Christmas This Year

Fall was waving goodbye. Crunchy leaves showcasing hues of orange and brown filled the woods and unattended lawns. A light snow began dusting the grounds covering all signs of green earth except for a few holdout evergreen trees and bushes. The sounds of wayward wildlife and whistling hunters ushered in the Christmas holiday, the season of giving as well as the time of making way for unrelenting changes.

*****

“The passing of time but not enough for you Bernard,” Mary Louise muttered as her youngest finished his breakfast.

“Ma, I’m ten years old now.”

“I know, but I still don’t want you to go.”

“It ain’t like I’m going far away. Whatcha scared of?”

“Mostly the older boys.”

“Why?”

“They won’t look after you the way your daddy and I always do.”

“Aaah Ma. You treat me like I’m still a baby.”

“That’s because you still are at least to me!”

“Billy is 13, and he won’t let nothin happen to me.”

“Billy is my oldest and you’re my baby.

“You mean, youngest.”

“Right.”

He tried to understand his Ma’s feelings. He was quiet for a while gazing out the kitchen windows. What he saw was the tall field grass signaling that the farming crop season was over. From where he stood, he could make out the silhouette of Billy and two other boys near Billy’s age. They were pulling a small wagon load of wood. They wanted to make sure they could feign off the cold. Oh, how he wished he could be right there with them. Weeks earlier he’d heard Billy and his friends discussing all they’d need for their trip. The list was short: firewood, matches, a few blankets, water, and sandwiches. From what he could tell, they wouldn’t be that far from home. How could he convince his Ma that she could almost see him while they hunted?

“Ma.”

“Huh?” She answered without turning away from the kitchen sink.

“I bet if Dad were here, the answer would be yes. It’s not just Billy and his friends, you know, Mr. Trainor, Lonnie’s Dad, will be out there too.”

“That’s nice. So Why do you think Mr. Trainor is going?”

“To make sure the boys are safe and to guide them through gun safety among other things I reckon.”

“What other things?”

“Well Ma for one thing when you get your prey, I mean turkey,” you have to dress the meat right away so that it don’t spoil.”

“Doesn’t spoil.” She corrected.

“Yeah. Doesn’t spoil. They have to pull the feathers off the dead bird right?”

“Yes. That’s only part of the process, Bernard.”

“What else is there to do? Eat it?” He asked in total innocence.

Mary Louise gave out a hearty laugh, shook her head and gave Bernard a peck on the forehead. No. There’s still more to the process but we can talk about that later.

*****

She’d high hopes that her husband would be home in time for Christmas. She’d not expressed that to the boys. She didn’t want to get their hopes up, so she kept the secret close to her heart. Afghanistan was light years away, and at any moment his leave home could be revoked. She’d communicated with him via Skype, and could see the sliver of a cliff in the background surrounded by a large body of water, maybe a river or ocean, but he would not confirm or deny that his unit’s mission included being surrounded by a lot of water and mountains. He was the Command Chief of a small technology unit, but she felt that serving and the head of the technology unit was only a part of his operation. He would only give her bits and pieces of information perhaps to make her feel that he was safe. Common sense guided her thinking, however. How could anyone be safe when at any moment the outbreak of gunfire or a bomb could render a good soldier silent. This was his second tour of duty, and she’d experienced him guiding troops through the rough terrain of the cliffs and mountainous regions.

“Mom. Mom.”

“What baby?”

“The potatoes are boiling over.”

Turning around to clean up the messy spill, she could see the boys heading back towards the house. “They’re back, Bernard.” But the response was that of the back screen door slamming. “Whack!”

As she ran to the porch, she heard the boys laughing and shouting. “Look at our big fat turkey and a bonus rabbit.” One of them yelled. Mr. Trainor had made his way to the porch. “I wanted to get the boys back home ahead of the storm which comes before daybreak but I wanted to err on the side of caution.”

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“Don’t worry Mary Louise. I showed them how to hunt. Now I’ll show them how to clean their kill.”

She was not as worried about picking the feathers and dressing both the bird and the rabbit as she was about her husband of 15 years showing up in time for Christmas. This year would be the second Christmas missed if he didn’t make this one. It wasn’t easy explaining his absence to the boys the first time, and she certainly didn’t want to repeat the heartbreak of his absence. To smooth things over, she’d planned a scrupulous dinner. They could play board games or strike up a football game with the neighbor boys afterward. All of this might, she hoped, work to keep their minds off their Dad’s absence. Perhaps Mr. & Mrs. Trainor and their boys would be their special guest. She knew that it was the spur of the moment invitation but would ask anyway.

