Tag Archives: Gone with the Wind

#MFRW author…My first love.

I know I say this every week, but this topic could definitely go in a couple of different directions. Let me throw a dart on the wall and choose the specific first love I want to write about today.

Hmmmmmm…….

Okay, first book boyfriend love. That’s a goodie.

You may be surprised to know it wasn’t Rhett Butler from Gone with The Wind,

   

or Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice

even though those are the two romance books that set me on my chosen course. Nope. My first book dream lover was Brian Beldon

from the Trixie Beldon mystery series.

You all know I grew up in my local library from the time I was 8 years old. My librarian mamas were forever pointing me in the correct age group destination for books for me to read. I discovered Trixie Beldon and her family at the age of 9.

Brian Beldon, the oldest of the 4 Beldon kids, was 16 in the first book. He had movie theater good looks which were described as dark-eyed, dark-haired, and handsome, and he was the kid everyone looked to for guidance and advice. He was the one who always kept a cool head in the storm that was mischievous Trixie and her friends. He was the perfect older brother. I always imagined he would grow up to be a dashing doctor because he was forever giving first aid to his siblings and anyone else who was injured. I dreamed a little girl’s dream of someday growing up and marrying a doctor just like Brian.

To a nine-year-old myopic, overweight, and lonely girl, Brian Beldon was the epitome of innocent boyfriend first love. I was 26 when the series quit production in 1986. As happenstance would have it, in 1987 I married a dark eyed, dark haired… ( wait for it) Doctor.

Life imitating art? Or a really good wish? You decide, but whatever the reason, I have my very own Brian Beldon!

Want to find out who the first loves of some of the other authors in this blog hop are? Click on the links below and visit them.

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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Alpha Hero, Alpha Male, Author, Literary characters, love, Romance, Romance Books

Open doors…or closed doors?

My, my, my….there are so many ways to interpret what the title of this week’s blog challenge is. I’m going to go with the first thing that came to MY mind when I read it, namely, as a romance writer, do you write sex scenes openly, or do you leave them for behind closed doors?

The first actual romantic story I ever read was Pride and Prejudice. 

The sexiest thing about that book was its lack of sex. No hand holding, no touching except with gloves on and while dancing, no stolen kisses behind chaperone eyes. Lingering looks and side glances were the extent of the sexual tension shown. And I wouldn’t even go so far as to call it tension. More…expectation.

For hundreds of years after that book was published, the majority of romantic fiction remained the same. The hero and heroine fell in love, had their troubles, then got married. The End. The wedding night was never detailed; their children seemed to be sent from God as immaculate conceptions. You literally didn’t know how they got it on in the bedroom.

Even in the movies things weren’t shown. Remember the great staircase scene in Gone With The Wind?

A drunken Rhett scoops his wife, Scarlett, up in his arms and carries her up that grand staircase, the light fading behind them the higher he goes, his intent obvious. End of scene. Cut to the next morning with Scarlett lounging in bed, a girlish blush on her cheeks, and our imaginations left to run rampant on what occurred after the fade out and the bedroom door was shut in our faces. (Click here to see the actual filmed scene)

Fast forward a half century.

A little independent movie called The Devil in Miss Jones opened and sex – raw, in your face ( and every other body part) sex between two people…and even more than 2 people at once – was now on view for all to see and be…entertained by. It wasn’t shown in back street, urine smelling alleyway hole-in-the-wall porno theaters, but right on Main Street, USA movie houses. The people who stood in line for hours weren’t pedophiles or sex perverts ( although, I’m sure there were a few of those!) but everyday men and women, NORMAL people who were intrigued -and let’s be honest, titillated – about this movie and its usually forbidden subject manner.  It became an overnight cult classic that was accepted and viewed by the mainstream majority.

If you could watch sexual acts among consenting adults openly in the movie theater, sitting next to your neighbor, your boss, your politicians, even your doctor or dentist, why the heck couldn’t you buy a book and read about it openly as well?

