Thursday, February 26, 2015

Five inch snowfall and DixieCups

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That's my Dixie (Mac's Last Gem). Reminders of the beginning of winter when Christmas was in the air and of the first lovely snowfall.  Now, the snowfall is no longer so lovely. 

Also, trying to get my voice back. It left somewhere during November, flem coated my vocal cords and stayed there determined to make a permanent home. Squatters rights, I think. I'm doing my best to evict the scoundrels. (or would that be scoundrel?) 

Today I'm learning more about photography and the touch-up. 

Cheers. 

pg 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Promotional for "In the Arms of the Enemy" and "Waterlilies Over My Grave"

Slight glitch. 

The promotional dates for my books were posted incorrectly.  The February dates of 22nd through 28th are for the United Kingdom. (You lucky Englanders)

The promotional dates for the United States are from March 30 through the first week of April. 

I'll be sending out a heads up a few days before the event. 

Happy reading. 

Pat


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Amazon is holding a 99 cent promotional sale of my novels: "In the Arms of the Enemy" and "Waterlilies Over My Grave" through Feb 28th.  If you haven't read these two books (see right side of blog  for synopsis) Feb is a GREAT MONTH to enjoy them.

www.amazon.com  check either under my name, Patricia A. Guthrie, or go directly to the books by title.

I hope you will read them and leave a review.

Happy reading.

Pat

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

From Chapter 34 of "Proof of Heaven"

I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be.

A quote by Albert Einstein

How thought provoking is that!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Proof of Heaven by Even Alexander, M.D.

What I'm currently reading:

Proof of Heaven, A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife. I'll put up a review after I've finished.
So far, it's amazing.

pg

Quotation from Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other
is to refuse to believe what is true.

No truer words were ever spoken. I can't believe he died so young?

pg

Friday, February 13, 2015

How Do I Love Thee? The Origin of St. Valentine's Day



How Do I Love Thee?
By Micki Peluso

This is an article on the origin of St. Valentine's Day


February 14th sometimes signifies the first day of Lent, depending upon the date of Easter, and is also Admission Day in Arizona. Most people however, celebrate the day by sending comic or heartfelt Valentines to family, friends and lovers. People seem to delight in St. Valentine’s Day, as florists, candy stores, boutiques and card shops do a rallying business providing heart-shaped novelties of all variety. Chocolate, long known for having properties that produce a euphoric feeling similar to the bittersweet emotion of love, seems an appropriate gift for St. Valentine’s Day.

The origin of the holiday is uncertain, but St. Valentine actually honors two Saints of the same name. One was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, the other, a martyred Bishop of Interramna. They were both buried in the Flaminian Way, which was later named the Gate of St. Valentine. Today the gate is known as Porta Del Popolo — the Gate of the People. The accounts of these men's lives are legendary, based on sparse historical fact. It is possible, researchers agree, that the legends denote different versions of the martyrdom of only one person. St. Valentine’s Day, as it is known today, is a lovers Festival, bearing no relation to these legends.

One theory as to how the name Valentine came to be applied to the day is founded on the belief in England that birds begin dating on February 14. Chaucer, in his “Parliament of Foules," says it like this: “for this was Seynt Valentyne’s day. When every foul cometh to choose his mate." Those disagreeing with this claimed that the connection between lovers and St. Valentine stems from a similarity between the Norman word “galantin," meaning a lover of woman, and the name of the saint. St. Still another theory contends that the lover’s custom dates back to the pagan Roman feast of Lupercalia occurring in mid-February young Roman men and women placed their names in a love urn from which their names were drawn at random. During the upcoming year, the young man would be the escorts of the women whose names were matched to their own.

The Christian clergy objected to this pagan custom and substituted the names of saints. Each person, the clergy hoped, which strive to emulate the saint drawn for them. The drawings were held on February 14, the feast of St. Valentine. Yet the drawing of names by young people on St. Valentine's Day continued long after the Christianization of pagan rites had been abandoned. The boy and girl paired by the drawing adopted the practice of giving presents to each other. Later the boy only gave to the girl; so started the custom of sending Valentines to loved ones.

St. Valentine's Day was widely celebrated in William Shakespeare's time, as this quote from Hamlet illustrates:

“Good morrow, ‘tis St. Valentine's Day,
All in the morning betime,
And I am made at your window,
To be your Valentine."

Paper Valentines with inscribed sentiments date from the 16th century. The first printed Valentine, issued in 1669, was probably inspired by “A Valentine Writer”, a book of verses offering help to those not articulate enough to pen their own rhymes. In England, the introduction of Penny postage and envelopes in 1840 popularized the exchange of Valentines and ornamental lace paper Valentines were in great demand. In the U. S., crude woodcut Valentines were fashioned by Robert H. Elton and Thomas W. Strong of New York, but most people preferred the lace paper cards imported from England.

With the establishment of the Post Office, the mail became swamped with Valentines each February. Comic Valentines, as well as coarse vulgar ones, cost only one cent. In the early 1900s, the Chicago post office rejected 25,000 cards on the grounds that they were improper for mail delivery. By the 1930s Valentine cards were primarily an activity for small children, who were taught to make the cards and decorations in kindergarten.

On one particularly gruesome Valentine's Day, the streets ran red with blood and the message given was not one of love. This notorious incident was “The St. Valentines Massacre," in Chicago on February 14, 1929. Al Capone’s gang, disguised as policemen, forced seven members of the rival “Bugs Moran” gang to stand against the garage wall with their arms raised. Capone’s mobsters methodically gunned the rival gang down.

