massaged the small of his back. “Now that I know you’re on the mend, I’m going home to shower, shave and change clothes. Your parents are waiting for my call to update them on your condition. I’ll be back tomorrow. You get some rest, baby.” He bent and kissed her forehead. 

Yes, go away. I need to think…and answers...I need some answers. Mariah sensed herself drifting off. Something made her very drowsy. 

* * * * 

The nurse’s poking and prodding rudely awakened Mariah. “Good morning, Mrs. Morgan. I need to check your vitals.”  Sunlight barely filtered through whatever covered the window. Mariah’s head felt like it hovered somewhere above her. She blinked, hoping she was in the middle of a bad dream and about to wake up. 

A strange band squeezed her arm, and she grimaced. The nurse placed a round, flat object against Mariah’s skin, and appeared to listen intently. “Good blood pressure, Mrs. Morgan," she finally said. "How are you feeling?” 

How? Terrified! Mariah heard her own heartbeat. “I’m sore,” was all she could croak out. 

“Of course you’re sore. You were in a terrible car accident.” She jotted something on a board of some sort. 

Mariah's thoughts jumbled, and putting them into words proved impossible. What kind of accident was a car? Where was her family? 

The nurse rounded the bed and revealed the shortness of her skirt. Mariah widened her eyes and bit her lip to keep her mouth from gaping. How inappropriate to show so much leg. 

The woman tucked the covers in at the end of the metal frame. “Do you think you could manage a drink this morning? Perhaps some ginger ale? The doctor left orders for you to have liquids. Once we know you can tolerate drinking, perhaps we can get you a food tray.” 

Mariah was hungry. If she’d been here for two weeks, how had she survived without eating? Just the mere thought of being without food for so long made her stomach growl. “Yes… please.” She forced out the words. 

After the nurse placed a filled glass on Mariah’s tray, she pushed a button on the side of the bed. Mariah rose into a sitting position. Her gaze darted from the mechanism to the nurse, and questions burned in her mind. How had she done that? 

Amidst jumbled thoughts, she maneuvered around the tube in her arm and picked up the glass, anxious to ease the soreness of her throat. As she took a sip, he entered the room. 

“Taylor! Look at you. Sitting up! You must be feeling better.”

The man called David Morgan had combed his blond hair and shaved. He didn’t look nearly as haggard as she recalled. Not quite as tall as her Frank, the shirt he wore revealed the same muscular shoulders.  Mariah considered him good-looking, but his clothes, his shoes... everything about him and this place seemed strange. Everyone dressed and spoke differently. If only someone would explain what was happening. 

“It won’t be long before I can take you home, babe.” David Morgan interrupted her thoughts. “I’ll bet you’ll be happy to be back in your own home and bed.” 

Mariah’s hand trembled. She set her glass down, lay back against her pillow and looked away. Why would she go home with him? She didn’t even know the man. 


Using every bit of mustered strength, she turned her glaring gaze back to him. “I’m not Taylor!” she croaked.

**********************



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Write Idea by Roseanne Dowell (Replay Day)



