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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

All About Choices - Interview With Beth Carpenter

This world is full of talented, fascinating people.  People who can take their abilities and their experience and make something of it that gives joy and value to others.  Some of them write, reaching back and touching their own experiences and bringing to the stories their own wisdom and interpretation.  Today I am featuring Beth Carpenter and two books in her Choices  series, Recalculating Route and Detour on Route 66, a short story that serves as a sort of 'prequel' to the stories of the two main characters.

The covers are crisp, evocative of the golden age of travel.  Mountains, distant rolling hills, the sort of vibrant blue skies we remember from our childhood, and an association that, for me, at least, has a touch of magic: Route 66.  They follow the stories of Marsha and Ben, who...  

But let me post the Publisher's Weekly review, which gives a wonderful summation that I can't hope to match:

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Widow and former home economics teacher Marsha Davison is still trying to recover from the death of her husband, Eric, 19 months earlier when she meets Ben Mayfield, a wealthy retired geologist who invites her on a road trip along old Route 66. The ex-husband of a dear friend, Ben's courtly manner and sense of adventure intrigue Marsha. Although initially she declines, Marsha decides to throw caution to the wind and she and her dog, Lindy, go along for the ride. After a nearly three-month jaunt on the road, Marsha returns to her home in Sedona, Arizona, and Ben to his in Texas, planning another roadtrip -- an East Coast one this time -- for the fall. But soon after returning to their respective homes, Marsha and Ben soon realize that their relationship is far from being a simple friendship, it's turned to love, and then quickly they decided to marry. It isn't all smooth sailing because both have grown children who object to the relationship for various reasons, and they live hundreds of miles away from each other. But can these obstacles stand in the way of true love? The author writes movingly of the mixed emotions that come after mourning a beloved spouse and then dating again in this sweet romance that targets a less-than common demographic: those in the later stages of life, who refuse to give up on love. A sweet treat.
Publisher's Weekly is an independent organization. Review was based on manuscript version, which combines Detour on Route 66 and Recalculating Route.

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Beth Carpenter was kind enough to share an excerpt:

This scene takes place on the second anniversary of Eric’s death. Earlier, Marsha’s son sent flowers and she thought of how many yellow flowers Eric had given her over the years.

Marsha leaned forward to pick up the silver frame holding their wedding photo. Eric managed to look outrageously handsome even in the silly white rented tuxedo she had chosen. What was she thinking? She smiled broadly in the picture, her poufy veil framing her hair, arranged in shiny wings on either side of her forehead. They looked much too young to be making solemn promises. They had kept their vows, though, their devotion growing throughout their marriage. Good times and bad, they had stayed together and loved one another.
“Hello, my love.” She reached to touch his face in the picture. “We had a good time, didn’t we? We promised ourselves to one another until death do us part.” She sighed. “And even then, I didn’t want to let go. But Eric, I think it’s time.”
She reached for a tissue from the coffee table and dabbed her eyes. “I love him, Eric. Not the same as I love you, but a different love, just as special. I wish you could meet him. You’d like each other. I can picture the two of you, sitting under the trees in the back yard with a beer in your hand, swapping stories.”
She laughed. “Ben would love your story about Nicky Flynn, trying to get out of a spelling test by putting an Alka Selzer in his mouth to convince the teacher he was having a seizure. I remember you had to send him out of your office to wait because you could hardly keep from laughing out loud when you tried to discipline him. I’ll try to tell Ben that story, but you tell it better.”
She traced the curving lines in the picture frame. “I’ll always love you, Eric.”
Her face began to grow hot. She sighed, set down the picture, and walked out on the back porch to let the breeze soothe the heat from her skin as the hot flash continued. Lindy followed her out. The climbing rose Eric had planted grew lushly over the trellis at the western edge of the porch, blocking the sun while letting the breeze through, making the porch a shady oasis. Every year, just before Mother’s Day, it covered itself with clusters of apricot buds that opened into extravagant sprays of pale golden roses.
She noticed something yellow on the trellis, and frowned. Once, spider mites had almost decimated the rose, leaving the leaves pale and spotted, but Eric had managed to save it. She went closer to examine the problem.
A single yellow rose blossomed bravely. It shouldn’t have been there, not in September. This rose always bloomed in May, and only in May. Yet there it was: a yellow flower. Each tissue-thin petal was a work of art, deep yellow at the base, shading to a paler tint and almost white along the curving tip, the innermost petals hugging the shaggy stamens at the center of the blossom.
She bent to inhale the lemony-sweet fragrance of this miracle, her hot flash forgotten. A single tear fell onto the leaves of the rose, but this time it was a tear of gratitude, that she should experience so much love in a lifetime.

