You Know You’re Older When…

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A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories Book 1) – The first novel in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries Book 1) – a full-length, cozy mystery by Annie Acorn.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Those of you who follow this blog know that I’ve been known to write from the viewpoint of a tired older woman. The date of my birth is approaching the point where it’s reasonable to assume it will soon attain that revered status of a national day of mourning. This past week, though, I felt even older as my birthday approached.

Where did this past year actually go? Personally, I will always refer to 2014 as the year that wasn’t. If anyone finds it, please return by certified mail. After all, we wouldn’t want to lose it again.

As I had done a couple of years ago in You Know You Are Older, I decided to sit down and, once again, analyze what was making me feel so much older. The following is what I came up with this time:

You Know You’re Older When…

Your mother always reached for Mercurochrome when you cut yourself.

You Know You’re Older When…

All your friends had bubble lights on their Christmas trees.

You Know You’re Older When…

You remember the first commercial, passenger jet planes.

You Know You’re Older When…

Mucilage was your glue of choice as a child.

You Know You’re Older When…

You watched a lady in a starched apron place the first foil tent over a roasting turkey on television.

You Know You’re Older When…

You and all of your friends wore girdles to high school.

You Know You’re Older When…

You remember the Beach Boys as boys.

You Know You’re Older When…

The clerk in the shoe store x-rayed your feet to make sure that your shoes fit.

You Know You’re Older When…

The number of petticoats worn under your dress mattered.

You Know You’re Older When…

You wore pleated skirts as a matter of course.

You Know You’re Older When…

You went to bed every night wearing metal curlers held in place by a net and lace cap.

You Know You’re Older When…

You wore organdy pinafores over your puffed-sleeved dresses, when you played with your friends as a child.

You Know You’re Older When…

It was one of your chores to tune the television to the test pattern.

You Know You’re Older When…

You remember when there were only three networks on television.

You Know You’re Older When…

You spent an hour each day on penmanship in grade school.

You Know You’re Older When

3.5% butter fat in the milk served to you at grade school was considered to be a good thing.

You Know You’re Older When…

You were born in the same year that the original film version of The Secret Garden debuted.

You Know You’re Older When…

Watching the Perry Como Christmas special was one of your childhood traditions.

You Know You’re Older When…

You remember presidential elections before they included formal, televised debates.

You Know You’re Older When…

You flew on Eastern Airlines.

You Know You’re Older When…

You read Burma Shave signs along the highway to pass the time on family trips.

You Know You’re Older When…

You wore an original mini-skirt.

You Know You’re Older When…

You seriously considered purchasing a paper dress.

You Know You’re Older When…

You wore a circle skirt with a poodle appliqued on it to grade school.

You Know You’re Older When…

You wore a bonded material, A-line dress to your bridal shower.

You Know You’re Older When…

None of the girls in your high school had pierced ears.

You Know You’re Older When…

You served Tab to school friends and felt cutting-edge sophisticated.

You Know You’re Older When…

Every Sunday evening meant watching Walter Cronkite host The Twentieth Century.

You Know You’re Older When…

You received most of your news from the Huntley-Brinkley Report.

You Know You’re Older When…

You grew up middle class and your clothes were washed in a wringer machine.

You Know You’re Older When…

One of your chores was to iron your school clothes.

You Know You’re Older When…

You remember a time before interstates.

You Know You’re Older When…

You remember a time before cruise control.

You Know You’re Older When…

You grew up middle class and your family’s car didn’t have air conditioning.

You Know You’re Older When…

You received a smallpox vaccination as a baby and again before leaving for college.

You Know You’re Older When…

You’ve survived three types of measles, the mumps, and the chickenpox.

You Know You’re Older When…

You remember aspirin before it was coated.

You Know You’re Older When…

You remember a time before gelcaps.

You Know You’re Older When…

You remember a time before gift bags, unless they were made of brown paper.

You Know You’re Older When…

You watched the Tonight Show before it was hosted by Johnny Carson.

You Know You’re Older When…

You remember Charlie Brown’s baby shower.

You Know You’re Older When…

Truman was president when you were born.

You Know You’re Older When…

All your high school friends were considered to be cool because they knew how to jitterbug, waltz, foxtrot, cha cha, and do the twist.

Well, I’d better close. It’s time for me to check my mailbox for my lost year that one of you may have already found and sent me certified!

I live in hope…

Annie Acorn

A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! – by Annie Acorn

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries Book 1) – by Annie Acorn

NOTE: Author is NOT responsible for anything the main character says!

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Luna Lake Cabins: The First Year (Luna Lake Cabins Stories Book 5) – a collection of stories by Annie Acorn, all filled with the magic of love.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

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A 2014 Christmas Gift to YOU!

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A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories Book 1) – The first novel in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries Book 1) – a full-length, cozy mystery by Annie Acorn.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Once again, my friends, we have reached that part of the year, during which family and traditions rule supreme!

Back before time, when I was a child, Christmas was celebrated much differently than it is today.  The season was shorter, decorations were simpler, and small things meant more than bigger ones.

