Tag Archives: triumph

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’s WIPs: WIPping Myself Up!

EASY AS A, B, C . . .from BB

Back on November 21, I told you how far behind I was on my 50,000 word novel (a fairy tale) for the National Novel Writing Month: well, I fell even farther behind, and then I powered through the last two days and “got ‘er done.”  By “done,” I mean I hit 51K and change.  A lot of it is junkthat’s the way some first drafts arebut there are some really fun bits too.  So it’s NaNo “done”I was a “winner”but not “done Done,” because it will need a lot of work.

I’m going to let it lie now, for a whilewhile I return to the historical which I also mentioned in that blog.  It’s about a woman in the British Isles who led a revolt of the Celts against the Romans, burned three of the invaders’ cities to the ground including Londinium (you can easily guess what that was), but both lost and triumphed in the end.

In my pastWAY past, as this was I’m-afraid-to-tell-you-how-many-years-ago (actually I don’t even know)I had done maybe five hours of research in order to write an historical poem about this heroine.  As I put my hands to the key-board to write, I was horrified to realize, “Oh, no!  This is a novel!‘  But I steamed ahead and wrote the first of the poem anyway.  When it got to about 12 or 13 verses of rhymed iambic pentameter (what was with that?), it was already too long for the contest.

I cut out a couple of verses, “synopsized” the rest of the story and sent it in to the League of Utah Writers’ contest where I was sure it wouldn’t do anything, because it barely scratched the surface of her story.  I was right.  (Entries for their contest, by the way, are open to everyonemember or notand usually due around mid-Junecheck out www.luwriters.org where they will eventually put up the rules and categories for 2013possibly some time in January.)

Anyway, the week after I’d entered the contest, I sat down and wrote the “rest of the story.”  In verse.  Iambic pentameter verse.  It was then 32 quatrains long.  Since then, I’ve added a few more (it’s now up to 39 verses).  The following week, knowing all along that it was really a novel, I wrote an intro or prologue and one more chapter.  Since then, I have written one more chapter and done hours and hours . . . and hours of research.  I have 471 pages in total, including a screen play.

So.  My WIP: I have dug out all the pages and was giving myself until the end of January to try to organize them (and now I’m still SO far from organized, it’s frightening!) into some manageable and cohesive pieces, while reading all the “old stuff.”  What a mess!

My plan is to be ready to write new chapters by Feb. 1.  I will continue to write through February and March and hope to edit in April.  IF all goes well, and with the help of my two critique groups (The ABC Writers Guild at www.benschwensch.wordpress.com  and the Wasatch Mountain Fiction Writers or WMFW), I hope to send the finished product to three possible publishers in May.

And that’s what WIPs are all about: a Work in Progress is a work IN progress.

See you day-after-tomorrow for “Friday Friends”


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Monday Moans: This Miserable, Mocking, Malevolent Machine

EASY AS A, B, C . . . from BB

OKyes, I’m moaning.  Again.  My computer has completely gone nuts.  But like any good home-machine, now that I’m writing about it ON THE COMPUTER, it will no doubt behave itself.

In other instances, it will take me to WordPerfect’s “help” site, if I hit a “b” . . . see?  I’m still here!  Imagine, if you will, how difficult that is with my initials.

After I get out of the “help” site, I start typing again, only to find that it has switched me to all caps.  Another short stop to my writing effort.

If I need an “r,” it won’t print.  If I hit it two or three times I might get a “qer” in place of the single letter “r”but, hey, I can always just delete the unwanted letters.

When it gets bored with causing me all the above problems, it just freezes.  So I turn it off, wait a few, and turn it back on.  I am rewarded with little lights coming on all over my laptop keyboard.  Yet nothing but blackness on screen.  I wait.  Patiently.  (Or maybe that’s just exhaustion.)  Nothing happens AGAIN.  Or STILL.  Now I decide to turn it off.  It won’t go off.  I try “control-alt-delete.”  Lights stay on.  Screen stays black.  I push the on/off button.  Lights on.  Screen off.  I begin to shake with tension, angst, nerves, etc.  My husband takes over.

He turns the computer off.
First try.
He turns it back on.
It lights up.
Both keyboard and screen.

“There,” he says triumphantly.  “Now try it.”

I tell you, this computer has a “traitor” button hidden somewhere, and I keep hitting it.

See you day-after-tomorrow for “Wednesday’s WIPs”


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