Saturday, September 28, 2013

Bouchercon 2013 - Some Notes

It’s taken a week, but I think I have a handle (remember saying that?) on the convention that absorbed four days of my life, Bouchercon 2013. It was held in Albany, NY this year and I just had to go. I'm only twenty five minutes away, for heaven't sake. Anyway, for those who have no clue, Bouchercon is a big mystery writer’s convention held every year since 1970 and named after Anthony Boucher, a science fiction / mystery writer who died in 1968. Gobs of awards are handed out, famous writers speak and lots of networking is done. Most of the time, however, is spent engaging in panels.

Briefly, that’s when 2 – 6 authors sit at a table behind microphones and hold forth on various topics. The range of those topics is vast and I applaud the folks who come up with them. So – here are the notes I took while listening.

The #1 most important thing to do – first off – is to “write a damn good story.” Reed Farrel Coleman made sure we understood this. He’s the founder of Mystery Writers of America. On that same panel (about promotion) we were advised to have a social media presence with lots of links, to check out the promotion that went into The Hunger Games, to be responsible to your publisher, and to coddle our fans.

Will do.

Don’t fall in love with your words, fall in love with writing. I guess that goes along with another piece of good advice “always choose clarity over art.” Yup. Anyone who reads you doesn't want to have to re-read ‘cuz they didn't get it the first time – or the second. I abandon books where I have to do that too often.

couldn't remember why the name Marcia Clark sounded familiar to me until she was introduced on the panel about making the law thrilling. Of course! She was the lead prosecutor at the OJ Simpson trial – who could forget that one? And now she writes books. Very interesting to listen to her as she expounded on a few of her cases. Got a picture of her and her friend, Laura Caldwell, out in the hallway later. Laura is a lawyer and writer, too. Very savvy ladies.

In the amateur sleuth panel we collectively wondered why there are so few male writers in this genre, never mind characters. Perhaps male readers miss the little details that cozies leave out like over the top violence, graphic sex and frequent dropping of the F bomb and other unsavory expressions. Who knows? But if you include those things the term “cozy” goes right out the window into some other, grittier room.

Who I met

Marni Graff has a website here and was on a panel. When that was over she hopped in to listen to another one and I sat right next to her. She told me to send my book and she’ll review it for me. Woo Hoo. 

Barb Goffman won the Macavity Award for her short story, The Lord is My Shamus, and invited me to friend her on Facebook. She was on a panel and nobly defended her right to keep writing the short stuff. Good for her.

Robert Knightly is a local author of two police procedurals, “Bodies in Winter” (I read it – excellent) and “The Cold Room.” He invited the Mavens of Mayhem, authors and agents to his home for a buffet supper. I’m a Maven. I went. His lovely wife, Rose, put on a great spread and I hobnobbed around the room, loving every minute.

Sue Grafton and I spoke briefly in the ladies room. I had to kind of elbow another fan aside (my apologies) so I could ask why she’d stood to sign her books the day before. Sue said she liked to look her readers in the eye. Nice. She has a soft southern accent and is quite thin.

I told Anne Perry I hoped to become a fan and bought the completely wrong book, the last in her Monk series. I’ll get the other books and read them in order, but in the meantime I have a signed copy of “Death of a Stranger.” Some guy from Wisconsin was selling them at his table in the book room for five bucks. Anne has a cool British accent.

Hank Phillipi Ryan moderated the last panel on Sunday morning called Big Shot – Guests of Honor Tell All. Tess Gerritsen was bright and full of advise and stories. Anne Perry was thoughtful, Steve Hamilton reserved, Sue Grafton funny, and Chris Aldrich spoke to the heart of every fan. A wonderful peek into all their lives.

I got through the whole thing more happily with my awesome bud, Karen, by my side. It was so nice to have someone to compare notes with, eat with, run to the ladies with and all the other “withs” we do as friends. For over 30 years now.

We got tons of free books, met fans and writers, gobbled up the pretty good food at the receptions and one luncheon in the hospitality area. We simply had an unforgettable four (intense) days. I wish such a time for all my writing friends.

