Time has a way of passing faster than I would like when I have other things besides writing on my mind. It's been a month since I wrote a post. The reason why is on Jan. 30th I tried to cross the living room with one foot very much asleep and found out the hard way my foot wasn't going to hold me up. As I fell I heard a snap and realized I had broken a bone. My husband took me to ER for x-rays. A ligament tore loose from a bone and took a piece of the bone with it. The other ligaments in that area were badly stretched like an old rubber band that can no longer spring back. So now until the first of April and maybe longer I am going to be wearing a boot on my left foot to stabilize it until the ligaments and bone heals. So most of the day I sit with my feet up, using an ice pack four times a day to numb the pain in my foot. That is except for the time on Mondays I spend on the computer doing my Future Learn University writing course that I'm enjoying. Working on an assignment takes more time than I am willing to sit at the computer with my foot down. I must admit I feel like I'm cheating when I submit material that I have already published, but then again when I get reviews on what I submit like the two below I feel more confident about the material I write. The homework I turned in this week was the opening of my first book in my Amazing Gracie Mystery series titled Neighbor Watchers. Since I wrote that first book I have written eight more. Others in the class were invited to critique my work, and I did the same for other writers. As if from a long ways off, Gracie Evans heard the hushed squeaks made by her rocker being answered by the rocker beside her. The hollow sound she made when she tapped her high top, black shoes against the porch floor, Melinda Applegate’s shoes echoed. In spite of herself, the rocking motion lulled Gracie. Her eyelids grew heavy. Her head jerked, nodded and jerked again. She relaxed back against the rocker, and closed her eyes. Gracie stirred when sweat tickled her scalp beneath the two dark gray braids crowning her head. Feeling droplets seep from her hairline and trickle down her cheeks, she roused. She slipped her hand into her skirt pocket and pulled out a large, red man's handkerchief to swipe her face. Squaring her hunched shoulders, she straightened in her rocker and gave a slight shake of her head to clear it. The layers of calico and cotton petticoat she wore acted as a funnel to trap the uncomfortable heat radiating up from the floor. At that moment, she imagined she felt like the glass shade on a kerosene lamp that had just been lit, warming up and in a very short time too hot to touch. Gracie grabbed a handful of her brown skirt. She discreetly raised it just enough that her shoes showed and vigorously shook the material several times to let hot air escape. The only other relief came when she stirred the breeze in front of her face by waving a paper, feed store fan in short, fast strokes. Silently, Gracie chided herself for dozing off, then excused her napping with the fact things were bound to be this way. Boredom is what she'd gotten in return for retiring from her farm. She straightened up and tried to read the print on the large sign posted near the picket fence gate. She couldn’t make it out. Leaning forward, she squinted and failed again. At first, Gracie feared her eyesight had gone bad. With a measure of relief in her faded brown eyes, she realized heat waves shimmering over the shaggy, dried grass blurred the words. She mumbled to herself, “No need to read the sign. I know it says Molly Moser’s Retirement Home For Women. I ain’t too senile yet to remember where I live or that this town is Locked Rock, Iowa.” She sighed and relaxed. Every day, she tried to resign herself to the fact that Moser mansion would be where she’d live for the rest of her life. However, she saw no harm in wishing for some excitement to spice up the long days except she hadn't expected her wish to come true. Last night someone murdered the neighbor lady across the street. At last, she had a mystery to solve. Reviews Vidhima’s review Submitted by Vidhima Shetty Which method of character creation was being used? I personally think it might be more of the mixed method because you bring out humanly emotions that everyone feels at some point, longing and boredom, and you also build a character, I think, either by personal experience or by watching someone who has lived in a senior home. Were you able to see the character clearly? Did you want to know more about the character? Yes I was able to perceive Gracie Evans quite clearly. I especially like how you described her clothing! Yes, I certainly did want to know more about Gracie, especially in the beginning where she is bored and inquisitive. What approaches to portrayal, such as depicting appearance, occupation, voice, and so forth, did the writer successfully use? I liked your usage of metaphors. Also, you did a really good job with physical detail of Gracie. Overall, good job! Angela’s review Submitted by Angela Jones Which method of character creation was being used? The description seems to be autobiographical or biographical, perhaps either from the writer's own experience with older family members, or from observation of people around her or characters she's read about. Were you able to see the character clearly? Did you want to know more about the character? The character of Gracie is vividly built up from the first sentence, when we suspect, from the two rocking chairs, that she is an old lady who doesn't live alone. The details which follow then allow us to imagine her as she dozes and drifts between the present and the past, between reality and her memories. I wanted to know what her story was - what her life was like before she went to live in the retirement home, and of course the tantalizing final sentence holds lots of possibilities! What approaches to portrayal, such as depicting appearance, occupation, voice, and so forth, did the writer successfully use? Gracie's character is developed through small details which give a lot of information. I loved the way the narrative of the rocking, the heat and Gracie's thoughts lull the reader into a similar state, even though she tries to wake herself out of her stupor. The end is particularly effective at creating that contradiction which adds an unexpected dimension to the character and to the rest of the story. I was surprised and please that both ladies assumed that I had taken care of or observed family members or older people. They are very right. I was a CNA for many years in a nursing home, taking care of residents and took care of my parents in their home until they died. In fact the characters in the Amazing Gracie Mystery series were real people in the nursing home that I enjoyed being with. I used their characteristics to embellish my Gracie Evans, Melinda Applegate, Libby Hook and even the neighbors across the street, the Bullocks. They were patterned after my parents. The comments from the other students were meant as a critique of my work, but I was very pleased. Thought occurred to me that I don’t get many reviews. I should take what I can get and share them in this post. You can find more reviews from readers on Amazon. This has been a series that I really enjoyed writing. The idea came to me after reading an Agatha Christie book. The residents at the nursing home fit right in to the historical mysteries I wanted to write. So if this story line is interesting to you about a small Iowa town in early 1900 with humorous, elderly characters the story is in paperback and ebook at Amazon, Kindle, B&N, Nook and on Smashword.com.
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