Ah just love it when old friends come back to visit, don’t you?
Kathryn Albright will be here again Saturday to talk about her new September book, The Rebel and the Lady. During her stay, she’ll also give us tips on how to fix what ails you. Bet you have no idea how to treat snake bites or gunshots if there’s no sawbones around. Pretty interesting stuff. Some you wouldn’t want to try. My daddy always said sometimes the cure is worse than the ailment. Ain’t that the truth!
Anyway, head on over here Saturday. Kathryn is giving away an autographed copy of her brand new book. Can’t beat a deal like that.
Wow, the way I wrote it prompted me to think in terms of a twelve-step program.
Hi, my name is Mary and I re-read great scenes from books.
I suppose, of all the Obsessive Compulsive behavior in the world, this one doesn’t cause that much trouble. Unless you’re my husband and you want to thin the herd of books over running my shelves.
What I’m wondering is—does anyone else do this?
Is this a writer thing? Or have invented my very own addiction.
And should I try and get it named after me. Instead of AA, we’ll call it MCA.
Mary Connealy’s Anonymous. I’ll work on that. I want something catchy when I approach the American Psychiatric Association.
I think it might be a writer thing, but maybe not.
I’ve got this huge stack of books I love. Combine that with my chronic insomnia, made far, far worse if I’m reading a book that really catches me…a NEW book…late in the evening, I pick up books I’ve read before and skim through re-reading favorite scenes.
The seventh chapter of Breathing Room by Susan Elizabeth Phillips when Ren is dressed up like a priest and he and Isabel takes turns congenially insulting each other in the Italian sun.
The scene in The Bride by Julie Garwood when the English Maiden Jamie doctors Angus when he’s been given up for dead and wins the loyalty and love of her new clan. ‘She started four wars the first week.’
The scene in MacKenzie’s Pleasure by Linda Howard where Zane is furious because two of his Navy SEALs were shot in a training exercise. ‘The captain was unhappy.’
The scene in Boo Hiss by Rene Gutteridge when Dustin says to be on the look-out for his escaped two-headed boa constrictor named Bob and Fred. -I had to lay the book down I was laughing so hard.
The scene in The Doctor’s Wife by Cheryl St. John when Caleb takes Ellie to meet her child. (yes, I’ve got Fillies in my collection)
The scene in Midnight at Ruby Bayou by Elizabeth Lowell when Walker backs down Faith’s stalking ex-boyfriend, Tony. “You got the nice one with me.”
The scene in Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie when Gabe takes Nell to lunch and yells at her until she eats. “Do you really want to have this argument with me now!”
The scene in Perfect Partners by Jane Anne Krentz when Letty explains to Joel why she broke off her engagement. “Compromising situation.”
The scene in Unspoken by Angela Hunt when Sema the gorilla saves Glee. To me, the amazing part of this scene was how totally I didn’t see it coming and how it was the foundation of the whole book.
The scene in A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman when Collin the rogue proves to good girl Faith that she has desires like everyone else…as if she didn’t already know.
The scene in Matchmakers by Jude Deveraux where Cale, the novelist, and Kane Taggart… well, okay forget it…I can’t read one scene in that book. I have to read every word. “I have always fantacized about being likeable.” (this remains my favorite line ever written)
I could go on for a long, long time.
I’ve even got some in my own books.
The avalanche in Calico Canyon leading up to the moment Grace says, “I used to be brave.” Grace ends up punching Daniel in the nose.
The fight leading up to the wedding in Petticoat Ranch. Clay is thrilled, Sophie not so much.
That would be stupid,” Clay bellowed. “Do I strike you as a stupid man?”—Sophie arched an eyebrow, and didn’t respond.
Braden finding Amy clinging to a cliff in Golden Days. He thinks she fell. She says she was pushed. While they’re fighting over that, a bear attacks. Love that scene.
“You call me a clumsy…”
“You’re not stupid.”
“You work hard. I never said…”
“Well, you should have told Ian…”
“Is that about it? Perhaps you would be as well to toss me back over the cliff before my inferiority destroys your family.”
Maybe that’s a goal to strive for, how many enduring scenes I can fit into my own novels.
A lot of times it seems like really steamy scenes are compelling but I’ve noticed, for me, it’s what leads up to intimacy and the aftermath where the real power is, the four to ten pages of ‘put his hand there’ ‘move her body there’ ‘he caressed’ ‘she trembled’ isn’t all that interesting and I usually skim through that. But what leads up to it is often explosive and passionate and powerful. And usually the aftermath ends in disaster (if it’s early in the book) and that makes for a good scene.
Do any of you have scenes like this? Or is this a personal quirk of mine?
Scenes where the words just come to life, sing, become more than the sum of their parts? Usually there’s a powerful emotion on the line in that scene. Usually, for me, there is humor and action and lots of perfectly paced dialogue.
So tell me your favorites.
Favorite moments, favorite novels. Do you know why they’re your favorites? Put it into words.
Linda Howard’s Alpha Males. Julie Garwood’s Barbarians and Maidens. Suzanne Brockmann’s vulnerable supermen. Jude Deveraux’s sharp, funny dialogue. Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ humor. Angela Hunt’s ability to take the most unusual ideas and bring them to life in powerful ways.
Isn’t this the best site? So much talent from my fellow fillies and so much terrific information. I’m always amazed at the learned quality of the posts. Aren’t you?
After quite a break from the Native Style survival stories, I hope you’re ready to continue. Just to recap, so far we’ve discussed the quest for food. What kinds of food you might find in different regions of the country, how to find it and the necessary means of transportation to find food. One more comment I’d like to make before we head into shelters and how easy they are to make: I think TV has given people the wrong idea of survival. On TV you see people competing one with the other to “win.” It’s a tooth-and-claw type of survival. Now this kind of “survival” to the Native American is pure folly. None survive well alone. It is a team activity. Or one might say a family or a tribe activity. And survival doesn’t mean bare minimum. Optimum survival means food aplenty, a good warm place to put up one’s feet, the warmth of companionship, soft clothes that look good and feel good (or lack of clothes depending upon your environment), and happiness. That’s real survival. Not this struggle that one commonly sees on TV nowadays.
So, that said, let’s have a look at shelters. The most important things if one were to suddenly find himself lost from civilization — or in the event of some catastrophe, are food, clothing and shelter. Without these, man cannot live. Therefore, they are the barest minimum. And shelters — nice, wonderful, homey shelters aren’t that hard to build and set up. Do you remember your camping days and how cozy and warm were your tents?
Well, suppose you didn’t have time to grab your tent. What then? Well, here are some suggestions straight from Native America. The first important thing is…? Location, location, location. A good Real Estate maxim.
Now, it’s a good idea to find a dry and protected spot, one that is close to a supply of water and fuel (wood or something else to burn). And if one is being hunted by another or other’s or if one is simply alone, another feature you might consider would be to find a place that is secluded, one that is hard for the casual eye to see. Such things as a hollowed-out tree, a cave, a rock that allows only a casual view. As Charles A Eastman put it in his book, INDIAN SCOUT CRAFT AND LORE:
“…The first essentials are water and fuel; next comes sanitation and drainage, protection from the elements and from ready discovery by possible fores; finally, beauty of situation.
If you are in the woods, the shelter you will probably want to construct is a lean-to. Here’s yet another section from Charles A. Eastman’s book, INDIAN SCOUT CRAFT AND LORE.
“…Find two trees the right distance apart and connect them by poles laid upon the forks of each at a height of about eight feet. This forms the support of your lean-to. Against this horizontal bar place small poles close together, driving their ends in the ground, and forming an angle with about the slant of an ordinary roof. You can close in both sides, or not, as you choose. If you leave one open, build your fire opposite the entrance, thus making a cheerful and airy ‘open-face camp.’ Thatch from the ground up with overlapping rows of flat and thick evergreen boughs, and spread several layers of the same for a springy and fragrant bed.”
Note that this requires very few tools save perhaps a hatchet or a strong knive to make the poles.
The coziness of the tepee was often commented upon by travelers in the old west. The structures were clean, warm, hospitable, with plenty of room for family and possessions. But more of that in another post. For now, let’s look at another kind of shelter, the dome-shapped ‘wickiup.’ Again from Charles A. Eastman, INDIAN SCOUT CRAFT AND LORE:
“…The dome-shaped wigwam or ‘wickiup’ is made in a few minutes almost anywhere by sticking into the ground in a circle a sufficient number of limber poles, such as willow wands, to make it the size you need. Each pair of opposites is bent forward until they meet, and the ends interlocked and tied firmly. Use any convenient material for the covering; an extra blanket will do.”
Again, you would cover it with whatever was available in the area you are in.
Okay you knew I was going to slip this photo in here somwhere, didn’t you? How could I resist? Are you, like me, sighing?… Well, continuing on, let’s touch on the traditional tepee. If you ever have the chance to go to a pow-wow in Indian Country, you might be able to catch the tepee raising race at the rodeo. Amazingly, these people set up tepees in a matter of a few minutes — quite spectacular to see. But here are the basics. Again, from Charles A. Eastman, INDIAN SCOUT CRAFT AND LORE:
“The skeleton of the conical teepee is made by tying three poles together near the top, and, when raised, separating them to form a tripod. Against this place in a circle as many poles as you think necessary to support your outer covering of cloth or thatch, usually twelve to fifteen. If of canvas, the covering is tied to a pole and then raised and wrapped about the framework and secured with wooden pins to within about three feet of the ground. This space is left for the entrance and covered by a movable door, which may be merely a small blanket. If you have nothing better, a quantity of dry grass will make you a warm bed.”
Finally, although we may have covered this already when we were discussing fires, small fires are best. Again, from Charles A. Eastman, “It is best in camping to build small fires. This rule is observed by all Indians. Smoke may be seen at a great distance, especially on a clear day, and may be scented by the ordinary Indian (or other person) a long way off, if the wind is right. Only in cold weather or for special purposes does the Indian indulge in a huge fire, and in no case does he ever leave it without seeing that it is entirely extinguished.”
Well, that’s it for today’s Native American lesson. What about you? Do you have a favorite camping story? Campfire tales? Cozy-warm tents that you remember? For me, I remember camping in Vermont. We had forgotten how important it was to set up camp so that one was protected from water. We awoke to find water all over the floor of our tent, once the rain had really settled in.
That was that. There we were in the middle of the night, digging trenches around our tent. Do you have a story? If so, I’d love to hear from you today. So come on in and let’s chat.
I know why “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” is such a big hit. It’s the jeans. From teenagers to baby boomers, we can all relate. Slipping into a comfortable pair of jeans instantly lowers blood pressure, gets us humming, and on our best days, makes us feel sexy.
When I was in high school, the competition was between Levi’s®, Lee® and Wrangler®. These days, teenagers have a greater variety to choose from.But I still love those originals.
In my Westerns, my men wear Levi’s. If they’re Mounties, they wear breeches while on duty, but off, they’re all in denim. There’s nothing like a man wearing only a pair of jeans, is there?
Levi’s originated in San Francisco during the California Gold Rush. They were still popular twenty-five years later during the Klondike Gold Rush, where my books are set. When I recently visited San Francisco, I discovered Levi’s flagship store in Union Square, the heart of the city. That’s it behind the palm trees at the top of the stairs.
In 1873, Levi Strauss was the first in the world to design a pair of blue jeans. He had a business partner, Jacob Davis, a tailor who came up with the idea for adding metal rivets. When their patent for metal rivets expired in 1891, dozens of other garment manufacturers added rivets to their jeans and jackets.
Levi Strauss was born in Bavaria, Germany. When he was a boy (named Loeb at birth), he and his family emigrated to New York City. They ran a dry goods store. In 1853 when he was twenty-three, Levi moved to San Francisco. He opened a wholesale dry goods store of his own. Levi outfitted many smaller stores that were springing up all over the west coast. Items included jackets, overalls, coats, umbrellas and bolts of fabric.
Blue jeans were originally designed to withstand the wear-and-tear of the gold fields. The rivets gave extra strength to the pockets and kept the seams from ripping, while the denim twill weave was extra strong to withstand the assault of hard labor.
Denim twill weave gets its strength due to the diagonal ribbing that can be seen on the reverse side of the cloth. Maybe that’s why jeans mold to thighs and backsides like a great pair of leather gloves.
