Saturday, October 23, 2010


Small towns occupy much of Texas. Del Rey, population 8,000, is one such place, one-hundred miles southwest of Dallas, surrounded by small farms, family ranches, and even smaller communities. The highway by-passed the town years ago, but Del Rey still thrives with older residents and younger families moving in to escape city life in Fort Worth and Dallas.

One main street holds most of the businesses, with a few other stores and shops on side streets. A new Super Foods sits two blocks from the center of town, the old café turned into a soup, salad, and sandwich shop, the old Kress Variety store is now converted to a Pizza Parlor, complete with a room full of video games, and another with old cartoons showing, one after the other.

Del Rey, Texas is a figment of my imagination for my first women’s fiction novel titled MAKING THE TURN. Thirty-nine-year-old Sara Daniels loses her fortune and all her possessions overnight when her philandering husband dies on the Riviera in the home he shares with his mistress. Sara has no choice but to trade her BMW convertible for a used minivan, load it with the few possessions she salvages from her home, and move back to the farming community where she was born.

Welcome to Del Rey, Texas.

Starting over at age thirty-nine is no picnic under any circumstances, but the task is daunting for Sara Daniels. Living an affluent lifestyle her entire adulthood in Dallas does not prepare her for instant bankruptcy, especially if a philandering husband dies suddenly, leaving her penniless, debt-ridden, and homeless.

Planning on moving in temporarily with her cantankerous mother in the small town of Del Rey, Sara faces more problems than she can handle. During the long, hot summer, she and her daughter, her mother, and a handsome distraught widower and his charming young son learn they can have second chances.

After a moment of hesitation, he said very softly, “Sara. I apologize. That should never have happened.”

Shaken by the kiss, Sara turned and gripped the door handle without replying. Instead of opening it, she turned back around, holding the cake platter against her chest with crossed arms. Managing to keep her voice under control, she said, “Well, it won’t happen again, that’s for sure. You won’t be seeing me anymore anyway, probably, unless we just happen to run into each other. I start work tomorrow, and besides, I won’t be staying in Del Rey very long.”

“You’re not moving here?” he asked with some surprise.

“No, I told you from the beginning I was visiting.”

“But you have employment.”

“Yes, but, well…that’s just to help Jeff out temporarily while I’m here.”


“The golf pro. So, you see, you really don’t need to worry about my coming around anymore.”

At this juncture, Sara stood as stiffly and silently as Rick.

At last, Rick spoke softly. “It’s mainly about Aaron, Sara. Don’t you see? He needs a lot of things, but right now in his life, I’m the one to supply everything for him—physically and emotionally.”

“Oh, I understand,” she began in a low voice and leaned toward him. “Having your life change drastically is traumatic on anyone, especially a child. But we adults can just suck it up, can’t we, Rick? We carry on, no matter whom we lose, or how much the loss endangers our well-being, or how the circumstances destroy our self-concept.” She paused and looked toward the house and bit her bottom lip. “I need to go.”

Sara drove away. She looked in her rear-view mirror and could barely make out Rick through the near darkness, still standing in the driveway with his hands shoved deeply into his pockets, watching after her as she turned onto the highway.

“Damn,” she whispered to herself. “I can’t please anybody. First kiss in over ten years, and the man apologizes.”


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Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

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NOTE: PHOTO is Lockhart, Texas 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Tribute to BELVA PLAIN: 1915-2010

Upon early retirement, I began to read voraciously, probably trying to catch up from my super busy career years. When I did have a free moment late at night, I fell asleep in my chair. To spend all the time I wanted in the library was like putting a kid in a candy store.

I discovered Belva Plain’s novels right away. Although I’d not heard of her, I recognized a master novelist. Her first novel, “Evergreen,” published in 1978, spent 41 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list in hardcover and another 20 in paperback.

She wrote more than 20 bestselling novels over several decades, an achievement she began working toward only after her children grew up and she became a grandmother. In longhand, she wrote on a yellow pad, creating epic novels of family and forgiveness that were adored by her fans.

“Evergreen” follows the story of Anna, a feisty, red-headed Jewish immigrant girl from Poland in turn-of-the-century New York, whose family saga continues through several decades and three more books. In this first novel, Anna is torn between the love and ambitions of two men.

