Sunday, September 20, 2015

Be a Great Friend Today

I am posting this in memory of three dear friends of mine who left this world too early. They were all writers and we shared that special bond for many years. I still have gifts they gave me as well as the memories of telephone conversations and trips taken together. How I would love to see them once again and talk for a while. Their deaths were sudden and I didn't get to tell them goodbye or that I would not forget them despite the passing of time.

So if you have good friends, people that are special to you, do as Henry Beecher suggests. Fill their lives with sweetness because you never know when that opportunity will end.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Pink Palace: Win Some, Lose Some

This past weekend I was in Memphis and I got a chance to see the Pink Palace. It is currently a museum and has been since the mid-twenties. What is really interesting is the background of this massive, opulent house built with marble that has a pinkish tint. It was never a home. There was never a ball in the grand ballroom or a family enjoying the beautiful residence. 

The builder was Clarence Saunders, who founded the first self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, in 1916. The store featured aisles and a check-out lane. It was the beginning of a revolutionary way of shopping for groceries. The format, which would be a standard for supermarkets, made Saunders millions.
In early 1922, he began construction on an elegant Georgian mansion that was 36,500 square feet. Saunders claimed he was building a landmark that would last a thousand years. Yet he never got to live in the house. But by 1923, Saunders had lost his fortune in a stock market gamble. He had to file bankruptcy, and he lost the unfinished mansion to creditors, who donated it to the City of Memphis. It was opened as a museum in 1930. 

Saunders planned to name the house Cla-Le-Clare after his children, and it was called the Memphis Museum of Natural History and Industrial Arts. But the nickname given to it by the residents of the city, the Pink Palace, finally became its official name in 1967. I'm glad the house has been preserved. It's a great place for research, but still it seems a bit empty history-wise since there is no family story to go with it. I guess it proves the old saying true. People are what make a house a home. 


Friday, September 11, 2015

When Characters Create Themselves~I Love It!

Back a long time ago, when I used to believe everything that I was told about "how to" write and all this preparation and blah, blah, blah, I would fill out these detailed character sheets that had come from some writing source. Over time, I noticed I didn't use them much and that my characters had a tendency to travel their own path as I wrote, so I went with a simpler method. I believe how you write all comes down to what works well for you and gets you to "the end." 

For me, I do a general character outline on notebook paper. Name, age, profession, family. A few personal things. Just enough to give me an idea about who the character is. My characters develop as the story develops, and I just love the surprises! In my historical romance, To Save a Lady, I had no idea Elise was a window-shopper. It was just something she did on her own and I knew it was an aspect of her character that had emerged during a scene. 

Besides little surprises, there are big ones. Darlene, my Southern Lucille Ball/Marilyn Monroe gal, is one of my most popular characters and one of the most fun characters I've written. She was totally not planned. Years ago, I was planning to write a story for a contest and it was going to feature two dimwitted crooks. In that story, a blonde came running out of the house where they were stealing gasoline out of the mayor's Cadillac. I just called her Darlene because that sounded like the 50's. I never could make the story work and a couple of years later, I was thinking about it and it hit me that it was actually Darlene's story. Once I went with that, the story came together and so did Darlene's character. I just started out with her wanting to be a movie star like Marilyn Monroe. Her enterprising attitude all came about when I put her into action in the story. 

Another big surprise was the character, Rafe, in To Save a Lady. I was writing a scene with the hero, Jesse, on Grand Terre island. And up walked this guy and I was like who are you? It turned out he was Jesse's former roommate at school, the son of an admiral and now a privateer. He actually played an important role in the conclusion of the book. Although the second book was supposed to be another character's story, I knew the second book would be Rafe's. 

For me, the surprises like Darlene and Rafe are what makes telling a story surprising and fun for me. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How about a Hurricane Recipe? Yummy! #NOLA

The Hurricane was rumored to have been invented in the 1940’s at Pat O’Brien’s bar on St. Peter in the French Quarter. It is said that during World War II, bar owners had to buy several dozen cases of rum before liquor salesmen would sell them a case of scotch because rum was much more plentiful. The bartenders at O’Brien’s came up with a recipe mixing fruit juices with rum to try to get rid of all the extra rum. They called it a Hurricane for obvious reasons. 

Hurricane recipe:

2 ounces light rum
2 ounces dark rum
2 ounces red passion fruit syrup
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce fresh limejuice

Fill a tall glass, preferably a hurricane glass, with ice.
Shake ingredients with ice, then strain into glass. You can
add a pineapple or orange slice for garnishment.

(Of course, I’m gonna admit to taking the easy route myself. I used Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane mix and add rum and ice.)

You can enjoy a Hurricane while reading my romantic novel, TO SAVE A LADY, which is set in the French Quarter during the Battle of New Orleans in 1814.

A move from Paris to New Orleans brings disaster to Elise Plaisance’s predictable life as a lady’s maid. The son of her grief-stricken mistress disappears, and Elise is drawn into a dangerous web of espionage and deceit as the threat of war divides the city.
Captain Jesse Cross doesn’t fancy himself as a lovelorn soldier desperate for a woman until a mysterious French spy captivates his imagination. Their romance is a frail illusion, born in the darkness of a moonlit courtyard and never meant to last forever.
The enemy strikes. Both on the battlefield and in the Quarter. Torn between loyalty and love, Elise must risk everything to rescue her mistress’s son before all is lost. Jesse has to stop her even if it means sacrificing his honor and losing his life to save a lady.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Changing Leaves: The Colors of Autumn Coming Soon!

I live in the South so fall colors won’t be here for about seven more weeks, but I am so looking forward to the beauty of the fall. It is my favorite time of year. I love the weather and getting out and driving on the Natchez Trace which is such a treat during late October.

Like everyone else, I always say I love it when the trees start to change color. But did you know the color was always there to begin with? Tree leaves have natural pigments called carotenoids. These pigments produce yellow, orange, and brown leaves. However, during the summer, these colors are hidden by green chlorophyll, which takes over during the summer or growing season.

As winter approaches and trees get ready to rest, they stop photosynthesis and the green chlorophyll begins to disappear from the leaves. Then we are treated to yellow and orange leaves. Also cool nights of autumn help turn the glucose in the leaves of maple trees into a red color.

My favorite colors have always been the warm tones of autumn. It is almost like nature knows we need the comfort of warm colors before the cold of winter moves in. I am hoping we have a beautiful fall across our great nation this year and that we all get to enjoy nature’s beauty.