Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Goodness...An Award

Receiving an award, no matter how modest, is always flattering and gives a person the drive to keep doing what they're doing, and to try to improve.


I want to thank Sue Anne Bowling at Homecoming for noticing this modest blog of a beginner. I'm giggling like a schoolgirl who got her first gold star, even as I struggle to figure out how to do links and such for this post. I invite you to go see her entertaining and informative blog.


As per the rules of receiving this award, I now have to list five things about me that not many people know (not sure if I can do this since I'm an open book to anyone who knows me, but I'll try), and to award five other blogs that I admire.


So, first the list:
1.  When I'm writing, I'm a slob. I mean, "dishes stacked on counter, dust bunnies breeding, piles of laundry piled on every chair" kinda slob. When I take a day off, I go nuts and clean like a maniac, only to see the mess slowly build over the days I'm obsessed.
2.  I kill houseplants. I'm merciless and insidious in my assassination, too. I do very well with gardens, especially with vegetable gardens, but houseplants are doomed as soon as they enter my doorway.
3.  I'm a baker; I love to try new recipes, and I've wasted a lot of money on really complicated ones, trying to get it right. I eventually will prevail after some false starts, and lately mine and my husbands favorite desert is Butter Pecan bundt cake with Butternut frosting. I'm sure that will change as soon as I conquer another recipe.
4.  I'm stubborn...as soon as someone says I can't do something, I'll do everything to prove them wrong. It has led me to downfalls and heartbreak on more than one occasion, but more often has led to the realization that I was capable of more than I thought. I have found I'm strong, despite myself sometimes.
5. And last but not least, I'm the "Mother from Hell" and damn proud of that title. In these days of trying to be your kid's best friend, I have never had that desire nor did I try. My kids have many best friends who often got them into trouble or fed them false information; they only have one mother, and I was going to raise them with guilt just as my mother did to me. Take my word for it...it works! They also provided me with endless fodder for my humour writing, much to their chagrin.


And now...ta da! The time has come to award this to five other blogs that I have come to admire, and visit frequently even if, on some, I rarely comment on them.


1. Blog of a Vet's Wife Nancy MacMillan writes about the problems of living with a soldier suffering from PTSD, and how it affects the people around them, even to affecting their loved ones with symptoms of their own. She is also busy marketing her book that addresses this problem.


2. Catherine Lanser's Cooking by the Box is a site I visit but have not commented on (me bad!). She writes about her adventures in cooking, and has a subtle humour in some of her articles that is endearing as well as informative. It makes me feel better when I try new recipes and sometimes don't get it right the first time, but always they turn out fragrant and enjoyable regardless. I love cooking blogs.


3. Catharsis; Not the Average Mommy Blog by Laura is hilarious. It strikes a cord with me because it's about raising boys, and that is so close to my own life as a Mom, having raised three of my own. Anything that combines laughter and kids makes me a fan. I love her irreverent humour and her views on child-rearing. If you need a good laugh when your own kids are driving you nuts, read her blog; I can guarantee you'll feel better.


4. Now here, I might be breaking the rules, but I'm going to award one to a blog that doesn't belong to "SheWrites" but should, since I think once you see it, you will count this one as a treasure. I normally don't read many parenting blogs, since my own kids are grown. But this one is well written with a gifted writer, though she may not know it, and it's a heartwarming blog of a normal American family who have had their share of misfortune and adventure and come out of them stronger as a family. I heartily recommend it. Alicia's Blog: Our LIttle B Words And I'd like to add, she's a gifted illustrator; the art on the site is hers. 


5. I would be remiss if I didn't award my online best friend, Carley Bauer, and her blog From Carley's Laptop, who is also new to blogging. She is still trying to find her niche, but her blogs (admittedly few in number) are well written and thoughtful, and like me, I'm hoping she finds this an encouragement to keep going since I really enjoy her voice. She's a lover of politics, and there are few enough women in this area of life. It's time we heard more from women on the issues that affect Americans (Yes, even me, a Canadian). She is set to private (why, I don't know, but perhaps you can ask her) but I think she should open it up since I haven't personally found anything offensive, and her subjects are ones we should all view and contemplate. 