Can lowly little Charlene Smith, ordinary homemaker, write a best seller? Do authors have to  lead adventurous, exciting lives like lawyers or doctors to become successful writers?
No, we do not have to lead exciting lives. However, we do need a good imagination and good ideas. So where do writers come up with ideas for their stories?
For starters, we need to write about things we enjoy. Skateboarding, bike riding, hiking, bowling- even cars are potential articles or stories.  What if a hiker finds a dead
body? A mystery plot is formed. Any character we create may have one of these hobbies or occupations – and how much more believable this character will be because we have first hand knowledge.
Look around you, what do you see?  Right now, I see a room with a computer, printer, and a scanner. But it is not just a room, it is a potential setting for a story. Now lean back and really look at the room. My walls are pewter blue - a cream-colored shade covers the window. If I were writing a story, I would elaborate on this through my character. Everything around us has potential, if we chose to look at it with a writer’s eye.
Think about being stuck in traffic. What do you usually do? Turn up the radio, call someone from your cell phone, and tap the steering wheel impatiently? Next time turn that negative energy into something positive. Who's in the car next to you, behind you? Where is that carload of kids off to, a soccer game, Grandma’s house? Look at the driver, what is she feeling, sitting there with a car full of kids bouncing around and jumping. Her mouth moving. Is she yelling, singing, playing a game with them.  How about that young couple next to you, are they in love, arguing? Put them in a scene - make up a story about them. That isn't just a car full of kids, or a young couple. You're not just stuck in traffic, or standing in line at a supermarket. You're viewing potential characters, ideas, scenes, making up plots. Look in the carts of people around you. Are they buying that wine and cheese for a rendezvous, celebration?  Every place you go look for the potential setting for a story, everyone you see is a potential  character.
Check out the daily newspaper. Many articles give me ideas for my next plot. Maybe the bank robber will make a good character for your villain.  But don't stop there, look in the classifieds? Under help wanted ads, you might find different and unusual occupations for your characters. Then there are the business opportunities and legal notices.  I found an interesting Notice regarding a Public Hearing on the merits of designating several old schools in the area as city landmarks. This piqued my interest since I attended two of those schools. It could lead to a possible setting for a story or maybe an article about a trip down memory lane. 
Last, but not least read the for sale ads. Every conceivable item is for sale from antiques to stereo equipment. I particularly enjoy looking through the jewelry section.  One ad for a diamond engagement ring valued at three thousand dollars was listed as a must sell for twelve hundred. The ad raised my curiosity.  I figured it was for sale because
of a broken engagement, but then I thought what if the woman’s husband died leaving her penniless, and she desperately needed money for medical bills. More interesting to me was the thought of who would purchase the ring.  What man would buy a second hand ring, albeit a good deal, for his new fiancee. Then I thought maybe he took it to a jeweler and had the diamond put into a new setting. What would happen if the fiancĂ©e found out she had a used diamond. Would she think what an ingenious idea or would she be angry?  All this from a one-line ad.  The newspaper is an excellent source for ideas.
Mary Rosenblum, Author of several novels, Instructor and Web Editor at Long Ridge Writers Group says. “Whenever I’m researching a community as a setting for a mystery or contemporary piece, I always pick up copies of the local paper, and yes, I turn right to the classifieds. Who is selling what and for how much? Farmall tractors? Six bottom plows? Must be a farming community. Spray equipment, apple boxes? Orchards. What are the housing prices like? Is this the overpriced bedroom community for ski resort? Are houses with an acre or so of land dirt cheap? Nobody’s working! You can take the pulse of a community with the ads in that paper.” 
Magazines are another good source for ideas. Open it to any page, look at the pictures, even the advertisements - see an attractive woman or a couple. Imagine them in a scene. Create a plot around them. 
Last, but certainly not least, is our author friends. Many times, I got an idea for an article, just from our daily conversation.  Today the subject of being the only one who managed to fill the ice cube trays came up.  One thing led to another and it turned into an idea for a humorous article. 
Sources for ideas are limitless. We just need to view the world around us with the writer’s eye.



Monday, September 4, 2017

"Classic Ginger" Do You Want a Husband or Need a Father?

I'm always amazed at the number of women who say, "My husband would never let me...(finish the sentence.)"

Just typing that quote makes me shiver.  I have always believed and do to this day, that marriage is a 50/50 arrangement.  I entered into a union as an adult and equal to my husband.  I asked my father for permission to do things because he was my parent and responsible for my actions until I became an adult, but I don't need to have permission from my husband to do whatever I wish.  Out of respect and kindness, I "check" my intentions with him to assure there is no problem, but to assume I need his permission is totally outside the realm of reality. I'm a grown woman.