In recent years, St. Valentine's Day continues to gain popularity, as lovers and children eagerly await its arrival; perhaps because it breaks the monotony of the long winter. However, not all people recognize the holiday. One husband whose name I will not mention, chooses to totally ignore St. Valentine's Day, even when it falls three days after his wedding anniversary — but that's another story.

Posted by Micki Peluso is the author of "And the Whippoorwill Sang" at 7:36 PM 4 comments:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Crime Scene Investigation by Ayn Amorelli


Our Chapter One (Writer's Oasis) writing group (Monday nights at 8:00 pm CST) on AOL, invited guest mystery writer and published author Ayn Amorelli to speak on the ins-and outs of Crime Scene Investigation. Being a Criminal Minds junkie and a writer of romantic suspense/mystery novels, I was fascinated by the topic. I think you might be too. Enjoy your journey through the crime scene.


CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION

By Ayn Amorelli

Ayn Amorelli starts by telling us that all jurisdictions are different, but with minor variations, the following occurs:

Dispatch-- They get the call first. Someone suspects a crime has been committed, and they call 911. Dispatch calls out: the Patrol Division. These are the uniformed cops. They go to the location in which a crime has allegedly occurred and discover if a crime in fact has been committed. They then ask Dispatch to send out whoever they need (EMTs, etc.) The officers make their initial report, and ascertain if a criminal is still on the scene and arrest the suspect. They also interview witnesses and keep the crime scene from contamination.

Detectives: Next to arrive are the Detectives. They go to the scenes of major crimes like homicides. They usually do a walk through exam first, following the trail of the crime (like blood and overturned furniture), formulating how the crime occurred and a possible motive. Detectives take detailed notes, search for clues and ask questions.

(Professional forensic photographers specialized in their field , take photos (stills as well as videos) including pictures of the corpse before it is moved. Photographs help imprint the evidence in a room such as blood stains, which will be removed, placement of furniture and the relation of evidence to other objects in the room. These images are important to investigators long after the crime scene is gone and can be brought up as evidence in a trial.).

Technicians: Then come the CSI techs. They collect the evidence, get it ready to perform lab tests and maintain the claim of evidence to keep it secure until such time as needed.

EMT, Coroners or Medical Examiner: Next come the EMTS (emergency medical technicians) who treat wounded victims, or coroner or medical examiner to examine the dead. The Coroner or Medical Examiner examines the body and offers a suggestion as to time of death based on Rigor Mortis. If the particular jurisdiction uses a coroner, be aware that he is appointed or elected and does not need to have any medical qualifications. But a Medical Examiner is most often appointed and is often a board certified pathologist. They go out to the scene always.

Also, Corpus Delecti is the Body of Evidence not the corpse.

If the suspect is long gone, sometimes K-9 unit (the dogs) are dispatched to search for the suspect.

Search Warrant: In order to search locations, police must get a search warrant. This is an affidavit from a judge to police only. No PIs or amateur detectives can get them. Only certified cops. This affidavit requests the right to search a location and lists items or events the police think they may find to give them probable cause to make an arrest. They can't get a search warrant without probable cause. On an interesting note, a separate search warrant must be issued for searching a person's car.

When do you need a search warrant to examine the crime scene? The cops need one if the person in control of the location (not necessarily the owner) is unwilling to allow police to sign a Consent-to-Search form.

Another interesting tidbit: Officers don't have to restore a messed up location after they have searched.

If the space is rented, the renter, not the owner, is the person who must consent. In the case of a married couple, the wife may not let the cops search her husband's den, and the husband cannot give the cops permission to search his wife's Sewing Room, for example.

The Body of Evidence consists of: fingerprints, fibers at the scene, blood, gunshot residue, any footprints, tire tracks left at the scene as well as gunshot casings or anything unusual left there.

For fingerprints, AFIS is the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which is used nationwide and contains finger prints of most criminals in all jurisdictions. It speeds up arrests and convictions of known felons. But sometimes fingerprints coming into AFIS are slow, as they are imputed by local jurisdictions who do not have the necessary manpower.

There are 3 types of fingerprints CSIs look for: loops, whole and arches. Five percent of fingerprints are arches, 35% are shorts and 60% are loops. Most used Fingers: For robberies and burglaries, the most used fingers are the middle and index fingers of the right hand, so they look for those prints especially, as they will tell them if the culprit was left or right handed. As will the thumb. That will also tell if the culprit was left or right handed.

(Note: Finger prints are still in use, but DNA is now used by law enforcement for identification purposes. They can find DNA even on lipstick stains on a coffee cup. DNA not only has convicted many a criminal, where their fingerprints weren't available, but has proven many death row inmates innocent of the crimes of which they're charge. That's a whole topic unto itself.)

Chain of custody: Basically it is a paper trail verifying the evidence was not contaminated. Chain of custody is always maintained by the detectives.

So, ended the basic presentation. On to questions and comments .

I asked: The detectives don't need a search warrant to investigate the crime scene, do they? Ayn answered, “If no one at the scene signs a Consent to Search form, the detectives do need a search warrant.” This is something I didn’t know. I thought detectives could investigate a crime scene unimpeded at the time of the crime scene investigation.

Ayn said, “Readers of mysteries are a knowledgeable group. They want their stories realistic, and will often write in correcting the publisher if the information is incorrect. (don’t I know that? Whew!) Yes, mystery readers are a knowledgeable group.

Other tidbits: Never let anyone move the body before the detectives have seen it.

