Tag-Archive for » family histories «

Happy Father’s Day…..

Dear Dads and Grandads,

As you sit with your children or grandchildren today, eating Bar-B-Q or enjoying a picnic or having a traditional Sunday dinner with all the fixin’s….

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Look across the table at the little ones….now picture them torn away from your family/parents and segregated (by gender) and placed in concentration camps.  YOU don’t know where they are, you may not able to find them…ever.  Picture your six year-old daughter or granddaughter in a cage, alone, with 100 other little girls. Hard to imagine, huh?

Put ethnicity, skin color, legality aside for a moment. LOOK at your kids and picture them in concentration camps, locked up, defenseless…..alone. 

How does that feel?  What would your precious children be thinking? Feeling?  What level is their terror?


One news report stated that in order to get the children away from their parents, ICE told them the kids were being taken for ‘showers’.  That sent a chill up my back….at the German Camps the human line that was to be exterminated were told that was the line to go to the showers. But instead of water coming out of the nozzles, deadly gas was released.

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Read your history….this is how it all started in 1938 in Nazi Germany.

‘Once in power, Hitler moved quickly to end German democracy. (Sound familiar??) He convinced his cabinet to invoke emergency clauses of the constitution that permitted the suspension of individual freedoms of press, speech, and assembly. Special security forces — the Gestapo, the Storm Troopers (SA), and the SS — murdered or arrested leaders of opposition political parties (Communists, socialists, and liberals).’
(credit: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/1933-1939-early-stages-of-persecution/)

Who’s next?  Your Jewish children? Your Asian children? Your Muslim children? Your Catholic kids?

My purpose, with this post, is to make the food STICK in YOUR THROAT!

 Is this our America?  A country built on the backs of Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans, Africans, Germans, Jews….all immigrants. With the exception of the Native Americans, there isn’t a person who lives in this country today who cannot trace their lineage back to ‘the old country’. We are all immigrants! Even our Beloved Leader, Herr Trump.

(I thought to myself: Gee, maybe I should apologize to my followers for digressing so far off my mission…to write about writing. But, no, I can’t. The idea of little precious children being placed in camps with an excellent possibility of never seeing their parents or siblings again STICKS in MY THROAT.)    

Honoring All Veterans, Fallen and Still Fighting!

Our politicians could take a page from the young men and women who are, TODAY, fighting for our country or defending smaller, weaker spots around the globe. Brave, honorable, honest, with integrity, they are making the world a better place.  Giving selflessly of their time, dedication to country, and sometimes their lives. 

I would like to honor and name the people in my family who have served.

Gerald Guyer  (WW1 Normandy)
William J. Woods (WW2, South Pacific)
John W. Cable (WW2, South Pacific)
Jack D. Borden (B52 Bombers/23 years USAF)
Doris B. Gill (US Marines) 
Jack Henderson (USAF Enowitach Bomb testing)
Robert Berry (Navy Seal. Korea, Vietnam)
  John W. Sugarek (US Marines, Vietnam)






For more stories

Guest Blogger, Best selling Author, Jodi Thomas

Author, Jodi Thomas

Free Falling 

I have been in the writing game for thirty years. Forty-eight novels and fourteen short story collections. From my third book, most have been national bestsellers and over half were on the New York Times bestseller list. I have five RITAs, the highest award in women’s fiction from RWA as well as many other awards.

In interviews, I’m often asked what one thing I would tell a beginning writer if I got the chance. Study your markets? Read everything? Learn your craft? Write? All came up as possibilities, but one lesson kept whispering in the back of my mind. Maybe it’s not the most important tool a writer needs, but it can be vital to your success.

Learn to Fall!

There will be times, thousands of them if you stay in the game as long as I have, when this business doesn’t go your way. You have to stop holding on to the safety strap and learn to jump out into the unknown.

The first time I remember taking a tumble was before I sold. I was frantically writing, sending off to every contest, agent, and editor I could find. One day, I opened the mailbox to discover three rejections. I felt like I’d faced a firing squad and all twelve bullets hit true. I walked back to the house, sat down and started crying. My four-year-old son, Matt, came up to me, leaned on the arm of the chair and asked what was wrong. Through tears I told him about my total failure. He smiled and said simply, “Mom, like you say when I play t-ball: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you get rained-out.

I stopped crying and realized it wasn’t me. I was a good writer doing the best I could. I just kept getting rained-out by editors who didn’t read the slush pile and agents who already had full client lists.

From that day on I developed a plan for falling. Whenever I stumbled and fell flat on my face, I let go of the corpse I was dragging around trying to sell, celebrated what I’d learned from the work and moved on with my career.

I have to be honest. There for a while quite a few bodies of old manuscripts lay around the house just in case they got a second life, but it never happened. I had to learn that the next thing I wrote would be stronger than the last. I was growing, getting better, getting stronger.

My Plan for Falling:

1. Burying the corpse. I know writers who wrote a book back in the ‘90s and are determined not to go on to another until they sell their first one. They keep painting a

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new face on the body and shoving it into a new casket. Beginning writers probably don’t want to hear that you may write your first book, or even your second or third, for practice. We need to believe that first book will make millions or we’d never go through the work of learning to write. But sometimes you have to kiss the well-traveled manuscript good-bye and bury it under the bed.

2. Celebrating. I hope all beginning writers party at each success: a contest win or even an honorable mention. A letter asking for more or a book deal. All are worth a party. But, maybe more important is the party you have when you let go of one dream and open up to another. So win or lose you finish the race. You’re a success simply because you wrote a book. You’ve won when you mail it off to an agent or editor or self-publish.

3. Moving on If what you’re doing isn’t getting you where you want to go, maybe you are on the wrong road. Take the tools and knowledge you have learned and start carving out a different work of art. Take a lane you’ve never tried. Who knows, it might be the fast lane.

You might be surprised, you might just find a place where you and your work belong. You might grow and love writing more. So, try changing genres. Move from adult fiction to young adult. Jump from historical to contemporary. Don’t try to write what everyone else is writing. Twist it a little. Change times. Change audience. Change direction.

When I turned loose and thought of myself sky diving and not falling, my world began to change. I wrote deeper. I discovered a new love of writing.

Phil Price, an accomplished playwright, once said, “I’ve often wondered why sky divers yell for joy and people who fall off cliffs scream. After all, they’re both seeing the same view. It’s only the last foot that changes.” So, I decided, whether I’m falling or sky diving through life, I might as well decide to enjoy the view.

This year my editor at HQN suggested I step into a more mainstream story and I jumped. I read her e-mail on Friday and by Monday I had an idea I was excited about. MORNINGS ON MAIN just came out April 10, and I think my fans will follow me into this shift as they have for the past 30 years.

And if they don’t? Then I’ll stand up, dust myself off and get back in the game. Because I’m a writer, that’s what I do, I write.

On Sale September 25, 2018

Mark Twain once said that compared to writing, horseracing is a stable occupation. Maybe he was right, but the gamble is worth the try. When we’re all done and sitting around the home which would you rather say, ‘I played as hard and fast as I could,’ or ‘I never ran into the game because I was afraid of falling.’

The winners are not the ones who grab the prize. The winners are the ones who play the game, rainy days and all.

TS.  Thanks, Jodi, for these words of wisdom and comfort!

Jodi Thomas
www.facebook.com/JodiThomasAuthor ;

Be sure to go to http://www.jodithomas.com and sign up for my e-mail newsletter for all the latest news about book signings and new releases!

MY features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months? March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: World Traveler, Tal Gur. June: mystery author, Manning Wolfe.
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Interview with Visionary and Author, Tal Gur (part 2)

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?  (continued)

TG. It was my mom who first told me I should write seriously 🙂 That was almost 20 years ago when I still wrote in Hebrew. I just arrived to Australia and I was lonely, so for a few months I wrote a series of emails about life in a new country. Writing was my refuge, my way to rip all the loneliness out of me. The topic was Australia, but underneath all that it was just a way to make sense of the world inside of me. My second “serious” attempt with writing was in English. Same as my first attempt, I used writing as a way to share and reflect upon life’s journeys. Whether it be a trip overseas, my Ironman journey, or simply a random weekend escape, I played with the words like a new toy.

Q. How long after that were you published?

TG: I published my first book 20 years later. In between I blogged at http://fullylived.com/blog


Q. What makes a writer great?

TG: Skills + Passion + Dedication. I think it’s a winning formula.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

TG.  mmm… I wish I had a linear step-by-step process… In my case, the process looked more like me sitting at my desk and letting inspiration take over. Whatever felt right at the moment.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

TG. I’d say A LOT. My life experiences as well as my challenges provided me with valuable lessons that I couldn’t learn otherwise.

Somehow, in our society, we’ve decided that struggling is the enemy.But if you’ve ever or embarked on a big and meaningful journey, you know that discomfort and pain are simply part of our growth.Struggling is not the enemy. Hopelessness is;When we feel hopeful about our journey ahead, when we move in a meaningful direction, then struggling is not the problem.On the contrary, it can be part of our joy. Because the struggle is for our dream. And we know that we are giving it our all.

Trek in the Himalayan mountains

Q. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

TG. Consistent action in the direction of your dreams. It may take a month, it might take a year, it might take a decade. but you will eventually make it if you take consistent action.

To purchase: The Art of Fully Living

Did you miss part I yesterday? Click here 


MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  
To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

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Motivational Moments…for Writers! #36

You don’t feel like working on your novel today. Don’t force it!  If you have an unfinished novel, play, or story…you don’t have to necessarily work on it every day.  Too much pressure!  A successful writer DOES try to write every day but you can write anything. Maybe you’re not in a creative mood today to work on your novel.  So write on your blog or write a piece of poetry.  Or a short story. Whatever it is, you don’t have to finish it TODAY.  Just write! Write every day! Write something!

“Remember these stories, Tlaga. My people live inside them. When a tale is told, everyone who ever heard that story is alive again….”  Bartle Bull

“An alphabet makes the words that keep a people together….”  Bartle Bull

“If you stumble, make it part of the dance.” ~  Abi Eberman


MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

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The Tuscan Child ~~ A Review

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing5 out of 5 quills ~~  The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

All writers have a voice. A flavor, a timbre. Some good, some not so good. Rhys Bowen has her own unique essence. Like fine wine her words flow across the page effortlessly.  The tale of The Tuscan Child journeys between England and Italy. Within this author’s superb writing she captures the staid, stoic, ‘stiff upper lip’ of the English personality and the extravagant, dramatic over-the-top flamboyance of the Italians.  It’s perfection.

We travel the countryside of Surrey, England which Bowen has brought to clear and gleaming life. The rolling hills, the hedgerow lanes, the tiny villages, the ancient, cold stone from which most of the great houses were built, centuries ago. In alternate chapters the author thrusts the reader into another fortress-like village, surrounded by olive trees under a hot Tuscany sun, full of the aromas of cooking. The absolute power of the church and  the old, archaic Italian families dominates the population. Mixed in with life in the 70’s we travel back in time to the same village in occupied (by Germans) Italy in the 40’s. We hide out with a downed pilot behind enemy lines. 

If you know me, as a reviewer, I don’t write spoilers. I don’t fill my review with a synopsis of the story. I prefer to tell you about the writing. It’s always about the

mysteries, best sellers, Rhys Bowen, author

Rhys Bowen, Author

writing.  But I will tell you this; Bowen has created two wonderful new protagonists: Sir Hugo Langley, bomber pilot in the RAF and his daughter, Joanna Langley.  Their stories separate them by thirty years as the daughter tries to understand a time when the world was at war and her father was fighting for his life.  

Released February 20th for sale.  Rhys Bowen’s fans can look forward to an exceptional story and superb writing!!

Did you miss my Interview with Rhys? Click here 

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
March: Larry D. Sweazy
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John Lithgow….and His Stories

     “…and that’s why we all need stories.”  John Lithgow said in a recent talk show interview.  He was telling the story of his father reading, to he and his siblings, from a book of short stories.  And then years later, as his father lay dying, John Lithgow said he read aloud to him from the very same book. 

John tells another story, within his story about reading this book of shorts to his father.  He has been on the road with this one-man show for years.  Narrating these same stories from this same book.  He calls it a trunk show; an old theatre expression. That is, pack up everything at night’s end and move, on down the road, to the next town where he presents this one-night-stand again.  He says that he finally wound his way to Broadway and is now  performing to sold-out, delighted audiences. 

This is why I entreat, beg, admonish, and plead with my readers to tell someone your story (hopefully your children and grandchildren), or write it down in a journal or even publish it. With today’s technology we are losing our oral history. And when this set of grandparents pass away it will all be lost. We all need stories. 

“Rarely have I spent so entertaining and touching a night at the theater. The predominant sentiment in Stories by Heart is love.” —Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal

“Superb, illuminating and uplifting. The imagination, Mr. Lithgow wants us to know, is powerful. What could feel more current, more worthwhile in the first days of 2018?” —Jesse Green, The New York Times

This is me telling a story about John Lithgow’s story.  

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    December: British writer, J.G. Dow. January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
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A Review ~~ Finding My Way by Judith Keim

reviews, authors, writing1 out of 5 quills        A Review  ~~  Finding My Way 

Very disappointed.  Right away the first chapter was familiar, so after checking I discovered the author had cut and pasted a chapter from Book 1 to begin her sequel in the Salty Key series. This is cheating and so lazy. In my forty+ years of reading and my 15 years of reviewing books, I have never seen this done. What was the author thinking?

The proof reading of the book was non-existent or at best, slack. In order to have the book seem to be full-length, 1.5 spaces was implemented, (instead of the industry standard 1.0 space format) causing the book to be 305 pages long, when in fact it is a cozy of about 175 pages. 

Any good sequel stands alone with its own story line.  This is not a stand-alone sequel. There is too much repeating of Book 1’s story. The author has chosen to write each book from another sister’s perspective.  The first sister, Sheena, had a somewhat interesting story line. In the second book it is from Darcy’s perspective.  And she’s not a very interesting character.  She brags about the novel she is going to write but doesn’t do much about it. Thinks that writing a restaurant review will hone her craft as a fiction writer. Huh? And she is ‘man-hungry’. Every man she meets in the story is either boyfriend/husband material or not. That’s what she leads with and it gets boring after a while.

Near the last 50 pages the author takes an unfortunate right turn. For no apparent reason, she introduces a severely disabled long-lost cousin. It was so out-of-the-blue! After that chapter he is never mentioned again.  She would have been well advised to develop the characters already on deck.  ‘Gavin’s people’ for instance. (lots of good stories there) The many boyfriend-material guys of Darcy’s. The editor/writer who is giving Darcy a chance to write for a local newspaper. (His illness/death is glossed over.)  Sheena’s son’s friend, Randy. The list goes on and on.

Sadly, she is not comfortable writing about the married physical love between Sheena and Tony. It’s stilted and I didn’t believe it.     

Ms. Keim needs to stay in the ‘voice’ of each of her characters. The writing bounced around and was frequently clunky . Sentence structure was a distraction. 

I was hoping that the author would grow in her craft with Book #2 but sadly this was not the case. It’s a shame because the story premise is a good one. I do not recommend this author’s books.

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    December: British writer, J.G. Dow.  January: In Memory, Sue Grafton.
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Auld Lang Syne ~~ Happy Holidays!

It’s that time of year….Auld Lang Syne and as the poet, Robbie Burns wrote,  “old long since”.  And I’m in the mood to tell a story.     

Wild Violets, a novel

Mother, Violet, on right

In a very ‘Auld Lang Syne’ kind of mood, I  remembered things from my long ago youth at  holiday time.  Especially my mother’s traditions in the kitchen.  Christmas dinner was a big stuffed turkey with all, and I do mean all, the trimmings.  Dinner began with a ‘shrimp cocktail’.  If there was fresh shrimp (there had to have been; we lived in the Pacific Northwest for goodness sakes); my mother had never heard of them.  Canned shrimp filled two third’s of a martini glass, topped with her homemade cocktail sauce.  A sprig of parsley  on top and the glass was then placed on a paper doily covered saucer.  On the saucer was ONE, (never two or three) Ritz cracker.

The sage, giblet stuffing, made from scratch and that means my mother saved the heels of bread loaves for weeks. I’ve never tasted dressing as good since.  She would make the usual trimmings, gravy from the turkey drippings, green beans (out of a can, of course) flavored with bits of boiled bacon, baked sweet potatoes, and jellied cranberry sauce.  She considered whole berry cranberry sauce savage.  Home made biscuits and mashed potatoes.  And then the pièce de résistance………..her oyster dressing.  Heaven in a bite!

family histories, family secrets, story telling, writers

Mom & me

Not being a particularly religious family the blessing was be short.  If my Dad could get away with it, he would add: “Pass the spuds, pass the meat, for

Godssakes, let’s eat.” We would toast each other with Manischewitz  wine. A wine connoisseur Mom was not!  And I never knew why a Kosher red wine was part of her tradition.  

As dishes were passed around the table,  someone would always mention my mother’s off colored joke about a “boarding house reach“.  A stickler for good manners, she would instruct us that a ‘boarding house reach’ was when you could ‘reach’ for something on the table and at least one butt cheek remained on your chair.  That was an acceptable ‘reach’ and not bad manners. Otherwise, you must ask politely for someone to pass down what you wanted.

roaring 20's, flappers, new fiction, Wild Violets

the flapper days

I was never certain whether she had run a boarding house or had just lived in one sometime during her 1920’s flapper*bar owner*professional bowler* speckled younger days.  If she had run a bordello it would not have surprised me!    Miss you, Mom!


Footnote:  “Auld Lang Syne”  is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song (Roud # 6294). It is well-known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world; its traditional use being to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations and as a farewell or ending to other occasions.

The song’s Scots title may be translated into English literally as “old long since”, or more idiomatically, “long long ago”, “days gone by” or “old times”.

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?   October’s author was Donna Kauffman. November: Rita Avaud a Najm. December: British writer, J.G. Dow. 
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Interview with British Writer, J.G. Dow

TS.   A ‘cozy’ writer from the UK and new to the scene.  James lived for a few years in the North of England and spent a while living in Manchester. He says that’s why he is fairly comfortable writing about the city. He went to University in Manchester many years ago and “still miss the place sometimes now and have good memories!”  When not writing fiction he enjoys walks in the country and indulging in a spot of cooking now and then. He has been known to pen the occasional poem.  Jane of Manchester is his debut novel. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo/s of your shed, room, closet, barn….)

JG. I write in my bedroom, sit in an easy chair surrounded by books and cd’s and pictures on the walls. It’s comfortable and warm and a good place to settle into a bit of writing. It’s nice to be cosy when being creative!

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

JG. I like to have a bottle of Berocca vitamin drink sometimes or a cup of tea but water is fine as well. I think a Brandy would make the creative process a bit hazy although some famous writers like Bukowski obviously liked a tipple while at the typewriter I suppose…each to their own!

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

JG. I play the guitar and like reading and also listen to a wide variety of music and tend to enjoy going out for a few drinks on a weekend followed by a nice hot curry! The North of England is a good place for spicy food!

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

JG. I write in the evening mainly as it can be noisy where I live in the daytime. I used to write through the night but I find I get too tired to do that nowadays and it can be a bit exhausting so sometime between 5pm and 8pm is a decent period to get on with it.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

JG. I suppose just keep at it and try not to get stressed out…maybe do something else for a while till the mood returns and remember to make writing enjoyable otherwise it won’t flow. If you feel too tired one day, don’t bother and try again the next day when you feel more energized!

with Dad at family wedding

Q.Where/when do you first discover your characters?

JG. I used to live in Manchester and so that was the inspiration for the setting of the Jane books but in terms of characters, I just made them up and tried to make them as realistic as possible.

Q. What first inspired you to write your stories?

JG. I wrote poetry for a while and then decided to try stories and after a while of short stories and the odd mini plays that weren’t very good, I thought novel writing may be a different way to go. I think I like writing longer prose more to be honest as you can get really stuck into it and be immersed in the whole thing.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

me at family home in Yorkshire

JG. Characters I suppose as they drive what happens next but the situation soon follows and is integral of course. But the characters and their motivations tend to lead the way otherwise it can all feel a bit flat if they aren’t paramount.

Join us December 15th for Part 2 of the Interview with J.G. Dow

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    September: Dylan Callens.  October’s author was Donna Kauffman. In November we say hello to Rita Avaud a Najm. In December we will be saying hello to English mystery writer, J.G. Dow. 
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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