I think this type of attitude transcends to the heroines in my books. I like women who have guts and aren't afraid to live life on their own terms.  Some of mine have withstood Indian attacks, mock rescues by the Cavalry,falling into a well, fighting a raging river, and in my current WIP, living life with someone threatening her with murder.  I've had reviewers call my female leads head-strong and spoiled, but I believe anyone who takes responsibility for their own decisions and stands strong against the grain can be considered spoiled if someone is viewing relationships from a parent/child aspect. If you look at an individual as a responsible and mature adult, you usually get a different outcome.

Main Character Acts Like a Spoiled Brat - A review for Ellie's Legacy

Another Review for Ellie's Legacy:  Although Ellie matured and realized her father was trying to do what was best for her, she acted like a brat for much of the time.

Review from Betrayed:  Although living a comfortable life financially, she wants to be loved and be in love. She meets Evan online and he sweeps her off her feet.

Review from Betrayed: Cassie is extremely trusting and let things happen too quickly. Evan took advantage of her at every turn and she suffered the consequences

A relationship should be a  sacred bond into which you enter with love and respect, not a means of binding someone to another's opinions and judgments.  In my humble opinion, separation happens when one party loses the respect of the other. Respect t is a big component in love...along with trust, and if you can't trust your partner to make their own decisions, there isn't much room for respect...or love.

In my novel, Betrayed, I wrote about Cassie Fremont, an independent woman who WAS a confident and self-supporting individual until she let a man steal her independence from her. Betrayed happened to be based on a true life experience with Internet dating, and the message I hoped to deliver resounded with the very person who lived through the entire ordeal.  Love is a wonderful thing, but none of us need validation to make us who we need to be.

Okay...this is my rant for the day.  Just remember, if you're talking to me on FB, don't ever indicate you have to seek your husband's approval.  *lol*

http://www.bookswelove.com/authors/simpson-ginger






Saturday, August 26, 2017

Pets and Other Animals in a Story by Connie Vines

Today's Topic: Have you used pets or other animals in your stories? What function do they perform in the story? Do they need to have a function? Can they be a character?

Since I am an animal lover and owner of a multitude of pets (exotic, barnyard, and typical suburban) at various times during my life, it only goes to reason that I will have them peppering my short stories, novellas, and novels.  My Rodeo Romance Series (understandably) incorporates a cast of horses, sheep, cattle, dogs, cats, etc.  Some of these animals only have Cameo roles, while others are characters in their own right.

 My Fun & Sassy Fantasy Series also features a pet as a main character in each story line.  Gertie, a pet Teddy-Bear Hamster, is Zombie Meredith’s BF is “Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow”.  “Brede” Rodeo Romance, Book 2 features a horse and cattle dog.  “Lynx” Rodeo Romance, Book 1, features the hero’s horse named Texas. The next book in my series, “Rand” Rodeo Romance, Book 3 features a poodle who belongs to the heroine.  Rand’s interaction with this very unrodeo-like dog is priceless!

For realistic purposes I select animals/breeds that I either have owned, or have working personal knowledge (chickens, turkeys, quail, pheasant, pigs, sheep— bred for. . .well, dinner during my rural days).  My dogs: Greyhound (my favorite & a rescue) Poodle (AKC champion pedigree), Shepherds, Collie, Weimaraner and– my husband’s dog, a Chi-wienie (Chihuahua Dachshund mix). I also like to add my horses (Quarter horse, Arabian, and a Paint –a retired rodeo barrel racer) into the mix.  Due to my allergies to cats, my info comes mostly via friends and the Animal Channel.  Now the unconventional pet experiences, were learned firsthand (I did raise sons and have 3 younger brothers).  Pet mice, geckos, iguanas, horned toads & lizards, hamsters, parakeets, an Amazon parrot, finches, a runaway cockatiel, and canary have a way of finding a place in my life and my stories.
Future adventure with pets?  Probably.

I simply adore baby pygmy goats.  Mind you, I reside in the quirky suburbs of Southern California.  Therefore, my husband reminds me, often. “You cannot raise a goat in our backyard, there are zoning laws.”

Of course I know there are zoning laws.  I also know goats are herd animals.  “We will need to have two goats,” I say him.