Thanks for reading. 

Image: Free Digital Photos

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The More Things Change . . .

One of the things I most look forward to when the seasons change is the kind of cooking I do.  Right now I’m a bit tired of burgers, cold salads and ice cream. So last night we had a great Crockpot – um, slow cooker – beef stew for supper. I’d put the whole deal together at about 10:00 a.m. and let it simmer all day. House smelled great. Oddly enough, a few months ago it was a smell I’d had enough of, but that was at the end of spring when the delights of the garden began to entice. Velvety red tomatoes are what I craved and looked forward to.

Aren't we humans funny that way? Just when we’re sick of one thing another comes along. And it doesn't seem to matter if that other thing is an old familiar something. We just want a change – for now. This brings to mind other seasonal changes and let’s see if you agree on how this works.

Spring – I've just about had it with sweatshirts and a shut up house. Summer is in all the catalogs and stores and I can’t wait to buy new flip flops and a neon green bikini. Whoa – back up. No bikini for me, but you get the idea. I don’t really like flip flops either. Anyway, a few wardrobe changes help usher in every new season. That and the schematic of the garden hubby is layout our. Oh, and a red, red robin or two. 

Summer – Fresh mowed lawns, thrilling dives into the cool lake and hot dogs on the grill. Corn at the farm stand and boatloads of flowers to plant by the back door. Cleaning 21 windows so I can throw them open and let the mosquitoes in . . . wait, wait. Bugs have no business in my house during the lazy, hazy days. Sigh. Sure glad I bought that electric tennis racket thingy to zap them with. That sucker really Pops! Bye, bye skeeters.

Fall – Probably my favorite season as long as the days are sunny and the nights are cool. Not too fond of Edgar Allen Poe fog and damp mist and I don’t want it so cool that we need to turn on the heat before we can afford a tank of oil. But, what am I thinking? Hubby starts chopping wood at the beginning of September and we can snuggle our way through the winter when the old wood burning feature on the furnace puffs out the heat. Come to think of it, that dad in A Christmas Story’s got nothing on Mr. Sundwall Sr. Dagnabrottenstinkingold . . . again – you get the idea. We really, really need a new furnace.  

Winter – No season is without its charms and winter, at least at the beginning, has the thrill of the holidays going for it. By mid-November I’m in full baking grandma mode and I dearly love it. If there’s a snowy day or two before Jesus’ birthday it simply makes me smile. After that I’m looking at neon green bikinis again. Sort of. 

Life is change after change after change and somehow it stays the same. A happy cycle that keeps us interested in life. What does each season bring to your world?   

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Guess What - Winter's Coming

