December 11, 2014

It’s fourteen days to Christmas. Not one gift under my tree. It’s bare. Nothing there. I stopped the other day and thought maybe I should put fake gifts so it wouldn’t look so empty.

I sat down and thought there are families who even on Christmas morning there will be very little under the tree. I’m so blessed. I have everything I need. I want for nothing. It’s so disappointing to wake up on Christmas and get nothing or very little under the tree; especially for small children. So I encourage all of you to support angel trees. These are real children in need. They may live in orphanages, or group homes under no fault of their own. Usually it is clothes, shoes, a few toys, but the joy these gifts will bring will last way beyond Christmas. Every child should have warm clothes and coat during this time of the year.

Be kind, be generous and I promise your good deeds will not go unnoticed or unrewarded. The feeling you get from making someone else happy lasts a very long time.

Lily’s Lagniappe: There are some many family traditions. Louisiana families strive to honor their generations. I’m sure other states honor also but I am only familiar with this state. I treasure the times my cousins and I celebrated on Christmas at my grandparents’ farm. It was something we did. Some families worked together but definitely lived close to one another. I can honestly say that most of my friends visited their grandparents’ houses on special days. We all lived near our grandparents and relatives. We saw each other frequently. I loved that part of my childhood. I still see my cousins as often as possible. I live in another state now but recently after my sister and I lost our mother we’ve made an effort to see our family more often. Please visit and stay in touch. When they are gone I will have no regrets! Will you?

Lily

December 9, 2014

Well, sixteen days until Christmas. I haven’t shopped at the mall at all.  Why? I don’t know what I need to get for anyone! I love this time of year though. I find folks nicer. The shoppers are sweeter, the sales staff are sweeter because they need the totals, even the lines at Santa’s chair seem nicer. I always love watching new babies and older babies sitting on his lap with wide-eyed hope that they will get everything they want. They won’t! Some families can’t afford a large Christmas.

Your characters will be disappointed about things also. You know these feelings. Show me how you felt don’t tell me. Your entire body feels the disappointment. Show your readers the feelings on every spot of your body. Sweating, tears forming, skin itching, goosebumps in areas you’ve never had goosebumps before, and the sinking feeling of discourse or depression setting in.

Lily’s Lagniappe: Being a Louisianian, I am very proud  of them going to the polls during the Christmas season to vote their conscious.  I am thankful I live in a country where voting is a right for all citizens!!!

Lily

December 7, 2014

Well, eighteen days to Christmas but more importantly it is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The harbor on Oahu had the majority of the American fleet in. Japan sent their Kamikaze pilots to attack our fleet. Many a soldier lost their life that day and it has been honored every year since. I must confess I have visited Pearl Harbor every time I’ve gone to Hawaii. There was one trip where a group of teenagers from Japan were listening to the tour on headphones in their own language. They came to the part of the memorial where it is over the Arizona. They started giggling and laughing. This memorial is maintained by the Navy. The tour group was escorted off the memorial and told to leave. Harsh? Hell no!!! If I went to Japan and disrespected one of their shrines I would be asked to leave. We have got to stop being politically correct when we dishonor our past. History is a fact. Live with it. Because of our past we have made changes to the ways we deal with others and with our laws. We are still a young country and learning. But we have a great country and the rest of the world is watching.

Lily’s Lagniappe: Yesterday the state of Louisiana had a monumental vote for senator. Mary Landrieu lost her seat to a fellow named Cassidy. If he doesn’t perform he will only get one term. The folks in Louisiana are tired of being disappointed.

Lily

December 5, 2014

Twenty days until Christmas, malls are busy. But more importantly the internet is buzzing. Brick and mortar stores are struggling. They remind me of old manuscripts. The only way to make a old manuscript new is to  give it a infusion of new, fresh ideas. Like the brick and mortar stores need an infusion of money and customers, an old manuscript needs creative and inventive plot points or subplots to re-vision the conflict. Maybe your character needs more fleshing out or become more rounded, either way the manuscript becomes stronger.  So dust off those old manuscripts and get them ready to be sent.

Lily’s Lagniappe: Even though the temperatures are high during the month of December it doesn’t dampen the Christmas spirit in Louisiana. Festivities, families, fun and frolicking through the woods to parties, bonfires, state championships, and church services rule the month.

Lily

December 3, 2014

Well, twenty-two days until Christmas. I haven’t shopped one bit. But I have worked on my middle grade novel. I’m trying to spice up my main character. She really was already spicy enough I just haven’t done an adequate job of getting that across to the reader. So I’m fleshing her out. She’s a tomboy wrapped in netting. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw her playing hide and seek with a boy her own age. When did she start liking boys? Why was she fooling around with a boy at all? She really has never liked boys as anything other than friends. So I’m now increasing her curiosity about the male gender and a particular male. I really like this boy. He’s different and she’s different so they make friendship look real easy. This however is a threat to other females. Isn’t always that way? Hoping to finish this revision before Christmas.