“We?” He grunts and goes to his ‘man-cave’.

I watched a YouTube video and read an online article titled: Pigmy Goats.  With the opening hook: You should reconsider your choice in pets if you want an animal to stay indoors with you.

One fact was of particular interest, and brought back memories of living in an all-male household: ‘Goats are messy eaters too, pulling feed out of buckets and leaving it on the floor.  Once it’s trampled, they really don’t want to touch it.’

Ummm.  Obviously, I am not alone in my secret desire to own one of those adorable little goats.  However, since have zero desire to relocate or have two goats head-butting or chewing my maple dinning room set or my wood flooring, I guess I’ll settle for a petting zoo outing with my three-year old grandson.

While my characters do not always have pet, my characters have often had a pet during childhood, interact with an animal, or (YA stories) would like a pet.

Why, do I believe animals are important to a story line?

It is a way to show character, good and bad.

How people treat animals will give a reader insight into my main character, or my villain.  Treatment of animal hints at how he/she will treat a vulnerable person (child/spouse).  If the hero seems uncaring and selfish to outsiders, give the heroine a view into an unguarded moment he shares with an injured puppy, or his care of his horse.  His truck may be battered and dirty, but his horse is well groomed, fed, and sheltered each night.

However, my animals need to have a purpose.  Sometimes it may only be comic relief, or a confidant in a YA novel, but unless it is a Cameo role (or red herring), my animals have a personality and a place in the storyline.

Who doesn’t remember, “Call of the Wild”, “Old Yeller”, “Misty of Chincoteague”?

I believe pets, can enrich a story—my novels, as are (in my opinion) most genre novels, are about life and the human need for love and companionship.

Not every novel calls for an animal to part of the story.

Not every person wishes to be responsible for a pet.

I did a bit of research and discovered these stats (the info about fish surprised me).
*Stats: 2014, 83.2 million dogs live in U.S. households, 95.5 million freshwater fish live in U.S. household, and 85.8 million cats live in U.S. households.
* Statista.com

So, what do you think?  How do you feel?

As a reader, do you enjoy pets in a storyline?  Do you look for authors who have a series you know will feature a heroine with a pet(s)?

Please add a comment with your opinion beneath this blog article.

Happy Reading,
Connie














Monday, August 21, 2017

"Classic Ginger" Snippets Shortcomings with Ginger Simpson

This week, I'm sharing a snippet from my Young Adult, Shortcomings.  There's a valuable message in this book about how to treat people with disabilities and deal with bullies.  Hope you'll consider sharing a copy with family this holiday.  Although the story deals with teens, the reading material is appropriate for all ages.  The description says it all, and this would make a wonderful gift for any reader on your list. Happy Thanksgiving...I'm going back to my Magic Cookie Bars.  :)



High School is hard enough without the cold stares from classmates that remind you every day how different you are. 

Our shortcomings don't define who we are, unless we let them. Cindy Johnson needs to learn that. Born with one leg shorter than the other, she has no self-esteem because of the cruel comments and cold stares she receives from her classmates. When Cory Neil, the football quarterback asks her to Homecoming, she's quite sure he's asked her on a dare and refuses. It takes more than just her mother's assurances that Cindy's beautiful before she realizes she may have made a mistake in turning him down.



 http://amzn.com/B00J16ZA90 


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Poodle Quotes

On Sundays I post an assortment of short little snippets, quotes or pictures (as listed on the side-bar of Dishin' It Out).  Today is Poodle Sunday!



Ever consider what pets must think of us?

I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul - chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!

Anne Tyler
American Novelist
















Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday Snippet “Gumbo Ya Ya” (Soon to be Released) by Connie Vines

September 2017 is the release date of my anthology, Gumbo Ya Ya, by my publisher BWL Publishing.  And, as always, BWL’s art director, Michelle Houston, has designed a spectacular book cover for  me—with just enough heat to pepper every woman Gumbo!




