Over The River And Through The Wood By A Journalist And A Romance Novelist

 

Oh, my gosh! Thanksgiving is almost here! Today, it dawned on me that the only Thanksgiving song I’ve ever heard of is Over The River And Through The Wood. [If you’re like me, you probably thought it was woods, not wood but yeah, it’s wood.]

I remember learning this song in Kindergarten. It always brought to mind the beautiful Christmas cards we see with a sleigh drawn by a horse through the snow.

 

 

The song, however, was actually originally a poem by Lydia Maria Child, published in 1844. The author’s original words were “to grandfather’s house we go” and was titled The New-England Boys Song about Thanksgiving Day.

The poem was set to music by an unknown composer. The musical version sometimes presents it as a Christmas song, so that instead of the line, Hurrah for Thankgiving Day it reads Hurrah for Christmas Day.

Even more fascinating to me as a romance writer, is the fact that Child published her first novel, a historical romance Hobomok, A Tale of Early Times, anonymously under the gender-neutral pseudonym “an American.” The plot centers on the interracial marriage between a white woman and a Native American man, who have a son together. This of course was very controversial for her time, but Child was fearless both as a novelist and a journalist. She also wrote about the injustice of slavery, as well as supported and organized anti-slavery societies throughout her career. She even suggested that women were much as slaves to their husbands. If you think about the times, a woman could not vote, could not own property etc.

This author, journalist and poet was a truly fascinating woman, one few of us, including myself have ever heard of. I could write pages and pages about her accomplishments and her life but to be honest that’s been done. My purpose in this blog is just to share what I learned about this truly fascinating author, of a song that is beloved to many of us. Who Knew?!

So I won’t infringe on any copy writes I’m not printing Child’s poem here but you can find the original on Wikipedia by clicking the bold title “Over The River And Through The Wood” up above. To hear a lovely rendition of the song sung by the Moran Tabernacle Choir click here.

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Get Your Spooky On With A Cauldron Of Creepy Words

Hey Everyone. On October of  2015 I published the blog below for those of us who love word lists and phrases and especially Halloween. I figured it was a safe bet that many of you haven’t seen this so here it is again. I hope you enjoy it.

Who doesn’t love Halloween?

There may be an odd few but surly even they will admit that dressing up like someone or something else is fun.

The truth is, as a writer, I have the opportunity to enjoy Halloween every time I write. And no I don’t write horror stories.

But here’s the thing, every time I write I slip into the skins/costumes of my characters. I am them. I think like them. I imagine looking like them, and I enact their roll in my stories.

And the best part?

I do it all from the safe comfort of my computer desk.

Mostly, I write humor so getting my spooky on, or making my readers feel the fear my characters feel in a bad situation isn’t always easy. If I’m not careful I could end up sounding like one of those old Grade B movies of the 50s with all their tired cliches

In Margie Lawson’s blog, Ax Your Cliches: How and Why, she gives examples of how to do change up tired clichés. I love her solution of playing off the old to devise your own creative expressions.

I also find that my handy dandy word lists help me come up with the right expressions. My list contains verbs, adjectives and nouns. By themselves they may be innocuous but in the right sentence they’ll set a reader amidst a spooky, or eee-yew situation.

While the list is long, I’m certain I missed many great words. Still, it’s good place to brainstorm ideas.

So now get your spooky on and make up some sentences using this list. Put them in the comments below and lets have some fun. 

 

Abandon
Aberrant
Abnormal
Abomination
Acidic
Acrid
Afflicted
Aggravate
Agonize
Agony
Alarm
Ancient
Anthill
Anxiety
Apparition
Arouse
Ashen
Austere
Awful
Awry
Bad
Banish
Barbed
Barren
Base
Beard
Beastly
Begrimed
Bellicose
Belligerent
Besmeared
Besmirched
Bestial
Betray
Bilious
Bitter
Black
Blackened
Bleak
Blinding
Blood
Bloody
Blot
Blotted
Blur
Bodiless
Body
Bog
Bold
Bones
Bound
Brackish
Brambles
Brawls
Brawny
Breeds
Brews
Brooding
Broom
Brutal
Buggy
Burial
Butcher
Carcass
Castrate
Cemetery
Chills
Chopped
Cloven
Coiling
Cold
Coldly
Colorless
Contaminate
Contempt
Convulse
Corrupt
Creature
Creepy
Crime
Criminal
Crud
Crude
Cruel
Crusty
Cunning
Curdle
Curse
Damned
Damning
Damp
Dank
Dastardly
Decay
Deceased
Decrepit
Deep
Defiled
Delirious
Deluge
Demonic
Deplorable
Depraved
Deprivation
Derisive
Desecrate
Deserted
Desolate
Desperate
Despicable
Despoiled
Deviant
Devil
Devious
Dice (as in cut)
Dirty
Discordant
Disease
Diseased
Disembodied
Dismal
Dismantle
Dismember
Dissipated
Distress
Drab
Drab
Dramatic
Dread
Dreary
Drench
Drips
Droop
Drown
Dubious
Dupe
Eerie
Empty