Lily’s Lagniappe: Magnolia trees are the state tree for Louisiana. During the holiday season these trees bloom. A lot of plantation homes use branches loaded with blossoms to adorn the mantles. Placing holly berries in and around the branch make lovely fragrant decorations.

Lily

December 1, 2014

Well the countdown has begun!! Twenty-four days until Christmas. The end of the year brings friends, resolutions, a visit from the jolly old elf himself, and random acts of kindness. As a writer, I challenge each writer out there published or unpublished to buy a book read it then pass it on to a young reader asking them to do the same when they finish with it.  A revolution of reading plus random acts of kindness. A win-win situation. Finish those works in progress and in two years it will be your book being passed on!!

Lily’s Lagniappe: Most folks in Louisiana celebrate Christmas with traditions that were handed down through generations. Bonfires, exchanging gifts, eggnog, caroling and getting ready for carnival season which is just after the holidays.

Lily

November 29, 2014

This is the Saturday after Thanksgiving and I have gone to visit some of our family that didn’t get time off from work. My sister and I traveled to see her oldest daughter and her grandson. Brooks is a curious, adventurous, inquisitive four year old. He is learning letters, numbers and desperately wants to read. Every year a new generation is learning to read the words we write.  That is a ginormous responsibility and humbling one too!! Write for those just learning to read or write for those who have been reading for years; they deserve your best.

Lily’s Lagniappe: There is a chill in the air even in southern Louisiana. It’s a damp cold and bone chilling. A cup of hot chocolate is served in almost every restaurant and at the famous Cafe du Monde you can  get hot chocolate to go with your beignets! Mmm, Mmm Good!

Lily

November 27, 2014

Today is Thanksgiving. There are so many things I am thankful for: freedom, family, fun, friends, folly, finishing a work in progress, fishing agents for a bite, frolicking with great nephews, fat turkey, finding a place of solitude for introspection, and mostly for a life that I have tried to live the best I can. Made a lot of mistakes but hopefully not any that can’t be outlived. Make a grateful list and add to it daily. This is truly the measure of your existence.

Lily’s Lagniappe: Louisianans are thankful for the month of November to arrive. This means Hurricane season is over! Be thankful for the little things that impact your life.

Lily

November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving week….the hustle and bustle of gathering food, family and fun into 48 to 72 hours is a juggling act at best. RELAX!!! The best memories are the mistakes, the accidents, the boo-boos, the crying that turns into laughing, the faces of children tasting things for the first time, the gibbering and jabbering of small children talking their own language and understanding every word; the misty eyes of adults watching the madness unfold, the sleeping on the sofa after the meal while the television blasts out the hut-hut of the games, the hour later return to the table for more fortifications, the kids on sugar high running around and most of all the loving, the hugs, the sweet kisses with slobber and the memories to last a lifetime. So enjoy the ups and downs of your holiday this week.

Lily’s Lagniappe: The state of Louisiana is known for Mardi Gras, plantation homes, swamps, alligators and fantastic college football teams. But during the Thanksgiving week children are off from school and families gather together and forget old disagreements and break bread together. Some of the best cooks I know are from this state. Food is an art form but at Thanksgiving its not about the turkey or the dressing or desserts; it is about the family, the children, the siblings, the grandparents, the aunts, the uncles and spending time together. Even if some are serving our country and not at the table, some are working because their families need the money, some are protecting our streets, some may be on duty in case an emergency arises, and even though they may not be physically there…we honor them with memories, thoughts and prayers.

Lily

November 23, 2014

Today is Sunday. The Lord’s day, the day of rest, the beginning or ending of the week depending on your viewpoint. I believe it is the beginning of the week. Every week starts off on a day of rest so the rest of the week goes well. The same is true of a manuscript be it PB, MG, YA or magazine article. By starting after a day of rest on your current work-in-progress, it gives you, the writer, a new look at your words. Things must go and things must be added to make the manuscript stronger. Time is right to make your manuscripts stronger,  more relevant and more publishable.

Lily’s Lagniappe: Interstate 10 between Baton Rouge and Lafayette has sections over water called the Achafalaya Basin. Out in the water are trees called Cypress. Strong durable trees but over time with winds, creatures, and flooding the trees become shorter than usual. They stick up about a foot to about three or four feet above the water level. We, Louisianans, call those cypress knees. Many a table with a glass top has decorated plantation homes, and then later most homes. There are homes built on stilts above these waterways made of cypress. They stand the test of time and weather lasting fifty years or more with always more than one generation living in these homes.