The blurb on the back of my latest mystery, “The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountainbriefly outlines the storyline. ‘While the government plans to build a secret facility, housing tract, and big box store that will easily put the local merchants out of business, someone is selling drugs to the teenagers on the nearby Native American reservation…
The frequent sightings of a mysterious woman in the woods accompanied by a mountain lion has Deputy Sheriff Nate Darling wondering if she is his missing sister, out of her mind and running with a mountain lion, or is she the legendary Native American Spirit Woman sent to help the troubled town?”
As an author, I always hold out hope for the chance to catch the attention of the big publishing house, but these days, agents are only interested in working with someone famous or possessing a platform of 10,000. We, of lesser fame and fortune must resort to Indie Publishing and self-promotion. Beyond writing a compelling plot and interesting dialogue, we must master the skills of publicist, bookkeeper, full time blogger, cover artist, and skilled orator, always keeping an eye open for opportunities to sell a book we happen to have handy in a large canvas bag.
I’ve become passably competent at most of the above skills, but I recently learned of another talent to master…In the off chance that I should run into that elusive literary agent on an elevator, or sipping a Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks, I must memorize what is called in the publishing world, an “elevator pitch.” Once I have the agent’s momentary attention, I must deliver a compelling ‘hook,” and within sixty seconds, convince him everyone from a Texas cowboy to a New York stockbroker will buy my book with his last green dollar, and that it will become a Best Seller.
I have practiced my ‘elevator pitch’ in front of a three-way mirror and perfected where to smile, when to pause for special effect, and when to use hand motions to emphasize the final sentence.
Unfortunately, I fear if I should ever be fortunate enough to find myself on that much discussed elevator, in spite of good intentions and hours of practice, I expect the conversation would more likely go something like this.
“Uh… You’re that Random House guy, right! Wait. Let me push this button and stop the elevator. I never thought… I have some notes here somewhere. Where is that paper? Well, never mind. I wrote a book, see? You’re not going anywhere special, right? About that book I wrote… You’re gonna love it. It’s called The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain. Do you like cats? There’s a mountain lion. That’s a cat, right? This lady goes missing in an accident and then there’s a mountain lion and a Native American spirit woman shows up. So, about this cat…see….
You can purchase this e-book at Amazon for just $3.99 at the following ling. http://tinyurl.com/y7rp7f3x Let me know what you think.
We quarreled this morning. I threw his favorite blue cup across the room. It shattered when it hit the hearth. I screamed “I hate you!” and ran out the door. I kicked the tires on my car.
I was angry all morning. Every time the phone rang, I was sure he was calling to apologize. Why didn’t he call? I wouldn’t call him. He was wrong, right?
The afternoon dragged by. It’s 5:00 P.M., and I’m leaving the office. … The traffic is terrible and I’m anxious to get home. It’s not that I’m going to apologize. It was his fault that we quarreled, but it’s too tiring to stay mad. I want everything to be okay between us again.
The cars creep along the freeway and I check my watch.
He should be home by now, waiting for me, listening to music, probably drinking a glass of red wine. I’m sure he bought me flowers. I can’t wait to see what kind he chose.
It started to rain and the leaves swirl across the highway, gathering on the edge of my front window. The windshield wipers swish. They seem to say,“hate-shoo, hate-shoo, hate-shoo.” My eyes sting with tears as I remember how I said those words. I didn’t mean it. I reach for the cell phone in my purse and touch instead, his gift to me, a melted chocolate candy kiss. I lick the chocolate off my fingers and smile, remembering the night, not so long ago and his words, “This kiss signifies my love.”
Now I'm ready to tell him 'I’m sorry', even if he was wrong. I want his arms around me. I want his lips to caress my throat. I want us to be together.
I don’t see his car. It must be parked in the garage. I know he heard me pull in the driveway, and even now, I can almost see him rushing to the door with a glass of wine and the flowers. In a minute, he will kiss me and whisper, “I’m sorry…”
I turn the handle on the front door. Why is it locked> I turn my key in the door and call his name. The room is empty. Where can he be?
A gust of wind rushes in, slamming the door behind me. My eyes are drawn to another chocolate candy kiss as it rolls off the table. A single sheet of paper flutters for a moment, and settles to the floor...
