Reading and Writing Notes

The first annual Women’s Fiction Day is this Saturday, June 8th! Women’s fiction is about the emotional journey of the protagonist, how she grows and changes throughout the story. It can include elements or romance, suspense, paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy, and more as long as the emotional journey is the reason for the story.

Today I finished We Hope for Better Things by Rachel Bartels, a fellow member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. It’s about three women from separate generations of one family and the racial issues of their times that influenced their lives. Four stars. I was lucky and snagged an Advance Reader’s Copy (pre-pub) copy at work.

https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/40392264

Next, I’m on to giving Nora Roberts another try. I picked up Whiskey Beach from the Library the other day. I’ve tried her once or twice before and could never finish a book. Same with Daniel Steele and Nicholas Sparks. I’ve never been one to fall for what’s extremely popular.

I’m also reading The Recovering by Leslie Jamison. It’s another advance copy I picked up from the library I used to work at. Ms. Jamison is a recovering alcoholic. I’m still at the beginning and she’s talking her drinking experience when she was a student at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Evidently, she was in good company, past and present.

I’ve lost that urgency to write that I had for about the first 10 years of my writing career, if you can call it that. I still write almost every day, but am easily distracted and fairly unproductive when I sit down at the computer. I’m back to Lilyland 3, tentative title Frame by Frame, Shot by Shot. I lost focus on Lily and Charlie’s relationship and my muse pointed that out to me by means of something related to editing. I’m currently rewriting part one and hoping to greatly reduce the word count.

Onward and upward!

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Meet Temple University Press’s new acquiring editor, Sarah Munroe!

A little over 4 years ago, I published a post here, “Congratulations, Mrs. Munroe, It’s a Poet.” It featured some poems by my daughter Sarah that she had published on Tumbler. During that time, Sarah has acquired her MFA in Creative Writing from West Virginia University. A few months ago, she became an acquisitions editor and Temple University Press in Philadelphia.

Here’s a link to the press’s blog that features an interview with her. That she never told me about.

https://templepress.wordpress.com/2019/03/20/meet-temple-university-presss-new-acquiring-editor-sarah-munroe/?fbclid=IwAR27YYnDRAoIaXSuX6dWH4cj11tsX08jK0Mkvs5Bz0RrVyTgiIwmrEeulpE

As a classic underachiever, I’m proud of my kids navigating social systems to do what they love.

While my daughter is a literary maven, my son, on the other hand is an expert on craft beers.

It’s wonderful how my kids help keep the world supplied with two of my favorite things in life: books and beer.

Ice

I is for Ice.

I is for ICE. The frozen water thing, not the immigration enforcement squad.

I take ice for granted. I’ve always had ice in my life. I especially enjoy cold drinks that go well with ice. Pepsi. Ice Coffee. Sweet tea. Chocolate milk. I use it on bruises and bumps and headaches. Yay for ice!

This icy delight is a Ginny Weasely at Four Peaks Brewing Company in Tempe, AZ.

I enjoy the ease with which I acquire ice. My life was transformed the first time I used the ice dispenser on my very own refrigerator. What a gift! It’s a rare day when we have no ice in the house.

We even use it to cool down the pets’ water in the summer. In my post about Heat, I failed to mention here in AZ the water pipes aren’t buried very deep and when it’s hot out, the water from our faucets is hot. We say, “Who used all the cold water?” around here.

Of course, ice is used for recreation. Skating, hocking, curling, ice fishing. Here in the desert, there are two ice rinks less than 5 miles in two directions from my house. One is where the Arizona Coyotes play. I laughed when I heard there would be an ice hockey team in the low, hot desert.

It was a huge revelation to me when I realized ice is actually a luxury that most of history, and I imagine even today, the world, has not experienced. Or at least not as a regular thing. Although ice houses to store ice nature made in the winter have been found all over the world including the ancient world, it took a lot of work to get ice from a river or lake into the ice house and then out again to be used to keep food cold or make a drink cool. I imagine you had to be well to do or somehow situated that ice was part of your work.

