I thought we had something special…

In my younger days, I was a fairly extroverted, social creature – the life of the party in most cases. I’m Latin, it’s genetic. However, in the last few years I’ve become somewhat of a recluse. Such is the life of a stay-at-home mom/author. Lately, I’ve felt the need to venture out beyond my walls of solitude and re-enter society. It just so happened that, a while back, I received an invite to a luncheon from our little city’s women’s club. I met so many of my wonderful neighbors, and absolutely hit it off with several in particular. Many of the women were fascinated that our little town had a published author and insisted that I approach their book club the following spring as a guest author and present my work for their book of the month. Since that time, I’ve had opportunities to see these women at other events and share in some delightful conversations and felt a growing kinship with the members of the club.

Last month I received another one of the club’s invites to attend a member’s home for coffee. This event is something that is done once a month and upwards of twenty women attend this ‘coffee’. It was a blistery cold January morning here in Texas and the wind dropped the temperatures painfully low. Although I’m not a big coffee drinker, I arrived at the hostess’s home with my diet soda in hand. Walking up the long path to the home, I was joined by another of the club’s members. She was an older woman, a good twenty years over me, whom I had only met once before when we sat next to each other at one of our luncheons. On our walk to the front door we chatted along the way about the weather and her deranged love of the cold, although the wind she could do without. I silently wished for my toasty Texas summer to come back to me. When we arrived on the front stoop, my impromptu companion proceeded to try and let herself in, only to find the door locked. Hmmm…she must be very close to the hostess to attempt a walk-in without ringing the doorbell. Or, maybe, since we were expected at a social event here, this was not at all unusual. This reminds me that I need to research social etiquette tips.

The door unlatched and opened, revealing our bubbly hostess.  She graciously welcomed us into her home, immediately embracing my walking partner. ‘Oh, we’re huggers here. Great! I come from a long line of huggers. Therefore we must hug.‘ After all, I had met our hostess on other occasions and had shared polite conversation. We had a certain ‘rapport’. So I went in for the hug.

“Hi,” I beamed, “it’s so good to see you again.”

“Hi,” she returned with a forced smile as we separated. “I’m sorry, you’re going to have to remind me your name.”

“Oh,” my smile drooped, “it’s Carmen. Carmen Wolff.”

“That’s right, we spoke on the phone the other day when you called to RSVP.”

“Yes, we’ve met at other events as well.” I reminded, needing her to remember me so that our hug wouldn’t have been considered awkward or inappropriate. How could she not remember me? I’m the one who’s a published author – I’m nearly famous.

“Oh, that’s right,” she acknowledged politely, pointing to the kitchen, “help yourself to the coffee and goodies.”

“Thank you.” I sulked toward the kitchen, grateful to see a woman who I had done some editing for recently.

Over the next hour I met more of the local ladies, revisited with others I knew from previous meetings, and grazed over the delicacies of breakfast pastries. I even took the opportunity to stand in on a conversation between a group of women that included our hostess. Everyone in the room laughed and shared stories of children, boasted about their work histories before becoming women of leisure, and talked about the town’s annual volunteer fire department fundraiser coming up. The chatter and camaraderie were absolutely delightful (that’s the word you use in these circles). Eventually, one by one, coffee drinkers made their way around the crowd to say their goodbyes, making a final stop with our host and giving her a hug goodbye.

Well, as a reclusive writer, I have a huge list of things to do and, with just a handful of guests left on the scene, I decided it was my turn to part ways. I politely gave a wave to the other ladies and said a cheery goodbye, then turned to our host. With a thoughtful thank you for holding the event, I said goodbye and felt confident that now it would be acceptable to give her a kind hug. Breaking from our embrace, a familiar smile came to her face. A smile I had seen not too long ago.

“I’m sorry, you’re going to have to remind me your name again.”

“Carmen. Carmen Wolff.” My jaw dropped.

“That’s right, we spoke on the phone the other day when you called to RSVP.”

When to Capitalize Popular Names of Places

C.E. Wolff:

Love CMOS!

Originally posted on Amanda Bumgarner:

Today’s grammar tip is brought to you by CMOS 8.47.

One thing I’ve noticed recently is that people like to capitalize words. I don’t know if this is a new thing, but it’s definitely a thing. Depending on whom you talk to, capitalization isn’t a make-or-break issue. JK Rowling, for example, capitalizes many words that don’t need to be capitalized, but you don’t see anyone making a fuss about it.

Still, I think it is important to be aware that there are certain rules about capitalization. After all, it’s only after you know the rules that you can really start to break them. Isn’t that how the saying goes?

One such example of a popular place that I recently came across was the Bible Belt. You’ve heard of it, right? Usually referred to as the middle of the United States, where there are a large number of conservatives and…

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Critique Groups

As a new writer, joining a critique group is not unlike being a preteen going to a new school mid-term. There are new people, established relationships, differing of opinions and, as much as you smile and give the illusion of confidence, you hope they like you and not think the things you do suck. At the same time, you mentally repeat “please don’t hate me” as you place your soul under the judgmental scrutiny of everyone’s watchful eyes as they search ever so closely for your flaws and failures.
Nevertheless, we seek support, advice, and validation from a group of strangers to prove to ourselves that we have what it takes to be a successful, commercially marketable author. Ironically, we’re seeking guidance from people that are mostly in the same boat as us – unpolished and unpublished. Granted, some are self-published, others write for their own pleasure, and some people just have an inkling that they might have a book residing in the recesses of their mind and are toying with the idea of putting pen to paper (or keystrokes to screen).
All in all, the community of writers and dreamers of writing is one of support and a desire and hope of success for our colleagues, new and old. It’s actually the only field where I have seen genuine camaraderie.
Once the verdict comes in, and the droplets of red ink smear across the stark white pages of your life’s work, you realize….you should have caught that damned typo!