Painting a Story

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning! It’s an hour earlier in the day, and a week closer to spring!

When someone asked me to name a few of my all-time favorite books, I realized there was no easy answer. I usually say Jane Eyre, because that is my overall favorite for a variety of reasons.

There are so many wonderful stories that have touched my heart and maybe even changed my life a little, or at least my way of thinking. One of the most beautiful is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Of course, it’s a literary novel—I always seemed to prefer those. This is a work of art that follows a young girl coming of age in the early twentieth century.

It’s not a sweet story, though there are moments of sweetness. Francie Nolan is the daughter of an Irish immigrant living in the inner city, at a time when life wasn’t easy for the Irish in New York. Her father struggles with alcoholism and finds it difficult to provide for his family.

Even though my early life bordered on poverty, the Nolan’s situation made me feel as though we’d been rich. Life-changing. I read it more than once and loved the movie version (1945).

What makes a story unforgettable? Have you ever watched an artist paint a picture? It’s fascinating. Especially when the picture is created from the artist’s imagination. You watch in awe as they add layer upon layer of color, shadow, light. Gradually, a scene emerges, sometimes stunning in quality.

You can say the same about a really good story. The writer translates his or her imagined tale into words and builds a world on the page that can be achingly real. The reader is caught up in the story and forgets that it’s only a story.

That’s how I feel when I read stories like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I feel the angst, the hunger, the humility, the encroaching darkness when all seems lost. I keep turning pages, enthralled and then, there it is—fresh hope—like the light at the end of the tunnel. I love happy endings, but it doesn’t have to be rose gardens or even lottery winners. Hope is the key to a great ending, in my humble opinion.

Which book, novel, screenplay, or story changed your life? Left you breathless and filled with hope for the main character? You may have read or watched it numerous times to discover every nuance, every hopeful thought, like licking the crumbs from the plate after your favorite dessert.

P.S.: Congratulations, Susan Mills! She won a copy of Annabelle’s Ruth for her comment on my blog post/giveaway last week! I also sent her a bonus book, Rebeccca’s Legacy. Happy reading, Susan!

After the Conference, Writers

Hello, Thursday Morning!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ve had a wonderful week. I promised an update on the writers conference, so here it is–

I’m basking in the glow of another successful Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. Most of us agreed, this was the best one yet.

I had loads of fun and met so many new writers, visited with old friends, and made important connections.  We had a lot of fun moments, like this one:My friends and fellow writers, Shirley Crowder (left) and Harriet Michael (right), like to take an annual photo, and we have yet to accomplish this without being photo-bombed by an illusive introvert. Ha ha! As you can probably guess, our friend, Carlton Hughes is anything but an introvert, and we love when he pops by.

On Vacation

Oh, how I wish it was true. Sometimes the only vacation we get is the one we take in our dreams. But I love looking at the photos my friends post on Facebook–of places they’re going, and things they’ve seen.

I’m not envious. Not really. Well, maybe a little bit.

Oh, I’ve been places and seen wonderful things, and posted lots of pictures of my own. I love rounding that bend, focusing on what’s to come. The awe-inspiring vista! The first sighting of what lies ahead. Whether it’s Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon, the rugged Oregon coast, or those gigantic redwood trees. The amazing, soft, white sand along the Gulf Coast. Millions of stars overhead on a magical, dark night along the Puget Sound.

Grand adventures, all. My dad instilled the love of adventure in me. He was fond of discovering where roads ended up. He made an adventure of an ordinary errand. Taking the road less traveled brought us to a complete halt one summer day in Utah, as cowboys drove a herd of cattle across the road. An ordinary day’s work for those cowboys. A jaw-dropping adventure for a couple of kids to watch from the back seat of a 1969 Pontiac Le Mans.

What does your summer adventure look like this year? Are you planning to chill on a beach? Hike in the Rockies? Sail into the sunset? Or will you hit the road to discover new adventures around the bend?

If your summer vacation allows for time to read, I hope you’ll consider buying a book or two to take along with you.

I’ve returned to cotton country in the sequel to Annabelle’s Ruth–Sutter’s Landing–where Connie and Annabelle Cross are settling into their new life in west Tennessee. You can read more about it here:

Sutter’s Landing, Book 2, Kinsman Redeemer series

 

 

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Introducing: Patricia Talbert of The Final Ride

I met Patricia Talbert through a mutual friend, Linda Yezak. You could say Linda made Patricia Talbert what she is today. 🙂 So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you…

Welcome to my blog, Patricia Talbert–one-time high class social coordinator from New York–now a rancher “living the dream” in Texas.