Hope your Valentine's Day has a better ending. Don't let the day begin or end without saying, "I love you." Elaine Faber
Some years ago I found my mother’s teenage scrapbook from (approximately 1930). In it was a handwritten copy of a poem called How to Make Love. It was sent to her by an admirer, Arthur Larson, from Big Falls, Minnesota around 1929-30. I don’t know if Arthur was the author of the poem, but I think more likely this was a poem or song. Copying song lyrics or poems, and mailing them to friends seemed to be a popular pastime among teenagers, (who didn’t have computers or TV’s, remember. Some had no phones). Mother’s scrapbook contained several different clever ‘sayings’ and poems or song lyrics.
If anyone has any information about its origins, please let me know.
How to Make Love (author unknown)
Do you want your girl to love you? Do you want to be her beau?
Then I’ll tell you how to do it, boys. I’ll tell you all I know.
Put on your bib and tucker and scrub your face real hard.
Part your hair right in the middle, boys, and slick it down with lard.
Put your dirty hat on sideways. Pull your Sunday pants up short
Get a red bow tie and a rubber band, and show her you’re a sport.
Get yourself some drug store perfume, and sprinkle it on your clothes.
And a dime’s worth will be plenty, boys. To tickle her little nose.
Use your buggy and your harness, and curry your trotting mare.
And buy her a pretty lasso, boys, and get your lady fair.
Tie a ribbon on your buggy whip, get a pair of yellow gloves
And take her to the county fair, and buy her what she loves.
Tell her she is prettier than a movie actress
Talk about her pretty curls, and about her handsome dress.
Get yourself a gold front tooth, and a Sears and Roebuck ring
A double note harmonica, and learn to play and sing.
Talk about her family, her granddad and her pap.
And before you know it, she’s sitting on your lap.
Tell her she is so pretty, she takes away your breath.
And before you know it, she’s a hugging you to death.
But, if she does not love you, boys. Just make her jealous then.
Tell her you love somebody else and she is just a friend.
Take her out to the dances and flirt with other girls.
Hug um’ close and whisper soft, and get them all awhirl.
Laugh out loud with the others, but to your girl don’t speak
And when she comes around you, boys, just turn from her your cheek.
Just follow these directions and she will be your wife
Or else she’ll marry somebody else… and hate you all her life!
The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain - My latest mystery novel.
I started out thinking this would be a humorous cozy, but the characters are much more serious in their attempts to resolve conflict. Nate is quite distraught, believing the woman in the woods with the mountain lion is his sister, Suzanna, who mysteriously disappeared following an MVA 3 months prior. The Native Americans believe the legendary Spirit Woman ‘protects the community.’ When Govt. demands create social unrest in a small mountain town, and drugs threaten the lives of their youth, the Spirit Woman and her mountain lion companion come to their aid. So, is the woman in the woods Suzanna, or the Spirit Woman?
THE SPIRIT WOMAN OF LOCKLEER MOUNTAIN brings a Native American legend to your mystery. Though there is a Native American reservation near the setting of my story, I made no attempt to make this an accurate depiction of a specific tribe or legendary figure. Native American culture includes spiritual beings felt to aid in daily life. These are sometimes represented by Kachina dolls given to children. However, my legendary Spirit Woman is completely fictional.
Was there a specific inspiration for this story? I intended to create a humorous cozy mystery regarding Lou’s sewer truck, The Pooper Scooper. Eventually her septic tank service would lead to the discovery of some crime when she pumped out a septic tank. I also planned a mysterious government facility nearby. Beyond that, I just started to write and before long, an owl crashed into Lou’s kitchen window and the legendary Spirit Woman came to play when she wonders if the Spirit Woman sent the owl. Nate explains that ‘seeing an owl during the day means someone is going to die.’
Authors are required to do a lot of their own marketing, especially for a new release. Under normal circumstances, my favorite way to market is to be out and about selling my books directly to the public at craft fairs and Writer events. That hasn’t been possible this year which saddens me. I love to talk to customers about my books and see repeat customers who are anxious to read the next book.
