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NO GUARANTEES IN ROMANCE

A sucker for imaginative writing, I’ve learned that what you see, hear or read is open to interpretation. Since I’m usually open-minded and not averse to taking a chance, I’ve had a few adventures with the personal ads. Before the Internet, there was the Singles Register newspaper in Southern California, and it was probably easier to stretch the truth then since there were no photos or Google to investigate the potential date. The dating game is much the same, however.  I answered an ad from a man who called himself a handsome, talented writer of energy and spirit. Poetically, he claimed that trumpets would blare and cymbals would crash when he met the right woman. When we talked on the phone (before the onslaught of texts and Email), he told me he lived in Redondo Beach and had a view of the Pacific Ocean. He was the proud owner of some unusual decorations, like a six-foot hand-carved Polynesian alligator, but his prized possessions were a line drawing by Picasso and a Spanish bullfighter’s cape.

romance

When we met, I discovered he was much older than I’d thought (he hadn’t admitted his age). He had difficulty walking, was hunchbacked and had prostrate problems. He was complimentary and joked that he wasn’t expecting Dolly Parton. I took that as a compliment–I was in shorts and a low-cut blouse. His beach apartment balcony did have an ocean view, but only if you leaned over and squinted through the buildings in front of his. The treasured wooden alligator was a tight squeeze in his little home, but it was one of the few mementoes that had survived five marriages and lots of alimony.

Turned out he was a child psychiatrist, a rival of the famous Dr. Benjamin Spock of Baby and Child Care fame. My blind date had written five books and claimed he’d coined the term “parenting.” I did find a couple of his books in my local library afterward.

He bought lunch after showing me all his treasures, but his conversation was a litany of complaints about all his former wives. It was obvious he was looking for someone to take care of him and listen to all his misery. I wondered why I’d spent so much time listening to him. Was I too polite or just not savvy enough yet? At that time I had only been single for a few years.

The most daring experience I had answering the ads was choosing to accept a free trip to New Orleans to meet an Israeli biochemistry professor at Tulane University. He had read my ad and didn’t care that we were geographically challenged. We had had several interesting phone conversations and after he’d seen my photo, he was convinced I was the one a psychic had said was perfect for him. (It was odd that a science professor was even visiting a pyschic–maybe New Orleans’ spirit side was getting to him). He made good money, evidently, and paid for everything. I felt he sounded trustworthy and I’d never been to the “Big Easy.” One of my girlfriends thought I was out of my mind, but agreed to keep an eye on my kids.

The professor was fairly recently divorced and had come to the States to forget his troubles with his former wife, an eccentric woman who had custody of their children and had remained in Israel. He was very polite for the most part as he told me his sad story, and showed me around some of New Orleans’ hot spots. By the second day he realized he’d made a mistake and wasn’t ready for any kind of relationship. I left a day early, a bit wiser. I knew I would laugh about these experiences, and I am still amused. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained. The only thing that hurt was rejection.

It seems my own psychic reading from a few years before was coming true. She had told me I would not leave any stone unturned in life. I hadn’t found the right stone yet, apparently.

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD

I have a theory that the foods you enjoy during your childhood stay favorites all your life, whether they are the healthiest choices or not. My kids retain their love of certain cereals: Captain Crunch and Count Chocula. I don’t know how they acquired the taste since I didn’t buy sweet cereals when they were younger. Perhaps they sneaked it in when they had some of their own money as teenagers. I once had to break up a fight because my son Hans had eaten the last bowl of Captain Crunch. Heidi came after him and they wrestled on the couch. At that time they were both tall and strong. Since they were acting like fighting cats, I filled a large glass with water and threw it on them. It stopped the fight and we’ve laughed about it ever since.

Some of my earliest food preferences that I remember date back to Tripoli when I was a teenager. Mom bought most of our food from the Wheelus Air Force Base Commissary, and it was American food. I remember eating Cheerios for breakfast almost every day and never lost my taste for it. Lunch (I recall brown-bagging it in high school) was generally a bologna sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise, mustard and pickle relish. I have a vague memory of eating cereal in Germany right after WWII, but we had to make do with evaporated milk in cans shipped from the States. I was too young to protest the odd taste. The photo below is the young me watching over my baby sister, Tupper, in Bavaria (the house was posted last Sunday). I wonder if she had to drink the evaporated milk as she got older.