Patricia, when you first arrived on the Circle Bar Ranch, you were a fancy-dressed greenhorn, but you settled in pretty quickly. You were so feminine and ladylike. What on earth made you want to try bull-riding?

CowboyPatricia: At the time, it was the only way I could think of to spend time with Talon. Can you believe that? His ranch work stretched over acres and acres of land, and if I didn’t ask him to teach me to ride, I wouldn’t have seen him from sunup to sundown!

Your background is political. How did you get there and why did you leave?

Patricia: My dad brought me into the outskirts of the political world. He is a US Senator for the State of New York, and when his social coordinator retired, he hired me for the job. It meant hobnobbing with other senators and congressmen, judges, lobbyists, foreign dignitaries—well, you name it, I’ve rubbed elbows with it.

I thought I was happy in that life. Reasonably happy, anyway. I left only because I had to tend to the Texas ranch I inherited from Uncle Jake. After learning more about the faith he and Aunt Loretta had, I wanted it. Then, after learning what real friendship was through the relationships I started developing here, I realized the so-called “friends” back home weren’t friends at all.

But after getting to know Talon and discovering what a Christian man of integrity was like, I knew I’d never find anyone like him in New York or DC. That sealed the deal. I never want to go back, except to visit family.

I can well imagine. What drew you to the oh-so-masculine cowboy, so-not-your-type, Talon Carlson?

Patricia: Let’s start with that oh-so-masculine part and move on from there. One day, I was sitting at my desk in the ranch office, just watching him out the window. He was right across the road, repairing the barn roof in the Texas heat, which meant he had his shirt off. My, oh my . . .

I didn’t realize he was exactly my type until I got to know him. After being married to my late husband, Kent Talbert, I learned not to trust, not to believe, not to take a man’s word on anything. Kent made it difficult for me to love again, so I wasn’t quick to fall for Talon. I watched how others treated him with respect. Saw how deeply his friends loved him, and how his ranch family rallied around him. I experienced for myself his sense of humor, his affection, and, yes, his respect for me.

I admit to taking things slow with Talon, but believe me, I have no doubt where this is going.

Ha ha! Yes, I can well imagine.  Your versatility and strength (Talon called it spunk) brought you through the first installment of the Circle Bar Ranch novels. But your adventurous spirit kind of took a nosedive in the sequel. What caused this turnaround?

Patricia: If you’re talking about my bull riding, believe me, nothing will knock the adventure out of you like waking up with a face full of muck. When Mostro bucked me into the mud and muck of the holding pen, I figured I’d had my fill of riding.

cattle-640985_1280But I still feel adventurous, and I’m totally ready to see what life on the ranch has to offer. And what I have to offer it. Can you imagine, me on a ranch? My best assets are my diplomacy and my Park Avenue wardrobe. If this isn’t adventurous, I don’t know what is!

I think dealing with New York politicians and socialites might be the more difficult of the two. So, other than Talon…who’s your hero, and why?

Patricia: On the ranch, it’s definitely Frank Simmons. He’s like a surrogate father to me. His quiet guidance and gentle humor are invaluable. He assured me of God’s love for me. Of course, I had to prove it to myself, but Frank was right. He usually is.

He’s definitely one of my favorite characters in both books. In Book 2, there are big changes in store for the ranch and its inhabitants. Is there anything you can comment on? Without a spoiler, of course.

Patricia: Oh, you must be referring to Aunt Adele. She’s on a mission to lure me back to New York. You wouldn’t believe the things she’s doing to try to make me homesick. I’d be willing to bet my mother put her up to this. Aunt Adele is my favorite of all my mother’s sisters, but right now, she’s really testing my patience. Not to mention Consuela’s patience. And you know Consuela has a short fuse.  I’m doing all I can to keep the peace around here, but it’s getting more and more challenging.

You don’t want to lose Consuela! Who would do the cooking? 🙂 How do you see yourself in ten years?

cowgirl-419084_1280Patricia: I love dreaming about the future! In ten years, I hope to see my kids and my friend Marie’s kids growing big and strong like their fathers. By then, I hope to know my way around the ranch better—I may even have a school to teach city kids how to ride English and Western saddle, maybe even have a show-jumping school for the kids from the surrounding ranches.

