NO SPOILERS Please!!!

I am new to Goodreads, so I have been over there trying to figure how the forums are run and what the reviews are like.  When I first started this blog, I had no idea about Goodreads.  I am an avid reader and joined a book club, called Random Readers, so that I could explore many genres that I might not have been otherwise exposed to.  I also decided that I would do a book review on my blog every time I reviewed a new book.  I try to be most judicious with my reviews.  I want others to enjoy the books I enjoyed and to know my thoughts on books they might enjoy but we might not agree on.

I was told that Goodreads was a great place for readers and writers to connect, so one of the first groups that I joined was called Making Connections.  I am finding that these readers and writers are most helpful and supportive.   I am glad I joined for that reason.

I have a complaint that I feel needs to be made public, a rant if you will:

One of my most serious concerns with Goodreads has to do with reader reviews, which all of us authors recognize as supremely important.  However, I am finding that readers are posting juicy details of books that I might like to read and spoiling it for me.  I see that there is a way to hide reviews if they have spoilers and I am hoping that this is the author’s prerogative.  I recognize that readers may simply be all caught up in what they perceive is a good thing, and that is wonderful!  Some are inadvertantly reavealing too much detail, I’m sure, probably not even conscious that they are revealing too much, but some just seem downright mean spirited about it.

I found a book that I loved the cover for, and the book description was quite enticing.  I thought that I should like to read it.  I read a few reviews, and was very disappointed at the spoilers which seriously ruined it for me.  It was a murder mystery.  I learned who did it, how they did it, and what the consequences were.  Why bother reading the book?  It was a rather nasty rant from someone who obviously did not enjoy the book.  I might have liked it, because  sometimes I do like what others find disturbing.

I don’t know if I am going to like this Goodreads thing.  I want to learn the juicy details on my own.  So don’t spoil it for me or other readers.

Beauty – in thought, word and deed

Penny has wonderful words to share.

The Why About This

What is beautiful to you?

How do you experience beauty?

What is the sensation within you, when beholding beauty?

One of the most wonderful things about being human

is our ability to experience – the beauty of things.

Those most wonderful sights, sounds, touches, fragrances,

and tastes of our experiences, thoughts and memories.

All revolving around our perception of beauty.

“The most beautiful thing I can think of today – is TODAY!”

~

today 3

My share for the week! Please take this with you

if you’d like! No copyright restrictions, my drawing and words

Given with love, Penny

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WIPs, I need opinions!!!!

I am having a writer’s dilemma:  I have two works in progress and I have decided if I am to get either one of them finished in a timely manner, I am going to have to choose which one to deeply dedicate myself to.  The first one is a mystery murder/drama which may actually evolve into a series.  It is told by the Governor’s lover, a gay man who despises the Governor’s wife.  This one is very serious with little humor.

The second one is a sort of autobiography; the names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.  It is told in the first person.  It is the life of an orphan who has matured into adulthood.  My life has not been a mundane one and it has some very exciting characters and events. While it has some very serious moments there is ultimately more humor in this second one

Read, if you will, the two opening few paragraphs and tell me in comments which one peaks your interest most.  Which one, if either, makes you want to read more right away?  They are very different.  The first one is set in Orlando, Fl., a bit in Chicago and quite a bit in Washington, DC.  The second one is set in New York City initially, but progresses back to GA and then to Florida.

 

One:

 

Delgado was not a name former Florida Governor Timothy Harrison would have chosen for his only son, had that choice been his exclusively. It was merely a Democratic political device of the times, and a Latin family name of his late and only wife, Maria E. Bohling-Harrison, chosen and insisted upon by her at their son’s birth, 33 years ago.

Maria was of mixed decent, with a Puerto Rican mother and an Irish father, but her Hispanic phenotype was unquestionable.  She was a dark and richly radiant beauty.

No red hair, but her fighting Irish spirit as well as her peppery Latina voice were clearly recognizable genotypes.  Although calm and composed in general public appearances, privately she most often displayed fiery temperament.

Living vicariously close as observer in those early years of Governor Tim’s second career, I was a young and impressionable man in awe of it all, the splendor of idealistic illusion.

Tim’s first career had been one of engineering, until that time, when he had been promoted to the point of actually ceasing to engineer anything but managing, instead, those in Civil Engineering who continued to work in the field.  The frustrations of such management were met with savvy political skill and relatively easily quelled despite the presenting problems of a population explosion in the new millennium of Central Florida.  Law, as a career choice, and the politics thereof, had initially been no more than hobby on the heels of his aging parents healing processes and the dealings with various condescending doctors during those processes.

