World Recipe

Are you watching the news? Hearing about turmoil in the world, the US, neighboring states, even your hometown?

Nature-made floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes tug at our hearts. Man-made bombings, shootings, even political battles assault our senses, cause us to choose sides.

What kind of world are we living in?

In the words of Mary C. Curtis, speaking about Charlotte, NC, in her interview on PBS Newshour (September 22, 2016), we are living in “an integrated city where we can live a segregated life.”

Are we comfortably complacent?

A movement, begun generations ago, needs to continue, in the form of generous random deeds, quiet rescues, and momentous demonstrations.

But, I hear you. What can one person, perhaps hesitant, uncertain, or fearful, do?

What if…we use words, the best tools we have, to change the man-made chaos.

Of this I am certain, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

ourlivesbeginroxiewriter

I’d love for you to join me as we work together to write a World Recipe.

The ingredients are kind words, deeds and uplifting examples. I’ll add your comments to tweets, (join me @roxiewriter) and we can share our recipe with others there as well as here.

Ready?

What a kind world we live in____________________

Surprise Memory SnapChat

Women should be celebrated, cherished, and honored. Not only on Mother’s Day, but every day.

A few weeks ago, my step mother-in-law had a knee replacement surgery. The day following her operation, the doctors discovered she had a dangerous bacterial infection, and was immediately given vigorous antibiotics.

Worse news, they told her to expect surgery the next day to extract that new replacement, and pack her knee cap with antibiotics and immovable cement! And she would need to continue antibiotics for at least 3 months. If all appeared okay, they would schedule knee replacement surgery, again.

After the cement-packing surgery, they transferred my MIL to a rehabilitation facility, closer to home, where she was during her August birthday.

We put on our thinking caps and came up with a “We Love You G.G.” surprise party! The rehab recreation coordinator gave us permission to decorate one of their sun rooms, so we could party in style. The red dress-up hats and beads were a huge hit with the guys!

Celebrating my mother-in-law’s birthday was a bit bittersweet, because it came on the heels of my own mother’s passing after her long battle with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. But amidst the party planning that same week, I began creating a memory picture for my father, which also helped me through my grief.

memoryframeroxiewriterMy mother’s high school photo, in black and white, was tucked in a collage. I copied, (shhh, don’t tell anyone), enlarged and tinted the picture, printed it, and chose a frame. I gathered matching tonal fabrics and jewelry, laying out a pattern as I worked. After countless hours of hand stitching, beading and painting, it was finished.

I carefully wrapped it in tissue paper for our trip to Georgia over Labor Day weekend. My father, a man of few words, talked nonstop about how much he would cherish the picture.

Emotional ups and downs of everyday life. To be expected. But then I heard a news story that stunned me to believe we’ve reached a new low, one that drives straight down into the earth’s center, to the red hot core. Or maybe that’s only my anger?

A senior lady, in the locker room of a well-known gym, was publically violated by a Snapchat-er, who thought it would be amusing to publish the elder’s nude photo. The Daily Dot tells the story, including an update about the victim, here.

Does the social media devotee have elder family members? Is she uncomfortable with her own appearance? Many questions, few answers and more discussion is sure to come from this incident.

This is the world in which we now live: but karma still rolls like thunder, maybe just not with lightning speed. But it is inevitable.

My two cents? Women deserve to be honored.

What say you?

Warning bathroom humor ahead

Typing these words, house keeper, I shudder! I abhor dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing, yadda, yadda, yadda. Yet I crave order and cleanliness! Hurumphhhh.

Every bit a modern woman, I’d like to say house duties are split. But I can’t.😉

My husband is our groundskeeper, well, to a point. He mows down the tall green plants in our front and back yard. I yank weeds from flower and veggie beds. Even Steven there.

Inside it’s a different story. However, I’m not here to moan and groan about that.

The other day, when I was bathroom cleaning, I thought of two funny instances from my past when I was caught unexpectedly, with my hand in the toilet.

Years ago, when I lived to impress my in-laws, I was sprucing up the guest space. They were arriving from out-of-town to visit a few days.

Oh, yes, they did, they came early!

Thinking it was one of my seven-year-old’s friends at the door, I swung it wide, “Come on in,” I waved the toilet brush, indicating my daughter’s room.

