Is He Hero Material?

“I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.”

~ Bob Dylan

What makes a hero in a story?  Is it a strong and disciplined body?  The way he moves across a room and commands attention or that roguish glint in his eye?  Initially those are the things that will catch a reader’s attention.  But, if that is all your hero has going for him then your reader won’t stay long.

When I began Rayven’s Keep I wasn’t sure what my hero eventually would be like.  I had a basic idea, but it took time to make Nick Rayven more than one-dimensional.  I had to ask myself what traits did he posses that would make my heroine fall in love with him.  What was it that made him a hero in her eyes?

To know that I had to understand where he came from, what experiences molded him into the man he was now.  Right away, I knew he was an honorable man, driven by duty and his own moral compass.  I knew he could be impatient and once set on a course he would see it to the end no matter what.  He’s a man who has seen the worst life has to offer and still managed to survive.

In other words, he’s one tough dude.

That might be attractive at the on-set, but my heroine is feisty and a romantic at heart.  There had to be more to Nick’s than a tough exterior to keep her interested and willing to break down the emotional barriers he’s erected.  After all, this is her journey as much as his.

So how does a man who spent his life in the military fighting for a cause he believes in deal with the destruction of everything he’s fought for?  How does he move past seeing his home world destroyed?  For Nick those final horrendous minutes of battle are relived in nightmares.  This is a vulnerability he hates and has no control over.  Yet, in spite of everything, he has managed to build a new life for himself by being focused on establishing his business, Rayven Security.  It’s how he copes.

He’s also lived in an emotional vacuum for so long he doesn’t quite know how to deal with one small female getting under his skin and shaking up his world. It’s his gruff kindness, his protective instincts and the vulnerability she senses in him that draw her.  It’s the heat she see’s in his eyes and the baffled expression he can’t quite hide.  Its knowing he will walk through fire for her and recognizing it goes beyond his sense of duty.  That’s the Nick she fights for.  Wouldn’t you?

This is one of my favorite scenes with Nick.  What do you think?

Nick was no stranger to the tumult of feelings coursing through his body. He’d felt the punch-drunk assault of adrenaline many times in his career. He understood the heady rush of euphoria once the danger had passed and knew firsthand the reckless need for physical release in its aftermath. He recognized it a very human response to the need to reaffirm life continued.

All those feelings and needs made his hands shake and drawing breath into his oxygen-starved lungs difficult. He wanted to follow Tru to her bed and sink into her warmth with a painful intensity leaving his muscles taut and his emotions a tangled mess.

If the situation were different, he would have gone with his friends to a tavern and indulged in the usual male bonding ritual of congratulatory back-thumping and drinking until he was either too drunk to stand or had found a bed partner. A sobering thought. He’d been younger then, still idealistic and sure of his ability to survive what life threw at him. It seemed like a lifetime ago, and he’d learned surviving was sometimes almost too painful to be endured.

To let her walk away had cost him. The heavy thud of his heartbeat pulsed in his temple and restless energy held muscles rigid. He called himself ten kinds of a fool, even though he knew he did the right thing. He ran a hand across the back of his neck before he went in search of a canister of ale he knew was onboard. He didn’t drink often, but tonight promised to be long and lonely.

After he snagged the chilled canister, he returned to the bridge. Slouching in his chair, he nursed the drink and stared moodily into space.

A Writer’s Voice

Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in.

~Louise Brown

If you Google Writing Voice you will discover pages of material.  I literally found everything from what Voice is to instructions on how to develop it.  There is information in abundance to help you discover your own unique style. Wow.

Apparently this is a very serious subject and one a writer needs to pay attention to.  Who knew? Certainly not me. When I first started to write it never occurred to me I needed to find my Voice. I had no idea what it was to begin with. I just wanted to tell a good story.  So I wrote.  And wrote some more.  Then I rewrote.  Along the way I discovered a tendency to head hop just a teensy-weensy bit – okay, I raised it to an art form, but, hey, I eventually figured it out.  Adverbs are not my friend and the word “that” can be overused.  Good to know.

Writing a sentence is fairly easy, but what gives it life beyond the words you read? What glues you to the pages anxious to see what happens next?  Words have power and the way they are put together on a page can transport us to other worlds and on wonderful adventures or make us want to hurl the book across the room.  We laugh, we cry, we smell the ocean on the breeze or hear the thunder of a waterfall and we fall in love with characters that become real to us for a short period of time. All because of words.