I chose this photo simply because I like the color.

In the movie Castaway, Chuck is shown at his welcome home party examing ice and fire, two of the many modern conveniences absent on his desert island. I had been awakened to the wonder of frozen water before I saw that movie, but all the same, I liked that the film recognized it as something we take for granted.

The ice comment comes in around 1:12.

Now, I think I’ll have some ice cream while I cogitate why my J idea will be.

Heat

 

H is for Heat

I live in the Valley of the Sun–aka Phoenix, Arizona. Heat is our first middle name. Our second middle name is Wonderful Winters.

Today was our second day in the high 90s. Mother Nature blew by the low 90s and gave us 97 degrees. A friendly reminder of what is ahead for us. Sweat and high electric bills.

Summer. Triple digits. Triple yuck.

At least I don’t have to shovel heat. I don’t slip and fall on it. It doesn’t take up room in parking lots when we get a lot of it or make ruts in the roads because it wasn’t plowed correctly.

The sun will soon be the enemy, relentless, mean, blinding. Already I can’t be directly in sunlight for too long, pasty white girl that I am.

We talk about heat, complain and joke about it. Endure it. Survive it. We wonder at the start of summer how hot it will get and for how long. We pray for days that are not hotter than average. I don’t think “average” has been recalculated for quite a few years because it’s almost always hotter than average. it’s rarely cooler or colder than average around here.

Here’s a post from a few years ago chock full of hot Arizona memes. https://tamunroe.com/2015/06/22/its-a-dry-heat/

Laugh. Enjoy. Shake your heads and ask “Why?”

If you live here, remember it’s not too early to put those oven mitts in your car.

Gas

 

 

Better late than never.

G is for Gas.

This will be short and sweet.

  1. For some reason, there is a bit of a gas (as in gasoline, petrol) shortage around here, Phoenix, AZ. So of course, that drives up the prices. Like 60 cents in a month. Yeah.

But that reminds me of inflated produce prices, too. I blame that on Trump’s threat to close the border with Mexico, even though it didn’t get closed. But the idea of it can make prices go up. Greedy bastards.

2. Dog gas. Because today is Dog Farting Awareness Day.

Yup, there’s a day. I think it’s a tongue-in-cheek kind of thing to put a positive on basic dog awareness and the misinformation spawned by fear. Click on the link. https://www.thatmutt.com/2015/04/08/dog-farting-awareness-day/

CoCo La’Tay

I only know my CoCo has had fewer bad farts since I put her on Iams.

And that’s my post for the day.

Follow-through

Yesterday was my birthday so I didn’t submit my F word so I’m doing it today. Actually, The F Word was a word I was contemplating discussing for this letter, but…

F is for follow-through, which is not my strong suit. I was tempted to not do this anymore, to cease and desist this nonsense. But I decided to persist so I am writing this short post to declare my commitment to this self-imposed project.

Some people aren’t great at beginning things, but go strong once begun. I’m pretty good at starting new projects, but not completing them. Sometimes. I have 10 years of NaNoWriMo projects and three published novels that say otherwise. I also have clean dishes to put away and clean laundry to fold. Is housework the same thing? I’m going to say no.

I’ making this short so I can go contemplate what word I will be using tomorrow for G.

Eletelephony

Because E is for Eletelephony, one of my favorite poems as a kid and an adult.

The photo is a page from a Childcraft book circa 1957. You’ll notice the illustration is by Walt Disney. Way before the Disney mega-entity is what is today.

Once there was an elelphant

Who tried to use the telelphant–

No! No! I mean an elelphone

Who tried to use the telephone–

(Dear me! I am not certain quite

That even now I’ve got it right.)

 

Howe’er it was, he got his trunk

Entangled in the telephunk;

The more the tried to get it free,

The louder bused the telephee–

(I fear I’d better drop the song

Of elehop and telephong!)

–Laura E. Richards

About the poet:
https://www.poetry4kids.com/news/laura-e-richards-the-first-american-childrens-nonsense-poet/

Dates

The kind you go on with a special someone. Not the fruit. 