CSIs (crime scene investigators) are only responsible for collecting evidence at the scene, and then taking it back to the labs, following the Chain of Custody. Keep in mind, a Coroner could mess up by citing medical facts, when in fact, he's not a medical doctor. They don't have to be a doctor. However, today, in most jurisdictions, most communities want someone with medical qualifications.

What does CSI stand for? Test for all you CSI fans. Crime Scene Investigators.

Ayn pointed out that today, everything has to be done by the Rule Book. The government maintains standards… a set of rules that are expected. They are covered in the police’s basic training. All cops and detectives have to go through the Police Academy where they learn the rules to follow.

Something else important for writers to know: Cops can't prevent crime. They can only do something after a crime has been committed.

ShirleyMFlanagan asked a pertinent writing question: “How much of this information is needed in a novel?”

Ayn answered: “All of it Shirley, depending on how detailed you want to get… I probably need to do a talk about what they learn at the Police Academy.”

The group agreed that a police academy discussion would be helpful, Ayn agreed and will be back on March 16th at 8:00 CST on AOL Chapter One, “Writer’s Oasis,” for those serious folk who want to attend. Come with questions.

I’m looking forward to her presentation.

Ayn Hunt who also writes under Ayn Amorelli is a Texan who has wanted to be a published writer ever since she can remember. She started out in journalism eons ago with her internship at the Galveston Daily News, then branched out into freelancing, finally working up her courage to tackle writing novels. She is currently hard at work on her fifth book, in the young adult category. She can usually be found on Monday nights online at AOL's Chapter One, where, along with Shirley Flanagan, she gives a talk once a month about writing. Her published books include: Unwilling Killers, Obsessed, The Haunting and Contract Bride. With the exception of Obsessed, all her books are available at Amazon.com.

Ayns website: www.AuthorsDen.com/aynhunt

Sites associated with Chapter One's "Writer’s Oasis": https://www.facebook.com/groups/552257888148524/#!/groups/552257888148524/
https://sites.google.com/site/writersoasis1/

Monday, February 9, 2015

What Do I want to Write About?

You can find my latest blog about the value of research on Marilyn Meridth's excellent blog site:

"The Musings of Marilyn." Marilyn's a multi-published author of mystery novels. Her blog site address:
http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/
Website address: http://fictionforyou.com/ As you can
see below, I've added her to my list of favorite blog and websites.

Today we'll discuss what direction we want to take.

DO I REALLY WANT TO CONTINUE WRITING?

It's funny. (not ha ha) everytime I work on “Legacy of Danger”(since the 1990's) I get overly annoyed with my writing and plotting and work on something else. “In the Arms of the Enemy” and Waterlilies Over My Grave” (both published) were the two recipients of my frustration.

So can I get over this? REALLY? Well then...

What do I really what to write about? Do I want to concentrate on a new novel? (what a novel idea—no pun intended)Do I want my stories to contain messages or be for pure enjoyment? Do I enjoy: short novels, long novels, short stories, non-fiction articles (or even fictional articles.)I do enjoy blogging and contributing to other author's blogs.

Back to the novel: If I write this story, what topic would be of interest to me and my readers? A story about horses and horsemen—a subject I know something about? Music, maybe an opera singer? How about setting my character as a would-be writer? Subject matter is important. What about the setting? A church, a ranch, a resort in the mountains? Where do our would-be readers enjoy vacationing?

Should the story be a romance or a mystery? Romantic suspense? Paranormal? Do you see a pattern of wavering unsureness here? Maybe I should take one of my published books and continue the characters' story with a series. An amateur writer-detective or team who lives on a horse farm and solves community crimes. I love amateur detectives. After all, I grew up on Miss Marple and Lord Peter Whimsey.

Should I just start writing? Or should I do what I advocate other authors do. Make up character sketches, scene descriptions, and work on a goal, motivation and conflict-resolution. If I don’t and just panzer (write off the cuff of my mind) it can get sticky. At least for me. Green eyes turn blue in chapter 20. An avid lover of Shakespeare turns into a book hating TV watcher by mid novel(nothing against TV. I'm a Criminal Minds junkie.)You can be both, of course.

A murder mystery needs a good, suspenseful plot. Our mm (murder mystery) needs a dicey detective (generally with issues of his or her own,) perhaps a venomous victim and surly suspect. Should the victim be a nasty human being like we see in so many crime novels? Maybe not. Some of the most heinous of criminals love their mothers. One of the saddest murders occur when a perfectly nice man or woman kills a nasty, blackmailing or abusing sot, then either commits suicide when near capture, or is caught. Sometimes we root for the killer.

Maybe it’s time I got out of the romance-romantic suspense genre and went straight mystery. A good ol’fashioned “who dun it.” Yep, I'm thinking in that direction. I'm thinking love of horses, a protagonist--a woman who I wish I could be like, a criminal who I've probably met, but with whom I hope I never have to interact, two teenagers and a hero who's not quite on top of the protagonist pool, but someone I wish I could meet--and marry at the end. It's my story. I can meet and manipulate anyone I want.

This may be just a muse. A pending brain storming session from me to me and anyone who will listen. But, it's also the beginnings of an idea. Maybe my next novel. One thing I do know. I need to focus on one genre. Going back and forth isn’t getting me anywhere. If we (I) go in too many directions we get lost in the forest of ideas. Find that one gorgeous oak tree and make it beautiful.

