A Book for Women

I almost never do more than a short review of a book, such as if I buy one on Amazon etc., much less blog about one. However, once in a while you come across a book that just reaches out and grabs your heart. Such a book is Our Mothers’ War by Emily Yellin. Even though I seldom read non-fiction, my attention was riveted on this to the last page.

I enjoy history, especially that of real people, and it was a big surprise when I found such a rich portrayal of women in this book. It tells of women and how World War II changed their lives not only during the war but afterward. I knew these things–but I found I didn’t know them really, at all. I grew up under this generation of women, my mother and others, and I remember the occasional comment or reference to the war years. But after reading this book I now understand as well as remember. Why my mother was the way she was, and made the decisions she made, had always been an enigma. Now I see better why she was the person she was.

These women had tremendous courage and changed the world of women greatly. There is a thread through their accomplishments that extends to our present day and many of the problems they faced still linger. I closed the book at the last page with the fervent hope that the women of today never let the courage of our mothers be in vain. To that end I will see that my granddaughters read this book. I want them to understand that the freedoms they enjoy were paid for by their great-grandmothers.

I want January Back!

I’m not sure where January went but I want it back. I always look forward to the beginning of a new year. It’s like you leave all that baggage behind you from last year and start with a clean slate. This year I planned to take care of anything that had to be done on the very day it came up. I would finish projects on time and quit putting things off and finish 2016 blessedly free of stress and backlogs and without need for apologies and excuses for those things I didn’t get finished, or started for that matter.

All went well for the first day or so. Then some unknown enemy force torpedoed January. I learned it is physically impossible to be in two, much less three, places at once and therefore you are going to go rapidly behind no matter what you do. Those days when you have nothing scheduled and plan to catch up? Let me know how they work for you because they didn’t do a thing for me.

Now I’m sitting here looking over the top of a tall pile of paper that needs dealing with after spending half the day taking care of only two pieces of it. I want the January of my dreams back and this pile to go away. But since that isn’t likely to happen maybe I should start a monthly list of apologies and excuses instead of waiting until the end of the year?

I Bought a Druid!

The Christmas season is upon us and my husband said those words we wives most love to hear. “I know you want this so go pick one out for your Christmas present.” Wow! Carte blanche! So I went to the phone store and bought a Druid. Okay, okay, I can hear all of you saying the same thing my son-in-law did. “That’s not the way it’s pronounced.” But I’m not mispronouncing it, I’m talking about a real honest to goodness druid. I looked it up and the definition tells me it’s a member of an ancient priesthood of magicians and wizards. Probably not exactly what it said but close enough for me.

A magician or wizard, the druid, undoubtedly touched his wand to something and made it what it wasn’t to start with, or focused on something so hard it went up in flames or turned into something else or made it do something weird. So here’s the deal. I bought a cell phone, smart phone, something or other, called a Droid. I touch it and strange mysterious forms appear before me. I touch it again and it shows me some screen that actually talks to me in tongues. You know, some language known only to the druid hiding inside the little thin box with the window. There are mysterious rituals you need to know and it tells you what to do. Thing is there are those of us who don’t speak druid and after we read what it says to do we have no clue what he said.

Thankfully, I have family who know how to communicate with this strange little being and they can intercede for me. Soon, they expect me to be able to call and text them. They think it’s all electronic technology and stuff but I know better. It’s an ancient little druid in disguise and I own one.

Communications Obsolescence

For good or for bad, the world changes around us and it often seems that communication between people has become obsolete. Most of us don’t begin to realize this until we are beyond the years of child rearing. During that time we’re too busy to realize anything short of the house falling down around us. Most of these changes remain good fodder for future posts. One, however, rose up and draped itself around my neck in a choke-hold today in an attempt to destroy my best holiday spirit. It all started when I decided to get my Christmas cards out on time.

To me, one of the best parts of the Christmas season was the yearly Christmas cards and letters that came with them. These yearly letters were often the only communication of the year with some individuals. I would make pretty decorations of them, stringing them down the wall, putting them on the tree, arranging them on the mantel, etc. Guests would stop and look at them and family would pick them up and enjoy the yearly news also. Now the internet has come upon us, as has the high cost of stamps, and from many people I get cards in my email. They are beautiful and you don’t have to write a letter to go in them. I watch them and in some cases get teary eyed. One of these days I may start using them myself.