couldn't believe my ears when he said it.
 “Of all the seasons, we love winter the most.” “What?” I asked with a squeal at the end. This bit of wisdom was handed to me by our middle son who had just become smarter than the rest of us being in high school now and all. We were in mid-run to the car on a particularly blustery afternoon. “Okay, why?” That was my second question as I gained the driver’s side door. “Because we've conquered it,” he answered with a touch of glee in his voice.
 didn't know what to say next because my mind was a whirl. I thought of houses heated with that beast in the basement called a furnace. Hot air being pushed through ducts into every room spreading warmth through the house as winter ravages on outside. We dash from a warm house to a warm car to a warm building or grocery store and hardly give it a thought. I had to conclude that son was right so I grinned and told him so.
 But, of course, I couldn't let it go at that. No, there were other paths to stray onto, like all the people who don’t live where winter rages. Places like Florida, Arizona, and California. The residents of these balmy states are joined every year by the “snowbirds” who flee the chilly north when Old Man Winter comes whistling through the calendar. Their ability to escape with trailer in tow, or plane ticket in hand is another way of conquering the season, I guess. Right after Christmas upscale stores put their cruise wear on sale. When the going gets tough the birds whisk off to warmer climes. That’s the modern age for you. Same goes for summer. Too hot? Head for the ocean, Maine, a mountain top retreat, or crank up the old AC. Spring and fall starts the packing and the planning for the “escapees” going in one direction or the other. Those of us who stay put are left sighing with envy or shaking our heads at these fellow humans. We look with longing eye at those who are able to afford seasonal homes. Sometimes we scoff at those who appear too weak to endure in spite of all the conquering of the elements we've done.
 Off on another path, I considered many other situations, natural or otherwise, that we've overcome. When was the last time you heard of a child getting chicken pox, measles, mumps or any of the other childhood diseases that plagued our ancestors? Gone – at least in this country. Stretching that thought a little further, think of the injured soldier who comes back from war these days. You won’t see him or her with a pinned up sleeve; not for long anyway. Take a look at old photos of the Civil War or the YouTube video of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg held in 1913 and you’ll appreciate what’s done now for our limbless warriors. Countless hours of research, design, and testing go into producing the devices that help to alleviate some of the devastating affects of war. Lots of work to do there yet, but look how far we’ve come.
 Back on track and contemplating winter. When it’s time in the autumn to close up the windows, put away the patio furniture, and pay for another tank of oil there’s a sense of sadness. Goodbye to the lazy, hazy days and hello to cozy fires in the living room fireplace, fat pumpkins and turkeys, the holidays, chunky warm sweaters and . . . hey! That all sounds pretty good, wouldn’t you say? It’s a kind of hibernation thing. We don’t go out as much but rather hunker down, enjoy the football and basketball seasons from the comfort of our homes. This is especially true in the dead of winter after all the holiday craziness is over. And just as we’re getting to feel a little house bound something green pops up out of the ground and waves at us. The race for spring begins. That’s the trouble with some people. One little remark about how we love a season sparks a brain hurricane of wandering thoughts and curious conclusions. I’m thinking I should reach back a few years and thank number two son who knew more than anybody and helped me cope with the walk we’ll soon take into winter. 

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, September 16, 2013

Autumn at the Gate

I wrote this poem many years ago for a magazine called New Love Stories, now defunct. They didn't buy it. That’s okay. It’s romantic in a different kind of way than they wanted, I guess. But we woke up this morning to dreary skies and rain which brought this poem to mind. Perhaps you’ll find some echo in your own heart as autumn creeps in on little cat feet.  

Autumn at the Gate
By Susan Sundwall

She came upon the garden late,
and lingered there beside the gate,
as fallen leaves went whirling round
with rustling crunch upon the ground.

The rising moon, the hissing breeze
had found the bare bones of the trees
and pressed upon her heart, at last,
that winter now would come on fast.

Mid wistful thoughts of summer days,
the lovely, golden autumn haze
seemed as a lover’s kiss, and then
she left the gate for home again.

Photo: Last  year's garden in October with our red barn in the distance. Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Words Are All We Have

A few days ago our oldest son came in from his baseball game – the over forty league. It’s the end of the season for them and he’d given it his all. Just before everyone sat down to the nice spaghetti dinner I’d prepared he regaled us with his performance. In past games he’d had some trouble with his shoulder as he’s the pitcher for the team. When I asked him how his arm was he said, “It’s fine. I was hum-chucking it in there!”

Hum-chucking is an extreme form of to chuck meaning fling or throw with gusto and I think it’s a word he and his friends made up in high school. Okay, I made up that meaning, too, but when it’s used we all know what he’s talking about.

This makes me think of other made up words and quite often there are only a few who know what they mean. I’ll wager your family or circle of friends uses words like . . . oh, let me see.

Mustgos. This is one of my favorites. My friend, Terry, uses it to describe anything leftover in her fridge that absolutely must go. It needs to be eaten that hour because microbes are eyeing that bit of lasagna and the half bowl of her excellent corn chowder. Occasionally her hubby will roll his eyes when the subject comes up.

Jumbut. My mother-in-law used this term when she wanted to disguise what was in the supper pot. In similar fashion to mustgos it aptly describes the meal. A bit of kielbasa here, a slice of baked potato there and maybe a half cup of corn. All fried up in a little butter and guess what? It was usually delicious.