That’s all for today.
Pg

Saturday, February 7, 2015

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

I knew I was going to do it. I fought the impulse. I'm not particularly interested in SM, except, as most people I expect, from a titalating distance.
But, I did it. I read it. And, to figure out if I really enjoyed it the first time, I read it again. Why?

Okay, here goes. I continued to read it because of E.L.James' character development. I saw a the strongly misguided Christian Grey who has a penchant for hurting women, under the guise of taking care of his women and giving them "pleasure-pain." All in play. Nothing binding (no pun intended) The "submissives" don't have to stay. Can leave anytime. Safe words are included in his non-binding contract. And, he is rich, handsome and charming. How many control freaks do we know who aren't? The ones I've run into in my dating life are exactly that. Well, maybe not the rich part.

Then, here comes the heroine. Anastasia Steele looks the part of a possible submissive. She's shy and unsure of herself. Woops. Watch out Christian, the young man who "doesn't do romance." This young would-be submissive is anything but. What she does have is a razor sharp mind and heart that wants to heal, and although inexperienced, she's adventurous and is ready to enjoy life to its fullest.

What I see in this story is a romance. Christian Grey who has to confront his demons and Anastasia Steele who's determined to punch out their lights, ever-so-softly.

There were some things that bothered me. At first, writing in present tense disturbed my sense of normalcy in novels. Nobody writes in present tense. Within the first two pages that no longer bothered me. I no longer noticed. Was it a well-written book? Um--well, maybe not great. But, (and this is what holds me) I didn't notice the writing. So when anyone criticizes the author, I ask "Badly written? How?" No, I'm too busy living in Christian Grey's apartment, in Anastasia Steele's mind and wherever they take me.

Is it ALL ABOUT SEX? Actually, even though a fifth of the book has sex scenes, it's not all about the sex, except as a means for the two characters to bond, to discover their limits and fall in love. But, the sex isn't the only plot point that pushes that forward. It's Christian's basically good character even though he doesn't want to admit it and his capability to love and Anastasia's relentless characteristic to find the way through to Christian's lighter side. She's no sap. She does leave him at one point. A wake up call for Christian. Normally, with his women, he wouldn't mind. In my mind, I ask, "Duh, Christian. How many knocks on your head will it take for you to realize you're hook, line and sinker in love with her."

So, for whatever it's worth, I loved the book. I might go for a third go-round, to see if there's anything in there I hated. Well, yeah a few things. I would have probably have choked him with his own flogger. Still, AS kicks his proverbial . . . you know what in her own way. You go girl!

Have a great day. Happy writing and reading.

pg

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

East Coasters--stay safe

To my dear family and friends who live on the East Coast.

Stay safe. Another brutal storm headed your way. All the real nasty's of snow seem to hit the coastal regions this year and last, although, we in the Midwest, got our share last year, and I have the pictures to prove it.
If I get get back on my Chrome server, I'll show you. I'm on IE and am unable to post photographs on Yahoo for some reason., Just not sure about that reason.

So--soap box. Why is it that Chrome can enable the Blogspot bloggers to post photos and Internet Explorer isn't?  Huh? Huh? Why is that? It's frustrating.

Now, I'm going to get off IE, go to Chrome, enter into Chrome, get back INTO my blogspot and post my photos of last year's Midwest snow. Hope you're by a nice warm fire with a hot cup of anything while you enjoy them.

I'm off to the barn to love on my horse (Dixie) for a while. Then head to the gym to work out, then back home to spend the rest of my day trying to decide what I'm going to write about for the next year.

I'm thinking--women of the bible, women of the middle ages, another mystery, a horse story, finishing Legacy (something I probably will never do) and whatever direction my brain and imagination lead me.

God preserve you from the storms, may your creative juices flow, and may life take you in the direction you want and need to go.

Have a great day.

pg

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

THE ATTIC by Patricia Anne Guthrie





I thought it about time I posted a short story I wrote way back when--when horror was a genre that interested me. It still does, I write mostly thrillers and romantic suspense/paranormal now. But this was a fun story, so I thought I'd share. It was published in Skyline Literary Magazine back in the early 2000's.                             