Endemic
Epidemic
Ethereal
Evict
Evil
Exhume
Faint
Fanatic
Fatal
Fester
Festered
Fetid
Feverish
Fickle
Fiery
Filth
Flaming
Flee
Fleshless
Fleshy
Flicked
Fool
Forsaken
Foul
Fractious
Frantic
Fright
Furtive
Fury
Gag
Gaunt
Gelatinous
Ghastly
Ghostly
Ghouls
Glide
Gloom
Glob
Glop
Glower
Glowering
Glutinous
Gluttonous
Goad
Goblin
Gooey
Goop
Grave
Graveyard
Gray
Greed
Grieve
Grievous
Grim
Grip
Gripping
Grope
Grudging
Gruesome
Grunting
Gummy
Haggard
Hairy
Harrowing
Harsh
Haunted
Heat
Heinous
Hell
Hinder hilt
Hiss
Hoary
Horde
Horrible
Hostile
Hot
Howling
Howling
Hunch
Hunk
Icky
Illness
Impious
Incisors
Infect
Infest
Inhuman
Iniquity
Inscrutable
Invade
Invincible
Irascible
Irritating
Itch
Jarring
Jaundiced
Jealous
Jelly
Jugular
Jungle
Lacerate
Leak
Leaky
Lewd
Licentiousness
Lizards
Locusts
Lonely
Looming
Low
Lucifer
Lure
Lurid
Lust
Macabre
Maim
Malady
Malformed
Malicious
Malignant
Marsh
Massive
Meager
Mean
Melancholy
Mercenary
Merciless
Mercurial
Mildew
Militant
Mire
Mold
Moldering
Morbid
Morose
Mortal
Mortally
Moss

Mottled
Mourn
Mournful
Muddy
Murder
Murky
Musty
Mutilate
Mutinous
Mysterious
Mystic
Nauseate
Nauseous
Nimble
Nocturnal
Noxious
Odorous
Offensive
Ominous
Oppressive
Oracle
Ostracize
Overcast
Overwhelm
Panic
Paralyze
Parched
Pathetic
Peculiar
Peevish
Peirce
Pelting
Perilous
Perversion
Perverted
Pestilence
Pestilential
Petrify
Phantom
Pit
Plague
Plagues
Pluck
Pollute
Pool
Prickly
Profane
Prowl
Puke
Puncture
Pungent
Purge
Purge
Putrid
Quagmire
Quaver
Queer
Querulous
Quiver
Rabid
Rambling
Rampant
Rank
Rats
Rattling
Rave
Reek
Remains
Repel
Repellent
Repugnant
Repulsive
Revolting
Roaches
Rodents
Ruckus
Rude
Satan
Savage
Scorch
Scratch
Scream
Screech
Seamy
Secluded
Seeking
Seeping
Seethes
Senses
Sensuous
Sequester
Shake
Shimmy
Shiver
Shovel
Shrew
Shriek
Shrill
Shrill
Shrink
Shrivel
Shroud
Shudder
Sick
Sickening
Sigh
Silent
Sinister
Sink
Skeletal
Skeleton
Skittish
Sleuth
Slice
Slick
Slide
Slime
Slink
Slither
Slog
Slump
Sly
Smear
Smell
Smite
Smoky
Smooth
Smother
Snaking
Solemn
Somber
Sour
Spider
Splinters
Split
Squeamish
Stagger
Stalk

Startle
Steamy
Sticky
Stiff (as dead person)
Stormy
Strange
Stun
Stygian
Sullen
Sully
Superstitious
Surge
Swamp
Swells
Taint
Tarnished
Teeming
Teeth
Thorns
Thorny
Tinge
Tingle
Torment
Torrid
Torture
Touch
Tragic
Transgress
Transgressions
Treacherous
Tremble
Trolls
Trouble
Tumor
Tumultuous
Twisting
Violent
Viscous
Vomit
Wade
Wailing
Wallow
Wander
Wanton
Warped
Warts
Waste
Water
Waxy
Weary
Weird
Whip
Whistles
Wicked
Wild
Wilt
Wily
Wind
Wintry
Wistful
Wither
Womb
Wooly
Wormy
Worn
Wounded
Wretched
Wriggles
Wrinkled
Writhes
Zap

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Where My Research Took Me – Ice Houses In The Nineteenth Century

I first learned about ice houses at my grandparents resort on Red Lake in Ontario, Canada when I was around six or seven years old. Even in the 1950s a few ice houses were still used in remote areas like this one. Hard to believe, but true. The pictures below are very old, probably, 60 to 70 years old and are old black and white photos but I think they will help with the understanding of ice houses and ice harvesting.

Ice House with convenor of ice from the channel to the house.

While Writing my current book in progress, How To Kiss A Troll I mentioned the Bjornson’s ice house and was remembered of my grandparent’s ice house. That’s how this blog was born.

The ice was floated to the Ontario resort ice house much like what is described below. My grandparents kept the fish caught by vacationing customers in the ice house. The fish was packed in chipped ice within boxes

and then those boxes were kept in the ice house. Sometimes hunters kept their venison and bear meat in this ice house, too. In the this old black and white picture my grandmother stands in the forefront  and you’ll see the conveyor that carries the ice cakes from the channel that led from the lake.

 

Grandpa LeGore in the forefront. Men with huge ice hooks in the background.

Ice Harvesting:

Prior to the 1800s there is little recorded about harvesting ice but even the ancients tried their hand at keeping food fresh by keeping it cold.

In the late 1700s and 1800s farmers harvested ice for their own use, storing meat and dairy foods.

Harvesting ice was cold, hard, wet work. At times, it was dangerous too. Once the first piece of ice was cut, a man could easily fall into the freezing water and drown. And in the process of storing the ice, a man could be crushed by a falling cake of ice. We have to appreciate what farmers and ice companies went through just to preserve their foods and have little ice tea in the summer.

