few weeks ago, I was looking through a box of paperwork in the basement and
came across a romance novel I’d written over 20 years ago. Back then, I didn’t have a computer or even
a word processor, so it had been typed on a regular typewriter…all 500 pages of
lugged the manuscript upstairs and started to read it. Some of it was good.
Some of it was hysterically funny…but not intentionally.
going to type this into my computer and then edit it,” I told my husband. “I’ve
heard that steamy romances are selling like hotcakes right now, so I’m going to
heat up this one.”
rolled his eyes. “Maybe you should hire a ghostwriter…one who’s about 30.”
glared at him. “I can handle it – I’m not so old I can’t remember what ‘steamy’
is…at least I don’t think I am.”
high-school English teacher used to tell me that whenever I wrote fiction, to
write it as if I were describing everything to a blind person. “Paint a picture
with words!” he’d say.
said than done, I soon discovered. When I’m writing something, I can see it
clearly in my own mind, but the only way I can tell if the reader will be able
to see it just as clearly is to actually test it on someone. So I have been using my husband as my
example, the other night, when I was working on the book, I said to him, “If I
write, ‘He assumed an authoritative stance, his arms folded across his chest,
his feet braced apart,’ what do you picture?”
husband stood and assumed the exact position I had envisioned when I wrote it.
about, ‘His hand cupped the side of her face’?” I continued.
husband put his hand against the side of his face…and then fluttered his
eyelashes. I really didn’t need the
I said. “So far, so good.”
not going to write anything about doing cartwheels in the nude or anything like
that, are you?” my husband asked. “That’s where I draw the line!”
character in my book is a handsome Native-American warrior, so I started to
think about how eye-catching the cover would be with him pictured on it.
Rosalind, the heroine in my book, which is set back in the 1600s, first sets
eyes on the warrior, he is described as follows: “Rosalind’s gaze instantly was
drawn to the younger of the two. He
wore snug leather breeches, nothing more. His muscular chest and taut, flat
stomach glistened with a light film of perspiration. His chest was hairless and
smooth, something she was not accustomed to seeing. Her eyes rose. His hair,
well past his shoulders in length, was glossy and so black, it shone blue in
the sunlight, and was held back with a strip of leather. Rosalind decided that
his face, with its high cheekbones, strong chin and jaw, and large, dark eyes
with their thick fringe of lashes, was one of the most handsome she had ever seen.”
wondered, would I ever find someone to match that description for my
cover? I mentioned it to one of my
friends, a fellow writer, and he told me about a website that sells
royalty-free stock photos on any subject imaginable. He said they had thousands of photos on the site, so there was
bound to be something I could use. I
looked up the website and under “search” entered: “Handsome, young
sample photos I received bore no resemblance whatsoever to the warrior in my
book. Most of the men had pot bellies,
double chins, dozens of tattoos and looked as if they were at least in their
my husband said when I showed him the photos, “Even I look more like the guy in
your book than these guys do! Maybe you
should just buy me a loincloth and have me pose for the cover!”
at him. “You’re Irish! Our dog is more
Native-American than you are!”
weekend, there just so happened to be a Native-American inter-tribal pow-wow
being held right in my town. So I grabbed my camera and decided to go check it
tell me you’re going to try to find some hunk over there and have him pose for
your book!” my husband said. “The poor guy will think you’re one of those old
ladies who chases young guys – what do they call them? Bobcats?”
cougars?” I shook my head and sighed. “I don’t care what the guy thinks I am.
If he looks like the Native-American in my book, I’m not going to leave until I
get a photo of him!”
turned out, when I arrived at the pow-wow, hardly anyone was there. There were two older men, who were dressed
in Native-American garb and dancing, but that was about all.
beginning to think that by the time I figure out how to write this book, using
my former English teacher’s rules, and then find a hunk who’s perfect for my
cover, I will be too old to remember how to write a steamy love scene.
that’s OK. I still will have plenty of
fun making my husband act out more of my descriptions. In fact, I already have
some real doozies planned for him.