Even so, the Christmases I remember from my childhood were a step beyond those celebrated by the generation before mine.  As a treat for those of you who enjoy stories of the ‘old days,’ we at Annie Acorn Publishing, LLC, have published on our website the Christmas memoirs of two such individuals, who were both born and raised in Indiana many years ago.  It is my pleasure to introduce you to them on my own website as well.

So, prepare a warm drink, put together a small plate of Christmas goodies, settle into a comfy chair by the fire, and prepare to enjoy a good read as you enjoy:

Patrick Family Christmas Memories and The Lancaster Christmas Celebration

In addition, my friend and fellow AAPub author Ron Shaw and I have shared memories of special Georgia Christmases that we each experienced – our/my gifts to YOU!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Annie Acorn

A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! – by Annie Acorn

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries Book 1) – by Annie Acorn

NOTE: Author is NOT responsible for anything the main character says!

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Love’s Third Chance (Luna Lake Cabins Stories Book 1) – A romantic novelette by Annie Acorn.

Also available on Amazon UK and iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

 

 

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The Halloween Clock

A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories Book 1) – The first novel in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries Book 1) – a full-length, cozy mystery by Annie Acorn.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

It’s FALL, and here in the mid-Atlantic, we’ll enjoy a proper one. You know, one that lasts longer than the two days that are allotted to both spring and fall in the Deep South, where I have spent most of my days here on this planet.

Those who get to know me well soon discover that this is my favorite season of the year. The wind lifting my hair, a hint of coming winter in the air, red and gold raining down from tree limbs overhead as fattened squirrels run amongst fallen leaves blowing along the ground – each one sends my spirits higher, ever more than the one before.

And then, there are the holidays, stacked one upon the other, but first, one must pass through the magic portal – Halloween – a night of witches, goblins, and unseen other things.

As a child, this first fall holiday was a single sliver of fear in an otherwise calm and tranquil world – my earliest memory of this emotion formed by a collage of several things, all imprinting on my memory in the year that I was five.

It all started with the clock…

In my mind, my younger sister and I have been taken to visit my great-grandmother, blinded as a child by the high fever caused by her contracting measles and scarlet fever all at once.

Each time we are taken to Grandma Zachary’s four room home with dust motes floating in the dim light coming through its tiny windows and its huge black heating stove, my sister clutches at my hand as our great-grandmother feels our faces with cold, dry fingers so as to ‘see’ us.

This time, though, there is a difference. Merely by coincidence, the large, black, mantel clock behind us booms its death knoll, just as this regimen begins.

My sister jerks beside me, her arm passing round my waist as I stand tall, not wishing to hurt Grandma Zachary’s feelings. Still, a tingle runs along my spine, and the tick-tock of the golden pendulum on which a farmer leans against a fence grows louder in my mind.

Tick-tock, tick-TOCK, TICK-TOCK! He sends his message towards us.

We only visit a few minutes, before we return to the bright sunshine without and seek our great-grandfather where he sits beneath a spreading Catawba tree, a white enamel dishpan filled with hen and chicken plants resting at his feet – snatches of memory embedded in my brain.

It is he who bought the clock – a gift for his blind wife, the deep tone with which it strikes the quarter hours loud enough for her to hear the time throughout their cottage and into the yard.

Other frightening things occur within a few days of one another this fall.

I’m introduced to the Wicked Witch of the West for the first time, and she haunts my dreams for weeks. Years later, my husband will watch the Wizard of Oz with our sons, so that they won’t sense my lingering discomfort.

My sister and I are taken to a Halloween event that’s held at a small strip of neighborhood stores we know well, but this darkened night they’ve been transformed – their windows painted with life-sized scarecrows, carved pumpkins leering forth through backlit eyes, and an incongruous boy who sticks his tongue out. Mimes hand out candy to the strolling crowd, and to this day, a mime gives me the shivers. Both of us grip our father’s hands and drag him home.

Still, it is the tick-tock of the clock that lingers in my soul the longest, perhaps the passage of Time the scariest thing of all.

Years pass, and I become ill. A diagnosis is difficult to determine, and yet, I feel the pain – unrelenting, claiming me. Knowing I am losing ground, at thirty-four I write letters to friends and family, telling them how much I’ve cared, and for some reason unexplained, I mention in my letter to my uncle that, if I should survive, someday I would like to have great-grandmother Zachary’s clock.

A miracle occurs – a surgery cures me, and my request is long forgotten. My uncle ages and must come to live nearby. One day, he turns to me and says, “It’s time you took the clock.”

So, now it sits on a credenza behind my chair, its death knoll tolling not yet for me, as I find its ticking the minutes by to be somehow comforting. Awakening in the night, I lie and listen in the dark for its tones to tell me where we both stand as we wait to greet the light of dawn.

My friend tells me it is a Christmas clock – the gold features on its sides resembling the Jacob Marley doorknob in a televised version of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, but I know better.

It is a Halloween clock, this one, for it was owned those many years ago by one who lived only in the dark.

Happy Halloween!

Annie

A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! – by Annie Acorn

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries Book 1) – by Annie Acorn

NOTE: Author is NOT responsible for anything the main character says!

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Annie Acorn’s 2014 Christmas Treasury (Annie Acorn’s Christmas Anthologies) – edited by Annie Acorn

Also available in print and for Nook, Kobo, and iTunes.

