All posts by lcbennettstern

ASKING FOR A FRIEND…

I suck at asking for favors, so…

Recently, during a meeting of my writing critique group, when I was asked if I had gotten input from my Beta Readers on my latest book (before self-publishing) — I said, “No.”

 

Gasps of disbelief rippled around the table.

I felt like a leper.

I could feel the writers nearby withdrawing to safer, more purified air.

 

“WHY?” poured from every pair of lips, as they glanced uncomfortably at each other, while offering suggested excuses for my being such a scourge on the writing community at large.

“What are you afraid of?” “Lots of people are willing to be Beta Readers!” One individual even offered to trade — “I’ll read yours if you read mine.” (Reminded me of days long gone by on the playground, with the little boy who lived down the block…but, I digress.)

 

Initially, they almost had me convinced that “yes” I was afraid for others to read my work. But, as the inquisition continued, I found my own voice, and told them:

 

“I think it’s an awful lot to ask of someone in this crazy-busy world we are living in, to spend many hours (if not, days) reading another person’s work. Thus, I have avoided this part of the process.”

 

The whole experience reminded me of a piece I wrote many years ago, about everyone wanting a piece of my pie/time —but, that’s a story for another day.

 

Dear Readers:  Please click on the comment button above, and tell me how you deal with asking for a chunk of other people’s time…I may be looking for Beta Readers for my next book, and could use your sage advice!

 

 

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ANNIE MAE IS BACK IN TOWN!

Standing Ovation (The Mari Mort Theater Trilogy – Book Two) has finally made it’s debut!

Annie Mae Steinberg continues her adventures in Los Angeles in the year, 1900!

This, my latest offering, follows Mae’s first appearance in The Mari Mort Theater Trilogy- Book One:  Mae’s Revenge.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Maes-Revenge-Mari-Theater-Trilogy/dp/154707874X
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1081355034/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i3

I hope will enjoy both! And stay tuned for Book Three:

 Encore! Encore!

 

BARKING UP THE WRONG (FAMILY)TREE!

dog and trees revised

So…I grew up with the last name of Bennett (along with all my siblings.)

Since my sisters and I all married and took our new husband’s last names,  and my brothers would not be having children…I decided it was up to me to save the “Bennett” family name from extinction.

I gave both my children “Bennett” as their middle name. Brilliant – right?

Not even close!

Through extensive research on Ancestry.com for my first book: Bosses and Blackjacks, I discovered my paternal grandfather had changed his last name when he entered the Marines in the late 1800s.

David Steinberg became David Bennett.

Who knew? Obviously, not me!

So, my Ancestry.com research took a very sharp turn and my kids are preserving a false moniker!

(But, it does give them a funny story to tell their friends about their crazy mother and her obsession with ancestral connections!)

 

Question, Dear Readers:

Have any of you made such discoveries in your own family tree? Let me know in the comments section.

♪♫GETTING TO KNOW YOU…GETTING TO KNOW ALL ABOUT YOU♪♫

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FROM MY EDITOR (March 18, 2018):

 

Describe yourself in one sentence.
I am an empathetic human being who resides in my imagination almost as much as I do in the real world.

 

What is the one writing rule that you live by?
A bit of humor sprinkled in can make even the most boring prose tolerable. (If that’s not an actual rule, it should be.)

 

What inspired you to writer?
After shaking my family tree, a few interesting characters fell out who wanted me to tell their stories.

 

Do you share any characteristics with one of your fictional characters? What are they?
I believe I do. Claire Brenner, from the Mari Mort Theater Trilogy is a bit of a wise-ass, but also a loyal friend.

 

Which book do you wish you had written (and why)?
Gone with the Wind…because it’s a sweeping tale that exposes all the flaws, as well as the goodness, in humanity. Our choices — not our history, religion, ethnicity, etc. are what separate us. (Also, I’d be rich from the sale of the movie rights, character dolls, and book royalties.)

 

BROTHERLY LOVE?

