The Birth of a Tooth.

By Marie F Martin,

For several weeks, I’ve been watching my seven-year-old great grandson worry, wiggle, and pester a bottom loose front tooth. It has slowly gone through the processes of germination, like a flower seed trying to burst forth and reveal new growth. Kind of like a story in the thinking process of a writer. Last evening, Brycen was driving us nuts fussing with that tooth. Finally, I said to him, Why don’t you have your Mom tie a string around it and tie the other end to the door knob and slam the door hard. His face lit up like I had said words of magic. His looked at me and grinned. We got out the kitchen twine.

After several times tying it around the tooth and slamming the door only to have the twine slip off the tooth, we decided it was too big. Brycen laughed and I cringed with each slam. Back to square one. Yarn was not strong enough. I finally thought of a spool of button thread somewhere in the scores of spools I have saved. The search was on with little heads bent over two boxes pulling out many colors of sewing thread until at last we found the strong, thin, fit-around-a-baby-tooth thread. Shannon carefully tied it to the tooth. She asked Brycen, You want me to just yank it out? Good Grief. His bright blue eyes grew big, but he nodded. She quick jerked. Out came the tooth. He didn’t cry. I screamed. The top of a strong permanent tooth is barely visible but there.
I think this is a prefect analogy of the birth of a book.

Brave Boy

Brave Boy

 

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A Writer’s Gratitude

 

Ann Minnett MWW photoBy Ann Minnett

After a year of fear and false starts, my ability to write has returned, and for that I am deeply grateful. I now understand what what the process of writing means to me. Here are four reasons for my gratitude:

Writing is my escape into a world of my own making.

Reading used to be my escape, but lately I’m unable or unwilling to start a novel. Reading has no appeal. I feel wrung out by the election from hell. Do you? I am emotionally spent and much more willing to work Sudoku puzzles or play Freecell than read. A good book has tension, people I feel strongly about, twists and turns and surprises. I don’t want to be whipsawed by literature after enduring an insufferable campaign in which every morning brought the same question… What’s happened now? I’ve had enough suspense for a while, and so I write.

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Writing is my creative outlet.

I love writing fiction because I can make it up. My earlier career as a Developmental Psychologist required me to be meticulous with facts and interpretations of the data from studies about child and family development. Clinicians, teachers, policy makers make important decisions about children’s lives based on research findings. Professional ethics and oversight ensure researchers stick to facts.

I recently saw a list of fake news sites that flourished on social media during our recent election. I wasn’t surprised to find the blatantly fake ones. (Aha! I knew it!) Then again, I trusted a couple of the fake sites and even shared their articles on Facebook. I believed the hyperbole because those stories paralleled my beliefs.

Therefore, I will fictionalize on purpose and perhaps refrain from dispensing or consuming fiction on social media.

Writing provides me a community of interesting writer friends and colleagues.

I don’t know what I’d do without my eclectic writer friends. During the past months when I considered not writing again, the only reason I didn’t quit was the sad thought of no longer sharing in the writing community.

Besides, writers are thinkers, observers of human nature, and storytellers. My friends amaze, tickle, and often shock me in a good way with what they create.

Writing provides me a heart connection with people I will never meet.

My first two novels deal with deeply personal and frightening events in a girl’s life. There are readers to whom these difficult subjects have meaning, and I’m so grateful when they mention their own lives in heartfelt reviews of my work.

I once sat in on a discussion of Burden of Breath held by readers who work with abused and neglected children. I was fascinated by their insights and opinions. It struck me how the tentacles of relationships exist between Ann the Author and the Unseen Reader. I’d like to write a story about that bond in the future.

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Full of gratitude, this writer now finishes final edits for my third novel and is actively engaged in writing a fourth. More to come about their contents in a future post.

Until then, Peace and Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

 

Show an Affirming Flame

by Karen Wills

What is the role of an artist in turbulent times? Human history is an almost unbroken line of wars, both civil and international, and coping with natural and man-made disasters. Yet in all these struggles artists come forth to acknowledge our common “error bred in the bone” as well as the capacity to “love your crooked neighbor with your crooked heart.” My title and these phrases are all from the works of W.H. Auden, a homosexual poet who lived through World War II and never let its fearful horrors quench his spirit or ability to care about other people.   affirming-flame

I’ve also just read a lovely and thoughtful novel by Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow. It begins after the Russian Revolution. Count Alexander Rostov is declared a “former person” and put under house arrest in a luxury hotel after being judged guilty of writing a poem critical of the Bolsheviks. Established in a small garret room, but with freedom to move about in the hotel, his credo is that we “master our circumstances or our circumstances will master us.” The author goes on to show how his protagonist creates a life of humane purpose and grace under a regime that crushed the lives of so many others.

And so I believe that not only poetry, but stories and novels can be a wonderful way to show Auden’s affirming flame.  My novel, River with No Bridge, will be published in 2017. My protagonist experiences an Irish immigrant’s loneliness, losses, and gains while never giving in to America’s racial and class prejudices at the turn of the century. She is capable of empathy and that in itself shows one of the crucial forms Auden’s “affirming flame” may take.