How thick the ice had to be before it could be cut in a river or pond varied from one place to another. The thickness might be as deep as 20 to 30 inches or as little as 6 inches. A hole was drilled into the ice and a measuring pole was inserted into the ice to test how thick it was.

At first, ice cutting was a rural affair that took place each year after Christmas in January or February. Farmers took their teams and flat sleighs to a lake or pond and cut a hole large enough to accommodate a wooden chute. Using one-handled crosscut saws, men cut ice blocks weighing about 300 pounds. Then using picks or rigging towed by a horse, they pulled the blocks up a chute to their flat low-to-the-ground sleighs.

Teamsters hauled the ice to the farms where a group of neighbors unloaded it into an ice house. This was repeated many times during the day.

A thick layer of sawdust or salt hay was layered on the floor of the icehouse before the ice arrived. The ice blocks were pushed up a plank into the house and layered inside with a thick layer of sawdust dust that kept the cakes separated when taken out during the summer. About a foot of sawdust or hay was used between the ice and the walls of the ice house for insulation. After the house was filled, a layer of sawdust or hay was spread on the top layer as well.

Below is a picture of my grandfather Roy Le Gore standing by the ice channel used to float the ice to the conveyor that led to the ice house.

In Cites:

Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth of Boston is credited with developing large scale ice harvesting starting around 1825. Due to his inventions ice could be harvested and shipped internationally.

The snow on a pond or river where ice was harvested had to be scraped of snow until ice harvesting time, which meant it was cleared many times during the winter. Plows pulled by horses piled the snow along the shoreline in snow dumps.

When the field of ice to be harvested was chosen, the field was lined off into squares. Sometimes the ice blocks measured 22′ x 22′, sometimes 22′ x 32′ as in New York.

Next came the ice plow which cut the ice about two-thirds the depth of the ice. Hand tools were used to detach the blocks so they could be floated through a channel that has been cut for that purpose to the ice houses located close to the shoreline. Hand tools consisted of steel saws and sometimes a bar or chisel as well as grapple hooks.

Sometimes horses guided the ice cakes downstream and sometimes a man or men on shore used poles to guild the floating ice to the ice house. [There are many pictures of these steps in the book, America’s Icemen. Pictures of the hand tools and plows are also available.]

Large ice house companies built elevators powered by steam to move the ice out of the water and up into the ice houses. Inside the house, the ice slide down shoots to the ice house floor. Men at the bottom using pole-hooks arranged them until the floor was covered. Several tiers of ice were made until the house was full. Lots of details, too many to list here, happen during this process in and out of the water, but this is basically how it was done. [Find more information from the provided links and books.]

Ice companies used large forces of men, sometimes as many as 100 to accomplish the ice harvesting.

I was surprised to learn that railroad cars could be loaded with ice destined for inland cities.

Ice Houses:

Ice houses were first built below ground. These were usually personal ice houses on farms.

There were little to no commercial ice houses prior to 1800. Frederick Tudor of Boston became known as the Ice King after succeeding in large domestic and export markets of ice.

Ice was being commercially cut on the Hudson River at Athens, New York in 1847 and by 1880 there were 160 large commercial ice houses along the Hudson.

Neighborhood Deliveries:

Horse drawn enclosed wagons delivered ice to customers’ homes all summer. Ice companies had ice routes in towns like the milkman. Most had scales on the wagons to weigh the ice. Some just guessed. It was up to the housewife to get a chunk of ice from her kitchen’s back door into her ice box. Ice deliveries were a mess on her floors and a big complaint.

Home Ice Boxes and Refrigerators:

In homes ice was kept in ice boxes and only lasted about two days. I found around 42 ice box manufacturers listed from the 1800s. A brand by D. Eddy & Son of Boston was the oldest and said to be the best quality. The ice box became outdated in the early 1900s by electric refrigerators. In 1913 the Domestic Electric Refrigerator was marketed in Chicago.

The historical story of ice boxes and refrigerators is another topic and too long to go into here. However, here are a few interesting facts.

From: Domestic Technology A Chronology of Developments by Nell Du Vall – This book is now very pricey. I feel lucky that I’ve had mine for years. I have seen used copies and if you write historicals or just plain love history, this book is a must have.

*Most domestic-use refrigerators didn’t come into use until the beginning of the 20th century.

*1899 Albert T. Marshall received a patent in 1899

*1918 The Kelvinator – I heard my grandmothers mention this one

*1919 Frigidaire

* 1931 Freon was introduced

*1939 General Electric introduced a dual temperature refrigerator for frozen foods and foods to be kept for limited time.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look at ice houses, ice harvesting and refrigeration. Below is a list of resources with more information.

Resources/Links

Books:

The Ice Industry of the United States (1888) by Henry Hall– excellent book

America’s Icemen, An illustarative History of the United States Natural Ice Industry 1665-1925 by Joseph C. Jones Jr. – I own a hardcover of this book but it’s become pricy. However there is paperback version fro around $16.00.

Tidewater Ice of the Kennebec River by Jennie G. Everson

Domestic Technology A Chronology of Developments by Nell Du Vall

Internet:

Ice House facts and history

Ice Harvesting in the 19th Century – Good site

Ice History – excellent sight with pictures and info on tools etc.