NewCleaningMethod@roxiewriterUh huh, I sure did a double take when my they shrunk from my gesture, creeping past me to the corner couch.  :/

A decade or so later, when I was trying new ways to approach housework, by cleaning in 10 minute bursts, I was caught again. As last time, I answered my front door swinging my toilet brush, expecting another of my daughter’s friends.

Nope. It was my freelance ghostwriting client, e- a-r-l-y! She quipped, “I suppose you’ve already started creating without me.”

Now I joke about my wand. Magically company appears…or not. It’s a bit unreliable. However, the bathrooms do appear clean!

Oh, I must go, I hear my doorbell!

My NPR Car Donation

I love words.

Twist them. Splinter them and create new ones. A virtual DIY lover’s dream. My absolute favorite word is contribūnation. Emphasis added for pronunciation.

Contribute (give) and donation (gift) smashed into one.

Any time I can practice giving gifts, I do.

In June, when I recognized my car was unresuscitatable*, I knew I’d contribute it to my local NPR station. The entire seamless process proved I’d made the correct decision. And then the email tax donation receipt: it was worth $1600 to them!

WFAEIf your car is ready for the hereafter, please consider passing it on to your local public radio or TV station. Google the location near you, search their site for vehicle donation. Take 2 minutes to fill out an online form, and you’re done! They arrange pickup!

I have one recommendation. If you’re a receipt kinda gal, like me, and need tangible evidence when you hand over your title, here’s my suggestion: print out your email confirmation from NPR for said tow truck driver to sign. The guy who picked up my car cheerfully obliged.

A few weeks later, when the car sold at an auction, I received the dollar donation notice. It’s tucked in my accountant’s file because it’s the best kind of contribunation: taxductible*!🙂

*Yeah, another splintered word. Shall we count them? Nahh…

What words do you twist or splinter?

Escape Writing Rejection the Gluten Free Way

The signs on food packages and menus tell all: gluten free, paleo, dairy free. Or do they? I can’t count the number of times I’ve picked up a packaged food item and was disappointed because the label misled me.

Ever had that happen? Package writing needs to be clear, concise and complete. Ah, you see where I’m going with this?! As writers, we must be mindful of those three c’s: clear, concise and complete.

Writing is a craft. You’ve heard that.

Practice makes perfect. Yep, that one, too.

Unfortunately, rejection often comes before publication.

Recently on Twitter, I saw a literary post from Greyhaus Literary Agency, “Sometimes writing a rejection is tough. Authors try really hard and sometimes the writing is just not there!” @greyhausagency.

Assuming you’d like to avoid (another) rejection letter, how do you know when your writing is publish-ready?

Dare I mention it takes practice to become a polished writer? Read, write, research, revise, repeat! Today, tomorrow, sick days, snow days, ad infinitum.

Here are the dirty details:

Step 1: Read. During your writing process, read. Books, articles, and biographies. Everything that interests you. Plus things that don’t. You’ll gravitate toward well-written works as your eye discerns good verses great. Take the time to construct succinct sentences. From there, build beautiful paragraphs. Carve out chapters to engage and mesmerize readers. We don’t ever want our readers to toss aside one of our books, dissatisfied with the contents. If you would like assistance and ideas on enhancing writing senses, see these posts: I Spy and Scratch and Sniff for Writers.

roxiewriterWhichDoorFirst

Step 2: Investigate. Determine your expectations by investigating your publishing possibilities. Where you decide to send your manuscript is extremely important! Do you want a small publisher, who accepts manuscripts from writers? Do you want an agent, to represent you to large publishing houses? Or do you want to pursue self-publishing options? While you write, keep your publishing path in mind: adjust your work to accommodate their submission’s policy.

Step 3: Listen. As you prep your work – gulp – get feedback. Not from your mom. Nor from a spouse. But from readers, critique partners, social media connections, etc. Put yourself out there and listen, really pay attention to what others are saying about your work. In a previous post, “Hear No Evil…” I dive into the benefits of a critique group.

Step 4: Adjust. Develop a thick skin. You aren’t an expert, can’t possibly please everyone (you already know that!), so don’t be defensive about your writing – feedback isn’t personal. Separate yourself from your writing, by distance and emotional resistance. Even if you experienced what you’ve written, you may need to adjust the words for readers. Bears repeating: don’t be defensive.

Step 5: Edit. Once you’ve determined your publishing path, heard and adjusted your book based on feedback, find an editor. Someone who is knowledgeable in developmental (aka substantial/substantive) editing. For more details about editing and DIY steps, see my editing series, here.

