Thursday, February 23, 2012

Marian Allen Models Her Book After Her Spunky Aunt Ruth

Aunt Ruth
One Aunt Inspires Another

When I was growing up, the head of the family was my Aunt Ruth and her second-in-command was her twin sister, Aunt Rose. Through one of those peculiar juxtapositions of birth orders of siblings and siblings' siblings, they were the same age as my grandfather AND his aunts.

They grew up bossy, especially Aunt Ruth. When she said she was praying for something, we knew part of her report was going to include the words, "So I told Him...."

EEL'S REVERENCE called for a spunky senior, a female priest of small stature but immense inner strength. Naturally, I thought of Aunt Ruth. The character, Aunt Libby, became her own person as I wrote her, of course, but I kept her true to my vision of her by measuring her against Aunt Ruth.

Now that I'm a senior, myself, I appreciate my aunt even more. She was born early in the century, lived through two world wars and the Great Depression, raised three children and mentored many.

Aunt Ruth ran a popular teen club in the basement of Grace Lutheran Church for years. The only refreshments she ever served: dill pickles and potato chips. She directed the Youth Choir. She called anybody younger than 45 "kiddoes" and said teenagers had to be handled with kid gloves to keep them involved.

Our whole family was poor -- er, financially minimal -- but I was never ashamed in any company and I never looked for somebody to look down on to make myself feel big. Why? Because I was raised hearing Aunt Ruth say, "We're no better than anybody else, but we're every bit as good!"

One night, after a full day of chauffering women younger than she was to the grocery and doctor appointments (she called them "my old ladies"), she sat down in the living room under her picture of Jesus and went to sleep. She never woke up.

I used Aunt Ruth to model Pearl, the main character in my short story "The Dragon of North 24th Street", and I couldn't have written EEL'S REVERENCE without thinking of her; her fire and compassion were exactly what I wanted for Aunt Libby. My dream casting for the role would be Betty White, if the director can refrain from making her do her "naughty" thing. I loved the way she worked on the tv show Boston Legal, so I know she has depth and breadth.

Thanks again, Aunt Ruth!
Marian Allen was born in Louisville, Kentucky and now lives in rural Indiana. For as long as she can remember, she has loved telling and being told stories. She writes science fiction, fantasy, mystery, humor, horror, mainstream, and anything else she can wrestle into fixed form.

Allen has had stories in on-line and print publications, on coffee cans and the wall of an Indian restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky.

She is a member of the Southern Indiana Writers Group.

Allen is active in the Friends of Harrison County Library, Woman's Literary Club of Corydon and Community Unity, which promotes diversity appreciation and non-violent problem solving.

She posts at the group blog Fatal Foodies on Tuesdays and monthly on The Write Type, That Book Place and Echelon Exploration.

The Eel -- Where the coast meets the sea. Where merfolk with snake-like tails mingle with land-dwellers in uneasy truce. Where that truce is about to explode into violence.

Aunt Libby -- A crone, a short-tempered scrapper, a True Priest of Micah.

Loach -- A genderless young mermayd not above a spot of robbery.

When corrupt priests, greedy merchants, and local revolutionaries try to use Aunt Libby to enflame one side against another, they all learn that an old woman and a young mermayd make a serious stumbling block to their plans. Libby and Loach race against time, before the sea of the Eel runs red with blood.

Read "Line of Descent", a free short story set in the EEL'S REVERENCE world.

Available in eBook formats only.

Facebook Author page

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What a Recorder Revealed About Spunky Senior, Sharon Ihle

The best thing I ever learned when I first started writing was discovering what prompted my creativity. I noticed that while writing a story, I would wake up in the middle of the night with visions of the next chapter, up to and including lines of dialogue. When this first started happening, I was sure I’d remember all those precious jewels the next morning. Didn’t happen. Usually I even forgot that I woke up during the night. I told my husband, Larry, about this problem and he came up with a fix. Since he knew I was too lazy to get out of bed, go to my desk, and write my thoughts down, he bought me a tape recorder and put it on the headboard.

I thought this was a swell idea as I already knew that hearing my story out loud, even if I was doing the reading, was a good way to get a feel for what worked and what didn’t. Larry, thoughtful as always, picked a recorder with a voice-activated feature. This meant that I didn’t even have to reach up and turn the thing on. All I had to do was spout my pearls of wisdom into the night and they would magically be there for revising the following morning. I went to sleep that night eager for sunrise so I could hear my clever musings.

Sharon & her dog, Stella
The next morning I woke up disappointed. I was quite sure I had never awakened during the night. Disappointment quickly disappeared when I checked the tape and discovered that I’d apparently rattled on for close to an hour. Was my urge to tell my story so strong that I didn’t even have to awake up for the process? Hah! The only thing I learned as I replayed the tape was (1) Larry has a little hitch in his throat when he snores, (2) some woman (it couldn’t have been me) snored right along with him as if part of band, and (3) my darling cocker spaniel, Sushi, (usually such a lady) snored louder than the both of us put together.

That story is legend in our family, and I told it partly for fun, but also to point out a creativity tip. All writers and those who would like to write are different. What stimulates my creativity may not work out for Nora Roberts. For me, it’s a warm bath with rock music pounding away in my ears, followed quickly by a session with a tape recorder---with the voice activation feature turned off.  I have to admit here that I spent a LOT of time in the bathtub while writing The Bride Wore Spurs. I almost became a permanent prune, but thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent with Lacey and Hawke. I hope you will, too

About The Bride Wore Spurs:
 Kathleen Lacey O’Carroll knew she faced an uncertain future when she arrived in Wyoming as a mail-order bride—especially when she learned that the man she was to marry hadn’t actually ordered her. How could John Winterhawke, a fiercely independent and unsettling handsome half-Indian possibly make room in his heart and in his life for her?
    As far as Hawke was concerned, the last thing he needed was a high-spirited, overeager Irish wife who knew nothing about surviving on the harsh prairie. But once the determined Lacey sensed the rough kindness and simmering hunger under Hawke’s forbidding demeanor, she set out to match his dark passion with her own—and claim his wild heart on her terms.
Sharon Ihle is the best-selling author of more than a dozen award-winning historical romances set in the American West. A lifelong Californian, Sharon recently moved from the sunny beaches of San Diego to the frozen plains of North Dakota. Hard to believe, but it’s true.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Maryann Miller, Spunky Senior Author and Actress

Thanks to Morgan for inviting me to share my story here at Spunky Seniors. It has been such fun celebrating all the wonderful things writers have shared in previous posts, and I am honored to be included in such an inspiring group.  

When I was a little girl, my mother, sister and I would often go to the movie theatre a few blocks from our house. That was an outing that we all enjoyed, and I will date myself by admitting that we could see a double-feature and have popcorn for a quarter. My mother loved movies, and she passed that love on to me.

I can remember sitting in the dark and watching some of the great actresses like Joan Crawford, Doris Day, and Irene Dunn up on the big screen, keeping me spellbound. When the movies were over, I remember leaving the theatre and sometimes we would sing songs from the movies. Then I would go home to play movie star.

Like so many little girls, I flirted with the idea of growing up to become a famous actress, but in my teens and young adulthood, I chalked that up to childhood fantasy. I had too many strikes against me. I wasn't particularly attractive. I didn't have boobs to speak of. And I didn't know the first thing about acting.

Plus, when I tried out for a high school production I was put in the chorus, which is where all the kids who couldn't act were put. That clinched it for me. I was not destined to be an actor.

Fast forward many years later. I worked with a partner in the film business for a while, and we would hold acting workshops for theatre students in the Dallas area. I got to watch and learn and that childhood idea started to pester me again. I'd watch some of the actors play out a scene and think, "I want to do that."

Yet, I never could get brave and tell anyone.

Fast forward a few more years when I became the Theatre Director at the art center in our small community here in East Texas. All those tricks I learned about acting I put to use in helping others bring roles to life, but I still couldn't work up the courage to step on the stage.

Maryann in Mildred in Squabbles

Then, a few years ago, a good friend talked me into auditioning for a show at another community theatre. Her exact words were, "They need an old lady for a role." I didn't mind the comment. I knew I was an old lady. LOL

Maryann Miller as
 Martha Brewster

To my surprise, I got the role as Mildred in "Squabbles" and I had a jillion lines to learn. I was afraid on opening night that I would freeze, or do something else equally embarrassing, but I stepped out on the stage and became Mildred. What fun. And the audience seemed to think I did a first-rate job. 