Here’s a little teaser from, “A Slice of Scandal”, the third story in my Cajun anthology!


“Hey, now, ‘dis key lime pie’s like de one I sever at my restaurant.  Simple to make and good to eat!  Key limes perk up de mouth and makes you happy.”

Producer/Director, Julia Kincaid focused on her monitor and adjusted the mic of her headset. “Camera One, tighten that head shot.”  She watched as the camera feathered over the chef to capture the best angle.  The camera should have loved Chef Franklin.  His height was average, his hair black, short and curly and his skin gook on a polished bronze color under the harsh camera lights, but the camera didn’t like Franklin.  There was something about his eyes; like dark agate, forbidding and expressionless that was difficult to erase.

“Okay.  Now hold it, while Chef Franklin pulls the second pie from the refrigerator.  Follow him back to the island.  Good.”

When the chef stood on his mark, Julia said, “Cue the music.  Okay, Two, scan the audience. Back to Franklin.”

“It’s best to serve ‘dis chilled, a twist of key lime on the top. And, boy-oh, boy, does ‘dis taste goood!”

“Camera Two, pan the audience. . .focus on the pie. . .Camera One, close-up on the chef. . .Hold it.”

Julia heard the studio audience applause.

“Now, pull back. He cuts the pie. . . he puts it on the plate. . .now wait for the whipped cream and . . .okay. . .he’d got the fork. He’s taking a bite.”

The studio audience uttered a collective sigh.

“Let’s call it a day. . .”  Julia said, pulling off her headset and allowing it to dangle around her neck.  “Hey, Hey, what’s he doing, now?” she asked J.D., “This is where he says goodnight.  What’s he doing?”  Snagging the mic that was clipped at her waist she barked, “Someone cue Franklin.  He’s off his mark.”  It was times like this she questioned her sanity at trading a career in Hollywood daytime T.V. for that of the Good Eats Network in Orlando, Florida.  

From her left, she heard J.D. groan.  “Julia, Franklin’s spitting out the pie!  Harvey’s gonna boil all of our carcasses in the stock pot for--”

Julia hopped down from the camera and took off at a full run toward Franklin, the sound of clanging pots and pans crashing to the floor barely registering.

Gone was the applause.  People jumped to their feet.  People screamed.

“He’s on the floor!” J.D. bellowed.

Julia could see that!  Kneeling down beside Franklin, her fingers felt a faint pulse. “J.D. call the medics!  Franklin must be having a heart attack.”  


I hope you enjoyed this little snippet from my next release.
More anthology snippets to come!

Happy Reading,

Connie






Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Poodle, a Wedding Anniversary, and a Opossum By Connie Vines



I had an article about the craft of writing written and ready to post.  I decided, instead, to share that post on a later date..

Why?

For those of you who follow my Twitter, Instagram, author Facebook page, or website, you know I often share stories about my little poodle-mix puppy, Chanel.

Please, no groaning from those of you who prefer cats.

Chanel, is lively, friendly, and poodle-like in her powers of reasoning.

She is also serious about her friendships.


Well, before the SoCal winter rains, there was a young opossum who would walk along the block wall several nights a week at 2:00 A.M.  I know this because this is the time I usually finish writing and get ready for bed.  Chanel dance in a circle requesting to step outside.  She would run over to the wall and bark, causing the little white-faced opossum to dart away.

I would pick her up, instructing her to leave “Harvey” alone.  (Yes, I know he is a wild animal and does not possess a name.)  Chanel, however, knows every ‘thing’, be it a person, toy (bouncy-ball, Side-kick, blue bouncy-ball), animal, or ‘food’, has a name.

So, this opossum was dubbed Harvey.

Harvey didn’t return during the rains, or afterwards.  Then, magically, one night a larger, more attractive, and braver “Harvey’ returned.

This time he sat on the wall and waited for Chanel to bark at him.  I’d pick her up, bid “Harvey” good evening.  While the two of them stared at each other for a few moments.  We’d go in and Harvey would leave.

