The Name of the Rose


February 2020  

The Name of the Rose

Would February be the same if it weren’t for Valentine’s Day?

The magical month of February came by its romantic connotation the hard way. It was named Februarius by the Romans after the Latin term februum, which means purification, with a ritual held on February 15 (full moon) in the old lunar Roman calendar. February was one of the last months to be added to the Roman calendar, since winter was considered a monthless period. A few not-so-romantic names are Solmonath (Old English for “mud month”) and Kale-monath (for cabbage). The Finns got a little closer to at least a poetic feeling by naming the month of February helmikuu (month of pearls). When snow melted on tree branches, it formed droplets of ice that resembled pearls. Kinda nice, right?

So, when and how did romance officially enter the picture? Again, it took a while, starting with the imprisonment of Saint Valentine of Rome, who ministered to persecuted Christians in 3rd-century Rome. The romantic embellishment was added later, in the 18th century, avowing that he wrote the jailer’s daughter (whom he cured of blindness) a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a fond farewell before he was executed. Courtly love in the 14th and 15th centuries, associated with lovebirds that appeared in early spring, slowly grew into a time to express feelings of love through gifts of flowers, candy, and cards (called “valentines”).

In Italy, St. Valentine tokens were thought to prevent attacks of epilepsy, and an equally non-romantic moment occurred in Chicago’s North Side in 1929 where seven gang members were violently murdered (the “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre”).

After considering the down-side of Valentine’s Day, it occurs to me that, while chocolate is always a good idea (like Paris), that little guy called Cupid is holding … a weapon?

Thanks for walking through the corridor with me.


New Year’s Resolution


 January 2020  

New Year’s Resolution

The coming year of 2020 is being hailed by many as a year to “Catch the Vision” As writers, the coming year can be one of clarity and direction when it comes to writing goals—where you want to be as a writer a year from now Over the past five years, my goal has been to publish something each year—be it a poem, a short story, a blog, or an article I’ve worked hard to meet that goal, with the exception of 2018 when my toilet exploded (that’s another blog!) Still, 2020 could prove to be the most challenging year yet—I plan to launch my debut historical romantic suspense novel, Ellington Hall!

In the decades leading up to 2020, did I make any huge mistakes? Did I try to publish something that wasn’t ready? Did I get rejections from magazines and literary agents? Did I have to swallow my pride and start all over again? Did I learn anything from the experience?

Definitely to all of the above! Whether you’re a beginner, an oldie, a plotter or pantser, how do you plan to grow yourself as a legitimate author unless you put yourself out there And what can you do to accomplish that goal?

Read, Listen, and Learn (from podcasts, online blogs, youtube posts, and books on plot structure, conflict and suspense, plot and structure, characterization and dialogue — and at least five novels or short stories in your genre)

Write (put a character in a threatening situation and see how he/she reacts, put a person in a village square defending something you’re passionate about and have another character try to shout him/her down by arguing the opposite viewpoint and/or threatening bodily harm, get inside a character’s mind with internal dialogue contemplating murder or a spouse, parent, sibling, or take something from your past and put it down in black and white, in true colors with honest emotion) Don’t be shy! Believe me, most of my first drafts were nothing to brag about!

Edit, Revise, and Polish (find a critique group you’re comfortable with and learn to edit your own work and others correctly, honestly, objectively—I can’t stress this enough! In a group, you learn to take criticism and to accept others’ suggestions to make your writing the best it can be, you exchange ideas with fellow writers who’ve gone through writer’s block, six drafts, query letters, pitches, rejections, and/or publication and are willing to share their secrets, you are line-edited for grammar and other issues that may have slipped past you!)

So pick a goal Say, one short story, from beginning to end Written, revised, and polished to perfection  Visualize it in your mind, and make it happen! Pick a person and select a situation

Let 2020 by the year your goals are in sight!

Thanks for walking through the corridor with me.