25
Feb

Book Launch Party - Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier - Elaine Faber

The public is invited to a book launch party at the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center, 9080 Elk Grove Blvd, Elk Grove CA on March 11, 2017 at 2:00 P.M. to celebrate the publication of Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, Elaine Faber's fifth cozy mystery/adventure novel.
Regular price: $16.00 Special book Launch price $10.00

. Refreshments will be served.

Mrs. Odboddy Undercover courier is the sequel to Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot.

In this WWII humorous mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy is asked to carry a package to President Roosevelt. Agnes is sure it contains secret war documents. She expects to encounter Nazi agents will try to steal her package. Along the way, she meets new friends as well as some unsavory individuals. An expected event puts her mission at risk and aid comes from an unlikely source.

Once in Washington, D.C. Agnes runs afoul of J. Edgar Hoover and his illogical hatred for Mrs. Roosevelt.

Undercover Courier is a fictional story with elements of historical facts tossed in for an enlightening, amusing and entertaining story.

Elaine is also the author of three cozy cat mysteries. Black Cat's Legacy, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer, and Black Cat and the Accidental Angel. These books will be available and specially priced at the book launch party.

All of Elaine's books are available at Amazon in e-book for $3.99.

19
Feb

Govt. Restrictions: One lb Coffee Every Six Weeks

Research while writing my WWII humorous mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, and Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, led to interesting facts about how folks lived during WWII.:

Rationing: American housewives willingly gave up their precious food, clothing, tires, and other goods to aid the war effort. Ration stamp booklets were issued and many items including sugar and fresh fruit could only be purchased with the appropriate ration stamp.

Due to blockades affecting Brazilian ships attempting to bring coffee and sugar to the USA during part of 1942-43, coffee was rationed to one pound every six weeks per adult. (This alone would be reason to go to war, wouldn’t it?)

Beef was in short supply and costly, as well as eggs, resulting in many resident chickens in suburban backyards. (In Hometown Patriot, Agnes obtains six chickens. Because she has no chicken coop immediately available, she puts them in the bathroom. What could possibly go wrong?)

Tires: A citizen only had ration stamps for five tires during the entire war. By today’s standards, that sounds sufficient, but bumpy roads and poor tires led to multiple flat tires even with speed limits of 35 mph.

Doctors and public safety professionals were allowed additional tire and gasoline stamps. Gasoline required ration stamps and folks were limited to only four gallons per week. Folks relied on car pool, buses, bicycles or had to walk. Men who worked out of town often had to board away from home for indefinite periods of time. (I am the result of my father’s weekend only visits while Daddy worked at the Vallejo, CA Mare Island shipyard. Whoops!)

Such shortages of food and other supplies led to black market ration books or ‘arrangements’ between friends willing to sell extra stamps for highly desired items. (Because of weekly trips to the USO to serve cookies, Agnes has to purchase a friend’s tire stamp. She also discovers a ration book conspiracy and sets out to expose the culprits.)

Victory Gardens: Many items in short supply were rationed. Citizens were almost required to plant a victory garden or appear unpatriotic. Suburban front yards were soon converted to rows of cabbages, zucchinis, tomatoes and carrots. Vegetables with a high yield requiring limited space to grow became the main ingredient of Meatless Monday. Even Mrs. Roosevelt planted zucchini in the White House Rose Garden.

Watch Towers: Ever fearful of another Japanese air attack on the West Coast, and the limited availability of newly discovered radar technology, volunteers became the ‘early warning system’ in watch towers every several miles along the California and Oregon coastline. (Agnes has an exciting encounter while serving at the watch tower in Hometown Patriot. You won’t want to miss this! )

Can you share an account of a WWII event or experience? Are you acquainted with a family member with memories of WWII? Wouldn’t they enjoy reading my novels? Only $3.99 at Amazon. Guaranteed to produce a chuckle or your money back!

Mrs. Odboddy–Hometown Patriot -Available in e-book and print at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv Agnes attempts to expose a ration book conspiracy and deals with the return of an old WWI lover.

Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier –Agnes travels across country by train, carrying a package to President Roosevelt. She is sure it contains secret war documents, and NAZI spies will try to steal her package. Amazon – http://tinyurl.com/jn5bzwb

Next time, I’ll talk about another WWII event or experience.

11
Jan

Remembering Salzburg, Austria

In 1987, my daughter and I traveled to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I kept a diary during that two week journey. Here are the entries from Salzburg, Austria.