Jacqueline Suzanne thought the same thing and wrote a little fictional tome called Valley of the Dolls.

 And while this wasn’t classified as a romance story but as literary fiction – nowadays it would be referred to as Women’s Fiction – it was a runaway bestseller and the major reason it was is because it talked about people having sex — and showing it!! All kinds of sex in all kinds of places – and I’m not just referring to locales, but to different orifices! (Orifi?)

Writers Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen E. Woodiwiss thought the same thing. Why couldn’t you show the physical side of a relationship? In detail? 

This new openness about sexual acts opened that bedroom door and they invited us in. All in! Before those two burst on the romance writing scene, if you wanted to read about what consenting adults did in the privacy of their bedrooms, you had to go to a certain brand of book shop and wander in the erotica section because that’s where the books with sex were kept. Or behind the counter and you had to – blushingly – ask for them by name and author.

 Rogers and Woodiwiss made it acceptable for the average romance reading MOM to buy a book with detailed sex scenes in them at the town independent bookstore, or the local Walmart, Target, and KMart.

Once that bedroom door was opened, it hardly ever closed again. Sweet romances still sell – a lot – but the majority of romance books written and sold now all have open bedroom ( and every other conceivable place and room) doors.

I’m with the majority on this one. I like reading about open bedroom doors and I write about open bedroom doors. In its baldest sense, I have an open door policy for my writing. Pun intended. I read all genres of romance except pure erotica. I do, though, read and enjoy erotic ROMANCES because –HELLO!!!– romance is the major part of the equation. A really good writer can devise a “love scene” where you never even realize the physicality of what you’re reading as much as you do the emotions involved in the physical aspects of what’s on the page. And let’s face it, if you’re getting a little…turned on…both emotionally and physically by what you’re reading, that author has done her job. I long to be that type of writer!

To quote the late and amazeballs George Michael,

“Sex is natural, sex is good
Not everybody does it
But everybody should
Sex is natural, sex is fun
Sex is best when it’s, one on one”
from I WANT YOUR SEX

Now, there are a bunch more authors in this blog challenge who may have interpreted this blog title just a little bit differently than I have. Let’s hop over and see what they’ve come up with, shall we?

 

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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, love, research, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

Books are my thing…

I can go in so many directions with this blog choice. My favorite books to read over and over; the type of books I like to read; my favorite genres and subgenres. So many avenues to explore. Sooooo, I guess I’ll tackle them all and see what happens.

I. My favorite books to read over and over. I’ve read Gone with Wind 42 times.

I know…I’m a little obsessive. But every time I’ve read it as an adult I find something fresh or a connection I didn’t see before.

I’ve read Pride and Prejudice 27 times.

In fact, I’m re-reading it right now!

I”ve read the Thorn Birds 16 times. I only saw the miniseries once, so that tells you how much more I like the book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve read each Harry Potter book twice. The first time along with my daughter, the second time on my own.

And because I find reading the JD Robb IN DEATH series is like taking a master class in writing a series, I’ve read each of the 45 books at least 3 times. You do the math on that one!

II. The types of books I like to read. Well romances, of course! Duh! I’m such a sucker for that whole Happily Ever After thing. I love a heroine who’s snarky and a little obsessive; a hard worker, and a strong believer in family. Give me a hero who’s part alpha/part beta; one who can be a leader or a follower or both at the same time! He has to be committed on every level to the heroine – emotionally, physically, spiritually and intellectually. Once he meets her there’s no one else he can envision himself with EVER! The same goes for the heroine. I love to cook and I love to laugh, so witty, engaging characters who eat like normal people and not super models getting ready for a photo shoot are my favorite people! I want to read about folks I could see myself being friends with. Make me laugh, make my cry, and feed my soul and I’m your reader for life.

