Friday, November 17, 2017

A Tribute to Gene Stratton Porter By Shirley Raye Redmond

I was in fifth grade when I discovered The Magic Garden by author Gene (Geneva) Stratton Porter. This book is not to be confused with the better-known title, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I distinctly remember going up to my teacher Miss Cornelius during our afternoon quiet reading time, pointing to the words “little yellow cur” and asking her what that was. She told me to look it up.

I did. And then I had to go back to the big dictionary on the shelf at the back of the classroom to look up another word “amaryllis.” I loved the way that word felt in my mouth when I pronounced it under my breath. Both the story and the words lingered with me for a long, long time. I went on to eagerly read two of Porter’s more popular novels: The Girl of the Limberlost and Freckles.

Porter was one of Indiana’s most famous writers. In fact, her two homes in that state are preserved as state memorials. Born on a farm near Wabash, Indiana, in 1863, Porter was raised by parents, who keenly appreciated God’s creation and taught Geneva to be a close observer. Porter took nature photos, made exquisite wildflower drawings, and collected moths and wildflowers. When she died in a car crash in 1924, obituaries declared that America had lost its most talented naturalist since Audubon.

By reading Porter, I learned that writers who want to write richly must not use those easy utility words so within our reach. We must stretch and search for the exact words. They do make a difference. For instance, I learned not to use the word bird when I could use cardinal, goldfinch or turkey vulture. Instead of using flower, be specific: is it a daisy, a rose or an amaryllis. Why use the word walk when I can choose from stroll, strut or amble? Just as an artist uses a paintbrush to paint a picture, to fill a blank canvas with color and image, writers must use diction (word choice) to paint pictures on a blank piece of paper.

Do you have a favorite Porter novel?

Don't forget to leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for The Perfect Gift by Elaine Manders. Winner will be announced in the November 27th edition of the Weekly Windup.

An award-winning writer and frequent conference speaker, Shirley Raye Redmond is the author of three inspirational novels, PRUDENCE PURSUED, VIPER’S NEST, and AMANDA’S BEAU, as well as two dozen children’s books, including LEWIS & CLARK: A PRAIRIE DOG FOR THE PRESIDENT (Random House), which was a Children’s Book of the Month Club selection. Shirley Raye holds an M.A. in literature and teaches through the Institute of Children’s Literature. She has been married to her husband Bill for over forty years. They live in New Mexico and are blessed with two grown children and three adorable grandchildren. Touch bases at or Facebook.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter

Blue Ridge Sunrise: When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she's the only person in town who doesn't expect her to give up the life she's established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?
Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love, Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their "break," not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now--five years later.
As life-changing decisions and a history with Cruz hang over Zoe's head, tensions rise between her and Kyle. Even as she comes to terms with the shifting relationships in her life, Zoe still isn't sure if she can remain in Copper Creek with her new responsibilities . . . and her first love.

Heidi here. Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter is fabulous. The novel starts with the amazing premise of Zoe returning home for a funeral and reading of the will, only to discover that maybe she isn't ready to leave Copper Creek for good.

The backstory is deep and wide, allowing the author to explore deep feelings and hurts. The plot is fast-paced and the characters three-dimensional. Blue Ridge Sunrise was a quick and fun read!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Fast and Easy Christmas Stockings

I decorate for the holidays in drips and drabs, starting with wreaths and setting out little touches as Thanksgiving approaches. Every year I add at least one craft item.

Our old Christmas Stockings were getting worn, so I bought some new ones on sale, but when I hung them up, I realized I hadn’t gotten one for my dog. If you have a fur baby who’s a member of the family, you understand this.

Since the big stockings were knitted, I decided to knit Buffy a small one. Trouble is, I never learned how to turn a heel. Or is it called setting a heel? My knitting skills are limited. So, I turned to crochet and used a technique that doesn’t require shaping at all for either knitting or crochet. And the added thickness inside helps hold the stocking in shape.

For this project, you need yarn in two colors. (I used red and white.) A pattern cut in the shape of the stocking. I winged it, but children’s coloring books have lots of stocking shapes. You’ll also need a yarn needle and knitting needles or crochet hook G or J.

All you have to do is either knit or crochet 2 rectangular swatches in one color, big enough to cover your pattern from the lower right to the upper left. And 2 triangular swatches in the opposite color, big enough to cover the heel and toe area. (To knit the triangles, cast on 2 stitches and increase at each end, repeating until the triangle is big enough.) (To crochet the triangles, chain 2 and increase by 2sc at each end, repeating until the triangle is big enough.) Finally, knit in ribbing or crochet in sc rows a strip about 5 inches wide and long enough to go around the top of the stocking.

With all pieces complete, lay one of the rectangles on a flat surface, position the triangles in the appropriate places on top and lay the other rectangle over all. Now, position the pattern over your work, making sure the toe is hanging lower than the heel. Pin in place and sew all around the pattern, through all layers. Turn the stocking inside out. Whip stitch the heel and toe in place and sew the cuff strip to the top opening. Fold over the cuff and add a loop at the top with ribbon or crocheted string.

I’m going to add Buffy’s initial if I can find some black felt.

Now, the mantel is complete.

Even if you don’t knit or crochet, if you have a stocking pattern, you can sew anything together to create a festive stocking.

What was the best gift you ever found in your stocking on Christmas morning? Buffy will be excited to find a bone. But what is the perfect gift for a stocking?

Comment today or anytime before November 27 for a chance to win a copy of my Christmas novella, The Perfect Gift, either ebook copy or print. Incidentally, the perfect gift my heroine searched for would fit in Buffy’s little stocking.

It's Christmas 1963, and Macy Lance has it all. She'll soon graduate from a prestigious southern college, and a position in a top pharmaceutical firm waits for her. Best of all, Jonathan Tennent has proposed. But Macy has a secret. She isn't the woman Jon thinks she is. Knowing she must confess by Christmas Eve, she searches for a gift to rival the engagement ring Jon is giving her. Maybe she'll be able to convince his society-obsessed family she's good enough for their only son.

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