Walking through the streets of Salzburg is like walking back into history. One sees houses with flower boxes, painted scenes on the exterior walls of the buildings, church steeples, roofs of clay tiles and bell towers. The streets are cobbled and many of the windows are made of leaded glass.

There are vineyards up on a nearby hillside and an ancient ivy covered building with sagging tile roof across the courtyard lends a medieval flavor to the view. Church spires peak out above the red tile rooftops on nearby houses and unconsciously we scan the faces of the passersby, perhaps expecting to see Mary Poppins. Dates carved on the churches range from the year 1200-1400. One church is said to be 1000 years old.

A kitty sits atop a nearby rooftop, meowing piteously, as tourists peer up and try to decide if he is stuck, hungry, or just bored and teasing the tourists.

We drive along a river and follow a road up the side of a grape-laden hillside to the very top. Below us, a park follows the curve of the river. We can see the tiny train below and churches steeples scattered among the rooftops. A storm is brewing and the sky darkens with rain clouds as we stand atop the mountain, looking down over the city which for hundreds of years is unchanging.

Yes, as modern times came, freeways and electric wires approached the city, the merchandise sold in the stores has changed, and automobiles replaced the horse carriages, which once clip-clopped along the cobbled streets. The narrow lanes remain the same, the lovely churches, fortresses, palaces, and hillsides are unchanged. The city will tolerate progress but it will not give in to it. Our modern conveniences are an intrusion on its medieval splendor.

Visitors from the United States marvel at the unchanging and apparently timelessness of this beautiful country. The land stretches out unspoiled as we compare it to our familiar busy cities. The mountains beckon hikers upward into the cold clean air. Though there are industrial areas, much of the land is still in its wilderness state, as it was at the moment of creation, lush and green and seemingly immune to modern marvels.

In the town of Salzburg, there is a town square where a street musician plays Ave Maria on a violin. Above us pigeons fly from rooftop to rooftop and the music echoes around the courtyard. I let my mind wander and it is easy to imagine the town filled with people coming and going up and down the tiny cobbled streets in horse drawn carts. Over here would be a peddler selling vegetables, and over there a princess is escorted by her ladies-in-waiting. Over here a group of soldiers march down the street, straight and tall, tired from slaying dragons on the hillsides.

Another day and music might have filled this same courtyard, not from the church but from the house down the street where a thin young boy named Mozart plays the harpsichord and writes melodies that will one day make him famous, even several hundred years later.
Over there a beggar sits by the church wall and begs for alms. Many pass him by, even as today, so many hungry people walk our streets and though we call ourselves “more civilized,” how many of us are guilty of turning away?

A horse cart clip-clops by, bringing me back to today as the last beautiful strains of Ave Maria fade into the sky. We give the musician money and move off down the street where we buy a watercolor painting of the church from a local street artist.

31
Dec

Remembering the YEAR OF THE CHRISTMAS STICK

Christmas Stick

In the early 1980’s, when my kids were young teenagers, we had to close our business, leaving us in considerable debt. Collection agency calls were daily occurrences. One month, I paid my house payment with the Visa card. We gave up a 1972 Cadillac convertible to settle a business obligation. The IRS emptied our meager bank account (without notice) to pay the overdue California sales taxes, resulting in bounced checks all over town.

That Christmas, we were financially challenged (as they might say now). We said we were "broke." No way was there any extra money for a Christmas tree.

My husband brought home a beautiful manzanita branch, mounted it on a base and decorated it with red Christmas balls. Not the traditional Christmas tree, to be sure, but pretty. We set our few presents underneath.

Hubby and I were prepared to deal with the substitute tree, trusting that things would be better next year. The kids hated it, calling it the Christmas Stick. They were embarrassed when their friends came to visit.

We muddled through that financial disaster, took a second mortgage on the house at 14% interest (true) and paid off all the debts. The next Christmas we were back on our feet, the kids had toys and we had a real Christmas tree.

I was thinking the other day that sometime in our life, we should all have a Year of the Christmas Stick. A year when we can’t afford to buy the children expensive gifts that break before New Year’s Day. A season where we do without the luxuries we’re used to, Christmas trees, lights in the front yard, presents and expensive holiday outings. A year when we walk in the footsteps of folks out there, by virtue of unemployment, natural disaster or illness, who are without a tree, and without gifts. For that matter, maybe some are without a home with a chimney for Santa to slid down.

