Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Treading Ye Snow

Epitaph from 1786:
In memory of Mr. Elijah Bardwell
Who died Jan’ry 26th  in ye 27th
Year of his Age having but a few days
Surviv’d ye fatal Night when he was
Flung from his Horse & drawn by ye Stirrup
26 rods along ye path as appear’d by ye place
where his hat was found & where he had
Spent ye whole following severe cold night
Treading ye Snow in a small circle.

A rod is sixteen and a half feet - that’s 429 feet he was dragged!   No wonder he spent the night “Treading ye snow in a small circle,.” his brains scrambled.  A haunting image.

I saw an arrangement of flowers I didn’t particularly like – but I liked the flowers that made it up: white hydrangeas and red roses.  So when my husband asked me what I wanted for Valentine’s Day, I asked for that.  And it was lush!  I should have taken a picture of it, the gorgeous lacy white flowers lapping at the smooth, deep-red folds of the roses.  Just three of each with some fern-like greenery made a good-size bouquet.  And our cat Panzi waited until we were out to knock the arrangement over and chew on one of the roses - she loves roses.

A reader wrote to me care of my publisher, and Berkley forwarded it to me. The writer said she has read most of my books and that one in particular helped raise her from depression.  The book was Embroidered Truths and the part that moved her is the scene where Betsy goes to church and in a sermon the priest tells that joke about an old man complaining to God that though he has prayed every day of his life to win the lottery, he never has - and God speaks down from heaven, saying, "Berman, buy a ticket!"  The sermon continues that God answers prayers in His own time and that we have to be patient - and keep on buying that ticket.

I'm not sure why, but the letter writer found that comforting, and has resolved to continue to wait patiently and hopefully for God to answer her prayers.

When I get a response like that to sometime I've written I am overwhelmed and humbled and a little frightened.  We authors toss our stories off almost carelessly and are sometimes shocked when they strike home - especially when it's not the scene we thought might do that.  But think of it: that’s also true of remarks we pass among ourselves and to strangers.  A kind or cruel word can make or break someone’s day – or even, more rarely, life.

Speaking of snow, we are up to our elbows in snow here.  It's supposed to get up to forty today - but back into the freezer later this week with more snow.  Spring can't come too early for me.

I have a favor to ask of those of you who have already read A Drowning Spool.  This coming Saturday I am going to be in Madison, Wisconsin, attending a “Slam,” which is a gathering of authors, each of whom gets fifteen minutes to stir audience interest in his/her books.  I’m thinking a brief reading might help – not one that takes the whole fifteen minutes, but enough to whet the appetite.  And I don’t know what scene might best serve.  Any suggestions?  Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Dear Monica: I thought two scenes from Drowning Spool were hilarious. 1. The part when Betsy is researching the facebook pages of the victim and 2. the conversation Betsy has with the victim's roommates. Your irony in the first was delicious and in the second you really caught the way young adults talk now. However, I don't think a younger crowd would catch the humor.

riona said...

I like two scenes: the one in which you introduce punch needle to the group with Wilma coming in crying her usual "start over" and the one where Betsy interviews the dead girl's room mates in their home.

Betty Hechtman said...

Monica, how nice that that scene touched your reader.

What a winter you've had. When I came home from Chicago, it was a shock to see roads with no snow. The weather today in So. California is what dreams are made of. Just the right temperature and air fragrant with flowers. I hope spring comes to you soon.

Monica Ferris said...

Okay, that's two votes for the interview with the room mates - I'm going to get the book out today and look that over.

I didn't go to water aerobics this morning, the roads are simply too awful for any but absolutely necessary travel. Fortunately, we live in a part of the country where, once it stops, advances snow-clearing equipment gets things open fast. Because we're hitting the road tomorrow morning for Madison, Wisc.