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Mankind Was My Business

“Mankind was my business; . . . charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all, my business.” I scanned past the many videos on social media of people fighting over things during Black Friday sales. People elbowed others to claim televisions or rice cookers. They trampled each other and wrestled dolls and video games out of outstretched hands, then they laughed derisively as they headed for the checkout counters. *** The term Black Friday has a long history –before it came to represent the big sales day after Thanksgiving where stores vie with each other to attract sales, it used to refer to the Wall Street Crash of the 1860’s. It all has to do with money and economics. Merchants willingly go into the “black” to meet sales quotas, but don’t let that fool you. If done right, they do not lose any money. They make up any loss by selling in volume, and often, once customers have been lured into their store, they buy other items. I think we should take the evolution of the word Black…
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Just Yesterday

Just yesterday, I was twenty years old. In college. Getting my teaching certificate. The world ahead was wide open. My dreams were finally blossoming. Just yesterday, I was in my forties. Married. Three children. A career that I loved. Things weren’t perfect and my dreams had taken a 180, but I wasn’t complaining. Just yesterday, I was in my sixties. Divorced. Remarried to someone who understood me better than anyone. Kids grown, married, with families of their own. One wonderful career accomplished; a second one just beginning. Just yesterday, I couldn’t hurry fast enough to get everything done that I wanted. Now I am here, at this stage of life. I look back to yesterday and it is full of memories, people, family, good times and bad. Just yesterday, I started with a list and now I hold this scrapbook in my hands. It is full, pieces stick out of the pages, stuffed full of memories. Every picture, every entry, every tiny scrap, good or bad, reminds me of trials, hugs, laughter, experien…

Getting my Money’s Worth Out of my TV

At the end of my day, I retreat into my living room and turn on my TV to relax. I pay for over 400 channels and feel I should get my money’s worth, but I have a hard time finding something I like to watch that keeps me entertained. I watch local news and avoid the national news. I do it because I need to bring down my blood pressure and not elevate it. Adulting has bombarded me all day long with its heaviness and I need to relax and feed my brain with positive thoughts. I watch game shows, rerun comedies, and old movie favorites. I find I go through cycles. I’ll watch the same game shows for months and then when I tire of that I switch to reruns. If I am in the mood for a movie, I’ll do a search and choose one that might sound interesting. If none sounds good, I go to my DVR’d list and watch one that I’ve seen multiple times. I’ll let you into some of my TV watching secrets. I’ll tape Jeopardy and then go back and watch the episode, answering the questions before the participants. I pr…

Seasoned

One writer friend wrote a memoir about her grandmother’s youth, a lovely photograph of how Grandma met Grandad. Another friend wrote a bio about her father and the hardships he encountered in his youth. Both wanted to capture these moments for future generations so that these dear people and their lives would not be forgotten. Another friend wrote a Christian devotional about the seasons in one’s life. Written like a workbook, the reader studies and assesses each facet of their lives. An eye opener, the book assures the reader that it has nothing to do with age; it might be possible to be at the start of one project or relationship in life (the spring) while at the same time be at the end of another cycle (the winter). I have never been one to notice age. As a child, I held my own among the adults around me. When I graduated from college and started out into the world, I stood shoulder to shoulder with my fellow adults, regardless of age or experience. I often forget that I might be am…

Unconventional Character Study

When I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, I thought it would be a piece of cake. Writing was easy. I would be rich and famous before I turned forty, retire from the daily grind, and spend the rest of my life touring the country – the world! – sharing my deep and intense knowledge of all things writing. I labored over that first attempt for years. I read every craft book available about character building, plotting a novel, and writing scintillating dialog. I wrote and wrote and wrote, but there was a disconnect between what the craft books said and what ended up on my paper. My biggest weakness was a realistic grip at “characterization.” Craft books back then focused on building a character from the outside in, how the character looked, instead of looking at what motivated the character and then how it projected itself outward onto how the character dressed and acted. So, I resorted to skulking, stalking, and slinking. I packed up my kids. At the time one was in elementary scho…

Scuttling my One Ship

Like Hernán Cortés, the infamous conquistador, I have decided to scuttle my ships and march forward to meet my destiny at all cost. Knowing I would retreat at the first sign of unpleasantness, I ditched all my other options and chose one course – forward. There is no looking back.

Cortés took on the whole Aztec Empire against all odds, and succeeded in defeating two great leaders, Moctezuma and later Cuauhtémoc, thus claiming Tenochtitlán and the whole interior of Mexico in the name of God and king.
Or so he said at his trial. 
In reality, Cortés could care less for either (he was an immoral and greedy man), and his tactics and character left much to be desired, but his determination is admirable.
I love the whole bit about scuttling all the ships so his men had no other option but to go with him into battle (and possibly live), or to stay behind and let the hostile territory or its inhabitants kill them off one by one. 
Now that is what I call guts.
Last January I decided it was time to ma…

Word Count

A lot of my friends are writers, so I get to watch them work. Each one has a different process of how they come up with characters, plot, and conflict. They especially work at different paces.
I have one friend who jumps into the writing immediately and isn’t satisfied unless she can accrue thousands of words on paper each day. I also have one friend who has to have a looming deadline (like days away) before she can sit down to write, and then spends complete days nonstop to meet that deadline. I have friends who write and write and write and then when “finished,” go back to edit and trim their manuscripts. Others edit as they go, polishing each chapter to perfection before moving on to the next. Some plot everything before typing a single word; some type and let the words create the flow of the plot as it forms on the paper. This is known as the plotter versus pantser (fly by the seat of their pants) conundrum. I’ve had to learn the hard way as to what works for me. Until a few years …