Sunday, September 17, 2023

Finding a writer's critique group - or not

 I have failed at finding a writer's critique group that suits my needs.  

My first one was a collection of beginners , so it was the blind leading the blind.  

After I had several published books I outgrew that one and tried some others. Sometimes I was the only one who knew anything about the publishing world, so the group wasn't helping me grow and they were ignoring me anyway, so I quietly dropped out.  

In others, it was all fiction novel writers and I was writing nonfiction -- mostly biographies. I definitely didn't fit.  

Now I'm writing mostly picture books and yes, also biographies. So - should I join a picture book group or a nonfiction group? (there are few to no nonfiction groups.) 

The two of us nonfiction writers in the large Baltimore writer's association would often cling together, especially because we were published and most everyone else there weren't.  

The very best writer's group I ever belonged to wasn't a critique group at all. It was a group of published Maryland writers who met an hour away from where I lived, but the conversation was great! (It was an hour and a half if I was coming from my workplace, but I still attended when I could.)

Saturday, September 9, 2023

It's spider time again

 Opened my front patio gate to get to my car one day and hmmm - something was hanging at eye level. When I re-focused, it was a spider web with small spider in the middle. So I picked up some pine cones and threw them at it until I destroyed the web so that I could pass through. Spider gone.

 Next day = no spider at my gateway. She had moved into my patio. She wasn't blocking my pathway to my car, so we ignored each other. 

Then the hurricane came through and spider and web washed away. Good. 

However -- today I noticed she's back, right in the very same spot, blocking my idea of sitting in my front patio or sweeping the pine needles off the patio. errrgggg. 

Yes, it's a huge web - with a half inch spider in the middle of it.  

Monday, September 4, 2023

Adventures with names

So you want something to eat?

Walk into (or call) your favorite restaurant.  Order food for Take Out. (Or Carry Out?  Or whatever that  particular restaurant has decided to call it)  Now they want your name.

I used to simply give my last name - Old.


They can't spell it. And If they spell it 'Auld,' there's no way they'll find your order when you try to pick it up. Or they wait and wait for the rest of your name. Surely it's - Olds or Olden or Oldenham or something more than OLD.  (when computers were young, the computers wouldn't even accept a name that short)

So I changed to giving my first name -- Wendie.

oops - nobody can spell Wendie.   This is what I've gotten over the years.

Wendel (hey that's a boy's name; surely you can look at me and see that I'm female)

I go weekly to a local place and order a lovely salad and you'd think they'd know my name by now, but no.  It's been Leslie and a few days ago it was Randy.  I never make a fuss when they spell it Wendy because that's close enough, but RANDY?  Really???

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Where's the delete key?

 When we traveled to visit my parents, we didn't have a laptop so my husband went into computer withdrawal. So I handed him a pad of paper and a pencil so he could write the memo he was thinking about writing (and sending to his staff - when he got home) 

Just to pull my leg, he looked at the pencil , looked at me and said, "But where's the Delete key?"

 I gave him the beady eye and pointed to the eraser. 

Monday, August 21, 2023

praying mantis in the library

 True story -- I found a mantis egg sack and knew it was a mantis egg sack, so I brought it into my library and put it in a jar on the information desk, hoping that it would hatch while I was there. 

UNFORTUNATELY -- it seems that it hatched in the morning before anyone was there and when the first people arrived, there were tiny mantises crawling all over the information desk. (I forgot that they would be smaller than the air holes I had punched into the lid) oops. By the time I got to work, they had been swept up and were gone and yes, the rest of the staff screamed at me. 

(most of my science experiments that I put out for the enjoyment of the customers backfired on me like that one.)

Monday, July 31, 2023

Memories of Moneroeton, PA in late 1940s

 I remember how free it was for us children in the late 1940s/ early 1950s.

Parents would send us out of the house and say not to come back in until the streetlights went on after dinner.  Running everywhere with my friends and climbing trees.

And trying to climb a nearby mountain. (we lived in the Poconos) 

Early elementary school age.  Mom had a new baby. She'd pack me a lunch and off I'd go.  Up the hill, through sheep pastures, always  up up up.  When the sun was overhead, that's when my mom had told me I had to turn around and come back home, So I sat on a rock in the sheep pasture and eat my lunch. Pick buttercups. Then head back home -- getting home about 4 o'clock or a little later. In time to feed the chickens and get ready for supper.  

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Collecting Seashells

I grew up in a family that always collected Sea Shells. 

When we lived in Pennsylvania, we'd drive to the Jersey Shore every few weeks in the summer. On the weekend. Along with thousands of others.  Getting there was a clear shot, but coming home was a traffic jam as all the day trippers (us) and the people who had rented for a week were all driving back home. So, the two hour drive to get there was a three or four hour drive home - two parents and four children. (We lived in Pottstown, just outside of Philadelphia. at that time.)

Side note- When my brother Don was a preschooler, he would wander the shore. Mom could always find him because he wore the tiniest bathing suit there.  Also he kept asking girls and ladies to marry him.  One year we stayed a week across the street from Grace Kelly's family's house in Stone Harbor, NJ. (you know - the one who married the prince of Monaco.) Yes, he asked her to marry him, too. The year she married the prince, my father teased my brother that he should sue for breach of promise. :) 

At that time, the Jersey shore at Ocean City, New Jersey always had large (5 inch or more) clam shells on the beach.  (The other interesting shore thing was the sand crabs we could dig up and let crawl on our hands. Or go beach walking at night and see thousands of them up on the beach crawling around.) Yes, there were also Sand Pipers that we kids would chase and make fly away.

My dad would use these large clam shells as ash trays at home - he smoked Chesterfield cigarettes and no he didn't die of lung cancer - he died after having a heart attack.

Those were the only shells we found in those days at the Jersey shore.  But later, when my parents moved to Florida and I brought my own children there to swim in the bathtub warm water, we found lots of different shells which we collected.  

And now that I live near southern California beaches, I've collected more.  Yes, I still do have one of dad's ashtray clam shells, plus the Florida shells, and here in California I collect beautiful scallop shells plus sand dollars and some other odd ones.  I have them on display on my (gas) fireplace mantle.

Why did my father insist we swim in the ocean instead of the local city pool?  Because in that time Polio was rampant and one of the places people thought you could catch it was in the crowded public pools - so he'd rather protect us by taking that long drive to the shore.  No, I do not remember how our family fit in the car, especially considering the bassinet for baby Marion took up so much space.