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As artists and readers, let us keep it burning.

Thanksgiving Gold

From Anne B. Howard

I filled all the bird-feeders, set back the clocks, stacked flower pots, and made caramel today, because winter’s coming. Why the caramel? Because nothing less would do.

When I was a child, my “other mother,” sweet Mama Judy, the wife of a fur-trader, hunter, and fisherman—yes, by profession—made the most delicious delicacies from almost nothing. My favorite then, and forever will be, was that impossibly thick, almost-brown-yet-golden, aromatic caramel she concocted in her blackened, ancient looking pot on the old three-burner stove. I stood behind her on a chair, well back from the flame, where I could see clearly as she turned a simple cup of sugar, some water, Karo Syrup, a chuck of butter, and a bit of fresh cream into a confection so divine, so intoxicating, that men would propose marriage just to get a steady supply. Mama Judy’s caramel is that good. Trust me.

We love it over ice cream, or drizzled on apple pie, or a praline cheesecake, or poured over big, juicy, Fuji apples, (then roll in mini-chocolate chips), or even added to your coffee, or… in a spoon straight from the jar. My newest caramel favorite for company is: vanilla ice cream, drowning in Mama Judy’s caramel, doused with Kahlua, then finished with Heath candy bar crumbles.

In the spirit of love, peace, and Thanksgiving for this beautiful country we live in, and all of our many blessings, I offer you, my special friends, this magic holiday recipe for “sweet liquid love.” May it see you through many a cold and grey winter’s day, as we sip our tea and write our stories, waiting for spring to return.

*I always double the following to make a little over two cups, enough to fill a pint jar.

Mama Judy’s Salted Caramel 

1 cup sugar

4 TBSP water

2 TBSP Karo Corn syrup (light colored)

½ cup heavy cream (whipping cream is fine); measured and ready to add

*2 TBSP butter, in chunks

*½ tsp lemon juice

*½ tsp kosher or sea salt

(I place these last three ingredients in a small cup, ready to add fast) 

  • In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and the corn syrup. Stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  • After 3 minutes, remove the lid and increase the heat to medium high. At this point, it will be bubbling but still clear in color.
  • FROM THIS POINT ON, do not stir but gently swirl mixture around in the pan as it cooks, so the caramel doesn’t burn.
  • Continue to cook until the caramel turns amber in color. I estimate this to take about 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat, let rest 30 seconds.
  • BE VERY CAREFUL HERE: (I use a heavy flat wire whisk.) Begin to whisk the amber mixture, then ADD all the cream. CAREFUL! IT WILL BUBBLE UP significantly and is very hot. Keep whisking.
  • Then, quickly add the butter chunks, lemon juice and salt. Keep Whisking.
  • Once the butter is all melted and mixture is smooth, pour into a 3-4 cup vessel and allow it to cool. You may then pour into a pint jar with a lid and continue cooling (it will seal), or cool and keep for weeks in the refrigerator. To use: Remove the metal ring and lid, and heat in the microwave about 15-20 seconds, until loose enough to pour. You may then re-refrigerate and repeat as desired.
  • HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!

November Book News

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What are you thankful for this year?

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This year has had so many blessings it is hard to think of just one. My family is going to grow by two more great grandchildren in the month of November. I still think of myself as a kid, so it is rather amazing I have nine great grand-kids and counting. Another thing is some family has moved back to the valley.  I know whose cooking turkey this year. I love to feed kids. Lastly I have to mention that Don’t Mess With Mrs. Sedgewick is finally released on Amazon and Create-space. It will be on a countdown sale beginning November 6th. Several days at $.99 and then $1.99 for a couple and then back to its usual $2.99. Early reports is that readers are loving it. I can now breathe.

Happy Thanksgiving, Marie F Martin

Lise McClendon:  Whew! What a year 2016 has been — so far! But we are women, we will survive… 🙋🏻  In book news I am happy to announce a giveaway of my very first novel, a mystery set in Missoula and on the Flathead Indian Reservation: The Bluejay Shaman. Yes, completely free! I love to hear from new readers so please share, respond, get social.

bluejay-instafreebieThis novel was inspired by a Salish man I met years ago. He wanted to tell some tales of his experiences with New Age groups — and some UM professors — who came to the Reservation to, well, go native. He conducted sweats for them and had a few opinions as well. I wrote up his stories then, with his permission, used them as a jumping off point for The Bluejay Shaman. The book introduces my first protagonist, Alix Thorssen, a Scandinavian Montanan and Jackson Hole art dealer. I went on to write three more novels about Alix. And lived in Jackson Hole myself later… life does imitate art.

Getting an e-book is easy over at InstaFreebie. Pick your favorite format, sign up, and you’re done. Here’s the link: THE BLUEJAY SHAMAN   •  Enjoy, and happy holidays