Gardening Dummy Solves Yard Mystery

In case you did not already know, I confess that I am a gardening dummy. I’ve unwittingly killed many a plant in my time. Even my lawn of centipede grass, which I’m told is really a weed but is one of the few grasses that survive the intense southern sun, has a few bare patches.

I’ve been puzzled but the smooth, shallow-bowl-shaped depressions in those bare spots. They are perfect circles.

I found the answer today when I was staring out the window waiting for inspiration this afternoon. The shapes are formed by birds taking dust baths!

So what should I do now? I can’t put seed in there, because the next time a bird takes a bath the seeds will scatter. Do I deprive the birds and rake up the patches and put down sod?

Is trying to decide the answer to this question a good excuse to not write? Maybe I should go back inside and work on my novel.

Easier than pie Monkey Bread recipe

Today brought a welcome break from the heat and humidity here in coastal North Carolina.With no need for air conditioning, I may even turn the oven on to make this easy Monkey Bread.

One thing living on a boat for six years taught me is, the simpler the better. Space is limited for the typical cruiser. Now that I’m back on shore, simpler leaves more time for writing.

(For the eagle-eyed among you, I know the bread in the picture is braided, but I couldn’t find a picture of true Monkey Bread and after I make and bake mine, I’ll be too busy eating to take and post a picture.)

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What is a strong woman?

woman on a ridge staring at skyDoes a strong woman act “more like a man?”

What motivates her?

Is she physically stronger than our perception of the average woman? Is she courageous? Domineering? Independent?

What do you think?

The NY Book Editors recently posted this Guide to Writing Women characters. Although it’s aimed at writers, the points it mentions are worth anyone’s time to ponder and talk about.

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Summarize your story in one sentence? Impossible? No!

Whether you’re writing a short story or a novel, can you summarize your story in one sentence?

Having a one-sentence summary when you begin writing helps keep you focused. That one sentence may also help you pitch your work to an agent or publisher later on.

Are you in panic because you’ve finished your novel and now a publisher or agent you queried wants a one-sentence plot summary? Calm down. We have the answer.

So how do you summarize a complete novel, including the ending, in one sentence? In the July 6, 2017 issue of The Writer, Jeff Lyons uses Twilight and Jaws as examples in his excellent article on how to know if you have a situation or a plot, plus how to craft that sentence. My English teachers would criticize his run-on sentence examples, but they do the job and force you to keep reading.

Beaufort Old Homes Tour

Last weekend (June 23, 2017) I served as a docent for the 57th annual Beaufort Old Homes Tour. I’ve done this a number of times because it’s always fun.

Rated one of the top tourist events in the South, the Tour attracts people from all over the country. Some people come to see historical homes. Others come to get ideas on interior decorating. Everyone enjoys the brief stories about the individual homes and the people who lived there.

Not everyone enjoys history, however, so I always include a touch of humor to lighten things up. One of the former owners of the house I was assigned was a jeweler. He installed unique locks on each bedroom door. When the current owners moved in, they found a bag of old keys. “Good thing,” I said. “You can’t find keys like that at Ace Hardware.” I’m no comedian, but that little line always brought smiles and a few chuckles.

My novel, American Gold, is far from a comedy, but I’ve sprinkled in bits of humor. Sometimes they show immigrant optimism, other times they contrast with challenges yet to come. Not only does a reader get a break, the characters who voice the comment show a different side of themselves.

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Day of the Seafarer 2017

Because I live in a coastal town and spent years living aboard my sailboat, it’s only fitting to remind folks that today is the Day of the Seafarer 2017. The theme this year is “Seafarers Matter“.

Man tying a netThe Day of the Seafarer (DotS) was established by the 2010 Diplomatic Conference in Manila to recognize the contribution made by seafarers worldwide to international seaborne trade, the world economy, and civil society as a whole.

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Do you know if your data has been compromised?

Learn immediately if your data has been compromised

This is a good site to bookmark and occasionally visit to see if your account information has been made vulnerable due to a security breach. It checks major sites as well as social media. It offers specific next steps, and it’s quick and easy to use.

When I checked, it reminded me about the LinkedIn breach, so I changed my password. Everything else was clear.

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Indie Author Fringe June 2017

Save the date, June 3, for Indie Author Fringe June 2017! It’s presented by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and appropriate for writers of all levels, novice to established.

I always enjoy virtually attending the free Indie Author Fringe live events, and I learn new things every time. The fun starts next Saturday at 10:00 a.m. New York City time and continues for 24 hours. Sessions will be recorded so you can view any live presentations you miss at at later time. Some presenters off free giveaways.

Most of the sessions this time around will be on marketing your work and your brand.

Where did Piggly Wiggly come from?

Growing up in New Jersey, I never heard of the Piggly Wiggly ® until I sailed into Beaufort North Carolina. Even then, I thought the dockmaster was kidding when he told me about it. He said they had pig parts you never thought of eating.

He was right. Corned pig tails? Really? Not in my kitchen!

Where did the Piggly Wiggly ®, a.k.a. “The Pig”, come from? I assumed it was a southern thing. Well, yes, and no. The company started in the south, but its stores are now found out west in Texas and Oklahoma and up north in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Clarence Saunders, founder of the store chain, hailed from Tennessee, but he got the idea for a self-service store while working for a wholesale grocery firm in Omaha Nebraska. He returned to Tennessee and opened the first self-serve grocery store in the country there in 1916.

Credited with many innovative ideas, Saunders became a pioneer in the supermarket business. The chain eventually grew to over 2,000 stores. At one time, they sold stock and were traded on the NY Stock Exchange. Not bad for a wiggly pig.

Thinking a cute name enticed customers, Hinky Dinky supermarkets (I’m not kidding!) tried unsuccessfully to compete with The Pig in Omaha in the 1920s. The Pig marches on, but The last Hinky Dinky in Omaha closed in 2,000. Major renovations are planned for that building in 2017.

These things are just an example of the things a writer learns when she falls down the research rabbit hole. I hope you enjoy them.

Have you ever been in a Piggly Wiggly ® or Hinky Dinky?

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