 THE ATTIC
By Patricia Ann Guthrie

"Ma  . . . mm . . .eee."  The voice echoed throughout the house, sounding more like an angry hyena than a little girl of six.
            Melissa sat in the middle of her bed,  staring at favorite toys formally displayed on bookcases, rocking chairs, toy boxes and a corner hutch. She didn't feel like playing with any of them. Old Neddie, the rocking horse, once the pride and joy of the nursery, now had a shattered front leg. Pooh Bear, a well beloved antique, had one missing glass eye, and of course Sir Scottie, the stuffed black Scottie dog, had the stuffing torn out and sewn back more times than her mother could count. None of them would do today. They were boring. She bounced off the old‑fashioned sleigh bed defaced from temper-tantrums, and walked out of her room toward the stairs.
            "Mommy?"
            No answer.
            Now, her voice demanded, “Ma . . . mm . . . ee.”
            "Melissa, what is it? I'm busy.” Her mother came to the foot of the stairs, carrying an infant in her arms and pushing a laundry basket with her foot. Strands of dark hair dangled over her face, while dark circles under her eyes emphasized strain. She looked frazzled.
            "Mommy, I'm bored."
            "Your toys, Melissa. Play with your toys."
            "But, Mommy, I've played with them."
            Melissa was getting impatient. She wanted to play with her Mommy, but her mother was always preoccupied with the baby. She hated her little brother.
            "Mommy, why don’t you ever play with me anymore?"
            "Oh, honey, I can't right now."
            "Mommy,” Melissa screamed. She pitched herself forward onto the landing and threw one of the world's greatest temper tantrums.
            "Melissa Anne Greenwood, if you don't stop that this instant, I will really give you something to scream about.” Stepping around the plastic basket and readjusting the baby, she took two steps up the stairsdx. Even through the thick carpet, her feet made an adequate stomp.
            Melissa decided she'd probably better stop--knowing her mother meant it this time.
            "Okay, Mommy.” She forced sobs that didn't quite work, and then manipulated her voice almost down to a whisper. "I'm finished now."
            "Good. Now go find something to play with . . . and, don't go near the attic."
            "Okay, Mommy."
            Melissa went back into her room and, flinging Pooh Bear on the floor, plunked herself down on Pooh's small rocking chair. The chair was too small and cracked under her weight. She slipped onto the floor.
            She looked over her many games, books, toys and stuffed animals ‑‑ her friends until recently. After all, they had always talked to her. They shared secrets about what Mommy did when she came up to her room to clean ‑‑ the things she looked at, and the things she looked behind. Melissa had learned to write certain words like ‘I luv u mummy,' and put them where she thought her mommy would look. It worked perfectly. She got hugs and new toys. 
And the old toys? She’d discarded her old friends when the new ones arrived and relegated them to the attic--yesterday's news. Lately however, even her new toys bored her -- ever since that baby arrived.
            Before her brother was born, Old Ned had as strong a front leg as had ever been carved. Pooh Bear was brand new, straight from Toys ‘R’ Us and, Old Scottie; well, Old Scottie had been her mother’s favorite toy from childhood. All were victims of Melissa's displeasure. She delighted in every tear shed each time Mommy had to sew Old Scottie back together.           
            Melissa felt hateful. 
            "Now, it's your turn.” A vicious grin replaced the pout. "Next week, I'll have my daddy put you into the attic, too. I'll get new toys . . . toys batter’s you . . . way better. Maybe, I’ll even throw you in the garbage.” She looked at each toy with contempt, turned on her heels and started to leave her betrayed favorites.  
            Suddenly, something in the corner of her eye caught her attention and she turned around. She couldn't be sure. Did Old Ned actually seem to rock a little--back and forth-- back and forth? Was Old Scottie attempting to make a sound that said, "no?” And, did Pooh Bear's one good eye appear to widen, just a little? 
As soon as she turned, all stuffed animal activity ceased. No, she decided, it was only her imagination.
            The forbidden attic was the only room that still intrigued Melissa; the only room not explored. It was the place where they put things they no longer wanted. It was where Mommy's stuff was and where they put Nanny's things when she went away.  Of course, she knew Nanny hadn't really gone anywhere. She’d just died.
A set of steep, wooden stairs led from the end of the hall to the attic. Melissa climbed cautiously, careful not to make any creaking noises her mother might hear. The door stood on a small landing at the head of the stairs. Small but determined fingers and arms tugged at a knob that wouldn’t give. Locked. She jerked again and succeeded in hurting her arm.                                               
          Frustrated, she was about ready to turn and go back downstairs, when she spotted a silver key on an antique gold ring, hanging to the right of the door. It was just beyond her reach. She stood on her tiptoes--no luck. She leaped into the air and landed on her rear, crinkling the back of her blue and white play dress.
            "Ouch!” She nearly cried, but decided to get back up, instead. She brushed herself off and started all over again.
             One, two, three leaps later, Melissa was finally able to jingle the key hard enough so that the object of her frustration flipped off the hook and landed onto the floor. She punished the recalcitrant key by viciously thrusting it into the keyhole. Then, smug with the self-satisfaction of a thief who’d broken into an uncrackable safe, she turned the key and finally the knob. She was in.
            As soon as she entered, Melissa noticed the darkness. At the far end of the room, a lone triangular stained glass window had become so dirty throughout the years only a glimmer of outside light could pass through its windowpane. A light bulb hung from the ceiling, but the string was too short for her to reach, and the only other available light poured in from the open door behind her.
            Picture frames, suitcases, furniture pieces and a bunch of boxes containing many old musty books filled the room. A wooden rocking chair held all varieties of stuffed animals, some of which Melissa recognized as playmates from her baby days. She set out to investigate every nook and cranny, touching first this and then that--old clothes, figurines, baby dolls, a stuffed gorilla, an old play cash register, and toy soldiers from her father's day. 
            Melissa was so absorbed in the objects that she backed into a figure dressed in a long black dress with a mink stole. It wore a wide brim hat and had a triple strand of pearls irregularly wound around its neck. The face was a pasty sort of chalk color with cheeks that might have come from a Crayola box and lips that were a deep cherry red. A cavernous hole for a mouth showed marked protruding teeth locked in a welcoming, yet ghastly, smile. She gaped in horror at the apparition of‑‑what appeared to be--Granny.
            Suddenly, the light was gone.
            The attic door had swung shut with such force it knocked something over which crashed against her. She screamed. She tried to adjust her eyes, but it was pitch black except for small pinpricks of red and green lights emanating from the stained glass. A macabre sense of movement coming from all directions seemed to twirl around her, moving faster and faster until she felt dizzy and disoriented. She felt a cold stream of air blast through her, and something wound around her arm, holding her fast.
            She screamed with all her might. "Mommy!” Her voice seemed to resound throughout the room. "Mommy," she cried out again. Then, the other voices started to join in, one right after the other.
            They started as a whisper, "Melissa . . . . Oh, Melissa. We know you're here, Melissa."
            "We know . . . we know . . . ."
            "You don't love us anymore, Melissa."
            "Who are you?” She choked out the words--just barely.
            Then another voice called – cajoling, beckoning. "Melissa, dear Melissa."
            "Nanny?” Melissa murmured, taking in shallow gasps of air.
            "Did you come to play with Nanny?"
            "Nanny . . . .  Na . . .na . . . na . . . Nanny . . . ," the voices chimed in as a chorus.
             "Did you come to play with Nanny?" the first voice bellowed.  
Struggling to break free, she felt her restraint shatter into a thousand tiny fragments, which attacked her from all sides. Terrified, she tried to escape, but tripped over something and fell to her knees. It’s all my toys, she thought, coming to get me.
Getting up in blind panic, she tried to run again, but fingers grabbed her from behind catching her like a rabbit in a snare. 
            Now, voices came from every side. They seemed to originate from forgotten toys and forgotten relatives, their memories trapped in the attic--no differently than her. 
            Melissa screamed in terror, and they laughed in response.
            "You'll never get out of here," one said.
            "This is where they dump you when they don't want you anymore," another said.
            "Like us. Like us. Like us.” Voices echoed.
            "You don't want us anymore, Melissa, but we want you."
            Melissa let out another shriek. "Mommy!” She suddenly felt sorry for every bad thing she'd ever done.
            "They don't want you anymore; they don't want bad little girls,” another voice said.
            "Melissa . . . Melissa.” The voices started chanting--fingers reaching to stroke her face and her arms. "Melissa, Melissa . . . ." 
            She struggled to break free, screaming and struggling, as they also struggled to reach her -- laughing, mimicking and taunting. "Mommy. . . . Mommy. . . . Mommy."
            The whirlwind of apparitional activity escalated. The penetrating cold in the room created frigid chills of pain, as a rush of air blinded her to such an extent she had to keep her eyes closed tight. She thought she felt the clammy fingers of old dolls and the furry paws of stuffed animals choking her, while Nanny's ever present voice uttered,  "Let's play . . . Let's play," followed by an eerie cackle.
            "We want to play," the voice who sounded like Nanny, uttered. "We want to play with the baby, Melissa. Bring us the baby."
            "Nanny?” She shook all over--shook from the cold and from her fear. 
            Just when Melissa became convinced that life as she knew it was over, the attic door sprung open and all activity ceased. She turned in terror and apprehension.
            "My God, Melissa . . . baby. Didn't I tell you never to go into the attic?"          
            As the light poured in, Melissa saw only the old treasures locked in the attic. Grandmother returned to a dressmaker's mannequin, clad in the mink stole, and old-fashioned black silk dress, its high-collared neckline propping up a Styrofoam head adorned with wig and hat. The pearls, however, were no longer around its neck, but scattered over the floor.
There were no apparitions; not one thing appeared sinister.
            Melissa felt a tug at her skirt. She jerked her head around and found nothing -- nothing but a faint echo repeating over and over, "The baby, Melissa.  Don't forget the baby. Bring me the baby. . . ."
            “Mommy, did you hear that?” Melissa whispered.
            “Hear what, baby?” her mother replied, scooping her into her arms. “Shh. There’s nothing here.” 
            Melissa wasn’t convinced. As her mother carried her downstairs, Melissa thought she could hear the choral voices of the past, faintly laughing and mimicking. 
          "Didn't I tell you never to go into the attic? Didn't I tell you never to go into the attic? Didn't I tell . . . ?"
            Later that evening, little Melissa Ann Greenwood wondered how she could drag that stupid baby all the way up those stairs.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Communications