Where does “Harvey” live?  I believe he lives in the yard next door (the owner is a bit of a zealous ‘collector’), or perhaps in the shrubby in a nearby park.  I’m not too sure if he has a family.

It has never gone past the ‘flirting’ stage with Chanel.   And ‘Harvey’ never ventures into our yard when we are about.

Today, all of that changed.

Today was my wedding anniversary.  My husband and I went to local home-style diner for an early dinner.  We bid Chanel bye and promised to bring her home a mini-hamburger patty.  No. Sorry. No riding in the car this time.

When we got back to the car, packed left-overs and doggie meal in hand, my husband voice his concern about something handing from his side bumper.

I bent over to examine it.  While my husband kept saying he would yank the piece of the plant out from the bumper, I objected.

It wasn’t a plant.

It had an odd texture.  It was a pale color.  It was a snake, no. A rat. . .oh, no!

It was the hook of a opossum’s tail.


“Harvey!”

“Harvey?” my husband questioned.

“Yes.  See, that’s Harvey’s tail.”  The tail went limp, they turned back into a hook.

“This could only happen to you.” was my husband’s only response.

“Harvey just wanted to join us for our anniversary dinner.”

My husband stifled a chuckle.  “I doubt that very much.”

“Now at least we know where he sleeps during the day.”

So, we drove home via the city streets, so not to ‘over heat’ Harvey.  When we arrived home, Harvey had pulled his tail back up into the wheel well, waiting for us to leave.

Do you have an interesting anniversary story to share?

Happy Reading,
Connie

P.S.
Yes, Harvey did return several days later to visit an 'concerned' Chanel (she been looking for him every night).

Harvey appeared a little road-weary--not quite as tidy and his face appeared a little dirty, and moving like he had a few sore muscles, but otherwise, his usual Opossum self.





Monday, August 7, 2017

"Classic Ginger" Interview with Dancing Fawn (Grace Cummings) by Ginger Simpson

Interview with Grace from Dancing Fawn


Today my guest, Grace Cummings, the heroine in Dancing Fawn is here to tell us how she survived being held captive by Indians.  So, without further ado, let's begin the interview:

Just for clarification, HOST will indicate the interviewer’s questions below:

HOST:   It must have been a very traumatic ordeal for you.  Can you tell us about it?

GRACE:  It was horrid. (She shudders) I still hear my mother's screams in my head.  I…

HOST:  Do you need a moment to compose yourself?

GRACE:  No, I'm fine.  (Deep breath)  It was 1874. My family had moved around a lot because my father, bless his departed soul, was a restless man.   It was hard for a girl my age to make friends, not living in one place for very long, and just when Ma, Kevin and I thought we might settle down, General George Armstrong Custer made an announcement about gold being discovered in the Black Hills of Lakota territory.  That's all it took!  Pa loaded everything back into our Conestoga and insisted this was his chance to strike it big. 

HOST:  Why didn't you mother put her foot down?

GRACE:  You have to understand that back then, women were expected to know their place.  Ma pretty much did as Pa said.  Besides, he promised her that when he hit the mother lode, he would buy us a new house; new furniture and we'd never have to move again.

HOST:  I can see how that might have sounded pretty enticing.

GRACE:  It was.  We all had visions of putting down permanent roots, so being out on the plains, cooking over a campfire again and roughing it for a just a little longer was worth it if Pa and my brother, Kevin, found gold. 

HOST:  Tell us more about your experience, please.

GRACE:  All right.   We had made camp at the base of the Black Hills, near a sparse stand of trees.  There was a small stream nearby, so water was plentiful.  Ma and I slept on a pallet of blankets in the wagon, while Pa and Kev slept in a makeshift tent.  We had just finished breakfast one morning and were laughing and talking before Pa and Kev went off to the mine, when I happened to spy some riders on the horizon. It soon became clear from the whooping and hollering that they were being attacked by Indians.

HOST:  Oh my goodness, what did you do?