What comes next with the Spirit Woman? I’m currently working on the sequel. Though the Spirit Woman brings about some resolutions to the problems in the current story, of course, things change and new issues arise. In the sequel, the winner of a million dollar lottery ticket brings challenges and murder to Lockleer Mountain. The Spirit Woman and her mountain lion will return to assist in the new problems facing Lou and her friends. Look for this novel in 2022.
All my books are available at Amazon for just $3.99 in e-book.
My other Mystery Series'
Black Cat Mysteries: With the aid of his ancestors’ memories, Black Cat helps solve mysteries and crimes. Partially narrated by Black Cat. Who knew that a cat could bring such insight into a novel, from a cat’s often humorous and poignant point of view.
Mrs. Odboddy Mystery/Adventures: Elderly, eccentric Mrs. Odboddy fights WWII from the home front. She believes war-time conspiracies and spies abound in her home town. Follow her antics in these hysterical, historical novels as a self-appointed hometown warrior exposes malcontents, dissidents and Nazi spies…even when she’s wrong. Watch for the fourth Mrs. Odboddy adventure novel later this year.
Black Cat’s Legacy http://tinyurl.com/lrvevgm
Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer http://tinyurl.com/q3qrgyu
Black Cat and the Accidental Angel http://tinyurl.com/y4eohe5n
Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary NCPA Cover and Interior Design Silver award 2019 http://tinyurl.com/vgyp89s
All Things Cat (anthology of short stories) http://tinyurl.com/y9p9htak
Mrs. Odboddy-Hometown Patriot NCPA 1st Fiction 2017 http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv
Mrs. Odboddy – Undercover Courier NCPA 3rd Cover and Design 2018 http://tinyurl/com/jn5bzwb
The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain http://tinyurl.com/y82t4xs
Like newspapers and magazines of old, I'm going to post weekly installments of my unpublished Mrs. Odboddy book, Mrs. Odboddy and the Devious Doctor. Each week, there will be a brief recap of the story to date. Let me know what you think of this concept.
To set the scene. Story takes place in 1944 in small CA town. Elderly Mrs. Odboddy, a former govt. secret agent from WWI, now fights the war from the home front. In her last book, Mrs. Odboddy And Then There was a Tiger, she rescued a displaced carnival tiger, now temporarily housed in his traveling carnival cage at a friend's farm.
Agnes slung her leg over a limb in the apple tree and reached for a grip on a higher branch. “Hang on, Ling-Ling. Mama’s coming.”
The cat’s piercing shriek expressed displeasure that her itinerary at the top of the apple tree should be questioned. Godfrey, Agnes’s boyfriend, came around the corner of the house and peered into the branches. “Come down from there this instant. What in tarnation are you doing?”
Agnes pulled her skirt down over her rump, revealing a chubby thigh in flannel stockings. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that I’m rescuing Ling-Ling. She’s been up here since breakfast and she won’t come down. If you’d have come when I called an hour ago, I wouldn’t need to–”
“I came as soon as I could, Lambkins, after I called the fire department. They’re bringing over a ladder. Now, come down before you fall and break your noggin. Leave the climbing to the firemen. They rescue cats every day.” The sound of a siren shrieked in the distance.
“No need. I’ve almost got her.” Agnes loosened her grip on the branch and reached for the Siamese cat, who had climbed higher with each of Agnes’s attempts to reach her. “Just a little more. Come to mama, baby.” Wasn’t that just like a cat? “You rascal. I have half a mind to leave you here, and let you starve. Come here before I…” Crack! Agnes gasped as the branch under her foot gave way. “Saints preserve–”
Godfrey sprang toward the tree just as the branch broke. Agnes flung out her arms and grasped at branches to break her fall. Pieces of twigs and leaves broke loose as she plummeted toward the earth. Godfrey’s image flashed in and out of her thoughts, intermingled with her little ward, Maddie, and her granddaughter, Katherine. What about her attempts to save Shere Khan, the displaced carnival’s tiger? Would he find a home without her help? It’s true. Your life flashes before your eyes just before you die.
Agnes hit the ground with a thud. Her head flung back and thwacked against the apple tree. Then everything went dark.
A voice from far away called her name. “Mrs.Odbddy. Can you hear me?”
“Ow.” Her cheek smarted. Had someone slapped her? Her opposite cheek smarted. Another slap? Near dead, and now being attacked? What was the world coming to when an old woman couldn’t fall from an apple tree and die in peace? Agnes opened her eyes. Ling-Ling leaped from branch to branch and dropped lightly beside her hip. “Meow!”