III. MY favorite genre and subgenre books. This is gonna look a little like an Amazon key-word line! Stick with me here, folks: Romance-contemporary romance- foodie-humor -strong heroine- family. Let me esplan it, Lucy, in better terms.

Favorite genre: romance. Favorite subgenre of romance: contemporary romance. Elements of contemporary romance books – humorous stories about families with strong women. Add a dash of cooking into the mix and serve!

And just for full disclosure here, I also like the erotic contemporary romances of Jennifer Probst and Christina Lauren

   

and Regency romances ala Lisa Kleypas and Elizabeth Hoyt.

   

So, there you have it. My reading pleasures.

And because this is blog hop, click on over to these other romance writers to see what they consider their favorite books. You just might find a new author or series you’ll enjoy.


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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Alpha Hero, Alpha Male, Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Family Saga, Food lover, Foodie, Friends, Historical Romance, Literary characters, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

The art of #naming your characters

I love names. Especially names where you can actually see the origin. Like SIOBHAN ( Irish!) NICOLLETTE (French) ANTONIO (Italian.)

Naming characters has always been a little bit of an obsession for me because I like to find names that actually mean something inherent in the person. For instance, my name, Margaret, means PEARL. If I was going to write a story with that name as my heroine’s ( and I never will because I hate my name!!!)  I would most likely give her attributes associated with pearls – strong outer shells, they take a lifetime to evolve, they are rare. You get the idea.

When I start a new book I always start with my characters first and the naming process usually takes me a few days to get right, especially with my hero and heroine. I want their names to connect, to go together, to be individualistic, but nonetheless when you hear the names mentioned you think “couple.” Like Oprah and Stedman, Goldie and Kurt, Elizabeth and Darcy. See? They go together ( why does that song from GREASE keep playing in my mind??)

Some writers spend more time naming their fictional characters than normal, non-writing people do naming their children. I feel both are crucial. You don’t want to name your alpha hero Marmeduke and please don’t name your child Zippity Doo Cogwheel or FeMale Jones. Don’t laugh…I have a doctor friend who told me a story of her OB/GYN internship days and a couple named their daughter after the name tag the hospital gave her: Female. But they thought it was pronounced  Fe-mal-ay. People are weird. Names shouldn’t be.

There are as many books and websites detailing names as there are, well, names. Baby Naming books get new editions yearly, as the popular and trendy names for kids change with the culture. Old Bibles are great places to get names especially if you are writing an historical novel. Writers who cater to fantasy or science fiction have a great deal of leeway in naming their characters because they can call them whatever they want ( like Zippity Doo Cogwheel) since they are inventing their own world with their own rules.

You don’t even need a baby naming book – although they are a fast, easy reference tool. You’re on your computer, so just get to your search engine. If you click Google images and type in name-meaning ( and then the name you want, like Margaret) you will get an unlimited array of images with the meaning of the name. That’s how I got the Margaret sign above.

Naming your characters and then giving them attributes associated with the name is a fabulous way of actually bringing your characters to life and having them be memorable to readers. Would Scarlett O’Hara have been such an icon if Gone With The Wind was published with the original name Margaret Mitchell gave her of Pansy? “Frankly, Pansy, I don’t give a damn!” doesn’t have the weight of “Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn!”  Pansy means “thought”, Scarlett means “Sent from Heaven.” Now we all know Scarlett O’Hara never gave a “thought” to anything but herself and Tara, and as seen through the eyes of the men in her realm, sent from Heaven seems appropriate, no?

So, when you decide to name your characters ( or your children!) please please please give it careful, complete, thought. Don’t just pick a name out of the air or call them fruit ( anyone remember Apple Martin?) or weigh them down with a moniker they’ll never live down like Dweezle or Moon Unit. Give them normal, easily pronounced, meaningful names. After all, you want your readers to discuss your book with their friends and remember the characters names don’t you? You seriously don’t want them to struggle to remember what you called your hero and heroine. And if you’re really good – and very lucky – those character names will stand the test of literary time, like Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Rochester, Scarlett and Rhett all have.

