"Bethie's Place"

I love writing, reading, and everything books! Let's chat!

“Here’s ‘Something Nice’ “

Having spent nearly the last eighteen months in and out of hospital, and the better part of that time bedridden, I needed to quickly create a “new normal” for myself to get through what has been a long, oftentimes discouraging, and lonely recovery. Part of my “new normal” activities has been watching dvds via my Netflix subscription. Some I’ve watched over the months have been duds, and some have been gems that will stick with me for a long time.

Case in point was a movie I watched yesterday that had been done by HBO called, “The Normal Heart”. It tells the story of the beginning of AIDS, and of a group of gay men in New York who work together to try to get funding for this disease as they watch their partners die without help from the city or federal government. Watching this movie got me thinking about a classmate of mine from 7th-12th grade. To keep his identity private, I’ll refer to him as “Chuckles”, my nickname for him, because of his infectious laughter. “Chuckles” and I were in choir from 7th-12th grade, and I think we laughed every day for those six years. During our last choir class before graduation, our director gave us time to sign each other’s yearbooks.  I tossed my yearbook across the room to him, and said, “Hey, write something nice, will ya?” He returned my yearbook to me, and I didn’t give it another thought, knowing that whatever he’d written  would be found in the article about him featured in the yearbook, predicting that he would be a star on Broadway. That was 1979. Fast forward a couple of years when we met up again at the local junior college. He invited me to join him for coffee one morning, (I drank cocoa), and we had a long chat about a secret he had kept for many years and wanted to share it with me. My dear “Chuckles” revealed that he was gay, which I had pretty much already concluded, and I listened while he poured out his heart to me.  On December 9, 1993, “Chuckles” breathed his last breath, succumbing to AIDS. You’re wondering what he wrote, aren’t you?

He wrote, “Dear Beth, ‘Here’s Something Nice.” Love, Chuckles…..

Why did I choose to share this slice of my life with you tonight? I don’t know except to say that this movie touched me deeply, and I highly recommend it. Between that time when we sat down for coffee and the moment I learned of his death, we had lost contact.  Watching this movie  brought home for me how he must have suffered in the end and it gave me an opportunity to mourn the loss of my friend (which had never really done), and his writing what he did in my yearbook, was his way of shielding me of what was to come for him a decade later.

So dear “Chuckles”, I know every night in heaven has been “another opening, another show” and I can’t wait for a front row seat.

I Ask For Your Forgiveness

This evening it was brought to my attention by one of my blog followers that it had been over a month since I had last posted. I could be glib and say that time flies when you’re having fun, while that would in part be true, I really have no excuse except to say that I’ve been selfish, wrapped up in my life, and forgot about you my loyal readers and followers, and that pains me greatly. So I ask your forgiveness, and hopefully, I can forgive myself for this transgression, and get back to the business at hand of inspiring, entertaining, and sharing my life with you. So, can we wipe the slate clean and move on? I hope so.

When last I wrote, I was in the midst of getting your opinions of the first lines of my novel to present to James Patterson for his critique. Well, the critique process has come and gone, and yours truly did not get picked to have Mr. Patterson critique my work. Yes, I buried my head in the sand for a few days, wondering what I could have done to capture his attention, and then I thought, “you dummy, you’re being taught by a master writer.” Time to dust myself off, square my shoulders, and press on for the next opportunity to get a critique.

I’ve been reading as many writing reference books that I can get my hands on. Yes, I’ve even sneaked in some pleasure reading along the way, too! More later on that subject. I have solidified where my book begins, its progression, and its resolution, as well as its cast of characters. No, I haven’t written a formal outline…still resisting that one. But eventually I’m sure I will have to break down and do it. NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) will begin in November, so I’m hopeful that I will have enough material ready to hit the ground running and get the novel written and finished in the month of November.

On my health, I continue to make progress in my recovery.  I see the specialist one week from today, so I ask for your prayers that he will declare me healed, and discharge me from his care so that this long ordeal can be put behind me, and move on to bigger and greater adventures.

Lastly, if you’ve followed my blog since it’s beginning, you’ll recall a blog post about my doctor and friend, Dr. Francis K. Moll, Jr. We had been corresponding via mail very regularly, and then his letters suddenly stopped. I attributed this to summer vacation visiting his children and grandchildren. At the end of July, a  long-awaited letter arrived with news that stopped me dead in my tracks.  In May, my dear friend was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I headed back to Google to learn all I could about this disease, and then wrote him a very long letter. And so the waiting begins again, watching the mailbox for a letter. Please pray for him and his family. If only I could jump on a plane and fly to his side to be there with him, I would but that’s not possible. So for the foreseeable future, my sole focus will be to write this book, bind it in some way, and send it to him for his birthday in November.  Maybe that will help me stay focused so I don’t sit here in California, wishing I was in Georgia holding his hand, and willing him to survive.