Tup & Vic#1

My mother was a Virginian and cooked Southern food all her life, although she did explore a few more exotic dishes, occasionally, like Beef Stroganoff, which was her favorite for company. In Tripoli, she didn’t want to try or make the traditional Couscous because it usually had lamb in it and my dad hated lamb. I remember Mom’s fried chicken particularly. The chicken pieces were put into small paper bags full of seasoned flour (usually only salt and pepper) and shaken. They were then fried in Crisco in an old iron skillet and it was delicious. Green beans were a Southern staple, and it wasn’t a short process, like the French with their crunchy beans. The ideal way was to boil and simmer for what seemed like hours, in a heavy pot with a ham hock, unless you had a pressure cooker.

Iron skillets, like other old implements, are now back in style. Years ago, they usually ended up encrusted with old grease but lasted forever. I learned to make the best baked beans in our skillet by starting with bacon grease, adding a can of beans, then ketchup, brown sugar, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. I was taught to estimate how much you needed and pour or sprinkle. Bacon was a necessity for a more complete breakfast. When you bought your set of canisters for flour and sugar years ago, the set usually had a special canister for bacon grease. Southerners used bacon grease instead of oil or butter for the most part, so that container was a must since you wouldn’t want to pour bacon grease down the sink drain, and there was nothing wrong with leftover bacon grease.

My parents were a little ahead of the “health” game in some ways. We usually had a salad with dinner—iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, celery and an oil and vinegar dressing. I was in charge of all the chopping and mixing.

Mom made spaghetti but it was fairly basic and bland—there were no Italians in her family. Her idea of lasagna didn’t resemble what we eat today. Maybe it was because whatever commissary she was using didn’t carry the right noodles!

The homemade sweets I remember most were were chocolate chip cookies, pecan pie (another Southern tradition), and icebox cookies (thin chocolate wafers stacked with whipped cream between them and around them). At Christmas time Mom made chocolate bourbon balls. Yes, they actually had bourbon added for an extra kick. My favorite store-bought candy bar would definitely be Snickers and Oreos are still on the top of my cookie list. These days I favor the Belgian chocolate bars at Trader Joe’s.

 

 

A ROLLING STONE…

The world has grown more mobile since my youth. In the mid 20th century, many folks stayed in their hometowns for their entire lives. Being a military brat, like I was, meant you would be a gypsy. Sensing that fact, I’ve been documenting my addresses since 1950. One of my parents’ military friends, who knew I enjoyed reading, gave me a history book Love Affairs That Have Made History. For some reason I don’t remember, I decided to write down all my addresses on the front flyleaf and when I ran out of space, I added some on the back.

 

Mom's childhood home, the blue color is recent and I think it's been torn down.

Mom’s childhood home, the blue color is recent and I think it’s been torn down.

I was born in Danville, Virginia, during World War II and my first home was a bedroom in my mother’s family home on Berryman Avenue. It was a spacious 2-story wooden home on a corner with a cemetery across the street: my Motley grandparents’ final resting place. When Mom married Darby, her second husband, they began married life with me in Murnau, Germany, in 1947. It was a picturesque Bavarian village undamaged by the war, and even though my dad was only a Captain, the huge 18-room house we were assigned made us feel like he was a General. To the victor go the spoils comes to mind. Although I was quite young, I can still remember the large garage building, full of empty bottles (maybe they recycled during wartime). We even had a maid and a houseboy and a hill nearby to ski down. My sister was born in Munich, where the big military hospital was, and her first home was our “mansion” in Murnau.

 

My dad's tomato garden on the side of our German mansion.

My dad’s tomato garden on the side of our German mansion.

When we sailed back to the U.S. in 1950, we lived in an apartment building in Ft. Lee, New Jersey—401 Park Place, to be exact (I bet Gov. Christie knows!). The only thing memorable for me was my mother getting locked out on the roof when she was hanging clothes, and the fact that one of the famous Ames Brothers singing group lived in the same building. We were soon sent to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, for the next year and lived at 34F Pulaski Street. I imagine these military quarters were fairly basic, but we were there such a short time I can’t remember anything but being smart enough to skip second grade in elementary school.

