Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Once Upon a Time in Real Life

Once upon a time, I believed in fairy tales, and in an end to the pandemic. I still believe in fairy tales.

Yesterday's daily evening half-hour walk extended to over an hour as I rediscovered the wonders of nature along two separate paths. With the sun lowered behind high rises, the temperature had cooled a bit, making for a more leisurely outing. Birds along the parkway playfully zoomed overhead - no internet required for their informal gathering. In the canal, several ducks paddled in the wake of a slow moving motor boat while others congregated along the bank. All was quiet in a town often filled with sounds of police and ambulance sirens, revving motor bikes, and never-ending traffic.

Long ago, I blocked out most daily street noises and prefer the bustle of active life. But lockdowns and extended stay-at-home orders have now become a way of life that requires imagination and patience to navigate. Keeping busy is not an issue, but rather taking time to relax and enjoy small pleasures is what needs reminding - every day.



Wednesday, August 25, 2021


One of my projects has been to explore and experiment in the craft of writing stories in various genres and topics. An example is the 26 short stories I wrote in an eclectic assortment of genres for an April 
AtoZ Blogging Challenge. The research, reading, and writing involved were all beneficial learning experiences for me. (The master plan is to include the stories in a wider project.) 

Many writers focus on one particular genre. Mystery writers can choose from a plethora of subgenres: Cozy Mystery, Police Procedural, Hard-Boiled Detective, Soft-boiled Mystery, and Thriller, for starters. Sub-sub genres can include vampires or fairies or science fiction characters that meld with cops and robbers. But even with all these choices, mystery writers sometimes decide to branch out into a totally different genre, such as Young Adult fiction.

Stories in every genre hold a mystery, and mysteries remain at the top of my list for reading and writing. Yet all genres have unique appeal, with young adult fiction ranking high. Some of the articles concerning YA fiction writing are timeless in their information or advice. Much has changed in the marketing industry, but when writing novels for a specific genre the rules, guidelines, and writing process remain fairly solid. 

As has my addiction to dark chocolate.

Of course, YA and Mystery aren't necessarily exclusive genres, but writing for adults and for young adults can feel like writing for two completely different worlds.

For those of you interested in or toying with the idea of writing YA, several timeless blog posts I've found interesting offer excellent advice for writing in the Young Adult fiction genre.

Links are included below.

Cherie Colyer wrote an article, Writing for a young adult audience, that gets right down to basics of audience, character development, and protagonist backstory.

This is an interview of author Stacy Juba by author/interviewer Judy Penz Sheluk:
plus: 10 YA Sports Novels for Teens and Tweens:

Brian Klems welcomed teenaged writer Jamie S. Margolin to his blog site, The Writer's Dig, to discuss What NOT To Do When Writing YA Books:

This is a post about the " Top 5 Dos of Writing YA Lit" on the WiseInkBlog (actually 4 with a "don't" included):

And here are some writing tips from editors concerning authenticity, subject matter, and trends when writing YA:


With this information at my fingertips, I may decide to write a young adult mystery of my own. Of course, this will require a whole new mindset and a willingness to take myself back to the days of my youth. Maybe I'll begin by stocking up on chocolate - and rereading a good YA novel by a fellow mystery writer to get me in the mood:


Review comments:
The character development is awesome
Wonderfully interwoven twists and turns

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Switching Genres: Interview with Author Laurie Hanan #NovelResearch

Following is an interview with author Laurie Hanan from 2018 in which she discusses the process of switching genres, from writing mysteries to young adult (YA) fiction. Laurie is a charter member of Sisters in Crime/Hawai'i and we have shared many writing experiences during our friendship over the years. After a career with the Honolulu Post Office, she took up writing full time. You can read her interesting biography and more here: Laurie Hanan: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle


Author Laurie Hanan joins us today to discuss her most recent novel, The Rainbow Connection, a YA novel set in Hawai‘i. Laurie has a successful mystery series, also set in Hawai‘i, featuring mail carrier Louise Golden who gets tangled in mysterious situations she uncovers on her mail route. With four Louise Golden novels published, Laurie took a break to write a young adult novel. 