Captain’s Point Stories Box Set – The first box set in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit series written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

This set contains the first three novels of the Captain’s Point series – A Clue for Adrianna, A Man for Susan and Love’s Journey as well as the Christmas short story A Christmas Kiss.

The set is available on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

 

 

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Riding the Walkersville Southern Railroad

A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories Book 1) – The first novel in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries Book 1) – a full-length, cozy mystery by Annie Acorn.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

All of my life, I’ve been fascinated by train travel. I came by this honestly, as visits to my maternal grandmother’s house were peppered by trains passing along the Monon Railroad tracks that ran a half block behind her house, the motion of their wheels creating a melodic rhythm that lulled us to sleep each night.

Afternoons, weather permitting, my sisters and I would spread a quilt beneath the large maple that held pride of place on the back corner of what we referred to as The Lot.

Here, we impatiently awaited the lowered gates and flashing lights that announced the afternoon train’s approach. Then, in no time at all, the dark cookie-cutter cars began passing slowly before our eyes.

My younger sisters carefully counted each one, but I paid special attention to vignettes glimpsed through the different windows – a couple leaning towards one another in conversation as they dined, a child held up in his father’s lap so that he could watch us as we watched him – each one a story to my developing writer’s mind.

Over the years, I have enjoyed many railroad journeys, first as a young mother and the last as a widow, each its own special memory.

Given my history, it was no wonder I was thrilled to learn that Sister #3 had arranged a dinner excursion on the historic Walkersville Southern Railroad for forty of our extended family members and dear friends.

During the day on the eagerly awaited Saturday, it had rained, but as I drove to join my sister and her husband, the sun peaked through the clouds, illuminating leaves already turned red and gold, a few drifting towards the ground.

As our small group approached Walkersville, Maryland, the clouds melted away, and a single hot air balloon appeared to be floating towards the sun that was itself heading towards the horizon.

I had never been to Walkersville and was delighted to find it comprised of neat Victorian homes, most embellished with either bright red geraniums or fall-colored chrysanthemums. The outer walls of the tiny train station wore a coating of soft yellow, and across the street, bright orange pumpkins were arranged for sale in front of the local Feed & Seed.

Gradually, other guests arrived until, finally, our full group of forty was assembled, enjoying a gentle breeze as we waited for the signal to board.

Inside the dining car, comfortable chairs greeted us at cloth-covered tables, and once we were all seated, the train’s whistle announced our departure for a two hour ride through rural Maryland.

Iced tea and lemonade were served, followed quickly by bowls of Tomato Florentine soup. Next came crisp salads and warm dinner rolls.

One table over and up, three of my smaller nieces pointed excitedly as we passed beside a large pasture filled with black and white cows, some of whom lumbered in our direction to catch a better look at us. Tree limbs filled with fall-colored leaves waved at us in the breeze, and we passed over a small river, its calm surface reflecting the evening sky.

The main course was served and enjoyed, the train came to a halt and then proceeded to move backwards, past the station, and approximately the same distance in the opposite direction as we enjoyed yellow marble cake smeared with a thick layer of chocolate icing, accompanied by coffee or hot tea.

Outside the dining car’s windows, light glowing from occasional farmhouses added interest to the darkened world that now passed by.

Too quickly, our two hours were over – four train related quizzes with prizes, a beautiful sunset, and rounds of convivial conversation now behind us.

Station lights illuminated our way back to our cars, and we said our goodbyes – some to friends who had traveled from North Carolina to join us.

Sister #3’s eyes shone as she shared that, while she had often ridden in the Metro to downtown D.C., she had never before traveled on a more traditional train – now a dream come true, and as we headed southwards towards home, I marveled that the four of us sisters had now come full circle.

Once, we had been restricted to sitting on our quilt beneath Grandmother’s maple, watching other travelers as they passed. This evening, we had all shared a special train trip together. I couldn’t have written a better ending to our story if I’d tried.

Annie Acorn

A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! – by Annie Acorn

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries Book 1) – by Annie Acorn

NOTE: Author is NOT responsible for anything the main character says!

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Captain’s Point Stories Box Set – The first box set in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit series written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

This set contains the first three novels of the Captain’s Point series – A Clue for Adrianna, A Man for Susan and Love’s Journey as well as the Christmas short story A Christmas Kiss.

The set is available on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

 

 

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Cover Reveal – Annie Acorn’s 2014 Christmas Treasury

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I’m so excited about Angel Nichol’s cover for this year’s Annie Acorn’s 2014 Christmas Treasury.  Warm and inviting, it’s a true reflection of the novelettes and stories that are contained within.

Working with the gals of From Women’s Pens to create each years anthology is one of the joys of my life, and I treasure each new story as I read it for the first time and think of YOU!

- Annie

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Kitchen Gadgets

A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories) – The first novel in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) – a full-length, cozy mystery by Annie Acorn.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Okay, I admit it. I’m addicted to three things:  books, chocolate and gadgets.

Books have been an integral part of my life ever since I played with a cloth volume that sported pinking-sheared edges while still in my cradle.  To this day, I cast my eye around for colorful spines, whenever I enter a room, and believe me, my home is full of them.

