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Conviction Fiction

This is my new blog where I will be sharing my current writing projects primarily about strong female characters that persevere and thrive. Look for more news about Carly, a police recruit in Mobile, Alabama, Myra, a midwife living in the Boston Mountains of Arkansas in the1800s, Clara, a Roma grifter stranded in Atlanta, and Helen, a country gal that’s got herself in another fine mess trying to help a sister Pick’n Pay employee.-Lynn

A Blessing Quilt for a Writer

My sister, Kathy, and I on her birthday in 2018.

My sister makes exquisite quilts.

At my pre-launch—I signed a contract for my first book party—she asked my supporters to write words of encouragement for me on pieces of material that she incorporated into a blessing quilt.

I’m holding the quilt in my banner photo. When I think about giving up, I reread the thoughts of my friends and colleagues and preservere. I am thankful for the free webinars, countless hours spent in other writer’s company, and the libraries filled with authors’ books I love to read.

It comes back to why I write. I write to create and express who I am, to be seen, to pass along what I know to be true, to share whatever wisdom I have attained, and to empower others.

The light in me acknowledges the light within you.

Owls Everywhere

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Owl symbols are everywhere I look this holiday season in bathroom plaques, ornaments, and gift ideas for book lovers.

Many ancient people such as the Mayans thought of these animals as harbingers of death or illness.  The Early Christians believed they were symbols of wisdom.

The mighty bird can transverse the darkness of night through increased powers of sight and hearing.

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Do you seek wisdom or gold this Christmas season? Whatever you choose be aware. Looking beyond illusion and deceit has its consequences.

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These photos were copied from the-biblical-meaning-of-owls site. I couldn’t get the link to copy and paste.

Tis The Season

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Photo by Dean Hesse

It’s the season to give based on Saint Nicholas of Myra, an early Christian bishop, who gave secretly to people in need. According to the era, he would’ve worn simple robes of grey or brown, not the flamboyant bright red suit with white fur. The Santa Claus myth evolved and became popular in the late 1800s based on the Saint Nicholas’s good works. Not surprising, the saint looks different in different cultures. He is not always a white male.

One of the books I’m reading is Stillpoint, second edition, by Sheila K.Collins, PHD and Christine Gautreaux, MSW. This book reminds me all of this giving requires saying “yes,” but it is important to say “no” and regain some sanity and joy. Finding stillness in the mist of shopping and preparing for family festivities can be elusive and exhaustion sets in.

When my mother was alive I wanted to please her. She always over did every project, and the holidays were no exceptions. She expected her family members to get onboard, and Christmas was no exception. Besides endless shopping to fill the huge stocking for every child in the Tharp family and your turn to host, there was the live nativity production and Santa Claus’s early visit to the Tharps on the night of their party. A wooden backdrop, lighting, costumes, and music had to transported to the hostess’s house. Santa Claus needed to be chosen and invitations sent out with a list of who would bring what dish to the celebration.

With Tharp children grown and responsible for the celebrations the parties are smaller. The excitement of the extravaganzas are missed, but I don’t miss working shift work at the police department and dealing with holiday upswing in suicides and vehicular deaths, and then racing home to wrap hundreds of gifts to please others who already had plenty.

May you have a happy Christmas and holidays of your own making.

Mindfulness at Thanksgiving

I can’t believe I bought that expensive bread in Avondale, Georgia. I am mindful as I pay over eight dollars a loaf for gluten free-bread at a bakery that I am in the minority of folks that have that option. bread It is for my health because I don’t want to take antibiotics.

I love white potatoes, bread, tomatoes, pasta, and humus etc. All the foods that are acidic. Rice bread versus wheat bread is alkaline. Beets, yucca, kale, purple-skinned vegetables like eggplant are alkaline. I am doing better about eating the right stuff and drinking cold water instead of  my almost caffeine-free sweet iced tea and coffee, but it’s difficult. I feel deprived. In answer to my whining, I can hear my ancestors say, “How would you like to have only a potato to share between you and your Scottish brothers and sisters?”

Second Option: Does anybody have an easy recipe for gluten-free bread that actually has a palatable taste and texture?

Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit by Amy Stewart

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This historical novel was a freebie given to me by the author at the 2018 Bouchercon Literary Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida. The protagonist is based on New Jersey’s first female deputy sheriff in the early ninetieth century. The Kopp sisters, Constance, Norma, and Fleurette, were real people. Constance developed a probationary system for women and fought for equal justice for women in a time when men could put their wives in a mental institutions on a whim. Sheriff Heath was a brave man who valued fairness above public sentiment and championed Constance’s causes.

Rarely, do I read a book where the author gets it right about what it like to be a female officer. No matter what the century, women are still breaking down barriers and providing vital law enforcement services to their communities. Please read more about the amazing strides women in law enforcement are making at International Association of Women Police. https://iawppublic.wildapricot.org.

For more information about the Kopp Sister Series go to amystewart.com.

