We remember and honor

Those who have served and who served now.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.

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Oklahoma

“Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain.”

I guarantee Rodgers and Hammerstein had no idea just how badly the wind can sweep on that plain.  Yesterday was a frightening example.  Though the death toll has been lowered from 51 to 24, that’s still 24 who are gone too soon.

Two years ago, my home state was battered by one of the worst series of tornadoes in history.  A massive EF5 roared through my area, going about 5 miles north of me.  I still remember monitoring the weather all day and huddling in my bathroom as that storm passed so close.  The entire power grid for this area was destroyed with one tiny exception — an exit off the interstate only 12 miles from where I live.  Once I learned about it, I made daily visits to the Starbucks there to charge my laptop,  phone,  iPod and  Kindle.

I also made changes to my storm preparedness gear.  Now I have a bike helmet (many storm-related injuries are head trauma and they recommend wearing a helmet if you can), an emergency radio with a crank and solar panel, a battery-operated lantern and a flashlight that straps around my head like a miner’s lamp (great way to keep both hands free and still be able to see).

I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to lose everything, or even worse, to have someone close to you die in a storm like that.  I can only pray for these families.  And I can donate money to help with the recovery area.  Organizations like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army  are helping with donations.  Please consider giving to one of these organizations or to others like it.  I have.  They helped my home state two years ago; it’s the least I can do to return the favor.

Oklahoma, we’re all praying for you.  And like the song says, you’ll be OK.  It’ll just take some time.

 

Breaking the Belle Curve

magnolia

 

 

I am a born and bred Southerner.  I lived outside the South — waaaaaay outside on another continent entirely — for four years, but despite the temptation of Wiener Schnitzel and apple strudel, my Southern soul still yearned for fried chicken and peach cobbler.  I even gave “fried chicken lessons” to several of my Yankee neighbors and tried to explain to another exactly what black eyed peas were.

Southern women have certain “things” that just are.  Things like courtesy, being able to correctly use the word “y’all,” the ability to tell someone to go to hell and make them look forward to the trip and knowing when to bless someone’s heart.

We call our elders Miss So-and-So, and despite being mumblesixty-ishmumble years old and being called Miss Marilyn myself, I still call my elderly neighbors Miss Vera, Miss Margie and Miss Lois.

I have a deviled egg plate, something NO respectable Southern woman is without. However I do not have a silver pattern.  It’s just too expensive and I’d rather travel than eat with Grand Baroque or Francis I.

Another thing a Southern woman does is make good chicken salad.  Recipes vary but the basic ingredients are the same.  I use cooked chicken, finely chopped pickles (I like the tart bread and butter ones), chopped hard-cooked egg, some salt and pepper and mayo to bind it together.

I made a batch last night and I am ashamed to say that I broke the belle curve.  I did something you simply are not supposed to do and still be able to hold your Southern head high.  I used some dark meat.  *gasp*

I can hear the outrage now.  I didn’t want to break the rules.  I just ran out of white meat.  There’s only a little dark meat in there and unless you look real hard you can’t see it.

But my sense of truth, justice and the American way insists I must confess my transgression.

So… fellow Southern Belles, do you follow the Belle rules?  Tell me your favorite.  Or your most recent transgression is you like.  I promise I won’t drum you out of Belle-dom.

TGIF

I’ve had a long, frustrating week in many ways, but it’s Friday (albeit a rainy one).  It’s also the day before the second Saturday of the month, so that means only one thing:

RWA chapter meeting tomorrow!

My local chapter is Heart of Dixie, and I’ve been a member for nine years.  I’ve learned a great deal from the other members, the monthly programs and the workshops we have periodically.  It’s a time to meet with other people who understand that voices in your head aren’t necessarily a sign of mental illness and who also understand the frustrations of operating in a publishing world that seems to change hourly.

The best part, though, is getting with my Writing Playground peeps.  We’ve been together since 2005.  The other four members of the group, Kimberly Lang, Andrea Laurence, Kira Sinclair and Dani Wade, have all sold to major publishers.  While I’ve sold around 250,000 words of short stories — the equivalent of 4 category romances — my name hasn’t been on any of them and none of it counts with RWA toward any sort of recognition.  The Playfriends, however, have recognized my accomplishments and continue to be supportive.

The long dry spell I’ve had during and since my divorce seems to have come to an end and I’ve been back in the writing saddle since the first of March.  I have a novella almost ready to submit to a publisher contest and a short romance (about 8000 words) nearing completion for submission to the same publisher. And I have some new story ideas too.  So it’s onward and upward for me.

And speaking of stories almost ready to submit, I’d better get back to them!

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Or I hope my absence has made you grow fonder of me.  ~grin~

I’ve been down with a nasty eye infection (it’s all cured now thank goodness) and I’ve been writing.

And writing and writing and writing.

My novella is complete and the synopsis is very close to completion.   I just have a tweak or two.

I have a short story almost ready to submit too.  It needs one more read-through to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking ahead to the next story.  What if…?  That’s how it all starts.