The only other D word I considered was dogs and I’ve only had 2 of them and I just did cats.

The first date my husband and I went on was to a Lebanese restaurant in Waterville, Maine. It was across the street from his apartment. It was pretty popular but I always thought it was a bit out of place in Maine, but what did I know? I forget what we had. After that we had to go to something for our job (where we met.) I remember we held pinkies during the speaker.

I didn’t go on a lot of dates. Being a fat girl even then, I guess I didn’t generate much interest. I responded to a couple of ads in the Maine Times paper and met the guys. But meh–on both ends.

So, to liven things up, we’ll accompany Lily and Charlie on a date in their early relationship to the opening night of the Phoenix Film Festival. Which coincidentally opens here tomorrow night. (From Another Place on the Planet, Ch. 6)

 

My heart jumped into my throat when I looked out the peephole and saw Charlie waiting. “Calm. Down.” I whispered. It was only yesterday that I’d last seen him.

“Hey, Charlie,” I said warmly as I opened my door. My heart flipped at the sight of him in suit and tie.

“Lily Mayfield,” he crowed. “Good glory, girl. Let me look at you!”

Heat rose to my face, as I twirled once. He looked me over from top to bottom and back to the top. “Wow. That’s one lucky dress.”

“Thank you!”

His hands on my shoulders sent a shiver through me I knew he felt. Embarrassed by my uncontrolled reaction, I looked down.

“You’re stunning, Lily. Absolutely breathtaking,” he said gently.

“Thank you again,” I murmured.

“I’m sure you don’t hear that nearly enough. I have a little gift for you.” He pulled a jeweler’s box from his interior jacket pocket.

Caught completely off guard, I gasped. “That was entirely unnecessary.”

“It’s been a long time since I had a beautiful woman to give gifts to.”

The box held a slim circle bracelet shaped like a vine and studded with some small light colored gemstones. I slipped it on my wrist.

“Charlie, it’s lovely! Thank you!” Impulsively, I threw my arms around his neck. His response was to hold me to himself for a few seconds and kiss my cheek. Not much, but his breath in my ear was enough to cause the underutilized private places of my body to spring to life.

He pulled away abruptly and said with a husky voice, “Well, let’s get going, shall we?”

“Oh! A new car,” I said in the parking lot. “What kind is it?”

“Maserati.”

He opened the door and held my hand as I lowered myself into the seat.  The supple gray leather caressed my body with luxurious comfort. “I think I’m finding this Maserati sexier than your Ferrari if that’s even possible.”

He laughed as we roared through the parking lot of my apartment complex.

 “You look very nice, by the way,” I said. “Damn delicious, actually.” I slapped my hands over my mouth, shocked at my boldness.

He looked over at me, his smile soft in the spring sunset light. “Guys like to be appreciated, too, you know.”

“You’re very easy to appreciate. God, I’m sorry. I’ll stop now.”

He chuckled, caught my hand and raised it to his lips, thrilling goosebumps to glorious life. I hugged myself and turned to the window.

“You okay over there?” he asked.

“Sure, just keeping my mouth shut to stay out of trouble.” I recrossed my legs and pretended I was the cool, sophisticated woman I wanted to be.

He laughed again, and I got the impression it was something in his natural God-ordained personality he would do a lot if the hard things of life left him alone for a while.

“Congratulations on your award, by the way,” I said. “Thanks for letting me know.”

“Oops!” he said with a chuckle. “It’s nothing. I didn’t do anything to deserve it.”

“Well, the Phoenix Film Foundation believes you’ve contributed to the community.”

“I’m on the board of directors and have a recognizable name.”

“That’s a result of your hard work and integrity. Why did you get involved here?”

He rubbed his jaw before he responded. “When I was building my house and thinking we’d be living here, I jumped into a few things but dropped out of everything but this. Maybe I’ll start a production company here one day.”