Well friends, that’s about all I have to share tonight. Oh, one more thing, have you heard about this new hobby for adults — adult coloring books? Yep, I got bitten by the bug! I always loved coloring as a little girl, and I’m finding it calming. Thinking I might send some of my creations to the good doctor to cheer him up.

Until next time (I promise it won’t be a month between posts)  …. “Bethie”

 

And the novel continues…..Friday Feature–“Let’s Talk Books”

Dear Friends,

First and foremost, my apologies for not posting to my blog in the last five weeks. My health continues to improve daily and my next, and hopefully last appointment, with the specialist is on July 20th.

Now for the good stuff…. the progress on my novel….

The title has changed from “Bethie’s Place” to “The Hensel House”. It’s still set in the Old West (circa Civil War era) and the story revolves around a dilapidated boarding house that has been bequeathed to the main character from her grandmother.

Now dear friends, I need your help. I’m torn between these two versions as the opening of my novel. Please let me know which one grabs you to want to read more.

Version 1: The boarding house had fallen into disrepair, and looked nothing like the tintypes her grandmother had sent her many years ago. The life blood that once traveled through The Hensel House had drained out onto the dusty road beneath her feet.

Version 2: Grandma was gone. It was as if the boarding house had died along with her.

Love and blessings to you all!

“Bethie”

 

And the novel begins…..

Okay everyone, I know you’ve been waiting to read what I’ve accomplished today, which was more than what I had anticipated (yeah me! — lol) but I decided to hold back a lot of it, in hopes that you’ll want to read more. So what I’m sharing is the opening sentence, a tenative title, and a setting. So without further ado:

First Sentence:
Nothing was the way she remembered.  When her eyes  adjusted to the dark, what she saw made her shiver.

The “working title” is Bethie’s Place. I’m thinking either diner,  restaurant, or boarding house in the Old West as the setting.

Please let me know your inital impressions. 😀

I’m off to write for a couple hours — time to do the dreaded outline!

Love to write. Making a plan/outline? Not so much!!

MasterClass

Dear friends, on 5/21/15 I signed up for an online course called MasterClass. It is a course in novel writing, taught via video by best-selling author James Patterson. As you can imagine, I’m excited, and part of my first assignment is to share on social media my commitment to writing 500 words per day, and to ask friends to hold me accountable and if you should desire to further help me along this endeavor, to provide feedback as my project progresses.

For those of you who read my Friday Feature: “Let’s Talk Books”, I will be shifting its focus to sharing what I’ve written each week and asking for your feedback, criticism, and ideas to make the book better along the way.  It’s because of you, that I’ve decided to take this leap of faith and I hope you’ll join me.

Blessings, “Bethie”

Since Last We Met…..

Hello Friends!

It seems months have passed since last we met, and yet it’s only been 12 days. And a busy 12 days it’s been. After the wonderful Mother’s Day celebration, I had to quickly shift gears into anniversary celebration mode — that anniversary being, my parents’ 55th on May 21st.  Again, I was in a dilemma…what to buy.  I quickly settled on a house plant — a beautiful “Lucky Bamboo”, which was ordered and delivered right on time.

Friday, 5/22/15, I was back at the doctor’s office for yet another appointment to consider my progress in my long medical crisis. Some progress, but not enough to convince the doctor to declare me “healed” and let me go.

I came home disappointed (again), but as I was updating my Facebook page status that evening, an advertisement along the page caught my eye. It was for something called, “Master Class”(http://www.masterclass.com). Unable to resist the temptation to see what it was all about, I clicked the link. And boy, was I happy I did….There were four class options — Photography taught by Annie Lebowitz, Tennis taught by Serena Williams, Acting taught by Dustin Hoffman, and finally, Writing taught by best-selling novelist James Patterson. Guess which one I picked. Oh come on, take a guess. You KNOW which one I  picked! Yep, for just under $100, I have been drinking and basking in the teaching of James Patterson. The course consists of 22 short videos (each about 15 minutes) where he talks about himself and his method/process for writing a novel from the germ of an idea to finished product. There’s also a corresponding Facebook page where I can interact with others taking the course and the assignments — each at our own pace.  I’m working with two published posts from my blog — “COWBOY”, and “My Thank You Gift To My Readers”, as my jumping off point to what I hope will be my first published novel titled, “COWBOY”.