Shortly after the Korean War started, my dad, who might have been a Major by then was given orders to participate as a Corps of Engineers officer in Korea. Years later he remembered the horror of war even in the midst of the Alzheimer’s that finally killed him. Mom, my sister and I moved to Dad’s home state of Florida, and we lived in a small stucco home in Jacksonville Beach (530 11th Avenue North). I remember seeing sand everywhere instead of grass, and the very wide beaches where you could actually park your car before going into the ocean to swim. My 4th grade teacher was a pioneer of sorts—she had us participate in a morning snack time of raw fruits and vegetables we were required to bring from home. Music was also a priority: each class member had to learn to play harmonica for our class band. We even had uniforms—colorful little satin capes and envelope caps, like members of the Army!

When Dad came back in one piece in 1952 from Korea, he was bearing Japanese gifts – a pearl necklace for Mom and painted silk parasols for my sister and me (I still have mine). It was time to head north—the Bronx in New York City. Dad was going to study for his Master’s Degree at NYU. City living was very different; at Fordham Hills Apartments, 2451 Webb Avenue, we lived on the 12th floor. I attended PS 33 for 5th grade from 1953-54. The school was located almost under the elevated subway and across the street from a Loew’s movie theater.

Elevators were commonplace in New York and my toddler sister escaped us one day and rode up and down on our elevator until I managed to track her down. The apartment buildings were on a hill and the sidewalks leading to a playground at the bottom of the hill were ideal for roller skating practice.

My dad’s next assignment was Ft. Knox, Kentucky. There weren’t any officers’ quarters available at first, so we had temporary quarters in what was called the cantonment area (T-7600 D Montpelier Street), which was once part of an old hospital with lots of empty, closed down corridors. It was a short distance from the famous Gold Vault (the US Gold Bullion Depository)—no tours, however. We were rewarded at Ft. Know, however. My baby brother was born there in the military hospital, of course.

Within a few months, we had graduated to large brick quarters at 1460B Fifth Avenue where we would live until November 1955. Although quite nice, these quarters were typical of almost any Army base. The street name sounded prestigious, and I remember the old leafy trees and quiet atmosphere. We had a nice basement where my dad could indulge in his photography hobby and I could put on dancing/singing shows with girlfriends from the neighborhood using my folks’ old 78 rpm records. One of my favorites was “Managua, Nicaragua is a wonderful town…” While we were there President Dwight Eisenhower visited and I actually had a peek.

I had started 8th grade when Dad got orders for Nouasseur, Morocco. The orders were changed quickly to Wheelus Air Force Base in Tripoli, Libya. After a very long flight and stops in the Azores and Morocco, we landed at Wheelus and our first home was the Hotel Del Mahari for a few weeks. It felt like something out of the Arabian Nights with fountains and flowers and exotic smells, but we soon moved into a two-story villa with one apartment on each story in Garden City: 26 Via De Gaspari. We lived on the second floor, had three bedrooms, one bathroom, separate dining and living rooms and a large balcony with a view of the Egyptian Ambassador’s compound across the street. It had a one-car garage and a small side yard. The windows had roll-down wooden shutters, which helped keep sand out during the ghiblis (sandstorms).

Our two and half-year sojourn in Tripoli was the highlight of my youth, but I’ve written far too much in other areas of my blog to cover the same material again.

When the family headed back to the States again in 1958, we were bound for Alexandria, Virginia and Davis Avenue. It was suburban Northern Virginia-Washington, D.C. area. Dad would be stationed at the Pentagon working for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We didn’t have a villa this time but a small stone-fronted two-story home with a good-sized back yard dominated by a weeping willow tree. My parents didn’t stay long; when I went off to study at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, they went to Carlisle, Pennsylvania to the US Army War College for a year before heading off to Mannheim, Germany.

I joined them in Germany after college and started a whole new saga in my life that brought me to California, where I’ve been ever since.

 

 

AFRICAN ADVENTURE–A TRUE STORY

My connections to the continent of Africa have created some of my favorite adventures—both in person and with books I either edited or wrote. I wrote about my own years as a teenage military brat in Tripoli, Libya, in An Army Brat in Libya available on Amazon. When I first began editing books some years ago, I edited Dick Griffith’s book, In the Hearts of Famous Hunters, which told of the exploits of famous fellows like Roy Rogers, astronaut Wally Schirra, test pilot Chuck Yeager, and LA Times publisher Otis Chandler on African hunting expeditions.