People pointed at the Maserati as we drove through the shopping center parking lot to the theater. With his hand on my back, we mingled with film buffs of all stripes. His charm enchanted everyone, and I was arm candy—which amazed me. All I did was grin like an idiot, standing with his arm around my waist. Often he would look down at me with appreciation, that seldom-seen expression. If I didn’t force myself to focus on the conversation, my thoughts raced to the future and all the possibilities, including how this could end and how much it would hurt, even if we spent no more time together.

Charlie received his Visionary Award from the film foundation’s president and gave a short speech. I stood with the rest of the audience for a resounding ovation. He remained onstage for a photo, then motioned for me to join him. “This is Lily Mayfield,” he told the press. “One day in the not too distant future, she’ll be making her own films.”

“Any plans, Ms. Mayfield?” someone asked.

“Nothing definite,” I said with a slight laugh.

“Your first encounter with the paparazzi,” Charlie said as we walked away.

“And my last.”

Cats I Have Known

A bunch of cats have passed through my life!

Critter. This orange tabby came strutting across the busy road in front of our house. His whiskers had been cut off and he was young semi-feral. He pooped in my dad’s car, in his work hat no less. The second time he didn’t have the good sense to leave the car and rode along with my dad to work. Dad heaved him over the fence into the lumber yard next to the freight truck yard where he worked. We kids thought he just ran away until we were told the truth a year later. We laughed and laughed, knowing Critter would survive because he had been an expert rodent catcher.

Daisy. A money cat kitten I was able to keep as a consolation prize for having to relocate with my family as soon as I graduated high school. She ate something bad and died under the car.

Meatball. Another yellow tabby, Daisy’s brother. I’m not sure of his fate after I left for college.

The Barn Cat. A black and white feral kitty who took shelter in the barn ell of the house my parents rented in Maine.

Harrison Henry Blackwell. Harry for short. He sat atop the kitchen cabinets next to a black cat shaped teapot.

Something Arabella Graymore. Both she and Henry came with the house my parents bought. She disappeared into the woods to die, we think. she had developed a hole in a facial that constantly drained onto her pretty kitty face.

Clytemnestra. A black female with cattitude. Named after the wife of Agamemnon from Greek mythology. She was my first cat completely on my own until she refused to move when I did.

Gorad. Black and white. The cat who refused to be named. My roommate’s boyfriend’s friend gave him that name. The same dopes who left the apartment door open. The same weekend the neighbors got a car for the first time. Gorad climbed into the engine. You know the rest. Right after I spent precious money (I was a senior in college) to have him fixed. It cost as much to euthanize him. He liked to sleep on my face. One of those.

Gandalf. A little white kitten who followed me on walks. One day he didn’t make it home. He was a sweetie.

Schuster. He came from friends who had a sibling, Simon. Yeah, like the publishers. My friends were readers (and dopeheads). Another blackie. He moved out to the woods with me and as far as I know he’s still there. He wouldn’t move to town with me. But that was a very long time ago.

& 12. Unicorn and Guinness. Brother and Sister, gray tabbies. They knocked down the Christmas tree I’d just set up with my fiance. Guinness ran away. My roommate adopted Unicorn when I moved out and got married.

Bridget. I don’t quite remember her name. Another black and white. She lived at the place where we were house parents for a few months. I helped her birth her kittens. One had to be pulled out.

Peachbottom. Adopted from my brother. We had to take her to a shelter because we were all getting bronchitis (2 kids by this time) and we thought we were allergic to her. Then we realized it was probably mold from the dirt floor basement of the house we were renting.

Schtuki Putz. Another cat who defied naming. A friend said she thought it meant cabbage head, but I don’t know about that. She was a tortoiseshell calico with a bad personality. She hated my daughter who wanted a cat from her friend’s litter. Schtuk like my husband and son best. She was a huge cat who made the journey west with us, yowling across the country. In February of 2013, she got out of the house and never came back. She was very old and emaciated and wanted to die on her own terms. I knew she was near the end when she started liking me.

Schtuki Putz, a female who preferred male humans until she grew old and demented then like me just fine.

