My Characters Shout at 4 A.M.

I had my alarm set for 6. Plenty of time to jump in the shower and put on my yoga clothes for my 7 a.m. class. Perhaps even time to read the local paper or take a quick turn around the garden to see what’s blooming.

But at 4 a.m. the characters in my novel started shouting at me. At 4:30 I gave up and got on my computer. They wanted to tell me a couple of ways my novel could end, and I knew if I didn’t start getting documenting them, the story lines might evaporate. That’s happened before although who knows if those brilliant ideas in the middle of the night are all that brilliant in the light of day.

Now that I have several pages of notes, I’m hoping Yvie, Lissa and Dez will let me sleep until at least ten of six in the morning. Does Dez really need to die? Probably, but won’t Lissa be devastated? Depends on the scenes to be written before those things happen – or not. I’m not planning on writing The French Lieutenant’s Woman with three different endings.

I promised to submit something to my Writers Forum for June 6 so I need to pull together 15 – 25 pages. At this point, the scenes don’t flow seamlessly. This is the first draft, after all.

Note: I didn’t have a picture to go with this blog post, so will use one from my garden. That’s a yellow achillea and a purple ground cover geranium. Notice the three leaf clover that should have been pulled, but it adds a different green to the photo.

 

 

These Boots Aren’t Made for Walking

White work boots are iconic for Eastern Shore watermen. These boots are at the Chesapeake Maritime Museum as a photo op. You stand behind on a step and put your legs into the boots while someone snaps your photo.

white boots

They reminded me think of boots I recently bought.

yellow boots tweaked

I’d bought a pair of tall boots from Tractor Supply a couple of years ago, but the bottom seams began to leak. I tried an epoxy fix which worked for a while, then epoxy with a mummy wrapping of cammo duct tape. They still leaked. I needed more substantial boots. I had a pair of Sloggers slip-ons that I really liked, but they didn’t work when we had standing water in the back yard and I needed to get to the compost bins.

I’d been in Baltimore for a dental appointment and wasn’t that far from Valley View Farms. It’s where I used to buy most of my plants when we lived on the Western Shore. I love that place. Anyway, I needed a size 10 and there was only one pair of tall boots in that size. I’d brought a pair of socks so I could try them on. I stuck one foot in and the size seemed fine. But I thought I should really try them both on just to make sure. I didn’t want to have to drive two hours back to return them.

I had just taken the photo above when I realized the boots were clipped together. I now had both feet in and short of falling over and removing them, I couldn’t figure out how to get them off. I debated about calling out for help, “boot removal needed in shoe department.”

Making sure no one was around,  I kangaroo hopped to a place on the wall where I could lean and managed to extricate one foot, then the other. Clipped together boots are not made for walking!

Two days later the Green Thumb group of the St. Michaels Woman’s Club held its annual garden tour. It was a nice day so I didn’t wear my chicken boots. This year one of the gardens we visited was the Children’s Garden in Idlewild Park. I didn’t even know it was there. If you haven’t visited it, it’s wonderful. It includes a maze in the shape of an oyster with a pearl fountain at it’s center. The concrete edging the maze has animal and bird foot prints.

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Docents visited the gardens the day before the tour so we could see them. We also saw the wonderful gardens at the historical society and three different gardens at the Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. Usually we do member’s gardens, but decided do something different this year.

I was a docent at the Rohman’s urban homestead in Easton. Their lot is 1/5th of an acre and the house sits on half of it. They grow an abundance of fruits and vegetables and have chickens, rabbits, and honey bees. They espalier, grow on wire supports, anything to give them a more productive garden in their raised beds. It’s an impressive undertaking.

The friends I have made in the Woman’s Club are a joy in my life. Marcel Proust said, “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” I am blooming.

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What Happened before Wildlife in the Garage

Friday night I came home around ten from an Eastern Shore Writers Association meeting in Berlin, Maryland. I went with Laura Ambler, Betty Ann Sands and Jo Ebling. The drive is an hour and a half  from Easton (almost to Ocean City, MD) and on the way Laura was talking about the Healing Tree in Berlin that Mindie Burgoyne had told her about. Laura wanted to hug the tree. We were a little early so we parked and walked to the tree – a weirdly twisted sycamore.

healing tree and Laura

Supposedly you feel healing energy when you put your hands near the tree. Didn’t work for me or Betty Ann. Looks like it worked for Laura like a shot of vodka. Jo said she felt something.

The meeting was at The Globe in Berlin. This small town looks very interesting. Sort of like St. Michaels, MD. Lots of shops and places to eat and drink. Perhaps worth a trip back during the week. It’s probably crawling with tourists during the summer season because of its proximity to Ocean City, MD so maybe this fall.

Our speaker at the meeting was Denise Clemons who writes a food column for the Cape Gazette in the Lewes, DE area. Denise, who is a master gardener, went into the Gazette office ten years ago to pitch a garden column. She was told they had a garden columnist but their food column person was really ill and that’s what they needed. Any writer worth her salt would have said yes and that’s just what Denise did. So for ten years she’s been writing a food column which is not the same thing as a restaurant review column. She told us no one will invite her and her husband to dinner. Hey, Denise, come on over. I’m not afraid. I was taught to cook by my Iowa mother who was raised on a farm. My cooking is overlaid with a garnish of Food Network tips. My specialty is figuring out how to make something wonderful out of leftovers in the fridge. It’s kind of liked Chopped!

At this point my husband would be saying, “please come to the point. What does this have to do with wild life life in the garage?”

When I opened the garage door – not to pull in my car – the garage is full of gardening stuff, I noticed a small frog hop into the garage and go behind a bookshelf full of odds and ends. It was after ten o’clock, way past my bedtime. I wasn’t about to try and find that friggin’ frog.

That day I had finally planted by window boxes and they were under the tree waiting for Saturday’s predicted rain. I had planted most of the rest of my raised-from-seeds seedlings but there were still a few plants that I had to drag into the garage. Including that rosebush!

The next morning I noticed that one of the cells where I had planted hyacinth beans looked like it had a seed sprouting. A sprout with  two eyes? Something wasn’t right. Turns out the little frog had found a bed for the night but before I could put my palm over his temporary quarters, he jumped out and disappeared again. It was raining and the prediction was for it to continue all day. I’ll be prepared for him in the morning and try to return him (or her) to the native habitat.

In the meantime I was working on the draft of the third book in my Romantic Suspense series. Late in the afternoon when I had left the office I was sitting in the living room reading. My husband was watching the news (turned up because his hearing aids are about to quit). Suddenly I had an idea about the plot of the book I was writing. I have learned from bitter experience that I need to get up immediately and write it down because if I don’t it will probably NOT come back to me. How this new plot twist insinuated its way between a thriller novel and political talking heads astounds me, but it did. I’ll work on that, and the frog, tomorrow.

Sunday morning update: checked for frog but didn’t see any evidence it had checked into the frog motel overnight. If it’s not raining hard today I may leave the garage door open and perhaps he will leave. I don’t want to find him dried up behind the paint cans.

Monday morning update: still no frog and still raining. That rosebush may not get planted until July.

 

Writing in the Fog

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At last week’s writing critique group, one of our members brought in this quote. “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”  — E. L. Doctorow

It was applicable to what I am working on right now—the third book in my Caribbean romantic suspense series. It’s been ten years since the last book (Circle of Dreams) and it often feels like I am driving in the fog. So it was heartening to hear a writer like E.L. Doctorow remind me that the whole book can be written that way. Then perhaps the sun will illuminate the second draft.

I now know how the third book ends, but getting there is still kinda foggy. I just have to keep writing.