Friday, April 27, 2012

Sweet Saturday

Welcome back! I have another scene from Sunlight and Shadows, my work-in-progress:

The shop was closed for the evening, so she could work on her project without being interrupted by customers. A knock on the door startled her. She looked up to see a familiar little face looking in and smiling. Her lips curved in an answering smile and she walked over to open the door.
"Hello, Jennie. What brings you here this evening?"
"Hi, Sophie. Daddy and I got a pizza for supper."
"Where is your Daddy?"
"He's right there." Jennie pointed to the car parked in front of the pizzeria. Brad stood next to the car, talking to another man. "He's talking to one of the band parents, and I saw your store's light was on and I wanted to say hi."
“That’s very nice of you. But does he know you came down here?”
"Jennie? Where are you?" Brad's anxious voice rang out. That answered her question.
"I'm right here, Daddy. I made sure I could always see you."
“I’m glad you did, Princess. I got really worried when I didn’t see you.”
Sophie's heart warmed to hear the exchange. Brad didn't sound angry, but his concern when he didn't see his daughter was evident, as well as his relief at finding her. As much as she grieved over the daughter she had lost, in a way it was probably better that the child had never been born. If she had, she would have been doomed to a life of constant criticism, and fear of not measuring up. She wouldn't have known what it was like to have friends, to express herself freely, play happily, and explore. She would have been as miserable as her mother had been. Maybe it was for the best the baby had never lived to experience such pain and suffering.
Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment and be sure to check out other sweet excerpts at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How Sweet It Is!

Last year, the Chicken Soup editors put out a call for stories for their book about Brain Power. So I wrote about how studying a new language helped to pull me out of a mental funk. I wrote the thing in about an hour, emailed it off, and forgot about it. But someone decided they liked it and it's included in the anthology. That was great news to me!

As part of my compensation for the story, I get ten copies of the book. The package arrived sometime last week. Here's the book! And since I "created" the story, I guess that's going to count as my creative endeavor for the week. The book is below – so cool to see my name in print!

I'm leaving on Thursday for Chicago, where I'll attend the Spring Fling Writers' Conference. I'll also have a chance to visit with my college roommate, Debbie. So I'd better close this down and get ready! Gotta get inspired to do some more writing!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sweet Saturday

Welcome back! I apologize for the technical glitches with last week's excerpt. I'm out of town again this weekend, so I hope pre-posting works this time! Here's another excerpt from Sunlight and Shadows:

Another typical Monday morning in the Carmichael household. Brad wanted to pound his head against a wall. He couldn't find a clean shirt, and none of his socks had a matching mate. He'd forgotten to do the laundry over the weekend, and now he was out of clean clothes. How could he have been so careless? Lynn would never have forgotten. The house was always showroom perfect, and the entire family always wore clothes that were not only clean but perfectly coordinated. He'd never appreciated that, just took it for granted.
"Daddy, do you have another headache?"
Brad turned to his daughter, who stood in his bedroom doorway. She was dressed in one of her Sunday dresses, complete with tights and dress shoes.
"Princess, it's not Sunday. You're going to school today, not church."
"I know, but I don't have any clean shirts or socks for school. So I put on a dress."
He grimaced. "I'm sorry honey. I'll have to do laundry tonight."
"I'll help you, Daddy."
"Thanks sweetheart. You're so smart, figuring out what to do. I wish I could figure out what to wear because all my shirts are dirty, too."
Jennie's little face crunched into a frown. "What about that sweater Grandma gave you for Christmas? You haven’t worn it yet."
A sweater. He'd never been into sweaters, and the stylish cable knit creation his mother-in-law had given him was still in the gift box in his closet. But desperate times called for desperate measures. He pulled the box from the closet floor and opened it. "That will work, but what shall I wear under it?"
Jennie pulled the sweater out from the box. "Daddy, there's a shirt in here, too."
He looked. A turtleneck shirt. Definitely not his style, but it was clean. It would do.
"Princess, you're a genius. Have you eaten breakfast yet?"
"No. I couldn't find any milk."
Rats. He hadn't done the grocery shopping over the weekend, either. "I'm sorry, Princess. I don't think we have anything on the calendar tonight. It looks like laundry and grocery shopping are what we're going to do."
"So what shall we eat for now? We have some leftover Chinese food."
"I don't feel like eating that. Can I have some crackers and peanut butter?"
Peanut butter. Protein. Crackers were almost like toast. "Okay. Do we have enough for me to eat some, too? Do you need me to get the peanut butter out of the cupboard?"
"I think there's enough. I can reach it. You put it in the snack drawer."
"Okay, sweetie. Crackers and peanut butter for breakfast."
He finished dressing, feeling like the shoe-in candidate for Worst Father of the Year.
Tonight, he would definitely have to put his band director hat away and wear his Dad hat.
         Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and be sure to check out other authors and their offerings at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Family Road Trip