So today when I started though the address book to get a count for how many cards I need to buy, I took note of the ones that send email cards, those who send no letter and the many who are friends and second or third generation family who no longer send anything. My dilemma now is, do I continue sending cards to those who no longer send to me until they are guilted into sending a late card back? Do I send a Christmas letter? Surely if someone no longer sends me one they won’t be interested in mine? But, maybe because I am a writer or maybe because I am just nostalgic for the times that have changed, I will trudge to the store and buy cheap cards that aren’t nearly as pretty as the email ones. I will write a dull Christmas letter because I don’t have anything exciting to tell about the past year and send it out as usual. I will send cards to those I know won’t return them or will do so only because I sent them one. As evidenced by the fact that I have used the word Christmas ten times in a three paragraph post, I will continue to maintain the Christmas spirit and play Christmas music and wish everyone a “Merry Christmas” and I will even — yes — carry on the yearly Christmas card ritual.

 

 

Position is Everything.

That I write romance novels probably had something to do with the title of this blog catching your eye. What are you thinking? But now that it has your attention let’s talk about it. Position is important. My first skirmish with it was as a child. I was one of those unlucky girls that shot up early and was taller than everyone in my class. The fact that I was told they would catch up with me and I would not forever be condemned to a life of boys shorter than I was didn’t help at that time. So, like all girls in this situation–I slumped. My father, who had a thing about standing up straight, added to my misery. “Stand up straight! Head up! Shoulders back! Don’t hang your head.” As self-conscious as I felt at the time, it was do it or listen to my father’s lectures. By the time I hit high school the others caught up with me in height but by then I had developed good posture that had become a habit.

Just about the time I thought I’d put posture behind me position came into play and I found myself in a high school typing class. Yes, you young people out there with mouths gaping in disbelief, it was called a typing class, not keyboarding or something else techy sounding. We beat hard on the keys to make a nice clean print on the carbon copy and we slammed that carriage back. Almost everything was timed and you didn’t want to have the carriage not go all the way. Hitting that carriage must have been very therapeutic. We all seemed to be pretty emotionally healthy. Into this mix marched the typing teacher whose name I have long ago forgotten. I think of her as being like my father on steroids. She was tall, thin, dressed very businesslike and when we came to class we were expected to assume the correct position. “Sit up straight, back against the chair! Head up, feet flat on the floor! Arms at your side, not out like wings! Hands over the keyboard, wrists straight, not touching anything!” She felt strongly about it. To this day I sit down to type and I put my feet flat on the floor, back straight, etc. My father is gone now and I’m sure the teacher is also but I still have a feeling that if I slump one of them will reach out and tap me on the shoulder.

I watch my grandchildren slouch on the couch, laptop on their knees, head down. Their position looks uncomfortable. I’ve tried working that way.  My fingers are aimed wrong and I keep making mistakes and having to start over. Mostly I feel guilty. So now when I want to work in my recliner or on the couch I take a pen and paper. When I’m ready I go to the laptop on my desk and I type it up–feet on the floor, back straight, head ba…

A bronzed chair?

A friend’s post today set me thinking about the fun and happy memories we all have with our kids and grandkids that we want to preserve. My grandkids are graduating next spring and that will be the end of the soccer games and swim meets and basketball and track and the list goes on. It was fun. I also have fond memories of the hours I spent picking them up from school for dentists, orthodontists or doctor appointments, or to an early or late practice for one of the afore mentioned activities.

Transporting a teenager is a good time to bond. Contrary to a lot of people’s impression, kids do want to talk to you. You just have to get them started. You do that by asking questions. I read often that it’s poor manners to ask people (kids, neighbors, relatives, friends, sometimes even strangers) personal questions. However, experience is a great teacher and it has taught me that if you don’t ask — nobody tells you anything. And it often lets them know you care. In any case, to get back on track here, it was all a good time and there are so many good memories.