Gods

More recently, I edited Dick Mawson’s book The Gods Who Fell From the Sky, also available on Amazon and doing marvelously well with sales. Shortly after WWII, as Dick tells the story, his English parents decided to make a fresh start in life and flew to Africa with their very young sons in a small twin-engine plane. After a non-fatal but heart-stopping crash into the bush not far from their destination, the family was rescued by native African villagers. Luckily, one of the villagers spoke English and sent word by runner to Ft. Jameson, fifty miles away. Nine days later the English chief of police in Rhodesia had assembled some trucks for the rescue, and the Mawsons eventually made their home in the capital of Salisbury.

Crashing into the southern part of Africa as a child was just the beginning of Dick’s amazing saga of overcoming adversity during an exciting and heartbreaking life. At the age of eleven, he lost a lower leg in a farming accident, and at sixteen, as a daring boat racer, seriously damaged his good leg, among other injuries. He managed to overcome both hurdles to achieve consistent winning status in car racing in Africa, Europe and England. He’s over 70 now, and living in southern England, but he’s still racing cars and building them as well.

Along the way, Dick was happily married to his lovely Penny (he’ll tackle those challenges and her death in his second book), had children and now is the grandfather of five. Despite all his racing wins and business successes, he says his family is his greatest achievement. Dick Mawson shown below with two granddaughters.

Mawson+grands

Editing Dick’s book was an adventure for me. After the basic facts, I wanted to know more about the wildlife, the bugs, the plants and the people. Dick had many tales to tell and together we flushed out the important and entertaining parts of his story. As an energetic, “never say die” man, he had many hilarious incidents to relate about his life. He even found humor in the really tough parts—handling his injuries during several accidents and once having his false leg slip off, which terrified a woman in a London subway tunnel so badly she fainted.

According to Dick Mawson, “It’s pointless looking at what one can’t achieve in life when there is just so much that one can achieve. There is nothing that I have found to be impossible. There are always ways of reaching your goal and the biggest thing along the way is to have fun doing it.”

500 BLOGS TO CELEBRATE!

It’s been almost 5 years since I started my blog, Words on My Mind. I’ve now posted 500 blogs – HOORAY!! At this point, judging by the statistics, I’ve had at least two million people check in.

I used a poem to begin my efforts. Here’s part of what I wrote:

Birth pains were negligible,

A little wine helped,

And some chocolate with nuts.

Since the Baby Blog

Has shot into Cyberspace,

It’s no telling what it

May eventually weigh.

Does anyone know

The Weight of Opinions?

I started the blog to promote my editing business and to sell my historical fiction novel, Melaynie’s Masquerade. Since then I’ve written 6 additional books (Ebook format) that are also for sale on Amazon. An Army Brat in Libya, Discovering the Victor in Victoria, Colonels Don’t Apologize, Angels in Uniform, Pink Glasses, and Weird Dates and Strange Fates.

Victoria Giraud

Victoria Giraud

As a consistent chronicler of my interesting life, in notebooks and eventually on computer, I’ve reported my personal history, ups and downs! I had written plenty of tales of growing up as an Army brat, my long career as a newspaper and magazine editor/reporter in Los Angeles, and life as a single woman. Since 2010 I’ve written about living in Bavaria right after World War II, living in Tripoli, Libya, in the 1950s, and residing in the Washington, D.C. area during John Kennedy’s presidency. For the past 50 years (alas, I’m no longer a youngster), I’ve enjoyed experiencing Southern California life.

The fun of getting older is looking back to the hurdles and successes of life and all the people you’ve known or seen in one way or another. I’ve written about most of it. I saw John F. Kennedy twice (when he was a senator and then a president), Robert Kennedy twice, shook hands with Richard Nixon in Libya, and observed Lyndon Johnson in the Senate. These experiences have been chronicled in my blog.

I observed Hollywood stars at Washington National Airport during the March on Washington in 1963. I stood at a window between Sammy Davis, Jr. and James Baldwin (the author), saw Paul Newman, James Garner and Sidney Poitier, and spoke with Charlton Heston. I lived through some of the repercussions from the Suez Crisis in Tripoli in 1956. I enjoyed the fun of a 1958 Mediterranean Cruise courtesy of the US Navy, landing in Athens, Istanbul, Naples, and Gibraltar, to name a few.