From a synopsis of The Rainbow Connection
by Laurie Hanan:

With graduation looming, Emmy’s only friend in her new school goes missing. Brett’s run off before. Her mother and even the cops figure she’s done it again. But Emmy is convinced Brett can’t wait to begin college in the fall, and she would never ditch her super-hot boyfriend. Something bad must have happened to her. Emmy is determined to find out what.


Gail: Thank you, Laurie, for sharing some of your thoughts today on your latest book, The Rainbow Connection. After writing mysteries for so many years, did that discipline allow for an easy transition into writing a young adult story?
Laurie Hanan: Mahalo, Gail, for inviting me to your blog!

     I don’t know if  “easy” is a word I’d use for transitioning to the Young Adult genre. It’s been a long time since I was seventeen, and of course teens today live in a totally different world from the one I grew up in. Developing an authentic voice for Emmy’s character took trial and a lot of error before I felt I was even close. My teen years were painful. Imagining my own seventeen-year-old self in the same tough situations Emmy faces, re-experiencing the raw emotions, and sorting through what my thought processes might have been at that age, gave me more than a few sleepless nights. I also paid close attention to my teenage daughter and her friends, taking notes on their mannerisms and quickly jotting down samples of their lingo. 

     But it was a natural and enjoyable transition to take a peripheral character who I love in my Louise Golden series, develop her personality even more, and give her a mystery of her own to solve.
Her search leads to a secretive religious group. Emmy suspects there is more to the group’s simple lifestyle and ecstatic dance rituals than the peace and harmony they preach.
 Gail: Your comments about re-experiencing raw emotions of teen years and sleepless nights reminded me of the Ernest Hemingway quote — 'There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.'

     In The Rainbow Connection, protagonist Emmy’s maturity has developed through an array of responsibilities within the family, at school, and on the job. Can some of her more questionable decisions that draw her into precarious situations, such as the isolated meeting with Byron at a retreat for a secretive religious group, be attributed to the still-developing reasoning of a teenager?

Laurie Hanan: Absolutely. Science shows us that a teen’s brain is not fully developed. They tend to act on impulse, misjudge precarious situations, and misread social cues and the emotions of others.

     Emmy is impulsive, prone to exaggeration, at times irrational, and makes choices that are downright dangerous. Being a teen necessarily makes her an unreliable narrator. The reader is given insights into the missing girl only through Emmy’s skewed remembrances of her, adding another layer of questions about her disappearance.

Gail: You have taken the characters Emmy and her brother from your mystery series and created a new storyline for them in the YA genre. What, if any, details from their backstories play a role in or contribute to the plotline of The Rainbow Connection? How important is it for a writer to develop a character’s backstory, in a series or a stand-alone novel?
Laurie Hanan: I will answer your questions out of order. When writing a series of stand-alone novels, there can be a fine line between including enough backstory to help readers understand the character, and throwing in so much backstory it confuses the reader and bogs down the flow of events in the new mystery. While each of my novels stands alone, reading the series in order does offer a broader view of the characters’ development over the years.

     In my fourth Louise Golden mystery, Stairway to Heaven, seventeen-year-old   Emmy makes some misguided decisions, resulting in her being kidnapped and held for ransom on a small sailboat during a hurricane. Twelve-year-old Jackie is pulled into the rescue efforts and ends up killing a man to save his sister. While these events play no role in the plotline of  The Rainbow Connection, the experiences do bring about dramatic changes in both Emmy and Jackie, and permanently alter the dynamics between brother and sister.  I originally included some of this backstory in The Rainbow Connection, but my editor felt it “belonged in a different book.” I reluctantly agreed. So, I am currently working on a novella-length recreation of the kidnapping and rescue from the perspectives of Emmy and Jackie. I hope this will shed more light on how the traumatic events affected the two kids.

