Thursday, October 30, 2014


Great fun to welcome Liz Flaherty, an Indiana native, who is going to talk about all aspects of writing romances.
You readers can get insights into the decisions a writer makes as she develops her characters and puts them through their paces.

And if you want a quick sneak peek at the story first, scroll to the bottom and read the blurb about Back to McGuffey’s. Gorgeous cover!
Great to have you visit Thursday's Child, Liz!
        Hey, Judith, thanks for having me!

Here we go . . . how much characterization is given when a character approaches you?

Quite a bit of it is there. The story develops the rest, just like life makes us into who we are. Wow, was that profound or what? J

How much do you have to eke out of them?

Not much, really, although it’s fun when one of them chooses to retain a little mystery.

Does plot come with?

Plot comes, as I’ve said before, word by excruciating word. I couldn’t plot my way out of a paper bag.

Are your characters willing to reveal the “story” or plot?

No, they pretty much sit there and file their nails while I sweat bullets. From plotting comes the saying “…just open a vein…” What that doesn’t tell you is that plotting veins roll away from the needle, so you have to try and try and try.

Over the years your work has shown your style of writing—it has been polished, but never seems forced. How is your writing style—or voice—achieved?

If I have a particular gift, that is it. My voice is what it is. I don’t think about it or work on it. (I hesitated to use the word “gift.” I am not by any means a gifted writer, but I consider my voice in that term because it was just there—I didn’t have to earn it or hone it.)

Home to Singing Trees, a historical romance, has a different voice. Do you have a mindset for different books?

In a way. Working on Home to Singing Trees was very satisfying because the research was so much fun. Although contemporary requires research, for me it’s nothing like historical. Writing historical was much more labor-intensive because I couldn’t write even the shortest dialogue without conscious thought concerning how it would sound. You know, would she actually have said that in 1875? Figuring out what they wore, how long it would take to drive a wagon 17 miles, when the Howe Sewing Machine factory in Peru, Indiana closed—these things all took time I wasn’t used to spending. It gave me a new admiration for historical authors and further convinced me I probably wasn’t meant to be one, no matter how much I loved writing that book!

You’ve traveled around for your locales: Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vermont.

While it’s true I’ve used places I’ve traveled to, I never went anywhere for the actual purpose of using it. We have or have had family in all my locations. One set of our kids now live in North Carolina. That will probably come next. J

Why have you chosen the ones you’ve used?

They’re rural and they’re beautiful—that’s pretty much all I require from settings. And the beauty differs from place to place, which makes it all the better.

Why romance?

Empowerment of women, happy endings, variety.

What do you read?

Women’s fiction, mostly, or romance when I can find ones written in a voice I love to read (Kristan Higgins, Mary Balogh, Nan Reinhardt—the list goes on) or written with more mature protagonists. I can’t identify with 20-somethings anymore. That’s no reflection on other writers, just how my own tastes have changed.

What writer or writers do you consider mentors, or have influenced your own development as a writer?

Well, you have, Judith! J And Muriel Jensen, Kathleen Gilles Seidel, Cheryl Reavis. Their voices are warm and rich and gift to the soul. I hope I never intentionally try to sound like them, but I also hope I learn from them.

How do you continue to grow as a writer?

I belong to Indiana RWA and go to their retreat, which is wonderful! My friend Nan and I went to Chicago’s Spring Fling this year—also wonderful. And the internet allows us to be closer to peer friends even when we actually aren’t. That’s a godsend to me.

What advice would/do you give to aspiring writers? What advice helped you most?

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. That’s the piece Muriel Jensen gave me that helped me immeasurably. My own addition to that is, If you’re not having fun, go ahead and quit. There is no shame in quitting—the shame is in continuing without joy.

What is the most important aspect of writing for you? Why?

The joy of it. If it wasn’t fun, if I wasn’t still eager to grope my way into a dark office every morning, I would stop. To use a cliché—which I do all the time; they became clichés in the first place because they were good—life’s too short to not have a good time.

Where do we go to find your books?

Any on-line retailer. Here—I’ll even give you a link or two.

Or, if you’re looking for print copies of my Harlequin or Carina books:

Back to McGuffey’s
ISBN: 978-0-373-36696-5

The one that got away
Could Kate Rafael’s day get any worse? First she lost her job, then her house burned down and now her ex is back in town. Apparently, Ben McGuffey's taking a break from being a big-city doctor to help at his family’s tavern and reassess the choices he's made for his career.

Ben ends up giving Kate a hand...then giving her kisses...and finally, a second chance. But when a local teenager shows them both a glimpse of what it means to be a family, Ben wonders if having kids in small-town Vermont would clash with his ambitions. Or can he truly come home again…to Kate?


Thursday, October 23, 2014

(The Year in Review)

I’ve loved Judy Collins’ songs ever since I first heard them and sang along in the ‘70s. I loved the ones she wrote and the ones she sang written by other people. Many of her songs spoke to me, such as “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” (Cue the CD.)