The Story of Ice Before Home Freezers

 

 

 

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Laughter – A Gift To Readers and Writers And Everyone In Between, in memory of my son, Alan

 

Laughter goes a long way to heal the body and soul. As a writer I’ve experienced laughter’s wonderful gift in real life events and in fictional movies and books.

 

 

Did you know that the Cancer Center of America supports laughter therapy for its patients?

Paraphrased from Cancer Center of America: After evaluating patients before and after a humorous events, results demonstrated that episodes of laughter help reduce pain, decrease stress hormones and boost the immune system.”

Ridding the body of stress hormones is important because stress “feeds” cancer. It also exasperates other illnesses and conditions.

Laughter is a superman among medicines.

I’ve always enjoyed funny books and movies, but I had my eyes opened to the vast benefits when I became my son’s caretaker for two years during his cancer treatments at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas.

There was no such thing as immune therapies then, and Alan’s battle was made worse by the fact that he could not be with his children very often. The chemo destroyed his immune system and kids are little germinators. So, his wife remained in North Texas, taking care of them and holding down the fort with only rare visits. We all felt Alan’s pain and stress over this.

Alan and I lived in a two-bedroom apartment within a mile of the hospital. His illness was already 4th stage when diagnosed and his treatment was extremely harsh. Often it seemed we took two steps forward, only to take one step back. The stress on both us took a toll, not to mention his physical discomfort.

Then one day, a stranger opened my eyes. As we sat waiting for the patient bus that would drive us to our apartment, I was feeling particularly defeated. A man’s hearty laugh drew my attention. For some reason it made me feel better and I glanced over to see what was so funny. I was shocked. Half of the man’s face was gone. I nearly cried. Not so much for the horror of his loss, but for the fact that I felt ashamed of myself.

I mean, here was a man who had lost so much and yet, he could still laugh. I determined then and there, that a defeatist attitude would win us no battles against the depression or the cancer.

And so Alan and I laughed — whenever we got the chance. Sure we had some low moments but we managed to find humor in almost every situation, and we used the he** out of it.

Even during the one-week intervals every 21 days, when he received chemo in the hospital, we laughed. We watched old movies together until the wee hours of the morning – didn’t matter how lame they were as long as they were funny. I remember one in particular, the The Cone Heads. We laughed till our cheeks hurt.

Laughter helped Alan push through his misery. It helped me to cheer him on.

One time we came back to the apartment to discover a bat-size moth roosting in the artificial fichus plant by his favorite chair. My big brave son jumped a foot when it flew out at him, and we became a couple of bumbling stooges trying to wave the darn thing out the door, him with his shirt and me with a broom. Again, we laughed so hard. Another time a huge and I mean Texas-size tree roach appeared on his bed cover. Alan came tearing out of his room yelling as me to “get it.” I’m like, no way! I don’t do creepy crawlers. But I found the trusty broom and the bug spray, batted the monster off his bed and drowned it bug juice. Then I teased the he** out of my son.

I have many such stories that happened during those two years. Now, almost five years after his passing, I remember our special bonding over shared laughter. In my grief, nothing has ever comforted or healed me more then those memories of laughing together.

I’ve always been fond of humor in the fiction I read. I suppose that’s why I like to write humor in my own stories. Like most writers, I’ve endured more than one crisis in my life and looking back, I realize humor and laughter have always helped me get through rough times.

One of my readers once said to me, “I know what you were going through when you wrote that book. How on earth did you write something so funny at a time like that?”

It was an easy question to answer. I told her, “the book saved me; its humor was an escape and reminded me what’s truly important in life.”

It’s my hope that the humor in my stories will — even for a moment — put a smile on the face of someone who’s having a tough time.

May is my son’s birthday month so I’m posting the special links below. I hope you’ll take a look.

You don’t have to donate money to help cancer patients. Only about 75% of patients have family members that are perfect matches for a stem cell transplant. You can save a life by registering and donating stem cells. Here are a few links to sites that will explain how it’s done.

On a special note: For some reason, Asian stem cell donors are few. Thus Asians and half Asians [like my son] have a more difficult time to find a match. If you’re Asian, please consider donating.

Links:

A You Tube explanation of the process should you be chosen to donate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyriQibRhLA

Real stem cell donor talks about how to donate stem cells and how easy it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPwNSd15phQ

BONE MORROW DONERS WORDWIDE http://www.bmdw.org/index.php?id=addresses_members&no_cache=1

How to become a stem cell donor

http://www.bmdw.org/index.php?id=become_donor

BE THE MATCH how to register & receive a stem cell test kit http://marrow.org/Support-the-Cause/Donate-bone-marrow/Join-the-marrow-registry/Join-now/

BE THE MATCH how to register & receive a stem cell test kit

https://join.bethematch.org/s/landing

https://www.anthonynolan.org/8-ways-you-could-save-life/donate-your-stem-cells

 

 

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Meet Ewok My New Puppy

Ewok & Me

 

 

Meet Ewok, my new Shichon puppy. He’s part Shih Tzu and part Bichon Frise. And because of him I’m adding a dog to my next book. He’ll be much bigger and in fact is half wolf. I hope my readers will enjoy reading about him.

It’s been many years since I owned a pet but since hubby is retired and we are no longer moving state to state, it seemed a great time.

 

The minute I saw Ewok’s little face, I knew he was for me. He’s one little furry cotton ball with blond ears and a small patch of blond on his back. And boy is he a little lover. 

I can’t wait till he’s potty trained so he can join me in my office while I write.

One might ask why a puppy? They are a lot of work!