GBA’s. Sometimes an acronym is used when a well known ailment is being discussed. “What’s the matter, Hon? You’re all seized up,” I say.

“Same old thing,” he says. “I've got the GBA’s”  That’s our family code for general body aches and it usually involves a couple of aspirin and a hot shower to remedy. It’s not an official diagnosis but it’s not too serious either. You've probably suffered from them yourself.

Then there’s the whole dictionary of creative cussing. The consummate user of this language form is none other than Yosemite Sam, he of cartoon fame. Bugs Bunny comes close (heh, heh, what a Maroon), but Sam is my favorite. When he got worked up, like every 30 seconds, he’d whip out words and phrases like, “Ya hammerhead halibut!” or “No good bushwhackin' barracuda!” I love Sam.

My dad came close to Sam’s creativeness once. He was a man of hot temper and we kids (all nine of us) had all kinds of ways to bring out the creative cussing side of dad. Mind you, no foul language was tolerated by my mother, so dad had to pull from the depths of his being to come up with words to convey his fury.

I was the offender who had trespassed in a particularly offensive way (I can’t remember what, only his response). He looked at me, red face inches from mine, and I could see his wheels cranking right there in his bloodshot eyeballs. After about twenty seconds of inner battle he finally exploded in my face, “Consarn ya!”

Yosemite Sam would have been proud. How about in your inner circles? Any word inventions you’d care to share? Dagnabbit, I know you’ve got some. Think hard now.

Image: Stuart Miles                                                                  Free Digital Images

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My Friend Mr. Stevenson

School is back in session bringing with in many emotions, especially for parents. Maybe some of you have seen the video of the mom in Massachusetts dancing to “Bye, Bye, Bye,” as the school bus takes off on the first day of school her two children aboard. Funny and so relatable. But I’ll bet you a crispy funnel cake there is another thought lurking way at the back of her mind. The one that says there will be a day when the school bus comes no more. Keep reading.

No one, in my opinion, puts the delights of childhood into our heads more poignantly than Robert Louis Stevenson. His book of poems, A Child’s Garden of Verses, gives us a look back at our formative years in a way that makes us sigh and nod or chuckle. My mother used to quote his shorter poems to us. I can still hear her gently saying . . .

“When I was down beside the sea, a wooden spade they gave to me to dig the sandy shore . . . “

She’d continue with as many of the words as she could remember and it arrested our attention for a few moments as they burned into our little gray cells. My favorite Stevenson poem begins with this line, “How do you like to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue . . .” Sound familiar? I hope so.  I now quote it to my grandchildren.

Then, one day, Mom’s tutelage on the poems of Stevenson came sailing at me from the past when I spotted a paperback copy of the aforementioned book at a tag sale. I snatched it faster than a hound dog goes after a bit of floor bacon. I zoomed to the cashier clutching it to my chest unable to believe anyone would part with such a gem. I plopped down my dollar and later sat with it in hand marveling at the memories it pulled. My little kid self was delighted.

The first poem speaks to a child’s dismay at having to go to bed while it is still light out. Bed in Summer is one that makes me chuckle. It’s exactly how I felt when it was still light at eight o’clock and mom insisted I could fall asleep with the sun still shining. In the middle of the book there’s a rhyme titled, “Unseen Playmate,” where Stevenson, with understanding, speaks of children who are “happy and lonely and good,” and then the “Friend of the Children comes out of the wood.” My youngest son had an imaginary friend. It grieves me to think he was once that lonely.

Other poems are completely lighthearted.  He speaks of speeding trains, a marvel in the late 1800’s, and pirate adventures, discovering secret places in the woods, and leading the charge while playing soldier. All the things that childhood imagines are on stage in this little book.

But then . . .

Comes the last page and like any good read something in us cringes. The story is over. It’s been read and enjoyed and pondered. Sometimes I won’t even read Stevenson’s last poem in his garden of verses. It’s that bit about saying goodbye forever. It hurts a little or maybe a lot depending on the path of your own childhood. He puts it like this in To Any Reader.