Last weekend I took a very quick road trip with my mom and both daughters. We went to Chicago (about three hours from here) to watch my niece sing in her college jazz vocal group. It was a rather expensive trip - hotels in downtown Chicago don't come cheap! But it was a nice bonding experience. In addition to spending time with my three favorite women, I got to see my niece. And an added bonus was seeing her dad, my youngest brother. Ken lives in North Carolina so it's been a really long time since I've seen him.
Having family spread out so far makes it difficult to maintain close ties. Of course, now it's easier with email and social media. But my brothers don't get on facebook often, so they don't see my news and I don't learn about theirs. One brother informed me that email is not a reliable way to notify him about things because his messages tend to get lost! We muddle along, though, using old-fashioned technology like telephones (yes, they're cell phones!).
I guess the point of this is that family ties, when they're strong enough to begin with, can persevere even though long periods of absence. Because we've had a long past, we'll continue on. That's what families do.

This week's project took a whole ten minutes to complete, once I got all the materials assembled. I took an old chipwood box and covered it with scrapbooking paper and ribbon and decorated it so it looks nice on the mantle or on an end table. I'm having so much fun trying to get things made each week using stuff I already have in the house! I wonder how long I can keep it going.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sweet Saturday

Welcome back! Here's another short clip from Sunlight and Shadows, my current work-in-progress.

A young woman entered The Quilting Bee leading a little boy. She wore the look of a harried young mother, yet she seemed happy. At Sophie’s greeting, she nodded and headed to the quilted fabrics with juvenile prints. She paused in front of the selections, still holding on to her son and rubbing her rounded tummy with her free hand. Sophie's hand traveled to her own flat tummy, mirroring the woman's motions. 
In her mind's eye her body had the same curves as the young woman's. She stood at the window of the nursery, gazing at the antique baby furniture her in-laws' servants had brought out of storage and had dusted to a fine sheen. Her baby would live in luxury like she had never known. She could put up with their condescending manner as long as her child had all the privileges and comfort. 
"Excuse me, miss." The young woman called to her, holding her squirming toddler with one hand. "My son needs to use the restroom. Do you have one here?"
Snapping out of her thoughts, Sophie directed the lucky mom to the restroom at the back corner. She sighed and went back to her work. It did no good to remember the past. Perhaps things had worked out for the best. She had a new life to live and it was best if she forgot the old.
And each night she prayed the old life never caught up with her.
Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment and be sure to visit other authors' blogs by going to Sweet Saturday Samples.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


This weekend I'm supposed to be the presenter at my local writers group' monthly meeting. Since several of us began new writing projects in February for our Winter NaNo challenge, I'm going to talk about editing - specifically, the EDITS system devised by renowned author and teacher Margie Lawson. I am no expert, but after taking one of her on-line classes I'm definitely a fan. So I'm just doing an overview.

I shouldn't be worried about doing this. I should be used to being in front of people. For over thirty-five years I've been in front of people as a teacher. But it's different with your peers, especially those who know as much about what I'm talking about as I do. But I'm lucky. Several of the more prolific and successful authors are going to be gone this month. They're heading to Chicago to attend the Romantic Times conference. So the "powerhouses" of the group, so to speak, will not be there. I suppose that should give me a little more confidence.

What would give me even more confidence is having a solid presentation and all my materials (powerpoint presentation and handouts) finished. So I'm going to close this up and get that done! Wish me luck!

