In the meantime, while you're here, pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee or a cuppa tea, have a piece of pie and always feel free to speak your mind, and your heart, here at Meanderings and Muses.
One of my favorite pieces of jewelry is from Greece.
It's a piece based on the Phaistos Disc. The original Phaistos (also spelled Phaestos) Disc is on display at the archaeological museum of Heraklion in Crete, Greece.
The Phaistos Disc is surrounded by mystery.
In art and
architecture, a meander is a decorative border constructed from a continuous
line, shaped into a repeated motif. Such a design is also called the Greek Fret
or Greek Key design, although these are modern words. The name "meander" recalls
the twisting and turning path of the Maeander River. Meanders were among the
most important symbols in ancient Greece; they, perhaps, symbolized infinity and
unity; many ancient Greek temples incorporated the sign of the meander.
Phaistos Disc (Greek Δίσκος της Φαιστού, also spelled Phaistos Disk, Phaestos
Disc) is a disk of fired clay from the Minoan palace of Phaistos, possibly
dating to the middle or late Minoan Bronze Age (2nd millennium BC). It was
originally discovered by Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier, remarkably intact,
on July 3, 1908 during his excavation of the first Minoan palace.
When discovered, the disc was found in the underground basement "temple
depository" - known now as "room 8 in building 101" of a group of buildings to
the northeast of the main palace. These basement cells, only accessible from
above, were neatly covered with a layer of fine plaster, and amongst black earth
and ashes, mixed with burnt bovine bones. This grouping of 4 rooms also served
as a formal entry into the palace complex. Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier
recovered this remarkably intact "dish", about 15 cm in diameter and uniformly
slightly more than one centimeter in thickness, on July 3, 1908 during his
excavation of the first Minoan palace.
The original disc is about 15 cm in diameter (slightly more than one
centimeter in thickness) and covered on both sides with a spiral of stamped
symbols. Its purpose and meaning, and even its original geographical place of
manufacture, remain disputed, making it one of the most famous mysteries of
archaeology. This unique object is now on display at the archaeological museum
of Heraklion in Crete, Greece.
There are 241 tokens on the disc, comprising 45 symbols (for example, "Man,
Woman, Child, Bow, Arrow, Shield, Ship, Dove, etc.), mostly representing easily
identifiable every-day things. In addition to these, there is a small diagonal
line that occurs underneath the final sign in a group a total of 18 times. The
disc shows traces of corrections made by the scribe in several places. Some
scholars have pointed to similar resemblances with the Anatolian hieroglyphs, or
with Egyptian hieroglyphs.
"BREAKING NEWS: Welcome to our very own Kaye
Barley--who's joining Jungle Red as our resident commentator, reader, visionary,
mystery maven, arbiter, pundit and prognosticator. Kind of like Andy Rooney, but
nicer (much nicer), and with a darling husband, a perfect dog, a massive library
and cute shoes. Watch for Oh, Kaye!
Every first Sunday on Jungle Red!"
Am I excited? Let's just say I've been struck kinda dumb by it all. The most intelligent thing I've said today is "Squeeee!"
Most of you are familiar with the Jungle Red Writers. but for those of you who aren't, allow me to introduce them - - -
Jungle Red Writers
Eight smart and sassy crime fiction writers dish on writing and life. It's The View. With bodies.
As to biographical information, i. e., who I am; well I'm still trying to figure that one out. For more than half a century, I've hidden behind words, first as a news and sports reporter with a BS in Journalism from UT-Knoxville, my hometown.
Following that career, a quarter century was spent writing historical non-fiction. So, it was with a lot of naiveté and way too much self confidence that I decided some five years ago to write a novel, a mystery. I managed to get a well-known mystery writer with some forty books published to review my first manuscript. He sent me an eleven-page, single spaced letter. The first page and a half told me what I had done correctly. The other nine and a half pages listed the things I needed to learn. I am still learning.
CREATIVE WRITING; AN ATTEMPT TO SATISFY PERSONAL CURIOSITY by Bronson L. Parker
An insatiable curiosity has plagued me since early childhood. Much to “Santa’s” chagrin, interest was soon lost in merely winding up his gift of a toy train and watch it roll around an oval track. Taking apart the locomotive proved to be more fun. The innards of wind-up alarm clocks also became a favorite target. How’d they work?
This curiosity never waned. But people rather than mechanical things became the focus later in life when joining the working world as a news reporter, a craft governed by the five Ws of Journalism 101: who, what, where, when, and why. It was an easy life. Go out, get the facts, write the story, and move on. There were times, however, when the five Ws of a story satisfied the city editor, but not my curiosity.
A typical story of the day might be: A local businessman, traveling alone near midnight on a winding country road south of the city, was fatally injured when his car left the road and smashed into a tree. There was no evidence of another vehicle involved, or that the man was intoxicated. The county sheriff’s deputies who handled the accident concluded it was simply a matter of driving too fast on a narrow road and losing control.
The news story would cover the five Ws. But such an incident was only one moment in a man’s life. What was the rest of his story? What was going on in his life that led him to be in that part of the county, over thirty miles away from both his home and business, at that time of night, and driving so fast? In the harried cycle of daily publication, those type stories disappeared into the realm of yesterday’s news, but they served to heighten my curiosity. “Why’d he do that?”
My curiosity stayed with me during the years after leaving the newspaper business, a time devoted to writing historical non-fiction. This exercise was a more relaxed, slower process that allowed digging longer and deeper. Documentation could be found that included the location of every piece of field artillery used in a specific Civil War battle. However, in most cases, no amount of research unearthed an explanation for what motivated the men involved to made the decisions that led to the battle, or why they did what they did during it. “Why’d they do that?”
After giving in to the persistent urging of family and friends to try my hand at creative writing, the first step back into that realm since college, the question became: how does one go about writing a novel? Personal mentoring was combined with reading a lot of “how-to” books. Several contained the phrases, “Write what you like,” and “Write what you know.”
Reading has never been considered a sprint race. A wham, bam, thank you, ma’am story without any explanation for the wham or the bam is not that satisfying. Those that made the biggest impression, the ones remembered, were those that told the entire story. They sated my curiosity within the context of the story. They did not make me stop and ask the question, “Why’d he or she do that?”
What was known is that each individual existence is the sum of all that has been experienced, a list of things so numerous and varied it defies enumeration. In the aggregate, these experiences define each person as distinctly as do fingerprints. Some part of that experience becomes the why, the reason a person says or does something at a given moment in their lives.
After seventy plus years of traveling along life’s road, a wealth of first-hand experience existed that spanned the spectrum from moments of happiness, joy, and contentment to encounters with unseen potholes; some small, of minor consequence, others jarringly deep, and life changing. They were viewed as explanations for the whys that followed.
So why not use that personal experience, at least in a fictional world, as a way to satisfy my curiosity about human nature? It would more than the creation a cast of characters to be plugged into a plot. The story would be built around events, good and bad, that can affect a life. They would become the explanations for why things happened. The characters and plot would be vehicles to tell the story.
This approach to creative writing now occupies much of my time; too much, if you ask my friends. Some say it’s become an obsession. Others have called it a form of exorcism. Neither opinion has been rebutted. It’s a slow process, one that would never support a book-a-year schedule.
It slow because finding the answer to the question, “Why’d he do that?” has proven to be far more difficult than assumed. It’s a complicated puzzle with many more pieces than first envisioned. Looking for it, based on personal experience, is at times as difficult as looking for it in historical documents. The approach requires pulling memories and feelings off a back shelf of the mind and spending a lot of time thinking about another question.
If not, here's your chance to get to know Sigrid Harald.
offering the Kindle version of the first in the series, ONE COFFEE WITH, this
weekend for free. Starting tomorrow (Saturday) morning through Monday evening
as a thank you to her readers. It's a great series, and one I love to bits.
Here's the chronological listing of the Sigrid series:
One Coffee With, 1981
Death of a Butterfly, 1984
Death in Blue Folders, 1985
The Right Jack, 1987
Baby Doll Games, 1988
Corpus Christmas, 1989
Past Imperfect, 1991
Fugitive Colors, 1995
Plus, Sigrid made an appearance, along with Deborah, in THREE-DAY TOWN (2011 Agatha Award for Best Novel) and will be making another in THE BUZZARD TABLE due out later this year.
Sasscer Hill and I became friends at the Malice Domestic
Convention in 2011, during the awards banquet.Sasscer was up for an Agatha Best First Novel Award, and I was a
finalist that year in the Malice Domestic First Best Traditional Novel contest
sponsored by St. Martin’s Press.Since I
hadn’t heard anything, I was sure I would not get the award, but two people
right before the banquet had suggested I still might, so we were both
nervous.I had chosen to sit at her
table, because I thought she should win Best First Novel.I still think so.
become closer when they go through difficulties together.The suspense leading up to the announcements
and our shared disappointment at not winning enhanced our connection, not to
mention that we found out we both loved chickens.We have different lifestyles (Sasscer is a
horse person, raises horses, and her novels are about horse-racing; I am a
small farmer, have done lots of organizing, was a published poet before
venturing into mystery novels which feature a group of community activists),
but we appreciate each other’s way of life.We did our chat here a little differently, rather than back and
forth.Here is mine.Then comes Sasscer’s.We hope you’ll read our mysteries!Our websites and blogs are at the end of each
I’m taking up Kaye Barley’s challenge to tell about our best
friend experiences in childhood, especially the ones in which we felt betrayed
by that friend.I’ve realized, with a
shock, that my mother was my best friend growing up.She did betray me, not once but several
times.She had no business making me her
best friend, but she was often lonely.In her role as minister’s wife, she was convinced that she shouldn’t
have a best friend in the congregation, and she met few other people she had
anything in common with.For her that
meant sharing ideas in a liberal religious and political context.My father had no problem having special
friends who attended our church, but she did.So I was selected.My father, she
later told me, had only really talked to her before they married and again, not
long before he died of cancer.She said
she learned what he was thinking about in his Sunday sermons.
the one who educated me about social justice issues, who explained sex to
me.“When Uncle Dick comes back from the
Army, maybe Aunt Ruth will have another baby.”
Uncle Dick have to come back?”I was
six, and she then read me a book about the birds and the bees.
I was four
when I learned that, if I made some excuse about not being able to sleep, she’d
hold and rock me, and we’d talk about babies, my favorite subject.She never refused.When I was ten and older, we’d talk about
child-rearing, religion, politics, the neighbors.
when I was eleven, we lay in her bed late at night listening to the Democratic
Convention.She explained the
significance of the Dixiecrats walking out of that convention (rejecting an
equal rights plank the party had).We
were the only people in our Jacksonville, Florida neighborhood and I was the
only one at school, who wanted Truman to win.That was the year the newspaper headlines were already printed that
Dewey had won, and then he didn’t.I was
She told me
there was an abortion doctor operating next door in a big house that rented out
rooms and small apartments.From then on
that house took on an evil aura for me.Once she confided that we had only $15 in the bank until Daddy got
paid.This tickled me, and I told
Cletus, the girl across the street.Then
I learned I wasn’t supposed to talk about that kind of news.She got pregnant early in 1947, when I was
nine and a half, and she shared her joy in that.I knew she was determined to breast-feed this
baby, and I saw her massaging her breasts daily.My younger sister had been born by Caesarian,
but Mother hoped to have a normal birth, and she did.The first question I asked my father when he
came back from the hospital to tell us we had a baby brother was: “Can she
Mother everything, and she shared a lot with me, more than was wise.She turned me into a kind of mother in her
So when, at
age thirteen, I didn’t want to wear lipstick, though my eighth grade classmates
did, and my school friend Betty Kaye teased me about it–mid-year--I was very
hurt when Mother joined in the teasing.It should have been my decision, I felt then, but I did start wearing
lipstick.Maybe that was why I stopped
altogether some years later.
devastating thing she did in my early adolescence was to suggest I not go to a
dance with my first boyfriend, Wesley, because he was “too short.”Wesley became good friends in seventh grade,
and he brought me a fresh gardenia every day when they were in bloom.We loved each other.We held hands.We hadn’t even kissed.We were both sensitive and artistic.He was a gifted soprano, later a tenor.I had already decided to be a writer.It’s common knowledge that girls get their
height first, but that didn’t sway Mother.I told Wesley I couldn’t go to the dance.I don’t know why Mother did that, but maybe
she was afraid of my becoming sexual.Not much danger at my age thirteen.Or was it because Wesley and I loved each other so much?Her idea was for me to date Michael O., who
was as tall as me and also had red hair, like Wesley.She even encouraged me to give a party later
that eighth grade year, but Wesley was not invited.I tried to like Michael, but there was no
I was in
New York City the summer after I finished college, and I met Wesley on a subway
train.He was taller than I.I had a boyfriend by then, but I was happy to
see him.We were both happy about
meeting, but we didn’t exchange addresses.
later, in 2002, I found him via an internet search and wrote him a letter.He called me up.He was still in Florida, had married the same
woman twice, and they had three grown daughters.Our lives had gone very differently, but we
write to each other now and then.The
basic “connection” is still there.We
changed over time.He was a social
worker and had an antique shop.I
involved myself in small press organizing and various kinds of teaching, writing,
of course, and now farming.He’s very
laid back, procrastinates answering my letters and is in poorer health than
I.I’m active, always doing something,
in very good health, happier, I’d say.One does wonder sometimes.But
there aren’t any answers to “what if?”
Had I had a
different mother, my intellect and creativity, my social activism and tendency
to help other people might have been stymied rather than cultivated, and
Mother, because of her loneliness and my responsiveness, was the cultivator.
finally divided us and led to my becoming my own person was my falling in love
with John Crawley, a young, thoughtful, wise black man from Virginia.I was nineteen, and he was twenty-one.We met at a Y Conference in Ohio.When I came home afterwards, I told Mother I
was in love with him, and she reacted with shock and fear: “What about the
children?”I was hurt, again, and only
my father’s more careful response, telling me such a decision as to who I married
was up to me, allowed me the freedom I was ready to claim, regardless.
didn’t remember her first negative reaction, but the memory is burned into my
consciousness.Our first open
disagreement.In the 1940s and 50s she
had worked for equal rights, and the great bugaboo was intermarriage.“Negroes don’t want intermarriage.They want to be treated equally,” she’d
say.Maybe so, but I’d met a black man a
lot like me, already a risk-taker, and we were very similar, in our essential
natures.He was very tall, but not a
basketball player.He studied philosophy
and wanted to read the modern Christian theologians that my father read:
Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich, whose books he couldn’t get from the
Virginia State library.
initial reaction drove me away, drove a wedge between us.I was no longer the perfectly behaved
daughter who listened to all her advice and told her all my problems.I never did, after that, fully trust her.
I met John’s mother, after he died, and told her of my mother’s reaction to our
love and how she and I had been alienated from each other for years, though in
my 50s, in our family therapy, I was told: “Go love your mother.”I tried to.I eventually could accept her human limitations as well as my own.Mrs. Crawley encouraged me also to forgive
Mother and shared stories of how her mother had hurt her feelings, but she’d
learned to forgive her.
our parents is essential to our own well-being and never easy, I think.Mother is dead now, and I often think of how
much my gifts and interests, my mind and imagination, were first nourished by
Judy Hogan’s first mystery novel, Killer Frost, which was a finalist in
the St. Martin’s Malice Domestic Mystery contest, comes out Sept. 1 from Mainly
Murder Press.Judy founded Carolina Wren
Press (1976-91), and was co-editor of Hyperion Poetry Journal,
1970-81).She has published five volumes
of poetry and two prose works with small presses. She has taught all forms of
creative writing since 1974. She joined Sisters in Crime in 2007 and has
focused on writing and publishing traditional mystery novels.The twists and turns of her life’s path over
the years have given her plenty to write about.She is also a small farmer, loves her chickens, and grows about half her
food.She lives in Moncure, N.C.
near the Haw River.
Like Judy, I had my crosses to bear as a child. Most of us
did, one way or another. I am unable to point to any one person who “betrayed”
me. But I can sure point to Lady Luck. Although I was born to a family that
owned a little land, and a father with a law degree and a job at the Federal
Trade Commission in DC, my father was a diagnosed manic depressive. Today, the
fashionable term for the illness is Bipolar Disease.
It was doubly unfortunate this occurred more than fifty
years ago as lithium and other drugs used today were unknown. I do not blame my
father. Not his fault. It was the miserable disease and the luck of the draw.
His illness fueled three heart attacks, alcoholism, as well as stays at the
loony bin, Sheppard Pratt, and the dreadful shock treatments he received there.
My sister and I were shadowed by Mother’s constant fear that Daddy would lose
his job and we would be penniless.
The family tobacco farm saved me as a child. Lady Luck had
at least provided a retreat from my father’s wild freight train that roared
through my childhood with changing carloads of mania and depression. You could
see the train coming, but you never knew what was on it.
My father’s four maiden aunts lived at Pleasant Hills farm.
They were all sane, kind, and clucked over me like hens. I loved the old home,
the farm animals, and the land. I never wanted to be anywhere else and would
beg to visit. As far as the “Aunts” were concerned, I could do no wrong. The
ladies raised chickens, turkeys, an apple orchard and tended bountiful
vegetable gardens. Sharecroppers raised the tobacco as well as corn, cows,
Belgium draft horses and pigs. The Aunts, born before nineteen hundred, liked
to save the drippings from bacon for lard. I still miss their flaky biscuits
and homemade apple pies. I was lucky to know them.
If you glance at the photo of me with the rooster and you
think I look a bit standoffish and tough, it’s because I was. I learned early
to put up the mental shields and protect myself. My husband tells me the
caption for the rooster picture should be “Get your own chicken.”
The best thing I inherited from my father was his sense of
humor. Nothing keeps the abyss away like humor. It almost saved my father, too.
We lived in an apartment complex called Park Fairfax in
Alexandria, Virginia. Daddy was a survivor, kept his job, and when I was about
ten, we moved across the street into a bigger, better apartment next door to
the complex director, Mr. Parker. Being the manager, Parker had a high opinion
of himself. He loved flowering plants and stuffed the area in front of both his
and my family’s apartment with blooming, potted plants. He never asked how we
felt about this, and every so often more plants appeared.
My father purchased white price tags with strings, wrote a
dollar amount on each tag, and tied one onto every plant. He was so amused by
this, he could hardly stand himself. I might have giggled a little, too. The
next morning all the plants were gone from our side, and Mr. Parker never spoke
to my father again.
When I married, my husband and I moved into Pleasant Hills
and we kept chickens for almost twenty years. I brought the first chicken home,
plopped him onto the wooden porch in front of my previously urban husband and
announced, “This is a chicken.” I had already named the bird “Hooster the
Rooster.” Hooster marched to the edge of the porch and leaned over to inspect a
cricket. He leaned over so far, he fell off. But as he ran away from us across
the yard, his beak had a firm grip on that cricket.
Not surprisingly, I favor British humor like “Fawlty Towers”
and the “Monty Python” series. I love the ridiculous and am invariably drawn to
those who share this love, like Judy Hogan. She totally “gets” that I love
chickens because they are so silly. Besides, neither of us ever met a chicken
who betrayed us.
Sasscer Hill is an award nominated author of mystery novels
and short stories, including Full
Mortality, which was short listed for both Agatha and Macavity Best First
Mystery Novel Awards. Her books feature the young protagonist, jockey Nikki
Her second novel in the series, Racing from Death, was published in April
of 2012. To date, the mystery has received excellent reviews from the Baltimore Sun, Mystery Scene Magazine, The
Horse of the Delaware Valley and award winning/best selling author,
Sasscer lives on a Maryland farm and has bred racehorses for
many years. A winner of amateur steeplechase events, she has galloped her
horses on the farm and trained them into the winner's circle.
Sasscer graduated with honors in English Literature from
Franklin and Marshall College.
Book titles: Full Mortality,
Best First Agatha and Macavity Nominee;
Steam Roller, a Nikki Latrelle Short Story, 2011; Racing From Death, 2012.
Link to Sasscer Hill’s website where the first chapters of
each of her books can be read.
I'm sharing a letter Michael W. Sherer posted at Facebook.
Please do what you can, and help spread the word.
Dear FB/Twitter Friends/Fans,
Most of you don’t know me, so I’m not sure how to say this without sounding crass or self-serving. So I’m going to swallow my pride and just say it. I need your help. Call it a sign of the times, or perhaps it’s a personal failing, but here I am.
This Tuesday, I’m going into the hospital for my third angiogram and what looks like my second stent. Despite a healthy l...ifestyle (including smart eating habits and tennis five days a week) I have coronary artery disease. I’m not concerned about the procedure, nor the outcome—I look forward to a lot of active years ahead with my family. My concern is the price tag associated with the procedure.
I have health insurance. But two years ago, the rising cost of that insurance forced me and my family into a catastrophic plan, one with a high deductible. Even then, my monthly premiums have risen to more than $1,000 per month for a family of three. So, I will pay for most of this coming procedure out-of-pocket, an unforeseen cost I hadn’t budgeted for. And my next book doesn’t come out until October.
I’m not looking for charity. I know there are many more people out there facing far more dire circumstances than mine. (Our neighbors just sold their house because the bank was about to foreclose.) What I want are readers, mystery lovers who would be interested in an award-winning series or an award-winning stand-alone suspense novel. Three of my seven published novels, along with a short story featuring my series protagonist, are available on Kindle and/or Nook. If you know of anyone who might be interested in inexpensive, high-quality entertainment, please share or retweet this message.
I won’t repeat this plea. If you know of people who might have missed it, please tell them about it. If you can help me grow my audience of readers, thank you. (And if you have ideas on how to truly lower healthcare costs in this country, please tell Congress.)
latest book, Quilt or Innocence, released on June 5.Elizabeth writes the Memphis
Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley
Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries for
Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and independently.
She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder.
The Pleasure of Writing
by Elizabeth S. Craig
Sometimes I get bogged down with my deadlines. My writing-related emailing
smacks of work, book promoting can be both baffling and exhausting.
Some days, I think it's easy to lose track of why we're writing. It can
also be easy to forget why we enjoy it so much.
The last few months have been very busy ones for me. I've dived from
writing one book into writing another. I've edited one while brainstorming
another, while promoting another's release.
I'm a very task-oriented writer so I've approached my days with lists of
what I wanted to accomplish. Goals and to-dos. Scenes sketched out and lists of
But I can't just write to task and not have that spark of excitement and
fun in my work. So, because I am so task-oriented, I made another list. This
one reminded me what I enjoy most about writing.
When characters come alive. And when readers email about particular
characters as if they were real.
When I'm plugging through a story and
following my original plan and an even better idea occurs to me.
When I realize I've got the opportunity for a plot twist.
When the house is quiet and I'm typing away. When I'm so deep in my story
that a small sound like my dog's snoring makes me jump.
When a reader says she's read all my books. That just bowls me over.
When I replace a so-so word with an exciting word.
When I laugh while writing a scene. (I've done this in public before. Be
careful when you write in public.)
When I can see a fictional setting in my head.
When I sit down to write in the morning and I'm excited about the scene I'm
working on next.
This list has kept me focused on why I'm writing. I'm writing because I
love it. It's a privilege to share it with others.
As a writer, what do you love best about writing? As a reader, what
engages you most with a book?