The Vampire Effect Applies

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The narrator in Sacred Fount by Henry James, published in 1901, applies the theory that as one party to a relationship gains, either physically or intellectually, the other loses, is drained by the “sacrificer” until depleted; thus, the vampire effect. The characters in any story about obsession would fit into this framework. Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is an extreme example where a painting takes on the ugliness of the evil doer.

My character, J.C. Gray, in Well of Rage, was in part named after Wilde’s character to symbolize the deterioration of his soul throughout the novel.

The literary term “The Vampire Effect” is new to me. In my attempts to research I run into marketing studies using this principle. Did you know a celebrity could distract from a product unless the consumer makes a connection between the personality and the object? Angelina Jolie might distract if the product is a guitar. Elvis might benefit the ad in the initial noticing phase, but might not stamp it in the consumer’s mind.

How does this apply to learning and memory? I’m listening to an audio book about learning Basic Russian by Simon & Schuster’s Pimsleur. My character, Roman, in my Stranded In Atlanta manuscript is Russian, and I want to listen to the cadence. Maybe pick up a few words for the manuscript.

The introductory remarks before the lessons start stress the need to repeat the words out loud–no writing down the words–and to use the audio cd classes in sequence as I, the student, gradually gains approximately an 80% retention rate before continuing another lesson. The reinforcement in each lesson along with how often, where, and when I’m  reinforced is crucial. Too soon or too late and retention is lost. It makes me feel a bit like a laboratory rat.

With mind control and mind altering drugs, the vampire effect lives on in the military complex and pharmaceutical companies and in the hands of the men and women who control them. With that happy remark I leave you to ponder if fiction is real…another  academic question posed by Henry James.

Hometown Spook Light

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Recently, I revisited my research on the spook light phenomenon in southwestern Missouri because I wanted to share a scary story based on some truth and folklore at a book signing. My mother told a story about seeing a headless miner in the area with a lantern walking down the road toward her and Erma, her BFF, when they were teenagers. According to other legends, people have contributed the headless man to a confederate soldier, or an Osage chief who were away at war and decapitated. When their spirit returned home, they found their wife and children murdered and lost to them. Therefore, the headless man continued to search for his head and/or his loved ones.

Another story recounted young First Nation lovers who were forbidden to marry and to avoid capture and separation, they jumped off a cliff into Spring River to their deaths. In oral tradition the bouncing lights appeared in 1836 after the lovers killed themselves. In 1881 the story was documented in a publication, The Ozark Spook Light. Scientists have studied the orbs as they bounced and changed colors and size, and disappeared and reappeared on the road known by locals as the devil’s promenade, a four-mile gravel road between Quapaw, Oklahoma and the hamlet of Hornet, Missouri, or the nearby and better know town of Joplin, Missouri.

After many years of investigation, scientists and the Army Corp. of Engineers still can’t explain the lights that fluctuate in size from a baseball to a basketball. Especially, as Halloween approaches, I prefer to believe the truths woven within the local lore. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

http://www.joplinmo.org/575/The-Spook-Light

Who Drew SunBonnet Sue?

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Primers and quilts go together to me. The SunBonnet Sue drawings have quite a history, and quilts are on my mind as the air grows cooler in the mornings. I’m thankful to the women who made the quilts in collaboration with other women and passed them on to me. I am reminded a formal art education and making a living in the nineteen century wasn’t acceptable for women.

Poet Catherine (Kate) Greenway published illustrations in newspapers of children that influenced Bertha Louis Corbett’s SunBonnet Babies–Molly and May–in her 1900, self-published book. The Overall Boys–Jack and Joe–were created in collaboration with Eulalie Osgood Grover who wrote the stories in the primers. Whether Bertha’s mother suggested covering the faces of children with hats, or Bertha came up with the idea to hide her deficiency in drawing faces, we will never know. The absence of a face spoke to me of the way a Victorian woman may have felt in an era of restrictions.

Besides the collectible school primers written with Long Ess and antique quilts, the Royal Bayreuth set of china figures depicts Molly and May in a different activity for each day of the week.

The photo below shows a quilt square from my great-grandmother’s handmade SunBonnet Sue quilt. Each woman in my family has a repaired framed square. This object I treasure.

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After The Performance Glow

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For some people the endorphins kick in and the high lasts for a couple of days after a performance. For me my body’s engine keeps running while I am physically and mentally exhausted. My sleep patterns and eating patterns are minimized. I am ravenous, but nothing satisfies until I solve the next gap in the work. The extreme focus of rehearsal, the act of performing, and then the critiquing process afterward takes days and days for me to recover from. I feel depressed, and at the same time elated about the accomplishment. I find it next to impossible to concentrate on a new project the next day, especially a scheduled project meeting with the goal of polishing my latest manuscript.

When the meeting ended, I escaped to my home into my bedroom with the door shut behind me, and regrouped for several hours.

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I will avoid this self-defeating pattern. I definitely need to rest.

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