The Manfred Story—1985 Writing Assignment…

Manfred padded into my hospital room wearing bedroom slippers and no socks about three the next day, not wanting me to expect regular visits of compassion, his being busy with his cockroach collection and all. Told him I neither expected nor wanted them, his camaraderie being something I had gotten used to doing without some fifteen years ago around the time we began sharing the dim little flat I hated to admit was home. He did tell me he wouldn’t rent out my room while I was laid up, felt he owed me at least that since I was his brother and all, and felt like he owed at least that much to our mother, “May she rest in peace.” He had this annoying habit of always tacking on that stupid epitaph whenever he mentioned our long-dead mother. I knew at that moment that by the time my confinement ended, I would probably not only hate my priggish brother, but my poor mother as well.

Thinking about being chained to that bed by the octopus contraption suspending my mangled leg, and having to endure even irregular visits from Manfred, I began plotting my escape. There had to be a way out, but the doctor only laughed when I suggested that night that a pair of crutches would free the bed up for somebody who really needed it, malpractice suits, that sort of thing.

I was doomed to endless ramblings about gutter-side neighborhood happenings, listening to excerpts from The Old Man and the Sea, insincere words of cheer, from Manfred’s drool-dripping lips, until in my second month of sober imprisonment the idea struck of pretending to lapse into a coma, a result of a delayed concussion from the tumble into my premature grave.

Manfred, being the ignorant porker that he was, believed these theatrics for two-and-a-half weeks until one of his cronies told him he overheard a doctor on the street at his lunch hour talking over my case with another hospital type.  Reported that they were going to release me if I continued to improve at the rate I seemed to be.

He descended on me within days of hearing this good news to assure me he really was glad I had regained consciousness, because he had something urgent to discuss, which turned out to be not so urgent, but he thought that was the only way I would agree to let him stay in the same room with me for more than two minutes. And he was right, having been without a drink for about two months, I was not fit company for even normal folks, let alone this sloth I had to admit was related. Sobriety making it even more difficult to look at him, his distended belly eliminating even a hint of belt somewhere where his middle was assumed to be, yellowed teeth, stained tee shirt, that sort of thing. Anyway, it seems when he agreed not to rent out my room he was sure I’d be up and good as new within a week or so, but my coma act convinced him that taking in a boarder might not be such a bad idea after all, him being afraid of being alone as he was, which he did, but now didn’t know what to do about, so he wanted me to be sure to give him plenty of notice so the other guy could clear his pigeon coups and stuffed squirrel collection, that sort of thing, out of my room before I got out and came back to the flat, if that’s what I was planning to do. Told me he would understand if I wanted to look for a place of my own, since he guessed I probably wouldn’t be drinking anymore because of the fate it brought me to.

Good God, what an idea, not to go back there, maybe sobriety would be worth it, my head gears shifted into third. No more Manfred, no more enduring conga-accompanied monologues about Moby Dick, watching spit drip down that double chin. Maybe sober I could do it – escape, sweet thought. Had to concentrate. Manfred left.

Spent the next week and a half reading apartments for rent pages, too much money, no private bath, that sort of thing, until at last I found it — third floor one bedroom, he’d never make it up all those steps, it was perfect. Called and set myself up for the day I was getting out.

Had to see Manfred one more time before I could leave, called, said he was busy reading or something, couldn’t make it out. Told him he could keep his new roommate, I wouldn’t be coming back, but now I couldn’t leave the hospital with no trousers to wear because of the shearing they took when I was brought in. Said he would see what he could do since he promised our mother, “May she rest in peace,” that he’d look out for me when she died. Told him I would let him out of that promise if he’d just bring me the trousers as quick as possible, I was anxious to breathe fresh air and take a walk and maybe see some other faces, and he brought them, after waiting two days, that was to be expected.

Manfred was a little slow-witted, not all home, playing with a light deck, that sort of thing. And I was ready to forgive him for taking so long and all, and I would have, if he hadn’t taken that awful tumble on the way into my hospital room, hitting his head on the protruding part of the bedpan on the table by the door, and died before I could. That was to be expected, if you knew Manfred as I did.

EASTER Public Service Announcement!

This is not, I repeat … NOT the Easter Bunny.

That being the case, he has asked me to make the following request:

Do not make images of him out of chocolate substances – dark, milk, or white (which, as we all know, is really not chocolate anyway!)

He is a living being, and requests that you treat him as such!

 

Also—this is NOT a peep . . . nor is it made of marshmallow! See where I’m going with this?

