You are Cordially Invited to Join me and my Family for Thanksgiving

by Deborah Owen

*Knock  knock
      Oh, you did come! I’m so glad! Let me take your coat and introduce you.
That’s my husband on the right, and that’s my twin on the left in the teal sweater. (Actually, I don’t have a twin. That’s really me, but it messes up my story to say that. lol)

That’s my son, sitting next to his dad, and Mom is next to me. *whispers under breathShe’s 96, and knockdown cantankerous, so don’t look at ‘er cross-eyed.

That’s my dear mother-in-law’s head in the foreground but she’s with the Lord now, and there at the end of the table, stealing the show, is our oldest grandson, now age 25. Standing on the left is our hostess, daughter Dory. This is her house.

These are only a few of the gang. We’re scattered throughout the house. Not present in this room but somewhere nearby is our darling daughter-in-law and son-in-law, three more grandchildren, and our first great-grandchild. Just wait until you see him! And scattered throughout five rooms are a number of friends and extended family, so wander about and mingle freely.

Don’t you love the smell of spicy pumpkin pie? Every time someone fans the door, the aroma titillates my nose. On Thanksgiving, there’s no such thing as a bad odor.

Look at all the food! And not one drop will go to waste. Dory’s goal is to send Thanksgiving dinner home with every person so they can relive the memories the next day. To get this much food, the whole family pitches in. You’ll find turkey, roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn casserole, green beans, dressing, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole and homemade yeast rolls. Makes me drool, and that doesn’t count the pies, cakes and brownies. We place the food on the cabinet tops, so it’s all self-serve.

Stop by the long, narrow table in the living room that holds cookies, fudge, candy, shrimp, various kinds of crackers, and a cheese ball to nibble on. This is the one day of the year kids can eat candy before their meal!

Fireplaces are lit in the library and enclosed sun porch. Feel free to meander through the house and chitchat with everyone.

Your place setting is marked with your name, and you’ll find a little memento from Dory next to your glass. It’s fun to find your seat and see what your little gift is. Before we eat, our son-in-law will read Psalms 100 and ask the Lord’s blessing on bounty that we share with those who have nowhere to go on Thanksgiving.

About 22 people will stand in line to heap their plates high. We don’t mind if you buck the line, so when it’s time, squeeze in front of me.

You’ll love the atmosphere. You won’t hear a swear word or a dirty joke, and you won’t find people who are mad at each other or aren’t on speaking terms. Come to think of it, you won’t even find a divorced person here. We were blessed to get it right the first time around (although we admit to bashing each others’ heads in from time to time… just not in public).

On Thanksgiving, we eat and chat for about an hour, joke around, take pictures, and catch up on the latest news. We will inevitably talk about how fast the grandchildren have grown up, but not so much that they still don’t draw pictures in Aunt Dory’s plush carpet and erase them with their feet.

By the way, the bathroom is that-a-way. It stays rather busy and the walls are thin, so if you get bored, sitting in the room next to it can be downright entertaining.

You’ll have to forgive me during clean-up, which takes two hours. If we weren’t waddling around with tight belts, an hour would be enough. While we’re doing that, grab a couple of plastic bowls over there and fill them with leftovers. Here’s a Sharpie to write your name on the lid.

*Three hours later*
Ah, finally. All done. I’m so full! I hope I never see another turkey again, but actually, it’s the three pieces of pie that I’ll be sitting on for the next year.
After the crowd thins out, the others might scare up a euchre game. I usually play piano while Mom dozes and Dory’s father-in-law snores. He’s a hoot. If I quit, he rousts out of his dreams long enough to say, “Keep playing. I love it,” so I play on.

What? You have to leave? So soon? I’m so sorry. I hope you had a good time and it was wonderful meeting you. Please come again next year!

*Waving as you pull away.

Hey, wait! You forgot your bowls of food!

How to Target a Market

by Ariel Pakizer

Pick your audience before you start writing.   or even plan, an article. Waving in western culture is a friendly gesture, but an open palm is the equivalent to “flipping the bird” in some Hispanic cultures. Writing without knowing your market is like waving in Spain, you’re saying hello, they’re seeing a curse word, and everyone is confused.

Selecting a market is tricky. “High Fantasy fans” is too large, but “twenty-year-old white men” is too small, so target a market in between the two. Choose an age range and a topic. Focusing on one interest is wise, since art students and sports scholarships typically aren’t interested in same type of article.

You have the idea, now where does it fit best? Decide what focus (if it’s a story, or angle if it’s an article) your piece should take and target your particular market from there. If you don’t know what your audience wants, you need to do more than targeting a market.

If you’re a thirty-year-old woman targeting men going through a midlife crisis, you’ve got some research to do. If you’re willing to plan, research, and edit your article, you can spare a few hours for researching your market.

Once you understand your market, tailor your story to it. Write what your chosen audience wants to read. Every market has a tone and length they enjoy, so try keeping your article to the appropriate word count. If you’re writing a short story, write the characters with strengths they’ll admire and not quirks they will find annoying.

Writing for an audience isn’t easy and only practice will make you better. Learn to blend your writing with what others want to read. Write a few pieces for a specific audience, and then try selling them.

You can aim for a local magazine, newspaper, or reach out to an online journal. Why not find an internet magazine, learn about its target audience, and write a short story specifically for it?

Work on a piece for a few weeks, but set a deadline. It will turn a project into a goal, and the finished work into an accomplishment. So, go for it, write and sell a piece to a target audience by March 31st. Don’t sit and think, “I couldn’t do that!” because you can’t know that’s true until you try.

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Love’s Thy Genre

by Farheen Gani

An imaginary tale that amused classmates. A prize-winning essay. A funny poem. Isn’t this how we fall in love with writing? The love deepens over time. You start dreaming of publishing your own novel. Until you realize, it’s now or never. That’s how Lisa Carter published her first book.

Mrs. Carter is a Southern romance writer, which by her definition includes hospitality, extended family circles and barbeques. When not chasing her muse, she indulges in quilting, teaching and music. In this interview, she talks about the joys and challenges of writing romance…

  1. Why did you choose romance as the main theme of your writing?

I love the process of two people finding each other against the odds and daring to love each other. I fall in love a little bit with each of my characters as their romance unfolds in my story.

  1. While romance is perceived as an easy genre to write, which is the most difficult part about writing it?

The endings are often hard to craft so that the story will not be clichéd, but fresh and satisfying. There is no surprise in romance—readers understand that in the end these characters will be together. That is essential. But the joy and the surprising twists in the journey it takes the characters to reach, this place is the fun part.

  1. Is there anything you do to get in the mood of writing an intense scene?

Music can transport you to the theme or emotional tone of a scene. I always read the scene I wrote the previous day to get myself back in the moment. Taking a walk or doing something that doesn’t require a great deal of focus like housecleaning also helps the stream of my subconscious to flow.

  1. How do you differentiate your central character’s voice from your own?

There are pieces of me in every character I write—the good, the bad, the ugly. But the lead character has a voice of her own, her own back-story, and experiences that are different from me and how I would react to her current situation.

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