Let’s tell the truth about Creative Artists; we already know the myths: Myths About Creative Types All Creative Artists are right-brain, impractical people, Given a choice, creative people tend to wear shabby clothes and messy hairstyles. Creative people all keep odd hours and disorganized lives. Artists are profligate, spendthrifts who don’t understand the value of money, and; Damn few artists have enough sense to run a successful bu...

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Fact: Ireland is a Modern Country Sad Fact: Few people outside of Ireland realize this. Thanks to the impressions of popular culture, many Americans still tend to think of bombs, booze or leprechauns when they hear the worlds “Irish” or “Ireland”.  Those who read, remember Yeats or the Potato Famine.  Movie-fans recall Darby O’Gill or The Quiet Man.  Few of either group think of murder. Yet, Murder in a very moder...

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With the arrival of the Holiday Season, everyone is focused on families, friends, and parties, which usually means food.  That’s great because I love to eat; but awful because I’m a lousy cook.  I mean world-class lousy.  I’m the gal who confused teaspoons and tablespoons in Home Ec. class and braised radishes with too much oregano. (Who braises radishes anyway?) My newlywed cooking turned Meat Loaf into Meat Cake and made m...

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At one point, there was just Jane Austen.  A British lady, (by which I mean gentlewoman, not a member of the aristocracy) gifted with humor, keen powers of observation, and the tenacity to create fiction in a time where few men and no women were encouraged to write. Her novels were known to humorists and English Majors but considered too esoteric for the hoi polloi.  In those days, she was just Jane Austen. Now, Miss Austen is an industrial...

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The Memory Everyone has memories they don’t like but can’t shake.  This is one of mine. I was small and my parents were driving back through a desert in the southwestern states.  We hadn’t seen a town for hours, and I’d gotten used to seeing the endless miles of saguaro, yucca, and empty skies. So, when we started to pass a row of shacks that lined the empty road, I was surprised.  These structures didn’t seem to ...

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The Story Everyone has secrets they want to keep. Keeping secrets is harder when you live in a small town. Small towns are the original spots where everyone knows your name.  They also know your parents, your siblings, and whether you went to reform school or college.  But they have secrets they want to keep too. Sometimes, this can make small-town society seem like an insulated conspiracy of silence. Until curiosity or a stranger shows up, tha...

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Strangers to the South take a look at this place and react in one of two ways: either they loathe it or love it.  Either they see nothing but the region’s excesses and sins and complain endlessly about both (“Oh God, it’s so hot! And what happened here! I couldn’t live in this place.), or they fall in love with the South, history, Kudzu and all.  Southerners understand both reactions because they tend to fall into the sa...

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I’ll admit I’ve been on a Brontë kick this summer; heat tends to drive me toward stories about simmering characters in cooler climes, a sure recipe for a Brontë book.  But, for all of my repeated readings of Charlotte Brontë‘s prose and my disaffection for sister Emily’s Wuthering Heights, I never bothered to read the work of Anne Brontë.  Now, I want to bang on the front doors of all my English teachers and ye...

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My obsessions don’t make me a better person.  They eat up too much time and energy and can turn me into an absolute bore but, they are part of me.  I find an interesting subject and suddenly I have to know everything about it.  That’s the mark of an obsessive and, as I say, it has its downfalls.  But sometimes that drive yields obscure treasures. Obsession is one reason I love Daphne Du Maurier’s stories. Two of her most fa...

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The Swans He called them his swans. It’s the story literary freaks, pop culture geeks and gossip mavens all know. The story of a covey of fascinating young women who were known for being beautiful; graceful as swans. Beauty made them famous and envied and rich but it didn’t make them happy, Instead, Beauty made them insecure and lonely.  They wanted friends who’d value them instead of their looks or the powerful men they had ma...

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Partners in Business and Art
I know a Good Story / August 16, 2018

Let’s tell the truth about Creative Artists; we already know the myths: Myths About Creative Types All Creative Artists are right-brain, impractical people, Given a choice, creative people tend to wear shabby clothes and messy hairstyles. Creative people all keep odd hours and disorganized lives. Artists are profligate, spendthrifts who don’t understand the value of money, and; Damn few artists have enough sense to run a suc...