(And whatever you do … do not place it in the microwave to see if it will explode!)

Have a Happy and Kind Easter, folks!

YIN AND YANG

When you look at your children (if you happen to have some), you see beginnings and wonder about their future. They are your sun.

 

When your children look at you (again, if you happen to have some), they see endings and wonder about your past. You are their moon.

 

Your children will make you crazy over and over again…

That’s their job.

It’s paybacks for all the crazy you put your own parents through.

 

You will make your children crazy over and over again…

That’s your job.

It’s your earned privilege for reaching old age without having killed them when they made you nuts.

 

Hopefully, whether we see beginnings or endings, we will all do it with love in our hearts…and not hurt each other along the way. Know that we all need the sun for its warmth, and the moon to light our way in the darkness.

 

THE BODIES ARE PILING UP!

It’s January, and the dead bodies are piling up.

The murders began at the end of November and continued through December.

Some of the murders were done by hired killers out in the countryside. Others were committed by dedicated dads and moms in the suburbs  to please their offspring. Still others were carried out by well intentioned young men  from the city to impress their girlfriend or new bride.

These brutalities were accomplished with chainsaws, axes, hatchets, or other sharp-edged implements — in broad daylight!

No one reported hearing any screams. When interviewed, folks reported the victim was very quiet, never caused any trouble, and kept to themselves. Then, the witness would slam their door shut to prevent reporters from peering into their own homes.

Why? What were they hiding? Did they commit one of these atrocities themselves? Was there a path of evidence strewn across their living room floor leading to the front door? And what was that scattering of brownish-green specks trailing to the curb?

Yes. Christmas is over, and the dead bodies of blue spruce, balsam pine, and every species of fir tree are piling up outside of homes across America.

We chop them down. Drag them in. Argue over the best side to face ‘out’ avoiding the obvious hole Mother Nature laughingly placed in the most inconvenient spot. Adorn them with ornaments that refuse to hang straight and lights that never fail to blink out in one section just when we think we’re all done. Water them when we manage to remember. Declare them to be the most beautiful Christmas tree we’ve ever had. Demand family and friends pose in front of them for photos. Become one with our vacuum cleaner for the duration of the holidays.

Then . . . when the New Year celebrations end, we strip our victims of their colorful decorations, curse their falling needles poking up through our carpets, and drag them to the curb. No remorse. No fond farewell. No looking back. Good riddance.

A simple promise passing our lips: “No live tree ever again.”

 

Until next year comes, and the killing begins again.

TURKEY TROT

No time to write…it’s almost turkey time! So, here’s a rerun for you!

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Stern Words

Thanksgiving is next week. I can’t believe how calmly I said that.

We celebrate Thanksgiving each year at our house—and by “we” I mean twenty to forty immediate family members!

In the old days, when there were seven or eight of us sharing the holiday, the beautifully roasted turkey would take center-stage in the middle of the dining table waiting for the ceremonial (dramatic music playing in the background) carving. It was surrounded by the appropriate side dishes and condiments, with lovely serving forks and spoons of polished silver.  Each person had at least two glasses included in their place-setting that rested on a lovely table linen, and their napkins were actually held, just so, in rings of appropriate autumnal materials.

We all sat together,

said “Grace” together,

ate together,

and sang “We Gather Together” together!

We made Norman Rockwell proud!

Kiss those days good-bye!

Thanksgiving now…

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THE WAYWARD WIND

It’s a birds-flying-sideways kind of November day…and so, I was reminded of this piece I wrote a couple of years ago. It still works.

Stern Words

It’s a windy fall day . . .

The kind of day where the last of the dry, dead leaves are ripped from the trees and are tossed high in the air, and tumbled over and over before they come to rest on the brown, crisp, dying lawns of the suburbs.

Raking occupied the last three weekends. Too soon.

But—the current windy day (one of the last of its kind this autumn) has decided to conduct one more performance by rustling the uppermost leafy branches of its arboreal orchestra.

The sky provides a bright blue curtain behind the pine, maple, oak, and dogwood musicians.

I watch and listen again to the wind as it takes its last gasp of warmth before winter.

For some reason, I always hear a balalaika playing “Lara’s Theme” from Doctor Zhivago.

That is the magic of the wind.

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