October in NE Indiana
That song is especially appropriate today because just one year ago—yup, one whole year—Thursday’s Child set out to explore the universe. I say universe—you understand, I hope, that it’s the universe I inhabit, not the great big wild wonderful universe where absolutely anything can happen. And probably does!

In October 2013, we began our odyssey of celebration: the everyday, the holiday; ordinary, extraordinary; whatever came across my mind and heart that might be worthy of note. Or not.

First we celebrated the arrival of Autumn (a little late, but what the hey, we celebrated). And in a few days it was time for us to consider November and what it brings. Thanksgiving celebrations, good foods, how to eat gluten-free, if you need to.
Makes me cold to look at it!
December, for me, was a magical time. Two of my children, who live far from Northeastern Indiana, traveled to be with the rest of the family for Christmas at my Ohio daughter’s home. All four children, most of the grandchildren, and most of the greatgrandchildren were there. A full house! We so rarely get together that it was a special blessed time for me.

January, however, became one great sheet of ice and snow, mostly snow to the depth of feet, not inches. My oldest daughter, who had traveled from Arizona, was snowed in and got to stay three days later than planned. She has said on occasion that she misses the seasons of the Midwest. We certainly had plenty of Winter for her visit!
From that point on, we northerners struggled to keep warm, get out of our houses when we had to for supplies and fuel, and otherwise fight off cabin fever. I will say—though this is not a cure-all for everyone—having a dog who needs to go out several times a day will solve the indoor-blues. Thirty seconds outside is precious when the temp is hovering at -19 degrees.

Another of my ways to pass indoor time was to cook. Soups became standard fare—the slow cooker got a workout at least once a week. When I couldn’t get out for long periods I knitted, sewed a little, read a lot (I own hundreds of books but by the end of winter I was tired of all of them). I wrote letters to my writing buddy who deserted the north for three months in Florida. From her warmer clime she claimed to be missing the Winter. Uh-huh.
Naturally, when Spring finally showed up, we all ran outside looking for green stuff. Mostly we saw leafless shrubs and eventually a few brave perennials pushing up through the barely thawed earth. Once the ground thawed, somewhere in July—no, I guess it was early May—we saw grass that appeared to be what we remembered from years gone by.

But if you wait long enough, and compose yourself in quietude, the longed-for result will be Spring as we wish it to be. Flowers bloomed, shrubs bloomed, trees bloomed—it was a miracle any of those plants had survived the winter. And when they did—wow! They had gathered renewed energy for blooming.
Summer, as I’ve said ‘way too often, is my least favorite season. However, this past Summer had some good points. It wasn’t too rainy, or too humid, or too hot, or too mosquito-y. I would almost have said I enjoyed Summer. But my sweet dog, Joy, was failing fast. She could no longer go on walks beyond a block and back, and those with several stops. As the days and weeks went by, she ate less and less, until finally it was time. The veterinarian said she had probably had a stroke. She was 17 years, 5 months old. Her passing made a hole in my life and my heart.

And before you ask, no, I did not yet get another dog. Next year, maybe, after I’ve made some long-distance trips to visit family and friends; in warm weather, not going into another cold season that may be who-knows-how-bad; and it will have to be a dog who wants me, too. We’ll know each other when we meet.
But, despite losses, we all keep on keeping on, whatever the circumstances. I played the organ at my church all through the past Summer. When the choir began again in September, the other organist and I adopted a plan to play alternate Sundays while a committee continues its search for a full-time organist. That arrangement is working well, giving both of us time off. And I get a chance to work with a choir again for short periods. I still make quilts and knit and write/revise stories, have lunch with friends.
As I write this, the temp is 32 degrees and we have thick fog. Yesterday the temp was 50-something and sunny. Birds clamored for seeds at my three feeders outside the window where I write. All over town people have begun raking leaves, putting away outdoor furniture, cleaning out flower beds. The usual October chores.

Thursday’s Child is now one year old, and there is every indication we will continue writing about what drifts across our radar. We never know what that will be.
Join us when you can. Always something going on with Thursday’s Child.
Sneak Peek: Next week, come by for an interview with Liz Flaherty who is celebrating the publication of her 9th book, Back to McGuffey’s!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Take your ordinary day—get up, do the routine you always do, drink your beverage of choice and grab something to eat.
Get ready for your day—work, shopping, herding kids, volunteering.

Now—turn that ordinary day into something extraordinary. I just did.

Roadside Beauty in Indiana

The reason Thursday’s Child is late today is that I gave myself time off from exercise class, knitting, housework, yard work (leaves are falling fast and furious). Instead of these joys, I drove 40 miles to meet a good friend for lunch at a pub called The Village Inn, in Roanoke, Indiana (great place to eat if you’re in the neighborhood).
Liz Flaherty and I love to get together for lunch and two hours of world-problem-solving, along with a heart-to-heart about a subject dear to us, writing. Used to be three or four times a year. Now we’re lucky if we make it once a year. Why? Because we’re both retired. Everybody knows there’s less time available once one retires. It is well known, as Precious Ramotswe would say (the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency proprietor).