What started you writing? 
I grew up on a farm with no nearby playmates, so I’ve been an avid reader since before I can remember. I’ve enjoyed thousands of books in my lifetime. About ten years ago, I decided to give the supply side of books a try. 

What do you enjoy most about writing? 
I like getting to know the characters, to get involved in their lives.

Would you like to share some things you do that get you going, (note: I mean tips, tricks, ways you might get in the mood, things you like to do – I read of one fellow who danced madly around his apartment when he was at a loss for a word.) 
I find that a bath or shower seems to let my brain float so it’s open to new scenes and dialogue. Maybe it’s because the tub one of the last places I can be alone with no outside conversation or stimulation.

What are your books about?  You can give a synopsis if you really want, or you can tell what it is inside you that is finding expression through the book(s). 
Detour on Route 66 and Recalculating Route are about Marsha, a widow, and Ben, a wealthy retired geologist with a poor matrimonial track record. He invites her along on a road trip strictly for companionship, but it grows into love. Then they have to convince themselves and their grown children that, in spite of their differences, they belong together. All the books in the series feature older than typical protagonists. There’s no upper age limit on romance.

Do you ever dream about your characters? 
The very first short story in the series, At The Turning Point, started that way. I woke up from a dream that was so vivid I couldn’t understand why the window was in the wrong place. It started me thinking about the classic Vegas comedy of waking up in a stranger’s hotel room. I thought “What if a respectable middle-aged woman like me found herself in that position?”

Do you have a routine? 
I try to grab pieces of writing time when I can get them. I need to establish a routine, but son, husband, and dog have this inexplicable desire to converse (or play fetch) with me, so when they’re occupied, I’ll run in and write. 

If you could do anything you wanted to for a year, without having to worry about making a living, what would it be? 
Read, write, and never worry about housework.

Quick:  Chocolate or peanut butter? 
Both. Reese’s peanut butter cups - yum. But dark chocolate if I have to choose.

What is behind your covers?  (I like them!) 
Thanks. The covers for Detour on Route 66 and Recalculating Route are from a stock image. I thought they felt like the area around Flagstaff on Route 66.
Beth Carpenter, Author
(From Diana: What caught my eye is the way they reminded me of the old travel posters pre-WII.  It helps that I used to live near the Rockies...)

What's in the works for the future? 
I just finished a romance/mystery called After the Fireweed that takes place in Alaska. I’m querying agents, but if that doesn’t yield results, I’ll self-publish and probably enter it into ABNA next year.

Finally, you have the microphone.  What would you like to say?   
Thank you. Thanks to you, Diana, for this interview and to all the readers out there who’ve spent their hard-earned money on my books. Whenever a reviewer says she enjoyed the story, I’m thrilled. Sharing my stories is what it’s all about.

Check these links (click the WORDS)  for Beth Carpenter's books and blog:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Celebrating Mom and the beautiful lake


Today is the Celebrations blog hop by VikLit .  Come join us: the information is below.  Join us!

Today I am celebrating a visit to my 87 year old mother in 'Upstate' for which read 'northwestern' New York state.

The location is Keuka Lake, one of the glacier-born Finger Lakes of new York, famous for wines.

It is a stunning spot, as this photo shows, bordered by vineyards.

Keuka Lake, with a view of The Bluff, New York

Mom is handling her second year of widowhood with her usual courage and aplomb.  Dad probably found her a charming handful  She always loved him (exasperatedly) but recently she has said, "You know, Diana - he made sure I was provided for."

That he did.

So I'm heading to Penn Yan NY (so-named because it was settled by Pennsylvanians and Yankees, and the name was a whole lot better than its original, which was 'Hellzapoppin'.

What are you celebrating?

I hope yours is good!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

IWSG August 6, 2014 - Write! #IWSG

First Wednesdays come very quickly, far faster than other days.  It is now time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group post. This is the once-a-month blog hop started by Alec Cavanaugh . IWSG = Insecure Writers' Support Group .  We share our insecurities and support each other with empathy, sympathy and  practical suggestions. 

I was speaking recently with someone who is disheartened.  He is experienced, and while he is only recently published, he has written for years, and through the years has honed his craft.  He tells good stories.

But there are others that he sees, those who put out products that – to him, at least – do not have a whole lot of merit.  They crow of their successes, they flaunt what he thinks are fabulous sales numbers, while he has nothing to boast of.  He just does not fit in.

I replied that some of the great writers did not fit in.  They did what felt best to them and never lost sight of who and what they were, and the source of their joy.  He is a writer: he should write and follow his own path (taking advantage of the aid offered, of course.)

I sometimes break into (pretty bad) poetry, and for this post I decided to offer this bit of doggerel, which expresses my musings on my friend's questions:

What am I?  (With a nod to Jean Valjean and a bow to Shakespeare)

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Alas, that I should take this wearying path
That windeth through such perilous wilderness,
And with this throng;

'Tis certain that my steps herein shall lag
Through many deserts without hope of aid
with choices wrong –

To follow my own heart, or heed the cries
Of those who claim to know the secret pass
That leadeth to the land of fame and wealth –
'Tis sure they lie and knoweth not their way –
...Or do they?

I fear that perils loom on ev'ry side,
My own heart tells me that they menace me
With thoughts of quick success, such as might wreck my gift -
And leave me with no hope.

So then, I think: what am I to do?

The urge within me says to simply write,
To let the words flow from me to be read;
To glory in the spate of thought and act
Capturing the joy of times long past
When telling tales held me in joyous thrall –
But is it right—?

But is it right?

The question still remains, and so I ponder it.
As I have pondered through all the passing years;
Who am I?

…And the answer comes:

What have you sought to be through years of waiting?
The glad times you sought words and let them dance,
The tales you spun,
The way your heart had sung
And you knew the path was true.
And all else to the side.

Tell your stories.
I have been rediscovering my gift, and the joy that using it gave me.  I think we lose sight of it, of the reason we are writers.

In A Chorus Line, Cassie, who had done some solo work, exclaims, "God!  I'm a Dancer!  A Dancer dances!"

We're writers.  All else is to the side.  Without the writing we are nothing.

…So let's write!

Check out the hop.  There are some fabulous posts to savor:

Friday, August 1, 2014

August 1 Celebrations

Today is the Celebrations blog hop by VikLit .  Come join us: the information is below.  Join us!

Today I am celebrating:

1.  The delicious continuation of a break in hot weather.  So lovely to be able to wake up with a quilt over me and a cat at my feet.

Cup with Agapanthus
2.  drinking my morning tea out of a cup decorated with agapanthus, which I call 'aspidistra' because 'aspidistra' has an almost Dr. Seuss-like sound.

Little Miss Mess with Photobomb

3.  A road trip to a cat show with Little Miss Mess (so-called because she takes no nonsense from the two big boys in the household) is scheduled for this weekend.  Probably her last since while she does love going into the public and flirting with children and passers-by and going up on judging tables and blowing kisses to the crowd, she is now ten years old and perceptibly slowing down, though she still whacks the males in the household on the backside.

4.  The weekend.

What are you celebrating?

I hope yours is good!