Since then, I have had lead roles in several other shows, most recently as Martha Brewster in "Arsenic and Old Lace". The one good thing about being an old lady is I can play some of these roles and the make-up people don't have to add wrinkles or gray hair.

Like me, the heroine in my woman's novel, Play it Again, Sam, put her dreams on hold to raise a family. I'm glad we both got to pursue those dreams.

Book Blurb:
Life as she knows it ceases to exist for Samantha Rutgers when her husband of twenty-plus years decides he no longer loves her. The challenges are myriad. Can she build a life without him? Will her daughter always blame her? Can she ever trust a man again?  And what is she going to do about sex?
Maryann Miller is an award-winning author of numerous books, screenplays and stage plays. In addition to Play It Again, Sam, she has written several other books. The latest, Open Season, is the first book in a new mystery series that features two women homicide detectives in Dallas. The second book in the series, Stalking Season, is under contract and will publish in November 2012. Miller has a suspense novel, One Small Victory, a young adult novel, Friends Forever, and a short story collection, The Wisdom of Ages, is also available as an e-book and paperback.

Twitter:  @maryannwrites

Please leave a comment for Maryann to welcome her here at Spunky Senior Authors and Talents.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spunky Senior Author, Kathryn Elizabeth Jones, Is On Hold at 29

Kathryn Elizabeth Jones

Getting Older But Feeling 29

Every year I turn 29 again, and people that know me have stopped asking me my age. They already know.

“So, you’re 29 again,” they say, or “you’re sure looking good for…29.”

The other day someone I didn’t know thought I was my daughter’s sister—my daughter’s almost 30. I told them that I’d just celebrated my 50th birthday. I thought they were going to fall over.

I’m not sure how young I really look, but the idea of being 30 or even 35 thrills me to no end. And I share my feelings with anyone who will listen. And I mean anyone.

Breakfast on a cruise ship

The other day I was getting my hair cut. A new place was opening up and I was getting my hair cut for free! The lady in the chair opposite was groaning about her sorry life. “Can you believe I’m 32?” she said to the hair stylist.

“Wow,” I said, “you’re young!”

She looked at me as if I was crazy.

I said, “Well, I’m 50 and so I’d enjoy being 32.”

Her eyes grew wide. “You’re 50? I don’t believe it.”

“Believe it. I have four grand-children. They’re my bonus round.”

She smiled. “You don’t look 50.”

Was she telling me the truth? I will never be completely sure, but I love people like that; they’re my instant friends on facebook and I can hardly wait to invite them over to dinner.
Kathryn with her sisters last year on Girls Night Out

Sometimes I don’t like it that I’m 50. You get treated differently at job interviews if they’ve figured that part out. Young kids think your 80 and sometimes, quite frankly, I feel older than I used to. When I turned 50, my doctor said, “Well, I guess it’s time for that colonoscopy!”

I could have strangled her.

Sure, I like the idea of being younger, but I wouldn’t want to rehash all of my learning experiences. They hurt quite enough the first time around. I’m happy to be 50, most of the time. And I like the thought that it’s never too late to start a new business (I began a new business last year) or even write a second book.

And I’m fine at 29.
Bio: I am an avid reader and enjoy long walks in the mountains (as long as I don’t have to camp overnight). I LOVE chocolate in any form: candy bar, cookie, ice-cream, brownie… I started writing when I was pregnant with my first daughter (I have 3) and published my first nonfiction article 8 years later. My new book, “Conquering your Goliaths—A Parable of the Five Stones” has just been released at Amazon.

Blurb: David gathered 5 smooth stones to meet and defeat Goliath. What did these stones represent and how can you use them to conquer Goliaths in your own personal quests? Ms. Virginia Bean will show you how.

Travel with her on her own personal journey. See what she does. Learn how she grows. Discover what she becomes.

“Conquering your Goliaths—A Parable of the Five Stones” is for anyone desiring to travel beyond mediocrity, pain and fear. Learn of the great power within you, a power given to you from God, a power that must ultimately be unleashed to conquer the Goliaths in your own life. Come to an even deeper understanding of God and what he wants for you. Come…