With everything going on, I’ve also been pleasure reading, and  on the nightstand is The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell, and The Bone Tree by Greg Iles. Both are library books (with long hold lists) so The Bone Tree has to go back tomorrow (boo hoo), but I can put it on hold again, and hopefully get it back in my hands soon.

Since Friday will be here before I know it, I’m going to give you a “heads up” on the topic for Friday Feature — “Let’s Talk Books” — your summer reading list.  What book are you anxious to read this summer? Where do you like to read? Do you read lighter stories in the summer or do you go for the longer, more involved storylines?

Well friends, that’s about it for tonight! Sending you all much love and gratitude for continuing to follow my blog. Wishing you all a very happy fun-filled summer. Oh, and I mustn’t forget to mention those who may be experiencing extreme weather around the world. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

Until next time,

“Bethie”

 

 

Unexpected Surprise (The Reveal) — Mother’s Day 2015

Since I wanted my mom to be surprised, I enlisted the help of my neighbor, dearest and most special friend, and my sister from another mother. LOL!

I made arrangements for the package to be delivered to her house, and she was going to keep it for me until Mother’s Day. Because my health prevented me from doing my shopping for all items related to wrapping said gift myself, she went above beyond what I could have ever dreamed possible to help me pull off this surprise. She works in a party planning store, and before she clocked into work over several days, she walked around the store taking pictures on her cellphone of wrapping paper, bows, and ribbon. All I had to do, was pick what I wanted, and she handled the rest. Tried to pay her over and over, for all the time she put in helping me, but she wouldn’t take a dime. I love that girl! 😀

First, she sneaked over while my  mom was busy with me, while Dad waited for her in the garage to bring over the big box. Then on Saturday, the eve of Mother’s Day, she brought over the wrapping items while Dad waited for her in the garage.  Sneaky aren’t we? Twenty-four hours until Mother’s Day…..

Mother’s Day morning, Mom and Dad headed to the grocery store, and I wrapped the smaller of two gifts — one of those retractable lawn watering hoses. Didn’t come in a box, and it was really awkward to wrap to say the least. Why did I buy her a watering hose for the yard? Well, the backyard was remodeled earlier this year, taking away the grass, large tree, and replacing it with drought tolerant plants, trees, and shrubs with rock garden in between. It’s very pretty, but harder for her to water because the individual plants, etc., have to be watered by hand. Hence, the gift of the retractable hose.

After their return from the store, and groceries were put away, Dad retired to the garage to wrap the BIG GIFT.

The dinner prepared and cooked by Dad, was cashew chicken, white rice, and Italian squash.

With the table cleared, it was time….Mom opened her card that I designed for her on the computer and opened the first of her two gifts. Getting the hose made her laugh, and she appreciated it.

I told Dad that there was a second gift in the garage that he would have to retrieve. He played dumb really well. LOL!  Mom didn’t have a clue. My plan has worked like clockwork. It wasn’t until she opened the box that she realized what I had done and what she now owned. Mission accomplished! I relayed the story of speaking to the artist on the phone when I placed the order and I think that surprised her even more than the gift itself. As a side note, their anniversary is next week (55 years), and I plan to pay for the framing of the artwork.

All in all, Mother’s Day 2015, was a complete success, and I believe it will probably go down as the most memorable one we’ve shared together.

Friday Feature: “Let’s Talk Books” — Heroes, Heroines, and Villains

Hello Friends! It’s been a hectic couple weeks and I apologize for not posting regularly, but there’s much to share with you about Mother’s Day, the new plan I have for my blog, and an update on my health. So to get me/us back on track, let me begin with our weekly feature. The topic I’ve picked for this week’s post is heroes and villains. Thinking about the book you’ve most recently read, or book you’re reading, who is the hero/heroine, and villain? What characteristics make the hero/heroine memorable and believable? What makes the villain memorable and believable?

Happy reading! 😀 Let’s talk books!

“Bethie”

My Birthday, Books, and Movies!!!