Since I knew and had interviewed character actor, Strother Martin, I attended his funeral at Forest Lawn in 1980 and saw Jimmy Stewart, Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine. I wrote a blog about the experience. Living in SoCal, I’ve had the opportunity to chat with James Whitmore, William Shatner, Peter Strauss, Ellen Burstyn, Robert Stack, Valerie Harper, Kelsey Grammar, Della Reese, and Sally Kellerman, to name a few. While I worked at the phone company in Hollywood, I observed Dean Martin on a motorcycle,  saw Cornel Wilde and Mitzi Gaynor at the Brown Derby, and had a lovely chat with Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft in Santa Monica. When I edited and wrote a magazine for the Beverly Hills Country Club, I interviewed athletes Rafer Johnson and Jack Kramer (my first tennis racket had his name on it) and TV star Barbara Eden. I’ve written about all these experiences as well as the sometimes crazy times of being single and dating.

One of my most entertaining interviews was with Jules Sylvester, an animal trainer born in Kenya. He was my neighbor for a while and invited me out to see his Komodo dragon (in the Marlon Brando/Matthew Broderick film “The Freshman”) and all the spiders and insects he trained for all sorts of films (“Snakes on a Plane” not too long ago).

I’ve written about the powerful 1994 LA earthquake, and about my genealogy on my mother’s Motley side, which included John Motley Moorehead, a governor of North Carolina before the Civil War. I’ve told my personal story of surprising my birth father at his office in the Pentagon in 1964. I was too young to remember him when he left to fight in Italy during WWII. Three days after we met and spent time together, he said I was his lucky charm: he had been promoted to Brigadier General.

When I’m not writing my blog, I’m spending time editing books of all types and have written/promoted many of them on my blog. So far, I’ve edited about 130 books in all genres: from historical fiction, memoirs, romance and action adventure, to self-help and children’s books.

I’ve tooted my horn enough. If, dear Reader, you’re intrigued, check out my archives after you read today’s blog. Thank you!

 

 

TRIPOLI’S ROACHES

Exotic and temperate Tripoli, Libya, was certainly appealing, but all places have their drawbacks. Those of us who lived there remember the sandstorms and locust infestations, but I had genuinely forgotten about the roaches, perhaps because my mother patiently got rid of them in our villa. She was always the champion for cleaning, insect control, and chief cook (I did the dish washing).  I’ve heard it said that if every creature on Earth becomes extinct, there will always be roaches thriving!

The Grand Hotel faces Tripoli's harbor

The Grand Hotel faces Tripoli’s harbor

I am posting another portion of Terence Sharkey’s entertaining memoir, Love, Life and Moving Pictures. In this part of his saga about making the British film, “The Black Tent,” in Tripoli and the Sahara Desert,  he describes how his quest for romance with Rosemarie (he had met her in the previous blog) at the Grand Hotel meant he would have to be in charge of pest control. As Terence relates:

We reached the corridor to her room. Rosemarie took my hand and drowned me in her enormous blue eyes. “Will you be my Night?”

“What?” I could hear my heart thumping. Had I misheard?

Rosemarie said, “Will you be my knight–you know the shining armor bit – with the cockroaches? I put the waste bin out but I can’t bear picking them up, and they run so.”

Despite its five-star rating, the Grand Hotel, like its equally luxurious competitor, the Uaddan, was overrun with cockroaches. The nightly slaughter of the creatures took place in bedroom and bathroom alike, where they would explode like rotten chestnuts when hit with the heel of a shoe. I had devised a way to avoid this messy execution by lining the waste bin with a towel into which the scrambling beasts would be put, to be collected next morning.

We went into her room. As the lights went on, the creatures scampered for the walls or any shadow that was available. Rosemarie gave a shriek. These were like no local theatre or palace-of-vaudeville beatles back home, with which as an actor I was familiar. The Empire certainly hadn’t set on these gigantiques. The dull brown creatures were all about two inches long, as big as my thumb and when not dashing for cover would climb walls with antennae waving and even fly a short distance. It was a losing battle and having captured a dozen or so we gave up.

While Rosemarie took a shower, I remained there (on the bed) contemplating a country where the best hotels had cockroaches and whose balconies were home to marauding cats who haunted the verandah of the outdoor dining room.