Well, how I came to find Ewok is a long story.

I tried to adopt an adult rescue dog through Petfinder.com with no luck. I admit I had some criteria I was looking for a non-shedding, little dog. Unfortunately,  I had a devil of a time getting this organization to answer my questions about their doggies. I got my hopes up  several times [you have to be approved] only to have my heart broken.This organization even inspects your home if they think you are good candidate. I totally understand that. They don’t want someone chaining an animal outside on a dirt pile all day. I was ready and willing to jump through hoops and filled out their forms. Sadly we never reached the point of a home inspection.

One foster dog mom indicated I was too “old” to have an adult dog who was 3 years old. Now since I have neighbors who are 20 years my senior with pets, I was flabbergasted. Admittedly, the dog I applied for was adorable and many applied for her. I knew that would be the case and arrived an hour early for her showing. I was so excited, but like I said, it didn’t happen.

Another little dog that I loved on sight needed TLC as she’d been mistreated. After three weeks of waiting for a yea or nae, I emailed them. A couple weeks later I received an e-mail saying they had decided she was too feral and I’d have to adopt a second dog along with her so she could relearn how to fit into a family from the other better adjusted dog. Why they didn’t say this in the first place, I don’t know. They’d just stated she needed a quite home. 

Since my grand kids are out of state, I’d thought my home was perfect for this little dog, but taking in two dogs at once in my small home wasn’t a good idea, so ….

I inquired about other dogs and never received a reply. Each time, I gave them three weeks because the foster homes for these dogs is volunteer and I knew these people most likely had day-jobs.

Hubby got tired of seeing my heart broken and called our vet friend in Iowa.

Ewok

Terri was wonderful and recommended a certified breeder in Burlington, Iowa. This breeder even gives warranties with her pups. After talking to another couple who had purchased a pup from this breeder, I decided to go this route. 

I accepted that a puppy would be more work, but we are so happy with Ewok and he is such a loving little dog, healthy and cute as a button. 

So how did I name him? I’m sure most of you recognize the term Ewok as the name of the teddy bear-like characters in Star Wars. The Shichon puppies are commonly called Teddy Bear dogs for obvious reason and since I’m also a Star Wars fan from way back, Ewok just fit. On top of that when I researched dog names, I found none called Ewok, and I liked that he’d have a unique name. 

So tell me about your fur babies. I’d love to hear their stories and puppy tips you might offer too!

 

 

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Catching Up With A Few Funnies In English Language

Hey Everyone. Yeah it’s been since Christmas since I posted and I’m sorry for that. All, I can say is that it was quite a winter at my house. That’s why I decided a few chuckles were in order. So here’s a few funnies from our English Language. I received these from a friend’s e-mail so I have no idea who took the time to look these up, but I thank them for the laugh because really it’s no wonder foreigners trying to learn English have a difficult time of it. 

Enjoy these, and please feel free to add some of your own in comments. You know me, I love my lists!

1) The bandage was *wound* around the *wound*.

2) The farm was used to *produce produce*.

3) The dump was so full that it had to *refuse* more *refuse*.

4) We must *polish* the *Polish* furniture.

5) He could *lead*if he would get the *lead* out.

6) The soldier decided to *desert* his dessert in the *desert*.

7) Since there is no time like the *present*, he thought it was time to  *present* the *present*.

8) A *bass* was painted on the head of the *bass* drum.

9) When shot at, the *dove dove *into the bushes.

10) I did not *object* to the *object*.

11) The insurance was *invalid* for the *invalid*.

12) There was a *row* among the oarsmen about how to *row*.

13) They were too *close* to the door to *close* it.

14) The buck *does* funny things when the *does* are present.

15) A seamstress and a *sewer* fell down into a *sewer* line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his *sow* to *sow*.

17) The *wind* was too strong to *wind* the sail.

18) Upon seeing the *tear* in the painting I shed a *tear*.

19) I had to *subject* the *subject* to a series of tests.

20) How can I *intimate* this to my most *intimate* friend?

Okay, your turn to add a few of these.

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Happy 2017 Holidays Everyone!

Our Court Yard

It’s been some time since I’ve posted and I apologize for that. With vacations, family doings and some health issues to deal with, I’ve been lax.

Just to catch you up with some of my doings, I’m including some pictures below, but first …

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

For those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas please know that by wishing you a Merry Christmas I’m simply wishing you good things and wonderful family times as I’m sure you wish others when celebrating your favorite holidays. 

My biggest wish for 2018 is that we will find ourselves being kinder to each other. Kindness rubs off and comes back to make us smile.

If you love Christmas as much as I do and would like to read about the history of Christmas, the songs and traditions, click on the following links for part I, part II, Part III and Part IV of A Brief History of Christmas Traditions.

 

 

If you follow me on Facebook you know we took our family on a huge Disney Cruise this year with 11 of us altogether. The kids had a ball so did the parents. It was so much fun I’d do it all over again!

Silly was the name of the game.

Ready for Trick or Treat

Tug of War on Deck

Cajun night

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Where My Research Took Me – Spanish Guitars

I’m working on How To Kiss A Troll and you might wonder how a story about a Norwegian family led me to Spanish Guitars.

It’s simple, My heroine Bella, flees her father’s Texas Ranchero for Minnesota where the Norwegian hero, Ax Bjornson’s family shelters her.

Bella has had some trying times but through it all she had her music, a beautiful flamenco guitar handed down to her by her grandfather. Her guitar is made of the traditional Spanish/Mediterranean cypress which makes it very light.