Since last we met, I celebrated my birthday with family and very close friends that I also consider family.  My mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday dinner, and I replied, “Rubios”. I love Mexican food, and their food is as close to authentic Mexican food on this side of the border. So, our dinner consisted of three burritios — machaca (for dad), chicken (for mom), and pollo asado for the birthday girl.   Let me tell you, these burritos are enormous.  I think they put a half a chicken in each one,  so for every one burrito,  Mom and I get two meals out of each. Dad is the only one to finish his in one setting.

After dinner, I opened my gift — three jigsaw puzzles. I did mention that I love jigsaw puzzles, didn’t I? I’ve been putting them together since I was very young, and I find the challenge very relaxing. Do you  like jigsaw puzzles? What size? What kinds of designs?

Around 7 o’clock, a knock at the door, and it was my “extended family” from next door. A beautiful bouquet of sunflowers in the eldest daughter’s hand. Also in tow, were her two younger siblings (all three between 18-23). Oh and I mustn’t forget the eldest daughter’s boyfriend, who I had been anxious to meet. What a special young man he is, and a perfect match for my special “sister/daughter”. We laughed, we talked, and before I knew it, it was nearly 9 o’clock, and time for me to call it a day.

Friday, May 1st, would have been my Nana’s 99th birthday. I miss her. Birthdays and Christmas being the hardest days for me even though it will be 10 years this December since she’s been gone.

I’m nearly halfway through reading “The Girl On The Train”. Have you read it? It’s an odd book, and I can’t say for certain whether I “like” it or not yet, but I am intrigued, and will more than likely finish it in the next day or so. Also 3/4 of the way through “Edge of Eternity” by Ken Follett (3rd book in the Century Trilogy).  I’ve been reading it for several months and it will probably take me a month or more to finish it. So far, the third book isn’t nearly as exciting as the first two, but I guess that’s because it begins in the 60s and ends just before the 21st century begins, and the historic events are things I’ve already lived through.

Rounding out my time since last we met, I watched two dvds that I got from Netflix that I highly recommend. First, was “The Imitation Game” depicting the life of British born Alan Turing. The second, “The Theory of Everything” depicting the life of Stephen Hawking. If you’ve seen either of these films, I would love to chat about them with you. The acting in both films was extraordinary, and I can see why both of these actors were nominated for Academy Awards, both of which could have easily shared the award for Best Actor.

It’s nearly 12:40 AM, Tuesday, and I’m still wide awake (which I shouldn’t be) but before I call it a night/morning and put me and the computer to bed, I want to once again thank you for following my blog, and especially participating in my “Thank You Gift To My Readers” post. Your participation has helped me to renew my passion for writing again, and with you as my audience, I will strive to continue to write posts that inform, inspire, and enlighten, and entertain you.

Love and Blessings to you all, “Bethie”

My Thank You Gift To My Readers

Dear Readers, Followers, and Friends —

On this day of my 54th birthday, I celebrate by thanking you for reading my blog, your comments, and the friendships that I have made since I decided to join the world of blogging on December 20th, 2014. When I shared this idea with you I said that I would write a short story with the sentences and ideas that you sent my way.

As I wrote tonight, I realized that what I have written is not a short story (yes, it’s approximately 250 words), but it grew to have a life of its own, and just might turn itself into a much longer work. Dare I say, that these opening paragraphs are the beginning of that journey I spoke of, of actually writing my first novel? Tell me what you think so far…..don’t be shy! I want feedback. No, scratch that, I NEED feedback! Just so you know, it has no title as of yet. Need to see where I’m headed….So…..are you ready?  Here it comes!

________________________

He had agonized over by which direction to leave the courtyard of the town square, circling away from the bonfire again. He couldn’t bear to catch her eye because if he did, all the courage he had mustered to leave would be gone. He was leaving his lady love knowing full well that without even the slightest of an explanation, he had broken her heart. He only hoped that she would never discover why he had left. The further he walked, his cowboy boots felt like two cement blocks, and the less he could smell the burning bonfire mixed with the sweet smell of her intoxicating perfume. The faintest of its fragrance still on the palm of his hand where he had gently touched her cheek wet with her tears. His pace slowed, remembering her last words to him.

He remembered her looking at him lovingly. “Surprise me,” she said.

He had told her he’d return one day and that when he did they would never be apart again.

I glance at Sharon, who is sitting to my left, and who hasn’t said a word. Surely she knows I’m upset. Has he sworn her to secrecy? I’m stunned that she, the woman I have trusted since we were children with my deepest secrets, hasn’t even made an effort to comfort me.

The bonfire has been doused, so all that is left is return to her cabin and pray that her beloved cowboy would return to her side as he had promised.

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