Okay, so we’ve established the importance of sentence structure (my English teacher would be so proud), but that alone isn’t enough to keep us interested is it? I know you’ve picked up a book and several paragraphs in you are wondering why you are wasting your time. Maybe you keep reading, hoping it will get better or toss is aside because you would rather wash dishes. Yet the book came highly recommended from a friend/co-worker/stranger on the street (you get the picture) because they loved this book and thought you would too.  What is it about the book you just didn’t like?

You know where I am going with this, right? It is Voice!  It is the cadence of the words put together, how it is punctuated, the dialogue between characters and how they are developed that either bores you to tears or keeps you awake half the night reading.  It is how the writer perceives his vision and translates it to the page that we either respond to or turn away from.  It is an emotional reaction.

If the writer is lucky his Voice will touch the right cord with a lot of readers, but I can say with great confidence that even bestselling authors have detractors. Not everyone will like what we produce and that is okay.  If everyone liked the same thing then we wouldn’t need a wide variety of reading material. Boring!

So, I’ve discovered along the way my rhythm for words and descriptions – my Voice.  I am comfortable there and fall easily into the pattern when I sit down to write.  My hope is others will like what I have done and few will be tempted to toss my book aside.

In my world, that would be pretty darned cool. 🙂

Kylie Wolfe interviews Trent & Carrie from Worst Week Ever by Liza O’Connor

1The Craziest Blog Tour Ever


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Worst and Best Moments of Worst Week Ever

Today, I’ll be interviewing the characters of Worst Week Ever for their Worst and Best moments during a week so horrible, yet fun, that Liza O’Connor felt compelled to write a book about it.

Kylie: So, let’s start with Carrie, Executive Assistant to Trent Lancaster of Lancaster Chairs.
trent 007 sml

Trent: Hold on, I’m CEO. You should start with me.

Kylie: *rolls eyes* Fine, ‘gentlemen first’ then. What’s the worst thing that happened to you this week?

Trent: It was the moment I saw a file cabinet tipping out of the 5th story window of my office and Carrie standing like a mindless twit, picking up papers, exactly where it would fall. In that moment, I saw the destruction of my life and the end of any chance for happiness.

Kylie: Has anyone ever mentioned you come across as a mite bit self-centered?

Trent: Do you want to hear about the worst moment of my life or not?

Kylie: Of course. Go ahead.

Trent: Unable to bear the possibility of losing my EA, I ran, without thought to my own safety, snared Carrie by the waist and saved her life. Then some idiot policeman arrested me. Evidently, they don’t like good Samaritans.

Kylie: And what was your best moment?

Trent: Were you not paying attention? I just told you. Carrie, make her understand.

Carrie indoors

Carrie: *smiles at Kylie* I understand your confusion  since it was a single event. However, when Trent saw I was about to die that was his worst moment. When he saved my life that was his best. *She grins at Trent*

Trent: Exactly! Why is Carrie the only one who can understand me? *he grips her hand* But you see why I’ve decided to keep her with me, wherever I go.

Kylie: Because you can’t make yourself understood otherwise?

Trent: No! A Lancaster doesn’t have to explain himself. But in this case I will. I have to keep Carrie close by so I can keep her safe. You’ve no idea how much trouble she got into this week.

Carrie: *pulled her hand away* My first arrest was entirely your fault. As was the reason your phone ended up in the hands of a drug dealer. And what about you hiring a FBI agent to commit a crime? That was all your doing.

Trent: *frowns* When did I get you arrested? Oh the airport. *returns focus to Kylie.* Did you know that Airport Security will arrest you if you buy a ticket to Peru, enter the international section, but don’t actually go anywhere?

Kylie: Why would anyone do that? *looks at Carrie*

Carrie: He bought the ticket so he could get past security and wait for me at my gate.

Kylie: *looks at Trent*

Trent: *shrugged* I desperately needed my EA back.

Kylie: And Carrie, what was your best and worst moment?

Carrie: There have been so many this week. I think my worst moment was making those narcotic turtles. I almost caused three people to die over that fiasco.

Trent: Who?

Carrie: Mars, your penthouse butler, Jack, your only working systems guy, and Sam, your driver.

Trent: *frowns* Well, at least that Jack fellow will stop demanding turtles to do his job now.

Carrie: *rolls eyes and refocuses on Kylie* My best moment was when Trent told me his lobby guard was wrong and–

Kylie: Hold on. I just got a text message from Liza. She doesn’t want you to discuss that matter.

Carrie: Oh, okay. Sorry Liza. Well, I was really happy when the police let me go without charging me. Evidently what I did could have gotten me 6 years in a federal prison.