What’s the difference between denim and jean fabric?
During weaving, denim has one thread that’s white, one that’s colored. Jean fabric has both threads in the same color. Hence those cheap imitations your mother tried to spring on you as a child.“Oh, honey, they’re the same!”
The origin of the word denim is disputed. Some say it came from England, some France. Others say it was a mispronunciation of the French town where serge fabric was manufactured, “Serge de Nimes.” The debate continues.
There’s no clear reason why we began to interchange the word ‘denim’ with ‘blue jeans.’ In 1873, Levi’s blue jeans were originally referred to as ‘waist overalls.’
Regular ‘overalls’ (the kind with a bib) got their name because they were worn on top of trousers during work. In Britain, overalls were called dungarees. Dungarees got their name from the course calico cloth they were sewn from, originally from a place in India called Dongari Killa where the British had a fort. Dungaree cloth was thin and often poorly woven, and not to be confused with denim.
Blue jeans have always been a symbol of youth and rebellion. According to the Levi Strauss & Co. website, Bing Crosby was a big fan. In 1951 he went hunting with a friend in Canada, but when he tried to check into his Vancouver hotel, the front desk clerk wouldn’t let him in because his denims were not considered high class. The clerk didn’t recognize America’s most beloved singer. Luckily for Mr. Crosby, he was finally recognized by the bell hop. When Levi Strauss & Co. heard of his plight, they sewed him a tuxedo jacket, made of denim, of course. By 1958, newspapers claimed that ninety percent of America’s youth wore jeans everywhere except “in bed and in church.”
Jeans are more than a pair of pants. They’re a symbol of how we feel about ourselves. Don’t many women have a story about shedding a few pounds so they can get back into theirs? Valerie Bertinelli says so in her biography, LOSING IT.
Two years ago, I cleaned out my closet and finally threw out a pair I was saving…for over twenty years! I hadn’t realized it had been that long. They were already tight when I first bought them, and as soon as I had a glass of water, they no longer fit at all. Why was it so hard to throw them out? Maybe they were a symbol of my youth.
But you know what? Over the last few years, I’ve replaced them with some great below-the-belly-button jeans I hesitated to try before. (Mature women know what I’m talking about. Was I the only holdout?) The new ones look hipper than those other ones ever could and make me feel like a foxy mama.
Today I went shopping with my teenage daughter and she was thrilled to get a new pair of “skinny jeans.” Our parents used to say our jeans were painted on—today when I looked at my daughter, I knew how they felt looking at us.
So what about you? Do you have a favorite pair of jeans in your closet?Or a favorite piece of clothing that makes you feel great when you wear it?
Dead towns tell tales.Lies, perhaps, but stories worth listening to nonetheless.The tales come from the whispers of changing times, lives that start and end or move on.
There are many ghost towns on the Plains of Colorado.Keota is one.Founded in 1880 by sisters Mary and Eva Beardsley, it was purchased eight years later by the Lincoln Land and Cattle Company.It grew to support over 1200 area ranchers.Situated over 100 miles northeast of Denver and almost 60 miles east of Fort Collins, Colorado, it was the only town for many days’ travel in the time of foot or horse and wagon transportation.
For a while, the town thrived.In the late 1880s, the residents built a large schoolhouse on a gently sloping hill at the top of the town.The view from the school is amazing.The arid prairie rolls in shades of brown and pink in every direction, an ocean of empty land.No trees, no streets or buildings beyond the handful that comprise the town.The wind and dust were the town’s only constants.
In the end, the wind won.In 1890, the post office closed shop.The school continued on, though residents moved away when the railroad closed.In the 1930s, the last graduation took place at the school.
Standing in the streets of what was once an active, albeit small, town makes me curious about the brave souls who lived there.They got to see the town grow from the dry dirt of a barren land.The sisters Beardsley picked their hill and built their house without the benefit of trees or water.Or even other residents.
And perhaps they got to see their town die, too.How frightening that would be.It’s a theme I explore in my Men of Defiance series.In my first book, RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN, my fictional town of Defiance was a thriving village.Situated at the base of the Medicine Bow Mountains, it had a lumber mill, a bank, several saloons and hotels, and a general store.Sager and Rachel’s fathers are two of the area ranchers the town supports.
By the second and third books in the series (tentatively titled McCAID’S WOMANand LEAH AND THE AVENGER), the town is well on its way to ghost town status.The bank, the hotels and lumber mill have closed.Only one saloon remains.The town’s law-abiding citizens have abandoned it for the more prosperous environments of Denver City and Cheyenne.
Left behind are two young women, friends of Sager’s brother.They live at the mercy of the handful of decent citizens who remain–and the growing population of border ruffians and outlaws drawn to the empty town.Can the Men of Defiance turn the town around?Is love enough of a foundation for a future?
I hope you’ll visit my website (www.elainelevine.com) to get updates on my books.RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN will be released by Kensington Books in January 2009.I’m writing a serialized prequel to that story which I’ll publish on my website in seven short video clips between now and the end of December.You can also take a peek at RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN by reading the first chapter on my website.
Elaine is giving away a T-shirt with her bookcover on it to one reader who subscribes to her newsletter this weekend. If the drawing winner sends Elaine of picture of herself wearing the T-shirt, she’ll get an autographed copy of Rachel and the Hired Gun when Elaine gets her author copies in December! Register to win and sign up for more news of Elaine’s new book here: www.elainelevine.com
What ghost towns have you visited recently?If you stood quietly, with your eyes shut, could you hear the echoes of its former residents?
Hello Darlings! We have a wonderful guest for you tomorrow–Miss Elaine Levine.The dear woman is arriving bright and early to spend the day with all you lovely ladies.
Miss Elaine is walking on air now that her first book is about to see the light of day. Rachel and the Hired Gun comes out in January and we can hardly wait. My goodness, have you ever seen a more handsome cowboy on the cover of a book? He looks like he’d be more than a handful of sexy manhood! Ah’m gettin’ plumb hot and bothered thinking about it.
Miss Elaine is going to be talking about towns that up and die on people. She knows more than a little about the subject believe you me.
Miss Elaine is also going to be giving away some wonderful prizes. Drop by and leave a comment and you’ll get your name in the hat for those. What’d be more fun than that? Join us right here on Saturday.
As my logo may indicate, I love dragonflies. Growing up in the country I was surrounded by them in the summertime–the tiny blue ones, the giant green ones–they’ve always been my favorite insect. When coming up with a logo I wanted something I’d enjoy seeing and sharing with others and since I write dusty westerns I asked my graphic designer to give my personal dragonfly a snake-like tail. He did, and I love it.
Not long after, my cousin saw my logo and said “Oh, Snake Doctors!” I had never heard the term and was instantly fascinated. She told me that while growing up her whole family called dragonflies “snake doctors” and she’d never heard the term dragonfly until she was much older. This got me to wondering about dragonfly lore. If there’s anything I love as much as westerns and dragonflies it’s lore, myths and legends! Must be the storyteller in me, but I love Greek Mythology and while researching Indian tribes and cultures I became fascinated with Native American folklore. Surely the term “snake doctors” had to be connected to some interesting legend. Well, my search did not disappoint. In fact, dragonflies are connected to a variety of lore and legends all around the world!
Some Dragonfly Lore accordiing to Wikipedia:
The Southern United States term “snake doctor” refers to a folk belief that dragonflies follow snakes around and stitch them back together if they are injured. (Seems in the south when dragonflies are about snakes are nearby *g* )
In Europe, dragonflies have often been seen as sinister and known as “devil’s darning needle” and “ear cutter”, link them with evil or injury.
A Romanian folk tale says that the dragonfly was once a horse possessed by the devil. This is also seen in the Maltese culture as the word for dragonfly which is “Debba ta’ l-infern” literally means Hell’s mare.
Swedish folklore holds that the devil uses dragonflies to weigh people’s souls. Another Swedish legend holds that trolls use the dragonflies as spindles when weaving their clothes (hence the Swedish word for dragonfly trollslända, lit. “troll’s spindle”) as well as sending them to poke out the eyes of their enemies.
The Norwegian name for dragonflies is “Øyenstikker”, which literally means Eye Poker. They are often associated with snakes, as in the Welsh name gwas-y-neidr, “adder’s servant”.
The Lithuanian word “Laumžirgis” is a composite word meaning “the Lauma’s horse”, while in Dutch, Aeshna mixta is called “Paardenbijter” or “horse biter”.
In some South American countries, dragonflies are also called matacaballo (horse killer), or caballito del diablo (devil’s horse), since they were perceived as harmful, some species being quite large for an insect.
In East Asia and among Native Americans, dragonflies have a far better reputation, one that can also be said to have positively influenced modern day views about dragonflies in most countries.
For some Native American tribes they represent swiftness and activity, and for the Navajo they symbolize pure water. Dragonflies are a common motif in Zuni pottery; stylized as a double-barred cross, they appear in Hopi rock art and on Pueblo necklaces.It is said in some Native American beliefs that dragonflies are a symbol of renewal after a time of great hardship.
In Japan dragonflies are symbols of courage, strength, and happiness, and they often appear in art and literature, especially haiku. In ancient mythology, Japan was known as Akitsushima, which means “Land of the Dragonflies”. The love for dragonflies is reflected by the fact that there are traditional names for almost all of the 200 species of dragonflies found in and around Japan.
Vietnamese people have a traditional way to forecast rain by seeing dragonflies: Dragonflies fly at low level, it is rainy; dragonflies fly at high level, it is sunny; dragonflies fly at medium level, it is shadowy.
Some Dragonfly Facts:
A dragonfly is a type of insect belonging to the order Odonata, the suborder Epiprocta or, in the strict sense, the infraorder Anisoptera.
It is characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong, transparent wings, and an elongated body.
Dragonflies are our largest and most ancient of insects.
Dragonflies typically eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants and butterflies. They are therefore valued as predators, since they help control populations of harmful insects.
Dragonflies are usually found around lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands because their larvae, known as “nymphs”, are aquatic. Adult dragonflies do not bite or sting humans.
“Glimmering, shimmering, glittering, shining, iridescent – these graceful children of the sun are especially loved for the beauty of their long membranous wings and colorful bodies. Their brilliant colors, bold, acrobatic flight, complex behaviors, and ubiquity around bodies of water in mid-summer are making them increasingly popular subjects for study.
A dragonfly can hover, fly sideways, stop on a dime, change direction, and even spurt backwards at astonishing speeds. Rather than slipping air smoothly over sleek airfoils as birds do, dragonflies create furious vortices which swirl much faster than the surrounding airflow around the surface of the wings. The speed of the air immediately adjacent to the wing produces lift in both planes. The wings vibrate as fast as sixteen hundred times per minute, allowing the dragonfly to reach speeds of over thirty miles per hour…
Ferocious, voracious, carnivorous, insatiable – darting above the prairie, dragonflies are searching for food. The “Odonates,” the toothed ones, are voracious predators with serrated jaws. Plucking winged pests from the air, devouring them in flight with an almost insatiable appetite, the dragonfly captures and eats hordes of flying insects by skimming through the air, scooping up its victims in a basket formed by spine-fringed legs.”
For those who stop in over at this may be repeated info, but last week my mom sent me a card that rekindled my focus on dragonfly lore. When I opened the card and saw this gorgeous hand painted dragonfly on the front I thought, “My mom is the best.” (She really is *g*). I read on, expecting a delightful birthday message. But what I found was this:
Having flown the earth for 300 million years, dragonflies symbolize our ability to overcome times ofhardship. Sighting a dragonfly is meant to remind us to take time to reconnect with our own strength, courage and happiness.
(on the inside:) You’ll get past this, your heart lifted by dragonfly wings.Followed by a handwritten “Get this book done! The dragonfly will help to give you strength and reconnect. I have faith in you. ~Love Your Mom”
Needless to say, THIS has become my favorite of all the dragonfly lore I’ve uncovered so far 🙂
What about you? Do you know dragonflies by any other name? Any interesting nature terms or nicknames or insect lore in your neck of the woods that may be new to an easterner, westerner or southerner?
Today one comment poster will win a copy of THE BOUNTY HUNTER AND THE HEIRESS – a great western by Carol Finch!