Tag Archives: mother

Thinkin’ on Thursday: Privacy and Protection

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

Do you often include family and/or friends as characters in your fiction? Or do you write about them in non‑fiction essays, memoirs or what have you? If so, how young are the children you may include in such writings?

I saw some great advice in author Anna Quindlen’s interview (Still Life with Bread Crumbs) in Parade Magazine on April 20, 2014. After pointing out that she’d written a lot about family in her columns, she was asked how they feel about that. (I’ve often wondered that about the hilarious columnist Robert Kirby in the Salt Lake Tribune.)

Quindlen’s reply was that all of her children turned out to be writers of various kinds, so “it can’t have been too terrible having a writer mother.” She claimed to have mostly written about her kids before they learned to read. Smooth move, Mom!

As they got older she let them “vet” anything she was writing about them. She went on to say that they never shut her down. But she also clarified that was possibly because she edited her writing carefully, being sure to keep her eye on protecting them from “unnecessary exposure.” Wise move there, too.

Do you look out for the people in your life whom you choose to characterize in a story or article? Get their permission? Or disguise them so carefully that they’d never guess they were in your writing? It’s a great thing to think about, decide about, before you have hurt feelings, or even possible legal action against your work.

I loved Quindlen’s conclusion on the topic: “Columns come and go. Your kids are forever.” And so will your friends be, if you’re careful and judicious in how you “invade” their privacy!

See you next for Spellbinder Saturday!


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Tips for Tuesday: So What’s That Got to Do with Writing?

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

My husband claims, erroneously, that he can’t take me anywhere without running into somebody I know. Usually someone I’ve taught. As I’ve taught in Utah’s high schools, colleges and universities for over 50 years, I can understand where he might get that idea.

I love making connections — with people, between people, among people. They are often my students or former students. I sometimes claim they’re the only people I know.

Today, I ran across an eight-year-old funeral notice — the mother of one of my former students — and I had gone to the funeral. She’d written her address, in Washington state, on the back of the notice. My husband had known her back then as well, and found her on Facebook. I’ve had a lovely “reunion” with her online today. She and her husband (whom we also knew) are now serving an LDS mission in Chicago, but will relocate to American Fork when they are released. I let her know that the girl who played Annie Sullivan to her Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker at Granger H.S. has moved back to Utah and my student director from that show lives near-by me in West Valley City. We’re planning a Miracle reunion.

When I was a debate coach, at Park City HS, one of my former debaters from Granger HS came to act as a judge many times. Often enough that many of my debaters got to know and enjoy him. I’d “found” him again when he showed up at a meet to judge for another coach—a student he’d had classes with at the U of U. Well, he didn’t judge for her any more after that—but did a lot for us at Park City! (Maybe that had been one connection too many for me—I always needed judges, so I stole him!)

When I was the drama director at Park City HS, one of my American Fork HS students did the choreography for my musical and got to know those kids. Then she ended up judging debate with that former student/judge from Granger.

And why is this a Tip about writing???

Do your characters ever run into old friends in different places? Or meet someone new with whom they have a surprising, mutual friend? Could that meeting rescue you from an ordinary scene into something of more value? How do their connections with each other affect your story?

If you haven’t thought about good ways to use perhaps minor characters, try this/ None of us lives in a vacuum. We all know people from different0 schools, neighborhoods, walks of life. Let your characters bump into old friends (or enemies), discover mutual acquaintances at odd moments or in different places. Put your characters to work—even the “minor” ones!

See you next on Thinkin’ on Thursday!

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Tuesday’s Tutor: Taking Care of Business When?

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

A close friend and former student of mine is in the process of writing his first full‑length book. I am doing some editing for him and, so far, he has sent me about 130 pages. His opening line is a killer. Literally. Much of it is good. He has minor issues with punctuation, occasionally a typo or mistake of some kind—but very few of those. He is husband/father/grandfather of . . . I’ve lost count . . . but several talented children, a gorgeous and talented wife, and at least one grandchild. He works for the government, and can’t tell me what he does. So don’t ask. And he was a first‑rate writer, even as a high school student many years ago. I am so thrilled that he’s taking it up again.