(Cut to romance scene…you’ll have to buy the Ebook to read it)

Terence continues:

I understand that a new Grand Hotel, bigger and even more opulent, was built in 1983, inspired by the original building’s façade and owing much of its design to its predecessor’s Moorish arched windows.

I wonder, if I were to return, would there still be cockroaches in the bedroom and would there still be a teenage blonde in the bathroom…

MAKING MOVIES IN LIBYA – 1950s

Last year, Terence Sharkey, who had been a teenage British actor in the 1950s, sent me an entertaining story of his adventure at Wheelus Air Force Base in 1955. He meant it as a Comment, but it was too long and too interesting not to include it as a blog, and I’m publishing the story again. I made a few minor changes (like American spelling) for clarity.  Terry told me:
I was a guest at Wheelus almost sixty years ago and I still recall the warmth of the welcome which matched the 90 degree heat everywhere. In 1955 food-rationing from WWII in England had only just ceased, and for an English youth, my eyes had popped out at steak sizes I’d never seen, breakfast portions undreamed of, and chocolate bars in abundance. (I’d never heard of Hershey bars –but I soon learned). Suddenly England seemed even more austere when I saw the goods on offer in the commissary.

I was sixteen and had gone to Libya as a young actor for desert location scenes for a movie (The Black Tent) we were making at Pinewood Studios back in England.
A couple of days after my arrival at Idris airport the once daily flight from London’s Heathrow ended in tragedy when a BOAC DC4 Argonaut crashed in flames on landing, killing fifteen and badly injuring many of the forty-seven on board. Idris facilities were about what you’d expect of one of the world’s poorest nations with an international terminal that looked like it was the film set from Bogart’s “Casablanca” and the boys and girls at Wheelus had mobilised immediately, with helicopters ferrying the injured to the military hospital.

Terence Sharkey, teenage British actor

Terence Sharkey, teenage British actor

A few days later, at a break in the filming schedule, I visited the base with Rosemarie, a young woman survivor of the crash. American helicopter pilots honored her with a bouquet. Their tears turned to laughter when Rosemarie discovered the bouquet was swarming with ants, which had joined the consignment somewhere locally. (Where had they had come up with fresh roses in such a desert?).

The base was enormous. I had been fearful that the sight of aircraft so soon after the tragedy at Idris airport on the other side of the city would be upsetting, but my companion was enjoying the tour as much as I was. At one stage our jeep rattled its way over the tarmac beside twenty or more very business-like looking fighter jets with US Air Force emblazoned on each silver fuselage together with the big white star. “F-86 Saber jets” our driver told us proudly. “See them swept-back wings? They’ll take-on anything those Commie-bastards can throw at us – they’ll out-maneuver any of Joe Stalin’s boys.”
Stalin had died two years before and his successor, Nikita Kruschev, had appeared to adopt a more conciliatory attitude towards the West in an attempt to end the Cold War. Our driver, if he knew of the demise of the despot, cared little for the changes and continued to extol the superior virtues of the Saber jets over the Russian MiG-15s, which he told us he had seen in dogfights in the Korean War a couple of years before.

An international incident was narrowly avoided when this naïve British visitor took a photograph of his beautiful companion. I had not noticed that the background included some tents and several large aircraft. I still have the Zeiss camera, which I had bought cheaply a couple of days before, just a museum piece now in our age of digital photography, but I will always remember that day when I had to hand over the film to the fierce military policeman declaring us off-limits.

Actually, he turned out to be quite an affable sort who, having executed his official task, seemed more than happy to assist my companion, who had discovered that the ants were now invading her blouse. Uncle Sam’s Military Police are clearly up to anything the day throws at them and the fellow produced some magic mosquito cream, which he applied liberally to her neck. His enthusiasm for the task knew no bounds and soon it was the turn of the female visitor to gently point out what was off limits.

Apart from the loss of my pictures it was a memorable day with hospitable hosts, an air-conditioned day that offered a welcome contrast to the sweltering Sahara filming days that lay ahead.
Happy days! More are captured at http://www.lovelifeandmovingpictures.com/

WEIRD DATES & STRANGE FATES -for sale on Amazon

Most writers love what they do, it’s the marketing that can be a drag. But since I write a bi-weekly blog, I can publicize the books and stories I’ve written and announce they’re all available on Amazon. The holiday season is perfect for letting my readers know I have some short books in Ebook format. All of them are based on my life, even though I’ve changed the character names for the most part. The subject of several of my books concerns the world of being unmarried or divorced.  Being single can be daunting when you’re looking for good men. It’s such a popular topic that the Los Angeles Times is publishing a true story every week in their special Saturday section.