Gail: This coming of age story has a missing person at its center, supporting the idea that stories in all genres involve a mystery. Having written mysteries, and now YA, did you develop a specific preference in genre for future works, or will you continue with the YA series while adding to your Louise Golden series?
Laurie Hanan: A big part of why I write is to make my readers happy. Louise fans are clamoring for more time with Louise, while Emmy’s new fans are pleading for the next Emmy Hanlin YA novel. My hope is to continue writing more in both series. 

     I’m currently working on another spinoff from the Louise Golden series, a humorous, classic whodunit starring Louise’s eighty-something-year-old stepmother and her geriatric neighborhood watch group.
Gail: Mahalo for sharing so much personal insight into your writing style and  character development, Laurie. The information about backstory is especially educational. I look forward to reading your YA novella and the humorous geriatric mystery. 
Laurie Hanan's Facebook page:

Laurie's books are available at in trade and e-book formats: 


Monday, August 2, 2021

Reviewing the Practice of Reviewing Books

Today's review is not a book review but rather a review of the practice and art of reviewing books in general. I will focus not on professional reviewers but bloggers such as myself and the myriad readers (including me) who offer reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and BookBub.

Shopping venue in the "good ol' days"

In certain instances, a book review requires a star rating; a short synopsis of the book; and a narrative of likes and dislikes. The point of this review is to give potential readers information upon which to base their decision to read or not to read a particular book.

The star rating may be influenced by any number of factors and categories, including
1. book cover attraction
2. genre faithfulness
3. character development
4. plot progression, and
5. editing level

First, some hypothetical questions about this list:

A. How often have you heard that a cover design can make or break a sale? But also that you can't judge a book by its cover?

B. Should a genre book stick to just one category: Mystery. Romance. Sci-fi? Or is a mixed genre story more appealing?

C. Can characters make or break a story if the novel is character driven? Must they all be likable protagonists and despicable villains? If the story is plot driven, must the action be non-stop?

D. Editing level - this, now, is the impetus for my post: a novel I read yesterday. What if a book doesn't conform to standard punctuation rules - of which there are many? Should the book then be avoided? After all, life is short. The world is filled with an abundance of classics and best sellers and award-winning tomes.

Austen, Lee, Orwell, Brontë, Hemingway, Melville, Lewis, London, Woolf, Shelley, Marquez, Stowe,
Tolkien, Twain, Dickens, Steinbeck, Dostoyevsky, Stoker, Hugo, Dumas, Stevenson, Doyle, Fitzgerald, Poe . . .
Why waste time on a rule-breaking story that doesn't conform to an acceptable level of editing? I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to proofreading, but for me, the answer is easy.


Because, if the story/plot line appeals to me, I will read the book for its entertainment value, regardless of missing punctuation such as end quotes or the Oxford comma (don't get me started); skipped words; and unique sentence structure or dialogue format. And my review will reflect the high points of the book that held my interest. 

Because there are many diamonds-in-the-rough with interesting story value that receive discouraging reviews for reasons unrelated to story content when, to me, the story is what reading is all about. (Besides, can you even hear that Oxford comma on an audio book?)

Some believe it is important to let other readers know what foibles or foul-ness they may encounter in a book so they don't enter into a reading experience unequipped for the situation. 

But isn't reading meant as an adventure best experienced "through one's own eyes"?

What is your criteria for choosing a book to read, and whether to submit a review?

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Developing Traits For a Novel Character

After years of gradually-increasing issues with my right hip, and a slow progression from osteopenia to osteoporosis, I had a total hip replacement in 2018. My years-long experience (often referred to as "aging"😉) was the catalyst for the through-line of my genealogical novel, SHARDS OF MEMORY - Oral History In A Heartbeat.

Even flowers have personality traits

In my case, adjustments prior to surgery included a lessened pace in activities and a shift in diet. This may have slowed the pace of loss, but whether as much or more than medication would have I don't know. The ultimate result was surgery.

The novel's character, a young child injured in a car accident, experiences prolonged hardships due to a damaged leg. Noticeable 
public traits of the child include a sensitive nature, shyness, reticence, and quiet demeanor. 

The through-line of the story illustrates an emotional growth as the child adjusts to adverse circumstances. Assisting with this growth are the four grandparents who entertain the child with ongoing tales of ancestors' lives in their homelands and their immigration to America.