Agnes’s head lolled back against the tree. Now she comes down, after I risked my life to… Her dizziness cleared. Godfrey’s face hovered over her, and two others. Firemen? What? Why?
Katherine knelt beside Godfrey and took her grandmother’s hand. “Grandma. Are you all right?” She turned toward the men in heavy overcoats. “Is she okay? Did she break anything?”
“Hard to say, ma’am.” Barnaby Merryweather, the older volunteer fireman, touched the lump on the back of Agnes’s head. “She has some scratches and a sizable bump on the back of her head. Her doctor should check her over to be sure. She took a pretty good whack. Agnes? Do you know what day it is? Who’s the President?”
“Ow!” Agnes swatted at the fireman’s hand. “Of course. It’s April 26, 1944, and Franklin D. Roosevelt is the President. Now, help me into the house.” Her hand dropped onto Ling-Ling’s back as she nuzzled under her arm. “I see the wretched cat managed to rescue herself
“If you’d asked my opinion before you risked your fool life, I would’ve told you she’d come down on her own, Grandma.”
“I called Godfrey. When he didn’t come, I thought I’d better get her down.”
“And, just see how well that turned out,” Katherine said, patting Agnes’s cheek. “You could’ve killed yourself.”
“It takes more than a bump to kill an old bird like me.” Agnes touched the lump on her head and twisted her neck from side to side. “Ow.”
“Give me a hand, Barnaby,” Godfrey said. One could always count on Barnaby Merryweather, a volunteer fireman for the past twenty years, always the first on the scene in any emergency, whether a kitchen fire or a cat up a tree. Godfrey put his arm under Agnes’s shoulder. “Do you think you can stand, sweetkins?”
“I think so. Let’s give it a try. You’re probably right. I should have called the fire department in the first place.”
MY LATEST PUBLISHED NOVEL:
After four cozy cat mysteries and three Mrs. Odboddy adventures, I was ready to try to write something different.
I set about to write a humorous cozy mystery starring Lou Shoemaker, the young, widowed owner of a sewer truck called the Pooper Scooper. She attempts to comfort her best friend, Deputy Nate Darling, who grieves for his sister, Suzanna, who mysteriously disappeared following a minor motor vehicle accident. Fully intending to make this as funny as heck with stopped up toilets and overflowing septic tanks.... the characters took over...as they often do with my writing.
Before I knew it, a white owl crashed into Lou's kitchen window. Despite the town's displeasure and without consent, the government began planning a mysterious military facility and big box store, sure to destroy the town's economy. During several chaotic events, a mountain lion and a woman in a long green skirt are sighted, resulting in positive outcomes .
Immediately the townsfolk determine that the Native Americans' legendary Spirit Woman, said to 'protect the community,' and known to travel with a mountain lion and a white owl, had returned with the intent to aid in the town's misfortune.
Oh my! Where did that come from? I've never written paranormal before.
Oh, sure, in my cozy cat mysteries, the cat's talk to each other and affect incidents to help solve crimes (see Black Cat's Legacy and Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer)... and in my WWII humorous mystery adventure series (Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot) we have to suspend disbelief at some of her antics... and maybe there was an angel in Black Cat and the Accidental Angel, but we never dealt with a Native American legendary spirit woman who may or may not be real.
And I've never written a male main character before. As the story progresses, Nate becomes more of the main POV character as a couple of suspicious deaths occur while Lou is out emptying septic tanks for local citizens and attends the nearby Native American Pow Wow on the reservation.
I could go on, but why spoil the entire story? It's just $3.99 for the e-book at Amazon http://tinyurl.com/y82t4xsh
or you can contact me directly and I'll send you a signed paperback copy for $15. (free shipping), Elaine.Faber@mindcandymysteries.com
I guess the point of this post is to say, that in spite of my intentions to write a humorous mystery about stopped up toilets and overflowing septic tanks, instead, a legendary Native American Spirit Woman demanded her story be told, so that's what I did. It's a change of pace for me, but, when all was said and done, I'm pretty pleased with the story.