Below are two excerpts from my dating adventures chronicled in a Kindle Single book on Amazon: Weird Dates and Strange Fates

For more details, check out– http://amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

Weird Dates and Strange Fates#1

A Single Gal’s Guide to Cross-Dressing

The man who answered the door was friendly and natural as he guided her into his house. Proudly telling her he had inherited the home from his uncle, he suggested they take a little tour. A typical one-story postwar 1950s home, it had nothing imaginative in its design, inside or out, but she pretended to be impressed. He led her through a step-down, rectangular living room and then outside to a concrete atrium whose only amenity was a hot tub and a few cheap and fading lounge chairs. Occasionally touching her elbow, he told her of plans to make a few changes here and there and asked her opinion. When he took her into his small square bedroom, she noticed a white lacy negligee hanging over a closet door and beneath it black spike heels.
“How do you like my new negligee?” he asked.
“It’s beautiful,” she responded evenly, wondering what revelations might come next.
“My wife liked me to wear lingerie to bed. Now I can’t sleep without it.”
She could tell he was watching and listening carefully for her reactions. So far she was accepting all of it as if it were all perfectly normal.
Back in the living room he showed her some photos of a recent costume party. “How do you like these? You see, here I am in my French maid’s costume.” He handed her the photo.
“Mmmm.” She didn’t know what to say as she looked down at the photo, which gave her time to compose herself. She was too startled after the negligee reference to take in the photo’s details.

The Dark Side

When the letter returned with no forwarding address a week later, I was tempted to drive to his apartment. Derek’s daughter lived across the street, but I didn’t know the address or remember the daughter’s last name. I had an odd feeling of apprehension as I pondered what could have happened and searched my memory for little details that might indicate what to do next. Had I missed some important minutiae about him in all these months? How well did I really know him? I reflected, as my mind raced with a slew of possibilities.
Derek had meant too much to me to let the matter drop. He couldn’t have just left, I reasoned. What of all his obligations, his children, his friends? He filled his life with so many people and duties; surely someone would have the answers.
I called the office again, remembering that Derek’s best friend, Tom, worked in the same building. Tom told me he couldn’t talk in the office; he would call me at home. His comment piqued my curiosity. What would he tell me that was so secret?
The following evening he telephoned, eager to share the story.
“You remember that Derek went back to Boston to spend Christmas with his aging parents. He said he probably wouldn’t be seeing them again. I just assumed he meant because they were getting older. Then Derek ended up talking to me for three hours after our office party the Friday before New Year’s. He usually scooted out of there right after work, no matter what.”
Tom continued, “Derek didn’t show up for work the Tuesday after the New Year holiday. When he didn’t come on Wednesday, I called his daughter, Susan. Susan hadn’t seen him in a couple of days, she said, but there was a letter from him on her desk. She said she’d check on things and call me back. When she called back a half hour later, she was hysterical.”

To read what happens in both stories, check out my Amazon link or just look up Victoria Giraud’s author page on Amazon.

MYSTICAL CONNECTIONS

I believe the creative process is a mystical/magical one. Many times I wonder where the ideas come from, both for myself and other writers. Common advice for writers: Write about what you know. But you don’t always know what you know until you sit in front of a computer or a pad of paper. Or take a walk, go for a swim or perhaps even clean your home.

I’ve noticed that when I’m the process of editing books, I’m open to connections/coincidences/synchronicity, call it what you want. I was editing a book, the Religion of Money—a light-hearted history of economics by Frederick—and was reading over the story of the De Medici family of Florence, Italy. The book mentioned Giovanni De Medici, and not two seconds later my favorite classical music station was announcing the opera “Don Giovanni” was scheduled in L.A.

Heart & Mind Connections by Heidi Giraud

Heart & Mind Connections by Heidi Giraud

I could be watching TV in the background and be browsing through a magazine. I’ll read about a certain subject and have it verbalized in some manner on a TV show immediately after, or vice versa. My daughter and I are very close and keep in touch by phone and Email. I might be thinking about her and the phone rings. I know it’s her before I even check the number. From what I’ve heard, that’s quite ordinary for many of us.