He’s somewhat discouraged about his writing just now. He’s a bishop in an LDS ward, not in Utah. That means end‑of‑the‑year time with tithing settlements, ward functions, etc. No wonder he’s feeling like he can’t make his “quota for the month” right away. I did send him some advice, part of which I offer you (and “myself” as well):

November and December are hard months to be writing. EVERY business has end‑of‑the‑year wrapping up . . . along with “wrapping up” presents and family gatherings during this important time.

In spite of those cares and distractions, do not let yourself get discouraged about your writing. You probably have much of it which is worthwhile. It can all be worked on once you get the initial draft done. Just give yourself permission to keep going no matter how “horrible” it may seem some days. All that can be fixed, down the road. But you can’t edit and revise a blank page!

Someone within the Utah writing community a while back made a comment on a blog ‑something along this line, though a little longer than my current version: I wanted a short statement I could post on the top of my computer: “Revise Enough to Get Rejected!” That’s pretty good advice. But it’s also beyond the purview of the “first draft,” which is what he, and all you NaNo‑ers out there are working on.

Another local writer/friend was concerned about all the time she “wasted” during NaNo (which at THIS writing is a very few days from being over) because she’s a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, etc., etc., etc. I got her complaint down to a single statement as well (feel free to adapt it to your own situation): Stop Mother‑ing, Wife‑ing, Me‑ing, Writing, Playing, Crying, Exercising, Praying . . . Stop Everything at Once‑ing and Be Where I Am at Every Moment Every Day.

Writing is nothing you should do in multi‑tasking mode. And I’m afraid my friend was forcing himself to do just that order to meet the “quota” he’d set for himself.

Even full‑time writers deserve a “vacation” — we all need time to refill the reservoir: read a book, sleep, do things with family, listen to some music, day‑dream, etc. And this is especially true through the November‑December holidays. Don’t think of it as bowing “out” ‑ it’s actually “rejuvenating”. Give TIME back to YOURSELF.

For me, Christmas Eve is my Christmas. That’s when I have family, etc. By Christmas Day, it’s all over with. I try to read some, eat left overs, relax because the “hectic” time is over. By that evening (sometimes because I’m finally bored!) or for sure by the next morning, I can become a writer again. Don’t stress yourself out between now and then. Don’t give up your goal. Just take a realistic look at what’s coming up and say “On December ___, I will pick up where I left off.” Or “On January 1st (or whenever?), I’ll pick up where I left off.”

Meanwhile, Happy Holy‑days! Be easy on yourself! Take care of you, then you’ll be ready to take care of your book.

See you day‑after‑tomorrow for Thursday’s 13!

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Thursday’s 13: Be Still, My Heart

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

The Ace of Hearts stands for

  1. Love and happiness
  2. The home, a love letter
  3. Indicates troubles and problems lifting

The King of Hearts stands for

  1. A fair-haired man with a good nature
  2. Fair, helpful advice
  3. Affectionate, caring man who helps you out without much talk
  4. His actions reveal kindness, concern

The Queen of Hearts stands for

  1. A fair-haired woman with a good nature
  2. Kind advice from an affectionate, caring woman
  3. This card can indicate the mother or a mother figure.

The Jack of Hearts stands for

  1. A warm-hearted friend
  2. A fair-haired youth
  3. Often this points to a younger admirer

Interested in more information about cards, or the way to tell fortunes with a normal deck of cards?  See www.wikipedia.org

See you day-after-tomorrow for “Saturday’s Softcover”!

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Saturday’s Softcover: My Mother was an “Elizabeth” Too!

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

My mother was named Margaret Elizabeth, but I never knew her to go by Margaret, or any of its wonderful permutations: Maggie, Meg, etc. In fact, she didn’t go by any of the changes to Elizabeth either—it was always full throttle: Elizabeth. And she loved movies. She felt very connected to two famous Elizabeths: Queen Elizabeth, who named her son Charles—my brother, almost exactly the same age, is named Charles. And she loved Elizabeth Taylor. So, when I saw Lu Ann Brobst Staheli’s book entitled Just Like Elizabeth Taylor, I knew I “just” had to read it.