It’s been over fifty years since the Year of the Christmas Stick. This Christmas Day, as our family stumbled from the table loaded down with ham and cookies and all the fixings and we gazed at our ten- foot- tall Christmas tree with gifts piled high, thought about the Year of The Christmas Stick. And we remembered its message.

We are grateful for the important things. We are blessed with our families, our health, our faith, all gifts from God. We remember to share our bounty with those who are in need. We remember that there are some folks who might think they were blessed to have a Christmas Stick with a few presents underneath, even if it was just sweaters and pajamas and sox, like my kids got that one year so long ago.

I remember how hard things were when we closed the business and struggled to make ends meet, wondering how we could make good on our business debts, keep our home and feed our kids. We struggled and persevered and made do with a manzanita branch for a Christmas tree. Looking back, I remember and can't help but thank God for the opportunity to experience the Year of the Christmas Stick. We all learned lessons that I hope we will never forget.

27
Oct

Reading Vintage Books for Fun

typhoonbook-2

A child learns to read and during early education, we read about the history of our country, read the text of a lesson, read the question, “If you have three apples and take one away, how many apples are left?” At some point, we begin to read for fun.

As adults, we read everything from Hotrod magazines about a 400 hp motor experimental car that runs on Black Flag bug spray or about the latest dirt in Hollywood. We buy it, borrow it or pore over it at the beauty shop.

According to personal taste, many enjoy thrillers, romance, westerns, how-to, or cook books. Now, folks are reading on the Internet, I-PAD, Kindle or who knows what?

I collect vintage books. I buy them for the book cover–perhaps with gold gilt lettering or an embossed cover. They look wonderful on my bookshelf. I have vintage books that range from the classics…to fascinating studies of Science and Health with Keys to the Scripture (1905) and Audel’s Answers on Refrigeration (1914)… (If you want to know anything about your 1914 refrigerator, let me know!)

Have I read all these books? No, but I have read many of them. Some are just too boring. Some are utterly fascinating from cover to cover. My favorite genre is mystery, but I am often pleasantly surprised to find a vintage book most enjoyable and informative.

The Yacht Club or The Young Boat Builder by Oliver Optic (1875) is a beautiful little blue book with gold gilt lettering and an embossed gold yacht on the cover. It would be considered a Young Adult book by today’s standard. I bought it from an antique store for $9.50. It is still available through Amazon (2008 printing) for around $15.00

The preface reads, “The hero is a young man of high aims and noble purposes. But he makes some grave mistakes. The most important lesson in morals to be derived from his experience is that it is unwise and dangerous for young people to conceal their actions from their parents and friends.” The book has several lithograph illustrations.

The book exemplifies the morals expected of young people in 1875. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if some of those high standards were still expected of the youth in 2016? Hollywood has proved a poor substitution for learning morals.

If you’re interested in learning more about how people lived and thought in earlier days, I recommend reading a vintage book.

Have you ever read a vintage book that left a positive impression?

9
Jul

A Short Story of Magic and Dreams- A CHANCE ENCOUNTER

hofpgartenchurch

In 1987, while visiting Austria, we were caught in a storm. Like our day in Austria we experienced the storm and the ringing church bells. The village and setting are real. There were cobbled streets and rain water flowing down the street and the fear and wonder were real. We were given this explanation for why they rang the bells...but the delightful interaction with the stranger is fantasy...or was it?
Have you ever had an experience that felt unearthly and ethereal?

********
Hofpgarten, Austria, 1987
The clanging church bells, crashing thunder and flash of lightning assailed my senses. Adrenaline surged through my chest like an electric current. Lightning lit the sky behind the church steeples across the street. Crashing thunder momentarily drowned out the clanging church bells.

Terror gripped my heart. Was I caught in a time warp of nature’s fury, transporting me to another place; magical, ethereal, and terrifying? How odd that I should feel such fear. Stay calm. It’s just a sudden summer storm. I stood transfixed in wonder as the elements crashed around me.
A torrent of water rushed down the cobbled stones, filling the gutters, threatening to flow onto my feet. Were the bells warning of some disaster? Have they declared war? Did someone assassinate the President? Does Austria even have a President?

