Posts Tagged ‘Family Life’

Girl in the Wind -

01/18/2012

Girl in the Wind

Chapter 1

Cassie ran as fast as her long, skinny legs would carry her. The screen door banged shut behind her. A sound guaranteed to piss off her mother  but she didn’t care. She had to get away from her. She had to escape the cutting words that sliced into her as sharply as any knife, carving away at her heart until the only way she could stop the bleeding was to run to the big oak tree across the yard and climb high into its enveloping branches. Past the long abandoned robin’s nest.  Past the broken limb that snapped off in the thunder storm last year.  Higher and higher she went until the branches thinned and she doubted the next one would hold even her slight weight.

She inhaled deeply, saying her personal version of a prayer, “Please God, don’t let me blow away in the wind before I show her a thing or two!” and stretched her arms as high as she could, wrapped them around the tree trunk, and stepped out on a limb so thin it seemed barely strong enough to hold the trio of leaves dangling from its tip.

She raised her gaze to the sky and felt the sun on her face  calming her.  White clouds of summer drifted overhead in a sky so blue it made her want to cry. A gust of wind rocked her as the tree swayed. Cassie welcomed the feeling of vertigo that came with the thrill of fear that she might fall. That was why she was there after all. To face the fear.  To prove she was more than what her mother claimed. Although she would never admit it, she was terrified of heights. Even more terrified her mother was right. She was clumsy. She was school smart and life stupid.  She would never be very pretty. Not like her mother. Not like her sister.  How many times did she have to listen to the same story? She got the message the first time she heard it.

They lived in the apartment house then. The one with two families and one bathroom on each floor. More than once she’d peed her pants waiting for someone to finally clear out of there.  It was bad enough if they were just whizzing or pooping, but if someone was taking a bath it could take a very long time and it wasn’t fair to get spanked or have your nose rubbed in wet pants if you tried and couldn’t get in.

That’s the place where they all got sick and the doctor had to come and give everyone but her father a shot of penicillin every day for a week.  Cassie, who was four at the time, and her big sister, Sue, six-years old,were with Mom in the big bed. Their little brother, Billy, was in his crib pushed up against the wall. All of them were sweaty and coughing. No one was getting any sleep and Daddy had to bring them soup and pass out pills and change Billy’s diapers.  Every day the doctor would ask Cassie and Sue who they wanted to get a shot first. Neither little girl would answer. Cassie always wanted to tell him to give the shot to their mother first. She was the only one who didn’t cry and maybe, just once, he’d get confused and forget about her.  But she never got up the nerve to say anything. Some days she was first, some days Sue or Mom. Billy was always last everyone always got the shot

Finally they were all better. Her father was at work and her mother was brushing Sue’s hair, getting her ready for school. Sue thought she was big because she was going to first grade and Cassie was still too little for Kindergarten.  Every now and then, as her mother talked and brushed her hair, Sue would turn to Cassie and give her a look that seemed to be a mix of superiority and embarrassed pity.

“You have the most beautiful hair,” Mom said. She brushed the long, naturally curly, locks at least five-hundred strokes every morning.  “Strawberry blonde is such an unusual color. When you grow up you will be beautiful and have lots of boyfriends. You will go on lots of dates and break a lot of hearts.”

“What about me? What color is mine?”  Cassie asked. She had hair too, but Mom rarely brushed it. After all, she wasn’t going anywhere but outside to play and she always came in a mess so why bother.

“You? Your hair is dirty blonde. Some people call it dishwater blonde because it reminds of them of the dingy water they pour down the sink after doing the supper dishes. It’s not unusual at all. And your hair is super fine. It won’t hold a curl like Sue’s. You’ll have to spend hours curling it or get a permanent. You won’t be pretty like Sue but, if you spend a lot of time doing your hair and putting on the right makeup, you could turn out to be cute. ”

“Will I have lots of dates?” Cassie asked.

“Not a lot,” her mother answered, turning to scan her younger daughter from head to foot. “Some of the boys that Sue isn’t interested in or has dated for a while and then jilted will probably ask you out. Maybe one of them will really like you.”