Well, that's it. I hope you all visit these blogs. They are widely varied, as are my interests, and all worth at least a view. And recipients...remember you must list five things about yourself, and pass this award to five blogs you admire. And congratulations...you all deserve recognition.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Pet Peeve I Refuse to Pet

There are a few things that annoy me to no end. Now, I’m normally a disgustingly happy, perky person, except in the morning before my first two coffee, or when my grown children ask for money, and especially when the dog pees on my floor right after coming in from outside. But I digress…needless to say I’m not easily annoyed.

OK, people who know me; I see the smirk.

My number one pet peeve is the endless analysis of classical literature. All through my school years of the late sixties and early seventies (and yes, I’m aware I just dated myself), our English Lit teachers insisted on tearing apart wonderful literature by authors who truly knew how to write, trying to find hidden meanings and allegories behind the words, or even to psychologically analyze the authors.

Take one of my favorite authors, Samuel Clements, better known as Mark Twain. A humourist by inclination but writer and journalist by profession, he was a truly great storyteller. A frequent fantasy of mine is to be at one of his parlour gatherings, dressed in a charming gown, drinking wine and giggling while he extorts on some political or human societal subject of irony, He couldn’t resist telling stories at the least provocation just as a singer couldn’t help impulsively breaking out in song when they heard the first few bars of a favorite song. I know; I have that same weakness that I suspect most writers have.

Now to the point of this rant; my English Lit teacher in high school insisted that we write an essay about what or who Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer represented; his fear of homelessness, his anxiety about poverty and failure, or perhaps a childhood experience of abandonment?

Huh?

I’m sure many of you will excuse my ignorance when, as a teenager, as I sat and looked about me in a daze at my classmates. I noticed many were looking thoughtful or already picking up their pens and eagerly scribbling their profound thoughts.

Heck, I thought this book was about two boys with overactive imaginations and far too much time on their hands for their own good. Now, at the time I first read this book, I thought it was rather overdone, and that no two boys could possibly get into that much trouble. Recently, I re-read the book after having three grown boys of my own, and from personal experience I’ve changed my mind on that issue. I gave birth to my own neighbourhood terrorists, and I can testify they were perfectly capable of getting into the same trouble that Huck and Tom got into. In fact, I will venture to say that compared to my boys, Huck and Finn were bordering on angels who made minor miscalculations.

And so I wrote my essay, as required, but took the position that Twain was a storyteller, and he told the story of two boys, that they were perhaps modeled after boys he knew in his youth or even after himself as a boy. It was a story; a very enjoyable story, and the boys, the raft, Jim, all of it was nothing more than main subjects or props to the story. There were no hidden meanings, no allegories, nothing but a story that a writer wanted to write to entertain his readers. Nothing more.

Needless to say I flunked. I got a “D” with a notation on the sideline that I lacked imagination and foresight, and that the teacher recommends to my mother that I read more. It didn’t matter that my mother was already worried about my voracious reading habits, sometimes forgoing social dates with my friends to bury my head in a book instead. I was heartened to find my mother agreed with me. The problem was, the mark stayed on my school records, but I stubbornly refused to re-write the essay despite the promise of an improved mark if I only stuck with the program and tore apart this wonderful piece of literature.

I shudder to think that, if I’m ever successful enough to have my books read in a hundred years or more, they will be analyzed to the point that some arrogant English professor will conclude that I suffered from schizophrenic depression complicated by a fear of dust bunnies and was a secret ecstasy pill user that saw her dog as her God. Worse yet, the spongy minds of the young students will actually swallow that garbage.

Perhaps there are some writers who deliberately write allegories, and perhaps some writers have hidden meanings in their prose; however, for the most part, I’m sure I can be forgiven if I simply read a well written piece of literature and take it on face value; a damn good story to be enjoyed and discussed. I also hope others read my novels and see them as they were intended; ideas that haunted me to the point that I simply had to write them down and share with others who love to hear a good story.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Reasoning with Aliens

 I recently went for coffee with a younger friend who had teenagers, and it was with a sense of déjà vous that I listened to her rants about the trials she was suffering. It hadn’t been that long ago that I too suffered what she was going through, the poor soul. It was all I could do not to snicker. Instead, and completely against character, I pasted on a sympathetic face.

We all go through it, and it starts early. You say it when they are six years old. You say it when your older friends went through it with their kids. And you say it when you witness the rolling eyes, the derogatory comments other teens fling at their parents and the stomping off into the cavernous holes they call their rooms where, I suspect, they sacrifice goats or other sundry farm animals. But you are loudest when they tell you, “Just wait! It will happen to you.”

“It will never happen to me. My boys and I understand each other,” I replied confidently.

Nope.

All those years, they have been setting you up for this moment. They know you have become vulnerable and complacent. It is a plot, a scheme, waiting to implement just when your life looks like it’s going smooth as fine-sanded wood. Slowly, insidiously, they start to mutate into swellheaded, selfish, gum-snapping, droopy trousered, argumentative creatures from another world. It’s subtle at first and you hardly notice anything, especially if you are a self-absorbed freelance writer. But slowly, the “Duh”s and the “No, Mom, you don’t understand” and eyeballs reaching for the sky are slowly sinking into your preoccupied brain. Then, the smugness emerges.

That is the ugliest part of this whole transformation. They have realized you are not the all-knowing, omniscient, God-like persona by whom they have been raised. Now you are the moronic, antiquated, attitudinal dictator who is totally clueless on what it takes to survive. If there really was a Jekyll and Hyde person, I’m sure he used teenage hormones as the main ingredient for his formula.

As a writer who had written her share of human interest essays and some psychological pieces, I was confident I could overcome this horrible disease my children had contracted. I researched, I conversed with them patiently and discerningly on the subjects that I knew concerned their undeveloped sense of self. I tried to show them that clothes, money and learning to drive are not the essentials to life.

That’s when I got the first sneer directed at me. They wiped it off as quick as they could, since I still have the frightening reputation as “The Mother from Hell”, but it was there, unmistakable and overt.

I was wretched. And to make it worse, my older friends nodded knowingly and exchanged sage looks.
You know deep down that these alien beings, that have replaced your beloved offspring, have been injected with a permanent dose of attitude and there is no antidote. All your suggestions, patient explanations and adamant curfews are greeted with apathy.

So, I tried to buy an attitude adjustment. Yes, I indulged in blatant bribery. I took my beloved boys on a shopping trip.

As we wandered the aisles, I picked up a pair of jeans. You know the ones. They are blue, have two tubes for legs, pockets in the back, belt loops and a fly and snap closure.

“These are nice, aren’t they?” I asked with confidence.

Rolling eyes.

“What’s wrong with them?” I asked.

“They’re geeky,” he replied, looking at some by his arm, hanging on a rack and were a horror of red dragons embroidered with skulls and death scenes running down the leg.

I quickly steered them to another aisle. When I turned around, they were out of sight. I found them in the skateboard section of teen fashions, the one with chains and satanic phrases on clothing that suggested to my angels where normal, law abiding people could go.

I cajoled them to the shirt section and held up a black, velvety soft suede-like garment and held it up to my second son’s chest as my eyes filled with love. How handsome he would look in this. “Do you like it?” I asked, foolishly.

“Uh,” he grunted and shrugged. Somewhere between the jeans and the shirt section, he had turned into a monosyllabic caveman. I could have sworn he could speak complete sentences only five minutes ago.

Strangely enough, the malady seemed to be viral, since my younger son, who adored his warped older brother, suddenly lost all ability to communicate as well.

We left with jeans that had chains but no devil worship symbols and a t-shirt with no obscenities but a slightly derogatory message on it. I had won a hard-earned compromise.

I had learned my lesson. No one is immune to this transformation of their children. When I met with my best friend a few days after this attempt at connecting with an alien species, a friend who had a child the same age as my oldest, I informed her, “I took the boys shopping and guess what we ended up with?”

She stared at me sympathetically and answered, “Nothing humans would wear.”

I nodded and slurped my coffee. She understood.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Battle of Wits: Unorganized Writer vs Vengeful Domestic Gods

I do not require an alarm because the damn magpies outside of my bedroom window regularly wake me. I was experiencing a dream in which various friend’s floating heads discussed what was going wrong with my life, novel, etc. I was trying to appreciate their input but wished they would go away, since I was perched in my underwear on top of my washing machine in my back yard and my house was missing. It was rather important to find said house, since I had to get dressed and fly to Oprah’s agent to sign a book contract.

I often wonder why anxiety dreams so frequently involve washing machines and underwear, but cannot come up with an answer before my morning intake of caffeine.

As a writer, I survive on coffee and background TV noise, so first things first. Upon waking and stumbling blindly downstairs, I turn on the TV to waste electricity and sit on my comfortable desk chair to turn on the computer just before I get the coffee going.

Immediately, the chair dies, dramatically and with loud splintering noises, my pyjama-clad body sprawled in a very unromantic pose, my fuzzy slipper feet pointing straight up. I don’t think it was me, though my “secretary’s spread” ass probably didn’t help.  But the chair was also supporting the weight of loads of unfolded laundry from yesterday.

I can immediately surmise that the Domestic Gods are upset with me, probably due to dishes littering my counters, dust everywhere and the unmitigated cruelty of un-watered and dying plants on the window sill. I gaze briefly at the pile of garbage that used to be my comfortable perch, and then sigh and head to the kitchen to get the second half of my daily requirement prepared…caffeine, more accurately called “Life Juice”.

I retrieve an ancient, dirty plastic lawn chair from the shed, plodding through three feet of un-mowed lawn jungle and getting clothes-lined by our man-eating ivy. I trip over the dog chain on the way back, precariously buried unseen in said jungle debris, enter the house and stomp flimsy slippers free of dirt and brown grass in my kitchen. Then I carefully prop the chair in front of my computer desk. I sit while the coffee machine burps and gurgles contentedly in the background, only to discover the lawn chair is several inches lower than my deceased chair. I add various cushions and pillows, turn to fetch the coffee and then glance back to discover the cat has spontaneously materialized on my chair, lured by the presence of cushions. After I get a coffee, overloaded with sugar and whitener, I remove the irritated cat and perch awkwardly on the chair. Then I proceed to stare moronically at the monitor screen.

As I suppress the desire to e-mail my editor and beg for reports of the progress of my latest submission, I remind myself I must not be a pain in the bum. The aforementioned editor has promised to keep me informed of any eventualities. But I sure wish some eventuality would… eventuate.

I rerun the last sentence in my latest article and I realize I am morphing into an unqualified politician, complete with statements that have no basis in fact but merely biased opinion. I guess I shouldn’t have watched Rick Mercer and W5 both last night. I will soon lose the capacity to answer a straight question or form a comprehensible, serious thought on paper, ever, except if I’m involved in wild shenanigans that frankly I have none to admit to. Sigh. I never leave the house to create any. Would life would be easier, or at least sexier, if I was a politician? But then I would only be running with three votes in the entire universe, my mother and two of three of my sons, and no seat to sit in.

I can’t help but wonder if the Domestic Gods are really that petty, or whether the continuous breakage of various household items is possibly pointing out the lack of consideration on basic motherly and wifely duties while I’m immersed in my journalistic world. Or maybe it’s the tendency to spend money on books, charity shop clothing and bath oils meant to inspire musing brilliance instead of on essential items of domestic equipment like food and laundry soap.

I know I should be concentrating on my current novel, but I have temporarily lost all enthusiasm for it. My central character is morphing into a whining, moody cow, far too closely based on myself at age fifteen. I’m still a bit whiny, but now it’s just mid-life crisis stuff.

I get up briefly to feed the cat and dog (the husband feeds himself, since he has fingers and hands), watch a fly hop in a distressed way across the hot coffee carafe, then return to the computer after that indulgence in avoidance. I manage to type out two lines of incomprehensible drivel in a state of semi-consciousness, and then decide I need more coffee. I return and nudge the cat off my keyboard, the result of which is strange letters and numbers on my script. Stupid animal.

I decide to cheer myself up by sneaking off for brief fling with a political-noir novel I am collaborating on with my alter ego, me but with more class in my fantasy world. At least it’s writing. It also requires a re-reading of Tom Clancy in order to achieve an appropriate dark, politico conspiracy tone. I dig out an ancient copy of “Hunt for Red October” and immerse myself. I wake up several chapters later, slouch behind the desk, pin a cynical sneer to my lip and pour metaphorical Canadian acid on the manuscript.

I wonder if this counts as “doing something useful”. I can only hope the Domestic Gods are appeased. I decide I should perhaps turn on the dusty, long un-used stove and actually cook gruel for my starving, long suffering husband, just to be on the safe side.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What's in a Name?

I have gotten a few inquiries about the name of my blog, “Romancing the Thrill Quill”.

I put some thought into it before starting it. A name, in my opinion, should reflect the aura of what you will be writing about, or what your genre is in your novels. In my case it is the simple thrill of writing after putting it off for years to raise my family. Now they are grown, I can indulge in the secret passion I have always had for the craft; the romantic meeting of pen and mind, if you will.

However, there is more to it. I have been a freelance writer for almost ten years, and now that I’m writing my break out novels, I wanted to focus on two genres that interest me; romance and thrillers.

First of all, the romance book, working title of “No Gentleman is He” is co-authored by me under the pen name of Lynette Willows, and Carley Bauer, a gifted and passionate writer of romance, after years of interactive writing with her. This book will be our premiere romance novel set in the American Revolutionary War of 1775-76, with two more book outlines already planned out in the series.

Back cover description so far (badly in need of editing): “Colton Rolfe is great grandson of John Rolfe who settled Virginia with the first tobacco plantation after marrying Pocahontas.  Born appearing dark and Indian, rejection by a racist father and scorn by other plantation owners has made Colt a bitter, temperamental man rumored to have his ancestor’s savage blood. When he meets the beautiful Cassandra Courtney Brooks, a recent widow, during the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1775, he hires the woman as plantation steward against all societal rules. Little does Colton know that Cassandra is the runaway daughter of an aristocratic and titled English merchant, the very class of noblemen responsible for the high taxation and Colonialist hostility. From the first, these two stubborn people butt heads, but in a very short time, conflict turns to passion, each denying their love for each other. Living in the same household, it eventually has to come to a head, especially when Colton is accused of murdering an innocent young girl. Cassandra is forced to wonder, is the dark and dangerous Colton Rolfe capable of such a horrible crime as most of the people believe he is?”

My political thriller is my lone authorship project, and one that has haunted me for years. The working title is “Red’s Hunt”, and the front cover blip goes something like this: “A minor story assignment by her editor to ambitious journalist Rowenna (Red) Stewart turns into a crisis of international importance, drawing a suicidal RCMP officer into the web. Could a Manifest Destiny conspiracy, engineered by a rogue faction in the White House, finally turn Canada into a territory of the United States of America?”

I have to admit, it’s taken a long time to write the political thriller. It doesn’t help that this genre is almost exclusively the arena for male writers, few females having delved into these masculine waters, let alone a Canadian woman! I’ve had to do plenty of research, and that takes time. Through this research, I’ve learned that the Americans had tried to annex Canada into the USA on several occasions in our history including during the Civil War and our Confederation. In fact, Canada has a far more exciting history than even the United States, but few know of it. Did you know we had at least two civil wars of our own? I wanted to use these exciting aspects to set up a series of modern political conspiracy novels starring Red Stewart, with "Red's Hunt" being the first.

I hope this answers the question of why I named my blog “Romancing the Thrill Quill”. Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Lesson in Rambling

Hello, all, especially visitors from my friendly She Writes neighbours! (Yes, as you noticed, I used the *gasp* Canadian spelling of that word, in case it shows up at a spelling error.) For everyone wondering what happened the last couple of weeks with no entry here, let me just say I got out of surgery, it's very unromantic, and leave it at that. I'm back.

I just figured I would put in a quick blog entry to welcome everyone new here from the Blogging Ball. A little about me; I'm a voracious reader and writer. I'll write about just about anything, which accounts for my poor kids embarrassment. I have frequently used them as the subjects of my articles, and I suspect they are seriously considering changing their names. I also never see much as tragic; in fact it only becomes fodder for my writing. As you will notice, if you browse through my entries here, that I tend to be a tad sarcastic. I rarely use satire against people. Rather, I prefer to fight against the fates by using sarcasm since they seem to see fit to be so with me. Everything that happens usually strikes me as ironic or downright funny.

Take this blog entry; I'm going to enter this by simply rambling like an idiot. It's a writing exercise I do when I'm striking a blank trying to come up with something to write. I will not edit this, nor proofread it. Yes, I will go back later and wince and cringe and probably regret everything, but somewhere in here, something will strike me as a great subject to write about later on. It's a great exercise to do, by the way, when you also hit a blank. Just sit down and type for five straight minutes without thinking much about it, then go back and read it. Through the all the drivel, ramblings and rantings, I bet you find something that will hit you as funny, sad, epiphany-type thing that will prompt you to write something more in detail, perhaps coming out as a major article. I have often done this when at a loss for a column assignment, etc. There is no such thing as a writer's block when you have this skill. I usually like to try it after staring blankly at my blinking monitor, it sitting there  tapping its computer foot in impatience, as if to say. "C'mon, c'mon, I'm waiting...I have better things to do than sit here staring at your stupid face all day." Very intimidating, by the way, those staring, blinking computer monitors. I need at least two coffees in the morning before facing it, or I'll end up doing a gross violence against it.

Anyway, now I'm done rambling, I'll post this, leave it for a bit, then come back and do all my cringing at how I could possibly post this hack crap on a public blog...but...here goes.

Oh, and have a great week, everyone!

Welcome to the SheWrites Blogger Ball!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Serving Time

Would you be hired as a nurse in a hospital right after high school? Would you even consider operating heavy equipment after two hours of reading an instruction manual? Could you build a house without learning the use of tools and the safety procedures on the job site? Would you even trust a hairdresser to perm or dye your hair if she’s never done it before?

Or would you prefer someone who knew what they were doing to build your house, to nurse you in a hospital, or to even touch your hair? And if the answer is "Yes" then why would you assume you can have a novel published without serving an apprenticeship first?

Unlike most professions, writers rarely get the chance for a formal program to learn their craft, unless it’s in a writing class in college and then in a big city newspaper. Even then, you can’t assume you’re ready without first getting experience on the job. But what about novelists?

By all means, go to school and take a creative writing course, but don’t think this will solve the problem. After you learn the technicalities of writing, all you need now is practice, and lots of it. And to make things more difficult, it’s all on your own. No bosses, no supervisors to explain and to teach. This is your self-imposed apprenticeship.

I’ve presently been serving mine for almost ten years; ten long years. First, I wrote down various musings on paper, (I was hopelessly backward with no computer yet). Then one miraculous day, I received a machine that promised to make my writing endure through the ages. But that is for another article. Yes, I finally entered the twenty-first century and bought a computer. It was my first piece of legitimate office equipment.

It took me a year to even learn how to use the darn thing. But eventually, I prevailed and overcame my hopeless inability with anything mechanical. Next, I started to write interactively with other people who liked to write and who had various levels of capability, in a group online. I had to learn patience, not only with them but with myself. It was a lesson that would serve me well later on, dealing with editors, publishers and family members who did not understand this strange aspiration of mine. But with this creative writing, I became literate at my craft and increased my skills with the language. I also realized I still wasn’t ready to even attempt submitting any stories. I was still too raw.

Next was writing freelance articles and submitting them for consideration. I found that satirical and humor writing was one of my talents, though again, still not fully developed. But some were accepted for publication in small magazines with specific readerships. I learned to alter the articles to reflect that specific publication.

Next, I was offered a freelance job as a journalist for a small town newspaper. This was my most valuable experience; I grasped the ability to write tight, smooth, factual articles that gave information vital to the reader. I became well versed in editing skills that have held me in good stead ever since, teaching me to “cut out the fat”. However, in creative writing, I still have a few bad habits to conquer yet.

Now I feel ready to tackle the daunting mission of writing a novel. It took this long to learn and my apprenticeship has served me well. Like any student, perhaps some would finish this stage of their career earlier and some would take longer. Everyone is different. And if you can keep an open mind and heart, be realistic with your own abilities and take suggestions and critiques from those who are further along the journey, you will eventually know when it’s time.

I have served my time faithfully and consciously. I have studied others more experienced than I am, and taken the lessons to heart. I have applied what I have learned, refined and tweaked, tried new things, (some worked, some didn’t) and now I’m ready to expand my horizons into a larger project.

I am currently reading a book called “Jane Austen: A Family Record” by Austen Leigh (sic: family) and Le Faye (revisionist). Jane had written a letter to her sister Cassandra about getting servants for their new home in Bath, England (by the way, a relocation which she protested),  and it eloquently showcases Jane Austen’s grace and suggestive, sardonic humor developed through many years of her own apprenticeship and numerous rejections: “We plan having a steady Cook, & a young giddy Housemaid, with a sedate, middle aged Man, who is to undertake the double office of Husband to the former & Sweetheart to the latter. – No children of course to be allowed on either side.”

Perhaps, if I serve my apprenticeship long enough, I may eventually own that level of wit and sophistication. All it will take is time, patience and lifelong learning of my craft.