I huddled beneath the narrow striped canopy of the clock shop. Cold spines of stinging rain drove against my face. Lightning flashed and I jumped at the next clap of thunder. The awning was pitifully inadequate and rain dripped from my hair onto my raincoat. Rain bounced off the pavement, forcing me closer to the wall.

And then, a man stopped beneath the awning where I shivered. “May I offer the shelter of my umbrella?” He tilted his umbrella, protecting me from the storm.

“Thank you, how kind.” His presence soothed my fears and my pattering heart slowed.

We stood side by side beneath the canopy, watching the ribbons of lightning zigzag across the afternoon sky.

“The storm came up so quickly, it caught me quite unawares.” I dabbed my face with a handkerchief and tilted my head toward the sound of the church bells.

“Sudden storms are not unexpected this time of year.”

“Why are they ringing the bells?” I tucked the hankie in my pocket. “Has something happened? Is there an emergency?” I gestured toward the deluge of water flowing down the cobbled stones, looking as though a river had overflowed its banks.

“They ring the bells to frighten the storm clouds toward another village.”
I struggled to suppress a smile, doubting the ability of the bells to drive away the clouds but pleasantly moved by his quaint belief in their magical power. “If that’s what you believe, I’m sorry to say, it’s not working. It’s been raining for half an hour.”

“Oh, it’s working fine.” His smile lit up his face. “But, the next village also rings their bells and the clouds are confused. They hear the other village bells, so they drift back here again. From village to village they drift. Soon they will find a quiet place where they can rest.”
We stood beneath the awning watching the rain and laughed, exchanging small bits of idle conversation. On the hillside above us, my pension looked down on the train winding through the valley and into the town. Cows dotted the nearby fields. The cow’s bells tinkled as they ambled across the meadows; the sound echoing from valley to hillside.
We stood so close to the stranger, I was warmed by the scent of him.
A whistle shrieked and he turned toward the train station. “I’m sorry, I must go. My train is coming. Perhaps you should seek better shelter?”
I nodded. “I’ll go into a shop as soon as the rain lets up a bit. Thank you again for sharing your umbrella.”

He caught up my hand and raised it to his lips. “It’s been a pleasure. I wish we had more time to…” His lips brushed my fingertips. “Good-bye.”

I looked deep into his eyes and in that moment, it felt as though I whirled through spasms of space and time. And in that instant, surrounded by light and the music of the bells, it was as though he and I had shared a lifetime together; infinite days and endless nights of love and hope. I heard the blare of 100 marching bands, saw the night sky explode in a cacophony of fireworks, felt the coolness of a 1000 springtime rains, the pink glow of 10,000 morning dawns and the wonder of a myriad of red and golden sunsets…

In those few seconds, it seemed we shared a lifetime. I shook my head, knowing it was a fantasy brought on by the magic of the bells and the storm.

He released my hand, waved a final farewell and strolled toward the train.
As he disappeared into the station, the blare of marching bands tinkled and became a warning bell, then silence. The music in my head became…a sparrow in a nearby tree.

The rain stopped. The sun cast sparkling rainbows through the dewdrops dripping from the shrubs. I touched the place where he had stood and his aura seemed to melt through my fingertips. “Wait! I don’t even know your name.” I ran toward the station, “Wait!” The whistle blew and the train clacked down the track. The magic spell was broken.

Years have passed. I’ve had a good life, all that one could hope for. Marriage, a satisfactory career and children. But, even now, when I hear church bells, I stop to listen.

Even now, the bells have the power to drive the storm clouds from my soul. I smile as I remember a summer storm in a faraway land. I close my eyes and relive the moments I shared an umbrella with a stranger. Were we caught up by a crack in time and space? In that instant, did we actually share a lifetime of love and laughter? Or was it only a dream that lasted for a second?

The bells ring on and I am reminded of that day when church bells echoed from one mountaintop to another, as the storm clouds scrambled from village to village in search of a silent peaceful place.

Finally in their frantic search, they drifted onto a quiet hillside where the only sound was the tinkling of cow’s bells, as they ambled through the meadows and disappeared into the mist.

29
Nov

The Year of the Christmas Stick

christmas stick

In the early 1980’s, when my kids were young teenagers, we had to close our business, leaving us in debt. Collection agencies called almost daily. I had to pay my house payment on the Visa card. We gave up a 1972 Cadillac convertible to settle a business obligation. The IRS emptied our meager bank account (without notice) to pay the overdue California sales taxes, resulting in bounced checks all over town.

