Blogging from a bookstore

So this is a first for me.

I’m blogging from Barnes and Noble with a delicious lemonade passion tea drink and cheese soup to keep me nourished.

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I’m experimenting. I originally intended to go to the “big city” library since I came to the “big city” (Fort Wayne) (let’s face it, any population with more than one grocery store is a big city compared to where I live). I had to come today to get my teeth cleaned. And since there is no bookstore or cafe in town where I can be anonymous (I don’t need my neighbors thinking all I do all day is hang out at cafes and “play on the computer” which is what most people assume I do when I’m writing), I thought I’d pop in to the mall to get some writing done.

But back to getting my teeth cleaned.

Bad idea.

If you can, avoid it at all cost.

Because cost is exactly what’s in store once they go in there and look around.

I left learning that I have a mere $10,000+ worth of work needed to make my mouth “right” again. Uhm, unless I get a best-seller in the next year or so, that ain’t gonna happen. I don’t have dental insurance and I’m still paying for work I had done over a year ago. So nope. Besides, braces at my age is kind of silly, isn’t it?

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(The caption on this photo was “ugly old woman” but I think she’s adorable.)

If you have good strong teeth, be thankful.

Anyway, back to blogging from the bookstore/writing at the bookstore.  So I came to the mall, thinking I’d have, oh, four hours or so to write. And, I surmised, nestling in with so many best-selling books might just inspire me.

But I forgot how easily distracted I am.

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A pair of new sandals and two hours later I’m finally settling in. Will the background noise keep me busy or distracted? I’m not sure. I’m a people watcher and intensely curious. May not get much accomplished.

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But the tea’s good. And the soup.

How about you? Do you like writing from a bookstore? Library? What do you enjoy more–tea or soup?

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The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott — 4 out of 5 stars

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I love historical fiction and when it features a strong and feisty heroine who is true to her ideals, I think I like it most. This book fit the bill.

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Alice is a farm girl with a dictatorial father. She chooses to leave the farm after her mother dies to work at the cotton mills in Lowell, Massachusetts. While working there, she takes on the cause of the working conditions of the mill. She also advocates for justice for her friend who is killed by a local minister.

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It’s the treatment of the Methodist movement in this book that causes me to give it a 4 out of 5 star rating. Of course, this is a subjective opinion. I realize this. But it does bother me that Christians are so often demonized in secular historical novels and movies. Through the ages there have been thousands of good, caring ministers. But it seems that the secular fiction world can’t help but exploit and highlight the very few rotten ones. (Disclaimer: I’m married to a minister and am an ordained minister myself.)

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I also take issue with the sarcastic attitude toward the Methodists in the way they worshiped. It’s fascinating, though, that the author described the worshipers as prostrating themselves before the preacher, when in fact, people prostrate themselves in Christian worship toward God Himself, not the preacher. At least that’s always been my experience. But isn’t it interesting that the secular world views it this way?

AwakeningIn all fairness, Alcott is historically accurate even in this attitude. The Methodist movement, and religious camp meetings, were mocked in the newspapers of that time (see political cartoon below). They were labeled fanatics and superstitious fools. Charismatics and Pentecostals continue to be targets of such ridicule. Christians of all stripes are told they are superstitious and stupid for their beliefs. Such labels are as old as Christianity itself.

6a00d834518c7969e200e550a37f338834-640wiCertainly, there were charlatans in those days just as there are today. There were preachers in those days that exploited women for money and sexual favors just as some do now. It’s an unfortunate truth. But this can be said of many occupations, not just ministry. There will always be religious leaders who fall into the temptation of greed and lust. It’s just too easy to exploit people when it comes to religion.

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Still, in this story, why couldn’t the murderer have been a mill foreman instead of a Methodist preacher? I’ll tell you why. The secular world loves reading about Christians who fall. It helps them rationalize their hate for Christians and Christianity. Unfortunately, they rationalize that Christianity is a feeble religion because they base it on fallible Christians instead of Christ Himself.

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The story in this book is compelling and while the romance in the book is predictable and a little on the dull side, it was a nice subplot.

millThe most important part of the story is educating us in the working conditions of the mill, the mistreatment of women and children and how society in those days viewed women. It makes me grateful that I grew up with a father who never let my gender determine my dreams. I don’t ever remember thinking something couldn’t happen for me just because I was a girl.

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One of the bad conditions of the mill that I didn’t know about, was the air. They kept the windows closed so the cotton would remain dry. In doing so, women inhaled cotton lint. Many died from lung disease. The working conditions were poor, the pay was poor, and their treatment was poor. The book’s main character, Alice, advocates for better conditions and pay.

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If you love to learn new things when you read fiction (like I do) and if you love historical fiction as much as I do, you’ll really enjoy this book. It would make a lovely movie or series on PBS. I hope they’ll make one. Well, er, that is, as long as they leave out the parts about Methodism.

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The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg — 5 out of 5 stars

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I’m a long, long, long-time Fannie Flagg, author fan. One of my all-time favorite movies is Fried Green Tomatoes.

Fannie Flagg wrote that.

I love books that explore the lives of women. That’s one of the reasons I wrote my novel, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots. I yearn for good girlfriend relationships, but I think they’re really difficult. I think women’s lives are complex as they wrestle with their identity and who they are besides mom and wife.

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This book is just as funny and fresh as I expected it to be. It’s set in the south, and I  adore southern fiction. (Another reason why I set my novel partly in the south and why my current work in progress is set on the Mississippi.)

The main character in this book, Sookie Simmons Poole, has a difficult relationship with her overbearing mother, Lenore. After her children are grown and she’s caring for her aging mother who lives a few houses down, Sookie gets a letter that makes her question everything she knows about herself. The letter introduces us to the Jurdabralinskis of Wisconsin, whose girls were WASPS and flew bombers in WWII! (I never knew women flew bombers in WWII but they did! Stateside, but still!)

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Not only is the book full of hilarious moments, hearing Flagg read it on the audio version is a treat in itself. I hope it wins a Grammy.

I didn’t want the story to end. And when you don’t want a book to end, it’s a jolly good read.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars. The only thing I didn’t particularly like is the title. I don’t think it captures the full nature of the book. But maybe they named it this for marketing reasons. I think Sookie’s Journey or The Incredible Journey of Fritzie and Sookie or some such moniker as those would have been a better fit.

I hope they make this book into a movie. It’d be swell.

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Why I don’t trust mascara

There are a few things in life I don’t trust.

Take mascara for example.

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How do I know which one to buy?

There’s mascara that makes your lashes long, others that make them thick. Then there’s 24-hour mascara, waterproof mascara and smudge-proof mascara.

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But how do I know they really do all those things? I mean, what if every brand of mascara is really just the same thing mixed in the same pot and put in different tubes with different shaped brushes?

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Fact is, there’s no way of knowing, really. As a conspiracy theorist, I believe it’s quite plausible that all makeup comes from the same makeup factory and put into different boxes while the owners laugh themselves silly at us. “Look at those easily-duped morons! They think they’re getting Cover Girl or Revlon when it’s all made from the same stuff in China!”

There’s no other point to this post. I mean, it just hit me today that buying mascara is dicey business. There are no guarantees that I’m getting something unique and special for my money.

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Life’s like that. You take your chances. You’re never guaranteed anything, are you?

So why should mascara be any different?

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