Chocolate, too, has been a constant companion from the homemade chocolate syrup made by my maternal grandmother to the fudge Mom whipped up Sunday evenings to go with my father’s popcorn.  Now, of course, my tastes have expanded to encompass such favorites as Lindts and Tobler and Godiva.

A book, though, will only be read so many times in a lifetime, and once eaten, a piece of chocolate connects itself to one’s hip, perhaps permanently, in a very obnoxious way.

On the other hand, gadgets are special friends, providing service as they ease burdens and give pleasure.  The three I remember most fondly resided in kitchens.

True, my definition of a gadget may be a bit broader than that used by most folks.  To me, a gadget is anything used to make my life easier.

Most dictionaries confine their definitions to a mechanical contrivance.  I counter that one should be generous and include a few special memories of items still associated with those held dear.

For instance, both of my grandmothers cooked meat in what I view as oversized gadgets.

My paternal grandmother baked her Sunday beef in an early version of what resembled a crock pot on steroids.  Four times the size of its modern cousins, its outside wall was comprised of a creamy yellow oval with a shiny black top.

Plugged into the wall and sitting on a small table, it held pride of place in her kitchen and kept her oven clear for golden Yorkshire puddings.  When Grandma’s table oven, as she called it, was turned on, you were in for a treat.

When my maternal grandmother cooked a roast, we all ran and took cover, primarily because our mother was scared, but whether she was more concerned for herself or her children, I still couldn’t tell you.

Whichever it was, it really didn’t matter.  The call still went out to seek a safe haven the moment Grandma’s pressure cooker was removed from its cabinet.

From afar, we breathed in rich aromas that wafted forth as my grandmother wrestled the beast into submission in much the same way as an experienced trainer controls a terrifying tiger.  In the end, the meat was delicious.

Not to be outdone, my mother had her own kitchen gadget that was used to prepare meat, although hers was rarely used except for one of our birthdays.

A heavy metal meat grinder that clamped onto the edge of a table top or a kitchen counter, this weighty monster was critical to the preparation of Spam salad, but watch out!  Drop even one little part of it on your toe, and you would hobble around for a month or four.

“But wait!”  You hold up your hand, aghast.  “Did you say Spam salad sandwiches for your birthdays?”

“Yes,” I reply with a sigh of longing.  “Don’t knock it, if you’ve never tried it.”

The recipe is quite simple, and in this day and age, you can dispense with the meat grinder and use a much tamer food processor.

The following directions are for a single batch.  I would suggest you make two.  Women in my family usually process each ingredient separately and then mix them together in a large bowl.

Soooo…

Birthday Spam Salad

Grind/process and mix together:

1 can of original Spam

4 boiled eggs

1 small, preferably Vidalia onion

Add to this:

3-4 Tables. sweet pickle relish

Enough mayonnaise to hold it all together.

Chill through and serve on hamburger buns.

Yes, that’s right.  I said hamburger buns.  You’ll get used to it, and since a food processor is so convenient, you won’t even have to wait for your birthday.

Just watch out for your fingers!

Enjoy!

Annie Acorn

A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! – by Annie Acorn

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries) – by Annie Acorn

NOTE: Author is NOT responsible for anything the main character says!

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Captain’s Point Stories Box Set – The first box set in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit series written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

This set contains the first three novels of the Captain’s Point series – A Clue for Adrianna, A Man for Susan and Love’s Journey as well as the Christmas short story A Christmas Kiss.

The set is available on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

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Too Much Snow

A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories) The first novel in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) a full-length, cozy mystery by Annie Acorn.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

It was my first time to fly from D.C. to Seattle.  It would be my first Christmas with Son #2 and his new wife.  It was my first stretch of vacation time in quite a while.

The best daughter-in-law in the world had booked reservations at the Needle and a special excursion to Victoria, B.C. for her mother and me to enjoy on our own while I was visiting.  We would be staying at the Empress Hotel and would visit the world famous Butchart Gardens. I couldn’t have been looking more forward to both of these treats if I had been twins.

It was cold in D.C. on the day I was scheduled to take off from Baltimore – bitter cold with small snowflakes and occasional tiny pellets of ice sharing the air. An hour before my sister collected me for the drive to the airport I received a phone call from Son #2.

“It’s been snowing here for two days,” he told me.  “The streets are a mess, and I don’t have chains.  Would you mind taking a cab from the airport?”

“No problem,” I assured him.  “Just pray that I make my connection at Midway in Chicago.”

Always an optimistic traveler, my first understanding that the snow might really cause trouble didn’t occur until the plane for the first leg of my flight had taken off from BWI around two in the afternoon and the woman next to me shared her story.

Heading for Chicago, she had boarded a plane in Detroit at seven that morning.  Due to icy runway conditions, her flight had been redirected to Baltimore for some reason that neither of us accomplished businesswomen could quite fathom.

Frustrated, she pointed out that if the airline had explained the situation before takeoff, she would’ve rented a car and already arrived at her daughter’s.  Instead, here we were, heading to exactly the same place, which the Weather Channel was reporting on the airport televisions currently was experiencing the exact same conditions as this morning.