Christmas came and we were financially in a bad way. No way was there much money for Christmas, much less a Christmas tree.
My husband brought home a beautiful manzanita branch, mounted it on a base, sprayed it white and decorated it with red Christmas balls. Not the traditional Christmas tree, to be sure, but pretty. We set a few presents underneath; mostly sweaters and pajamas and sox.
Hubby and I were prepared to deal with the substitute tree, trusting that things would be better next year. The kids hated it. They called it The Christmas Stick and where humiliated when their more fortunate and affluent friends visited.

We muddled through that financial disaster, took a second mortgage on the house at 14% interest (true) and paid off all the debts. The next Christmas we were back on our feet and had a real Christmas tree.

I was thinking the other day that sometimes in our life, we should all have a Year of the Christmas Stick. A year when we can’t afford to buy the children expensive gifts that break before New Year’s Day. A season where we do without the typical luxuries we enjoy; Christmas trees, lights in the front yard, presents and expensive holiday outings. A year when we can truly commiserate with folks who are unemployed, suffering natural disaster or illness, many who are without a tree, without gifts, for that matter, maybe without a home with a chimney for Santa to slid down.

It’s been over forty years since the Year of the Christmas Stick. On Christmas Day, as our family stumbles from the table loaded down with turkey and all the fixings and we gaze at our ten-foot- tall Christmas tree with gifts piled underneath, invariably someone mentions the Year of The Christmas Stick. And we contemplate its message.

We are grateful for our families, our health, and our faith, all gifts from God. We remember to share our bounty with folks who would feel blessed to have a few gifts for the kids beneath a Christmas Stick.

I remember how hard things were when we closed the business and struggled to make ends meet, wondering how we could make pay off our business debts, keep our home and feed our kids. We struggled and persevered and made do with a manzanita branch for a Christmas tree. Looking back, I remember and thank God for the Year of the Christmas Stick. We all learned lessons I hope we will never forget.

15
Oct

Is there always a full moon on Halloween ?

halloweenbag500
As I child of the 1950’s, at Halloween, my friends and I dressed up as ghosts, hobos, cowboys or Cinderella. Properly attired, we escaped out the door as soon as the sun went down. Invariably these trips were made alone or in groups of two or three, but without chaperones, since our parents stayed home to dole out the goodies to other trick-or-treaters.

I recall how we tromped through the neighborhood, knocking on doors. Our decorated brown paper bags were soon filled with cookies, cupcakes, oranges and often, homemade fudge or even a candy covered apple. It wasn’t unusual to be invited in to show our costumes to elderly family members.

Overhead, at least the way I remember it, the moon was always big and round and yellow with the face of the Man in the Moon watching benevolently as we tromped the streets.

Halloween these days? Kiddies are still at the door, but there is always a parent hovering on the sidewalk to keep predators and kidnappers at bay. Good-hearted grandmas can’t offer cookies, unwrapped candy or cupcake treats because any such treat would be thrown away, suspected of Ricin poison or a razor blade hidden inside. Children wouldn’t dare enter a neighbor’s house to show their costume to an aged parent, lest the risk of a depraved, perverted felon lurking in a dark hallway.

Even the custom of trick or treating has come into displeasure and is often substituted with private school parties, church carnivals with tailgate trick or treating and prizes for all participants.

Now, you might think that this article is about Halloween customs from yesteryear, but my main subject is not the practices of Halloween. It's actually about that pesky full moon I thought I remembered shining down on every Halloween trek through the neighborhood. Apparently, my memory was faulty.

While considering a particular topic this week, I questioned how often we had a completely full moon on Halloween. Imagine my surprise when Google research reported that the moon is actually completely full on October 31st only four or five times EACH CENTURY! Whoa! Who knew?

The last time we had such a Halloween moon was October 31, 2001, barely six weeks after the attack on the World Trade Center. The next scheduled Halloween FULL moon will occur on October 31, 2020. What an interesting, probably little known fact and a subject that screamed to be shared on Mind Candy Mysteries blog.

Now, if I knew a whit about the sun, moon and stars, rotation of the earth, planets or the galaxy, I could probably give you a reasonable explanation for such a rare occurrence, but since I don’t, you’ll have to do your own Google research to understand the why of it.

Suffice it to say that the occurrence of the first full moon since 1974, directly following the dreadful 911 World Trade Center disaster gave me just the mystery topic I needed for a blog post and a short story, soon to be posted at Kings' River Life online magazine.