Smoke. The softest gray kitty. He was fun and sat on my lap when I did school work. He got sick and died. We think he might have swallowed a rubber band that twisted up his innards. He was a sweetie.

Smoke. I didn’t name him, but it fit.

Twitch. Came with Smoke. A blackie as well, the fourth. He tells me when he thinks I should go to bed then waits patiently while I get settled then lays against my legs. His tail is funky, broken somewhere along the way. I adopted him and Smoke from a family whose kids were allergic. He’s outlived Schtuki, Smoke, and Tippy.

Twitch. This kitty’s tail is bent up and shortened. He came that way. My most favorite of all the cats. He prefers our bed and other warm places.

Tippy. She spent her early life in a shelter and never really gained social skills. I think my mom felt sorry for her. It was years until she finally warmed up to Mom–after a move. She kind of warmed up to me until I had to take her when mom got sick and never like me again. She became ours shortly after Schtuk left. She was blind toward the end. You can see the cataracts in this picture.

Yeah, so I’ve known a few cats. I’ve been cleaning cat boxes for 40 years.

Are you a cat person?

Baseball

Welcome back to mt 2019 a to Z Blog challenge, day 2. Obviously.

Other possible B topics for today included birthday (mine is on Saturday!) bullsh!t, babies, beds, bathtubs and binge watching. I’m going with baseball. Obviously.

Note: If my posts are funky-looking, blame WordPress. They haven’t been allowing me to see previews lately. And I’m still figuring out this new block editor.

I used to watch the Phillies on TV with my dad, circa late 1960s to early ’70s. I found it easier to understand than football. Since I was a girl, the closest I could get to being a player was being a players wife. I figured my husband would be gone a lot and I could be independent but spend lots of the money he made. The closest I got to that is that my real husband, an ace pitcher in high school, was scouted by the pros, and got a baseball scholarship to Marrietta College. But in his senior year, he was in a major car accident (before I knew him). His recovery, while miraculous, wasn’t complete enough to allow him to be competitive.

As a kid, late elementary, early middle school, I sent away for the Phillie’s yearbook because I didn’t get to the stadium until after high school even though we were less than 2 hours away. I copied pictures of the players in action. Once when pitcher Steve Carlton was having a bad run, I sent him a letter of encouragement. For my efforts, I received an authographed photo, seen here. For some reason I kept it all these years.

 

I used to get really caught up in games and playoffs and championships. I was highly emotional, cussing, crying, all that. It wasn’t until I was an adult I realized the value of turning all that off. Wins and losses of my favorite teams didn’t affect my life at all. I never got one nickel if my team won the World Series. But now, as an Arizona Diamondbacks fan, I get great pleasure from detesting the Dodgers.

I even add baseball to my fiction writing. (Actually, there is a subgenre of Romance about baseball players. Here’s a scene from one of my published novels.

Another Place on the Planet, the start of Chapter 5, Snickerdoodles

Charlie continued to brood as we ambled around central Phoenix, my hand warmly in his. It seemed more like a habit than an intentional sign of affection. Not that I minded. I liked being seen like that.

“I wonder,” I said absently as we walked past Chase Field on Jefferson Street, “if the Diamondbacks open the season at home this year.”

“You like baseball?” he asked with the first smile I’d seen in a while.

“I do. I’ve been hoping to meet someone to go to games with.”

“If I go to some games here with you, you’ll have to go to Dodgers games with me in L.A.,” he said.

“Yikes!” I cried with mock—mostly—fear. “Going to L.A. to see the Dodgers? That might be a little more trauma than you’re worth.”

“What do you have against the Dodgers?” he asked, his step lightening a little.

“Everything. It’s a Phoenix thing. Like hating the Braves is a Philly thing.”

“A beautiful woman who loves baseball and understands its rivalries. I’m in heaven.” He kissed my cheek as we waited for the light to change. His mood seemed to lift a bit. Mine did.

Later in the book, there’s a poignant scene at a Diamondbacks game.

So, that’s a very brief history of my affection for baseball. Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment about how baseball has impacted your life. Or any other kind of comment. As long it’s friendly.