How do I preserve those? If I used pictures of every game and every movement the kids did that was exceptional and put them in albums the house would list. Luckily, the perfect answer popped up. I’m going to have the folding chair that has resided in the back of my car for several years and been my faithful companion for all those good times — bronzed! Where most people have that odd chair in the corner that no one likes or sits in except for overflow company I’ll have my bronze folding chair! When I miss my grandkids and those times with them I’ll go sit in it and close my eyes and remember. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

Know Thyself

I would love to be twenty years old again.  I would love to be thirty years old again.  I would love to be — well, never mind.  The point is I would love to be that age again — with a provision.  I want to be that age and have the wisdom and experience I have now.  There would be no end to what I could accomplish.  And fun?  I could have so much more fun than I did.  All that worrying about the future, jobs, health, kids, money, the state of the world — you name it, I worried about it.  I was a stay at home mother for several years.  I worried about getting dishes done, laundry done, meals cooked, grocery shopping done, house cleaned.  Whew!  Makes me tired just to think about it.  In time, I went back to work. Then I worried about getting there on time, (I live in a place with a lot of railroad crossings), and doing my job as well as expected of me, keeping up with the technology the job required and it goes on. Then the kids got an education and I quit.

I enjoyed the years my kids were young and I stayed at home. Being a stay-at-home wife and mother is a job, let no one tell you otherwise. But it is, like any job, satisfying, if you let it be.  I liked working at a job as well, getting up and going in to work with other people every day, the comradery and friendships and the sharing of your lives over coffee break. Bringing home a paycheck wasn’t bad either. But the day came when I could retire or keep working and I chose to retire and turn my attentions elsewhere, like husband, children and best of all grandchildren. Somewhere along there an old hobby reentered my life – writing. With some trial and error and a lot of encouragement from family and my writing group I finally, after all those years, found out what I was meant to do. My only regret in life is that I didn’t start writing seriously years ago. I guess the moral of the story is that there is always something out in front of us that can be a wonderful enhancement to fulfilling our dreams. So now I know myself, I’m a writer. Now I think about things like beginnings, plots, twists, characters and so on. In other words I’m still a worrier.

Why romantic suspense?

Welcome to my blog.  Please drop in often and join me on my journey.  The current blog tour challenge caught up with me when Bonnie Phelps, author of “Julia’s Star,” nominated me for this week.  Bonnie’s blog can be found as a guest post on the blog site of Krista Lynn, where you can also read about Krista’s upcoming “The Haunting of Sunset Canyon.”

 

I write contemporary romantic suspense because I love, well, “love,” and everyone has a love story.  I add suspense to make my characters work for and appreciate the happy ending they find.  I love writing a story and creating the characters.  I watch people on the street or in stores.  What is their story?  What does their appearance tell me?  Does he/she stand tall and stride with an air of authority or rush along with an anxious look, maybe with a shopping bag or a fussy toddler in tow.  Are they dressed with perfection or like it was an afterthought?  Are they young with the ‘nothing bad will ever happen to me’ attitude or do they sport a more aware look that comes with age and experience?  What kind of a story could I craft around them?  What problems could they have as they go about their daily lives?  I love writing about people, especially when they fall in love.

 

Question One:  The name of my character and is he/she fictional or historic?  I have two main characters.  Kathryn (Kate) Scott is my fictional heroine.  She is the mother of three children, one married and two in college.  My hero is William (Billy) Black.  He also has two children.

 

Question Two:  When and where is the story set?  The story takes place in northern California.

 

Question Three:  What should you know about them?  Kathryn is a widow.  She went from being a dirt poor child to college on a scholarship where she met Peter Scott and married above her social level thinking she had found love and happiness.  She has since spent her life being the quiet and perfect wife and mother.  William Black is half American Indian.  His mother was a drunk and he never knew his father.  He married early and his young wife didn’t share his ambition to better herself, following instead the path of his mother.  Billy struggled to get his college education and raise his two children when his wife died.  He went from a small time builder to the owner of a major development company and now has wealth and influence.  He is a grim and driven businessman.

 

Question Four:  What is the conflict?  What messes up their life?  Their lives are messed up with the death of Kathryn’s husband in a plane crash the day before he and his business partner were to sign the papers to sell a piece of property to William Black.  Kathryn finds that her husband was not wealthy but had more debt than he could pay and has left her penniless.  She also finds that for several years he has been keeping a mistress.  She now feels that the reason he has not been attentive to her for several years is because she is unattractive and dull and no one could possibly care for her.  William Black finds that one of the biggest projects his company has taken on is held up by a lawsuit between Peter Scott’s partner and Kathryn, who desperately needs Peter’s half of the money.  They have never met each other but are sworn enemies in a legal battle.  Billy has never let himself get close to a woman since his disastrous marriage and feels no woman would want him for anything but his money.