Check out The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain. I promise you won't be disappointed. http://tinyurl.com/y82t4xsh (Amazon link)
The days grew shorter, the air crisper, the nights longer, and the whisper of leaves on the roof began to awaken each Christmas tree bird in their tissue paper in the attic. Something sang to them, called to them, until they wiggled with joy, crinkling their crepe paper walls. Soon, each Christmas bird ornament would be lifted from his crinkly paper bed where he slept since last Christmas.
As the year neared its end, the Christmas birds felt a thrill from their springy wire clips and gold porcelain bodies to their bright feather tails. The littlest Christmas bird lay warm and snug beneath Gold Bird. How he anticipated the coming holiday season. Soon he would be on the Christmas tree with his fragile glass friends and the others…the round ones with bright colored paint. They were not nearly as beautiful as his Christmas bird friends with their springy wires, delicate glass and pinchey clips that clasped them firmly to each branch. And though all his friends were lovely, he felt he was the most beautiful Christmas tree bird in the attic.
He closed his little red eyes and dreamed about Christmas Eve. From the top of the tree, he would look down upon the family gathered by the fireplace. Being part of the Christmas celebration made him feel truly alive. “I’ve been thinking,” he whispered in a trembling voice filled, “You are lovely, Gold Bird, but, in truth, I am the most beautiful Christmas bird.”
Gold Bird’s tail feathers quivered. “Really? Blue glass bird is made of hand-blown glass from Germany, with a fine blue feather tail. Antique bird is missing some tail feathers but he is so fragile, you can see right through him. We all have unique qualities, and all are as beautiful as you.” He fairly shook as he scolded the young bird wrapped beneath him in pink tissue.
“It may be true what you say,” said the saucy little bird. “But, the tree won’t be nearly as beautiful if I’m not right near the top.”
Gold Bird, being older and wiser, turned his head. “You obviously don’t understand the true meaning of Christmas. You don’t deserve to be included in the holiday events. You conceited fellow, it would serve you right if you got left behind this year.”
The Christmas bird trembled. The idea of being left behind scared him a bit. With a slight tremble, he said, “That couldn’t happen, could it? It’s not that you aren’t handsome, but my tail feathers are longer and softer and fluffier than yours, and…my…paint is much shinier.”
“Tut tut,” replied Gold Bird. “Not…another…word.”
For several uncomfortable days, the little bird lay silent in his cocoon of crinkly paper. Gold Bird’s warning haunted him. “You conceited fellow, it would serve you right …” Not to be there on Christmas Eve? He could not bear the thought.
The days grew shorter and a soft sprinkle of snow blanketed the roof. The wind whistled past the attic and the dark days edged toward December. Early one morning, footsteps on the attic steps awakened the Christmas birds. They held their breath, as their box was lifted from the shelf and carried down the stairs. “It’s time! Soon we’ll be on the Christmas tree,” the little Christmas bird whispered to Gold Bird.
One by one, the Christmas birds were lifted from the box. The young Christmas bird lay wrapped in his soft tissue wrapping. He heard the squeal as his friends were hung on the tree. He faintly heard music and children laughing. He even smelled the cookies!
“It’s almost time,” he whispered to Gold Bird. “It’s nearly my turn.”…but Gold Bird’s fluffy tail no longer tickled his nose. The ornament box was tossed into the corner; empty, except for the little Christmas bird. “Wait! What happened? I’m still here.” Overlooked in mother’s haste, he was left behind. His comfortable bed, now a prison, his beautiful body still swaddled in crinkly tissue paper. Muffled Christmas sounds reached his ears. A tiny plastic tear formed in his little red eye. “I was conceited and proud, and now I’ve been left behind.”
Christmas Day approached and he missed the entire Christmas season, alone in the box in the corner. On Christmas Eve, the family gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Christmas tree bird lay in his box, imagining the tree with his friends hanging on its branches. Even the scorned round ones were part of the celebration. “The round ones may not be as beautiful,” he lamented,” but they are on the tree, and I’ve been left behind.”
After supper, the family gathered by the Christmas tree. The little girl read from the Bible. “They wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and lay Him in a manger.”
Christmas bird thought, “I’m wrapped in swaddling clothes, like the baby Jesus,” and he imagined the tiny baby sung and warm, lying in a manger, warmed by the breath of the surrounding animals. He heard the daddy tell how Jesus came to earth as a tiny baby, and if we loved and trusted Him, He would take us to heaven and we would never be left behind. The Christmas bird sniffed, “I know what it’s like to be left behind. How much worse it would be, to be left behind from Heaven.” Then, his box jiggled, the crinkling tissue paper lifted away and the warmth from the fireplace touched his cheek.
The little girl lifted Christmas bird from his box. “Look, Mommy! It’s another Christmas birdie. He has a red tear in his eye. Can we hang him on the Christmas tree?”
Daddy lifted her and she hung the little bird near Gold Bird. Looking down from the tree, the joyous Christmas bird felt the love in the room as the family shared gifts with one another. Carols played on the stereo. The spicy aroma of gingerbread drifted in from the kitchen. The family laughed and sang. Christmas bird wiggled with joy. At last, he was exactly where he wanted to be. Gold Bird swung around from a nearby branch and gave him a tender glance. “Welcome to Christmas, little bird. Did you learn anything?”
The light from the fireplace reflected the tear in his eye, shimmering like a drop of gold. “I understand,” he whispered. “Christmas is not about who is most beautiful, who is round or who has the brightest springy tail. It’s not about carols or turkey dinner or gingerbread, or even about presents under the tree. The true meaning of Christmas is God’s love for us with the birth of Jesus. When we accept His love and believe in Him, we will never be left behind.”
(This is a fictionalized story based on my true experience .)
Corrine sighed as the comforting turkey scent wafted through the dining room. She glanced at the clock, mentally judging her Thanksgiving dinner’s preparation with the arrival of the daughter and grandchildren. Her mother’s china, crystal wine goblets, and silverware were lovingly arranged on the dining room table. Corinne continued polishing a silver fork from Mother’s rosewood silverware box and placed it next to a wine goblet.
She thought back to holidays at Mom’s house in year's past. The chandelier lights shimmered and bounced off each shining goblet and silver utensil. Mom would move a spoon a fraction of an inch and then place a chocolate kiss on each plate. “There, to show them how much they are loved.”
Corrine’s husband mumbled something unintelligible from the family room. “What are you doing in there?” Corrine called.
“I’m converting your Dad’s old 8-mm movie films to a CD. We can show the grandkids pictures from your childhood.”
Corrine returned to the kitchen and poured a glass of wine. She pulled her mother’s favorite casserole dish from the cupboard. Her thoughts turned again to memories of past holidays.
She recalled the Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners when mom and “the girls” all wore party dresses specifically chosen for the event. The tradition ended when her mother passed away.
Over the years, Corrine was now “Grandma,” and her daughter took her position in the generational family chain. Different little children bustled through the house. “Where have the years gone?”
Corrine returned to the dining room and placed the polished fork on the table. Using Mom’s silverware was a tradition that had continued for 60 years, throughout years of young motherhood and the same silverware still appeared on every holiday dinner table. It was a constant, defying the loss of loved ones, gray hair, or climbing through the links of the family chain. One day, the silverware would grace her daughter’s holiday table; a reminder of her childhood holiday memories. Using the silverware would become part of her tradition as she created new memories for her children.
When and where had Mom gotten the silverware? It wasn’t likely to have been a wedding present, since Mom and Dad were married during the Great Depression.
Corrine stood back to admire her table setting. It looked nice. “Oh! I almost forget the chocolate kiss,” she said, adding Mom’s droplets of chocolate love on each plate. Mom would be pleased she had continued the gesture.
“Honey, come take a look at this,” Corrine’s husband called from the living room. “It’s one of your Dad’s old Christmas movies from when you were a baby.”
They sat together on the couch, watching the jumpy black and white film flicker across the bed sheet pinned to the wall. The speckles became Corrine’s mother and dad. It was Christmas Day, 1946. Cousin Dolly and Beverly hugged giant dolls and little Allan sat on the floor in front of the Christmas tree. Corrine, a three-year-old toddler, held an enormous doll. An unbelievably young mother smiled at her from the bed sheet. Corrine’s nine-year-old brother chased little cousin Allan around the room with his new BB gun, making faces at the camera. Big sister and Cousin Wilbur ripped open puzzles and books. Only one last gift remained unopened.
Dad handed a large package to Mom. She smiled, looking uncomfortable in the spotlight. The Christmas wrap fell away. She opened the beautiful rosewood box filled with shiny new silverware. Her face beamed and she mouthed a silent “thank you.”
Corinne gripped her husband’s hand. How Dad must have sacrificed to buy such an expensive gift in 1946 when jobs were scarce and times were hard.
Here was the birth of Corrine’s most precious family tradition; the beautiful rosewood box filled with William Rogers' silverware. A connection she still shared with her mother, one that she would continue to share with her daughter and her granddaughter for years to come.
The oven buzzer sounded. The turkey was done. Corrine wiped tears from her eyes, picked up her wine goblet and hurried to the kitchen. Time was getting away and the children would soon be here!
Readers: Judy Vaughn's book, Strawberry Roan, is a collection of stories starting from her childhood on a New Mexico horse ranch where she trained horses . As an adult, she became a wife, mother, and a neurologist! She shares interesting events throughout her life in college, traveling through Mexico with an infant, and as a neurologist in a state mental hospital. Once I started reading Strawberry Roan, I found her book fascinating and hard to put down . I think you will enjoy reading my interview with Judy. (Elaine)
"Share something about yourself:"
I’m now into my third generation of a life bubbling over with three adult children and six grandchildren. Strawberry Roan, my memoir, recounts the part of my life spent in New Mexico (as well as several temporary absences for education and service) that too place from the 1950s to the 1980s.
"Tell us about your writing."
After I retired from forty plus years as a physician, I began to write the story of my beloved New Mexico youth. As I wrote, I studied the craft of writing for ten years. I wanted to write the best memoir I could.
I began writing short vignettes of my life in no special order. Once I had the story I wanted to tell, I arranged them into a loose chronology. Slowly I was able to show the roller-coaster of happiness and disappointment of my life, and how that was shaped into resilience and peace
"Who is the prime audience for your book?"
Horselovers! It's a horse story. Much of it involves the day-to-day details of caring for horses. There is both joy and sorrow. It will inspire any woman determined to balance an intense hobby, a family, and an unusual care-giving profession.
"Do you have other books published?"
Not at this time. I plan to publish another collection of stories, including a true family story from Tristan da Cunha, the most remote island in the world. I wrote A Quiet Little Civil Rights Project in 2013; it's no longer in print. I describe it in Strawberry Roan, Ch. XXI. " Beatrice Made Me Do It”
"How could you recall all the past details from your life, particularly conversations?"
Our brains reconstruct the details if we give them a hint. Most memoirs emphasize story over exactitude, emotional truth over facts. I frequently discussed my recollections with my sisters and others, and wrote the story that reflected our shared truths. Where facts seemed important, I sought documentation in newspapers, hundreds of photos, programs, directories and historical documents.
I sought to speak a child’s voice or a teen’s where needed and to show the author’s own opinions and feelings, both contemporaneous and in reflection,.
In my writing, dialogue was exact when I had a source, such as a letter, otherwise it was reconstructed. Sometimes I consolidated several true events for the sake of story interest.
I show that life was different in the last century. I trained horses with almost no help when I was very young. That was amazing, even to me. Reflecting on that, I recall Mother worrying about me alone at the barn, but I don’t see her jumping in the car to see if I was okay.
The take-aways in Strawberry Roan are often lessons in well-earned humility. The struggle for understanding continues.
"Where can your book, Strawberry Roan, be purchased?"
Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, Capital Books on I Street, Sacramento, CA., OP Cit Books, Sante Fe, New Mexico, Paper Trail, LasVegas, New Mexico. It includes over thirty personal photographs. . Also available at Amazon in paperback at https://bit.ly/StrawberryRoanBook
"Thanks for sharing your stories in your novel, Judy."
I'm sure my readers will enjoying reading your memoir and the interesting aspects of your life.
A HALLOWEEN STORY JUST FOR FUN
Jenny’s shrieks followed Tom as he skipped down the sidewalk to his 57’souped-up T-bird. It didn’t matter. When his girlfriend’s grew tiresome, he’d walk away. Women were like shoes. When the shine was gone, you got a new pair.
It was harder to leave Jenny than some of the others, but why stick around? Women always expected commitment and Tom wasn’t the committing type.