|CODY THE COWARDLY COYOTE|
to figure out Mother Nature is confusing, especially when you live where I
all started three years ago when we moved to our current location. Our house
sits in the middle of the woods – nearly eight acres of woods. About
three-quarters of an acre is cleared and fenced in. The rest is trees…and more
of the first things I did when we moved was put up a bird feeder. I hung it on a tree on the other side of the
fence, not in the yard, mainly because I didn’t want my dogs to have access to
it. Squirrels and blue jays showed up
almost immediately and wiped out everything in the feeder within minutes. After
that, I also started sprinkling birdseed on the ground around the feeder, so
more birds would have the chance to eat.
when the turkeys arrived, followed by these two huge black birds with heads the
size of baseballs, five-foot wingspans, and big black beaks that curved
downward. I wasn’t certain what they were, but they scared away every other
creature when they arrived. They obviously were the bullies of the bird
three turkeys soon became 16. My four
squirrels multiplied to 13. And the two
big, mean black birds…fortunately remained at only two. And all of them showed up daily without
one thing I was afraid might appear at the feeder was a bear, especially since
we live adjacent to “Bear” Brook State Park.
But in three years, I haven’t seen any signs of a bear, which is fine
a few weeks ago, I bought a two-pound package of peanut-butter cookies, one of
my husband’s favorites, on sale. He
wasn’t too fond of the particular brand I bought, so I threw a handful of the
cookies over the fence for the squirrels, figuring at least they would enjoy
I later looked out the window, I saw what I thought was a big German shepherd
eating the cookies. I said to my husband, “Someone’s dog is loose – and it’s
eating my squirrels’ cookies!”
looked out the window. “That’s not a dog.
It’s a big coyote!”
only coyote I’d ever seen had been crossing the highway in Epsom one day. It
was scrawny and mangy looking and had short legs. This coyote was tall and
big-boned, with rust colored fur and a pure white chest. He looked as if he’d
just been groomed for the cover of Coyote Monthly magazine. He also seemed to have a passion for
thought that if I didn’t put out any more cookies and just stuck with sunflower
seeds and birdseed, the coyote wouldn’t return, but he did…every morning
because coyotes eat squirrels and turkeys,” my husband said. “And you’re
feeding a couple dozen squirrels and turkeys every day – it’s like a gourmet
cafeteria for coyotes out there!”
my husband was wrong. This coyote, I soon learned, was terrified of squirrels
and turkeys. All they had to do was take one step toward him and he, his tail
between his legs, would bolt for cover in the bushes. He also was afraid of the
big black birds. The minute they flew overhead, he’d vanish. I nicknamed him
Cody the Cowardly Coyote.
few days ago, I found of a loaf of old raisin bread in the cupboard, so I broke
it into bite-sized pieces and tossed it over the fence. About 10 minutes later,
the turkeys came running…and so did Cody. I stood at the kitchen window,
watching and wondering what was going to happen next.
my disbelief, Cody and the turkeys, standing right next to each other, all ate
their share of the raisin bread.
definite proof that Cody is a big wimp!” I said to my husband. “Even the
turkeys aren’t afraid of him. And what red-blooded carnivore would rather eat
stale raisin-bread than a turkey dinner?”
bread?” my husband repeated. “I hate to say it, but I think you just killed
Cody. Canines can’t eat raisins – they’re toxic to them.”
I asked my dogs’ vet if I’d just inadvertently committed coyote-cide. “Good
question,” she said. “I don’t know much about coyotes. I know dogs can’t handle
raisins, but coyotes can eat just about anything.”
didn’t see Cody after that, so I was pretty certain the raisins had done him
morning I was out at the feeder, pouring birdseed into it and on the ground
around it. I also tossed in a few more of the leftover peanut butter cookies as
treats for the squirrels. When I turned around to head back into the house, I
came face to face with Cody, standing about 20 feet from me and just staring at
me. I silently prayed he wasn’t
picturing me smothered in gravy. Knowing how skittish he was, I spoke to him, thinking
my voice would scare him away. It didn’t.
slowly backed away until I reached the open gate to the yard, then backed into
the yard and slammed the gate. Cody strolled over to the feeder, ate all of the
peanut-butter cookies and then lifted his leg and urinated all over the
birdseed on the ground, as if to say, “Take that!” to the squirrels and
did it. From now on, the Breslin Wildlife Cafeteria is officially closed for
business. The only animal I’m going to be feeding is my husband.
sure hope he likes sunflower seeds, cracked corn and stale bread.