Grateful that I would be changing planes in Midway and not O’Hare, I settled in for what proved to be an uneventful flight, but then we touched down.  Due to weather delays being experienced here, there and everywhere, the gate where we were supposed to park was still being utilized by an earlier flight, and we would have to wait on the runway until that plane received its fill of fuel.

Not to worry, I told myself, I had an hour and a half in which to make my connection, and I did – with about ten seconds to spare.  Still, the good news was that I had made it into the next can of sardines, along with a lovely woman who I judged to be in her mid-thirties and was now seated next to me.

“Are you heading home to Seattle or going there for a visit?” I attempted to strike up a conversation.

“I’ve been visiting my parents here in Chicago, and I’m heading home,” the woman explained, but then she retained eye contact in a way that made me think there was more, so I remained silent as the lights in the plane dimmed prior for takeoff into what was now a night sky.

Perhaps it was because I was so much older than her.  Perhaps it was because, in the dim light, it was easy to believe we were the only two people in the world.  Whatever it was, she took a deep breath and continued.

“My father has liver cancer,” she shared, “and I’ve been flying back and forth to Chicago every third week since he was diagnosed.  We’ve been told that my next visit will probably be my last with him.”

“I lost my mother to cancer in 2005, and my father to cancer just last year,” I filled her in.

“What can I do to help my mother get through this?” she asked, her beautiful dark eyes sparkling with tears.

“Be there for her, first and foremost,” I began, once again glad that I had given my husband’s death purpose many years earlier by learning how to counsel others in grief, as I proceeded to give her what I hoped she would find to be helpful pointers.

And so, we talked on during much of the longer leg of my flight as she shared concerns and I shared experiences as well as lessons learned.  Finally, our common bond now exhausted, she attempted to get some work done on a small laptop and I covered myself with my coat and dozed off.

A while later, the stewardess woke me with her reminder to everyone that the pilot had turned the seatbelt lights back on.  As we taxied our way along the runway towards SeaTac a few minutes later, the younger woman thanked me again for my shared insights.

“It helped to get some of it off my chest,” she said, “but most of all, I’ll be better able to concentrate on being a wife and mother during the next couple of days.”

Older and slower, I took my time retrieving my carryon bag and lost sight of her, only to find her waiting for me at the end of the ramp.

“Do you need a ride to your son’s?” she asked once I reached her side.

“I’m taking a cab, which should work out fine,” I assured her, not surprised when she gave me a hug.

“I hope you have a wonderful visit and a merry Christmas,” she said.  “I’m very grateful that I sat down next to you.”

I did manage to get a cab, but not before I had waited in a long line.  Unaccustomed to snow, Seattle was a mess the cab driver shared with me gleefully before he began pointing out noted landmarks as we made our way to my son’s condo.

Two hours late, I finally arrived at my destination – stiff, hungry and tired, to be greeted by warm hugs and a delicious pasta supper.

The next day it snowed.  Still, my son and I made our way by cab to the famed Pike’s Market area where we enjoyed a nice lunch and I bought some small gift items to take back for my sisters and friends.

That night it continued to snow, and I realized the next morning that I had yet to see Mt. Rainier, the volcano that looms over Seattle on a clear day.  This intrigued my writer’s imagination no end as I considered how skewed our realities could sometimes be, limited as they are by our five senses.

The dozen roses I had ordered through the internet for my DIL had yet to arrive.

We never made it to the Needle as the restaurant’s staff was no longer able to get to work.  Undeterred, the next day Son #2 declared himself able to get his mother-in-law and me to the dock where we would catch the ferry for Victoria.

Sliding our way downhill towards Puget Sound, I managed to convince him to turn his car right, park and let us out.  The three of us then hauled our suitcases through over a foot of snow as we made our way along the next three blocks and across several train tracks to the dock.

Twenty minutes out, the ferry suddenly slowed almost to a stop as the captain suggested we look over the starboard side of the boat where a huge group of orca whales were swimming, the cold temperatures having drawn them much nearer the city than was normal.  Since it is possible to search for orcas all day and never see one, this was amazing!

Arriving in Victoria, we discovered that the cabs there had virtually disappeared since this city, blessed by the nearness of warm currents off the coast, did not boast a snowplow if several natives were to be believed.

Luckily, the Empress Hotel was actually within sight, and my companion and I made our way there.  I can’t say enough good about this hotel.  From the warm greeting you receive upon your arrival to their famous cream tea to the fine dining to the lounge on the concierge floor, my stay there was wonderful and one I hope to repeat someday soon.

As for Butchart Gardens, I can’t comment.   Our tour bus did arrive at the hotel, slid along ice-covered roads and dropped us off at the welcome center.  The paths, though, were a mess, so my DIL’s mother and I settled for drinking hot chocolate and enjoying a warm scone while we watched the ice skaters.  Next time I visit Victoria, I plan to do so in the spring.

The following morning, I breakfasted in the concierge floor’s lounge as I watched a family of otters work hard to maintain a breathing hole in the ice-covered bay seen from the window next to my table, even as small sea planes landed further from the shore.

Upon our return, we found Seattle bracing for yet another round of the white stuff.  Still, after a bus ride and a short hike, we managed to gather at my DIL’s sister’s home for a Christmas dinner that proved to be a true feast as it morphed the Russian, Anglo-Saxon and Asian heritages represented by our gathered family members into a whole.

The dozen roses had still failed to appear, even though the tracking number with which I had been provided clearly documented their arrival in Seattle two days before.

Woefully short of snowplows in the numbers required to deal with this quantity of snow, Seattle’s streets became silent as snow continued to fall.  Blessed with plenty of food and full power, the television became our best friend as my new daughter-in-law and I discovered a shared love for both Jane Austen and Colin Firth.

Understandably, when we informed Son#2 that we had finally exhausted his wife’s supply of PBS Jane Austen dvds, he let out a loud whoop as my DIL slid her copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary into the player.  As his mother, I almost felt sorry for him.

And so we passed the time for three more days – visiting, watching TV, visiting, eating, visiting, enjoying a movie, visiting and taking naps – as the Weather Channel kept us posted as to the fact that snow was still falling outside our windows.

The roses I had ordered my DIL had still not arrived, so I told her about their sad plight, suggesting that she throw them away upon arrival as they must now be a sorry sight.

My departure day arrived and, miraculously, the snow stopped falling.  According to reports, my change of planes in Chicago would be doable.

After hugs all around, I was dropped off at SeaTac where I had plenty of time before boarding.  For a large airport, I found it to be easy to navigate and filled with more interesting shops than in most other airports.

The winds were not in our favor, and upon our arrival at Midway, other passengers were asked to allow those of us attempting to catch my next flight off first.  The boarding gate was next to the one into which we entered, so we lined up with our fellow passengers per usual.

Upon arrival at BWI, those of us who had made the change were advised that, while we had made it onto the plane, our luggage hadn’t.  My sister joining me at precisely this moment, I ended up third from the end of the line formed for us to arrange for baggage delivery to our homes.

Just as I earned my turn at the counter, the attendant’s phone rang.  “One minute please,” he requested and then answered it.

The call was to advise the desk that our luggage had arrived and was being processed, the airline having sent it from Chicago to Baltimore on a flight by itself.  Ten minutes later, we were loading my suitcases into my sister’s trunk.

The next day, my DIL called.  The roses had arrived, and all but one of them appeared to be in great shape.

So is there a moral to my story?  Absolutely!

Winter travel comes with weather risks, so prepare to be flexible.  Being with your family is the best part of any Christmas.  Sometimes, the end of the line is the best spot in which to be.  Long-stemmed, red roses are much more hardy than you would think.

And last, but certainly not least, you never know when circumstances will put you in a position where you and you alone can truly be there for another, so keep your eyes open as we enter the new year!

Annie Acorn

A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! by Annie Acorn

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

NOTE: Author is NOT responsible for anything the main character says!

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Captain’s Point Stories Box Set The first box set in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit series written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

This set contains the first three novels of the Captain’s Point series – A Clue for Adrianna, A Man for Susan and Love’s Journey as well as the Christmas short story A Christmas Kiss.

The set is available on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

 

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Still Thankful

A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories) The first novel in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

A Man for Susan (Captain’s Point Stories) The second novel in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) a full-length, cozy mystery by Annie Acorn.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

The year was 1994, and Thanksgiving was fast approaching – the first one since my husband’s death the previous January.  In June, Son #1 had bought his first house and moved out.  In September, Son #2 had left for college in Auburn.

Both of the boys would, of course, rejoin me for turkey and dressing, but the chair at the other end of the table from mine would remain empty, I thought, as another small piece of my still fragile heart chipped away.  What in the world could I do to lighten this burden?

And then, it hit me.  Two of Son #2’s suite mates at Auburn came from places far enough away that they might not be able to return home for only a few days.  This being the pre-cell phone era, I phoned my son’s dorm room and left a message.

Later that evening, I received a callback.  One of the suite mates was a definite.  The other one hadn’t been seen to ask yet.  Oh, and could he ask two more boys who lived in the room across the hall?

Taking a quick inventory of the sleeping potential of our home, I agreed.  The sad atmosphere that had surrounded me in the house for too many months stating it loud and clear – this was a time when the more the merrier would ring true.

Three trips to the grocery store, four pies, two cakes, several dozen cookies and a case of salty snacks later, I believed that I had amassed enough provisions to see six healthy young males and myself through one day.  Patrick, the black dachshund/cocker spaniel mix with whom I daily played me and my shadow, merely shook his head sadly at my naiveté.

Late Wednesday evening, the first contingent arrived – Son #1 would come first thing in the morning and the other suite mate had yet to be located.

“I’m worried about Spud,” Son #2 said.

“Has there been any sign of him?” I asked, thinking that we might need to notify his parents that he was missing.

“Sure.”  My son began popping corn.  “He’s created two new piles of dirty laundry just since Monday.”

“Well, in that case…”  I pasted on a reasonably bright smile.  “Why don’t you try calling his room early in the morning?  With everyone else gone, you might catch him sleeping in.”

“Good idea.”  A second round of popcorn replaced the first, which now displaced about ten percent of the open space in an oversized metal bowl that my son was obviously bent on filling.

Now, don’t ask me why, but every Thanksgiving of my life, I’ve risen from my bed early, looking forward to preparing completely from scratch dressing and stuffing it into the turkey.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered Son #2 already up, showered, and on the phone – evidence of a large breakfast having been consumed spread before him on the table.

“Take your time,” he was saying.  “We won’t eat until around one.”

“Spud?” I asked once he’d hung up.

“You got it.”  He began loading the dishwasher with what appeared to be the remnants of sixteen or seventeen full dinners.

The next several hours passed in a blur as I molded well into the role of short order cook, while at the same time managing to prepare the bird of the day.  Macy’s Parade passed across the TV screen in the family room, and announcers filled the room with tidbits about upcoming bowl games to a moment or two of hushed silence.  The house filled with mixed aromas as I prepared a cinnamon-laced raisin cake and basted the turkey.

Finally, the kitchen filled with young men eager for a first glimpse.  I opened the oven door and stepped aside, as Son #2 lifted the turkey and its pan from the oven and placed the whole on a counter.

Then the doorbell rang.

“Spud…”  The name was spoken reverently aloud around the room as Son #2 hurried to welcome his friend.

Carefully, Son #1 transferred the perfectly cooked bird onto a waiting meat platter, and I moved forward to enhance its presentation with a bit of garnish.  Suddenly, I felt a whoosh of movement behind me and then a pair of strong arms encircled my knees.

“Will you marry me?” Spud’s youthful tenor sang forth his plea.  “That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!”

Needless to say, the boy was asked back every year until he graduated as I continued to fill the void left in our house by the loss of my husband with youthful energy, forward thinking and optimism.

Did Son #2’s college friends benefit from the experience?  Sure, but so did my sons and me as, especially that first Thanksgiving after our loss, it was brought home to us clearly that while things would never be quite the same, there was still much for which we could be thankful.

So, as you and your family prepare for your Thanksgiving together, look around you for those who may find themselves quite alone, or if you’re the one alone, find some other, similar folks and you all get together.  Thanksgiving is one holiday that always tastes best when it’s shared!

Annie Acorn

A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! by Annie Acorn

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

NOTE: Author is NOT responsible for anything the main character says!

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Annie Acorn’s 2013 Christmas Treasury (Annie Acorn’s Christmas Anthologies)  edited and stories by Annie Acorn

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

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Want To Be A Successful Author

A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories) The first novel in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

A Man for Susan (Captain’s Point Stories) The second novel in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) a full-length, cozy mystery by Annie Acorn.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Once again, NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – has arrived.  Everywhere I look I see aspiring writers and accomplished authors committing to writing their hearts out in an effort to attain the Holy Grail of the written word – a completed novel.

Some will zoom across the finish line in what for them is a record time.  Others will start, and the beginnings of a work in progress that shows promise will end up in a drawer.  Sadly, many with real dreams and genuine talent will never even get started.

Many decades ago, I picked up my first pencil and applied it to a piece of paper, at first able to create nothing more than unrelated marks on the page.  Then my great-aunt showed me how to guide my efforts and produce an O, followed by a T and then by an I.

Gradually, the letters became words, the words became sentences, and the sentences were discovered by me to have taken up residence between the covers of books.  As I learned to read, I memorized, finally spending hours copying my favorite stories onto clean pages of my own, like a mini female version of a long ago monk.  Soon, though, this exercise no longer satisfied for obvious reasons.

I wished to write a story of my own, and, like you, I had to learn how to do it.  For more decades than I’m going to share, I have made my living from written words that were committed to the page – first from my pen, then on a typewriter and, eventually, through a keyboard.

I have written advertising copy, marketing tools, training documents, survey instruments, grant requests, insurance reports, business plans, magazine articles, contracts, newspaper columns, and government agency reports that would finally make their way, all or in part, to Congress.

Along the way, I became a professional user of Track Changes as I became accomplished at editing technical, nonfiction and fictional works – this necessitated by the need for my own writing to become the best it could be, so that I could successfully write the fiction that I loved to read.

Over time, I have written short pieces, short stories, memoirs, novelettes, novellas and novels – all of them widely read, evidenced by the money I have received for them.

I have also used my writing skills in one form or another, while managing all six of the businesses I have owned.  Make no mistake about it.  A successful author is by definition a business owner, especially in today’s publishing world.

In an effort to better market my own work, I embraced social media, especially Twitter where, much to my surprise, my followers soon numbered in the thousands – many of them listing aspiring writer in their bio.  Gradually, I began receiving requests for everything from one small tip to editorial input on completed manuscripts.

Being only one person, I sought to stem the tide by tweeting out a few tried and true writing tips.  Soon my followers – God bless them each and every one! – were asking for even more.  Now I have decided to write occasional posts aimed at passing on what one lone author has learned over a lifetime.

Do I know everything that there is to know about writing?  Absolutely not!  No one does.  Each and every day I learn something new – often from a beginning writer who has reviewed the processes involved with a fresh eye.  Hopefully, you will find what I intend to offer over the coming months useful, whether you are still aspiring or already accomplished.  After all, none of us knows everything, right?

Want to be a successful author?

The first step along your road to success, as trite as it sounds, is to read, read and read some more, and if you’re an already accomplished author, it never hurts to go back and read again.  Before you can become a writer, you must know who you are as a reader.  Then and only then will you have some sense of the type of story you will enjoy writing.  This is important because, if you aren’t passionate about your work in progress, then no one else will be – not now, not ever.

