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Writing

Write, don't talk. A blank page listens.

I write both fiction and nonfiction. There's a certain overlap. I try to weed personal and subjective stuff from my nonfiction. With fiction, I stick to the truth.

I've helped write building codes and technical works on historic preservation. That was a lot better than silence, but it wasn't as good as inventing my own world, so I wrote a novel.


Skeeter

“If cats wore bumper stickers, Skeeter’s would read ‘Question Authority.’ He’s everywhere, expressing his opinions, giving and demanding affection, and bending the rules. More than once, I’ve decided there must be two of him.”

 When a stray kitten romps into Lynne’s life, she has no idea what she’s getting into. As Lynne describes in letters to her friend Angie, Skeeter is all cat—high-spirited, contrary, and inventive. He’s so goofy that he reminds Lynne of her own nuttiest escapades; so irrepressible that even Lynne’s neighbor, Mark, gets wound around his paw.

 Angie pays Lynne a visit to see Skeeter for herself, and the story reaches its comic finale. No one who meets Skeeter will ever be quite the same again.

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Pacific Avenue

  Even though I enjoyed my comic stint, my next novel, Pacific Avenue, turned out to be serious. It's a story about young people in the early 1970s, the time of the war in Vietnam. It isn't the story of anyone I knew. The places are real, though--New Orleans and San Pedro, California, both places I've lived in and loved.

Here's the first chapter:

 

December 1974, Interstate 10, Westbound
Kathy

I chose a window seat on the Greyhound, but I didn’t look out. For almost the whole trip, I stared at the rough tan upholstery of the seat in front of me. It had a rip on one side and three dark stains.

A woman settled into the aisle seat. She raised her footrest, but it clunked back down. When I glanced her way, she caught my eye and smiled.

“How do you make these things stay put?” she asked.

I meant to answer—the words were lined up in my mind. But before I could say them, they slipped apart like beads when the string breaks. I gave up and studied the seat cover again. Still tan, still ripped, still stained. The next time I looked, the woman was gone.

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Joy

 

I've always loved carousels, and restoring old things, and Northern California. So my third novel is about a carousel restorer in Oakland and San Francisco. It's a more upbeat story than Pacific Avenue--though some very strange things happen, most of them are a generation in the past, revealed through old letters and the musings of a woman who hasn't forgotten. In the present is a love story, and the story of bringing an antique carousel--and a young woman's hopes--back to their former beauty and harmony.

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Flight

 

Linda is seventeen years old. She has OK parents, a bratty little brother, an almost-boyfriend...and then her life gets turned upside-down. Flight is the story of how she makes it right again, and who she becomes by doing that.

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Prologue

Some of Olympia’s alleys aren’t even paved. Just parallel tire tracks drifting through ruts and puddles, crowded by a patchwork line of back fences. I love those alleys, with their overhanging apple branches and tangles of blackberry canes. They’re like country roads stitched through the city. I walk ten alley miles for every one on the sidewalk, basking in the sense of peace. I laugh at the acrobatic squirrels and feed my curiosity with glimpses of the candid backs of houses. The alleys are part of my home.

Besides, someone might see me if I walk along the street.

So, I avoid the sidewalks as much as I can. It’s easy, since my front door is just off one of those shady alleys. And most of the places where I work are old houses, with gates in their backyards.

Some of my clients don’t get it. The second week I worked for Mrs. Clemens, she tried to set me straight.

“You don’t have to come to the back door, Lainie,” she said. “I never did hold with making the girl come to the back door.”

I stifled a laugh. Back in my other life, “girl” was a word Mom taught me not to let people use about me. But what she had in mind—what her whole generation had in mind, as far as I could tell—was men referring that way to women in general. While to Mrs. Clemens, “the girl” was a female servant. It would never have occurred to Mom I could be a “girl” in that sense.

Anyway, I didn’t mind. I liked Mrs. Clemens, and I was happy to have the job. Ninety-one was too old to learn to mince words.

“Thanks,” I told her. “I wasn’t thinking you expected me to come to the back door. But it’s a shortcut from my place. And I like to see what needs doing in the yard.”

She gave me a shrewd look as I served her breakfast—half a pink grapefruit and two pieces of raisin toast. An old teacher is hard to fool. Back in San Diego, I lied all the time at school, just for the fun of it. Those teachers probably didn’t believe me either, but I was too wrapped up in myself to see it. Now everything about me is a lie. My name isn’t even Lainie.

It isn’t fun anymore. But there’s no way to stop.

 

 


 

Smart Soapmaking, Milk Soapmaking, and Smart Lotionmaking

I've also written two books on making soap and one on making lotions. For information about them, go to my soap and lotion making page.

 


Baking with Cookie Molds

One more--Baking with Cookie Molds. For information about it, go to my cookie molds page.

 


 

 

 


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