     As from the house your mother sees
     You playing round the garden trees,
     So, you may see, if you will look,
     Through the windows of this book,
     Another child, far, far away
     And in another garden, play.
     But do not think you can at all,
     By knocking on the window, call,
     That child to hear you. He intent,
     Is all on his play-business bent.
     He does not hear, he will not look.
     Nor yet be lured out of this book.

     For, long ago, the truth to say,
     He has grown up and gone away,
     And it is but a child of air,
     That lingers in the garden there.

Kids. They run, they play, they slip away beyond the borders of childhood. Soon they’ll take their turn knocking on the glass and gazing out at what exits only in the air. A place we can remember but never return to. Bye, bye, bye.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, September 9, 2013

Writing for Special Populations

Not long ago I went with a group of gal pals to see a popular musical geared towards older women. As we entered the theater an usher handed each of us a copy of Me* Magazine. My writer radar shot up. I didn’t have a lot of time to peruse the contents just then, but the next day I gave the publication a thorough going over. Lots of good stuff in there and all geared to a special population – women in that “certain stage” of life. Further speculation led me to wonder what other special populations are out there, and let me tell you, there are many. Following are some examples.

Almost every state has at least one publication that focuses on parenting. A Google search in any given state will turn up one or more links to follow. Simply type in the name of the state followed by “parenting magazine.” Often the publication will have tie-ins to a large city where you can do further research on education, family fun, health care or just about any subject of your choice for that region of the state.

To acclimate yourself to the idea of special populations, think of the people you regularly come into contact with. I have a good friend, a lovely woman, who is deaf. She gave me excellent insights into the handicapped world when I interviewed her for a book chapter assignment a few years ago. She helped me understand the world from a deaf perspective and lent authenticity to the article. And there was a bonus – new markets. Perhaps you have an inclination to try one of the following.

Odyssey is a magazine for the deaf put out by Gallaudet University. See guidelines at:

Christian Record Services for the blind publishes the online magazine Connected. Visit their website and scroll down on the page for guidelines. Very nice editor, too!

New Mobility magazine services people in wheelchairs. Here are the guidelines.

Subject matter is crucial when writing for special populations. Unlike writing for general niche markets, like woman’s, children’s or sports magazines, you’ll want to fashion your story more narrowly. Focus on whatever your target population is keenly interested in. That’s the mission and purpose of these publications. Don’t be afraid, either, to feel out the editor for pointers on shaping your piece.

It goes without saying that you should try to get a copy of each publication you’d like to write for. If you’re like me that means scouting out as many free ones as possible. Doctors and dentists offices are a good bet. Make friends with the receptionist and there’s a chance she’ll let you take the old ones home. Often there are multiple copies of a current magazine and a polite request will get one for you.

With a little effort your writer radar will turn up many more special population avenues for your work. Focus your attention towards life’s big stage and see what you find.

Happy Writing!

Image: Free Digital Photos

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Guest Post

Today I have a guest post from my very dear friend, Karen, who you can read about here. I hope you enjoy her thoughts and please feel free to leave a comment. We just love those!

Traveling Notes
By Karen Lasher

My husband, Ben, and I are recently back from a road trip from our home in upstate New York to Washington, DC for a conference my husband attended and then on to visit our son in Wilmington, Delaware, with tourist stops in between.

Our first three nights stay was at a Marriott near the National Zoo.  It is a four star hotel.  You know, valet parking almost a must.  Then a porter for your bags to the inside and another to your room.  So that's three tips so far.  And the fees for parking and using valet service are added to the bill.  The (reduced) room rate for the conference is a hair under $200, before parking.  Fortunately, this entire bill was paid by Ben's office because it was a professional development conference.  There was a coffee machine in the room and a refrigerator.  It was a nice big room and bathroom.  Breakfast, however, was on our own.  For him that meant the conference.  For me that meant the coffee bar in the lobby where each thing was $3 - coffee, tea, juice, bagel, muffin, yogurt, toast, cereal.  Could get expensive.  I figured out a bagel there and tea in the room worked out pretty well.  I am a bit of a penny-pincher.