When I’m not naming characters, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

 

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Filed under Alpha Hero, Author, Author Branding, branding, Contemporary Romance, Literary characters, research, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

The #book that changed my life…

The other day I was re-reading ( yes, I do this often!) THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ by  L.Frank Baum.

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Now, the first question you are probably going to ask yourself is, why in the name of all that’s holy is she reading this when she can watch the movie? After all, it’s a classic for a reason and the time involved to watch it is a mere 2.5 hours instead of days to read the book.

Good question. Trust me, I have my reasons.

You all know I lovelovelove Pride and Prejudice

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and Gone With The Wind.

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I’ve written several times in blog posts about how those books literally carved a romance writing career out of the dust for me. But, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was the first book I ever remember reading that actually made a difference in my life.

 

Let me ‘splain it you, Lucy.

lucy-gives-a-sexy-wink

Like Dorothy, I was a solitary child, a bit of a misfit ( okay, more than a bit!), and a dreamer. The only child of divorced parents who both had their own issues, I was often left to my own devices and sometimes found it difficult to stay out of trouble. Not bad trouble where the police and child services were needed, but stupid, risk taking stuff that I would absolutely lock my daughter in her room for if I ever found out she did the same things!!

I used to spend every afternoon after school at the local library. Back when I was a kid there were no such things as afterschool care, and my mother couldn’t afford a babysitter to watch her NOT-baby until she came home at 7 after work. So  I would walk each and every day after the dismissal bell to the library. Homework was always ridiculously easy for me so I spent the majority of my time reading through the book selections.

library

Now, if you’ve ever actually read the Oz book you know it’s a little different from the movie. I hate spoilers, so I won’t say how. What I will tell you is the moral of the story, There’s No Place Like Home hit me at a time when I was considering doing something really dumb: run away from home.

I won’t bore you with the reasons why I felt this was a viable option for me. Suffice it to say, I had my reasons. And to me, at the time, they were valid and non-negotiable ones. I’d been planning how to run away, what to take with me, where I’d go, etc..everything that was needed for a successful fleeing. Even back then I was a list maker and had filled page after page with my plans and what I needed to accomplish before I could go and start a new life away from…well, my old one.

My plan was sound. I was going to leave Friday after school. When the bell rang I would disappear. Thursday, though, I was sitting in my usual seat in the library, reading the Oz book, when I finished it. That moral I told you about? There’s No Place Like Home? Yeah, it hit me hard. After reading about all the troubles and problems and terrifying situations Dorothy had gone through, only to discover her heart’s desire was to be right back where she belonged – home – I had a tiny breakdown and a big change of plans.

That book quite literally changed the course of my life. As an adult I can see that my plans to run away were stupid, ill-conceived, and could have ended in potential tragedy. As a child, all I could see was heartbreak and depression. Somehow, I connected with Dorothy and her story. True, it was bald fiction, fantasy at that, but Baum made me feel as if Dorothy knew me. And more, got me.

I’ve never told this story before. It always seemed a little, well, to be honest, stupid. But I realize now that it’s not. I realize now, with perspective and the wisdom of age, that reading saved me, in more ways than one. It not only opened a word of imagination and joy to me, it also helped me appreciate the life I had.

So when people ask me what book changed or influenced my life and why, the answer is an easy one on both counts.

There–really–is no place like home.

dorothy

‘Nuff said.