A Modern Irish Murder
I know a Good Story / August 9, 2018

Fact: Ireland is a Modern Country Sad Fact: Few people outside of Ireland realize this. Thanks to the impressions of popular culture, many Americans still tend to think of bombs, booze or leprechauns when they hear the worlds “Irish” or “Ireland”.  Those who read, remember Yeats or the Potato Famine.  Movie-fans recall Darby O’Gill or The Quiet Man.  Few of either group think of murder. Yet, Murder in a ...

The Breakable Professionals
What I know about Stories / August 3, 2018

I love the way things evolve.  (Don’t be scared if you’re feeling fundamentalist; I’m not talking Darwin here).  I mean that as standards of civilizations and cultures change, standards of popular arts morph along with the culture.  In that way, we can study the values of any era by looking at what was created and celebrated during that time.  And, since mysteries have been popular literature since the first R...

The Sedentarians
What I know about Stories / July 17, 2018

For some folks, mysteries are two-sided stories.  There’s always the central puzzle to solve: usually who left a corpse (or corpses) laying around.  Then there’s the motive behind the misdeed.  But what keeps a lot of mystery readers glued to the page is the thrill of the chase.  They stay awake for hours, mentally following a Sam Spade or Cormoran Strike from one risky scenario to the next, taking on all comers in a fig...

The Wunderkinds.
What I know about Stories / June 26, 2018

The child is father of the man, at least that’s what Wordsworth wrote. (Wasn’t he a loquacious so-&-so?) That means the things we love as kids often influence our tastes as adults.  I am (unfortunately) old enough  to acknowledge the truth in this observation, but I wonder if writers deliberately trade on this idea. After all, how do you create adult readers who’ll love Fantasy/Science Fiction?  Wait until the...

The Subversives
What I know about Stories / June 19, 2018

Hang around book-nerds types long enough and you’ll hear them mention the word “subversive.”  Subversive themes, subversive protagonists, subversive…well, you get the picture.  Now, before you decide all English professors and book-club members need to be on some government watch list, what they’re talking about are the aspects of a story that make you rethink your assumptions. Part of this r...

The original Odd Couple: Holmes and Watson
What I know about Stories / June 5, 2018

There are all kinds of mystery stories, filled with all different types of detectives, but if you’re going back to the roots of the mystery series types, the Granddaddies of them have got to be Holmes and Watson.  They’re the original Adama-&-Eve, Mutt-&-Jeff, Odd Couple detective team and the template they set up is fierce. An Early portrait of the Dynamic DuoThank you, Wikipedia! But what makes it work?  ...

What Makes up a Great Mystery Series?
What I know about Stories / May 24, 2018

So, I’ve been thinking…. (Yes, I have!  If you wonder where I’ve been for weeks and weeks, I’ve been lost in the woods thinking.  And, despite the heat of the oncoming summer, I believe I’ve come up with a thought.) Of all the fictional genres out there, one of the most-popular (if not the most) is the mystery novel.  I’m not sure what it says about humanity, but almost half of us who r...

River of Life
One of My Stories / March 14, 2018

I love rivers. With all respect to ponds, pools, lakes, and oceans, I love being by a river the most.  Landlocked on two sides, it’s still a continuum of water that chuckles as it moves and brings down the heat in summer.  My rivers are peaceful most of the time but the last thing they are is boring, not only because they hold so much life but they seem to be living creatures themselves.  I guess I see life as ...

The World Famous Author I didn’t Quite Meet
One of My Stories / March 2, 2018

This day should be remembered each and every year. For the birth of an author, many of us still hold dear. Though he’s no longer with us, his books hold renown When it comes to kid’s lit, Old Doc Seuss holds the crown But I must add, in a tone of defeat He’s the most famous author I didn’t quite meet When I was small, Dr. Seuss was the Man and I read each of his stories, like a number 1 fan Like the Sneeches, my ...