It was during our last year in Law School at Barry University, and with all of the turbulent successes of that year and the years that followed, that Gov. Tim and myself were drawn together as friends and colleagues.  He was a young man then, at 43 years.  Not that I realized such at the time, being a younger man still at 23.

Two:

In one smooth motion, I clicked off the safety and pulled the hammer back on the little pearl handled Saturday night special and fired.  The bullet grazed the shoulder of the Wolfman Jack “wanna be” and hit the headboard just beside his friend, Johnny’s, head.  I could have hit his heart if I had wanted too.  I had not hesitated to use the gun.  On my grandmother’s back porch back in Georgia when I was four years old, I was shooting squirrels out of the pecan trees and skinning them for breakfast at the age of four.  I knew how to use a gun.

The gunshot brought a scurry of people up the stairs.  From the inside of the locked room I could hear people screaming for the key.  I was standing on top of a table, in my stilettos and evening gown, where the Wolfman Jack like character and his friend, the greasy long haired near toothless  Johnny, had been telling me to dance a performance for them.  I had feigned some moves and was trying furiously to inconspicuously unlock the window so I could escape when the Wolfman Jack guy leaned forward to approach the table.  That’s when I kicked his jacket in his direction and saw the glint of the gun hanging out of its pocket.

Nick was the first person through the door.  He snatched me by my long blonde hair and jerked me down from the table by the hair of my head.  I dropped the gun and scrambled to get my footing in the high heels.  It was only a matter of seconds before I was being dragged down the stairs, through the kitchen, out of the back door, and into the yard.  At least two dozen people stood watching; roughly one third of the party, and Nick proceeded to rip the evening gown from my body.  I stood naked and bare foot in the back yard in front of God, the Devil, and everyone else.  I was bruised and scratched when he was done.  I had fought back, but at 5’5” and barely a hundred pounds soaking wet, I was no match for him.  The party was over for me, and I was glad.

Grandmother’s Journey

Mule_ears_Wyethia_mollis_hillside

Photo credit: Wikimedia

I wrote this poem in 1985 when my grandmother was still living, just before she passed. She was a hard working farm woman who raised us with morals and solid work ethic. The land my grandparents farmed was passed down through my greatest American ancestor, Thomas Holland, who won the land in 1827 in the land lottery for his service in the American Revolutionary war.

Grandmother’s Journey

In days of toil and troubles

I set out on the trails

Searching for a garden spot

Surrounding God’s fair hills.

I found a place I fancied.

I knew labor would begin.

Midst the thorns and brambles,

I tarried to the end.

Remembering the Lord’s wrath

I sowed each seed with care.

God’s blessing sent the showers.

Crops and flowers soon grew there.

Children roamed the hillsides

And wandered through the woods,

Growing ever taller than the corn.

Life has been more than good.

And when I meet the meadow,

As surely I know that I will,

I hope the good times flood my soul

Venturing up God’s greatest hill.

~ S.K. Nicholls

Hobbies: Beading and Jewelry Making

jewlry box2

This is what I do when I get writers block.

It keeps my hands busy and my mind free.

I keep a note pad nearby because this is when my mind juices start flowing.

The pieces look better when modeled, but I can’t do that well with my fat neck.

This box is overflowing as I have a piece to match everything in my wardrobe.

It is a fun and productive way to pass time and still keep my mind focused.

I only use metals, wood, shells, pearls, or natural stones and gems, like jasper, lapis, amethyst, turquoise and onyx.

I also give them away as gifts and sell some on consignment.

What do you do for a hobby or to get the juices flowing during a dry spell?

Fantastical Things

In response to We Drink because We Are Poets poetry prompt:  To nerd or not to nerd:

I sat in the back of the library

while my sisters and friends

danced around the gym in their shorts,

with me reading National Geographic

from 1865 to 1972.

In the floor I sat fully clothed

day after day, image after image,

story after story, of far away places

and fantastical things that they

couldn’t begin to imagine.

They laughed and they teased

and they called me a nerd.  I am

better off for it because they

never got around to doing any

of the things they wanted to.

Multiple Points of View

Sarah M. Cradit, author of “St Charles at Dusk”, wrote a very helpful post called Five tips to writing  Multiple Points of View (POV).  I am reading her first novel in the Series, “The House of Crimson and Clover”, now.  She is quite adept at utilizing this literary device.  In her use of the literary device in a style of writing, the literary voice and person perspective of the characters actually play a role in the POV.

