when we're being whipsawed by change and conflict, we may not see the puppetmaster manipulating us through our connections....

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Whatever happened to the Odd Kid on your block?  Everybody grew up with at least one; I’m talking about those kids who seem to be born outsiders, who say and do unpredictable things and never fit in well with the rest. The kids that even surprise the adults when they talk. You know the ones I mean.  And if you don’t have one of these kids in your memory, you might have been the class misfit. God knows I was one. So what? I can verif...

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Everyone remembers people and events that shaped and changed their lives.  Long after they leave the world’s stage, these individuals and events inform and direct us through memory.  That’s how I feel about Neil Simon’s plays; they are touchstones from my childhood. That’s reasonable: when I was young he was the King of Broadway. His movies set some of my first standards for comedy.  But, that was a long time ago and ...

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The first time my Dad saw my adult home, he muttered, “I don’t know why you and your sister moved back into the woods.” Although I hadn’t realized before, I instantly knew what he meant. Although we grew up on the plains, both my sister and I chose homes in densly forested areas. I can’t speak for my sister, but I must say that I do love living surrounded by trees. My woodsy back view The Forest Primeval Then again, ...

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

Detective Fiction’s First Odd Couple 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 Duo Thank you, W...

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 ...

#ObeseNoMore
One of My Stories / December 14, 2017

The one question I kept asking myself: How in hell did I get this big? We all live our lives by labels.  Those governed by birth are immovable.  Whether you’re a baby-boom, Gen-X or millennial, you’ll be one for the rest of your life, even if you lie about it.  Some birth labels, like nationality, look permanent but can be changed, and some we have even more say on, at least in theory.  I’ve lived with one label to...

The Evolution of a Door: The Misadventures of a Would-be DIY’er
One of My Stories / November 28, 2017

Madison Avenue thinks it knows what presents women wish for. They tell us through commercials all the time. What love token should you give a lady? Give her diamonds. Give her shoes. Give her a new car.  Well, Madison Avenue never heard of me. I wanted a new front door. Door, the First In all fairness, I’ve wanted one for the past 27 years. Our little house came with a rather standard, wooden door; one that let in the weather...

A Sense of Taste, A Sense of Place,

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 ...

The Murder Mystery No One Expects
I know a Good Story / November 9, 2017

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 i...

A Tale of Autumn’s Light
One of My Stories / November 3, 2017

If you listen to painters, they are obsessed with color and light.  Well, if you listen to stories of artists, that’s what they talk about.  Me, being a word instead of a picture person, I didn’t understand what they meant.  Color is color, light is light, right?  You either have it or you don’t.  Then I took a look at Autumn around here and I began to see what all the fuss was about. The quali...

Home Story
Stories about Stories / October 10, 2017

All stories are about being human and all humans need a spot they can call home. More than shelter or status symbol, “home” is part of a person’s identity and many writers are known for theirs.  Faulkner didn’t stir from Rowan Oak unless he was forced to.  Daphne du Maurier’s obsession for Menabilly changed the course of her life.  But both of these homes are grand houses of great estates, sp...