My mother passed on 40 years ago. That morning I was reading a biography of Thomas Jefferson (coincidentally, an alum of William & Mary), and had just read about the death of Jefferson’s wife Martha, Sally Hemings older half-sister. I was absorbing that sad news when my dad called to say my mother had died during a kidney dialysis treatment. I’ve always felt the reading was a premonition and helped me deal with her death just a little better. Jefferson, my mother and I are all Virginia natives.

Books dealing with metaphysical subjects are a definite attraction, and I’m lucky to have edited several of them. High Holy Adventure by R. Alan Fuller is a true story about his mystical experiences with shamans, spirits and mediums, especially in the Andes. Euphoria Zone by Alan Lee Breslow weaves innovative healing techniques into his spiritual adventure. Patt Sendejas wrote Letting Go to Create a Magical Life, which discusses life’s synchronicities and invisible messages. Working with all three authors was enlightening and exciting.

In the mid 80s I had a psychic reading with a woman named Terry, who was supposed to be quite knowledgeable in her field. I wanted to know if I was going to write a book. I figured it might be a story about my divorce, which had recently happened. Terry said her spiritual “guides” had told her I would write something about voyages. She didn’t know what that meant, she told me; perhaps it had to do with my “voyage” through life.

I forgot about the reading until the late 90s when I was finishing up my novel, Melaynie’s Masquerade. It was, indeed, about a voyage. My heroine, Melaynie, masquerading as a captain’s boy, was sailing with Drake to the Caribbean!

 

LAST CHRISTMAS WITH MOM

Dad-Mom-TexasDad & Mom – a 1972 Texas family Christmas. Dad’s holding the microphone for his narration of the event.

I’ll always remember the last Christmas I ever spent with my mother. It was a happy celebration and the final time my immediate family would be alive and together on this earthly plane.

My husband and I, with kids in tow, drove from Los Angeles to San Antonio, Texas, to spend about a week with my parents and two siblings, Tupper, 23, and Darby, 19. I was 29, my daughter Heidi was 3 and son Hansi was only 8 months old.

Dad+Kids-Tex
Dad holding Hansi and Heidi
We owned a typical large American car of that era with bench seats. Since the back seat was quite roomy, I came up with a plan to use Hansi’s crib mattress for the long drive. We used baby harnesses attached to seat belts, so the kids would be able to sleep, eat, and also have some freedom of motion. I have no idea how safe this method was, but no one was injured during the drive there and back. That’s my disclaimer and I’m sticking to it! I think it took us three days of driving and we stopped for two nights in a motel.

My mother was already suffering from the kidney disease that would kill her two years later, but at that time it was manageable. She was on a somewhat restricted diet and had to keep her legs elevated several times during the day. As the staunch and courageous Army wife she’d been most of her life, she did little complaining and maintained her sense of humor. I’m sure all of us thought she’d live for many more years, and if we had any misgivings, we kept them to ourselves. I was too young to worry about death. My mother was only 51; I took her longevity for granted. I even failed to save the many letters she’d sent me.

Luckily, we took many photos and made a cassette tape of our Christmas morning gift opening, so I can still hear and marvel at Mom’s very Southern Virginia accent. My Dad, the retired Army officer, had to run the show, of course, and he was the narrator on the tape. He’d always had me and my siblings gather for breakfast on Christmas morning before we were allowed to open presents. The Williams present opening was a very civilized procedure as each of us opened one present at a time, made appropriate grateful remarks and let everyone see the new gift.

This time, Heidi was the only glitch in the controlled process. At three, she was still new to Christmas, and represented the infectious joy of gift giving. Since she was allowed to open many of the presents, even when they weren’t for her, she must have thought they were all hers! Below is a photo of my sister Tupper and little Heidi petting a tame deer at Ft. Sam Houston. Heidi’s crocheted dress and boots were a gift from her Oma (her German grandmother). All the photos have been cut in a fancy way because they had been placed in a special photograph album designed by Heidi for me a few years ago.

Tup-Heidi-Tex

Baby Hansi, puzzled by all the action in the living room, lay on his stomach on a rug looking around at everything. He enjoyed the noises and colorful paper and would occasionally be interested in one of his gifts. I think his expression in the photo above with my dad explains it all.  Christmas is an ideal time for memories and having photos makes them come alive again.