In other words, in ten years, I see myself surrounded by Talon and friends and kids!

That’s a dream I hope you realize, Patricia. Finally, just for fun–what’s in your fridge?

­­­Patricia: Since I’m still learning how to cook, I hope whatever’s in there is something Consuela made—preferably her beef enchiladas or maybe a carne asada. Her culinary skills aren’t limited to Tex-Mex, but that’s definitely my favorite.

Sounds yummy. Perhaps I can visit sometime soon–


13316940_10206565887042896_1503291551972684209_oWith her duties for her best friend’s wedding finally behind her, Patricia Talbert looks forward to discovering what “normal” will look like at her new home in Texas. She owns a ranch now, is in love with its foreman, and is ready to assume her duties. Discovering what those duties entail isn’t an easy feat for a displaced socialite from Manhattan.

But when her aunt Adele arrives on a mission to bring her back to New York by hook or by crook, Patricia’s primary duty is to deflect the bumbling and bullish attempts–until one of Adele’s tricks takes her by surprise.

All of Talon Carlson’s dreams for the Circle Bar Ranch are coming true, along with another dream he never expected to be fulfilled–a chance to love again. Patricia is everything he ever wanted and more, but he made a promise to her not to ride bulls again, a promise he may have to break.

His desire for a better end to his riding career is intensified by vicious rumors about why he quit. If he rides again, he may provide the ammunition Adele needs to make Patricia leave. If he doesn’t, he’ll prove the gossips right.

Patricia or Talon. Which one will take The Final Ride?


A word about Patricia’s creator, Linda W. Yezak:

Linda Yezak

Over twenty-five years ago, after a decade of life as a “single-again,” author Linda W. Yezak rediscovered God’s love and forgiveness when He allowed her a second chance at marital happiness. She is now living her greatest romance with her husband in a forest in East Texas. After such an amazing blessing, she chooses to trumpet God’s gift of second chances in the books she writes. Linda’s novels are heart-warming hallmarks of love, forgiveness, and new beginnings.

      You’ll find Linda at the following locations:     

Facebook Fan Page:  http://dld.bz/LWYFacebookPage

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lyezak/

Twitter: @LindaYezak

 Amazon Page: http://dld.bz/LWYAmazonPage

Goodreads: http://dld.bz/dSPmg

777 Peppermint Place: http://lindayezak.com

Newsletter: http://dld.bz/CoffeewithLinda

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AmWriting AmReading

pc-1207686_1280When I’m not writing, I’m reading about writing, or doing research for writing. One thing I’ve learned so far, writers never stop learning. If you stop studying and researching, your writing can become stale and boring. Like old crackers.

Part of the growth process for a writer is reading fresh, new fiction. I’ve done a little of that in the past couple of months by helping to judge writers’ contests. I’ve read some absolutely wonderful chapters by talented writers that make me downright jealous. But that’s not a good reaction unless it spurs me to push forward to write crisper, more entertaining fiction.

IMG_9611One thing writers don’t really want to mess with is their unique voice. But you can write different types of stories in new genres, and explore different angles of the art. I’m anxious to do that, to learn how to craft a better story. Because stale crackers are only good for meatloaf or feeding to the squirrels.

Writers–When you started your first novel, how did you go about it? Did you just sit down and write, or did you outline it or plot it first? I’d love to hear your stories! First novels are a little like first babies or first jobs or even first love. We have sweet memories we like to share.

My first novel — I sat down and wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I wish I could do that now! Oh the freedom of fingers flying over keys, not worrying about content, just slugging it out there.

So that first novel–have you published it? Or is it squirreled away like a couple of mine?

books-927394_1280How do you learn more about writing?

  • Take a course
  • Attend a conference
  • Read/study a writing book or course (on your own)
  • All of the above

If you could attend a course taught by the best of the best in writing–who would that be?

I’m asking these questions because I’m curious, but also–I’m writing a post and could use the input. So, if you have a moment, please leave me a comment below. Thanks so much!

Right now, I’m sitting in my favorite writing spot, hammering out this post–it’s late again! I’m at my dining room table, occasionally looking out the window at pouring rain and beautiful buttercups in bloom. So, my final question is: Where do you write? Do you have an office, or do you–like me–move around with a laptop?

window-1287611_1280Wherever you write, however you write, I hope your writing is successful. But most of all, I hope your writing fulfills you, because doing what you love is the greatest kind of blessing.