“I hope not”, Cassie said. “I don’t want to go on dates anyway!”

But she did. Not then of course, but someday she would want someone to think she was pretty and take her for a ride in his car. Somebody who wouldn’t care about the color of her hair. She secretly wondered if boys cared as much about hair as her mother seemed to. The ones she knew certainly didn’t do anything with theirs.

“Oh look, the sun is coming out,” Cassie’s mother said. She stopped primping Sue’s hair and crossed the kitchen to open the curtains over the sink.  All morning it had been raining hard with occasional crashes of thunder and bursts of lightning.  “It reminds me of the day Sue was born.”

“Tell us,” Sue said.

“April is a wonderful month to have a baby. Everything is so fresh and pretty in the Spring. However, it stormed all day and all night when I went to the hospital to have you. When I was in the delivery room the lights flickered out a few times and I was getting scared. Even the doctor said he hoped you would get here before the electricity failed for good.”

“Did I?” Did I come before the lights went out?”

“Yes, you did,” her mother assured her. “And just as the nurse was bringing you to me, the storm ended and the sun came out, filling the hospital room with light. It turned out to be a perfect Spring day after all. I had never known what it felt like to be so happy.”

“Tell me about when I was born,” Cassie said. “I’ll be you were very happy that day too.”

“No, I wasn’t,” her mother answered abruptly. “You weren’t due for another three weeks and your Dad and I had planned to go out. Aunt Celia was coming to stay the night and watch Sue.  It was the last time your father and I would have a chance to go have dinner in a restaurant and go dancing before you were born. “

“What happened?” Cassie asked. A chill ran up her spine as she waited for the answer. She knew that something had gone wrong and it was her fault.

“What happened is you!” her mother snapped.  Instead of having a night out I was in pain in the hospital. No, I wasn’t happy. I was mad. My last night out was spoiled. ”

“I’m sorry,” Cassie whispered, tears glistening in her big blue eyes.

If her mother heard, she didn’t respond. She simply finished brushing Sue’s hair, helped her put on her prettiest dress, and with Cassie following a few feet behind, walked her daughter to school.  Later that afternoon, when her mother shooed her out of the house so she could have some peace and quiet, Cassie pushed a rickety ladder up against a tree, climbed up on one of the branches and faced the sting of her mother’s rejection for first time.

Why did feel so much like falling?

Girl in the Wind – Prologue

01/12/2012

Girl in the Wind

By

Bobbi Carducci

Prologue

Her story begins not with her first breath, nor will it end with her last.

Just as the blood of her ancestors flows through her veins and their strengths and weaknesses had much to say about how she looks and where her structural weaknesses lie, her story has etched itself onto her children and grandchildren.  Some will benefit from the trials of the past. Others will have to fight through their history to build a better life.

When asked why she decided to tell her story, she replied, “Because I must.  The voices of my lifetime speak to me in my dreams and wake with me each morning. I would be as lost without them now as I was when the events I occurred. Perhaps some will find strength in my weakness, joy in the aftermath of my tears, and love where I meant it to flow, even when it seemed I didn’t care. If not, I will move on with no regrets for every misstep I have taken has created a story that was, if not well lived, I dare hope you’ll agree, was well told. “

###

Come back  next week for the start of chapter one.

Prepping for NaNoWriMo

09/12/2011

PREPPING FOR NaNoWriMo with SUSAN MEIER: Online Course

INSTRUCTOR: Susan Meier
DATE: October 1 – October 31, 2011

REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/PennwritersCourse201110
(LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.)

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
Everybody believes NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which runs every November at http://www.nanowrimo.org) is a race against the clock, a fight with procrastination and inertia. In some ways it is. But once you’re in the thick of things, you’ll discover NaNo is really all about ideas. Writers don’t stall because they’re lazy. Writers stall because they don’t know what to write next.