Tom checked his rear-view mirror as he ran his hands through his carrot-red hair. Not to worry. He’d have another girlfriend within the week. He stomped the gas and sped away.
Jenny clutched her black cat to her breast, “I should never have allowed myself to care so much.” A brown Maltese, a golden-eyed, pure white cat and a tan blue-eyed beauty from Asian ancestry, hunkered nearby, commiserating with her sorrow.
Reflections from Jenny’s wine glass cast a rainbow across the far wall. She took a sip and lifted her head. “Lord knows, I won’t feel any better with an orange one.” A faint smile twitched her lips. “On the other hand, perhaps an orange one is just what I need.”
The black and white longhaired cat in her lap gazed up at her and yawned. “Come on, guys, let’s get a snack. Then, I’m going shopping.” Her feline menagerie followed her to the kitchen.
Jenny gazed at the four cats hunkered around a pile of Friskies like the four spokes of a wheel; black, brown, white and tan. She remembered that Tom had a lunch meeting today at a little restaurant on Main Street. “Yes, I think an orange one will work out just fine,” Jenny whispered. “Let the games begin.”
Jenny lifted the lid off a dusty box from a garage top shelf and removed a black hat sporting a long black feather. She ran her fingers over its velvety texture, from nib to tip. “This will do nicely.” A mist of dust rose from the feather and disappeared in a wisp of breeze.
In her closet, she found a black pantsuit with shoulder pads and bellbottom pants, tucked between a tweed suit from the 1980’s, and a much older leather jacket, She shook the wrinkles from the jacket and frowned at the tiny moth hole in the left sleeve.
Had it been that long since she got the last one? She could have sworn it was just a couple years before. It was definitely time for a new one.
Jenny donned the pantsuit and the black feathered hat. She added a bangle bracelet and Lion head Medallion necklace to the ensemble and nodded in satisfaction at the image reflected in her hall mirror.
Jenny drove downtown and parked a half-block from Marvelous Marvin’s Magic Shop, next door to the restaurant where Tom was having lunch.
She stood outside the magic shop, admiring the items in the window. In a few moments, Tom strode down the street, his bright red hair blowing in the wind. Jenny caught his eye, and then dashed into the magic shop. Once inside the door, eerie shrieks and squeals of organ music, enough to chill one’s soul, came from an elaborate sound system.
Tom followed her into the store….. “Jenny, is that you?”
Jenny hurried through the darkened aisles toward a dimly lit corner piled high with boxes, capes, and baskets heaped with assorted magician’s paraphernalia.
Tom followed… until they were in the furthest dark corner, where the black light overhead caused the Magic Marvin’s Magic Shop logos on black shopping bags to glow in a neon aura.
Tom’s gaze followed the drifting feather, caressed by the breeze from the air conditioner. “Jenny? Are you going to a costume party?” His gaze still locked on the swaying feather.
“No, I was waiting for you.”
“For me? Don’t be tiresome. I told you… We have nothing more to talk about.”
“Oh, yes. I think we do.” She tapped her fingernail three times on the stack of black Marvelous Marvin’s shopping bags and whispered, “Dinkle, Dinkle, Catzenwinkle.”
Tom disappeared. The top shopping bag now displayed the image of a vivid orange striped cat with round glowing eyes, staring wildly from its paper prison.
Jenny carried the bag to the counter. “I’ll take this one.” She paid for the bag and left the store. Back home, Jenny poured another glass of wine, filled a plate with crackers and cheese and summoned her feline friends.
They came from under the table, from the top of the sofa, from under the bed, off the fireplace mantle, stretching and yawning. Like four spokes of a wheel, black, brown, white and tan, they circled the shopping bag decorated with the vivid face of the cat with glowing eyes.
Jenny sipped her wine and tossed each cat a bite of cheese, grasped the shopping bag and tipped it upside down, “This is Tom,” she said.
Out spilled a carrot-orange striped cat onto the floor. He gazed wildly around the room, his big round eyes filled with terror… The four cats nibbled their cheese and watched the newcomer with some amusement.
“Welcome your new changeling companion. Tom has come to live with us.” Jenny tossed Tom a bite of cheese, folded the shopping bag, and shoved it into the wastebasket.