Answers To Eleven Key Questions

ATOW-AV_HEAD

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.

Many of you already know that @JulietteHill1 and I collaborate as @CharlotteKent20 in the writing of the Captain’s Point romantic women’s fiction, family saga series.  In September of 2013, the two of us were each honored by receiving invitations from Rosie Amber and Stephanie Hurt to do an interview for the #RomancingSeptember 2013 blog tour.

Being a reasonably controlled and contained individual, Juliette kept her answers short and to the point, thereby delivering a blog entry that was appropriately long.  Intrigued by all eleven questions asked, the answers I provided were much more in depth and more thoroughly reflected my thoughts, feelings and ingrained habits.

Rosie (God Bless Her!) dealt beautifully with the overflow, trimming my replies down to the basic nuts and bolts.  Both interviews were posted, and the response pleased Juliette and me immensely.

Since then, though, Juliette has repeatedly expressed her desire that I publish my responses in full, so that other writers/authors would have the benefit of what she claims are helpful reams of information and opinion, without which the literary world will have trouble existing. 

So, in response to this popular demand of one, you will find below the completely unabridged version of my responses to the #RomancingSeptember blog tour questions that were asked of me.

My hope is that, whether you are a multi-published author, possible collaborative partner, hopeful writer or interested reader, you will find this expanded version interesting and helpful.

I should probably add a disclaimer stating that my opinions do not necessarily agree with those of the other authors whose works are published by Annie Acorn Publishing LLC, although I would lay money on a table in Vegas stating that they probably do. 

Reference: A Man for Susan (See Above)

Rosie –

1) Hi Annie, yesterday we met one half of the writing name Charlotte Kent, today we are welcoming you to the blog, please tell everyone how you came to join with Juliette to form Charlotte Kent.

We at Annie Acorn Publishing LLC are very lucky to have Juliette Hill as one of our authors, her specialty being the romance genre.  On January 10, 2013, she and I were discussing how best to organize her efforts during the coming year, and I suggested she attempt a romance series.

In an effort to inspire her, I outlined the basis for a mystery series that I had carried around in my mind for over twenty years.  The series was supposed to be set in a Victorian home in a Midwestern small town with a blonde-haired, blue-eyed heroine, and I thought the basic premise would work just as well for a romance series.

The more I talked, the more excited I got about the project.  In the end, we decided to collaborate.  I committed to writing 1000 forward moving words per day on the current Captain’s Point work in progress, I would then phone Juliette, read the words to her, revise/edit per her input on the spot and so forth.  She would also be primarily responsible for all copyediting and public relations.

For the initial, set-up book, Juliette would provide descriptive passages, write the letters we felt would be needed in the text and make other contributions, including such necessary writerly things as setting up @CharlotteKent20, writing the press release and arranging blog tours, etc.  This worked well, since by definition the initial book could only handle one basic story line that would be wrapped in the necessary introduction to the town of Captain’s Point and many of its primary residents.

The minute I began writing, I knew we were in trouble, because Adrianna refused to be blonde and blue-eyed, demanding to be dark-haired and dark-eyed, was on her way to the eastern shore of Maryland and had bonded with a fellow passenger on the plane, who Juliette and I knew nothing about.  The house had morphed considerably and contained more characters we had not envisioned.  In the end, Juliette and I agreed it would be best if we merely went with the flow, since we could hardly do otherwise.

2) A Man for Susan is the second book in the “Captain’s Point” series, how many books are planned for the series?

The simple answer to this question is who knows?

As I was working on A Clue for Adrianna, text for other books in the series kept coming to me, inevitably at 2:00 a.m. in the morning.  I would dutifully sacrifice my sleep, get up and record these word jewels that eventually morphed into what Juliette and I named as the main storylines for A Man for Susan and two other books we titled Love’s Surprise and I Love You, Baby!

By the time A Clue for Adrianna was completed, I had already written over 10,000 words of A Man for Susan, over 5,000 words of Love’s Surprise, and the entire Adrianna storyline for I Love You, Baby!  Additionally, I had identified a fourth storyline pertaining to Susan’s love interest that I knew for sure would be appearing in book #8 in the series, although I couldn’t for the life of me have told you why.  I should point out here that Juliette was, as always, kind and patient with me throughout and managed to keep any thoughts she may have had in regards to my overall sanity to herself.

Then we completed A Man for Susan, and I began serious work on Love’s Surprise.  We now had a fairly large cast of characters, all of whom our readers have indicated they want to know more about as they follow their lives/romances forward.  Juliette and I had originally envisioned Love’s Surprise as completing the arch of a third couple’s relationship over a period of months, but once again, the characters had other ideas, particularly the newly married ones.

A few chapters into the work, I contacted Juliette and advised her that I had no problem writing the book we had intended, but it would run to approximately 160,000 words.  Being a reasonable person, Juliette suggested that we divide the work into two volumes, the first one – what will now be the third volume in the series – being titled Love’s Journey with Love’s Surprise now filling the fourth book position and I Love You, Baby! being the fifth.  Oddly, I continued to see the additional storyline about Susan’s love interest as appearing in book #8.

I have already suggested to Juliette that we may have a need for another book to go between Love’s Surprise and I Love You, Baby!, and she has agreed, although I’m concerned that she may just be humoring me in an effort to keep me from losing it altogether.  We have a tentative title of Love’s Second Chance.  Yes, the additional storyline will still appear in book #8, although I can’t tell you why.

3) In this book Adrianna sets out to find a man for her friend, that’s quite a controversial issue, how long did it take for you both to agree on the plot?

Two seconds.

Frankly, we didn’t have much choice in the matter.  Adrianna had set her mind on doing so, it was completely in line with her character, and way down deep inside, Susan wanted a man for herself anyway.  It appeared to be win/win/win, so we went with it.

4) When you share writing a book, do each of you have a special role?

Yes, but I would point out that when you’re doing a series the way we are, it morphs.  I outlined our roles for the A Clue for Adrianna in my answer to #1, but as the series has progressed, I have continued to do the basic writing for the primary storyline, while Juliette has taken on responsibility for secondary storylines (Arthur and Edwina in A Man for Susan) and did the initial write through on our soon to be released Captain’s Point Christmas short, A Christmas Kiss.  It is quite possible that in a future book/story our roles will be reversed.

Other series writers have worked quite differently, though.  For instance, the writing cousins who worked collaboratively under the pseudonym of Ellery Queen divided in another way.  One wrote the basic storyline almost like a screenplay, and the other filled in the descriptions and moved the characters from here to there as the story progressed, if memory serves me correctly.

5) I’m glad you have worked humour into you book.  I like a book that makes me laugh.  Many people find writing humour extremely hard, does it come easilyy to you both? Or are you like a pair of comediennes where one of you is the straight man?

Over the years, I have developed a fair reputation as a humorist, although it is not something that I actively intended to do.  Truthfully, I was not aware that there was a fair amount of humor in A Clue for Adrianna until I read the whole book from start to finish, once the writing was completed.  In point of fact, the chapter where Adrianna digs up the bottle that contains locks of hair is quite funny, and I surprised myself by laughing out loud when I reread it.

In A Man for Susan, humor is even more evident, especially in the Chase and Adrianna storyline, but think about it.  Here we have a young, newly married couple on their honeymoon, who are bubbling over with happiness.  They are both intelligent, fun loving people, and Chase is relaxed and free of a heavy burden he has carried for years.  Chapter three set the stage for this storyline going forward to be lighthearted and fun.  Chase and Larry will certainly continue to banter with one another throughout the series as lifelong friends do and have already included Jack in their inner circle.  Susan is probably right.  Part of them will never grow up.

On the other hand, though, I don’t think you can force humor.  It has to happen naturally as it would in everyday situations.  Good humor also relies on very clean copy and excellent timing.

Juliette claims she has no sense of humor at all, but I disagree.

6) How steamy is the romance in this book? What age range have you marketed the book at?

Captain’s Point Stories is not an erotica series.  With the advent of A Man for Susan, though, we now have a young, married couple who are certainly going to be spending a good bit of their honeymoon in bed.  By Love’s Journey we have two such couples, and the numbers will surely grow as the series continues.

Readers can expect situations in which lovemaking between consenting adults begins to develop, whereupon there will be a brief fade, followed by either a humorous or what Juliette and I hope is a deeply moving moment.  We are marketing the series as General Adult.  As for a rendition of explicit details, knowledgeable readers can let their imaginations fly in whatever directions they wish.  This is in line with the overall offerings presented by Annie Acorn Publishing LLC as well.

7) Have you heard of the new marketing bracket for books N/A (New Adult) do you think there was a need for it?

I have heard of it, certainly.  I would suppose that, for those who use this nomenclature to search for titles they believe will be more to their liking, there is a perceived need.  The problem with new marketing brackets is that they tend to be devised by authors and the reality is that book sellers, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iTunes, don’t tend to offer the categories as choices to those of us who are uploading content onto their sites.  Additionally, these ‘Big Four’ venues vary widely as to the categories they do offer.