Boy, it's lonely in here. No comments.  

Many people are viewing--watching--waiting.  For what? For that perfect blog that is witty, charismatic and full of profound knowledge? Not me.  I'm not full of wisdom or knowledge. When I write an article, I have to research my topic, find the sources or search the people I know for information. People. Always back to people.

This weekend has been one of nostalgia for me. Like many, I'm downsizing my life. (although you'd never know it by my interest in horses, writing, singing and bible study. (I'd love to do a blog on Mary Magdalene some day. I love her.) What caught my attention was the drawers full of letters and cards I've received throughout the good times and the bad, during the course of my life. There was always someone there, cheering me on or consoling the deaths and good-bad events. Many--or most of these cherished friends are lost from death of losing touch. 

I've always tried to be a good friend. Sometimes I've chosen the wrong people, at other times, I've allowed myself to move on and not look back. No, my friends, at some point, you have to look back. You'll find that those people you've let go are some pretty special people. I've found many in those letters. 

Why did I move on and lose touch? Why do most people in this restless country move on? Job opportunities? Family obligations? Marriage? Divorce? (Just read "Waterlilies Over My Grave" a good example of how one woman moves half way across the country leaving her family and loved ones to escape an abusive marriage).

Back then, you could communicate in two ways. One by expensive long distance telephone calls or writing letters. I wasn't great at keeping touch, a failing I'll always regret. 

Today, we have it so much easier.  We hear all the negatives about the social media--Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, EMails, Electronic Cards (which are lovely, incidentally. I highly recommend Jacquie Lawson. Her cards are exquisite with beautiful music and animated features.) It's as easy as "write and send." 

Probably why the post office is having so many financial problems. 

We're lucky today. There's no reason to "escape" from potentially great friendships. Yes, we have to be careful of FB, LI, Twitters and Cyberspace in general. That's too bad. But, looking at the entire picture, I think this media is an excellent way to communicate. Just be careful what you say and know who you're saying it to. 