I have thought a lot about this post and I wanted to let you know that my book, Red Clay and Roses, offers a little taste of this done in a slightly different style than what I am finding in Sarah’s work.  This work was based on a compilation of true stories.  Since my first few chapters are real life interviews, the narrator, Hannah Hamilton, has opportunity to explore a couple of characters by inquiring directly on their point of view.  I used multiple points of view in a way that let’s the reader into the minds of two characters, Beatrice and Moses.

Beatrice, the Good Doctor’s wife, is in denial about her husband’s work and thinks the world of him.  The Good Doctor plays a small but most significant role in the story, but knowing him through Beatrice is paramount to understanding the story line, and how his work affected her.  Beatrice, who also has a less than significant role in the story of the romance between Sybil and Nathan,  makes a major contribution to the story line by allowing us to come to understand her delusions and /or hallucinations.

Excerpt from Beatrice:

Mrs. Handley was a red-haired woman, though not much hair was left.  Thin places were seen between tightly wound pin curls.  She stooped so low that she had to turn her neck to look up at me.  She was arthritic and twisted, with gnarled fingers.  She had a broad smile with slightly bucked straight teeth, yellowed and  trimmed in gold. She looked as if she had been a pretty woman in her prime, bright blue eyes and lean figure.  Her step was spry.  She wore a navy plaid dress with a white sweater sitting over her shoulders.  There was a white full apron tied around her small waist.  Her yellowed slip was hanging out from under her knee-length dress, and her shoes were flat with soft soles.  There was something finished about her, yet askew.

She looked in Trudy’s direction, “Trudy’s not a real nurse, you know, she’s only a sitter.  She just sits, and that’s all she does.  Gets paid to sit, and to sleep.  She has a night job, so she just sits and sleeps because my sons think I need a sitter…like a baby sitter, only worse because she sleeps.  I could be dead back in the kitchen for hours and she wouldn’t know.  Isn’t that right, Trudy, hum?”

Trudy said nothing, and pretended she hadn’t been addressed.

“Probably sleeps on her night job too,“ Mrs. Handley continued, as if Trudy wasn’t present, “You know you could offer our guest some tea, you could, but she won’t because all she does is sitting.”

“I’ll get it myself, of course I will, because you can’t get good help anymore, you just can’t,” she continued, as she made her way to the back of the house where the very large kitchen was located.  I followed.

She put the kettle on to boil and proceeded to tell me all about the house.  “The Good Doctor and I, we built this place, designed it and had it built just like we wanted it.  That’s bamboo on the ceiling, came all the way from the Philippines.  And these floors, this isn’t pine, you know, its mahogany.  You can’t even get this anymore, all that rainforest preservation and such.  We were one of the first couples in this area to build our house out of brick.  I know everybody does it now, the newer homes, but nobody did it back then around here, no, just stick-built houses with clapboard walls or some artificial siding, back then.  Yes, we bought the best red brick and these walls, no they aren’t stick built like today.  Today, they throw up stick built walls and insulated siding and then slap the brick right over it. No, these walls are all poured concrete with steel reinforcement  inside.  I watched them put it up myself, we did.  We were staying in the little house out back and I watched them build every inch of this house, and lay every brick.  The Good Doctor, he had a colored boy move into that old place out back with his family.  There’s nobody, but the spirits, living out there now, though.  Do you believe in spirits?”

“Yes well, sort of, I don’t think I have really given it much thought but I do believe in a spiritual presence,” I said.

“Well, you should.”

The kettle had begun to boil and she set out three cups and saucers.  She steadied her right hand with her left hand as she poured the hot water and set the saucers to steep the tea.

“What music is that playing on the stereo?” I asked.

“Oh that’s Freddie Hubbard’s album, ‘Red Clay’. I think Negros play the best music.  They always have.  I’ll turn it down a bit.  Music is the best thing to keep bad angels away.  I like the Big Bands too.  I have a tremendous album collection, 45s, 33 1/3rds, goes way back to some 78s that my mother had.  Tommie Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, I liked it ‘sweet’ and ‘hot’.  Like Bean and Prez.  We were swing dancers back in those days and man weren’t we good.  I was a little bitty thing and whipped right over the backs of my beaus back then.  You can’t see it now though, can you?”  Her broad smile faded.  She stepped into the den and went toward the living room to turn down the stereo.

Trudy stood up and stretched, and stacked some of the newspaper across the top of her head.  “Well, Ms. Bea, since you have your own real nurse here today, I guess I’ll head on back to the house.”