Children will celebrate Halloween this year differently than the Halloweens I remember. as one more childhood memory bites the dust. One more pleasure that our grandkids will never experience, like riding my bike alone to the park, playing outside all day and not coming home until dark, or selling lemonade on the corner. These days, parents would be arrested for child endangerment for the former and a City Seller’s Permit is required for the lemonade stand.

But, there will be another full moon on Halloween in just five more years. That’s something to look forward to. October 31, 2020. How shall we celebrate?

16
Apr

Writing A Series - Black Cat Mysteries

cover_cat_eyes-realistic-face(smallforemail)The novel: Authors write from our hearts and can’t help but inject many of our own ideas, humor, personality, fears or interests into our characters, particularly the protagonist. Though limited to the physical capabilities of a feline, Thumper, the cat in the Black Cat Mysteries, is best described as having human emotions, thoughts, ideas, and knowledge. With this in mind, Thumper, therefore, is much of me.

>As a POV character in Black Cat’s Legacy, Thumper has waited for someone to return to solve the cold case murder from 25 years ago at the lodge. With the aid of his ancestors’ memories, he points out clues to help Kimberlee and her associates solve the mystery. Of course, someone stands in the way and creates chaos. Throw in a bit of romance and intrigue, a touch of espionage and a smidgen of fantasy and you have a real page turner.BCLL_Cover_Front (2)

The sequel: The author engages in a clever dance, writing a sequel to create what happens next. Assuming a mixed audience of fans from our first book and new readers starting with book two, we must give enough of what happened before to understand why this and that is happening in book two without spoiling book one.

Thumper plays a bigger POV role in the sequel, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer. By meeting his soul-mate, Noe-Noe, a cream tabby with eyes the color or mustard and stripes the color of marigolds, he has opportunity for more POV scenes and humorous conversations. Set on a Texas horse ranch, Thumper must stop a killer bent on harming Grandmother, even though he doesn’t like her very much as she has her own wicked agenda.

The third in the series: The third novel in a series must tie up all the loose ends within the three books, leaving the reader contented with the conclusion. As authors, we must answer all the questions satisfactorily and yet leave just the hint of a possible future plot. BCAA_Cover_Front_for_web

In the novel, Black Cat and the Accidental Angel Thumper and Noe-Noe are left behind following an MVA. Thumper suffers a head injury and memory loss. For whatever reason, Noe-Noe says, “Call me Angel. I’m here to take care of you,” refusing to share their previous life. What follows is a journey where Thumper, now called Black Cat in their new home on an Emu farm, experiences a spiritual journey of human emotions that include fear, loss, grief, shame, faith, jealousy, despair and joy as he learns, with the assist of divine intervention, that there are more important things than knowing your own name. (yes…there is an angel)

What’s next? In spite of my intention that my journeys with Black Cat are finished, one never knows what tomorrow brings. After all, as the muse for his character, he still lives within me, kicking and screaming to get out, wanting to share yet another adventure, even as I turn my attention to another series set during WWII.
****

Elaine.Faber@mindcandymysteries email
www.mindcandymysteries.com
http://facebook.elainefaber2 facebook
http://tinyurl.com/lrvevgm Black Cat’s Legacy - Amazon
http://tinyurl.com/lg7yvgq Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer - Amazon
http://tinyurl.com/nczzkd6 Black Cat and the Accidental Angel - Amazon

10
Mar

Life Versus the Novel

Thumperandbook

The Book Cover

A buyer picks up a book with a snappy, good looking, brightly colored cover with an easily read title and intriguing picture suggesting the story line. An appealing cover convinces the potential buyer to check the back for the book summary which should convince him to purchase.

How we present ourselves to the world when we go out in public, our clothing, our hair style, and our countenance is like a book cover. People have an impression of us based on appearance. It may not be fair, but it’s true. They instantly decide if they want to know us better or not. If, on first meeting, we are carelessly dressed, with poorly styled hair, and messy clothes, we create a poor impression. We may be the most likable person in the world, but if our appearance gives the wrong impression, who wants to take the time to find out? A nicely dressed, clean appearance and pleasant demeanor provides a good first impression, just like a well-designed book cover.