8) You’ve published your books through your own company “Annie Acorn Publishing” do you specialize in certain genres?

We currently have offerings available from a number of authors in the romance, mystery, nonfiction (health, weight loss and finance), anthology, children’s literature and Christian genres, although it is not our intention to limit ourselves to just these.  For instance, we are currently working towards epublication of a well-received book of poems titled Know Alabama, authored by award-winning poet Peggy Teel, for whom we have already published a number of works including her mystery Niki Knows the Dirt written as Denise Hays and her Christian inspirational God and Grandma written under her own name.  A complete listing of our publications as they stand at the time of an individual book’s launch appears in the back of each book.

9) You’re a very busy woman, how long did it take to write and then edit “A Man for Susan”? Could you advise a working time ratio for writers from starting writing to publication?

Now, this is a trick question.  As previously stated, I had unintentionally written 10,000 words of A Man for Susan by the time A Clue for Adrianna was ready for publication.  A Man for Susan comes in at just over 80,000 words, and it was published two months after A Clue for Adrianna.

On the other hand, I worked on my cozy mystery, Chocolate Can Kill, on and off for over twenty years – occasionally tossing it aside as worthless for as many as five years.  Eventually, it became a Malice Domestic Contest finalist under another title and achieved a sales ranking of 12 on the Barnes and Noble website approximately ten weeks after its publication.  Hopefully, this is a sign that I got it right in the end.

Is Chocolate Can Kill a better book than A Man for Susan?  Am I more proud of the former than the latter?  In point of fact, both of them are well-written and edited and provide good entertainment to my readership, based on their reader feedback.  It took me a long time to be satisfied with Chocolate Can Kill because I had to become a good editor in order to become a good writer.  On the other hand, I don’t believe I will ever be any more satisfied as to my having my achieved my goal as an author than I am with both Susan’s love story in A Man for Susan and Chase and Adrianna’s storyline in I Love You, Baby!

Any committed author can write a full-length book.  You simply state that you will write a set amount of forward words per day on the manuscript and follow through on this commitment until you have completed the story.  The trick is for the story to say something that will capture readers’ imaginations.

From my perspective, there are three things that contribute heavily to success in this area:

1).  Write about both what you know and are passionate about

2).  Edit well, and

3).  Always, always, always listen to your characters.

I can’t tell you how many times a writer has come to me completely blocked, and all I had to do to help them move forward was show them where they took over the story and forced their character(s) to do something that was completely against who they were.

I will add two more pieces of advice that I have tweeted out as @Annie_Acorn.  One, the minute you begin to write your character’s dialogue for them, you have killed your character.  Two, you write with your heart and your gut.  You edit with your mind.  The minute you begin to rewrite with your mind as part of what should be the editing process, you destroy the heart and soul of your work.  Think about it…

10) Can you tell fans the title of the next book in the series and its estimated publication date? (I’m hoping there is one!)

Juliette and I are both confident at this point that Love’s Journey will be the third full-length volume in the Captain’s Point Stories series.  The writing on this book is about half finished.  We anticipate publication will occur sometime during the fall of 2013.  The cover has already been designed by @Angel_Nichols, who designs all of Annie Acorn Publishing LLC’s books, and approved.

I will give your readers a sneak preview by confirming that, yes, Kate Sinclair will return to Captain’s Point and will be the center of the new storyline.  The man she is pursuing?  Now, that would be telling.  Suffice it to say that it is someone readers of A Clue for Adrianna and A Man for Susan will have already met.

Stephanie –

Annie, here is my part of the blog tour. Rosie is doing her interview part and my part is to get to know what the author thinks. The question that I am asking is simple. What’s your biggest challenge writing romance in today’s society?

What an interesting question!  From my perspective, the biggest challenge isn’t in the writing of the romance.  I imagine writing a quality romance that will spark a readers’ imagination is much the same today as it was for Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer – two of the early greats.  One could make a case that there are more subgenres today, ranging from sweet to erotica, but once you’ve identified your genre, then all you have to do as an author is stay true to your choice and your readers’ expectations.  Oh, and write a really great story!

The real challenge for romance writers today is the marketing.  Major outlets for romances such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iTunes vary widely in the categories they offer to indies and publishers such as Annie Acorn Publishing LLC.  This can mean that while you as an author are secure in how you would categorize your work, it may prove to be difficult to denote this to possible readers as they search for your masterpiece on these venues’ websites.

Two other marketing challenges are also making it much harder to achieve real success with a romance, particularly a stand alone volume as opposed to a sequential work in a series.

The first is the sheer number of romances that are now available in the marketplace.  Here’s an example, when I published my cozy mystery Chocolate Can Kill, if you searched under Nook books/mysteries/women’s sleuths on the Barnes and Noble website, you would have found approximately 190 pages of volumes from which to choose.  When A Man for Susan was published as a romance just a little over a year later, a similar search would have provided a possible reader with over 1200 pages of volumes from which to choose.  The pages for Chocolate Can Kill had risen to 236.  The mystery genre is not tiny, but the romance genre is HUGE!

The second is the advent of free books for ereaders.  I have several friends who read romances almost exclusively.  They have individually shared with me that our Captain’s Point Stories romances are the ONLY ONES they have paid for since the advent of free offerings, and they did so only because they knew me personally.  True, they tell me, these free books often include erotica they don’t want, bad edits, poor storylines and fewer total pages, but they are willing to sort through the chaff to reach the wheat when the books are free.

As an author, I am deeply concerned about the trend towards free books.  Because I was eating, sleeping, indeed living in Captain’s Point in my head while writing A Man for Susan, Juliette and I were able to bring it to publication in a little over two months, thanks to her additions to the text and copyediting along as I wrote.  Still, even though I was running on 3-4 hours sleep per night much of time, it took the two of us a fair amount of time working all out in multiple directions to bring a quality, full-length volume to publication.

Believe me, since we rely on our literary endeavors for our incomes, both Juliette and I want to be paid for our efforts, especially as we continue to produce more and more books in the series.  I expect this is the ultimate goal of most of the authors who are offering their books for free as well.  I suspect that many of them see ‘free’ as the only way to get their name known.

In point of fact, I have read many blog posts written amongst my 10,000+ Twitter followers, most of whom are authors, in which the writers state that their sales had in fact been growing slowly, but steadily.  Then they offered their book for free and a gazillion copies were downloaded to folks who were by definition potential purchasers.  As soon as they returned to charging for the book, their sales dropped to their former level and again continued to climb slowly, but steadily – the only problem being that they had now lost a gazillion potential purchasers and the time during which the book was offered for free from that continuing growth.

I like to point out at times like these that the turtle did win the race over the hare, and there are other ways to get your name out there – primarily Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook and wonderful blogs like Rosie’s and yours.  Yes, such aspects of an author’s work are not as exciting as others, but once you have invested the time and built your readership base, if you offer your readers a consistent level of quality entertainment going forward, your efforts will be continuously rewarded over the long term.

In closing –

I wish to thank Rosie Amber and Stephanie Hurt once again for including my thoughts in the #RomancingSeptember 2013 blog tour and for all of the hard work that went into the production of this multiple time zone, across the Great Pond endeavor.  Who knows?  The next Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer may have been inspired, mentored and/or taught something new as a result of their efforts.

As always, I welcome your comments because it is you who inspire me.  If you’re an author, teach me something new.  I’ll be grateful.  If you are a writer, who is still learning our craft, I hope you have learned something helpful.  If you are a reader, then I say, “Thank you!”  After all, without readers, authors would cease to exist.

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.

Snowbound for Christmas and Other Stories (Annie Acorn’s Christmas Book 1) by Annie Acorn

Also available in Print and Large 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.

 

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Three Miracles

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 and on 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 and for Nook and Kobo!

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

Also available in print and for Nook and Kobo!

As I do every June, this past weekend I flew from the D.C. area to my old stomping grounds in Birmingham, Alabama, to visit Son #1 and to meet with Peggy Teel, Angel Nichols and Sheila Lawrence of From Women’s Pens.  This particular trip is always planned around the Birmingham Area Writers’ Group’s summer writing retreat.  Spending serious time side-by-side with Angel (@Angel_Nichols) is an additional bonus because, in addition to being a very talented writer, she is a very accomplished, multi-degreed graphic cover designer and, as such, has the contract to exclusively design all the covers for books published by Annie Acorn Publishing LLC.

Sister #3 had graciously offered to drive me to BWI, and I managed to pack and be ready to go on time – a miracle of inefficiency producing a desired result, as those who know me well will attest.

Some time later, the second miracle presented itself at the outside check-in desk when my suitcase weighed in at less than Southwest’s fifty pound limit.  After all, as anyone who is anyone knows, a female author MUST travel with both books and shoes – not necessarily in that order – and these two items tend to weigh in – lots.

Boarding pass and ID in hand, I proceeded innocently to Security where I took my place in line.  Now, Baltimore isn’t exactly D.C., but it’s close enough to have its share of orange security alerts, so I stood and stood and stood some more.  The line was long enough to have earned a Disney theme park entrance at its end, but sadly there was only a stern-faced, older woman who thankfully did not attempt to crack a smile.  If she had, I swear, her face would have shattered right there in front of me from the strain.

One hour after having been dropped off at the curb, I finally made it through the screening machine, retrieved my life savings and computer full of important-to-me word docs., crammed my now swollen feet from having stood so long into my tennis shoes and plodded towards a fast food counter, where I purchased a banana and a bottled water for close to the same amount that I cough up every month or so in order to fill my compact car’s gas tank.

The special inflight earplugs that are a necessity when I fly having completely dropped from sight in all drugstores and groceries in the D.C. area, I then moved on to a newsstand, which appeared to have cornered the market on these vital items, and emptied my purse of an amount of money sufficient in size to have bought a large home in a third world country, in order to buy a box of said plugs that would take care of one round-trip in the air.

Finally arriving at my departure gate, my purse now substantially lighter, I discovered that all the computer seats, as I refer to them, were taken and pulled out my Kindle, so that I could spend my remaining minutes before boarding enjoying the delightful Heart Marks the Spot by Susan Jean Ricci.  Five stars to this one, folks.  It’s a jewel!  Not that I was surprised.  I adore her Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems.

Then the third miracle of the day occurred, somewhere to my left a microphone was turned on and the voice of a young man, whose mother had obviously raised him right and taught him to speak Southern well, announced that my flight was now ready to board. I handed over my boarding pass and breezed along the ramp onto the plane and into a whole different world.

“How are y’all today?” The pert flight attendant asked as we passed, the second attendant to her left greeting us with a welcoming smile that included her eyes – neither of their faces in any danger whatsoever of shattering.

I chose a window seat, slid Baby as I call my small travel computer under the seat in front of me with my now diminished purse, fastened my seat belt and prepared for takeoff, something I usually dread.  A few minutes later, the plane’s engines sprang to life, and we separated from the ramp, only to come to a stop a few feet away.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” the voice of the captain came to us, his accent soft and slow.  “Some turkey has decided that we can’t leave without a new tow bar.  I’m going to give the guy a few seconds if that’s alright with y’all.”

“As long as they’ve fed and readied the squirrels,” I joked with the fragile looking, elderly woman from Trussville who was sitting beside me.

“And have given them a shot of Jack Daniels in their water dishes,” she added, knowingly – a twinkle in her eye, her accent the rich, lyrical song of a native of the area just southwest of Dothan.

In that second, I relaxed.  This flight, I now knew would be okay.  I already had one foot back home in the Deep South.

The needed tow bar having been located and stowed wherever such items are stored, we were cleared for takeoff, taxied smoothly along the runway and lifted gently skyward, gaining height and leveling off with an ease that inspired confidence.

The sky presented itself as a deep blue, here and there fluffy white clouds waved as we past, and my heart lifted even higher than the plane that was carrying me.  Passengers around me chatted gaily, laughter ruled, and a group of thirty teenagers, who had come to D.C. as guests of a rural Alabama electric cooperative of some sort, sang songs and entertained us from the back rows.

As often happens when southerners get together, a spontaneous party had morphed into full swing, and the two hour flight, complete with snacks and drinks, literally flew by.  (Sorry, y’all, but I couldn’t help myself on that verb choice – appropriate, don’t y’all think?)

The captain having insured that no one was inconvenienced by making up the initially lost time, we were brought down to earth with a soft landing that rivaled that given by a young mother laying her newborn in a cradle.

“We want to thank, y’all for coming with us today,” the Alabama crew who were getting off the plane, too, grinned at each of us as we took our leave.  “Y’all have a great stay in Birmingham.”

Peggy Teel (@peggyteel), a quintessential Southern lady and a hoot to boot, was waiting for me in the pickup lane and immediately headed us towards the nearest Jim & Nick’s, understanding completely the gnawing need within experienced by anyone who has spent a full year in the barren wasteland of the mid-Atlantic for a full plate of pulled pork barbecue with collard greens, homemade mac and cheese, and cheesy corn muffins on the side, please.

Replenished and refueled, I was then whisked to her beautiful home, where I knew I would be treated like a queen for the next four days.  Everywhere we went we were greeted by folks who smiled with their whole faces, a willingness to please and, of course, a large, ice-filled glass of sweet tea.

We stayed up late, drank wine, added to our number as first Angel and then Sheila joined us, shared innermost thoughts and feelings, laughed and cried.  We went to bed way later than any of us were used to and got up at the crack of dawn.  We ate huge meals, skipped others in the midst of intense bouts of creativity and snacked on fresh fruit, homemade snack mix, brownies, cookies and, of course, chocolate.  All of us left Peggy’s home relaxed, happy and content.

And then, Son #2 picked me up for a final breakfast together – you know the drill – eggs, bacon, ham, hash browns, grits, pancakes, sausage gravy and the biscuits you can only get in the South – all washed down with a VERY large glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice.  Finally, he rolled me out of his car and onto the curb, gently guiding me towards the outside check-in where a personable young man sent me an understanding smile filled with kindness.

“Enjoy your stay, ma’am?” the pleasant stranger asked, avoiding any mention of how much lighter my return suitcase was sans books brought for the ladies.  “Y’all be sure and come back now.”

Inside, I stood in security for ten minutes, the inspectors joking pleasantly with us soon-to-be-boarding passengers, even as they kept careful eyes on us.  I sit now at my flight’s gate, waiting to board.  This time dreading not the flight, but instead the walk along the ramp that I know will take me back to that other distant world.  The one so devoid of fully smiling faces, sweet tea and slow, languid drawls.

Happy travels, y’all!

Annie Acorn

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

Also available in print and for Nook and Kobo!

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries) a romcom mystery by Annie Acorn.

Also available in print 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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Now That Dad Is Gone

A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories) A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn and Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent

Also available in print and for Nook and Kobo!

A Man for Susan (Captain’s Point Stories) A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn and Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) a cozy mystery by Annie Acorn

Also available for NOOK!

Like most little girls in the fifties, I grew up knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that my father was a hallowed being, due privileges of rank and respect far beyond those called for by the women who surrounded him.

An only child, his own father had succumbed to a heart attack when Dad was twelve.  My paternal grandmother and great-aunt, having been born and raised in Victorian England, immediately cast him in the role of man of the house.  My mother told me once that she knew she was in trouble when she found my great-aunt listening at the bottom of a staircase for the sound of my father’s first footstep of the day, because that was when the table would be set for the family’s breakfast.

In point of fact, Dad wasn’t a demanding person, quite the contrary.  He merely stated his preferences, and miraculously, the women who always surrounded him in life – mother, aunt, wife, daughters always made it so.  Hollywood would have cast him as a mild-mannered British vicar.  Tall, lean, with dark hair and eyes, he could be imposing in a suit, but he never used it to his advantage.

Everyone liked him.  He conversed easily with the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.  His shade tree mechanic worshiped him.  The Captain of the boat on which we rode as tourists to Ship Island off the coast of Mississippi said he’d never met anyone more interested in deep sea fishing – this about a man who didn’t even own a rod and reel.

As a young man, golf was his sport and provided income during the lean years of his high school days, when he made good money to help with household expenses caddying for others – the tables turning during his grad school tenure at Ohio State when a teenaged Jack Nicklaus caddied for him one fine day.

He studied hard and was awarded a full scholarship to Wabash College, where he majored in chemistry and earned a Phi Beta Kappa key.  Skipping the master’s program, he went straight to work towards a PhD at Ohio State, where a professor gave him a B+ solely because he didn’t believe anyone should receive straight A’s.

And then he married my mom and fathered four daughters…

I am the oldest of the four, and as far as I know, none of us was ever made to feel “less” because of our sex.  I was taken on my first college tour when I was six, it being assumed that a full education was in my future.  He took on the responsibility for teaching me French every Wednesday evening when I was nine, so that I would be ready to pass the language requirements. Years later, when our roles were almost reversed, he delighted in our watching together Maigret mysteries filmed in this language without using the subtitles, his memory still sharp.

Although not a trained musician himself, Dad loved classical music and bought season tickets each year to the symphony concerts held in our town.  Mother preferred a good theater excursion, so often I accompanied my father, dressed in my Sunday school finest, told as we left the house together each time that he hoped I would remember to act as nice as I looked because everyone could always strive to do better.  To this day, WETA classical radio plays throughout the day in my home, and the arts and music to which he introduced me run through my books, especially those written by me as Charlotte Kent in my Captain’s Point series.