Beatrice didn’t respond to her with words. She looked in my direction and said, “She’s supposed to stay until seven, but I put myself to bed.”  She walked to the living room door and that’s when I saw all of the brass on the door.  She opened the door wide and Trudy made her exit.  Beatrice closed the door behind her and reached into her apron for a large ring of keys.  She bolted three deadbolts and slid across three chains and one bar lock.  “There,” she announced, “We’ll be safe enough in here now.  I have to keep the fairy babies out, you know, they are everywhere when it rains.  The rains spook them up out of the leaves in the woods and they come scratching at the windows and doors.”

“Fairy babies?” I asked.  “Are they sprits too?”

“Oh yes, of a sort, much more annoying than most spirits, but they aren’t dangerous, just annoying.  They do bite and sting when you swat at them.  You hear their wings humming before you can see them, worse than mosquitoes, they are, and much bigger, too.  They will buzz holes in the glass.  That’s why the windows are boarded, yes, to keep the fairy babies out.  When they bite, I can feel it right down to my bones, I can.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Also, Moses Grier, who tells his family’s story and brings up the first climactic point later in the story, is interviewed at The Colored People’s Old Folk’s Home.  Incorporating the interviews allowed me to get into the thought processes and voices of these two characters.

Probably the greatest challenge, aside from generally editing the book, was to speak in the voice of an old black man while remaining respectful and doing so with dignity.  I did not want it to come across as some sort of Uncle Remus rendition of a character, but I did want it to be authentic to what I actually experienced with Moses.  Editing his interviews was a challenge because spell and grammar checks simply don’t suffice when speaking grammatically incorrect on purpose.  Every detail has to be inspected for consistency.

 Here is an excerpt from one of the interviews of Moses as he tells of his family’s life:

They had always taken phone calls at the brick house of the Handley’s, and the sisters were aware that Eula Mae was keeping house for them.  But Eula Mae had concocted some sort of story about Moses buying up pecan orchards and making money off of pecans, and how well off he was since he had made these investments.  She had been telling these sisters how they owned lots of land all around for growing pecans and how they had built this big brick house.

“Now it was true, that we was surrounded by pecan groves, but me ner The Good Doctor owned none of them,” Moses went about explaining.

“Eula Mae come a runnin from the house one day late in June 1955, had to be, cause Nathan done got into medical school and Althea she was already gone, and Eula Mae says to me, ‘I done made a terrible error, Moses, they is a comin down on the train fer to see us.’  Well, I didn’t think it was all bad til Eula Mae went to tellin me all ‘bout her lies she’d been feedin her sisters and what was we a goin to be able to do ‘bout this?”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Coincidentally,” he said, “the Handley’s was a goin to Florida fer two weeks vacation ‘long ‘bout that time.  Them two boys what Eula Mae had raised had already gone off to boardin’ school, and The Good Doctor and his wife was a goin down to stay a while, like they was doin from time to time.  Eula Mae done taken all they photographs off they walls after they left and hid’em out to our house and when her sisters come in on the train we picked’em up at the train station and brought’em out here like it was our own house, you know to the Handley’s place.”

“That’s funny, did you pull it off okay?” I questioned.

“Course we did, we was all up in they house, and Mama had set’em up a room each upstairs and was cookin like it was her own kitchen, cause really it was, you know, and they was a playin the piano and singin, and Ms. Bea had all these records of black folk music, cause she liked it, and they was just like they was in our own home. They was a eatin on the Handley’s plates with they silverware, and a usein they dishes like they belonged to us.  That just weren’t done in them days.  Black folk weren’t served with the same utensils as white folk.  We didn’t even dine at the same tables nor in the same cafes.  Early in June in 1954, we had all went up to Washington D.C. on the train to see Nathan graduate when he received his B.S. degree.  Eula Mae, me, Althea, Ms. Bea and The Good Doctor, in separate cars, you know, blacks and whites.  We had separate hotels even in different parts of the city,” he laughed.

While these two examples are different from Sarah’s use of multiple points of view as a literary device, they do demonstrate how a character’s point of view, even in dialog, can move the story along and give insight into how the character’s thinking and behavior affect the whole story line.

New Friends in the Punchy Lands at The Hut

For the punchy lands

Photo from Flickr

Professor VJ has these cute little audio You Tube minis that his characters come to life through over in The Punchy Lands in a skit series called called The Hut.  Every Friday there is a new one.  If you don’t know him already, you really should drop by and say hello.  He is kind to strangers.

I like what he does with his characters and his tagging method on his site.  It really is ingenious.  I could not find a re-blog option on the site or I would introduce you myself.  Check him out!  Be warned, he writes some “Ripping Reviews”.  Professor VJ is not “just” a writer, he’s a storyteller.  I admire that.