So there. This is my mournful blog for the day.

Meanwhile,  I'm writing for "The Nature Place" http://www.thenatureplace.blogspot.com.  I'm forever working on "Legacy of Danger" my novel that dates back from the 90's. Still trying to get my hero and heroine out of the dreaded castle. Constantly thinking about new topics for this blog and looking for writers who might contribute. So, the best is yet to come.

If any of you have any thoughts please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you. 

You'll notice I'm blocking my paragraph format. It's much easier than the indents.

Take care my precious world of silent friends. I know you're out there. 

pg  

Thursday, January 15, 2015










CARING FOR HORSES IN WINTER

                                                                     
                                                              By Patricia A. Guthrie

            Horses, my favorite topic.
            
          When you think of horses what comes to mind? Riding on the beach in some warm resort area? Horses blazing down the homestretch toward the finish line? Jumping over a five foot Oxer at a major horse show? Riding along a trail with the warmth of the sun shining down on your face? Or maybe you think about those gorgeous creatures  racing in a snow filled pasture, flakes lining black coats so the horses appear to be appaloosas. 
            
          One thing you might not think about is how to care for your equine companion in the cold weather--in times of sub zero temperatures, icy roads and snow-filled ditches. There’s much to learn about these equine dynamos, but caring for them is probably the most important to keep them happy and healthy, especially in winter.  
            
          Horses are not built the same as us. They handle the cold weather much better. When we start bundling up when the weather turns cold, most horses are perfectly happy to remain without the mittens, sweaters and long coats.  Still, being the domesticated animals they are, we must help them keep warm.
            
          How?
            
          Like most animals, horses grow coats in the winter. How long depends on whether they’re used to being indoors or outdoors, blanketed or not blanketed and the weather conditions where they live.  Their coats start to grow when the days grow shorter and there's less sunlight and to the conditions the horse finds itself.  That sleek creature you’ve been riding and showing during the summer might morph into a teddy bear during the winter with an inch or more fur. Their tail acts as a protection against (not only flies in summer) but the under parts of their body during inclement weather. Oils in their coats helps the moisture slide off their skin and keep them dry.
            
          There's much division in thought about whether or not to blanket your horse.  I've done both. Some owners blanket in sub zero weather when the horses are outside and take the blanket off when it gets a bit warmer. Some keep them blanketed during the whole winter. No matter what your thought, if you blanket in the beginning of winter, you need to keep them blanketed during the course of the season.  If you keep your horse in training during the winter, many owners will body clip their horses. If so, it is absolutely necessary to keep your horses blanketed.  (unless you live in a warm weather climate, and we're probably not talking about you, anyway.)
           
          My horse lives at a boarding stable in a barn that’s kept warm not only by its structure but also by the amount of horse bodies inside.  But, what if you don’t have barn facilities? What if your horses stay outside all year long like many ranch horses or pasture boarded horses?

Shotgun Sock (Socks) in his warm stall 

       

          Horses can live outside and most thrive (the healthy ones at least) in below zero temperatures. However, even wild horses need shelter.  In the wild, horses can roam and find shelter or a wind break. In pastures, they are forced to adapt to parameters of the fence lines.  Pastures need shelter to keep them protected from the elements. Many farms have sheds, three sided structures loaded with hay with the opening away from the wind gusts. Some horse owners keep them out all day and bring them in at night.

          Safety here is important. Watch for ice in the pastures, where your horses can fall and injure themselves.  (true also with riding. Be careful of icy trails and roads if you ride in the winter. There are specially made shoes for winter riding (see photo below.) That horse has cleats on his shoes which grabs through the ice and prevents him from slipping.)  Vaseline and other products help prevent "snowballs" from developing on the soles of their feet.
            
          The most necessary ingredient in keeping your horses healthy during the winter is fuel. Horses don't die in the wild from the freezing temperatures. They die from lack of food, which helps keeps them warm.  Horses do shiver, which burns calories and cause them to lose weight and needed insulation.
                                                                                   


         

           Good and plentiful hay will help keep them warm with unlimited access to unfrozen water.  Keep those buckets free of ice. It's an easy thing to miss if you're not watching.
            
          There is so much to be said about winter care. The most important are adequate food and shelter, keeping water buckets free of ice, grooming (as always), picking out their feet and keeping yourself and your horse safe when riding.  (Notice cleats on this horse's shoes) 

           


Photos courtesy of Microsoft Clip art and my personal horse collection. 

This article will be published in The Nature Place Journal:
https://sites.google.com/site/thenatureplace/
https://www.facebook.com/natureplacejournal
http://thenatureplacejournal.blogspot.ca/

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

INTRODUCING DIXIE


Let me introduce you to Dixie (Mac's Last Gem) a twelve-year-old paint mare who recently came into my life. She goes Western and English pleasure, showmanship and (I think) trail. I'll be doing arena work with her and introducing her to the fields and trails around here. 

Buying horses is such a hard journey. I think I blogged about it a while back. If not, I'll blog again. It's an interesting story, especially if you want to buy a horse. Just think how not to do it and do the opposite. 

This time, I think I've gotten it right. I'll keep our progress posted. Right now, she's in a nice warm stall, and I'm in my nice warm house. Not going out for love nor money. 

Have a great day, stay warm, stay safe. 

pg 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

SETTING GOALS



Setting Our Goals.  Part 4 
            
          Now that 2015 has hit, and it's cold and snowy,  what a good time to hunker down and come up with a few ideas for our writing careers.
             