My situation was temporary, and dissimilar in cause to that of the novel's character - ageing verses accident. The condition did, however, give me insight into the emotional impact of a long-term physical disability. 

The standard advice for authors working on novels is to "write what you know." In this case, I wrote about what I knew and then embellished accordingly.

Excerpt from SHARDS OF MEMORY: 

Art’s thoughts of late drifted to stories about ancestral lands he heard as a kid. According to his mother, tales about the old country provided a bridge of acceptance for new generations. But Art’s interest in past events paled in light of concern for his grandchildren’s future. This proved especially true of Gahlen who suffered physical and emotional scars of present day.

The accident had occurred several months after the child’s third birthday. Acute pain in the mangled right leg faded over time, to everyone’s relief. And Gahlen’s sunny disposition encouraged others to accept the tragedy as the will of a higher power.


What personal experience have you used to flesh out a character in your writing?

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Novel Research Interview with Tara Tyler

Aside from a possible trip to a land of paternal ancestors, and a tropical cruise if opportunity allows, my traveling days to other countries are mostly behind me. But a journey via literary access is always a possibility - and far less expensive. I recently took on just such an excursion within the pages of Pop Travel, a sci-fi historical novel by author Tara Tyler. Eager to learn more about Tara and her unique research topic of sci-fi technology, I asked her to participate in the Novel Research project.


Gail: Welcome Tara, and thanks for participating in this Novel Research interview today. I recently read your intriguing and well-written novel, Pop Travel, the first book in The Cooper Chronicles. Is writing novels your main career?


Tara Tyler: Thank you so much for this opportunity! I'm actually a math teacher by trade—to prove it’s not so bad and anyone can do it! I’ve also had a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering over the years.

I’ve lived up and down the Eastern US and traveled worldwide, gaining diverse perspectives. Now I live and teach math in Ohio, but still travel to see my three active boys with my Coach Husband. The city of Atlanta holds a special place for me—it’s where I got my first teaching job, went on adventures, and got married. All of which have inspired many of my stories.


Gail: Your eclectic employment background suggests you seldom have idle down time. Is there anything else you do in your “spare time”?


Tara Tyler: Yes, I also write screenplays and am in the process of writing a musical!



Gail: Then I imagine you can envision Pop Travel as a movie someday and have researched accordingly. What is your favorite research method?


Tara Tyler: The internet of course! But I’m also inspired by reading similar novels, getting advice from my friends, other writers and readers, and my husband. My own curiosity and love for mapping things out helps me know what to research. And my research is a never-ending journey: I’m always wondering “what if…” and writing things down to improve a current manuscript or include in a future novel.



Gail: And what interesting details can you share today about technology in the future?

Tara Tyler: The Cooper Chronicles, or Pop Travel series is a near future detective thriller. Technology is at the center of it—and we all know how glitches and nefarious hackers can turn our lives upside-down. My favorite sci fi writer, Michael Crichton inspired me to write it. I love his style and it can be seen in some of my writing, though his medical and scientific expertise far outreaches mine. He was a true genius.

Since no one knows what the future holds for us, it’s easy to invent gadgets we’d like to see developed. But the gadgets and technology need to be plausible, so I research possibilities and embellish. For example, NOVA had a tempting video about teleportation possibilities for Pop Travel which is pop teleportation used by everyone in the future instead of planes. I read some articles about quark technology—the internet may soon be overtaken by the quark-net for faster speed in transmitting overwhelming amounts of data, especially when we use my invention of 3D imaging on our wrists: holographic smart watches called QVs (Qnet Viewers). I made some "prototypes" to give away with my books.

Since Pop Travel takes place in settings all over the world, I had to research places like Sydney, Australia and Mumbai, India. With a good portion of action in India, I relied on my neighbor who is from there to get details about specific locations. She also gave me some key Hindi phrases to use. And one of my favorite parts of research is finding layouts and maps and adapting them. Another big part of the story takes place on a renovated plantation which includes details from the historic South and the Underground Railroad. It’s a blend of history and science fiction.