Trent: *snorts* She, who actually did something wrong, gets off scott free and I had to pay a million dollar bond to get released.

Carrie: *Stands up and glares* Trent Lancaster! If you repeat your outrageous and totally untrue claim as to why I got off, I am never doing another interview with you again.

Kylie: I guess this concludes my interview with Carrie and Trent.

Trent: You should say Trent and Carrie.

Kylie: *shakes her head* You two are an odd couple.

Trent: You mean because she’s only four feet and I’m six feet tall?

Carrie: *crosses her arms and grumbles* I’m four foot six.

Trent: *Pulls Carrie to his side and hugs her* Doesn’t matter. I think you’re perfect both inside and out.

Carrie: *smiles at Trent, then  Kylie*  Just when I’m about to lose my temper, he’ll say something so sweet that I can’t help but forgive him. I can see a very good man in Trent. He doesn’t realize how he often comes across. His father was a terrible role model.

Kylie:  I don’t know how you do it, Carrie.  You obviously see something in Trent that makes you overlook his – uh- interesting personality, shall we say? Good thing you like a challenge! And it is obvious he adores you.  I wish you both the best of luck 🙂

Worst Week Ever_1600x2400

Worst Week Ever

by Liza O’Connor

New Adult, Humor, Contemporary

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What do you get when you put a hardworking, can-do middle-class young woman together with a egoistical, outrageous, billionaire boss, then throw in the worst week of disasters imaginable?

Book 1 of the 3 book series A Long Road to Love.

Worst Week Ever.

Trent Lancaster spends one month without his Executive Assistant, or as his drivers refers to Carrie: ‘Trent’s brain, left hand, and right hand’. He’s had a miserable month without her at his side and to ensure it never happens again, he intends to marry his brilliant beauty. Only given all the times he’s threatened to fire her, he’s not sure she even likes him. However, the future of his company and his happiness depend upon him succeeding, so Trent begins a slow one week seduction that happens to coincide with Carrie’s Worst Week Ever when everything that can go wrong does so in hilarious form.

(Hilarious to the reader–Carrie is not having much fun this week.)

EXCERPT

Closing his eyes, Trent enjoyed the pleasure of Carrie’s body pressed against his.

His eyes popped open in horror. Oh God, David’s right. I am besotted.

What the hell was he thinking?

Statistically, his relationships never lasted more than a month and they always ended badly. A billionaire who couldn’t make a relationship last more than a month. How horrible did he have to be to chase off women who had a billion reasons to stick it out?

If he became involved with his most valuable employee, in a month, she’d dump him and quit. Then his business would collapse into chaos and he’d finally prove his father right. The old man constantly claimed Trent was a worthless human being and the world’s worst businessman.

And then Carrie arrived and single handedly saved his company. She never gave up. If one solution failed, she’d find another way to resolve the problem.

He smiled at his sleeping EA. If anyone could make him into a better man, it would be her. Carrie could solve any problem, had the patience of a saint, and the determination of a pitbull. Best of all, she loved a challenge.

Author Bio:

Liza lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels. She loves to create interesting characters, set them loose, and scribe what happens.

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LIZA O’CONNOR

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INFOSNACKING

“I have always been a sucker for ballads, but you have to be careful these days, you can’t overload people.”

~Joe Cocker

I was in a meeting last week and heard the term “infosnacking” for the first time.  It certainly caught my attention.  Ever curious, I went back to my desk and looked it up.  Apparently this word has been around since about 2005 and as with most words in the English language its original definition has changed over time.  I also discovered I am very adept at doing this 🙂

The word was originally coined to describe time spent on the computer at work to do things that weren’t work-related (Googling someone or even shop online when you should be working.)  Now it includes getting online throughout the day to check your email, visit blogs (oops) or check the headlines.  Hmmm.

In the context of the meeting I was attempting to stay awake through, the term seems to have expanded to include the average persons inability to pay attention to anything beyond a few paragraphs. Huh?  It was Friday, who has a meeting on a Friday? Seriously! The meeting discussion was how to gain and keep that brief window of attention to get your message across.  I won’t bore you with the details, but my writer brain immediately kicked in and got me thinking.

When was the last time you sat down and read a novel that was 500 pages or more?  It is a significant time investment, isn’t it?  One of my favorite books has 973 pages, but I don’t usually gravitate towards books this length.  I don’t have time.  Not only that, but have you ever skimmed over descriptive passages because you just want to get to the next action sequence?  I am ashamed to say I am sometimes guilty of doing that.