 

The flamenco has Moorish and Spanish roots and the Spanish gypsies were famous for playing the instrument.

Many modern Spanish guitars are made of Indian rosewood or Maple because the cypress has become more scarce, thus making them very expensive. These modern versions are a heavier wood and this affects the tone somewhat.

Spanish guitars are played in a flurries of notes and are very percussive. They don’t sustain notes as long as other guitars because they’re made for volume and attack. I’m sure everyone has noticed how flamenco guitarists strum the strings very vigorously. The guitars are also smaller than the American guitars The result is sharper notes, sometimes almost metallic in sound. And instead of using a pick guard, the flamenco’s slightly different barrier allows the guitarist to tap his fingers against the guitar while he is playing.

During the Renaissance there were two types Spanish guitars, the Vihuela, played in court and the guitarra latina, which was played by ordinary folk. The Vihuela had eleven strings, five double and one single and was plucked. The guitarra latina had four double strings and was strummed. Soon a fifth string was added to this guitar and it gained popularity over the Vihuela. Toward the end of the 17th century as sixth string was added. The added strings helped the guitar to better heard in concert with other instruments.

In How To Kiss A Troll, Bella finds a fellow music lover in Ax’s sister. Mista. She plays a stringed instrument as well, the hardanger fiddle. Back then they looked different than the modern ones and the type of music played on them was very different from the Spanish guitar. But that’s another blog.

If you’d like to listen the flamenco guitars and see some Spanish dancing be sure to visit the links below.

Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inBKFMB-yPg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADwfyxpriAM

More music and Spanish gypsy dancers! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLFH01qJT3k

For more history:

http://www.spanishguitarlessons.org/spanish_guitar_history.html

http://www.linguatics.com/guitar.htm

 

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Humor – What’s Your Favorite Kind to Read or Write

There’s an old saying that says “life is stranger than fiction” and this holds true with humor too.

I think we’ve all been in a ridiculous situation that when we relay it to friends it sounds like we’re embellishing it just to get a laugh. But some stuff you just can’t make up. <g> Or can you?

I like to read humor and in all of my books, you’ll find funny situations that actually could happen.

 

 

I love when an author takes a perfectly sane character and throws them into a hilarious situation that while uncommon is totally believable. Some call this situational comedy.

An example:

Okay, this really happened. But it’s funny and it could happen to anyone . . . maybe. It’s a situation that took two normally sane people, me and writer friend Dee Speers and turned us into Ethel and Lucy. It’s too bad I write historical because it truly needs to be in a book.

Dee and I were attending a Romantic Times conference in Fort Worth. She lived in Phoenix at the time and had come to stay at my house out on the lake.

We jumped into my beautiful pearlized white Infinity and drove into town, styling long evening dresses for an awards dinner. We were driving and gabbing when we heard a tin-sounding pop!

Me: “Oh my God, what did I just run over.”
Dee: “I think I saw some kind of can roll out of that truck service lot over there.”
Me: “I wonder if it hurt my tires?”
Dee: “Better pull over.”

We pulled over into the truck service lot, hoisted our dresses and got out.
Dee looked at the passenger side of the car: “Oh my god!”

I rushed around the car to find black paint speckling the side of my pretty white car. My first thought. Tony [my husband] is going to kill me!

Me: “Oh, my god, we have to get it off before it dries.”

We’re both standing there with no way to do this. And yeah, we didn’t want to get dirty.

Two mechanics from the truck place came running with rags soaked in paint thinner.”We saw the whole thing! We’ll help.” [They were probably the buggers who threw down the spray paint can in the first place.]

They handed Dee and I extra rags. Looking like frantic Cinderellas, we hurried to scrub the paint off my car. The whole time, I’m praying the thinner won’t remove the white pearl paint too!

Finally all the black paint came off, but the mechanics advised us to get to a car wash fast and remove the thinner. Eau de paint thinner filled the car as we jumped back into the car. Thank God, there was a handy-dandy self-service car wash across the street.

At the car wash, Dee took the front of the car; I took the back. We each held our long dresses with one hand to keep them from getting soaked. In our other hand we brandish long metal pipes spurting soap and water onto the car.

Dee tried to brush hair off her face with the back of the hand that was holding her gown. That’s when the hilarity of the situation hit us. We both glanced up at each other over the top of the car and burst out laughing.

Ethel and Lucy to be sure, washing a car in evening gowns!

Then we jumped back into the car and hauled our behinds to the RT award dinner. I made Dee swear to never tell Tony, because he’d inspect that car until he found what he was sure was a speck of black paint.

We arrived at the dinner, a bit worse for wear and people asked where we’d been. We looked at each other and started laughing again. When we told everyone what happened we were dubbed Thelma and Louise because everyone knew that when the two of us got together, trouble found us. And as the evening proceeded, we proved them right all over again. That’s another story for another time.

Some types of humor happen when characters have personal quirks that make them a disaster waiting to happen. I’m not talking about the slapstick, clownish humor.

Here’s an example:

Remember the old TV series called Monk? Monk is a policeman who got fired after his wife died because he became phobic and paranoid. Throughout the series he sees a psychiatrist in an effort to cure himself.

On the surface we feel pity for Monk. But because of his quirks, very normal situations were turned into a hilarious nightmare for him. Funnier yet, he pulls everyone around him into his world of torment when they try to help or cover up for him. Voila! Otherwise common situations became bizarre and humorous.