Since we were close to the Zoo, I visited there.  I like many things about our National Zoo except two.  If you have not been, it is located on a hillside, a very steep hillside.  That make a nice setting for many of the habitats.  You wind your way down the hill as you take in the different exhibits.  Once you make it to the bottom, there is no conveyance to help you back to the top or anywhere in between.  None, nothing at all motorized.  This is a long hill.  That is one complaint.  My other is the souvenir shops.  There is one in almost every area of the Zoo.  Not a problem.  There are things to purchase at almost any price range.  Not a problem.  This trip I found nothing at all made in the USA or even a country with which we have a trade agreement.  That's a problem!  It is a NATIONAL Zoo.  Our NATION!  I have had the same complaint at most our National Parks I've visited and at NASA.  I find that shameful.

Our other three tourist stops were:

The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore.  We enjoy old railroads and have visited several.  This one was easy to get to and had lots to see.

Ft. McHenry National Monument in Baltimore Harbor.  Ben and I are history fans and this well preserved/restored site would strike a chord in the hearts of all Americans.  As usual, I learned something new while there.  On the grounds was built a large military hospital serving those returning from Europe in World War I.

The Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Del.  It was the home of Eleuthere DuPont who came from France and started a black powder mill along the Brandywine Creek to take advantage of the water power.  This was our second visit and it won't be our last.  There is much to see and it is fascinating. 

Throughout our trip we noticed several times after traffic congestion eased that the congestion seemed to have been for no reason at all.  So we began to keep better watch of this.  We wondered if a simple curve in the road was causing folks to slow down.  Our Garmin advised us on two occasions to get off the Interstate and take State roads for a number of miles, which we did.  On leaving Washington, DC, we were in slow, heavy traffic heading north but traffic in the other side was flowing well.  Until we came to a fairly tight curve and then the reverse happened and the northbound traffic opened up and the inbound traffic tightened and nearly came to a stop.  In that case, mass traffic seemed to truly not know how to handle a curve in the road.  The width of the road did not change.

In Maryland after dark one night, we saw a woman walking from a wooded area alongside the road back and return to her car.  I mentioned this to a friend who lives in Annapolis and she said rest areas are closed due to budget cuts.  Nice.  A woman travelling alone has to use the woods.  That would not be high on my list of travel stops.

Our last three nights stay was at a Comfort Inn in Newark, DE while we visited our son.  It did not have as many stars as the Marriott, yet the room was very nice.  The bed was comfy.  Still had a coffee machine and refrigerator in the room.  Now we also had a serve yourself breakfast with all the bagels, yogurt, toast, cereal, drinks, eggs, waffle, we wanted.  But no valet (or the fee).  Still an exercise room and a much nicer pool, too.   Almost $100 less a night.  Sometimes you do get more for less.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Writers Helping Writers

I've read every book my friend Christine has written. I've bought them for friends and for my grandchildren as gifts. I buy her self-published books because this woman has an incredible depth of imagination, and because she often signs them for me. Another, more selfish reason, is that it helps the industry. Now, you may think I’m a little full of myself for thinking my pebble sized purchases are helping the Goliath publishing complex, but let me ask you this; do you buy books? How about your reading friends? If you have ten friends, family members or co-workers who each buy 20 books a year that’s 200 books. If each of those has ten friends and you multiply that out – well – you get the picture. But even if you don’t buy all the books you read, you are still helping.

The Library

Yup, I get many of my books from the library. I can’t afford to buy as many hard covers as I’d like, but I am totally addicted to reading. Most writers are. But don’t think that because you’re reading a lot of books from the library that you’re not helping writers. On the contrary, according to the ALA, (American Library Association), in 2009 publishers sold over 1.3 billion dollars worth of books to public, school, college & university, and special libraries. These books are acquired through your library’s collection development department and welcomes input from their users. Go ahead and make regular inquiries about books your library will be purchasing, putting in requests for your own choices. I've put in requests for my own book (over there on the right) at dozens of libraries. When the librarian reads her book reviews chances are she’ll look for the book you requested. The larger the library the more copies of single titles purchased. And – bonus— when your own book is published that librarian will remember you and perhaps ask you in for a reading. How cool is that?


