The Dancing Master

IMG_0253.square

 

By Catherine Browning

 

When I attended high school, everyone learned the basic dance steps in PE class. This included the waltz, two-step, polka, and some square dancing. All right! I admit it was somewhere back in the dark ages. But when you were asked to go to the prom, you knew the steps. More important, your partner knew the steps, too. At the more informal dances, we all learned the twist, mashed potato . . . well, you get the idea. 

My grandson is a senior in high school. I asked him if he intended going to the prom. 

“Probably.”

“Do you know how to dance?”

“No.”

“Does whomever you will ask to be your date know how to dance?”

“No.”

Now I ask you, what are they teaching students at school these days? I’m allowed to ask this question because I’m a teacher. As of a few years ago, I just do substitute teaching, but I still qualify. 

So I asked my grandson if anyone actually danced at the dances. 

“No.”

So I offered to teach my grandson and his choice of dates how to dance. Place your bets now as to whether or not that will happen!

My daughter informed me I was too old-fashioned and that she didn’t even know the present day dances. Perhaps my granddaughter-in-law could teach him to swing dance?

Advertisements

Burial and Other Literary Plots

By Karen Wills

Respecting the last wishes of the dying, our cultural norms surrounding the preparation and disposal of the dead, the circumstances that determine what is possible…all of these may become part of our literary endeavors. They show much of how we want to depict our characters and their feelings and attitudes.

This can be done in poetry, too. Robinson Jeffers wrote the following after the death of his beloved wife, Una.

poem of death

But what about working the handling of the dead into mythology or fiction? In Homer’s Iliad, civilization itself takes a step forward. Achilles, grieving for his friend who’s been killed by the Trojan warrior Hector, slays Hector. He then drags Hector on the beach before the great Priam, the dead man’s grieving father. But in the end, compassion and respect overtake Achilles vengeful madness. He returns Hector’s remains to  Priam as a gesture of pity and honor in a time of incivility.

Let’s journey from the realms of Troy to the American West and the love of mortal men, close as brothers: Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, the former Texas Rangers of Larry McMurtry’s classic Lonesome Dove. lonesome doveWhen Augustus lies dying of a gangrenous wound in a town in Montana, he makes an outlandish request of his friend. He wants Call to take his body back to Texas and bury him in a pecan grove where he’d once courted Clara, the love of his life.

Gus tells his friend that he is assigning him this task, a Herculean one in violent frontier days of primitive travel, in order to bestow the gift of one last great adventure. It is a sign of the unbending, proud, Call’s loyalty to Gus that he does fulfill the last wish of his longtime friend.

Set in more modern times we have Unsheltered, UnshelteredBarbara Kingsolver’s novel of lives of ordinary people in economically and socially precarious times. The protagonist, Willa, is beset by family and financial insecurity. She struggles to take care of everyone in her family, including her husband’s Greek immigrant father, Nick, a man of rigid, racist views. With her daughter, Tig’s, help she cares for him as he is dying. Then there is the matter of his ashes. He wanted to be buried in the Greek section of a lovely local cemetery. The problem is the cost of a plot there. They do what others have done before them in real life. (I know of at least one instance.) They bury him in secret where he wished to be laid to rest.

As authors, we should remember that death and dying are inevitable in real life, so can be great sources of drama in fiction. Everyone dies. Sympathetic characters are those who behave as readers would have their loved ones do. They behave with compassion and respect. The best try to follow the last wishes of their loved ones.

RiverWithNoBridgeFront(2)

AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, AND KINDLE
HTTPS://KARENWILLS.COM
FACE BOOK: KAREN WILLS AUTHOR

Explore the World. Explore Yourself. Read a Book.

By Deborah Epperson

Where does your inspiration come from? I find my greatest inspirations in literature. Amazing novels take me on journeys of imagination that open up new worlds to explore. They can make me laugh, cry, and empathize with people who start out as fictional characters and evolve into friends by the last page. More than that, they urge me to do some soul-searching by getting me to ask, “What would I have done in that situation?”

Poetry speaks to the soul and entreats me to be the best version of myself that I can be. Nonfiction educates my mind, causes me to ponder new possibilities, and entreats me to ask, “What if?” Histories and inspirational biographies reinforce my deep-seated belief that we can overcome life’s trials. We can persevere.

Television, movies, and any visual media can entertain us as well as move our emotions. But in viewing these media, I find much of the work is done for me. In a book, the author paints a picture of a place or character with words, but then readers must put those word-pieces together and come up with their own vision and their own understanding of who a character is and what he/she represents in the story. Our discernments about each character are unique to us because they come from a merger of our personal believes, experiences, fears, and dreams that create our personal truths.

To demonstrate the difference between written words and visual media, let’s pretend two people each give you a 1000-piece puzzle. One puzzle is completely finished for you, but the other puzzle is still in 1000 pieces and you have to look at each piece, think about it, and try to figure out where and how it fits together to create the completed picture. Which puzzle is going to require more of your time, your creative thinking, and your emotions? Which puzzle are you going to be more invested in? Which puzzle will bring you the most satisfaction and be the most remembered?  

After years of tragedy and triumphs, Becky, the main character in my novel,

250,000 small

Breaking TWIG, concludes that, “We all filter the realities of life through our own personal fears, individual experiences, and the human need to cling to hope despite the circumstances, regardless of the odds. And in doing so, we each determine our own truth.”

Inside the pages of a book is where I find the people, places, words, and ideas that inspire and challenge me to continually seek and reevaluate my own truth. Where does your inspiration come from?

Thanks for stopping by,

Deborah

June Book News

june 2019

Happy Summer Solstice

**********

DSC_0032 (640x426)LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  Oh my gosh, I can hardly wait to tell you about my Lucky Week! On May 1, my short story “With My Eyes” (Suspense Magazine), won the 2018 Derringer Award, given by the Short Mystery Fiction Society, in the “long story” category. A young Seattle banker sees what he wants to see when he falls for a beautiful Greek woman, until an eye-opening trip to Greece. Later that week, I attended the Malice Domestic convention, celebrating the traditional mystery. Continuing the short story fun, “A Death in Yelapa: A Food Lovers’ Village Story,” was published in this year’s Malice anthology, Mystery Most Edible;  all the stories feature food in some way or another, mine as a clue when Erin and Adam discover that snakes and crocodiles are not the only dangers in the forests of Central Mexico. And at the awards dinner, “All God’s Sparrows” (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine) won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story, in the first of two ties that evening. (A full list of nominees and winners is here.) You can travel back to Montana Territory in 1885 with me and real-life historical figure “Stagecoach Mary” Fields and read the story, free, on my website.

chai another day (cover without quote)The only way to top all that is with a new book, right? CHAI ANOTHER DAY, the 4th Spice Shop Mystery, set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, will be out June 11, in trade paper and e-book. (The audio will appear later this summer.) When Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece overhears an argument in an antique shop, she finds herself drawn into a murder that could implicate an old enemy, or ensnare a new friend. Read an excerpt and reviews, and see where to buy it — all the usual places, on line and in bookstores — on my website.