The very worst kind of humor is forced humor because it’s not funny. It might be comical but it’s always kind of stupid and serves no purpose. Worse, it’s  not believable. It’s okay to watch a couple clowns perform on stage but in a book, it comes off as a farce.

Everyone likes different kinds of humor. Here’s a couple links that lists types and styles of humor.

Mark Nichol lists: 20 Types and Forms of Humor.
On Wikepedia you can study different Styles of humor. This list pertains to “how” people use humor.

What types of humor are your favorites?

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Sexy Writing Phrases For In And Out Of The Bedroom

Many of my writing buddies hate writing love scenes. I have to admit that they aren’t one of my favorite things to write either. I rewrite them more than any other scenes in my books. It’s not the idea of writing sex that bothers me; it’s making sure I get it right.

Merely fitting part A into part B turns your characters into stick people. It’s not sensual and it’s just plain boring.

Emotion is key. Emotion can really turn up the heat but there’s more to it than the heat.

If the character’s feelings and reactions don’t seem right, the problem could be that the characters aren’t ready for sex. Don’t stick a love scene in a book just because you think it’s time for one. [See gratuitous sex below]

Balancing emotion with the physical aspects can be tricky. Too much emotion or internalization throws cold water on the heat. Explaining how the “physical” touch makes the character “feel” is a good start on balancing the two.

No matter the story, sex needs to mean something. Good or bad, sex alters characters and their relationships.

Writing sex scenes demands your entire repertoire of writing skills: emotions, body language, dialog, and plotting [moving the plot forward].

Which brings us to the problem of Gratuitous Sex, sex that happens for no apparent reason. As writers, especially romance writers, we sometimes panic — “Eek! I’m a third of the way through the book and my characters should be having sex by now!” And then we plug in a sex scene whether the characters are emotionally ready for it or not! NOT SEXY!

Gratuitous sex is a throw-the-book-across-the-room mistake because the scene serves no purpose.

Another problem with the sex scenes in a book could be that they all sound alike. An easy way to discover if you’ve made this mistake is to plug all your love scenes into the Sporkforge.com website. It will show how many times you repeated particular words and phrases. Be prepared for a shock!

Repeated phrases in love scenes are particularly noticeable to readers. I hope my list below will offer you ideas for ways to change up your wording.

Yes, some of the following phrases in the list do, by themselves, sound like purple prose. Can’t be helped. It’s the nature of the beast. Keep in mind it’s how you use the list that counts. These phrases are meant to kick up your own creative juices. So study them, then write the love scene in your own words.

Note: For this blog, I robbed a few phrases from my other lists: Kisses – All Kinds, Descriptions of Men, Descriptions of Women, and Body Language. I could have included a few from my list of emotions too, but this is already a really long list. As it is, you will find some emotion phrases too.

So here’s the list of Sexy Phrases For In And Out Of The Bedroom

Absorbed the feel of him
Aching tension between them built
Acute surge of desire
Admired the full length of his powerful physique
Aflame with
Agile fingers fondled
All thoughts became superfluous but one
All-over kiss of two bodies
Allowing his erection to cushion against
Already plumb and swollen
An opiate, she had no wish to kick
An unfurling of
Anticipation so keen
Apex of her legs
Arched her back to better accept him
Ardent loving
Attraction that became much more
Attractive dishabille
Beautiful landscape of plains, tight abs and

Beckoned him like a siren’s song
Beguiling her with his
Between her thighs
Blood humming in her veins
Blown apart by heat
Body surged into hers
Bold caress of his tongue
Boneless limbs
Brain wouldn’t focus
Brazen hands
Breached her every defense
Breathless urgency
Breathtakingly aware
Brutal strength of his passion
Building of a gripping sensation
Bunched her skirt up her thighs
Burgeoning frenzy
Buried in her sweet heat
Burn, tremble and yearn
Catalogued every curve and dip
Caused women to hyperventilate
Charge of excitement
Chuckled at her goose bumps
Circled his hard length with her hands
Circled his neck with her arms
Clad only in panties
Clever hands
Climax came at her in drugging waves
Closed about her breasts
Clutched fistfuls of his shirt
Coaxing her to abandon
Collapsed, spent
Come hither grin
Complied without thought
Consuming climax
Convulsed with her orgasm
Crumbling barrier of resistance
Cry of release
Cupped her soft blond mons
Cupped him in her hands
Cupped his face between her hands
Curve of her collarbone
Damp quivery thighs
Dazed and mellowed
Deep dips and curves in all the right places
Deep primitive tug that signaled
Deep sense of completion
Deliberately stretching her
Delicate inner face of her thigh
Delighted with her excited anticipation
Devastating her control
Dragged his mouth from hers
Drank freely of him
Draped her arms
Drew her into the maelstrom
Driving force of his kiss
Driving hips
Eager to sample
Engulfing emotion
Entered her slowly
Enthralled her with his touch
Enticing image of her beneath the
Essential speed
Euphoric aftermath
Evocative stroll to the bed
Excellent molecular structure
Explored the texture of his
Eyes narrowed to half mast
Eyes slid shut in ecstasy
Familiar hot longing squeezed his
Fascinated with the soft roundness of
Feathery strokes of her tongue
Feel of him next to her
Feminine portal
Fervor of her response
Fevered skin
Fierce flare of yearning
Filling her
Final surrender
Fingers tangled in the curls at her
Firm curves and slender limbs
Firm male lips that knew what they were about
Flawless skin
Flexing muscles in his back and legs
Flicked open the buttons one by one
Flooded her
Fly apart
Focused on the sensation
Focused totally on her
For his private deletion
French cut panties and lacy bra cupped
Frenzied race to fulfillment
Full lips softened under his
Fused his flesh with hers
Gentle persuasion of his kisses
Going up in smoke
Grasped her knees and eased them apart
Gravelly words uttered against her flesh
Greedy mouth took bold possession
Handsome, hypnotic, and powerful
Hard little kernel of tormented flesh
Hauled in a breath and tensed
Head of his staff nudged
Head twisting frantically as he
Heart-shaped ass begged a squeeze
Heart-stopping tenderness
Heat and power radiated
Her body closed tightly around him
His erection bumped against
His hard thighs crowned her hips
Hormones percolated
Hot flavor of desire
Hot/warm honey
Hunk of sexy brawn
Husky voice whispered want and need
Ignited a hunger
Introduction of delights
It was damn potent
Joined her in the void of
Joined their heated flesh
Keening sound as she threw back her head
Kiss held  promise of fulfillment
Kiss spoke of things left unsaid
Kissed the back of her knees
Kissed the slender column of her throat
Kneaded her bosom
Knees clamped his naked hips
Lean muscles of his belly
Legs entangled with his