The month BEFORE NaNo, get proven tips from Susan Meier—the author of almost 50 books for Harlequin and Silhouette—and let her take you through several different ways to examine the story you want to write, to capture the natural scene possibilities within your idea, to generate new ideas, and to push yourself through the most grueling, but fun, month you will spend this year! Lessons include:

* The List of 20 (How to generate ideas quickly so you have little downtime when your natural ideas run out)
* Turning a “Want” into “Need” (How does knowing why you’re writing this book provide you with both energy to write and ideas for your story?)
* The One-Paragraph Story Summary (Say it succinctly…3 kinds of one-paragraph story summaries: back cover blurb, core story question, and growth paragraph)
* Could, Might, Must and Should List (How to capture ideas that spring up naturally)
* Storyboard Versus Synopsis (Breaking your idea down into manageable bites)
* The Psychology of Pushing through the Hard Times (What to do when you get stuck)
* The Psychology of a Draft (Push, push, push!)
* What Are You Doing in December? (Editing tips)

Discover how to get the most out of NaNo and write a publishable novel. LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.

REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/PennwritersCourse201110

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:
Susan Meier is the author of over 45 books for Harlequin and Silhouette and one of Guideposts‘ Grace Chapel Inn series books, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. Her books have been finalists for Reviewers Choice Awards, National Reader’s Choice Awards and Cataromance.com Reviewer’s Choice Awards and nominated for Romantic Times awards. Her book, HER BABY’S FIRST CHRISTMAS won the traditional category in the 2009 More Than Magic contest. HER PREGNANCY SURPRISE, her first release for the Harlequin Romance line, made both Walden’s Bestseller List for Series Romance and Bookscan. MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE, MAID FOR THE SINGLE DAD, and COUNTRY TWIN CHRISTMAS are her 2010 releases. Susan loves to teach as much as she loves to write and is a popular speaker at RWA chapter conferences. Can This Manuscript Be Saved? and Journey Steps, Taking the Train to Somewhere! are her most requested workshops. Her article “How to Write a Category Romance” appeared in 2003 Writer’s Digest Novel and Short Story Markets. Susan also gives online workshops for various groups and her articles regularly appear in RWA chapter newsletters. For more information about Susan Meier, visit http://www.susanmeier.com.

* Subscribe to our announcement list for email on our latest online courses!

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PennwritersOnlineCourses

*****
* For more information on this course, contact Laura M. Campbell, Online Courses Coordinator.
To mail in your registration and payment, send payment at least one week before the course starts using the mail form at this link.

It’s Been Longer Than A Week

07/07/2011

My intentions were good. I planned on being very good about dates and deadlines and all those things.  I’m pleased to say that writing got in the way. Not the actual putting words on paper or clicking keys on keyboard kind of writing, but the very productive the voices of my characters are talking to me, sort of writing.

I can see the page where I left off and my fingers are itching to get started again. One would think I would be doing that instead of this but that’s not how it works for me. There’s an intangible sense of knowing that comes over me when the time is right. Once that happens I know the words will flow and the story will take shape. Until then I keep my hand in by submitting short stories written months ago or trying out a new market. I teach writing workshops and do readings, all of which I’ve done since the last time I posted here.

At times like this writing is work. However, when the words and ideas are truly flowing writing is like soaring. I know I have to be aware of my surroundings so I don’t crash but the free flow of ideas is such a delight the experience becomes effortless.

Is it like that for you? Do you soar and come to rest in intervals as I do? If not, what does it feel like when the story begins to unfold?

***

I am pleased to say that the work of writing is showing some results as well.  Two of my short stories are scheduled for publication in the online magazine Eerie Digest www.eeriedigest.com Sweet Revenge will appear in the September issue and The Marriage Contract will appear in the October issue.  I like these quirky pieces. Each shows a darker side to this author first published in anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort and who is now the author of a book for young readers, Storee Wryter Gets a Dog, www.storeewryter.com

Do you have multiple writing personalities as I do or is your writing entirely focused on one genre?  I look forward to reading your answers. Until next time, write away!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – Workshop Part 1

05/13/2011

Today I’m teaching part one of my two-part course for writers, A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.