With all that she had to keep up with, she didn’t want to forget Bernard’s needs. He’s growing up, and there’s no denying that but he has to understand that things happen when they’re supposed to and not before. There is an order to life that she and his dad wanted to honor. How do you communicate that to a child? They only know a small part of life’s puzzle. Somehow she had to convenience him that she in no way wanted to keep him a little boy, no mother wants that for her child. The act of waiting for a child is always in conflict with a parent’s timeline of moving to the next step. Or is it?

“Knock, knock. What time is dinner?” She heard a welcomed familiar voice from behind her say.

“I knew you wouldn’t miss another Christmas.”

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Runcible. Really?

In Edward Lear’s poem, “The Owl and the Pussycat,” you will find the word runcible. The mere mentioning of the word conjures up feelings of rustic surroundings or something crude. After looking up the meaning, I was way off the real definition. I admit that runcible is not in my day-to-day vocabulary for writing or speaking. It is words like this that can add a bit of depth to your writing and perhaps elevate your reader’s thinking. However, don’t forget to take into consideration your character descriptions, settings, genre and your readers in choosing appropriate words.

Go ahead and look up the word runcible and let me know your immediate thought and then on the true meaning. If runcible, is not a new word to you is it one of your common vocabulary words?

Enjoy a portion of the poem below and click here for the full version.The Owl and the Puss-Cat

III
Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
   Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
   By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
   They danced by the light of the moon,
             The moon,
             The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Christmas: Entertaining House Guests

christmas-wreath-door-1871547_1280-2016

Hanging a wreath on doors is a family tradition that has been carried on for many generations in my family. Grandmother’s wreath was small and she probably purchased it from the local old five and dime store in our small Georgia town. It only stayed on the door a few days before and after Christmas. In ancient Rome, people used decorative wreaths as a sign of victory.

The origins of the Advent wreath are found in the folk practices of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples who, during the cold December darkness of Eastern Europe, gathered wreaths of evergreen and lighted fires as signs of hope in a coming spring and renewed light. Christians kept these popular traditions alive, and by the 16th century Catholics and Protestants throughout Germany used these symbols to celebrate their Advent hope in Christ, the everlasting Light. From Germany, the use of the Advent wreath spread to other parts of the Christian world. Traditionally, the wreath is made of four candles in a circle of evergreens with a fifth candle in the middle. Three candles are violet and the fourth one is a hue of rose, but four white candles or four violet candles can also be used. Each day at home, the candles are lighted, perhaps before the evening meal– one candle the first week, and then another each succeeding week until December 25th. A short prayer may accompany the lighting of each candle. The last candle is the middle candle. The lighting of this candle takes place on Christmas Eve. It represents Jesus Christ being born.

As your guest arrive, one of the first things they will see is your front door. Make them feel welcomed as they arrive with gifts and surprises, no doubt. After all, they’re excited that they’ve finally arrived at your house.

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What are your going to serve your guest? Perhaps a light meal of ham and asparagus before bedtime is appropriate.bedroom-grand-paris-1880915_640-2016small-bed-with-curtainbed-289313_640

Where will your guest sleep? They’re tired and they want to be made comfortable. So whether the sleeping area is opulent or simple, not to worry, they will be happy. After all, they’re at your house and it’s Christmastime.

christmas-candles-1903827_1280-2016

What about the ambiance? There is nothing like the warm glow of candles. They are both soothing and can serve to confirm the spirit of welcoming that you have worked so hard to impart.

What’s next? Relax and enjoy your guest. Christmas is just a day or so away and the hard work is now behind you!

Story Writing

Whats Your Story Picture chalkboard-620316_1280

Not all stories are great and that is a fact of writing. Some stories are written just to get the subject matter off the writer’s mind, so to speak. That type of writing is very therapeutic. Other stories may be just an expression of pure  creativity. This type of story is sometimes inspired by another author or it may be drawn from the writer’s own personal experiences or from the writer’s pure imagination.