What kinds of books appeal to you – mysteries, science fiction, romances, or nonfiction?  What is it that draws you to this genre over that one?  Is it the puzzle, imaginative details, or inherent suspense?  Whatever has drawn you to a particular type of book, be sure to incorporate it into your own work in a balanced way as you begin writing – just don’t hit your readers over the head with it.

Ask yourself which books that you’ve read are you keeping and which ones have you passed on to others?  At this point you should have a fair idea of the genre(s) you prefer to read and for which you could be passionate about writing.

Now go back and reread some of your favorites.  How did the greats do it?  Why did they choose to use this word and not that one?  How did they structure their book as they introduced key components?   Can you identify how they showed you as opposed to telling you what was going on?  What made their characters memorable and three dimensional as opposed to flat on the page?

Learn to read as if you’re taking a course, and you’ll end up way ahead of the pack.  Now, don’t just sit there.  Get started!

In a couple of weeks, I will begin to outline for you exactly what will be required of you as you journey towards fulfilling your goal of becoming a successful author.  Don’t waste your time, if you aren’t committed enough to stand firm in the face of these insights!

Becoming a successful author isn’t easy, but then those things that are worthwhile to achieve rarely are.  There will, though, be a whole string of us lined up to greet you at the finish line.

Best wishes

Annie Acorn

A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! by Annie Acorn

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

NOTE: Author is NOT responsible for anything the main character says!

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Annie Acorn’s 2013 Christmas Treasury (Annie Acorn’s Christmas Anthologies) edited and stories by Annie Acorn

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Posted in Writing Success | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Heading South Again

A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories) The first novel in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

A Man for Susan (Captain’s Point Stories) The second novel in the Captain’s Point series.  A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) a full-length, cozy mystery by Annie Acorn

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Once again, I find myself heading south to Birmingham, Alabama to visit with Son #1 and author Peggy Teel (@peggyteel).  It’s 2:40 in the afternoon, and to say that it’s already been a long day would be one of the World’s Greatest Understatements.  It’s been a long week, and in some ways, a long month.  There are those who would allow me a long year.

With a sigh, I drop into a semi-comfortable café chair situated in a balcony area that overlooks my departure gate and affords me a clear view across the runways that stretch beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows across the open space below.

To get here, I have already survived cleaning my condo, so that it will receive me in style upon my return.  I have survived the first hair cut by a new stylist, having been forced to make a change after ten years with my previous one – a woman who refused to have absolutely necessary cataract surgery and still believed that I would pay her top dollar for the worst haircuts in the world.  I have survived the discovery that while it would be in the fifties and sixties in the D.C. area during my absence, it would be in the seventies in Birmingham during my visit, thus denying me the simple pleasure of short-sleeve sweater weather.

I have survived the awkward moment when I realized I own fewer outfits than I need that fall in the nebulous category between business casual and acceptable for wear only in private, this when I will be staying with Peggy, who is a true southern lady in all the best ways and, therefore, is never seen in anything that isn’t perfect for whatever occasion and who never sports a hair out of place.

I have survived the realization that even though I barely own any appropriate clothes, I still need to take four pairs of shoes to go with them, as well as the depressing fact that I really needed the assistance of a 6’4” alpha male if I were to have any chance of closing my suitcase.  (“Where are Chase, Jack and Larry when I need them?” asks the @CharlotteKent20 side of me.)

I have survived the fact that no one could drive me to the airport until my elderly neighbor and her jewel of a sister-in-law offered to fill in the breach, the only problem being that I would have to be left at the airport a full three hours prior to my flight’s takeoff, since 92-year-old Mom had to be picked up in a timely fashion from Senior Care.

I have survived the buses that refused to drop below 25 miles per hour in the lanes between the passenger drop-off point and the outdoor check-in gate, this despite the signs clearly stating that, as a pedestrian, I had the right of way.  I have survived the dreaded security check that last time took me an hour due to a Code Orange terrorism alert and this time took me only five minutes, even though the government that’s housed only a few miles along the road is about to shut down.

I will survive the three hour wait time before boarding, probably in much the same way that I already have – by writing.  Love’s Journey, Book #3 in my romantic women’s fiction/family saga Captain’s Point series is already calling to me, and I will satisfy its needs for my attention just as soon as I finish writing to you.

And then, a warm, friendly voice filled with the rich cadence that can only come from a Deep South accent will call me, and I will board.  My footsteps will lighten, my heartbeat will slow, and I may embarrass myself for a moment by doing a happy dance in the plane’s aisle before taking my seat.

Because at the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of the month and, yes, even at the end of what has been a long year filled with hard work, I will be heading towards Son #1, the best hostess I know, and the place that still feels like home!

Annie Acorn

A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! by Annie Acorn

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

NOTE: Author is NOT responsible for anything the main character says!

Also available in print on iTunes and for Nook and Kobo.

When to Remain Silent (Annie Acorn’s Kindle Short Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

Also available for NOOK!

A Stranger Comes to Town (Annie Acorn’s Kindle Short Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

Also available for NOOK!

The Young Executive (Annie Acorn’s Kindle Short Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

Also available for NOOK!

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