You can visit Tara at any of her social media sites

and check out her books at

Pop Travel , Simulation , Disposal - POP TRAVEL series, The Cooper Chronicles
Broken Branch Falls , Cradle Rock , Windy Hollow - BEAST WORLD fantasy series

Read Monday's Pop Travel book review here:


If Pop Travel, the sci fi technology of teleportation, were available for humans to travel long distances in
short periods of time, would you choose this as your main mode of transportation,
or do you prefer to have a longer travel time to acclimate yourself to changes in destinations?

*****  *****

Monday, July 5, 2021

Book Review: Pop Travel by Tara Tyler

A majority of the books I have read could be classified as murder mysteries, with subgenre categories of soft-boiled, hard-boiled, thrillers, and cozies. But I have always contended that every good story, regardless of genre, has a mystery embedded within the plot. In that regard, Tara Tyler's “Pop Travel” is no exception; more specifically, it is a murder mystery wrapped in a science fiction technological thriller. 

At one time, in my mind the term “science fiction” for a literary work conjured up thoughts of space travel and light sabers ala Star Wars. But recently, I’ve read several sci-fi novels that have lifted the genre to a new level of entertainment for me. “Pop Travel” is one of those novels. 

"POP TRAVEL" by Tara Tyler

The characters that populate Tyler’s story are well-developed normal human beings, living in a very near future, with a logical amount of technology developed on the shoulders of research beginning with physicist Albert Einstein. Teleportation, pop travel, is an imaginable probability. 

Unscrupulous business owners are also imaginable and, where money is concerned, problems with technology are often swept under the carpet while improvements are being considered (if not actually implemented.) Death caused by lax morals, even in a near future, is still murder. 

If Jameson Cooper, private detective, doesn’t want to face such a fate, he must first face the inevitable need to “pop travel”, a perceived danger he has avoided out of well-placed fear. During an attempt to prevent unnecessary deaths, he becomes attracted to Geri, a modern day femme fatale possibly even more dangerous to Cooper’s success in meeting his objective. 

The entertainment value of this novel is well-worth the time invested in dwelling within Tyler’s near-future world of active teleportation and the resulting consequence of human greed that tends to teleport itself throughout millenniums of history.


Upcoming post - Wednesday July 7: “Pop Travel” interview with Tara Tyler. Get to know more about the author and her process of weaving a well-researched tale about teleportation.


"POP TRAVEL" is available at: Pop Travel - Kindle edition by Tyler, Tara. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Novel Research Topics: Pareos and Telegrams

The Tahitian word for a wraparound skirt is pareu or pareo. Currently, the word is applied to any piece of cloth worn wrapped around the body, by both men and women. The pareo is related to the Malay sarong, Filipino tapis, and Samoan lavalava. All are garments of the Pacific Islands such as the Marquesas Islands, New Zealand, Fiji, and the Hawaiian Islands.

When I included the use of a pareo in one of my novels, it took no research effort as I had been wearing pareos at home for many years and took them for granted. But I did research the word when I first started buying them for their colorful patterns and comfort. Ubiquitous in Hawai'i, the pareo can be seen on the beach, poolside, and always around the home. The local ABC stores have an array of delightful patterns on display, the complementary hues so tantalizing that I have a small collection to choose from for after showering or just staying cool until the evening temperature drops.

Although I was already familiar with pareos, the mention of a telegram in the novel did require a bit more research. I have never received a telegram. But while my father was in the Army, he received one from his mother announcing the information of my birth. (Not the telegram displayed here.) He was granted leave as WWII had been declared ended months earlier.

Telegram from 1920

Not all telegrams were welcome, though. Samuel Morse had created the telegraph because when his wife died he didn’t receive notice until weeks later. The telegram became known for reporting world-shattering events. Telegrams were used to announce the start of WWI. And during WWII, the War Department sent notification through Western Union to advise families of the death of their loved ones serving in the military.


Excerpt from Island Cruise Homicide

Back at the Seaside Motel, I took a leisurely shower and washed my hair. Once the cruise got underway, such luxuries would be less accessible. Wrapped in a colorful rayon pareo, I stretched across the bed to glance through a magazine article about life on other planets. Since our successful moon landing eight years ago, the news included multiple reports aimed at intensifying exploration of outer space. Yet, in a lifetime, no single individual could experience all that our own planet had to offer.

A knock came at the door. Expecting Rick, my husband of two years and the father of my teenaged son, I waited for him to use his key. But a second knock followed, accompanied by a short pronouncement. “Telegram for Pepper Bibeau.”

Securing the pareo a bit tighter around myself, I moved toward the door. Rick’s voice played in my head, “No good news ever comes by telegram.”


Telegrams still exist, but with the proliferation of cell phones and the internet they are no longer in common use. Have you ever sent or received a telegram? 


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Novel Topic: Accept All Things You Choose to Blame

By example, my parents taught their children that moving on from tragedy and struggles was the best path to a fulfilling life. This influenced me to include a chapter in my genealogical novel, SHARDS OF MEMORY - Oral History in a Heartbeat, that deals with “blame” 

In Miquel Reina’s Lights on the Sea (see Monday’s posted book review) Mr. and Mrs. Grapes held on to their blame and anguish for thirty-five long years. The grandparents in Shards of Memory (Art, Charlie, Jewel, and Ida), however, each chose a unique way to deal with blame.

Chapter Sixteen (excerpt)

“How did you reconcile your feelings after the accident, Charlie?” Art asked, reviving the stalled conversation.

Everyone else had already opened up about dealing with the guilt, or the blame. Art had admitted he blamed the accident on fate. He dealt with most things that way, especially the bad stuff. Some folks attributed his laid-back attitude to his Irish heritage, as though he and all of Ireland’s population were lazy. He disagreed. Years ago, he had figured out that brushing off irritants and moving on gave him more time to feel good about himself and those around him. Hanging the bad stuff on fate helped move things along that much faster.

Ida shifted in the chair, allowing for a better view of her husband. Charlie hadn’t yet answered Art’s question. She knew he would mull over the answer endlessly before sharing his thoughts. Her answer had followed Art’s, with no hesitation on her part.

After the accident, Ida had lost her faith in God. Not in His existence, but in the concept of an all-forgiving being that watched over everyone. She continued to attend Sunday mass, and recite her rosary. But something inside her had broken, and Ida blamed God for that feeling.

Charlie cleared his throat as though to make an attempt at answering Art’s question. Then he turned toward the window facing the back yard. His gaze froze on the cherry tree that held center stage in the garden area. He remained quiet.

Jewel looked from her husband over to Ida, and then to Charlie. There were times she wished Art wouldn’t talk so much. But Charlie’s silences bothered her more. Once Art and Ida had shared their thoughts about dealing with the built-up guilt over the accident, Jewel thought Charlie should have gone next. But when he only shook his head, she had taken her turn.

To deal with the guilt, Jewel blamed everyone else for anything and everything. Expressing anger over personal slights gave her the release she needed from the constant tension. Feeling anger rising now over Charlie’s inability to answer Art’s question, she decided to relieve some of the tension they all must be feeling.

“Charlie,” she said, none too patiently, “let’s hear your answer. It’s time to put all this to bed.”

Appearing to snap out of some sort of reverie, Charlie looked around the table, stopping to search each face. No one offered a word of encouragement. This was his one-man show.

“You blamed fate, isn’t that right, Art?” When Charlie received a silent nod to his question, he continued. “And Jewel, you blamed everyone else for everything, while Ida chose to blame God.”

Again, his words were met with silence. No one attempted to contradict his statements or justify their own thinking. Charlie took this as confirmation that everyone was here in good faith, not to judge but to support one another.

“Those are all valid and understandable reasons; everyone grieves or deals with loss in different ways.” Charlie turned to Ida who offered a quick smile of encouragement for him to continue. “That also states my problem. I don’t believe strongly enough in fate to place blame there. It is not in my nature to blame others, so Jewel’s solution wouldn’t work for me, either. And I have no doubt that fear keeps me from ever blaming God. So you see my dilemma?”

Art didn’t think much of psychology. Getting into people’s heads the way Freud and Jong liked to do held no interest for him. What he saw is what he accepted in others. “So, what are you saying Charlie?” he asked. “You couldn’t find someone to blame, so you decided to forget about it?”

Ida gasped and attempted to comment, but Jewel patted her hand. “Let them work this one out,” she whispered. Both women sat back, arms crossed in repose, and waited.

“There was nothing and no one for me to blame,” Charlie said. “And with nowhere to place that blame, I had to own it. I blamed myself for everything.”

“All these years you did that?” Art asked.

Charlie worked to hold back a smile over Art’s penchant for wearing his emotions on his sleeve. At times, Charlie longed for the ability to express himself openly. But, as Ida was fond of saying, he always had to think and rethink everything to death.

“For quite a while, every time I saw Gahlen, the guilt clawed its way out of my gut and waved its flag in my face. Once I got better control of myself, things quieted down. But it took something extraordinary for me to stop blaming myself.” He glanced around the table to see if anyone was even listening; everyone was. “Remember how we all decided to help Gahlen through the rough times by telling family stories?”

“Sure, that was a great idea,” Art said. Ida and Jewel both nodded their assent.

“Well, as it turns out, Gahlen is the one who helped me through the rough times. The child accepts whatever life has to offer, never playing the blame game regardless how tough things get. I’ve never heard one complaint about missing out on sports, or growing tired of doctor’s appointments.”

“What about not having a driver’s license?” Art asked, thinking of Gahlen’s many complaints over not being able to drive. Everyone laughed, slicing through the tension in the room.

“You see,” Charlie said, “Gahlen taught me that placing blame is not a lasting solution.”

“So what is?” Jewel asked, amazed that Charlie was talking so much.

“Acceptance,” Charlie said. “Acceptance of all the things we choose to blame. Fate. God. Other people. Ourselves. Of all our solutions, I think Art made the best choice. At least by blaming fate, he really wasn’t blaming anyone else.” 


Sunday, June 20, 2021

A Daughter's Gratitude on FATHER'S DAY

September 1945
Dad on leave in Wisconsin
posing with his three children 

Daniel F. Baugniet served in the military during WWII. Though he never saw combat, Daniel fully realized what was expected of soldiers, and the likelihood of his being shipped to a warfront. His first cousin had joined the Army in 1941, and received the Purple Heart after being seriously wounded.

While my father served in the military, my mother accepted the responsibility of maintaining a normal home life. Once the war ended, Dad arrived home safely. He was prepared once again to support and care for his family, which had increased to four children upon my birth in late 1945.

Dad holding Gail while wading
in the cold water of Lake Michigan

Although soft-spoken, Dad's infectious laughter sent a wave of smiles around the room at any gathering. Throughout his life, he was affectionately known to family and friends as Danny. He was from "the old school" where part-time side businesses supplemented the salary of a 40-hour a week job; and wildlife, fresh fish, and home-raised chickens complemented grocery store purchases.

His family never experienced hunger - or a lack of desserts. Dad loved to finish off meals with something sweet. We didn't know we were "spoiled" with daily helpings of ice cream, homemade pies, and bakery goods. Sunday morning breakfast meant bacon and eggs, topped off with frosted coffee cake with raisins.

If he wasn't working or fishing, Dad spent his time maintaining or fixing things around the house. Then he started building and selling residential homes on property we had called "the back yard" most of our lives. Friday night was one of the few times he relaxed in front of the television. He enjoyed watching boxing (Rocky Marciano and Sonny Liston come to mind), some wrestling, and Gunsmoke. He and Mom had several card clubs that filled their Saturday evenings, late into the night with midnight "snacks" - served to counter the brandy old-fashioneds.

50th Wedding Anniversary
celebration at Fox Hills in Wisconsin

Dad died in 2004. I am extremely grateful that I was granted the opportunity to know my father and enjoy his love and quiet sense of humor for almost sixty years.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, Dad, and Aloha

to all fathers on this Sunday of celebration!