I did squeeze in one little project. My daughter likes to accessorize her little girl's outfits with headbands and cute bows. So I borrowed an idea from Amie, a former colleague who has two beautiful daughters and made a little rack to clip them and keep them all together. Just an old frame with bits of colorful ribbon—so easy!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sweet Saturday

Welcome back! Last week we got a glimpse of Sophie's world in Sunlight and Shadows, and saw Sophie faint away at the mention of an escaped convict. Let's see what happens now:

She opened her eyes to see five faces staring down at her, their faces lined with anxiety.
“Sophie, what happened? Have you been feeling sick? Maybe we shouldn’t have come tonight.”
“She looked a little flush when I came in. I thought it was that handsome band director, but maybe she’s sick.”
“Here, I got you some water. Have something to drink.” A paper cup was thrust into her hand.
Sophie drank and did her best to smile. “I’m fine, really. I guess I forgot to eat something tonight. I’ll just run over to the pizzeria later and get some cheesy breadsticks. That’ll keep me going for a while.”
“You stay where you are. I’ll get the breadsticks.” Sylvia grabbed her purse and dashed outside. The rest of the women helped her sit up and led her to a comfortable chair in the corner of the shop designated as the “Husband Area.” They continued to fuss over her while she insisted she was fine.
“Really, I’m okay. I just forgot to eat and it got to me. I’ll be fine as soon as I eat.”
“What have you got to eat? I can run upstairs and get it for you.” They knew Sophie lived in the apartment above the shop.
“Umm…” She wrinkled her brow as she tried to think. Did she have anything? Crackers? The bread was moldy. Was there anything in her refrigerator?
“That’s what I thought,” Lila declared. “Let’s put it this way. When was the last time you ate?”
Sophie opened her mouth, but no words came out. She couldn’t remember. Was it yesterday when she’d opened that last can of soup?
The ladies hovered until Sylvia returned with not only the breadsticks but a small pan of lasagna. “When I told Mario why I needed the breadsticks he wouldn’t take my money and he insisted on sending this lasagna over for you. I think he’s sweet on you.” She smiled as she handed over the package.
“You just sit here and eat. Don’t worry about us. We’ll just finish up our projects and clean up when we leave.”
Sophie ate, thankful the ladies didn’t question her further. As soon as they left, she’d get on the computer and do some checking on that prison escapee. All she needed was the name. If she was lucky, it wouldn’t be the one person who had turned her life upside down.
Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment and be sure to read more excerpt by going to Sweet Saturday Samples.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I'm a Reader, Too

Lately, I've been spending a lot of energy writing. Since my schedule was already pretty full, some things had to be put on the back burner. One of them was reading. I've always loved to read, escaping into different worlds, living through achingly hard times with the protagonist, and cheering when they overcome their difficulties. I was especially drawn to romance stories, because they almost always end with a "happily ever after." I remember during one especially busy period in my life, when I was teaching full time and keeping up with two very active teenagers, I would read one romance novel every night. I found that living through the characters' conflict and resolution helped me get to sleep, knowing that all was right with the world.
During the last Christmas season, I noticed that Goodreads posted a reading challenge. I could choose a number of books to read, and Goodreads would help me keep track of them. The idea appealed to me, because I could feed my creativity while helping my fellow authors by giving them feedback on their books. So many of them have graciously read my stories and written reviews, and I wanted to get into the habit of doing so for them. I decided I would try and read 50 books in 2012 (I know that's nothing compared to what some people read, but it's a huge jump for me!), rate each one, and write short reviews. That's a little less than one book per week.
It's been tough sometimes, but thanks to ebooks loaded on my phone, my ipad and my laptop, I'm keeping up. I never thought I'd be comfortable reading on the tiny screen on my phone, but it's great for passing the time when I have fifteen minutes here and ten minutes there. I'm reading some wonderful books! If you're a Goodreads member I'd love to learn about some of the books you're reading too. Add me as a Goodreads friend. We'll share our thoughts on what we're reading, and we'll each learn about more great books. What could be better?
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Easter is coming up, and I wanted to make some cute "baskets" using stuff I have in the house. I decorated some plain gift bags with some lace flowers and later I'll fill them with Easter goodies. A quick and easy project!