Learn how to evoke real emotion in memoir or personal essays. Participants are encouraged to bring an assortment of candid photos taken at significant moments in their life to use as inspiration in this interactive workshop. Part I will be mostly instructional/writing. In Part II (Sun @ 9:15), participants can share what they wrote in Part I and get helpful feedback

Checkout this link to see the other informative workshops available today. http://www.pennwriters.org/prod/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=255

For Betty on Mother’s Day

05/08/2011

Monday, September 9, 2002
The following is the eulogy I wrote and presented for my mother. On this Mother’s Day and all the ones to come I think of her and miss her more than I can say. I hope she understands my desire to share this with you today. It’s important that she live on and this one way I can help to make that happen.
********************
September 9, 2002
Good Morning,

For those of you who don’t know who I am, I’ll introduce myself. I’m Bobbi, the second of Betty’s six children.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I started to write what I hope will be a fitting tribute to my mother.

How do you define a life in a span of words? …..I can only try.

At first I tried to honor her life with high praise and lofty words. I struggled and wrote and discarded page after page until finally it hit me, (or was that you, Mom?) that the only way to celebrate her life is to tell it like it is. She wouldn’t want it any other way.

So first, let’s go back in time and see her through her sister’s eyes – Two little girls tussling on the bed when one of Mom’s shoes comes off and flies through the open window and hits their Grandpa Hogan smack on the head. First puzzled, then angry he goes into the house and up to their room only to find them giggling, arms wrapped around one another, hiding under the covers. …… Love and laughter, two sisters clinging to one another.

See her growing up, becoming a beautiful young woman. One who loves to flirt loves to dance, driving the young men wild.

Picture her as a young war bride, alone and waiting for her allotment check. It was always a struggle to make ends meet but she always took a portion of the money to buy something nice for her sister. …… Love and giving, watching out for family, that’s our Mom.

See her as a young mother, cradling her first-born, looking at this miracle with no hint of the future tragedy that will take her beautiful daughter from her.

Watch as she works and struggles to raise six kids. Three girls, three boys, children who will be loved but not coddled as my brother Ed so clearly stated it only a few days ago.

She taught us all so much!
It is through her example that we learned that books can open up a whole new world and that crossword puzzles can expand more than your vocabulary, that some times the only correct answer is to call out your child’s name.

She saw to it that we received a strong foundation in faith, taught us our prayers and sometimes even mistook one of the boys for Jesus Christ.

By providing us with brothers and sisters she taught us to share, to try to get along, to fight for what we believe in, to define our own place in a wide and diversified world, and most of all to protect one another, even if that means two big brothers rescuing a two-stepping sister by her swinging blond pony tail.

She taught us with love and with her own brand of discipline. If a word or “the look” didn’t take care of a problem a well-aimed backhand would ….. and failing that ….there might even be a coke bottle handy.

Can you see her in your mind’s eye now? I can.

Watch her as throughout her life she creates special bonds with people, gathering them to her as she did with her “other daughter”, her niece and Godchild, Dee Dee. I know that going to see a movie will never be quite the same again but I also know that when you do go she will be right there with you, loving every minute ….

Unless of course she has gone dancing with Margaret. How her eyes would light up when you came into the room and how pleased she was with the very idea of stepping out again. One of these days you and Katie will be out and you will spot a rainbow, When you do, stop and do a little dance and know that she is smiling down on both of you, doing a little twist to her very own melody.

Picture her little house and think of how many of us she has taken in over the years for periods of time both long and short, including you Chris, Tiffany, Colleen and Sean, Ed and Laura, as well as visitors like her Cousin Jim who brought her so much joy.

All of her life she worked on her feet, serving people and she did it with style and sass – she did it with love and laughter. – What an amazing woman she is.

It didn’t matter what you called her, it could be Mom, it most certainly could not be Ma. It might be Sis, Auntie, ‘Lisabeth, Betty, Nana, Miss Lizzie, or her own personal favorite, The Matriarch, the end result was the same. She was there for you to tell it like it is, and if you didn’t like it, well you could just, “Kiss it, Kate”.
Picture that one more time and see her smile once again.

We all love you Mom and we know that one day we all be together again, ….. Until then I can only say –
Goodnight Elizabeth.