Books used to have more flowery language and imagery. They took time to absorb.  It was a slower pastime; not a sprint like so many things today.  I have heard over and over again that the average reader doesn’t even read at a high school level.  Keep the words simple so they can be readily understood.  What happened to looking up an unfamiliar word?  For heaven’s sake, eReaders do most of the work for you.  Highlight the word and the definition will appear.  Yet, we are still cautioned to stay away from big words.  I find that sad.  We need to keep the readers attention or they will “snack” somewhere else.

Books are much shorter in length, many with non-stop action.  I don’t know about you, but as a writer I struggle to balance a fast paced story and still develop the relationship between my characters.  Sometimes I just want to stroll along with the characters, not race them to the finish line.

I think there is so much information vying for our attention infosnacking is here to stay.  But, I for one, hope there are still readers out there that prefer to take the more scenic route.  Let’s savor the journey, shall we?

So what, I Procrastinate

“The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.” 
~ Alan Dean Foster

I hate to admit it, but I procrastinate.  There is no rhyme or reason to it.  It defies logic.  But, I do it anyway.

What person in their right mind will put off doing something they enjoy (like writing) and use the excuse they need to dust their furniture?  Seriously!  Dust my furniture?  Most days you can write a whole chapter on the dust layering it, so why would I suddenly have this desire to shine the wood? Not only did I dust, but I vacuumed and did laundry.  I need an intervention, people.

The whole time I was finding busy work I was feeling guilty because my second chapter is languishing from lack of attention. It gnaws at me and I glare at my computer like it is somehow at fault.  Its silent presence mocks me. I comfort myself with the idea that I am doing something called “structured procrastination”.

This is a new term for me, but one I grabbed hold of with both hands.  I read about it in an essay by John Perry. (Hey, dusting is boring!)  I liked the idea that my procrastination was actually working for me by allowing me to do a task I had previously avoided.  I was accomplishing something even though I was putting off what I actually should have been doing.  I chose to ignore that this behavior is really self-deception and self-defeating.  It is a vicious circle, my friend.

The truth of the matter is words have not come easy of late.  I wouldn’t call it writer’s block exactly – it is more like a mild form of ennui.  Scenes play out in my head, characters demand attention, but it all dissolves into mist when I sit down and try to write.  I lose focus and suddenly dusting my furniture becomes preferable.  My Muse has packed her bags and is on vacation, dammit.

I know myself well enough to accept this recent bout of behavior will pass and I will sit down and fight my way back into my current story. I know I will become so involved with my writing that polishing furniture will be a distant memory and the dust will happily accumulate again.  It will happen any day now.  Really.

In the meantime, I think I  will worry about it tomorrow.

A Golden Rose

Do one thing every day that scares you.”

                  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

 

I stopped by and checked out Melia Alexander’s wonderful blog today. She was hosting a friend and fellow author, Jessa Slade.  The subject was something near and dear to my own heart, The Golden Rose Contest.

GR2013 Banner for NOR

Not only is this contest sponsored by my home chapter, Rose City Romance Writers, but it is one of the first contests I ever entered.  If you have ever wondered if a contest is worth it then let me tell you my personal experience with this one.

Every time the contest was mentioned in our chapter meetings my heart would race. I had been waffling on whether I should take the plunge and enter my recently finished manuscript .  I knew first-hand the quality and talent of the judges and the kind of thoughtful and insightful feedback I would receive. I also knew I would get an honest evaluation of my work.  There’s the rub.  Was I truly ready to hear any criticism of my baby? Even if the feedback was right on the mark? What if they hated it?  What if I really couldn’t write a decent story?

I think there comes a time in every writer’s journey where we take a leap of faith and do something that scares the you-know-what out of us.  This was it for me.  I filled out the submission form, took a deep breath and hit send.  And promptly freaked out!

Yes, we writers can be a neurotic lot 🙂

I am not kidding when I tell you waiting for the results can be a tad stressful.  I did a lot of mental gymnastics talking to myself.  No matter what, I declared, I would look at the feedback, consider it without emotion and then go back to work on it.  Ha!  Writing is all about emotion, we plumb the heights and depths every time we sit in front of our computer and put words on the page.  So don’t kid yourself and think you won’t react strongly when your results come in.  Just remember to breathe and give yourself permission to think about what comments were given.  You will survive, I promise.  More importantly you will have more of an idea on how to improve your work.