By preparing, you create impeccable work, and you avoid a mislabeling mishap, vis á vis, rejection! Join the ranks of practicing writers, i.e. practicing lawyers, practicing physicians, lol!

Your reward will be visible: your chosen publication path and, yes, money!

Keep reading, writing, researching and revising!

*Disclaimer: I am a gluten free glutton – love trying the latest recipes, so in NO way should this be considered a slam on gluten free-ers.

Shake a Tree, Write a Book

 

So you want to write a book. And you have an idea for the plot, protagonist and even the antagonist. But, how well do you know those characters?

Why not shake your family tree? As a writer, you have the unique ability to reach into your bag of tricks, be they family close by, or ancestors.

I’ll offer an example: My grandfather, now deceased, was a first generation American. His parents came from Austria, and were industrious. Survivors, choosing to chase opportunities. Firmly planted in the northeast U.S., they had a son, and named him after the Archangel Michael, because he was their shining light.

At nineteen, Michael captured the heart of his teen Lenape neighbor. The two became one, and children dotted their hand-built home front. The family thrived under Michael’s boisterous spirit, while his work ethic steered them into upper middle class.

I skim Michael’s life’s surface to set a quick background reference point. He had many facets. One in particular that always struck me as odd: he would leave the room, whistling, during certain TV commercials or conversation topics. Can you say feminine hygiene?

Michael was modest, and as I observed his patterns, this towering, bear hugging man, would whistle up a tune when he was embarrassed. Mild and quiet. As I grew older, I never saw him loose his temper. But he did. My uncle and father saw explosive episodes, and if the middle son had survived, he would have witnessed it as well. More to him than meets the eye, particularly a granddaughter’s eye.

Here’s my advice: Find the complexity. Dig deep to uncover oppositional traits. It’s definitely necessary for character building, and absolutely spot-on in real life. If you need inspiration, shake, shake, shake; shake that family tree!

WriterShakeRLHanna@roxiewriter

Look at those branches, ask family and friends questions, and take copious notes. When you are ready to write your memoir, you’ll be ahead of the game, totally organized! But in the meantime, I hope you discover character aspects to drive you forward in your fiction writing.

Till next time,

Roxie

Writers, fire up your Time Machine!

 

 

As someone pointed out to me recently, I have become quite comfy as a couch cushion for my cats. A veritable sleeping perch that pleases them. (Why this therapeutic work microsphere? Tap, transfer, here.)

When I was a child, home recuperating from my numerous maladies, I would read. My teachers sent me missed schoolwork and library books. When I wasn’t sick, I biked daily after school to our one-story public library. I’d sprawl on the rust-colored carpet, book in hand, oblivious to the world.

During the summer of my eleventh year, I’d read every book in the children’s section of that small library. I recall a day in early August, choosing to reread a BOXCAR KIDS book by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Mrs. Miller, one of the librarians, tapped my shoulder, and commanded I follow her around until she finished her reshelving task. To my great surprise, she walked me over to the grown-ups side of the building.

Back then, the library had sections: for paperbacks, records, encyclopedias, and biographies. I was familiar with those, as they were on the checkout desk’s fringes. But nearby, enormous shelves opened, awaiting my inquisitive eyes, the ADULT SECTION.

In the adult section, I’d sit on the black and white linoleum floor, reading, until the library closed. To say no one in my family missed me during the day is an understatement. They sent me out of the house in the morning, and expected me at bedtime. Occasionally I might wander in during dinner hour, knowing I’d scavenge for something, if a host friend couldn’t be found.

Ooops, I digress. We’ll have to save all those stories about growing up in the 1970’s for another time.🙂

SirraReading@roxiewriter

Throughout that summer, I discovered a huge (Yuge as Bernie Sanders might say), realm of scientific, political, sociological, mythical, and magical realms. I silently studied, quoted, and even sang new words, imagined new worlds.

Reading was my refuge. I was in a dreamlike state, from morning until midnight. Bliss!

Anyone else experience that?

If you are a writer, are you first and foremost a great reader? Are you approaching your genre, be whatever it may, with youthful vigor and vim? I challenge you to mentally transport yourself to the years when you fell in love with reading. Tap into that energy anytime you need to jolt your creative juices.

In this fast-paced, social-centered world we find ourselves, use your time machine. Use it often.

Thoughts?

Roxie

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