GRACE:  Pa immediately yelled for Ma and I to get back in the wagon and he and Kev grabbed their rifles and crawled underneath.  I hunkered down behind the tailgate, waiting for Ma, but she never came.  I was so scared, hearing the sound of gunfire and those blood-curdling war cries, I covered my ears, but it didn't help.  When I got the courage to peek outside, I saw the Indians circling our hiding place and Ma running in the opposite direction.  I think she was trying to draw them away from me.  I didn't realize it at the time, but Pa and Kevin were already dead.  They were easy pickings with no real shelter.

HOST:  How awful. 

GRACE:  You have no idea!  (Stopping to bite her knuckle, then staring straight ahead). They…they shot my ma down in cold blood right before my eyes.

HOST:  Oh you poor thing.  What did you do then?

GRACE:  (Dabbing at eyes with hanky) I curled myself into a ball and prayed that it was all just a bad dream, and that I'd wake up.   When I didn't hear anything for a while, I found the courage to rise to my knees and peer over the tailgate again.  I almost had heart failure when I came face-to-face with the ugliest sight I'd ever seen.

HOST:    Oh my gosh, I have goose bumps. What was it?

GRACE:  It was the person I later learned was Black Crow.  His face was painted with bright yellow lightning bolts, and he had a scar that ran from ear-to-ear.  He pulled me out of the wagon, barking orders in a strange language, and threw me to the ground.  I felt like my heart was going to pound its way right through my chemise. (Holds hand against chest)

HOST:  Oh my goodness, what was going through your head?

GRACE:  I was certain he was going to kill me, too.  I think he might have had it not been for one of his friends.  The one, called Little Elk, seemed to step in and calm Black Crow down.  Still, it was an awful thing to go through, wondering if you were going to live or die.  After Black Crow tethered my arms together and dragged me along behind his horse, like I was nothing more than an animal, I almost wished I had died.  I fought to keep up all the way to the Indian village.

HOST:  How far was it?

GRACE:  (Holding out her wrists).  I'm not sure, but you can still see the scars where the rawhide bit into my skin.  I didn't have time to get my shoes on, so my feet were pretty raw, too.  I'm used to walking beside the wagon every day, but being dragged is quite different.  It took forever.

HOST:  What happened when you got to the village?

GRACE:  I was so tired I could barely stand, but I dared not drop to the ground when it seemed like the whole village stood in a circle around me, staring and laughing.  I thought for sure I was about to meet my maker, but something very surprising happened.

HOST:  Don't stop now!

GRACE:  A beautiful green-eyed woman walked into the midst of things and protected me.  She spoke their language and dressed in their clothing, but it was evident from her flaming red hair that she was white.  If it hadn't been for her I would never have survived to tell this story, that and the fact that Black Crow's mother didn't like having a white woman share her home.  (Grace gives a half-hearted chuckle)

HOST:  What happened?

GRACE:  After only one night in her tepee, Black Crow handed me over to Little Elk. He, at least treated me with kindness, allowing Green Eyes to help me bathe and wash my hair.  I was still scared, but not nearly as much.  Pa always said I was headstrong, and it almost got me into  trouble when Little Elk gave me a new name.  (Sitting up straighter, squaring shoulders)

HOST:  Oh gosh, we're almost out of time and I hate to make you stop.  Can you give us a brief summary, and quickly?

GRACE:  Although there is so much more to tell, I'll just say that Little Elk played a big role in the decision I made when the white soldiers raided the camp. Unless you want to invite me back for another visit, I guess you'll just have to read the book.  (Holds out a copy)

HOST:  Is this for me? How nice, and it's autographed.  Grace Cummings, thank you so much for spending time with us and sharing your captivating story. I'd like to remind our readers that Dancing Fawn by Ginger Simpson is offered at http://bookswelove.com/authors/simpson-ginger/.  It’s also offered on her Amazon page, but you won't get the BOGO sale going on right now.  Buy one, get one Free.  What a holiday deal.  Happy reading!

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