Monday, February 23, 2015

As a Writer, Are You a Poet, Too?

Oscar Wilde
"All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling." Oscar Wilde

I am not a poet, not even a bad one! Some have a natural flair. A friend who used to be in my writing class often brought poetry to share--really beautiful poetry. She could take an episode from her work as a nurse, or a sight she'd seen on vacation, or even a dead deer she'd come across in the park, and create something breathtaking.

My husband, with a statistics and engineering background, also writes beautiful poetry.  When we were dating, he wrote some gorgeous pieces for me!  I know what you're thinking--he was on his best behavior and just trying to impress me. So? It worked! And I know you're wondering when the last time was that he wrote me something. Okay, it must've been 19...well, I can't remember. But he has helped me write poetry!

I'd written a scene involving two wealthy ladies (in the American south of 1936) who are discussing the work of a nationally acclaimed southern poet who'll be doing a reading in their town that afternoon.  Even though this gentlemen writes love poems that practically make women swoon, he's gay.

This poet of my imagination is Bennett Stuart. I'd come up with a sappy sweet title of an anthology, but my writing class suggested that one of the ladies recite a poem, one that sounded pretty awful for comic relief.

Of course that meant I'd have to write something--NOT! Remember, I can't even write bad poetry!  After struggling for far too long and only producing two lines, I asked Mr. McKenzie for help.  After explaining the time period, circumstances, and that it needed to be bad, my wonderful husband wrote the perfect poem. And it only took him a mere 15 minutes.

If you want a good laugh, the finished product is posted below!

Are you a natural poet?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

"Smitten" by Mr. McKenzie, writing as the fictional Bennett Stuart (bad poet) from his poetry anthology (of my imagination), Love's Passionate Bliss

My dearest, oh one of wonderment

I am assuredly smitten.

Admittedly so, I can think

of nothing but your gaze.

Though others hope of golden coins,

be they but hard and cold,

you, my love, my dearest one,

‘tis you that are soft and warm.

My mind is of feathers, floating,

fluttering back to you and your golden hair.

My dearest, my grandest wish is for you

to call me your lover, your beau.

You have captured my heart.

My thoughts are a plenty, full of you,

rather than grits, greens or red eye gravy.

Though you’ve warmed my tummy, too,

you’ve mostly warmed my heart.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Heard Any Great Lines Lately?

The new guy's an idiot, but that was a great line.
I'll have to use it in my novel...
"The pen is the tongue of the mind." Miguel de Cervantes

And sometimes real life provides dialogue that our pens can have fun with by adding to a work in progress.

What are some great lines you've heard in real life said by a spouse, friend, child or relative?

One of my favorites was said by an acquaintance at my gym. I didn't hear it first hand, but she told me after the fact.

She'd been crudely propositioned by a military man, and her response to him from the StairMaster was as follows:

"I don't care how many battles you've fought or how many people you've killed, but if you say something like that to me again, I'm gonna get down off this machine and make sure you'll never fight again!"

I'll have to use that in my next manuscript! Now it's your turn--share a great line and who said it!

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Reprinted from 4/6/11.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sharon Black's Debut Novel: Going Against Type

Sharon Black
Please join me in welcoming author Sharon Black as a guest. Her debut novel, Going Against Type, is now available! With the inspiration of an American movie classic, she has created a very fun romantic comedy. Take it away, Sharon!

Going Against Type is a romantic comedy, set against the backdrop of Dublin newspapers. It’s the story of two rival columnists, who write under pen names, and who fall in love, each not knowing that they are dating the enemy!

I worked as a journalist for national newspapers in Ireland – that’s my background. Which made it easier to set the book in newspapers. But my inspiration was an old Hollywood film, Woman of the Year, starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. 

In Woman of the Year, Hepburn plays a high brow newspaper pundit, who rubbishes sport. Tracy is a sports columnist who leaps to its defense and attacks Hepburn. In the film, they are forced to work together, and quickly fall in love.

Going Against Type, I turned the stereotypes on their head, so my heroine, Charlotte, is a sports reporter and a bit of a tomboy. My hero, Derry, is a fashion writer and gossip columnist, and he starts the war of words and wit, when he attacks Charlotte’s column Side Swipe, after she slags off footballers who get involved with promoting big brand fashion. So the fun begins!


'Sweetheart, you can't ask Derry to fly solo in a room full of couples.'
Fiona turned to smile at him.
'I'm going to invite Charlotte, my old school friend.'
'The sports writer? Yep, I can see Derry really going for her!'
'I'm not asking Derry to sail off into the sunset with her,’ Fiona said mildly. ‘She’s a smart, down-to-earth girl. And gorgeous looking!’
‘I don’t think Derry needs any help finding a girl,’ Jack said. ‘Look, don’t you get it? Derry’s ideal woman is an underwear model with the mental agility of an obtuse snail.’
Fiona couldn’t help laughing.
‘I’m not doing this just for Derry. Charlotte’s a tomboy, sure. She doesn’t suffer fools. But there’s a thin line between self-contained and lonely. Derry might rattle her cage. Shake her up a little.’

Sharon, thanks so much for joining me today and telling us a bout your new book! Great story line--I love how you've reversed the Tracy and Hepburn roles! To find out more about Sharon, visit her blog,, and author page, Sharon Black Author Page. And be sure to check out Going Against Type! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Fredi Washington: Didn't Live an Imitation of Life

Fredi Washington
Most white people who have ever heard of the term "passing," and know what it means, have probably seen the movie Imitation of Life.

Several years ago, my husband, who's white, watched the 1959 film with me.  He was fascinated by the subject matter, and impressed that Imitation of Life had been made back in the 1950s.

I told him that this was the second version, and that the original had been produced in 1934.  In that movie, I informed him, a "real black girl" played the part of Peola, the light skinned daughter desperate to pass as white.  (In the 1959 movie, the daughter's name is Sarah Jane and she's played by white actress Susan Kohner). If you're not familiar with Imitation of Life, based on the 1933 Fannie Hurst novel of the same name, click here.

The real black girl mentioned above was Fredi Washington, an accomplished African American dramatic actress during the 1920s and '30s.  Fair skinned with green eyes, she was often asked to "pass for white" in order to receive better opportunities in films.  However, Fredi refused.  "I'm honest," she said, "and you don't have to be white to be good."

She faced discrimination from whites and, because of her appearance, resentment within the black community, which had complex feelings about obvious mixed-race people. Washington expressed her opinions about race and color prejudice, and after retiring from acting in the 1930's, became an activist and journalist.

In 1937, Ms.Washington was a founding member of the Negro Actors Guild of America (NAG), which created better professional opportunities for blacks in show business. She also worked as Entertainment Editor of People's Voice, founded in 1942.

Never ashamed of who she was, Fredi Washington was no Peola!

Have you seen either version of Imitation of Life?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Originally posted on 4/9/12.