I have a home library now, but if you need to find me I can usually be seen hanging out in these places:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Saying goodbye…

I’m usually not sentimental when it comes to leaving something or someplace. I’m not one of those people who take forever to say goodbye at gatherings. You know the kind I mean: just like that character from the old Saturday Night live routine The Thing That Wouldn’t leave!! So not me. When I say my goodbyes, I leave. Exit, stage right. Follow to the Egress. Jaeger, out!

vontrapp

But lately, it’s been a little more difficult to say goodbye to my characters when I’ve typed THE END in a manuscript. I’ve been living and breathing with them for several months and I’ve become devoted to them on so many levels, it’s maybe a little creepy. Well, maybe not creepy, but certainly unusual.  They are, after all, characters, not real people I’ve forged attachments to. But I’ve been in their heads,( okay, a little creepy!) showing their emotions, giving their dialogue a platform on the page to express themselves. I’ve been their mentor, creator, best friend, bon-vivant, encourager,  and chief comforter. And now they have left me…. I feel sad and restless and like an empty nester all over again.

Yeah, okay, I’ll admit it does sound like I need to get out more and be around real, live, people.  You’ve got me, there.

But hear me out. These characters, my babies for lack of a better word, are as close to me right now than my actual loved ones  are – maybe even closer – because I see the world through their eyes, hear their voices through my ears, and experience their crush of emotions through my limbic system. In the purest sense of  written form, they are me and I am they.

Okay, so now creepy and a little too science-fictiony for my sanity. But I think all the writers out there know what I mean. Here are a few pretty literary types explaining it much better than I am.

Cartoonist Berkely Breathed put it this way: “I will go to my grave in a state of abject endless fascination that we all have the capacity to become emotionally involved with a personality that doesn’t exist.”  Writer Teresa Mummert  says, “Sometimes I scare myself at how easily I slip inside my mind and live vicariously through these characters.”  But my favorite quote is from G.K. Chesterton: “I wish we could sometimes love the characters in real life as we love the characters in romances. There are a great many human souls whom we should accept more kindly, and even appreciate more clearly, if we simply thought of them as people in a story.”

So, that’s my rant for today. I’ll deal with saying my goodbyes to my most current characters much as Scarlett O’Hara did: “I’ll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.”

scarlett

The newest characters I’ve had to say goodbye to live in THE VOICES OF ANGELS, available from The Wild Rose Press and my local Toadstool Bookstore.

THE VOICES OF ANGELS

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Love is the last thing Carly Lennox is looking for when she sets out on her new book tour. The independent, widowed author is content with a life spent writing and in raising her daughter. When newscaster Mike Woodard suggests they work on a television magazine profile based on her book, Carly’s thrilled, but guarded. His obvious desire to turn their relationship into something other than just a working one is more than she bargained for.

Mike Woodard is ambitious, and not only in his chosen profession. He wants Carly, maybe more than he’s ever wanted anything or anyone else. As he tells her, he’s a patient man. But the more they’re together, Mike realizes it isn’t simply desire beating within him. Carly Lennox is the missing piece in his life. Getting her to accept it-and him-may just be the toughest assignment he’s ever taken on.

Available here: Amazon /// TWRP /// Kobo /// Nook

If you need to find me, you can:  Tweet Me// Read Me// Visit Me// Picture Me //Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Filed under Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Dialogue, Friends, Life challenges, Literary characters, love, MacQuire Women, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Voices of Angels, The Wild Rose Press, WIld Rose Press AUthor

An homage to Lizzy Bennett….

It’s no secret Pride and Prejudice is my all time favorite romance novel. I’ve written ad nauseam about my love for it. Gone with The Wind comes close, but I always view that book more of a love tragedy than a triumph. One of the reasons P&P is so near and dear to my heart is its heroine, the feisty, intelligent, loyal Elizabeth Bennett. I put her right up there with Xena. Lizzy may not have been a warrior princess, defending land and country with a spear and a wicked drop kick, but she is certainly – in my humble opinion – a kick-ass romance chickita.

I recently read a very good piece titled 9 Reason’s we will always love Elizabeth Bennett. These include:

  • She never received a formal education, but made sure to educate herself.
  • She was confident and sure of herself, and even someone as imposing as Mr. Darcy couldn’t intimidate her.
  • She always put her family first
  • And would definitely have nothing to do with a man who dared to insult them.
  • She wouldn’t accept a partner for reasons less than love…
  • An ideal she stuck to, in spite of the fact that marrying Collins would have given her financial security, something no woman in her time could get on her own.
  • She understood the importance of kindness over money and a harp tongue
  • She never, ever took advantage of Mr. Darcy’s feelings for her
  • And she always, always spoke her mind.

To sum all that up, Lizzy didn’t take anyone’s crap, be it from the snivelingly Mr Collins, who could make her family’s future miserable, or from the snotty Lady Catherine de’Bourge, a high born woman of power and influence. She stayed true to herself as a woman and as a person,  believed love conquered all, and that marriage should be for love and nothing else.

See? Kick-Ass romance chickita!

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The things I love about my favorite book(s)…

I have 3 favorite books.  They are all different genres, cater to different age groups, and I’ve read each one at least 5 times ( one waaaaaaay more than that- you’ll see why in a minute.) I tend to reread them because they are such central, integral  parts of the themes of my life and of what I write about.

As a child, I read The  Little Engine That Could probably close to 500 times. When my daughter was born I read it to her an equal number. This is truly -in my humble opinion- the best book EVER about self actualization. Whenever I think I can’t do something in life, whether it be get a book published, or learn a new tech savvy maneuver, I remember that little train, the mountainside, and the end result of his journey, and I KNOW I can do whatever I put my mind to.

The Wizard of Oz was quite simply the perfect book for me to read as a child because I had the same wanderlust and wishes to find my heart’s desire Dorothy had. I never appreciated what I had, and I was frequently on the look out for something better. It was only when I was married with a child of my own did I realize the truth of this statement: there’s  no place like home.

So, Gone With The Wind was the first complete romance novel I ever read – and I don’t think it was marketed as such when it was published. But it has everything a true romance reader loves: an amazingly strong, conflicted, beautiful heroine; a rakish, devilish and debonair hero who truly loves the girl; a sweeping cast of characters who live to show the H/H why they should be together, and a plot that continually pulls our main characters apart. Couple that with the heightened emotions of war, poverty and death and you have  an historic epic of love and loss. Now, the H/H don’t end with their HEA, but like the last line says, while putting hope in the mind of the reader that they will, “Tomorrow is another day.”

So, each book has the same facets and themes that I love: a strong, central character; an internal need coupled with a struggle for acceptance; a journey or task that needs to be accomplished; a lesson ( or many) learned about self; and an ending where the main character is a better person(or  in one case, a better engine!)

Why are your book YOUR favorites? Let’s discuss….

 

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Mothers…we all have them

Today is one of those days my husband refers to  Hallmark-made days. A day – he feels – greeting card companies institute and promote. I think I read somewhere  there are more cards sent on this day than on Valentine’s day and Easter combined.

And I believe it because we all have, or have had at some time, a Mother. We wouldn’t be here right now if we didn’t.

Since I am such an avid reader, Mother’s day got me to thinking about all the famous and infamous mothers in literature. There have been a bunch of memorable ones and like I’ve said before, Google and Wikipedia have lists for everything, so did a search for the Best Mothers in fiction.

Here are some of the tops names. See how many you recognize and if you agree with their inclusion in the list.

It’s interesting, I think, to note that two of the moms are defacto moms, not biological ones. Mammy, in GWTW, is Scarlett O’Hara’s nanny, and is African American to Scarlett’s lilly white, but she is closer to her than any mother who gave birth to her. Mammy is the sound of  Scarlett’s  conscious on most decisions, and cares for her charge more than Scarlett’s mother ever did. Mame Dennis is Patrick’s Aunt, but she raises him after he is orphaned and brings him to maturity, offering him a world of excitement and adventure to squash his staid upbringing. She instills in him a sense of fun and whimsy he’s never had before, all the while showing him unconditional love and devotion.

I also find it interesting that two of the moms – Mammy and Marmee – are raising their “children” during times of war and national strife and economic downfall. They valiantly attempt to protect their young from all the horrors of war – famine, poverty, loss – and help their children grow into productive adults. Ma Ingalls has to face uprooting her family to travel west for a better life. She copes with floods, drought, sickness, blindness, famine and poverty within her family, yet always manages to make their lives a little bit better through her kind actions and thoughtful heart.

Mrs. Lancaster must deal with every parent’s nightmare : a sick and potentially dying child with cancer. She wants nothing more than to make her daughter’s life light and happy despite the tragic diagnosis, and through her caring and loving ways, she epitomizes the intrinsic and internal strength of will every mother possesses.

That’s what I come away with from having read all these books: the strength of the “mothers.” Be it internal, external, religious or spiritual, all these women have strength, Strength of character, of morality, emotional strength, fortitude, and determination. There is not one mother on this list who wouldn’t fight to the death to protect their young. The instinctual force of maternal protection inhabits every one of them.

Today, think about your Mom, or the person you consider Mom. In a way it’s a little sad we have to earmark one day a year  to remember her – we should be paying her homage everyday, and in the perfect world without stressors and strife, we would. But today, call her and tell her what she means to you. Sending a card or flowers is nice, but in reality, the thing your mom wants most is the gift of your time – of you!

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The Power of Friends… in Literature

Where would Nancy Drew be without George Fayne? Where would Huck Finn have wound up without Tom Sawyer? Scarlett may have derided her, but Melanie Wilkes was her best friend hook, line,  sinker and soul. What about Elizabeth Bennett and Charlotte Lucas? Without Charlotte, Lizzy may just have wound up married to the horrible Mr Collins. Charlotte did her a solid by marrying the little worm. Harry Potter,  Ron Weasley and even Hermione,  were the best of ‘mates. And dear God, could we have had Sherlock Holmes without John Watson?

In my last post I talked about my friends and what having them in my life means to me. Literature is  chock-full of besties and we are all better for having shared in their friendships, albeit second  hand.

Friends in literature serve so many purposes aside from simply being  “a friend.” They are foils for one another’s characters; sounding boards for ideas, problems, and resolutions; cheerleaders and soul soothers, and best of all, the true  friend will always steer you in the right direction when you are going the wrong way, tell you if you have spinach in your teeth, and hold your hair back when you need to vomit. This last one is literally and theoretically!

My two favorite books of all time are Gone with The Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Both are rife with the beauty and detail of friendship. In both, the main characters of Dorothy and Scarlett need to find their way: home and in life. The TinMan, Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow all help Dorothy face trials, tests,  and tribulations in order to find her way back  to Kansas, to Auntie Em’s loving care, and to discover her heart’s desire. Scarlett is Melanie’s opposite in every way, except in their love for Ashley, and in  this opposition of character details, each woman brings out the best in the other. Despite what many historians have postulated, I really do think Scarlett’s road to redemption begins when she brings Melanie back to Tara after the birth of Beau. She risks her life to make sure they all get home safe and sound. Whether you believe it is for a selfish reason, such as ensuring Ashley knows Scarlett helped his wife, or  – like me – because deep down Scarlett was truly a good and loyal person, their relationship ( Scarlett and Melanie’s) is the strongest and most enduring in the novel.

When a writer creates friends, he/she needs to know what each friend brings to the relationship table. It’s simply not enough to have the main character have friends. They serve purposes, both positive and negative, and these purposes enrich the novel and the character’s quest. They play off one another, spark ideas between them, and – such as in the case of Holmes and Watson – better the lives of the people surrounding them. Ron and Hermione show Harry Potter that people do care about him -not because he is a wizard – but because he is a person with feelings and desires, just like they are. Sharing triumphs, failures, tears, and joy are just some of the emotions friends go through together.

Think about your favorites books. What are the friend relationships like? Is the book made better because of them?  What does each friend bring to the relationship table for the main character? When you write, think about these facets. Your book will be richer for it, and sound more true-to-life.

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