The Right Editor

To be successful, an editor goes through a manuscript looking for spelling errors, poor punctuation, poorly written sentences or scenes that don’t make sense. She inspires the author to dig deeper, to help the reader experience the story better, suggesting corrections in a gentle but constructive manner. She suggests changes that move a story to a journey, where the reader becomes one with the protagonist.

We all need an ‘editor,’ a ‘best friend’ brave enough to point out our faults, to tell us when we need to change our deodorant or pick the spinach from our teeth. She may point out the need to lose weight, stop drinking, or apologize when we’ve crossed the line. These are hard to hear but if we listen to our ‘editor,’ we can become better friends, parents, siblings.

Supporting Characters

Besides the main characters, a good story has interesting supporting characters. They are the friends, relatives, or even the pets of the protagonist. They provide the main character someone to interact with. Often they lead to the conflict that drives the story or help bring about the solution.

The supporting characters in our lives are much the same. They are our friends, neighbors, sisters, or the person that gets under your skin. They perform a role in our lives, not as close as our ‘editor,’ but close enough to add companionship or drama to our life. They keep life interesting. Without them we’d be like the guy on the island, talking to his beach ball.

Reviewing the Plot

The plot is the action in the story. It is about a hard-boiled detective, bringing the killer to justice, or the romance with the boy next door. A good plot sucks you in and takes you willingly along an adventure with a particular protagonist. During the journey you experience the adventure, both good and bad as if you were the character. You laugh or cry, are scared or surprised, just like the hero. At the end, you wish the story wouldn’t end and you look for the sequel so you can spend more time with these characters that have become friends.

Our lives are each a plot that varies from our neighbor. Our individual experiences could fill a library. We’ve raised children, had long and varying careers, raised families, overcome illness or grown up in rural America, maybe without electricity or running water. The list goes on and on.

Creating Conflict

A good story must have conflict or it isn’t a story. The girl next story must have a rival for her boyfriend. The CIA agent must have a villain to pursue. The puppy can’t find his way home. All these examples create conflict; something that prevents the main character from easily fulfilling the goal of the story line. If the CIA agent catches the villain on page one, where is the adventure? If the girl’s boyfriend doesn’t flirt with her best friend and break up with her, where is the romance? If the puppy isn’t lost, he’s just a puppy.

In our lives, things come along to give us grief. None of us has lived without conflict, whether it is in the form of lost loved ones, business reverses, children that disappoint, a sick pet, or a missed opportunity.

Without conflict we would not experience joy. If everything went totally right every day, we’d cease to appreciate anything. We have to experience pain to know joy, conflict to know triumph, and overcome problems to appreciate success, just as a book must have conflict so the hero can prevail.

Beginning-Middle-End

A good book has a beginning, a middle that holds your attention, and an end. An author writes his story with these things in mind. The beginning jumps out with an event that convinces the reader to travel this journey with the main character. A mystery must be revealed within the first few pages to keep the reader’s interest. A romantic situation must present itself quickly to draw the reader in. This brings us to the middle.

The middle is the crux of the story, where the character struggles to overcome the obstacles, but events go from bad to worse, and when all seems lost, we come to the end. The reader leaves the dishes in the sink to see what happens next.

The ending must tie up all the loose strings, solve all the puzzles and reach a conclusion that is acceptable to the reader. Did you ever read a 300 page novel and the main character dies on the last page. You want to heave the book against the wall!

As children, walked, then learned to run, got educated and grew up, leading us to the middle.
During our middle years, we usually married, raised children, and worked. Some of us divorced, overcame tragedies, lost loved ones and reacted to these events in ways that were affected by left-over impressions from our childhood.

As we age, our lives are now the result of experiences that affected us in the middle years. We may have retired, became widows or widowers, live alone or with children or pets. Thoughts of mending personal fences, writing wills, visiting that long-lost friend begins to occupy our minds. Whether we think of it consciously or not, we’re creating a satisfying end to our life story.

And the Satisfying Conclusion

In a satisfying end to a novel, the hero gets the girl, the killer is revealed, the interplanetary mission is successful, the puppy finds a new home. A satisfying ending leaves the reader wanting to spend more time with the characters. The challenge for the writer is to keep creating stories that satisfy the reader and keep him wanting to buy the sequel.

In an attempt to create a satisfying end, we question. Are there still things we want to do, places we want to go, folks we want to see? Have we accomplished all we hoped for or are there still unfulfilled dreams that might still come true?

Why not follow your dream? What better time than now? What are you waiting for? It’s never too late to start.

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