 

What are their personal goals?  Kathryn hopes for enough money from the lawsuit to help her two younger children finish college and to return herself to finish a teaching degree she gave up many years before.  She must now go from a quiet retiring housewife and mother to taking charge of her own life and affairs.  Billy finds himself having more problems with opposition to the development and with internal company problems.  He vows to crush this woman who is holding up his project.  They have never met but are sworn enemies in the legal battle.  When they meet by chance and are attracted to each other they both want to remain anonymous with the intention of just a casual affair.  Attraction turns to love but before it has a chance to flower they are confronted with who each other really are.  Picking up the shattered pieces of their lives brings them face to face to realize that love is not always what it seems.

This book is called “Objection to Love.”  I am doing revisions now and plan to self publish it on Amazon.com in the spring of 2015.  It will join my already published, “Dangerous to Love” which is also available on www.Amazon.com in both print and Kindle.  You can follow the comments of my progress on www.facebook.com/elsa.bayly

I would like to nominate Michele Mills for next week’s blog.

Desk again!

It’s done it again!  My desk has caught me unaware and got out of control.  My desk has a personality.  I think of it as somewhere between an unruly teenager and a hardened criminal out to do damage.  It stays under the radar by sitting here quietly while it plots its evil and procreates.

I work every day, some doing a lot of writing and on less productive days I try to clear the 101 things that pile up.  Everything from correspondence to my checkbook to phone calls or work on classes I frequently take on line.  You would think I would notice the desk creeping up on me, wouldn’t you?  Turning that 101 things into 1,001 and turning one pile into three or four.

All I can tell you is that this thing is really good.  The FBI would be thrilled to get it.  It sneaks up on you and gets all the information about you or anything you are doing.  Then hides it!  Honest.  You need the mind of a chess master to find anything.  You know you put it down right there but where did it go?  The desk hid it.  I’m thinking of getting a hammer and nails and every time I put something down, bam, I nail it to the desk.  Let it try to hide it then.  I haven’t figured out what to do about those tall piles to big to nail down.  People who come to visit look at my desk with this strange look.  They know better than to ask or comment.  Only my husband does that.  I find a lot of things outside for him to do.

Guess I can’t be too concerned right now.  I have a book to write and I can’t let this desk sidetrack me.

After Success

Everyone wants success, right?  One of the definitions I found in the dictionary is, “the gaining of wealth and fame.”  I suspect that is the interpretation most people put on success.  The other two definitions I found are, “favorable or desired outcome” and “one that succeeds.”  Most people who have achieved the “gaining of wealth and fame” are what we think of as a success.

This year I accomplished the publishing of my book, “Dangerous to Love” in both e book and print.  So I would argue that the “favorable or desired outcome” is by far the most important definition.   When I was growing up my father always grew a large garden.  It was beautiful, with straight rows devoid of weeds and hoed to perfection.  I was drafted to help with this and while I would rather have curled up with a good book somewhere, there was always a feeling of satisfaction to look back on a row and observe what a good job I had done.  I had done it.  It didn’t just happen to be that way and nobody helped me, I did it myself.  I felt the same way when I learned to sew and to cook or turned in a particularly well done homework assignment.  Of course, at the time I didn’t think about it as success but just that I had done a good job.

When I began to write, it never occurred to me that I would ever publish anything.  As time went on I began to think maybe I could after all.  It was a long learning curve to write a book.  When I was finished I had to decide if I was going to publish it myself or depend on getting an agent or editor.  I decided to go with self publishing even though I knew there was a lot involved.  You have to understand I am not a techie, I face my computer every day like we are adversaries.  It took me several months.  The only part I had done for me was the cover and I got a wonderful one from cover artist and romance writer, Kimberly Van Meter.  When it was done and I finally looked at it on my computer screen on Amazon it was a truly magical moment.  I had achieved the “desired outcome.”

I don’t expect to achieve wealth and fame, but I am a success.  I had a dream and a goal and I did it myself.  My husband and my family encouraged me but I was the one that had to do it.  Am I happy?  Yes, I am.  Am I proud?  You bet, I am.  But the success of accomplishment has another gift it brings with it  —  confidence.  If you achieve a goal, even a small one, it gives you a feeling of self empowerment to go on to the next one.  Finally, you reach for the big one.  For me that was writing and publishing a book.  Now I am into writing my second book and when I hit writer’s block or it just doesn’t read right I will cling to my confidence that I did it once and I can do it again.

How much happier we can all be if we think of success in terms not of material gain but in terms of accomplishment of our dreams.