If You Want to Write

05/03/2011

1. READ  – Novels, Biographies, Books about Sports, signs along the road, read cereal boxes, read plays, read poems. Read  horror and sci fi and romance and mystery. Read blogs and text messages, read on line, use an e-reader or a ratty old book you found under your bed.

2. Learn and use the Rules of Grammar, Punctuation and Form

3. LISTEN- Listen to family stories, listen to music, listen to the news, listen to gossip (don’t repeat it – use it in a story or book or play), listen to little kids and old people. Listen to bird song and crickets. Listen to traffic sounds and hear the life in it. Listen to your dreams and your doubts and make stories out of what you hear.

4. READ - read comic books and graphic novels, read history books and the classics.

5. Write – Write about what you know and what you don’t know. Write about life and death and fish and bubble gum. Write about anything that comes into your head. Some of it will be great – a lot of it will not be great. It doesn’t matter as long as it gets your imagination going. This is how you entice your brain to cut loose with all the imagination stored in there. Let it out and use what you can, store the rest in a file on your computer. You might want it someday.

6. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. They don’t know what you can do. Only you can decide that. As long as you have ideas you can create stories. But you do have to learn the craft as well as the art. SEE RULE 2 AS OFTEN AS NEEDED.

7. READ – read blogs and text messages. Read on line, use a Kindle, fish that ratty old paperback out from under your bed and read it again.

8. Talk to other writers. Join a writers group if there is one near you. If there isn’t start one. 9. Submit  your work to a contest or for publication –FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES – ALL OF THEM.

10. Never give up. There is a place for you in the writing world.

CREATIVE NONFICTION & MEMOIR WRITING Online Course

05/02/2011

INSTRUCTOR: Bobbi Carducci

DATE: June 1 – July 1, 2011 LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.”

- William Shakespeare

Discover proven methods to convey real-life facts and events through story structure and character development with a focus on storytelling, personal essays, and feature writing. In this online course, you will learn:

* How to Begin

* Research

* Turning facts into drama

* Point of View

* Character Development

* How to handle family (What will they say, ethical dilemmas, etc.)

FREE BONUS: Memoir writing tip sheet PLUS the first 10 people to register for the course will receive an autographed copy of the CUP OF COMFORT FOR SISTERS anthology featuring Bobbi Carducci’s creative nonfiction short story, “Changing Currents.”
$79 ($89 non-Pennwriters members) $89 ($99 non-Pennwriters members)

EARLY-BIRD PRICES END SOON!

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Bobbi Carducci is a former senior staff writer for a Washington, D.C. area newspaper and currently writes a monthly book review column for About Families Publications. Her short stories appear in the CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL and CUP OF COMFORT anthologies. Her first book for young readers, STOREE WRYTER GETS A DOG, is scheduled for release in February 2011. Bobbi is a long time member of Pennwriters and is currently on the Pennwriters Board of Directors. She is a frequent speaker at writing conferences and serves as judge for the annual Mom’s Choice and Benjamin Franklin Book Awards. In her capacity as Founder and Director of the Young Voices Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) educational nonprofit established to mentor young writers, she created the Young Voices Awards honoring books that Inspire, Mentor and/or Educate Readers of all ages.

* Subscribe to our Online Courses announcement list for email on our latest workshops!

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PennwritersOnlineCourses

A Note for the Teacher

05/01/2011

I am deeply touched to have received the following note from the parent of one of the student’s in my Saturday morning creative writing class. My students include girls and boys in grades 2-6.

“Ms. Bobbi,

Thank you for teaching this type of class. It goes a long way toward getting the children to think and consider things outside their current reality. My son (name excluded for privacy) has had a tough year being diagnosed with Asberger’s and juvenile diabetes and I am thrilled to see the excitement and enthusiasm for this class and what the class offers.

Thanks again,

(signed by student’s mom)

What more can a teacher ask for? I will never forget this moment or this child.

Anthologies Seeking Submissions

04/29/2011

Chicken Soup for the Soul says:

“We have many Chicken Soup for the Soul® books in development and are adding new titles all of the time. We are always looking for new stories and poems and hope you have some for us to consider. Take a look at the list of our future book topics to see if you have a story or poem on a subject we are looking for and then please submit it to us.