There’s absolutely nothing like having a friend with whom you can let your hair down, get an ego massage and a butt-kicking all in the same two hours, and part greater friends than ever. We part sadly, too, because who knows when we’ll meet again?
That was my extraordinary day. Hope yours was, too.

My drive looked like this.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


If I have a favorite month it would have to be October—for her color, her cooler temperatures, her sunny days—October could have been designed especially for me. And on clear days when the sky is a blue found at no other time of the year, I recall a portion of a poem by Helen Hunt Jackson, of Amherst, Massachusetts, writing in the 19th Century:
   O suns and skies and clouds of June,
   And flowers of June together,
   Ye cannot rival for one hour
   October's bright blue weather;

Autumn’s passing leads to Winter, and I can hear already the moans, groans, and grumbles of those who “hate winter”; can’t stand to live up north all those long, dark, cold months; or who proclaim it to be the ugliest time of the year.

Really? I’ll agree in part—the cold gets to me and I miss the longer hours of daylight. But ugly? I love the pen-and-ink-drawing quality of a winter landscape. Shadows harbor blue tones. Trees reveal their structure. Evergreens stand out against the subtle whites. Winter always makes me think of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Robert Frost’s famous poem; here it is in its entirety:
Whose woods these are I think I know.  
His house is in the village though;  
He will not see me stopping here  
To watch his woods fill up with snow.  

My little horse must think it queer  
To stop without a farmhouse near  
Between the woods and frozen lake  
The darkest evening of the year.  

He gives his harness bells a shake  
To ask if there is some mistake.  
The only other sound’s the sweep  
Of easy wind and downy flake.  

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,  
But I have promises to keep,  
And miles to go before I sleep,  
And miles to go before I sleep.

I will admit, I’m ready for Spring when everybody else is. Of course I’m thinking of soft breezes, soft sunshine, soft green grass and plants. In reality, Spring in Northeast Indiana brings snow, fog, cloudy days, rain, thawing, mud, and freezing mud. But by April—ah, April, T. S. Eliot’s “cruelest month.”
From The Waste Land, Part I-Burial of the Dead:

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

April became the cruelest month for me when my mother died during my sophomore year in high school. Even today, I am vaguely unhappy during April, no matter how many flowers bloom, how gentle the breezes. But the time passes, and May comes with more and more flowers and trees in bloom and bushes putting forth fragrant perfume. And I am solaced.

From John Keats’ poem, “On the Grasshopper and the Cricket”
The poetry of earth is never dead:
   When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
   And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;

That is the Grasshopper’s--he takes the lead
    In summer luxury,--he has never done
    With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.

Summer was always the season when time, for me, ceased to pass. Summer went on forever. Summer never seemed to end. For me that was punishment; I longed for cooler weather, school books, and teachers. (Being an only child meant I had no one to play with. But I managed—I lectured my dolls and made up stories.)
Now that I’m an adult, I distract myself from summer’s too-long visit with enjoyment of my neighbor’s roses, or the lovely shade of the trees surrounding my house.

Seasons have come to mean more to me than merely changes in the landscape and activities to suit the time, temperature, and condition of the sky.
SPRING is a time of new beginnings; a time to sow, or prepare, or plan.
SUMMER is a time of growth, of tending what has been sown, of appreciation for what is growing.
AUTUMN brings harvest, and a time to take one’s ease after the previous work of Spring and Summer.
WINTER allows us rest, when much of life lies dormant, waiting for a new Springtime.
We can experience all the seasons of life—sometimes in one day, or during one project; in our homes, at work, at school; within ourselves, moment to moment.
If you live in other climates and don’t experience the change of seasons as dramatically as we do in Northeastern Indiana, look for signs of your own seasons—they may be more subtle, in color, shape, length—but you’ll find them. Look within. You’ll find them there as well.


Thursday, October 2, 2014


After one look I decided I'd better stay inside and forget about the tree trimming going on in my front yard.
The young man is strapped in and the strap is hooked to the outside of the bucket. Still........

Here is the first cut...the beginning of the facelift I'm giving my four maple trees...two in front, two in back.

The front trees are older and bigger...I'm told they're hard maples. Being so tall they provide lovely deep shade in summer.

Looks like windstorms have been through my community, but it's only the limbs trimmed off on the south side.
Soft maples, before their trim
Today's post is late because I had to take extra pics this morning before the guys arrive to resume their work.

I'm so grateful for shade trees in summer. And I even enjoy the thick carpet of leaves that will soon cover my yard. Of course this fall I'll have fewer than in previous years. But wait till next year! Nothing like a good trim to encourage the trees to grow new leaves!

After our trees are bare, I can see the shapes, the bare bones, and I marvel at how nature gives us so much variety--same trees, different looks each season.

I hope you're enjoy autumn wherever you are (or spring, if you're in the Southern Hemisphere).