Dad’s scientific papers were presented at international conferences and copies were ordered from behind the Iron Curtain when you could still hear the gates clanging shut.  He produced environmental impact studies for Nuclear Regulatory and testified when permissions to build nuclear power plants were being requested.  He flew in helicopters over the Mojave Desert and went down uranium mine shafts.    He wore a badge each day to the Oak Ridge National Labs that tracked the radiation to which he was being exposed – these badges proving years later that his work had indeed resulted in the cancers that would kill him.

He tutored high school students who didn’t have knowledgeable fathers of their own and welcomed interns each summer to work under him, including a president of Grambling State University, an historically black college, this man being himself a chemist.  When Dad agreed to drive to Louisiana and lecture during the turbulent civil rights era, his cohort and friend locked him in the Student Union building to keep him safe, although my father was never quite sure from whom, everyone having welcomed him warmly.

He was not able to ever successfully tutor me, completely unable to accept that his verbal offspring could not easily understand either chemistry or physics.  Years later, though, retired and sometimes bored, he read and reread Chocolate Can Kill, using his technical writing skills to help me make it the best manuscript it could be.

Woe to those who didn’t obey his rules, for the punishment he meted out was brutal.  “You will sit here until you can act like a lady,” he would say, and there you would sit on the couch next to him, knowing that you had disappointed.

How long would it take for one to be able to act this way?  One never knew as the minutes stretched.  Finally, he would ask, “Do you think that now you can do it?”

Struck mute, I would nod my head in the affirmative, slinking to my room in shame once released, hoping that if I would stay out of sight for a while my misconduct would be forgotten, and miraculously, when I would allow myself back into the world as I knew it, it always had been.

Father’s Day is now for me a little sad.  When you’ve had one of the best, their loss is felt all the more.

Now that Dad is gone, looking back at all the things he accomplished and all that he did, the real wonder to me is that, somehow, he managed to remain throughout the fifty plus years we had together the larger-than-life Daddy I revered so much as a little girl – untarnished and undiminished.

I love you, Dad!

Annie Acorn

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

Also available in print and for NOOK!

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries)

Also available in print and for NOOK!

 

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After My Husband Died

A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories) A romantic women’s fiction novel written by Annie Acorn and Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent

Also available in print and for Nook and Kobo!

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) a cozy mystery by Annie Acorn

Also available in print, at Amazon UK and Smashwords, and for SonyReader, Kobo, and NOOK!

After my husband died, I was filled with a need to do two things – memorialize him in some way and find a way to make good come from the bad that had surrounded my losing him.

It took me a while, but one day I finally saw the elephant that had been standing in the room all along.  His memory would live on both in my heart and through the two sons that we had produced as a result of our love.  Additionally, I recognized there were plenty of small kindnesses that I could reach out and do in his honor, unbeknownst to the recipient of such random acts.

Now all that was left was the harder of my two needs.  How could I make good come of his death and my grief?

Fate has a way of catching us unawares and in ways that we least expect.  The year was 1994, and I was trying to refinance my house, interest rates having gone down.  One interminable wait followed another as I was passed along to the one person who could clear the way for my loan, and as I waited, I read through the Birmingham News until I reached the want ads.

Now understand, at the time I owned and managed a tri-state medical outsourcing business, and I was in the process of successfully flipping a five store retail chain.  The last thing I needed was a job, but when you have the soul of a writer, you will read anything.  And so, my eyes traveled down the columns of alphabetical listings until they landed on the one that read:

WANTED:  Family Services Counselor – Work with families as they deal with the loss of a loved one.

Here was my answer, I thought.  I would pay it forward.  I would provide some sort of purpose for my husband’s too young death by passing what I had learned onto others.

Five days later, I began working at an historic cemetery in a less than safe neighborhood.  Back before time, I had majored in history, and the life stories reflected in the burial books that recorded more than a century fascinated me.  Then I met with my first widow.

She was fifteen years younger than me with a five-year-old son clinging to her leg as she tried to pick out a grave for the man she had loved, who one minute had been alive and the next minute had been dead, struck down by a drunk driver.  We were different ages, different religions, and different ethnic backgrounds, but grief for a lost loved one united us.  Somewhere on the universal balance sheet opposite the huge black void left by my husband’s death a tiny positive check mark was etched.

Two months later, I added managing a cemetery to my already full work calendar, and as I worked with even more widows and helped them achieve healing, a few more checks on the plus side appeared.  Three months later, I took on five more cemeteries and funeral homes as a district manager, and a full row of checks appeared.

Each new family I counseled, each new widow who touched my life had their own story.  Slowly, these accumulated in a journal I kept until they numbered over 400 stories of love, loss and recovery.

One day I woke up and knew that, while the scales never would be balanced, my work at the cemeteries was completed.  Now, as an author, I am working on a book in which I’m weaving a number of these names-changed stories into a fictional umbrella in hopes that through them many others may be helped.

“I love Memorial Day,” the grounds manager at my first cemetery once told me.  “Everyone brings flowers, and the cemetery comes alive.”

I’ve spent much of my life in the Deep South where visiting the cemetery on Memorial Day remains a strong tradition.  Whether or not this is your tradition doesn’t matter.  You can still pause for a few minutes on this special day and remember those you have lost, touch base with them where they reside in your heart and keep their memories alive.

Best wishes to you, your friends and your families – those who are still with you and those who are already gone.  I know I’ll be spending a few minutes with each and every one of both kinds of mine.

Annie Acorn

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

Also available in print and for NOOK!

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

Also available in print and for NOOK!

 

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Oddest Dental Visit EVER

A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories) A romantic women’s fiction novel written by Annie Acorn and Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent

Also available in print and for Nook and Kobo!

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) A cozy mystery by Annie Acorn

Also available in print, at Amazon UK and Smashwords, and for SonyReader, Kobo, and NOOK!

The bad news not too many days ago was that I had to go to the dentist.  [A Tired Older Woman Goes to the Dentist]  The good news is that I survived and did not have to drive through snow, sleet and/or freezing rain to get there as originally had been predicted.

Barely had I been taken back and seated in the chair for my cleaning, when my dentist, Dr. Floss, who I LOVE, popped in to do the exam part that’s usually reserved for after the cleaning.  Having delivered a brief preamble, he popped his gloved fingers into my mouth and began rummaging around as he talked.

“Had he ever mentioned to me the poem that his college-aged son had written?” he asked.

“Uh-uh.”  I moved my head cautiously side to side to indicate a negative.

“Well, coincidentally, just the evening before he had reread his son’s wonderful poem and had once again found it to be way beyond good.”  Dr. Floss moved my tongue this way and that, checking for lost objects, I presumed, hoping against hope that he might find the Holy Grail, which everyone knows has completely disappeared.  “Would I be interested in reading said poem?”  He peered down at me.

Once again, I produced a series of guttural noises, somehow managing to indicate an answer in the affirmative.

“And are you still writing?”  Dr. Floss, who had been examining each tooth in my head with great care, now gave me a brief respite.

“Yes,” I uttered, my mouth now being cleared of extraneous debris.  “I’m launching a romantic women’s fiction novel titled A Clue for Adrianna on April 15th that will be followed by a second novel titled A Man for Susan on August 1st.”

Having chosen a particularly sharp looking tool, Dr. Floss once again bent to his work.  “A Man for Susan,” he repeated.  “Don’t you think someone like our Susan would be interested in a young, dashing dentist – dark haired with dark eyes?”

When, I wondered, had the main character in my WIP become ‘ours’?

Since the only two things I could see from my reclined position were Dr. Floss’s dark hair and eyes, set beside the horrified face of my dental hygienist, Ms. Brush, I didn’t have to use my degree in brain surgery to determine who he intended to be the role model for my next alpha male character.

“What a wonderful idea!” I exclaimed as soon as my mouth was free.  “Why hadn’t I thought of that?”

At which, Dr. Floss gave a small, deprecating shrug, his face taking on a look of total humility before he left Ms. Brush alone with me to do her duty.

A short while later, my now being all cleaned, polished and sparkling white, imagine my surprise when Dr. Floss once again popped into the small procedure room – a second meeting never previously having been on our agenda.  With amazing sleight of hand, he now grabbed my purse and headed with me in tow to the checkout counter.

Having placed my belongings on the high countertop, he proceeded to stage whisper into his surprised receptionist’s ear, “Keep her here.  She’s a writer!”

Then he disappeared into another small room from which soon emanated the sounds of a printer, emerging a minute later with his son’s poem in hand.  This, liking poetry, I gladly read and found to be quite beautiful – well constructed, stark and evocative.

“Has your son ever considered publishing his work?” I asked, at which Dr. Floss glowed.

My insurance having been filed and my next appointment having been made, Dr. Floss started to open the door to the waiting room for me, but then halted my progress as he leaned in my direction.

“Let’s not mention Susan to my wife,” he suggested in a real whisper.  “We’ll keep it between the two of us going forward – just our little secret.”

Pleased to have finally made my escape, I sat quietly in my car for a few minutes, reviewing this particular trip to the dentist.

On the plus side, Dr. Floss had been too absorbed in our conversation to notice the somewhat sensitive spot on tooth #14.  On the negative side, A Man for Susan would now require a complete rewrite, if it were to accommodate successfully a normally shy, dark-haired, dark-eyed, forty-something, dentally-inclined alpha male.  On balance, I had to admit, rewriting an entire full-length novel seemed a small price to pay for having saved tooth #14 from the drill.

As Ms. Brush would certainly say, don’t forget to brush and floss several times each day!  It really does keep the dentist away!

Annie Acorn

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

Also available in print and for NOOK!

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

Also available in print and for NOOK!

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

Also available for NOOK!

 

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St Patricks Hooray

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) by Annie Acorn

Also available in print, at Amazon UK and Smashwords, and for SonyReader, Kobo, Diesel, Apple, and NOOK!

Well, it’s that time of year again.  March 17 is just around the corner, and I’m preparing for St. Patrick’s Day.

You know the holiday – the one on which almost everyone the world over, regardless of their personal heritage, pins on a shamrock and claims to be Irish.  To say that some of these folks go a bit overboard would be one of The World’s Greatest Understatements. Truth be told, there are times when I worry that I’m one of them.

But then, I take a look around, and what do my eyes alight upon but green beer.  Green beer?!?  I mean, really?

Not to be outdone by their New Yorker cousins, Chicagoans even dye their river green, just to help everyone get in the spirit.  Cast alongside these two super powers of the annual St. Pat’s Day celebrations, and my humble endeavors definitely pale.

In an effort to appear less crazy than some of the other St. Patrick’s Day aficionados, I start out slowly, just as soon as my birthday is left behind me towards the end of each February.

Starting with music, I reach for a treasured James Galway and the Chieftains CD, working under the assumption that you can’t go wrong with a classic.  Next I progress to the Three Priests.  Saturday morning comes along, and I switch to Celtic Thunder – some of the best housecleaning music around.  By that evening, I’m pooped, and before I slip into a warm bubble-filled bath, I stock the changer with Celtic Women and press Play.

Now before you all leave a million and one comments pointing out that some of the selections from which I am choosing don’t really reflect Irish music, I already know that, but I’m not a purist.  It’s a mood that I’m trying to establish here.

As a card-carrying foodie, you know that I haven’t just been listening to music.  In point of fact, I’ve been cruising the area’s grocery store aisles in search of two things – Irish soda bread and Irish butter.  Talk about a match made in Heaven!  Served with a cup of Irish Breakfast tea, there’s nothing better, but that doesn’t stop me.  There’s at least one good round of both Irish stew and its cottage cousin Colcannon in my future.

Now, I’m not much of a drinker myself, but if a certain friend of mine comes over anytime during the first two weeks of March, some Guinness will magically appear simultaneously.  Also, this is the season for a good cup of Irish coffee after dinner, and you might – just might – catch me sipping on a jigger or two of Bailey’s served over ice or even ice cream.

There’s one thing left if I’m going to enjoy a perfect St. Patrick’s Day experience, and those of you who follow this blog already know what is missing.  Yep, you guessed it!  Because of my well known addiction, I will eat my way through a fair amount of Irish chocolate – much more creamy than our American chocolates.  You really should give it a try.

At this point, I will have done everything but drink a pitcher of green beer while dancing a jig, so maybe I’m just as crazy as the rest of them…

But wait!

Surely, I’m not at all like those other Irish wannabes.  After all, my mother’s maiden name was Patrick!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Annie Acorn

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

Also available in print and for NOOK!

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

Also available in print and for NOOK!

The Young Executive (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

fAlso available for NOOK!

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

Also available for NOOK!

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My Least Favorite Holiday

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

Also available in print, at Amazon UK and Smashwords, and for SonyReader, Kobo, Diesel, Apple, and NOOK!

Okay, I admit it.  I’m a holiday junkie.  I have been known to layer my home with what my family laughingly refers to as Christmas World.  I am addicted to Cadbury Easter eggs, and I’m first in line at the family Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day cookouts.  I welcome, indeed relish, New Year’s Day as a time to work on getting my ducks in a row.   [A Tired Older Woman Plans for Success] and [A Tired Older Woman Wishes on a Star]

But Valentine’s Day?  Not so much, which is strange when you understand that I am addicted to chocolate. [Roses and Chocolates]

My dislike of this holiday started early on – in a place far, far away,  back before time.  I was in the Fourth Grade, and my nemesis was a blond-haired, freckled-faced boy named Tom.  Tom was smart, neat and clean, and except for one thing, there was nothing wrong with him.  Unfortunately, Tom had developed a HUGE crush on me, and I mean a real whopper.

Everywhere I went, he was there.  Rain, snow, sleet or hail, he waited each morning at the end of our street to walk with me to school, and each afternoon, no matter how much I dallied, he trudged along beside me on my way home.  If I was going home to a friend’s house or bringing a friend home with me, he was still there, like a sticky sheet of flypaper that I couldn’t shake off.

Looking back on it, I now realize that he was probably lonely.  His mother and father both worked, and he was an only child.  I imagine he spent many hours by himself, because most of the boys in our class lived further away, but at the time, I felt no sympathy.  He was ruining my pleasure.

I tried to discuss the situation with my mother – a disaster.  I was her eldest, and I had proven myself eligible.  She was delighted.  Besides, Tom was a “nice” boy, and his mother belonged to my mother’s church circle.  Garnering her support of my rejection of his shy, totally appropriate advances was a non-starter.

“I could expect,” she told me, “to have many similar experiences over the coming years.”

Having skipped the Second Grade, I was only the age of a Third Grader, and this was a much more innocent time.  I was appalled.

And then, our spinster Fourth Grade teacher announced with stars in her eyes that Valentine’s Day was around the corner.  Each of us was to bring a shoe box to school, which we would then decorate.

Too young to connect the dots, I looked forward to the arts and crafts activity.  My girlfriends and I spent a happy hour spreading Mucilage on fragile white dollies and red and pink construction paper hearts, which we then applied in decorative patterns on our shoe boxes.  How decorative they had become.  Innocently, I lined mine up on the deep window sill along the back of our schoolroom along with the others.

“Don’t forget to bring your valentine’s on Monday for the exchange,” our teacher reminded us as we hurried home Friday afternoon.

After Sunday dinner, Mother and I worked together, separating the tiny store-bought valentines from their sheets.  With great care, I signed each one of them in the new cursive script my classmates and I had practiced each day after lunch in our classroom, although I distinctly recall having done so in pencil instead of with a fountain pen that might blot one and spoil it.

Monday arrived bright and sunny with a chill in the air, but there was no hint whatsoever of the disaster to come.  Clutching my small paper bag of sealed envelopes, I headed for school, pleased when I realized that for once Tom wasn’t waiting to walk beside me.

Halfway there I was joined by two of my friends, and we chatted quite gaily.  Then we arrived at the school’s entrance, where some of my classmates were standing and whispering, punctuated by occasional giggles.  As we approached the doorway, one of the boys known for his merciless teasing stepped forward.

“Aren’t you in for a surprise?”  He let out a laugh and pointed at me.

Having been there before, my girlfriends and I merely ignored him, continuing on to our classroom.

“Take a few minutes before class and put your valentines in the recipient’s boxes,” our teacher greeted us, obviously in a holiday mood.

“Oh, look!”  One of my friends pointed out that a cupcake wrapper filled with hard candy “message” hearts and heart-shaped red hots awaited each of us on our desks.

“What’s that?” my other friend asked and pointed at my beautifully decorated box.

I stood frozen in place completely speechless – possibly for the one and only time in my life, I don’t remember another.  Propped against the window pane behind my box was a large heart-shaped box of chocolates and an oversized valentine, next to which stood my nemesis, Tom – a huge grin on his face.

“I’ll carry it home for you,” he promised.

Thank goodness that I had been well schooled in good manners.  In my innocence I could’ve ruined the poor boy’s self-confidence for life.  Instead, I murmured a “thank you” and tried to look nonchalant.

“I told my mother you weren’t allergic,” he continued – not the most suave or debonair of suitors, but then, who was I to criticize?

Somehow I got through the day – the whispers and giggles, the teasing and taunting.  I even managed to stay embedded in a circle of my girlfriends, thus managing to avoid Tom.

Left to himself, he struck up a conversation with a shy, quiet girl, who told him how wonderful he was to have thought of such a lovely gift.  From then on, he waited at the end of her street to walk to school each and every morning, joined her at the state university and, afterward graduation, they were married.  Tom went on to start a highly successful Dot Com, many years later, and I understand that they have been blessed with many grandchildren.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere, although my lack of appreciation for Tom’s puppy love did not preclude my finding the love of my life many years later – perhaps the result of my having remembered to say, “Thank you.”

Still, the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth.  After all, it was the only time in my life that a box of chocolates let me down.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Annie Acorn

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

Also available in print and for NOOK!

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

Also available in print and for NOOK!

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

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

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

The Magic Sand Dollar by Annie Acorn

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Little Annies Christmas Part III

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 and Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.