          I've brought along my own ideas on the subject, but I've also included Shirley Flannagan's  "Writer's Oasis," Chapter One AOL online workshop members to weigh in with their thoughts. Last night's guest presenter was published author Annie Kelleher, author of "When David Met Sarah," a lady full of interesting ideas. Ms. Flannagan graciously allowed me to incorporate her last night's workshop into my blog, so here we are. I decided when it came to brain storming, many heads were better than just mine.
           
          From my perspective, goals have been simply that--goals. What I intend to do in the future.  On job interviews one question is consistent. "Where do you want to be in five years?" How about next year, or ten years or a lifetime? Most of us have our stock answers ready. (especially if we've gone the job interview process before.)
            
          I thought about that and realized that as a teacher, we have to make long range plans for our courses, in other words what we want the students to learn, then break them down into daily objectives, what do we want them to learn this week.  In the world of teaching, they were called "lesson plans." Setting goals for writing is similar.            
            
          Mine were: to finish "Legacy of Danger" and having finished my preliminary work, start writing  my horse story, write short stories and to create an interesting and diversified blog, inviting authors to write articles and short stories to post.  After pondering how I intended to do that  when I couldn't even get through the escape from the castle scene in LOD, I realized I needed to delve into objectives. In other words break the large pie into smaller pieces. 
          When Ms Kelleher asked our group who made writing goals,  all hands virtually shot up, including mine, but some had reservations on how long they could keep this up, me included. In other words, "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," kind of thing.
            
          She made some valid and interesting points I hadn't thought about. She suggested to treat goals like characters from your book who also have to make goals and then overcome obstacles. A benefit from this is it gives us practice in "resolving different levels of conflict."  What those conflicts might be depends on what you want to accomplish and where you want to put your energy.  So here is one:
           
          Common goal: to  give yourself more writing time. Challenge: you have other things to do. (jobs, kids, school, husband, wife) The time challenge is like "the over arching level of conflict" which our characters face in their stories.  
           
          Ms Kelleher states, "in finding time to write, you have to recognize that time is a finite resource. Unless you wrap your mind around that one, it's easy to fall into the procrastination trap."  She ties that in with selling books. "Working writers write and regularly publish."  I'll add trying to find a publisher, agent, good editor.  But, not only do we write, we have to market our books.  The sad state of publishing today.
            
          She suggests her three layers of conflict: character against self, character against character and character against something he or she can't control." She faces these layers and identifies what was against her in each level of writing conflict, then works to address those challenges. She believes creative writing should be fun. If it's not fun, don't do it. That's why she likes the character approach.
           
          She suggests that goals could also be "to figure out what works for you ." For instance, for years I wrote my novel as a "panser" or straight off the cuff. My plots became too convoluted and involved too many characters, details got skewed. Outlining helped me see, at a glance, what was working and what was not. But that's me, it may not work for you.  
            
          For Ms. Kelleher, she sets her goals then figures a way to achieve them. If you're not reaching them, figure out what's stopping you.
            
          She goes on to say "writing is more than just producing chapters. You have to juggle a lot of balls in the air. One of my goals is to continue to build my presence on the social network." I've discovered that fact, and it makes my head whirl.
            
          Getting back to the lack of time, Annie says she "gets up early in the morning." The same time each morning.  That one way to discipline yourself is to write at the same time and for the same amount of time each day.  (good idea, but sometimes I can't stop--then others, I can't start. Go figure.)
            
           Annie is also of the opinion you need to make your goals smaller and smaller until they are manageable. I still call that goals and objectives to each goal. Whatever you want to call it, it's a darned good idea.
           
          A few other suggestions came forward in this group. Neva suggested join writing groups that make you stay on target--in fact, they live for it. Whip, chains and all the rest. (well, maybe not that bad.) 
            
          Pam said she needs to write something every day. I suggest that would be an objective toward the larger goal of finishing her book by the end of this year.
            
          These are some ideas for setting goals for the New Year. Go for the larger picture and break them down into increments. Do something every day. Make each goal attainable, don't be unrealistic. Evaluate where you are in your writing and move forward from there. Need a course in writing, creative or otherwise? Need work on grammar? Need to get a feel for point of view? Try a book in the first person. There are many fine craft books out there. I've listed my favorites on the right side of this blog. That's the section where information stays the same (unless I take out the element altogether. I won't take away my craft books.)
            
          So happy writing in 2015. I hope this four part series has been helpful.  Now, I'm going to finish "Mystery of the Blue Train" by Agatha Christie.

Shirley Flannagan's Writer's Oasis:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/552257888148524/#!/groups/552257888148524/
https://sites.google.com/site/writersoasis1/



            

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Setting Goals

          A follow author will be presenting a workshop on goal setting tomorrow night--Chapter One-- on AOL. I won't be going into detail on goal setting today. I'm hoping she'll share her content on this blog. Meanwhile, here are my goals for the year (so far.)

          Longterm:  Finish "Legacy of Danger" and submit to my publisher (LSP Digital LLC).

          Write the horse story "Stolen Horses: Broken Dreams"

          Keep on blogging, discovering new things about writing, new books to review, find other authors that may contribute.

          Find other blogs where I can have a hand at contributing.

          Learn new ways to market online.

          Those are the goals. The objects are more detail oriented, breaking down the goals into increments.

          Meanwhile, I don't know how you feel about the very, very cold winter, but to me, it sucks. Here's a scene from last year's winter. Hopefully, we won't have to go through that again. But wind chills of 20 below are beyond painful.