When I got the call telling me my manuscript was a finalist I was so surprised I wondered if there was a mistake.  Truthfully, I don’t think I quite believed it until I got the scores back from the judges.  Even as a finalist there was a lot work still to do on my manuscript.  Weaknesses were pointed out through excellent feedback, along with areas I did well.    I had a little time to look over the comments, make any changes I wanted and then the manuscript would be submitted to the final judges.

I didn’t win the ultimate prize – The Golden Rose, but I took first place in my category.  The final judge said some lovely things about my chapters and I thought maybe, just maybe, I might be a real, honest-to-goodness writer!

The real prize in all of this – I had judges looking at my work and giving me the benefit of their experience as writers.  I got feedback that helped me strengthen my story, a cross section of opinions that gave me a broader view of what another might see in my work and the knowledge that leaping off a cliff is not without risk, but the reward can be, well…the courage to take another step toward publication.

There are a lot of contest out there.  Do a little research, find one that meets your needs and give it a shot.  Take that leap.  What have you got to lose?

Here a blog..there a blog…

“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it?”

 ~Erik Qualman

I spent a little time visiting blogs and web sites today.  I don’t do it as often as I should, because keeping up with the publishing industry and writing in general can be a daunting task.

Advice flows across these sites like a wide river, enticing the reader to stop and dip a toe in or, in my case, get sucked in for long periods of time while I lose myself reading interesting tidbits.  I find out about new releases from favorite authors, worry over the affects the economy is having on the publishing industry and what will happen now that e-books have exploded.  I mentally commiserate with other writer’s who blog about their trials and tribulations, laugh over anecdotes they share and get to do it all from the comfort of my office.  Most days it is a pleasant way to spend time.

Occasionally, I will read something that makes me stop and consider a point that is being made on a deeper level.  That happened today.  There are all kinds of opinions circulating in regards to an author having to find creative ways to stay in the collective conscious.  A publicity machine backing your newest release is not often an option for those just beginning their careers. Much is being asked of the author to promote their own work.

What has been repeatedly touted is the need for an author to have a presence beyond a book on a shelf.  What does that mean?  Sometimes it is as simple as a bookmark that you can give away or as complex as hosting a blog, a web site or having a twitter account.  With all the noise in our daily lives it gets harder to be heard, harder to get shelf space for a new untried author and suddenly writing isn’t just about writing a good story anymore.  It becomes about putting ourselves out there, showing up and raising our hands to catch a potential reader’s attention so they will find our book.   We spend our own money to help launch our creation in the hopes we will recoup our investment on the back end and garner enough attention we help our sales.

I am a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to joining the cyber highway.  It wasn’t until my book was almost ready for release that I finally got this blog up and running.  I joined Twitter thinking that would be easy (Ha! 140 characters to say something is hard work!) and finally after much whining and, well, more whining, I added an author Facebook page.

Want to know what I discovered?  I actually like blogging.  Who knew?  I get a thrill every time someone visits and actually leaves a comment. When I get a notification my tweet has been re-tweeted I breathe a sigh of relief because I managed to say something worth passing along.   Better yet, it is pretty darn awesome when someone tweets something good about you.  And Facebook – I quit whining.  Okay, maybe I just slowed down a bit.

Social media is a challenge and could take over my life if I let it.  It hasn’t been easy finding the rhythm that works for me, but I think I am getting there.  I make a point of leaving a comment when I visit a blog nowadays.  I want the author to know I enjoyed what they took the time to write.  It is all about give and take and making connections and new friends.

Will my efforts help my sales in the long run?  I haven’t a clue.  It will be fun to find out though.

Left Brain…Right Brain….

“So what? All writers are lunatics!”
― Cornelia FunkeInkspell

Rayven’s Keep officially launches today.

Did you notice how calmly I said that?  I was so impressed I stopped for a moment to read it again.  Yep, a nice rational sentence. Even better, If you could see me right now you would notice I am going about my day appearing as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.  I am sure you are amazed and a little impressed by my self-restraint, right?  Me, too!

So, why do you keep glancing at the quote at the top of the page?  Admit it, I know you are curious.  Okay, fine…I’ll tell you.  Have you ever seen the test with the dancing woman? (http://tinyurl.com/n4p9z8) The one where if you see her turning clock-wise you are using your right brain – the creative side, and if you see her turning counter-clockwise you are more analytical?  Don’t tell anyone, but I can make her dance either way.  How cool is that!

Still don’t understand?  All right, I’ll tell you more.  If you could look inside my head right now – ignore the clutter, please – you would notice right away that the left side of my brain is going about its day like it is any other day.  But, the right side has been taken over by a 5 year old jumping up and down, doing cartwheels and a crazy child version of an end-zone dance.  She is squealing with delight and, well, running amok.  Lefty is trying to rise above the noise and be professional, but 5-year old is having none of it.  It’s war in there people!

Crap!  My right eye just started to twitch.  Never mind, I will manage.  Is that a goofy smile on my face?  Say it ain’t so!  I can do this, really – I can do this….

Who am I kidding?   Rayven’s Keep officially launches today!!!!!!  Squeee!

Don’t Give Up!

Don't Give UP

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway

There is no easy path to getting published.  It’s a simple truth. Every single one is littered with stones to trip the unwary, blind corners and snags.  There are too many forks in the road to count and each one promises to be the answer.

It is easy to become so overwhelmed we are unable to move forward or we simply give up because it seems too difficult. What is the point?  Why should I continue to spend hours in front of my computer trying to put words around what I see in my minds eye?  It can be very tempting to walk away.  Who wants to be published anyway?

Yet, that quiet voice in our mind continues to entice with another story and we find ourselves starting to pay attention. There is simple joy in writing the perfect description, snappy dialogue and in having characters jump off the page and demand attention.  We wrestle with writer’s block, sagging middles and protagonists refusing to do what we want them to do.  It is glorious and frustrating and mixed in with all of it is our wish to know our work is being read and enjoyed by others.

If we are lucky we have a great critique group or partner to help us flesh out our story and make it shine.  Heck, maybe enter it in a contest or two to see how well you did and then use the comments to polish it more.  Definitely submit to agents and editors in the hopes someone will love what you have written as much as you do.  And learn.  Learn from every critique, every painful rejection and fellow writer sharing their path to getting published.

Difficult though it may be, we need to keep moving forward.  We need to know when to let go of a beloved story and move on to the next.  We need to always find ways to grow as a writer, to hone our craft, to keep submitting our work in the hopes of publication.

For me, being published is the realization of a dream, but the truth I discovered during this incredible journey is I will always be a writer whether I am published or not.

It is non-negotiable.

Tea for Two or Three…

Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life

 more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony

 known as afternoon tea.

~Henry James

I bet you are wondering what a post about teatime has to do with writing.  The short answer is absolutely nothing.  The more in-depth answer: my sister, Lisa, gave a speech for one of her college classes.  Since it was close to Mother’s Day and it made her think of our mother, she decided to speak about one of our family traditions that is near and dear to all our hearts.  Tea.  I liked it.  So I am sharing it with all of you.  Enjoy 🙂 …

In our family drinking tea is a thread that binds us.  No matter what stage in life we are in, what our mood, or how different we have become, tea brings us together. We dress up for it, we calm down over it, we feel better when we drink it, and we love it.

I am the youngest of three daughters, born to a British mother who believes that there is nothing in the world that can’t be cured with a good cup of tea. If two or more of us gather we have tea.  No one ever has to say put the kettle on. We just know and do it. It is always the same.

The moment the tea goes in the pot and the hot water is poured in we begin to talk.  While the tea “mashes”, we discuss our lives or whatever crisis we are coping with at the moment.  We deal with the bad and laugh over the good.  Catch up on the angst of everyday or just enjoy the pleasure of being together.

Occasionally, we have mini family reunions that involve getting dressed up and wearing our fancy hats and going “out to tea”.  It is our chance to indulge in the ceremony that is deeply rooted in our family.  It reminds us of where we came from and the traditions passed down through the generations. When we put on our dresses and our tea hats it feels like a different time and a different place.  The everyday is gone and we are left with the moment.

I’ve had many friends over the years who when faced with heartbreak will eat chocolate or have a drink.  For me it is tea.  Throughout our lives we have faced many ups and downs.  Like any family we have had marriages, children and grandchildren, deaths and divorces.  In every instance, we as a family have had a cup of tea to fall back on, whether it was to share our joys, our sorrows, or to bring up our moods.

No matter how many family members there are we all know exactly how the others take their tea.  My mother, for instance, has always enjoyed her tea strong and black. No one would dare add milk or sugar to hers. When faced with her frown the strongest of us have been known to cringe.  At the very least you could expect to be on the receiving end of a rather strong lecture on the art of taking tea from an 81 year old woman with a colorful vocabulary and the sound of a fading English accent. Knowing how someone likes their tea is almost as important as knowing how someone likes their family. I hope this is a family trait that goes on for as long as our bloodline continues.