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.

– See more at: https://annieacorn.com/#sthash.VEFgpGha.dpuf

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.

– See more at: https://annieacorn.com/#sthash.VEFgpGha.dpuf

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.

– See more at: https://annieacorn.com/#sthash.VEFgpGha.dpuf

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.

– See more at: https://annieacorn.com/#sthash.VEFgpGha.dpuf

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

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

Also available in print, at Amazon UK and Smashwords, and for SonyReader, Kobo, Diesel, ibookstore and NOOK!

How does one capture the essence of a child’s Christmas?  As I begin to write this, my third post referencing Little Annie’s Christmas [Part I] [Part II], I wonder if the task is indeed beyond the reach of a mere keyboard.  So many sights, sounds, and scents remain just as clear in my memory today as they were over half a century ago.

Although most of my memories carry me back to The Double as we referred to the duplex in which our young family lived, my paternal grandmother and great-aunt residing in the other half, other venues had their place as well.

First and foremost was Lazarus Department Store located in downtown Columbus, Ohio.  Having begun as a purveyor of men’s clothing, Lazarus had morphed during the Civil War into a major provider of uniforms for Union soldiers.  By the time, my small feet passed through its welcoming doors, it was a full-fledged department store and covered a city block.

Involving as they did so many homemade items, Christmas gift preparations began early.  As the leaves dropped from the trees, I would be called into service to accompany my paternal grandmother on her fall shopping spree.  This, of course, involved a walk of several blocks to the bus stop, where we caught a ride to our destination.

Whole new worlds passed by our dusty windows as we traveled downtown, including the forbidding gray stone walls of the Ohio Penitentiary, where I was told the inmates were busy making license plates.  My childish imagination quickly formed a picture in which these men happily sang as they worked in much the same way as the elves that I knew were busily turning out toys for Santa.

Arriving at Lazarus, we would inevitably head for the sewing and notions department, where my grandmother would first rummage through the remnant tables – never willing to pay full price for anything she could purchase on sale.  Early on, I had been trained to distinguish flannel, organdy, and polished cotton, and Grandma counted on me to ferret out appropriate samples for her to consider.

The flannel, I knew, would be used to fashion nightgowns and pajamas for me and my sisters.  Polished cotton formed the basis of the puffed-sleeved dresses we wore on a daily basis, even when playing, and the organdy was sewn into pinafores to be worn over them.  Rickrack and zippers, lace and ribbons, buttons and thread would also be added to our stack.  Once my grandmother had paid for her purchases, I would be handed the bag of notions as my special charge – heavy responsibility for a five year old.

Now it was time to buy the yarn and crochet thread that would be turned into hats and scarfs and mittens we would find in our stockings, as well as collars to wear over sweaters and doilies for our table.  At this point, I would be handed a second bag to tote, now feeling more balanced.

By now, it was lunch time, and if I had been good, we would head for the store’s famous Tea Room.  Here I would be treated to chicken salad on a lettuce leaf with Waldorf salad on the side if I was especially lucky.  A fluffy yeast roll took up residence on my bread plate with a molded pat of butter that was almost, but not quite, too pretty to cut into with my butter knife. My grandmother had a sweet tooth, and each of us enjoyed a large slice of Lazarus chocolate layer cake to complete our meal.

Donning our coats and gathering our packages, we were now ready to return home.  Used to taking an afternoon nap, I inevitably slept on the bus during the return trip, my head snuggled against my grandmother’s arm.  Approaching our stop, I would be awakened and told to be ready to disembark into the cold afternoon wind for our walk home, where we would be greeted like returning world travelers with mugs of hot chocolate or tea.

A few weeks later, Thanksgiving now behind us, I would again make the trip downtown, this time accompanying my parents and sister.  During the intervening weeks, Lazarus had been transformed into a Christmas wonderland.  The store’s huge windows were filled with moving displays and flocked with fake snow.  Inside, colored lights glittered on columns and hung from the ceiling.  Christmas trees graced the sales floor, and large ornaments decorated our trip up the escalators.  In the toy department, an entire miniature town now resided in a glass case, complete with several moving trains, their signals and stations lit with tiny lights, and we would wait in line for some time just for the opportunity to make one turn around this wonder-filled living scene.

Our shopping completed, we now needed a tree, and I would generally be called upon to accompany Father to the tiny strip of stores across from my grade school, where a temporary tree lot had been erected.  Warmed by a fire, boy scouts manned the cash box.  Father took his time over the selection of just the right tree, measuring each one against his own 6’4” height and testing their needles for freshness.

Once selected the tree would be tied into the trunk of our ’51 two-tone blue Pontiac for the ride home, where we would once again be greeted like conquering heroes, usually with mugs of hot chocolate or cider.  By this time, I was feeling quite special, and decorating the tree became one of my favorite activities.

With great care, Father spread each string of lights across the living room floor, checking to make sure they still worked, these being the days when one bad bulb would take out a whole strand.  Once we were assured that everything was in working order, he attached the strands to the tree, taking great care to place the different colored lights in a pleasing display, some in and some out on the branches.  Finally, he would screw in our special bubble lights that provided hours of fascinated pleasure for my sisters and me.

Next came the garland, which was Mother’s responsibility as she wove it in and out of the branches in a way that wasn’t too overwhelming.  Each strand was a different color – red, green, silver and gold – for ours was not a high style tree, but rather a reflection of years after Christmas ornament sales.

Now we girls were allowed to help, placement of the ornaments being all that was left.  Father would first hang his own childhood favorite, a gold acorn that now graces Son #2’s tree.  I had a favorite Santa Claus ornament, and I made sure it held pride of place at my eye level.  Nonbreakable snowmen and reindeer were given to my sisters to hang on the lower branches.

Finally, the silver icicles were removed from their slender boxes.  At this point, my father would suddenly morph into a fanatic, there being a right and a wrong way to put such splendid additions on a tree.  Each icicle must be placed, not tossed, individually into position.

Several hours later, we would pause for a light supper before watching our normal Saturday evening line-up on our 10” TV screen.  The lights in the room would be turned down, and the tree would be turned on, a thing of beauty in our small living room, although my responsibility for it was not yet done.  As the oldest child, I knew I would be counted on throughout the season to check and refill if necessary the water in the tree stand, my being small enough to do so without shaking the tree.

An evening or two before Christmas, my grandmother and great-aunt would join us in the car, and Father would take us on an evening tour of Arlington, a richer suburb that backed onto ours.  Here the large homes on their sizeable lots were decked out in fine fashion, as the owners competed for a silver tray engraved with their name.

Thousands of blue lights flickered from the yard of one home, each tree and shrub having been covered in them.  A working train circled another house, while another sported one of the new-fangled silver trees that received mixed reviews from our numbers.  Snowflakes swirled beyond our car’s window, further enhancing the magical world around us.

One year, when it was snowing particularly hard, we had a flat tire, and Father sought shelter for my pregnant mother and the rest of us, while he took care of the matter.  Once inside, Mother fell in love with this home’s tree, which had been completely decorated with white lights, gold garland and ornaments and shielded masses of gifts that had all been wrapped in gold paper with green ribbon.

Back home, Father would read us a pared down version of The Christmas Carol as we sipped on mugs of hot chocolate and shared a plate of Christmas cookies before being tucked into bed.

Christmas Eve, of course, saw us in church, followed by a ride home, usually in snow.  Grandmother and our great-aunt would now join us on our side of The Double, where we would open the family gifts that had been waiting patiently beneath the tree, my sister having proven herself unable to handle the excitement of these gifts plus Santa Claus’s leavings all in one session.

These were the practical gifts with perhaps a book or a 45 rpm record thrown in.  One memorable year my uncle sent us girls a set of classical music recordings, which laid the groundwork for my love of classical music in adulthood.  Once the used gift wrap and ribbon had been carefully folded and put away for reuse, we gathered around Father, who now read us The Night Before Christmas to calm us down before we were tucked into bed.

Having sworn to stay awake until Santa arrived and dispensed with the milk and cookies we had left for him, I would immediately fall asleep, awakening the next morning to find his gifts left beneath the tree.  These were the fun presents that always included dolls – the original “walking” dolls one year, Ginny dolls complete with mahogany bedroom furniture the next year, Revlon dolls another year.  Games and puzzles and color books abounded, as did picture books and easy readers.  Tinker toys and Lincoln logs found their way into our home, as did jump ropes and jacks.  Stockings had been hung along the mantle throughout the season, and these were now filled with candy and small hand held games that required dexterity to place four balls into their spaces or arrange numbers or letters of the alphabet in the correct order.

Our gifts having been opened and breakfast having been consumed, Father would read us the Christmas story from Luke, before we all made our way upstairs to dress for our trip over to the other side of The Double, where we would enjoy Christmas dinner.

My grandmother and great-aunt having been born in Victorian England, this meal followed their traditions.  Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding were a given, usually accompanied by mashed potatoes, green beans, and homemade cranberry sauce.  The meal not containing enough carbohydrates already, homemade yeast rolls and real butter also found a place on our table.  A plum pudding was always brought in for dessert, although mincemeat and cherry pies were also available.

Once we had consumed our Christmas feast and the dishes had been washed and put away, we would adjourn to our side of The Double.  Here we would play with our newly received games, such as word bingo, Snap, Go Fish, and Monopoly, the adults entering into the fun as well as we girls.  When naptime arrived, I as the eldest was usually allowed to stay up as I was needed to help sort out the edge pieces from one of the new puzzles.

Supper would be sandwiches, popcorn, apples, eggnog, Christmas cookies and fudge as friends would stop by, sometimes staying to watch a show on our still somewhat rare miniature TV screen that was housed in an oversized cabinet.  At the end of a day filled with excitement, rich food, and lots of activity, we went easily to bed, secure in the knowledge that we had proven ourselves to have been good for yet another year.

Times have changed dramatically since those simple days.  Sales of live Christmas trees continue to go down, and bubble lights are rarely if ever found.  Family members now watch TV throughout Christmas Day in different rooms.  Gifts have frequently been purchased off the internet and often require batteries to operate.  But still…

This year, I challenge you to spend Christmas as a family together in one room.  Share a story, play a game, and work a new puzzle.  Welcome family and friends into your home.  Create Christmas memories for your children and grandchildren throughout the season that are as special as mine are to me a half century later.

Remember that bigger, brighter, and more razzle-dazzle doesn’t necessarily mean better.  For what I remember most about the Christmases of my childhood aren’t the toys or the decorations or even the food, but rather the time spent in a meaningful way with the adults that filled my small world.

Merry Christmas!

Annie Acorn

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

Also available for NOOK!

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

Also available in print and for NOOK!

Annie Acorn’s 2012 Christmas Treasury (Annie Acorn’s Christmas Anthologies) edited by and stories by Annie Acorn

Also available in print and for NOOK!

The Young Executive (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!

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

Also available for NOOK!

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Rescuing Grandma

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

Also available in print, at Amazon UK and Smashwords, and for SonyReader, Kobo, Diesel, ibookstore and NOOK!

It was two weeks before Christmas and all through our small house, everyone was stirring, and there was no quiet around.  Finally, we all settled into our seats at the dining room table for Sunday dinner, Richard, my first real boyfriend, a welcomed guest.

The previous day, we had decorated our live tree, cleaned the house thoroughly, and completed more of our Christmas baking.  The nativity was displayed on the credenza with care, and a wreath had been hung upon our front door for my paternal grandmother and great-aunt had boarded an L&N train that very morning and were chugging along the tracks as we ate on their way to join us.

Life has a way of surprising you, though.  Just as we had all settled down to our plates full of food, the wall phone in the kitchen cried out for attention.  Father arose from his seat, his silverware hitting his plate with a clatter.

“But how could that happen?” We heard him ask in the kitchen.  “So when is the next one?”

Silently, we waited, our forks poised at the ready.

“Stay where you are.  Cincinnati’s a big city.  I’ll find out when to pick you up, and I’ll be there to get you.”  And with this, he hung up.

The train my grandmother and great-aunt had boarded in Columbus had been delayed by a huge storm in the Chicago area.  Consequently, they had missed their connection in Cincinnati and were now waiting for the next train that would be heading our way.

The atmosphere slightly more sober, we finished our repast and cleared the table as Father checked on what would be their new schedule.  Realizing they would actually arrive at our home quicker, if we drove to Cincinnati and retrieved them, a new plan was hatched.  Richard, a senior in high school, volunteered to help drive.  Mother packed sandwiches, chips, and some of our fresh-baked Christmas cookies, as we donned our coats and warm gloves – it being in East Tennessee that year unseasonably chilly.

My father called the train station to let the travelers know that we were coming.  Twice they were paged to no avail.  Hanging up the receiver, his face filled with concern, he turned to my mother.

“You go ahead and get started,” she said.  “I’ll keep trying.”

And so it was that Father, Richard, and me headed out of town towards the Cumberland Mountains.  This was pre-interstate, pre-power steering, pre-power brakes.  We considered ourselves lucky to have heat and a radio in our green and white, tank-like Mercury Monterey with its push button transmission and jingle bells hanging from the rear view window by a red ribbon.

When we left the sun was shining.  By the time we reached Kentucky, having successfully negotiated the 24 miles of curvy road, by which I mean hairpins, gray clouds had begun to float in.  Still, we were making good time, and at this point, Richard took over the driving.

“It should take us about five hours total to get there,” Father informed us.

As usual, I was in charge of the map and followed our progress.  We all three sang along with Christmas carols that poured from the radio, each song sung marking off several miles.  As we approached Cincinnati, large snowflakes began to fall, quickly beginning to accumulate along the side of the road.

“Sleigh bells ring,” we all crooned, our faces filled with smiles.

Coming over a hill, we caught our first glimpse of the train station that always reminded me of a huge antique radio.  Entering the vast, high-ceilinged building, the first thing we heard was my grandmother and great-aunt being paged – a sign that Mother had been unable to reach them.

Worry immediately filled Father’s face as he searched the huge open space for his mother and aunt.  A few seconds later we located them – sitting upright and still on the first of many long pew-like benches, calm smiles on their faces, another elderly woman perched right beside them.

Father hurried towards them as their faces lit up.  “Didn’t you hear the operator calling your names?” he asked as they hugged him.  “Mary must be trying to reach you.”

“Of course, we heard it!” Grandmother immediately exclaimed.  “How nice of you to let us know you were thinking of us all afternoon!”

“You mean you never responded to the page?” Disbelief had replaced worry on my father’s face.

“Were we supposed to?” My great-aunt piped in.  “Should we have said, ‘Thank you?’”

Upon learning that the woman beside them had been on the same train as theirs and had also missed her connection, Father with change jingling in his pocket headed for a bank of pay phones to make two calls – one to my mother, whose dialing finger was surely swollen beyond all recognition, to reassure her and one to the woman’s family in Lexington.

“If they would meet us at a specific point on the road, he would bring the husband’s mother to them,” Father told them.

Relieved, they quickly agreed, this being a time in which one easily trusted strangers.

The large station windows clearly revealed that the snowflakes, now smaller, were falling faster, and we quickly loaded the three ladies’ luggage into the trunk.  Father held the door, and my great-aunt took the middle seat in the back with the other two women packed in nicely beside her – all three of them being rather pint-sized.

“On Dasher, on Dancer!” Father joked as we cleared the parking lot.

By now, it was dark, and the defroster was pressed into service to keep the outside world visible.  We all munched on sandwiches, chips and Christmas cookies as the occupants in the back seat related details of their various journeys.  Farmhouses sporting lighted decorations blinked us along our way.

We barely paused in Lexington to leave our new found friend with her family as the roads were beginning to get slick.  Hairpin curves in the Cumberland Mountains can be treacherous, and the mood in our vehicle sobered.  Outside the world became a blur of white snowflakes as the now fewer farmhouses had turned off their lights.

Wisely, Father pulled into a gas station in Corbin and purchased chains – $35 installed – an exorbitant price in 1963!

Chains on, gas tank full and ourselves refreshed, we again took to the road, it now being well after midnight.  Richard had done much of the driving on the way up, but Father was now well ensconced behind the steering wheel.

The windshield wipers metronomed away the miles as we slowly made headway until we were a few miles past Jellico on the 24 miles of curvy roads.  At this point, what traffic there was came to a screeching halt in our direction.  It was then that we noticed that no one was passing from the other way.

Father turned off the car, intermittently turning it back on for a few minutes to keep the women and children, as he put it, from freezing.  At some point while we waited, my head nodded onto Richard’s shoulder and his arm passed along the car seat behind me.  The world became warmer and more comfortable.

Slowly, news of the problem ahead traveled from car to car – a tractor-trailer rig had jackknifed and wedged itself beneath a railroad overpass several miles north of Lafollette in our direction.  Until traffic backed up far enough to reach a house with a phone, help couldn’t be summoned.  Finally, taillights up ahead indicated that the jam of vehicles was beginning to make its way slowly forward.

At 6:00 a.m, we dropped my grandmother and great-aunt off at our house and proceeded towards Richard’s, which was across town.  Having successfully delivered my knight in shining armor home, Father and I headed back along empty roads, a highly unusual eleven inches of snow blanketing our community – the result of what was being hailed on the radio as the storm of the decade.  Halfway to our goal, our car ran out of gas.

Resigned, Father left me alone and trudged a half mile to the nearest gas station, where he purchased a metal can and enough gas to enable us to reach the pumps.  Eighteen hours after we had set out, we finally returned home, our mission accomplished.

Having already fed and snuggled our visitors under warm Christmas quilts, Mother greeted us with a hot breakfast.  This we enjoyed before we both, utterly exhausted, fell into our respective beds.

Looking back on those eighteen hours of travel – almost to the day a half century later – I realize how many things I learned in those few short hours because of the experience.

You never know what awaits you around the next corner for one. A single phone call can make a huge difference is another. So much of life is a matter of chance – bad weather, a missed connection and life changes.

My grandmother and great-aunt, sitting upright and ready on the hard seat of the pew-like bench showed me grace and decorum that can, but often doesn’t accompany patience.  My father’s offer of a lift to a stranger was a wonderful example of how we should always be available to help others.  My new boyfriend’s shoulder gave me a treasured glimpse of what it would be like to lean on a man.

The cost of the chains taught me both that not everyone is nice and life isn’t always fair.  Father’s trudge through the snow explained why he had always insisted that we keep our tank half full, a lesson that translated itself further into such things as saving for a rainy day.  The tractor-trailer stuck under the overpass showed me clearly that just when you think you are well on your journey, Life can and often does find another way to delay you.

The most important lesson of all, though, was that no matter what time or effort is involved, having family join and surround you at the holidays is a pleasure worth fighting for.  Father and Mother, my grandmother and great-aunt are all gone now, but in my memories they remain.  What memories will you build within your family, church and/or community this season?

Merry Christmas!

Annie Acorn

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

Also available in print and for NOOK!

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

Also available in print and for NOOK!

Annie Acorn’s 2012 Christmas Treasury (Annie Acorn’s Christmas Anthologies) edited by and stories by Annie Acorn

Also available in print and for NOOK!

The Young Executive (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!

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

Also available for NOOK!

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Little Annies Thanksgivings

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

Also available in print, at Amazon UK and Smashwords, and for SonyReader, Kobo, Diesel, ibookstore and NOOK!

I would be lying if I said that Thanksgiving was my favorite time of year – Christmas is, but Thanksgiving runs a very close second.  Perhaps, one of the reasons is that for me it marks the beginning of the holiday season, and who doesn’t love a beginning?

When I was a small child, growing up in the duplex we called The Double, we always drove to my maternal grandmother’s house to celebrate this holiday, and I never heard any complaining.  Usually, we left when my father returned from work, by which time my younger sisters and I had been bathed, fed and put into our pajamas.

As soon as Dad arrived, he would begin packing the car.  Once started on our four hour trek, my sisters would fall asleep under quilts on the back seat, but not me.  These were the old days, back before time and seatbelts, and I was allowed to stand behind my father, watching the car’s headlights reveal a frost-covered landscape over his shoulder as we traveled from Columbus, Ohio, to Crawfordsville, Indiana.

It was a badge of honor for me to remain awake until we got there, because I knew what certainly lay ahead.  How excited I was as we traveled the quiet streets of my birth town, just minutes away from my grandmother’s!  Finally, we were there, and my father would steer our 1951 Pontiac sedan onto the Lot as we always called my grandmother’s well-kept lawn.

Still wrapped in their quilts, my sisters would be bundled off to bed as Grandma bustled around her small kitchen.  On the stove, a pot of her chili simmered.  Places had already been set at the round oak table, and one would be added for me.  My uncle, who was still in high school, would be sent onto the unheated, but enclosed back porch to rummage through the many baked goods that were stored there in the cold for at least one apple, one cherry, and one pumpkin pie, as well as a cake of some sort.  Saltines were placed on the table, and we were ready to eat.

Father, who had munched on a cold sandwich in the car as he drove, always blessed the food and then received the first bowl, into which he would crush a large handful of saltines since Grandma’s chili was more soup-like than most.  My bowl would be next, probably in hopes that once finished eating I would be ready for bed, but by now, I had gotten my second wind.

Besides, I knew full well that there would be gossip afloat.  If I ate my chili slowly and stretched out my piece of pumpkin pie quietly, there was no telling what I might learn.  I am often asked where the characters for my books come from.  Can you guess?

Finally, someone would notice that my eyes were beginning to droop, and I would be hustled off to bed in the front bedroom that had once been the living room of the historic home.  Since the only heat in the house emanated from a grate in the next room and thick velvet curtains pulled across a wooden rod separated the two rooms, the front bedroom was rather chilly.  Layers of blankets kept us toasty, and I have never slept as well as I slept in that room.

Despite my having been awake half the night, I would arise from my bed quite early for there was plenty of activity going on in the house.  Even on this food preparation filled day, breakfast was bacon, eggs and toast, often followed by a sliver of pie, except for my uncle who was known to occasionally break his fast with a piece of apple pie he had placed in a bowl before pouring the cream rich milk of those days over it.

In an effort to keep us girls out of the way, my father would take us on a walk after breakfast, always herding us the few blocks to his alma mater, Wabash College, where we would visit with the college librarians my father had assisted while earning his B.S. degree.  These maiden ladies were always pleased to see us, allowing us to use their date stamps and play with their typewriters.  Is it any wonder that Sister #2 [Size Matters] became a librarian?

Our walk behind us, we were allowed to run free on the Lot if it was warm enough, or we could color on one of the many tablets Grandma kept in the lower drawer of her secretary desk.  I always preferred, though, to remain in the kitchen, not being an idiot.  This room was full of women working flat out to make sure that every plate on the three large tables around which we would eat Thanksgiving dinner could be piled high with traditional foods.

My grandmother was in command of this enterprise, but any of these women could have served a meal for fifty in her spare time.  Born and bred of pioneer stock (my grandmother’s family had helped settle what is now Indiana’s Turkey Run State Park), all of them had lived through World War I, the Depression, and World War II.  To have called them strong would’ve been one of The World’s Greatest Understatements.  They had worked hard, lived hard, and made hard decisions, having witnessed birth, death, and everything in between.  They had raised families, buried multiple husbands, acted as midwife to their communities and attained management positions in area factories – almost unheard of in the early ’50s.  On this day, though, they were completely immersed in more “normal” female roles of the period – cooking and cleaning.

My great-grandmother, who had been left legally blind by a childhood illness and still raised a family cooking on a wood stove, manned the Hoosier Kitchen, where she rolled out one perfect batch of homemade noodles after another.  My mother and several great-aunts, all tiny women who always fascinated me because their over-sized bosoms seemed to enter a room first, were in charge of vegetables, salads and stewed fruits, while my grandmother stood guard over the pressure cooker.

I have never been in a space so filled with aromas – turkey, pot roast, ham all three meats intermingled in the air around me.  Two kinds of stuffing were in evidence – one with and one without oysters.  Each woman had arrived laden with freshly prepared food items from her own domicile.

Homemade cranberry sauce and applesauce (made from the apples grown in the orchard at the back of my grandmother’s property) were already waiting on the back porch, along with two open ironing boards and several chairs that were stacked with pies and cake safes too numerous to count.  It was nothing for us to have apple, cherry, plum, pumpkin, coconut, sugar cream, chocolate, lemon, and butterscotch pie, all available in sufficient quantity to satisfy everyone.  What we would have done without that cold enclosed porch I don’t know, because my Grandmother’s tiny freezer only held two ice cube trays and a half gallon of ice cream!

Dinner was always served as soon after noon as it was ready.  Grace was said, and then the meal was served buffet style from the kitchen, except for bowls of vegetables and fruit salads and sauces that were placed along the tables.  The men, of course, were always served first.  Then we children had our plates filled, and finally the women, who were probably exhausted, were allowed serve themselves.

Dinner was never a quiet affair in this house, and conversation flowed freely.  Competitions often arose as to who had eaten the most turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or noodles.  Then, of course, there were the pie eating contests, and God help the man who forget himself and commented that another woman’s congealed salad was better than the one his wife had brought.

After dinner, the men lolled around in the living room as the younger children were left in the front bedroom to nap.  The women, of course, divided or put away any leftovers and cleaned all the pots, pans, dishes, and utensils by hand, scalding them with boiling hot water on the drainboard by the sink.  I was just old enough to be allowed the privilege of drying, which meant that Mother spent much of her time warning me to watch out as the dishes were scalded.  Believe me, those plates and utensils were hot!

Amazingly, after everyone but our own family unit had left, we were still ready for supper, which not surprisingly was comprised solely of leftovers.  Oh, what wonderful repasts those were!

All of those amazing women are now gone, but reminders of them still surround me.  My grandmother’s oak pedestal table now lives in my dining room, and my uncle just gifted me my great-grandmother’s chiming mantel clock and a great-aunt’s rose-colored marble-topped table.  As much as I treasure these pieces, though, I would give all of them back to have just one more Thanksgiving like those of my past!

May you and your family enjoy the best Thanksgiving ever!

Annie Acorn

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

Also available in print and for NOOK!

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

Also available in print and for NOOK!

Annie Acorn’s 2012 Christmas Treasury (Annie Acorn’s Christmas Anthologies) edited and stories by Annie Acorn

Also available in print and for NOOK!

The Young Executive (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!

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

Also available for NOOK!

Posted in Thanksgiving, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment