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Posts Tagged ‘Little House on the Prairie’

suz-headshot-18 Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert. Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert writes horror, dark fantasy, science fiction, and the occasional poem. Her short fiction has been published in the anthologies Killing It Softly, The Deep Dark Woods, and The Final Summons. Her poetry has appeared in places such as the anthology Wicked Witches, Tales of the Zombie War, “The Wayfarer: A Journal of Contemplative Literature,” and “Eternal Haunted Summer.” Suzanne is a freelance editor and content creation expert. She’s currently writing several more works of short fiction in between meeting the incessant demands of her feline overlords.

Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert’s latest published story, “In Darkness, She Sheds,” appears in The Final Summons (New England Speculative Writers, 2019). A quick summary for my readers: In a land where the human Master controls both humans and fae, a chance accident enables Savron d’Fae—Master’s Elixir-Mistress and former concubine—to glimpse the true nature of Master’s rule.

Where did the idea come from for your latest published story, “In Darkness, She Sheds”?

I wrote the first version almost two years ago, as a reaction to the fury I felt watching Kellyanne Conway stand up and lie and defend Trump’s actions on whatever that day’s disaster was. I kept thinking, “Why do women not support each other and make alliances with men who are innately against their best interests?” I kept turning that thought around in my head and I wrote the story to get out some of that anger.

Who is your favorite character in the story—and why?

That’s a tough question. Probably Darron, even though she gets introduced halfway through the story. Savron, who begins the story, is also a compelling character. What I like about both of these fae women is that they are very brave and decisive despite being literal slaves and discovering that their realities were not what they thought.

final sum Where and when will this story be published?

This story appears in the just-released anthology The Final Summons, which is the premier anthology from the New England Speculative Writers. They formed about two years ago and have amazing and dedicated leadership. They quickly came up with the idea for this anthology and put out the call for submissions to writers in New England. They had a good number of submissions, so I was really happy to make the cut.

The anthology was crowd-funded in order to pay fair compensation to the contributors, editors, and artist. They were also able to hire a blurb writer. I think it was a successful model, and the anthology will be available in both print and electronic versions.

I encourage any aspiring writers who feel daunted by writing a novel to try writing short stories first, and getting them placed in anthologies with more established writers, if possible. It’s great exposure for you, and you’ll learn a lot from your fellow contributors.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I’m a short story writer, not a novelist (yet!) and I’m a total pantser! I get into my writing mindset, and the characters “tell” me what’s going to happen next. Having said that, I do make notes and do some character studies. But I’ve found that when I put too much on paper, it inhibits my creative flow. I do a lot of work “in my head.” I do hope to get better at outlining. I attribute my inability to successfully write a novel (yet!) to getting too bogged down in the outline process. But I believe I’ll figure it out eventually!

What was your favorite book as a child?

As a child, I adored the Little House books and read them over and over. I liked a female protagonist, reading about perilous situations, and I liked that Laura was a person not afraid to stand up for what she believed.

When I got a bit older, I fell in love with dystopias. I believe I was about ten when I first stumbled upon Animal Farm at my grandmother’s house. Then, I read 1984 and Brave New World in quick succession. My mind was literally blown by the concept that people could manipulate each other so capriciously, and that others could so easily fall prey to misinformation.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I’m currently finishing up another short story, “Unafraid,” which is horror. On the back burner are two novellas (one scifi/fantasy; the other scifi/horror) that need more editing, and I have an idea for a horror novel that I haven’t been able to successfully write out. It’s based on what was initially a short story and it’s about 35% done.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

Do what works for you! That is honestly the best advice. I was bogged down for years thinking I’d never be successful because I didn’t write every day (and still don’t.) Find your own rhythm. Make your own path. Although it doesn’t hurt to try others’ “sage advice” to see if it resonates.

Want to learn more about Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert and her short fiction, including “In Darkness, She Sheds”? Check out her: Website–Voices in my Head, Twitter, Facebook page, Bookbub, Goodreads, and Amazon page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of The Final Summons.

Thanks to author Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Catherine Lundoff on February 12, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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As a girl, I loved Little House on the Prairie, and other books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. And I still enjoy them today. The television series featuring Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, Karen Grassle, and others didn’t follow the books’ story lines all the time, but nevertheless remained faithful to the themes and spirit of Laura’s books (and life experiences).

Writer-reader geek that I am, I visited the Ingalls farm, school house, and the house that Pa built in De Smet, South Dakota. The area is still beautiful and wind-blown. It wasn’t difficult to image the Ingalls family riding in a buggy to town or to the store where Harriet and Nellie Oleson spent their lives annoying others (including Willie and long-suffering Nels). A bit “off the beaten path,” I’m glad we took the time to visit De Smet.

These memoirs, for that is what Little House in the Big Woods, By the Shores of Silver Lake, and On the Banks of Plum Creek seemed to be to me, breathe life into American history. And I think my enjoyment of history was helped along by Laura’s books (as well as family stories and my father’s fascination with history – especially American history).

Currently, I’m working on several historical projects. They will never obtain the readership or popularity of Laura’s books, but I hope to breathe life into the men and women dwelling in their pages – for history matters!

And these words from a tiny (4′ 11″) pioneer woman still ring true: “The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder.

For those who’d like to view some historical photos of Laura, and learn a little bit about Laura and her family, husband, and life – here’s a link to a wonderful article: The Amazing Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder Part I: Old Photo Archive. Enjoy!

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Reading was my favorite pastime as a child and teen. Even today, a good book and the time to enjoy it make me happy. Which is one of the reasons I write.

When I write, whether a story, poem, or entire book, I try to create something I want to read. It seems a waste of time to create something which you, as the writer, don’t want to read! On the flip side of the coin, when I read an amazing book, I always think, “I wish I’d written this book!”

So what were my favorites as a child/teen? Mysteries: Nancy Drew mysteries (which I swapped with several friends, so we all had a chance to read many of them) -plus, I must confess to reading quite a few Hardy Boys mysteries, too! Magical tales: from the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and others. Folktales. Stories tinged with history, like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series and Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables books, plus books of “real” history. JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, CS Lewis’s  Chronicles of Narnia, L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books, Lewis Carroll’s  Alice in Wonderland, Andre Norton’s Witch World series… The list goes on and on.

And the best part of loving to read, was the adults in my life (parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins, dear family friends) encouraged me to read. They allowed me to be me, and didn’t force me to join a sports team or other activity just because everyone else was doing it.

I’ve tried to encourage my sons and daughter to find activities they enjoyed, and celebrated the differences between my kids. I try to do the same with my grandkids. Each grandchild is sure to find a path which suits them – and I’m happy each of the paths will be unique. And I’m not the only one. Here’s a link to Home and Garden Channel’s Fixer Upper and Magnolia Market, Joanna Gaines’s post on celebrating her child who’s a reader.

So on this warm July day, no matter your age, enjoy a book! Better yet, share your love of reading with a child.

 

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Evergreens We had a couple of inches of snow last night. Though the blustery wind has pushed the snow into small drifts, it isn’t deep enough to scoop up an unblemished bowlful.

You might be asking, why in the world would I be looking for a bowl of snow? Here’s the answer: When I was a kid, we used to gather snow from a location where the white fluddy stuff was as pure as possible. Then, we’d stir in some maple syrup and make a form of snow ice cream.

The idea for maple snow ice cream was from my Granny and Pop Crosby who’d grown up in Western New York with its lake-effect snowfall. Both had come from families of limited means. Maple syrup was available in the area for a reasonable price, if you didn’t gather maple sap and boil up your own syrup. And so our family’s maple snow ice cream tradition began many years ago in Western New York.

We also had a vanilla version of snow ice cream, which involved mixing sugar and vanilla and a bowlful of snow. For non-maple syrup lovers, it is an agreable substitute.

Variations of combining maple syrup and snow can be found in family cookbooks, online, and even in one of the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. With more snow in the forecast for next week for Wood’s Edge, I should be able to gather some snow and relive one of my favorite childhood memories.

Plus, as a writer who frequently writes about winter and frontier or rural locations, this little tidbit of Americana might just be included in a story. Writers need to remember to include specific details in their stories, and what is more specific than a homemade treat using snow?

For those who’d like to try a snow-maple delicacy, here’s a link to an easy maple sugar snow candy. So gather your bowls, spoons, and syrup bottle – and let it snow!

If you’re enjoying my blog, why not buy one of my books and post a review?

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Oct 2013 import 459 “Character, I think, is the single most important thing in fiction. You might read a book once for its interesting plot—but not twice.” – Diana Gabaldon

I agree with this quote. I return to books to revisit the characters I’ve grown to love. I enjoyed Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books as a girl because of central character, Laura, and her family and friends. I re-read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, because I wanted to be like Jo. I’ve twice-read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and its sequels because of Katniss Everdeen. And I’m currently caught up in Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress because of the characters.

Today’s quotable author, Diana Gabaldon, created two wonderful central characters: Claire and Jamie. And let’s be honest, most women would fall for Jaime.

Here’s another Gabaldon quote which would send many women into a swoon: “When the day shall come that we do part,” he said softly, and turned to look at me, “if my last words are not ‘I love you’-ye’ll ken it was because I didna have time.” – Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

How about you? Do characters draw you into a book? Do they make you re-read books?
(BTW, this photo and all others posted with Diana Gabaldon quotes were taken by me in Scotland).

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