As writers, we have free range to create whole new worlds. Blog Post: World Building. Patricia Fuqua Lovett. Something to Think About: The responsibility of writers lies in providing the reader with a clear visual link. Think of those links as bread crumbs that lead your reader on a well-lit road or an enjoyable path to the quintessential gingerbread house located deep in the woods. But at the end of the journey, the reader is pleasantly surprised and thoroughly fulfilled after reading your story. Check out The Editor’s Blog, Author: Beth Hill. Beth proves great insight on feeding your reader. Engage Readers – Feed Them Tasty Fiction.

Writers hate the thought of turning off a reader. It is exhilarating when a writer engages a reader to the point of receiving requests for more, more, more. It is equal to a well-received chant from the audience of a live performance.

Happy writing!

Short Story: Book Drive

Blog Writing About things Remembered

Dressler’s vision was not as sharp as it had been in years past but then what would you expect from someone nearing 70. As a young girl, she enjoyed reading when she could steal time way from her assorted farm chores. Her parents were understanding about her love to read when she was assigned homework but not so much when she read books or magazines unrelated to her school work.

Library time was sparse but she always managed to visit the bookmobile even during the busy summer months. Small town living had its ups and down, for sure, and Dressler remembered that one of her down days was the week she was sick and could not visit the bookmobile. It always arrived on the school’s campus every Monday promptly at 10 a.m.

In those early years, she could read a book in two days or less. Now she struggled to see the fine print in most of the books she enjoyed.  Her taste in novel reading had shifted from fun-filled romance, science fiction, thrillers, and chillers. Now she gravitated more and more towards self-help, religion, and poetry.

Although she now relied more on full strength glasses, she had lost some of the zeal to read. She had, however, come to love her new method of enjoying a book.  She embraced her growing collection of audio books. The book that she was currently listening to focused on a nun’s mission to collect books for school age children in an out-of-the-way village in Africa. She connected with the nun’s mission so much that she began calling her church members, bridge partners and all the people she knew from her vast connection as a community volunteer.

She realized as she mobilized the hundred or so people on her contact list that although she was shifting way from the printed copy there were so many others that she could help obtain books. She embraced her new passion of putting a book in every child’s hand. The more time she spent contacting volunteers and collecting books the less time she spent focusing on her eyesight. Before she realized it, she had reached more than 500 school age children.

Note to followers, are you looking for a great summer read? Check out these three authors:

Author Ethel Wilson  https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Ethel+Wilson

Author Bridget Anderson http://bridgetanderson.net/

 Author Stephany Tullis http://www.amazon.com/Stephany-Tullis/e/B00D3P052W

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once Upon A Time: World Building


once-upon-a-time-719174_1920What magic words “Once upon a time”. Sometimes don’t you wish your writing could set your reader out on a trip to fairy tale land? Taking them to far away places or back in time or even forward in time. You invoke this magical transport with each of your stories.

As writers, we work in a concept that is referred to as World Building. The world you build captivates and transports your reader to those magical worlds that you want to transport them. You have to be careful, however, in building your world. Believability is a targeted writing element that your reader will ask for with each story.

Other than giving your reader a believable world to visit, you must give your characters in which they can live, work and thrive. Take a look at what writer/blogger Tim Hillebrant has to say about world building.http://thewritelife.com/worldbuilding/

What are some of your challenges or pointers in creating the world in which your characters live, work and play?

Writing On a Cold Wintry Snowy Day

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Sure, you want to sleep in and catch up on your rest. Like so many of us your week was grueling with chasing energetic kids, paying attention to demanding dogs, meeting many deadlines, fulfilling multiple family needs, negotiating bill payments, going to your doctor’s appointments… the list is endless. Oh, there is one more thing to add to the list, the weather:  snow, ice and rain.  This weather pattern was enjoyed or dreaded across a large part of the U.S. –including the deep south!.

Considering the long list of the week’s happenings I am sure there is enough creativity in your writer’s bag to muster up the will and energy to begin or continue a treasured piece.  Don’t fall down on your New Year’s resolution. Come on you can do it and without question you will be happy  you stretched yourself (both literally and figuratively).

Meg Dowell has some great suggestions on how to overcome the urge to not write on a day like today. Follow me as I apply a few of Meg Dowell’s suggestions – one of which is: Get It Done Earlyhttp://megdowell.com/2016/01/23/how-to-get-writing-done-over-the-weekend/

Have a great weekend writers and stay warm and toasty!

 

Writing Goals: Make The Most of Every Moment

Make Every Moment Count. Pixaby
Make Every Moment Count. Pixaby

Here we are Writers, 2016 and like me, I know you ushered in the new year with well written goals. Great! Writing hooks is an area that each fiction writer should tap into. Readers want to know shortly after opening a book or within a few minutes of reading a short story, the theme of the story. Reel them in quickly and keep the interest and momentum going. https://patriciafuqualovett.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/writers-readers-and-hooks/

Blogger Meg Dowell Novelty Revision (Putting ideas into words) gives detailed advice on meeting your writing goals for 2016. http://wp.me/ppJ8e-10S

Here is another aid to help in meeting your goals: If you have difficulty getting the writing juices flowing, you may want to use a few writing prompts to get you started. I talk about this in an earlier post: https://patriciafuqualovett.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/writing-prompts-using-old-media-clips/

Happy New Year Writers and together, let’s get moving on the all important 2016 writing goals.  Day 2 of 2016 starts in a few short hours and hopefully you will make every day count towards your goal.

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Red Christmas Box Mystery

Christmas Box Pixaby 2015
Christmas Box Pixaby 2015

Hearing the musical doorbell tones, Beth rushed downstairs just in time to see a late-model black SUV speeding out of her short but slippery driveway. Peeking through the side glass panel next to her front door, her eyes fell on a plain brown shopping bag leaning against a partially rusted metal rail. Slowly opening the door, she immediately felt light snow rushing towards her bare feet. Using the full reach of her slender body she managed to snare the bag and pull it inside the toasty room all without her feet ever touching the cold brick porch. This smooth gymnastic move proved that her early morning workout classes were well worth the 5 a.m. start time.

“Do not open ’til Christmas,” she read aloud. How silly is that, she thought. Who opens Christmas presents before Christmas? As she pushed the green and white tissue paper aside, she saw a small box encased in velvet wrapping and red trimmed ribbon. She gently took it out of the bag and placed it on the kitchen table,

With a knowing smile, Beth allowed herself to remember her last conversation Calvin. He made it crystal clear that they would not be able to talk until he finished his secret military mission. Could it be that he was back and they would be allowed to see each other on Christmas Day? Knowing Calvin as she did, she couldn’t help but consider that this could very well be his idea of a practical joke, however. For all she knew, the pretty red box with all its beauty just might only contain a small silver bell, or the box could be stuffed with bubble wrap, but surely it was a gift of significance. She would just have to wait until morning.just as the note read.

Just as she was heading back upstairs to resume her evening with Netflix, her cell phone jangled in her night robe pocket. So much for a quiet Christmas Eve.

“Hello. Hello. Hello. Is anybody there? ”

“Beth,” the voice on the other end said.

“Yes. Who is this?”

“I know you saw the truck. I know you picked up the package and I know you will wait until Christmas to open the red box, right?”

“Who is this?”

Just then the phone went dead.

“I know that voice, but I can’t place it.” she whispered.

Beth was not the type to frighten easily but with the arrival of the unexpected gift and now the crazy phone call she wondered if this Christmas was laden with problems. She just wanted a relaxed holiday. She just wanted to take time away from deadlines, traveling and managing projects. She had made plans to relax and enjoy a day of back-to-back Godfather type movies.

Going back to the kitchen Beth decided to call her next door neighbor, Dusty. He was retired, but he typically stayed in a ready police mode. After explaining her unusual evening events to Dusty she agreed with him that she should call the city police and perhaps stay with him at least til morning. But it’s Christmas Eve, she thought.

After drinking about 2 cups of Dusty’s strong black coffee, Beth gave in to her need to go to the bathroom and her phobia of using a single man’s bathroom. She feared that although Dusty was a good man, maybe he needed a little help with house cleaning from time-to-time. Her fear subsided the minute she made her way down the hallway.  Everything was cleaner than she had hoped for but just as she was about to open the bathroom door, she couldn’t help but notice a roll of red Christmas wrapping paper next to a small pile of red and gold ribbon. All of it, just like the gift that she pulled out the package that had been delivered to her front door earlier that day.

Just as she was about to turn around and run out of the house, she heard blaring sirens outside. “Dusty, she yelled. The cops will be looking for me. Meet me outside in the front,” she said just as she dashed out the rear kitchen door.”

“Ma’am don’t move.” She heard a cop yell. “Put your hands in the air.”

“Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, she pleaded.”