If you have a great story or poem you want to submit but we are not collecting for that topic at this time, please save it and check back with us soon. Our list of Possible Books Topics is added to frequently and hopefully, in the near future, we will add a topic that will be a perfect fit for your story or poem.

We prefer that you submit your stories only once, but if you believe your story fits in more than one book topic, please indicate which other topics you have submitted it for in the Comments line on the submission form. You can submit your story by going to the link at the bottom of the page. Thanks!

Here Are Our Future Topics:

***SELECT YOUR TITLE***

Brides and Weddings
You are engaged! How lucky you are to have found that one person you want to share the rest of your life with. We are looking for stories about this very special experience in your life. From the proposal, to the planning, to actual wedding day events — both touching and hilarious – these stories will capture your heart and your emotions. Stories from the groom or the proud parents would be great too! Please share the memories that were created during this special time in your life. The deadline date for story submissions is April 30, 2011.

Christmas Stories
We are collecting stories for our newest Christmas book. Everyone has special memories and stories to tell about the Christmas season – from inspirational and joyous, to heartwarming and humorous. We want to hear about your special Christmas memories and traditions. Please note: if you have submitted stories to our Christmas books in the past, we have your stories in our database. Please make sure that the stories you are submitting to this book are NEW stories that our editors have not read before. The deadline date for story submissions is June 30, 2011.

Family Caregiver
Do you have a family member who requires constant care? Well, you are not alone. The stories in this book will be written by people caring for a family member who requires their assistance due to a variety of reasons – old age, Alzheimer’s, chronic illness, long-term or permanent physical or mental disabilities. Are you part of the “sandwich” generation – caring for an elderly relative while also raising your children? Or are you the person receiving the care from a family member? We want to hear from you too. These stories will inspire and support family members who are making sacrifices to make sure their loved ones are well cared for, whether in their own homes or elsewhere. The deadline date for story submissions is July 15, 2011.

Find Your Happiness
How have you found happiness in your life? Share your stories about how you found purpose, passion, and joy in your life. Stories can be serious or funny, but definitely inspirational. Attitude adjustments, gratitude, a new way of handling your daily life, major realizations, and other great ideas to inspire readers to find their own paths to happiness would be appropriate. The deadline date for story submissions is May 15, 2011.

Food and Love
There is such a universal connection between food and love – both the romantic kind of love and the comforting kind of love between family members and friends. There is that delectable feeling that certain aromas and tastes stir up in your memory and imagination. We are looking for savory, sweet, sometimes spicy, mouthwatering, succulent, and tasty stories on how food and love together played a flavorful part in your life. You get the idea! These stories will whet your appetite and leave you with a divine aftertaste and a pungent yearning to read more. The deadline date for story submissions is May 15, 2011.

Home Sweet Home
Whether you rent your home or own your home, home is where your heart is. It is your safe place in the world. We are looking for stories about getting your first home, returning to your childhood home, do it yourself repair disasters and successes, downsizing, moving day or any heartwarming or funny stories associated with home. This book will make the perfect housewarming gift. The deadline date for story submissions is August 30, 2011.

Marriage and Married Life
Whether you are newly married or have been married for years and years, the stories in this book will capture your imagination, inspire you, make you laugh and touch your heart. We are looking for stories that will celebrate the commitment two people make when they say their vows. Tell us about your relationship. What makes it work? How did the comfort of your mate guide you through challenging times? What is the most important thing in your relationship? How did you try to change your mate? Did it work?! The deadline date for story submissions is May 30, 2011.

Think Positive for Kids
Where do your children find the inner strength to stay positive in these challenging times? The world today is fast-paced and filled with choices, temptations and challenges. The values that children, ages 7 to 12, learn today will stay with them for the rest of their lives. We are looking for stories that show children how to make good choices… even when no one is looking, respect the needs and feelings of others and focus on hope. The stories will remind kids that each day holds something to be grateful for and show them that they are not alone in dealing with difficult issues. We hope that adults will take the time to read these stories with their children as together you share special times and expand communication. The deadline date for story submissions is December 31, 2011.”

Submit Your Story


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers