Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Mix-It-Up Under the Tree



The time has come where the Southern Girls of Okay Listen Here are mostly published and moving in various directions, multitasking like no other time before.  It’s been an incredible journey together, learning and growing, laughing and thrilling together in the written word.  Being the newest voice under the tree, I had to go back and look at what all has happened over the years.  And le’me tellya, Cher!  What wonderful times have been had underneath this tree!  Stories of Precious Angel and Oldest Friend, Book Reviews and talk of cereal, fabulous Friday Recipes, tales of the High Seas and Pirates and Gators, and Barn Tales and Ghost Stories, too!  And then along came my voice of wacky to throw into the mix this past year.  We’ve laughed a lot and made new friends along the way.  Yes.  It has been wonderful!  

But now with Alicia Hunter Pace (aka Jean Hovey and Stephanie Jones) and Katherine Bone published and touring other blogs and manning websites and such…not to mention writing more stories to entertain us all… well, it’s time to heed the changing season and mix it up a bit here on the bench.  

Starting this week, we’re going to post blogs on a need basis rather than every day of the week, Monday thru Friday.  In other words, when we need to step under the tree and say something (of great importance, no doubt!), we’ll blog and let you know by way of our usual social groups, Facebook and such.  We don’t want you to miss one beat of what’s going on with us in the world, be it publishing or our day-to-day happenings. 

So followers, thank you for reading our words, encouraging us, laughing together with us and supporting us on our journey into the world of books.  We are each so very thankful for your support and interaction.  Watch and be ready though!  I know there will be more stories to share very soon!  In the meantime, please find Alicia Pace Hunter and Katherine Bone at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Crimson Romance  You are just going to LOVE their books!   And if you want to help, “Like” their titles at such places as Amazon, Goodreads, and Pinterest to spread the word.  Shout it out and let the world know there are a few Southern writers new to the publishing world having their say!    

Happy reading, y’all!  See you soon, right here under the tulip tree…..

Monday, December 3, 2012

Balance



I have not had much trouble balancing my responsibilities in years—until lately. Every writer works, waits, and prays that one day she will be able to say, "I'm on deadline." But it's a double edged sword. It means that finally, finally someone has bought your book on proposal, but you have signed a contract promising to have that book finished by a certain time.

Stephanie and I are there. That certain time is January 1. I have been terrified that we won't get done. And what would happen? Well, surely our editor would call all the other editors in the known world and say, "Jean and Stephanie, writing as Alicia Hunter Pace, did not get done. Put them on THE LIST." And everyone knows what the THE LIST is. It's the roster of people who never get to publish another book. Not only that, they have had their computers, legal pads, pens, and that old dusty Smith-Corona typewriter in the attic taken away. No more writing. And that is worse than no more publishing.

So all I did was write, worry, and fret because my house was dirty and I needed to do some things to begin to get ready for Christmas. Then I realized I was doing more worrying and fretting (which is the same thing in my internal dictionary, no matter what Daniel Webster thought) than I was writing.

I don't function well when my house is not in order. It messes with me. I can't help it.

It was time to call on my old friend Logic. I got out that handy dandy plot chart that Stephanie insisted that we make. I figured out we lacked four scenes—two pretty long, one medium, and one short. They would all have a lot of dialogue because that's how we roll. Add on a little epilogue and done. Though we are not tied to a word count, I reckoned we lacked about 9 thousand words.

I have never been one to look at how many words I write in a day. Lots of writers do. They even have goals. I don't know why I don't care about that. I just write and hope for the best. But now I wondered.

So I did a little figuring. On a good unrushed day, I can write 2000-2500 words. That's after I edit the previous days writing, which I always, always do.

I finally faced what Stephanie had been trying to tell me all along: We were not in trouble. So, last Friday, I did not write. I cleaned my house, went to lunch with Oldest Friend, conned Oldest Friend into helping me finish decorating the front of my house for Christmas. That night, I took my niece to eat at Red Robin and to see Breaking Dawn. Over the weekend, The Guy and I got a tree, set it up, and got boxes out of the attic. We went to church, to lunch, a party, and played D&D. Most important, we watched our team win the SEC Championship. (Roll Tide and National Championship, here we come!)

And all the while—well maybe not during that intense game—, I played in my head what I would write today. I am ready to roll. It's going to be a great writing day.

Did you have to learn balance or does it come natural?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Living Large Underneath a Stetson



I was saddened earlier in the week to hear of Larry Hagman’s death.  The first I read of it was a short blurb on Facebook about how he claimed to be the reason for the Berlin Wall coming down.  And of course, I can’t find that article now or I’d send you there to see for yourself.  

Anyways, apparently he claimed that he caused the fall of the Berlin Wall by way of the success of the TV show Dallas that he starred in in the 1980s.  To his thinking (according to the article), the show caused the changes because the world saw how opulent and abundant life could be in the US by way of Dallas reruns.  He might’ve been on to something there.  You can’t exactly rise to a possibility you don’t know is out there.  

The article also mentioned that Mr. Hagman was a huge storyteller.  I don’t know firsthand if he was or not, but I do know he was a big man.  I know because I found myself standing next to him at an arts festival in Dallas back in the ‘80s.  Yes indeed.  I looked up to see who was there next to me, and low and behold I found myself shrinking down to Polly Pocket size as I looked up, and up, and up.  I mean he was Big!  And on top of that, he wore himself a 10 ½ gallon Stetson hat to boot!  And le’me tellya!  His smile would melt the world’s crisis down to a liquid puddle!  He was big and beautiful!  And quite a gentleman too, at least that day I saw him.

I didn’t watch much of Dallas since I was kinda surrounded by it back then.  But I did watch a lot of the younger version of Larry Hagman on I Dream of Jeannie when I was very (very!) young.  I loved that show because it made me laugh, and y’all know I do love me some laughter!  

On a different TV note, I’ve been lassoed by Southern Belle (of the Margarita Mamas variety) into watching Bayou Billionaires.  What in the Sam Hill…?  Y’all should be afraid.  Those are my crazy coonass people!  One show was all I needed to require a personal speech therapist.  Aszou kin prolly tell here, I ain’t quite recovered yit, dagnabbit!  

Well... Goodnight Mr. Hagman.  May you rest in peace.  And thank you for all the smiles and laughter….and for bringing that wall down, too!  :D

How about you…do you have memories of Larry Hagman on any favorite TV shows?  How about a Stetson hat…got one of those?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What is Creativity?

I often think that I am not very creative.  Well not creative in what I think of as the "normal' way.  I took piano lessons for years but really don't play that well, no natural talent.  I took art lessons for a couple of years but can only draw a clown and a cube. Well, I drew a turkey for my class last week and one of my students said, "Ms. Jones, that turkey is mixed." I asked him what he meant and he said, "That turkey looks like his daddy was a turkey and his momma was a turtle!" I looked and sure enough he was right.  My turkey had a turtle head.  Okay, so no artist talent for me either.

I have come to realize that I have what I think of as an unusual talent...I make up stories.  Since these stories were only in my head no one ever saw them I didn't think that it could be a kind of creativity.
After all, artists and musicians were creative.  Authors and song writers were creative.  I just made up stories. Then one day after writing with Jean for a while I realized that if our stories got published that we would be published authors. Authors were creative! I was being creative!  This realization gave me a new respect for the work Jean and I were doing.  It also gave me the confidence to think that I might be more creative that I thought! Today I am able to share the cover of our new book that was released this week, Simple Gone South.  Having a book for sale, now that will make a girl feel creative!

I recently went to a painting party.  I didn't really want to go but it was a  group of church friends and we were having our meeting there so I was sucked into the art. At first we made fun of my efforts.  My painting was looking pretty rough!  But I kept working and doing some of the things that the art lady told me to try then lo and behold, it started to look better! By the end of the night it actually looked good and one of the girls copied something from it. I felt creative! It was great!
My Wreath Painting
What does creativity mean to you?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Stowing Unnecessary Baggage

Driving home from work today, I was dazzled by the breeze gently stripping leaves off of the trees.  Various colors of discarded foliage whipped across my path.  This, of course, is normal during Autumn, but I was taken aback by the beauty in discarded things.

For some reason, these days I've been feeling a burr under my pirate garb to discard many things in my life, namely clothes I don't wear anymore and so forth.  (Especially after the store changed the dress code.)  You get the idea, right?  Honestly, how much stuff does a pirate need?  The answer should be, only enough to carry aboard ship whilst sailing off on a new adventure.  But is that true?  Well, that's got me pondering again about life and what I want and need.

Why is my closet so full?  Why do I stash things under my bed?  (Besides 3 novels that will never see the light of day.)  Why must I cram other things in nooks and crannies to get them out of the way?  What do I do with normal decorations while I put out Christmas decorations?  And what's up with holding onto my kids things in the hopes that my grandchildren will play with them?  (They only want to learn to rove like Captain Mimi anyway.)

I digress... but you get the picture.

But today, I realized something as those leaves made their way lyrically through the air only to land in a heap on the ground.  We cast off from shore all the time, leaving behind old homes, towns, schools, friends, and least desired... family.  Yes, we entertain the notion that the grass is always greener on the other side.  We purchase and stash, purchase and stash.  We stand in long lines just for the chance to buy things on sale, even when we don't know if what we want will still be available.  All of this made more perfectly clear as this past weekend and Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping madness hit stride as stores opened on Thanksgiving night!

As I sit at my computer and listen to Baroque music while writing this post, it occurs to me that none of that stuff really matters.  As long as I have a crew to lead, a ship to sail, and a compass to point to what I want most, I'm content.

How do you deal with unnecessary baggage? 

Friday, November 23, 2012

RECIPE FRIDAY; BUFFALO CHICKEN CHEESE DIP

As if we haven't eaten enough. We've had it all. Turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce (two kinds) corn pudding, mashed potatos, pineapple casserole, macaroni and cheese, green beans, squash casserole. pies, pies, pies.

I could go on. But the eating fest isn't over. It can't be until the the Thanksgiving football games are over. If you are like me, after eating all that comfort food, you like something a little spicy. If you are like me, after cooking all that comfort food you like something really easy. I recommend buying a rotisserie chicken instead of boiling your own--or maybe even use some leftover turkey. Hope you enjoy this and hope your team wins--unless they are between my team and what I want.

Roll Tide, Roll!!!!



BUFFALO CHICKEN CHEESE DIP

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 jar Marzetti's blue cheese or ranch dressing   
1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce mild
1 8-oz.pkg. cream cheese softened
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Tabasco sauce (optional)

Boil chicken until tender and chop finely. Mix together dressing and Buffalo sauce. Use Tabasco sauce to fire it up to your desire. Spread cream cheese in a 9x13 baking dish. Mix chicken with dressing. Then pour over chicken mixture over cream cheese evenly. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve with corn chips.





Thursday, November 22, 2012

From all of us under the tulip tree. . .  

Happy Thanksgiving!



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Eve

It's that time of year again, Thanksgiving.  I am not going to bore you with all the things that I am thankful for although there are lots of them!  Instead I wanted to ask about everyone's favorite Thanksgiving traditions.  In my family we have a huge meal that I like to call Carb-O-Rama.  It's cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, homemade rolls, English peas, corn,cranberry sauce,  broccoli casserole, green beans, pinto beans and dressed eggs.  Oh, and be sure to leave room for dessert- there will be pecan pie, sweet potato pie, chocolate cake, and banana pudding.  Lord, help us all should be the prayer!
 
Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday.  It's in the fall which is my favorite season.  It is usually cool enough that I can wear cuddly clothes and there is football.  Really what's not to love!  I know a lot of people think of Thanksgiving as a holiday that just marks the beginning of the Christmas season, much like football season just means basketball season is almost here in Kentucky but that is not how I feel about it.  I love Thanksgiving. 
 
My love of Thanksgiving probably comes from all the years that my mamma's family got together at my granny's.  My uncles and aunts would come home to Alabama and bring all of my cousins.  We always had great fun!  My mother's family is still more likely to gather at Thanksgiving than at Christmas.  My mother loves to prepare a meal so that everyone has their favorite dish.  Of course, at this point that means that there is too much food, but she says that is what the holidays are all about.
 
What is your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?
 
 
 



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Goose is Getting Fat!

"Thanksgiving is coming, the goose is getting fat.  Please sir, put some money in the old man's hat.  If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do.  If you haven't got a ha'penny, then God bless you..."

Now don't laugh, my friends.  I know this is a Muppet Christmas song.  But it just appealed to me as I wrote this blog post.  Because when you think about it, it fits.  You've got the goose getting fat, a man putting out his hat and giving.  Why not flip this to Thanksgiving?  ;)

There are a lot of people in need.  Right now a local radio DJ, a fixture in our town, is sitting up on a cherry picker, enduring 48 hours of cold and the elements to help raise money or bikes for Toys for Tots, sponsored by the Marines.  These bikes will be given to needy children who live in our area this Christmas.  What a fabulous annual witness to our town!  I'm amazed every time I drive by this awesome spectacle on my way to work.  It truly is phenomenal.

So what is the greatest gift of Thanksgiving?  It's a celebration of survival.  A joyous feast of the harvest signaling we'll be well fed, spiritually and physically.  It's also a time to share that bounty with others less fortunate.

What are you thankful for?  I'm thankful for my family and friends.  For God's grace and the freedoms I enjoy.  For my debut book, and Jean and Stephanie's good fortune too!  Their Crimson Romance debut releases in 7 days!

So I leave you today with some quotes I found interesting:

"Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare.  They are consumed in twelves minutes.  Half-times take twelve minutes.  This is not coincidence."  Erma Bombeck

"The truth is the Super Bowl long ago became more than just a football game.  It's part of our culture like turkey at Thanksgiving and lights at Christmas, and like those holidays beyond their meaning, a factor in our economy."  Bob Schieffer

"There is one day that is ours.  Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American."  O. Henry

Blessings for a peaceful day of preparation and celebration!

What are your plans for Thanksgiving?  Are you cooking?  Watching football? 

Katherine

Monday, November 19, 2012

Steer Clear

I do my best to not participate in Christmas on any level until after Thanksgiving. Oh, I know I have to do some stuff--like setting dates for parties and the like, but I don't even want to look at Christmas stuff until it's time.

Well. I have had to do some shopping lately and, try as I might to evade, everywhere I turn, there it is. Right in my face. Noel and Merry, Merry.

I have been reminded of things that send me screaming.
  • Those round mouthed caroler figurines. 
  • Blinking Christmas lights. 
  • Josephs over the age of fifteen. 
  • Lime green decorations. 
What Christmas paraphernalia gets under your skin?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Recipe Friday Cranberry Sauce

I am late this morning. Sorry. I was also a bad wife last night and served grilled cheese and canned soup for dinner. I even made him go to the store and pick out his own soup.

But I am making marvelous book progress. I am not going to be one of those writters who lets the rest of her life go to the devil but I am still learning to make adjustments.

I might be one of those writers who has repeated a recipe from a year or two ago. I wouldn't be surprised. It's one of my favorites and keeps forever in the 'fridge. I didn't check because I think it's worth repeating.



Cranberry Jezebel Sauce


1-Cup Water
½ Cup Sugar
½ Cup packed brown sugar
12 ounces of fresh cranberries
3 Tablespoons horseradish
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

Combine water, sugar, and brown sugar in a saucepan and mix well.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Add cranberries.  Return to a boil.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Spoon into a bowl.  Let cool to room temperature.  Add horseradish and mustard.  Mix well. Cover and chill.

Serve with meat, on turkey sandwiches, or pour over Brie or cream cheese and serve with crackers.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Coulda Had a Wha?



I’ve been to many readers/writers events now.  I can say I’m fairly comfortable with the process of what’s expected of me.  (Insert insurance policy for all of what I just said becoming totally and incurably false.  Just sayin’.)  And so on Saturday, it was really no hill for me to step up to the plan and execute two events in two different towns in one day.  Right?  At least that’s what I told myself.  

After the alarm snoozing off and on for over an hour, I finally get up and run for the shower hollering for someone to make coffee.  Veezer stops me in my tracks to ask why I’m in such a rush. “Because it’s your day, Sugar!” I say.  And then she assures me, after going over the detailed schedule of events for her Regional Lego Robotics Competition, that I am not needed there until the Awards Ceremony at 5pm.  Whew.  What a lovely little planning executive I have there!  And so I slow down to have some coffee to speed up again.  

By 10:30 I had enjoyed a lovely quiet morning, showered and headed out the door to take on the day with my HOD peeps, docs in hand, and an hour and a half drive towards middle Alabama in front of me.  It’s a great drive.  I usually fill the car with music and sing my heart out with no one to tell me to stop.  And so I sing, sing, sing.  Until the road narrows to one lane and then comes to a complete stop.  Construction.  Wha?  My head spins around looking for answers like an owl on its perch.  I just came down this road two days ago...there was no construction then? I need gas for the car.  And I was going to eat.   By 11:15 there’s still no movement except for the whirling of the blue lights from Mr. Copper’s car top letting everyone (namely, Me!) know they can’t take matters into their own hands and take the shoulder of the road all the way  to their destination.  Buggar.  

And that’s  how the day went.  Hurry up…slow down.  Talk faster….hush up.  Gads!  After two meetings with my peeps it finally dawned on me…  I Coulda Had a V-8!  Or at least a delegation party, which is what I should’ve done when I found out I had two events on the same day.  

But all was well…I was traveling down the road again to the other side of several mountains.  And that’s precisely when the text came in.  “We’re heading to the Awards Ceremony.  Where are you?”

An hour later I walked into the gym just in time to see the second half of awards handed out.  And which one goes to my Veezer’s team, the Robotic Predators?  First Place, Baby!  And I missed the entire Nerd-fest.  But I got the picture!  Go Predators!  Woot!  Woot!  The Robotic Predators go to State Competitions in January.  I won’t be missing that one!  I’m such a proud Nerd-Momma!  :D


 Inside my mind I can be in two places at one time.  I can do a Triple Sow Cow (Salchow) in there, too!  Can you?


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Luddite No More

I realized yesterday that I had somehow without my knowledge had a change of perspective in my life...I am a Luddite no more.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, a Luddite is someone who is resistant to change, especially change that is brought about by evolving technology.

The term came to be in the 1800's when the Industrial Revolution began in England.  Many people felt that the new factory machines would replace humans in the manufacturing process and that there would be wide-spread unemployment which would lead to all kinds of problems for the nation.

Ned Ludd
The movement was named after Ned Ludd who was reported to have smashed some stocking making looms and started much of the actual revolt.

Precious Angel's daddy is who originally called me a Luddite because I was always exploding computers and belly-aching (okay, whining) about all the troubles I had with technology. I felt it added a lot of stress to my life that I just didn't need.

Slowly, slowly this has changed.  This weekend as I was piled up on my bed on top of my made up bed, I realized that I had embraced using technology to a huge extent. 

There I sat. I was actually working on the lap-top while I looked up email on an I-pad to quote in the document on my computer.  I was texting with Pantster about our new website and had my Kindle on the charger.  Needless to say it was an epiphany.  Somehow without realizing it I had lost my Luddite status.

What is your favorite kind of technology?