I do this, too. My friends and I have a loosely formed book sharing group. One is able to regularly buy new hard covers (we love her), one has access to the high school library, and two of us regularly visit a very well stocked used book store. How does this help writers? Name recognition. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. So often a friend will give me a book by an author I've never read and if I like what I read, that author goes on the list and into my book purchasing budget.

What List?

Well, the list of new books I want to buy, of course. Nothing will stop me when I've made up my mind to buy a new book. I read reviews in my Sunday paper, confer with friends, and visit Amazon to read the reviews of strangers. And when the budget allows, I buy the book (to enjoy and then pass around). It’s essential for the people who love books to buy them. We, the readers, will keep we, the writers, in business. And never think we’re not important players in that arena.

E-Books, Self-published, POD or Traditional

Here’s my two cents (maybe four) on that. Yes, read them all! Stories are made up of words and words are presented to us in more formats than ever before. I have a friend who loves her new Kindle. She asks her adult children for e-books or puts them on her wish list at Amazon. For my last birthday I asked for an Amazon gift card so I could do the same. There are some out there who put their noses up and insist they’ll never read this way or that, but not me. I love good stories any way I can get them and perhaps you do, too. In any case, figure out ways to buy and read. If all writers do it, the industry and demand for our own work can only grow. 

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, September 2, 2013

Kids Say the Darndest Things

It takes a while for us humans to develop “filters” that help us deal with each other. We learn soon on that you can’t just say everything you want because sometimes there are dire consequences. Even now I often wish my guardian angel would send me this message, “ Alert! Susan, you’re about to say something really stupid!” Maybe she does but in the interest of being witty (that’s what I tell myself) I’ll say the stupid thing anyway. For the most part, though, I’ve suffered enough consequences to have roughly 889 filters in place.

Now consider children, the very little ones, before school ruins them. No filters but the pure honesty of thought and observation. Like these two instances that were burned into my brain recently.

We were at the annual family soccer game held for three whole years in a row now on the huge side yard at the home of our eldest son. As I sat cheering in my lawn chair Sierra, age 2 ½, sidled up beside me. With me sitting and her standing we were head to head and as I acknowledged her presence, I noticed her focusing in on my eyes. The angle of the sun allowed her to see the contact lense in my right eye. “Sierra, can you see that little circle in my eye?” No answer. More staring. “It’s a little lense that helps grandma see.” I smiled as she looked into the other eye as well. Time froze as she puzzled this out.

Suddenly she looked up, her concentration broken. “It hurt?” she asked.

I had to chuckle. “No, it doesn't hurt.” I hugged her as I marveled at a tiny mind that would even wonder if something in my eye hurt. I just hope she doesn't try putting a marble or a Lego into her own eye in an effort to verify my claim.

Not too long after that we were at youngest son’s home by the lake. The kids were bouncing around laughing, swimming, slurping on Capri Suns and having a grand old time as were the adults. During a break in the action, right after we ate, Melodi, barely 5, jumped into my lap. Melodi is Sierra’s sister. As we chattered away I noticed, again, the laser focus. This time on my mouth. I’d been loading on the charm again, laughing away, witty as all get out, teasing her a bit.

Then my keenly observant little granddaughter leaned close as I smiled broadly. “Grandma, you have a yellow tooth,” she said.

In about a nano second wit and charm deserted me. Off into the tall weeds as I sat there feeling like Granny Ozark wondering how soon I’d need dentures. And I’d only get them if Roy Bob raised enough money selling paw paws to afford the operation. Yeesh.

Yeah, filters are a great thing. But maybe our guardian angels hold off on the alerts for the first few years. After all, they need a laugh now and then, too.  

PS: Roy Bob will be in your neighborhood next weekend. Please buy some paw paws. Thank you. 

Image: Danilo Rizzuti                                                                          Free Digital Photos