 

 

Lethargy of spent passion
Licking her
Lips fused and heldLips grazed the ripe buds

Long, liquid kiss that rushed lust through her
Long, slow ride of delight
Loomed over her
Lost her sensesLoved this swarthy virile man
Loving attack on
Low slung jeans hugged his
Low sultry, incoherent mews
Luscious vessel
Made him more rigid and engorged
Made mincemeat of her will
Mapped her body with his
Matched his rhythm
Molded intimately against
Molding her to him
Molten waves of pleasure
Narcotic power of his voice and eyes
Naughty smile that had him imagining
Nearly maddened
Nearly melted in his Armani loafers
Need that defied reason
Nerves stretched taut
Nibbled her ears
Nipples pebbled
Only he could appease
Onslaught of raw physical desire
Passionate tide overtook
Past her own will
Peeled off her tight blue jeans
Penetrated her
Perceived her every desire
Pert nipple beckoned
Picked up his rhythm
Plea in her eyes
Pleasure licked at
Plucked kisses from
Poised at her entrance
Potency of his presence
Preparing her for him
Pressed her back and took his fill
Pressed two fingers into the silken curls
Pressing her against his arousal
Primitive maleness
Probing in a slow repetitive rhythm
Prolonged the pleasure
Purring beneath his touch
Quiet sensuality brewed in
Quivery awareness shot
Radiated each others heat
Ragged breathing
Rained kisses across her silky shoulder
Rapid, shallow breaths
Reason tumbled into oblivion
Reckless savage lust unlike anything he’d
Reeled in wicked delight
Relentlessly moved her hips against his
Restraint that drove her to distraction
Riding rhythm
Ripples of pleasure
Rose over her
Saucy grin invited his touch
Savored her
Scent rising to torment
Sea of pleasure
Searing need
Seeking all her secrets
Sexy little mole on her
Sexy, tight man buns
Shackled his raging lust
Shaft reared hot and hard against her
Sharp spasm of need
Shattering climax
She was tight
Shocking, possessive gaze climbed
Shock waves of pleasure sizzled
Shuddering with desire
Silken length of her thigh
Sinewy arms holding her captive
Sinuous, leonine strength
Slick heat
Slid another finger inside.
Sliding thrust
Sliding upwards against him
Smelled of Jasmine and sex
Smoldering eyes drew him in
Sneaked into her heart
Soared high
Soft cheeks of her bottom filled
Soft coziness of passion’s aftermath
Spasms of pure unadulterated
Spilled his seed within
Splintered into
Startled by his intimate kiss
Stirring of primal needs
Stoking a fire
Stretching her softness
Stripped away her restraint
Stroking fingers matched that of his tongue
Sucking them into his mouth
Surge of his possession
Swiftly dealt with her clothes
Swirling hotly
Taking him to the hilt
Tampering with her sanity
Tangy taste and male scent
Tasted of heat and honey
Taunting the pink morsels
Taut steely muscles
Teased her lips apart
Teased the tiny bud
Tender assault
Tension built where their bodies
Testosterone was getting a workout
Throbbing inside of her
Tight-ass jeans left no doubt about
Tinder beneath his touch
Tingles ricocheted
Tongue dipped and swirled
Tongue skimmed her trembling lips
Tormented the hidden morsel
Touch provoked a cry of
Transcended physical pleasure
Tremors rose in the wake of his
T-shirt bulged with rock-hard chest and muscle-bound arms
Ultimate surcease
Unbearable heights
Unchaining wild, delicious feelings
Undulating hips
Urgent need flowed/commanded
Urging her on
Voice not entirely steady
Voice quavered with the after effects
Vortex of heady sensations
Wanton striptease
Warm and pliant
Warm, calloused man’s hand enfolded
Warm, wet, recesses
Watched her face
Welcomed with an open-mouth kiss
Wild and fierce possession
Wild ride
Wild, reckless and restless mood
Wildness brewed beneath the gentleness
With consummate skill
Withdrew and slid home again
Wrapped in a web of magic
Wrestled it off
Wrestled with his need

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized, Word and Phrase lists | Tagged , , | 4 Comments