The book is tender, frightening, angst-filled in part, funny, and ultimately— mostly—very happy,81N-fns-EuL__SL1500_ though I was in tears at the end.

Liz, named Elizabeth for the movie star, becomes Beth when she runs away from home. How will this young girl, not yet a teen, make her way on her own?  Actually, a lot better than she can do at home where her mother is too weak to give up the boyfriend who beats her, and Liz cannot fend off the boyfriend’s loathsome son.

Plucky girl that she is, she steals some money from the “boyfriend,” and runs away—but only as far as a fairly nearby town. She finds an abandoned shack at a winter-deserted K.O.A. place, where she manages to have bathroom/water/ electric amenities, ekes out her meager “savings” with school lunch and occasional lunch leavings from other students.

As the school year draws closer to an end, “Beth” must find a way to make a friend, save a lunch lady, let her mother know she is still alive, find a more permanent home, and bring justice to her “real” family, while maintaining a decent GPA so she won’t be “found out.”

At every moment, I was aware that the author had taught junior high school for years: she knew the angst, the failures, the desperation of some, the heartlessness of others, and the pluck of the brave. Just before the ending I was in tears: not because it was sad, but because I was so angry at what happened to “Beth” next: pulling all the threads together, the horrific scene had me crying for the unfairness, the drive, the caring this young girl exhibited. It was a fitting triumph, finally.

I know Liz, the lost girl. I know Beth, the loner. I know Elizabeth, the winner. I’ve taught those high school, junior high school and middle school kids too. Read it, and you’ll know them as well!

 See you day after tomorrow for Monday Moans!

A1YSS+kQ4cL__SL1500_BTW, the prolific Staheli also has a book, A Note Worth Taking, about “best” friends, surviving lost friendships, making new friends—you know, all those things we suffered in junior high or middle school. I’m reading it next—you should too: it’s on sale at Amazon for $0.99 through the end of July.

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Wednesday WIP: Not a Thursday 13, but 13 kids

As easy as A, B, C . . . from CC

My story is our life with thirteen children, the youngest being a very challenging full-care baby. The endeavors, delights, and sorrows we faced taught us many things, more than we ever could have imagined.

The book is hard to write because of the intense emotion it stirs in me. This is no ordinary book: pages of my life, feelings and lessons learned opened to the world for scrutiny, good or bad. It’s risky for me to place my life in… forgive the pun… an open book.

I want my story to help make someone’s journey easier while letting them know they’re not alone. Others have walked their path and more will in the future.

Right now I’m stuck, not plot stuck… but bound by my emotional ability to handle the writing of the story. My story is written in that it has already happened. What is vital to the story and what is essential to me is a fine line. I’m the mother. I think its every detail is important. The truth is… it’s not. People don’t want to read about mundane details. They want to be taken into the story and feel and breathe the pages as if it were their life.  I worry… I don’t have the ability to take the reader for a journey that will have them crying… laughing… infuriated… frightened… but resolute.

I know all writers feel this way, but, in the end, it works out. With some luck I hope to have my book out by the end of the year. Then you will be the judge: did I get it right?

See you day-after-tomorrow for Friday Friends


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Sunday Snippets: Happy Mother’s Day!!!

I would like to share with you my husband’s gift to me on a special Mother’s Day.  We have been married for a time. We have four biological children and nine adopted ones for a total of thirteen—our favorite number.  This poem says it all in my husband’s words. He gave it to me with a bouquet of flowers that represent the poem.  Carrie Cole

Fifteen flowers in a vase

Nature’s colors filled with grace

Red times two means love adorns

Petals high above the thorns

Soon to follow life anew

With baby’s breath come buds of blue

Years pass as our garden grows

Pink buds bloom with lace and bows

Roses white are angels lost

Our garden cold with early frost

When all arranged a rich bouquet

For this we thank you, Mom, each day

Written by Justin M Cole


Two red roses: Husband and I; buds of blue: boys-7; pink buds: girls-4; white roses: sons died young-2

See you day-after-tomorrow for Friday’s Friends


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