Monthly Archives: February 2013

Please continue to pray

On January 31, George had surgery.  Afterward, he could not breathe.  He had pneumonia.   After a week of treatment, he was released to a skilled nursing center which didn’t take care of him.  When he returned to the hospital six days later, he was admitted into ICU on life support, very sick.

People say to me, “He’s the finest man I know.”  He is.  Please keep prayers and loving  thoughts headed toward Texas.

Me and Fiorello La Guardia

When George is sick, he likes me to read the funnies to him.  In Austin, we have two pages devoted to the funnies which is better, in terms of reading them to another person, than Houston which had FOUR pages.  I don’t know WHY he likes me to read them.  Sometimes it’s because he’s really sick and doesn’t have the strength to hold the paper.  Other times, the surgeon has told him to lie flat so the incision will heal.   However, I think the real reason is because it amuses him.  I’m all for cheering him up when he’s not well.

What makes him laugh–silently because he doesn’t dare to chortle if he wants me to continue–are the voices I use.  So he can tell who’s speaking without being able to see the pictures, I use a high voice for Blondie and a gravelly tone for Dagwood.   I tried a hip-hop speech pattern for one guy.  I don’t do it well.  I’m really a failure on accents.   In Get Fuzzy, before Satchel speaks, I say, “Woof”, so George knows a dog is commenting.  

 I don’t know why I’m telling you all this but George felt this was worth blogging about so, to make him feel better, here it is.  Also, I’m available to read to you–for a small charge.

Why do I mention Fiorello, the “little flower”, La Guardia, mayor of New York City from 1934-1945?   In 1945, the newspaper delivery drivers went on strike so no one could get the paper.   On the first Sunday of the strike, when the mayor was preparing to do a show, he decided it would be nice to read Dick Tracy to the kids.  Every Sunday from then on, he read the comics to children on the radio and made them happy.

Okay, I don’t read to a city full of children who missed their favorite cartoon characters.  No, I read to George which cheers him up.  That’s a pretty good reason.,

Anyone else have a favorite Fiorello La Guardia story you’d like to share?

Craft Tuesday: Hooks, part 2

First, let’s do a little review from January’s blog:  what is a hook in writing?  I bet you know this so I’m going to pause while you think of an answer. . . 

At the beginning of a novel or a chapter, a hook is like a fishing lure, it pulls you in, it makes you want to read more.    It’s the first few words or sentences that pull the reader into the story and makes you buy THAT book, not another.  Has anyone opened a book, read the first line and put back?  Why?   I’d guess it’s because the beginning doesn’t hook you, doesn’t promise you a good story or the kind of story you like.

But you knew this all of this.  Let’s look at two opening hooks that work well. 

SUSAN ELIZABETH PHILLIPS It Had to Be You  “Phoebe Somerville outraged everyone by bringing a French poodle and a Hungarian lover to her father’s funeral.”

ANN GEORGE Murder Boogies with Elvis  “I was lying on my stomach under the kitchen sink, eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich and listening to Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ when icy cold hands grasped my ankles.”

These are great for two reasons.  First, they make us wonder:  Why would this woman bring a French poodle and her Hungarian lover to her father’s funeral?   Who grabbed this woman’s ankles?   We want to read on because we want to know WHY? Second, they work well for the genre.  I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips women’s fiction and Ann George’s humorous mysteries.  These opening lines promise that these are exactly the kind of books I love.

Don’t you hate it when authors use their own books as examples?  I do, too, but I’m going to anyway.  And I do have a good reason.   This is the first line of my first Love Inspired, The Path to Love.  “Francie Calhoun learned to pick pockets when she was five, mark cards at eight and how to hotwire a car years before she could get an driver’s license.”  Does this opening make you wonder about this heroine?   Do you wonder more because this sentence is the beginning of an inspirational novel?  Often an opening that doesn’t promise what other books in the genre works well to catch the readers’ attention. 

The second reason is because my original idea for a book usually comes as an opening line.  My first idea for the beginning The Path to Love was, “Francie Calhoun met Jesus and the devil on the same afternoon.”  I love that line-but as I wrote the story, it no longer fit.  I had to cut it, completely.  That hurt.  But even if you have the best opening hook that has ever been published, if it doesn’t work with the novel, get rid of it.

Next month:  hooks between chapters.  An opening hook involves the reader in the story.  Internal links keep the reader going.   How do you do that?


My husband is a saint: Part 1

My husband is truly one of the best people I know.   One of the reasons I say that is because he puts up with me and has for nearly forty-seven years.   I am not the easiest person to live with and yet he seems to enjoy it.

Another is that, without thinking about it or a questioning, he acts with great kindness.

When we were living in Houston, a storm started before we left for work.  In Texas, the hardest rain is like one HUGE drop of water which drenches everything and everyone.  I looked outside to see a woman standing under the roof of our front porch to keep dry.  When I told George, he said, “Why don’t you give her an umbrella.”    I’d never have thought of that.  I opened the door but before I could hand  her the umbrella–one of many we’d collected so it was no hardship– she started to rush off the porch saying, “I’m sorry.”    I stopped her and handed the umbrella to  her,  She was stunned.   Two days later, I found it folded against the front door.

Acts of kindness bless the doer more than the receiver.    When I think of one, I attempt to carry through but George acts kindly all the time.  He’s made me a better person.