Those who loved her said that Ms. Plain was a country girl at heart. She spent her childhood summers in the family’s home in New Canaan, Conn., where she learned to milk cows and frolicked with her dog.

Critics weren’t kind to Belva Plain. One wrote that her books were “fat with plot and sentiment, thin in nearly every other way.” Such opinions did not stop millions from enjoying her books, often described as “big, cozy entertaining reads,” Ms. Plain saw nothing wrong with being entertaining. She once said even geniuses entertained.

A quote from Belva Plain: “I got sick of reading the same old story, told by Jewish writers, of the same old stereotypes—the possessive mothers, the worn-out fathers, all the rest of the neurotic rebellious unhappy self-hating tribe. I wanted to write a different novel about Jews—a truer one.” She wrote about things that mattered most—family and friendship.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010


 What do these three women have in common? Give up? I’ll bet if you thought from now on, you wouldn’t get it. Maybe I should ask, and then see if anyone can guess the connection. No? Okay, then I’ll tell you.

All three made a dress from curtains. Why did each do the same thing?

Scarlet was first to do it in GONE WITH THE WIND (1940). What possessed her to use the green velvet curtains trimmed with gold tassels to make a stunning dress with a bustle and a hat to match? Because she had to appear well off in a time of war—The Civil War—in order to woo Rhett Butler. Rhett was the scoundrel carpetbagger from the North who cared not a whit for the Rebels, or the Yankees either, but he had all the money. And little ’ol Scarlet needed that money to save her precious Tara.

Maria was the nun-turned-nanny-turned-wife in THE SOUND OF MUSIC. In playing with the vonTrapp children, she discovered they had no proper play clothes. So, she tore down the curtains in her room and made each child a set. (I will tell you, the clothes were very tacky—the drapery material just wasn’t a good choice. But Maria made do.)

Carol Burnet, as we all remember, is one of the best comediennes of all time. Younger ones learning the craft could learn much from her. In one of her skits, she portrays Scarlett and her co-host portrayed Rhett. He stands at the bottom of the spiral staircase, and Scarlet AKA Carol, appears at the top of the steps. She wears an outfit much like the one in GONE WITH THE WIND. It’s green velvet with gold tassels—hat and all. But she did not remove the curtain rods, so that they go across her shoulders, and draped with the velvet, they look like HUGE shoulder pads. I think she trips down the stairs. Hysterical. It makes me laugh to remember the scene.

So, what do these women have in common besides clothing made of curtains?

Scarlet was manipulative, hateful, selfish, and well, let’s face it—she was a real heroine.
Maria was sweet, even-tempered, generous, creative, and okay—a real heroine.
Carol was happy, funny, cheerful, noncritical, and yes—a real heroine.
Each woman had strength and courage in her imaginary role and her real life. We should admire and respect these women. Even though most of us will never reach the high pinnacle of success we dream about, we can be a Scarlet, a Maria, or a Carol.

So, which are you?
Are you too-good-to-be-true Maria?
Are you break-the-rules-and-the-devil-take-his-due Scarlet?
Or are you go-all-out-have-fun-no-matter-what-befalls-you Carol Burnet?


Now, lift your spirits, make your plans, and put your nose to the grindstone. None of these women came by their success and fortune by sitting down. And this should be a lesson for us all.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rocks on the Porch

 In the late eighties, my husband and I decided to build a house on acreage we owned. First, we sold the house we’d live in for about fifteen years. Then we moved into a small house in a crowded neighborhood so we could build our house with no pressure concerning our previous residence.
The acreage we owned contained pockets of big rocks—some huge flat slabs of limestone, and many odd rocks we called cannon balls. These round rocks ranged in size from a tennis ball to a big bowling ball. All were made of red sandstone, and we thought perhaps they were geodes, but after cracking several open with a sledgehammer and finding no pretty quartz crystals, we concluded they were red sandstone through and through.

I saved three that were the most round and had little angular protrusions making them vaguely look like Sputnik. Our rental had a tiny covered front porch. Since we had the house crammed and the patio, too, I lined the three rocks along the wall of the house on the front porch. Big one, medium-sized one, and smaller one.

One day when I arrived home after a long day of teaching, the doorbell rang. There stood two young men, all cool and cocky, selling some kinds of books. I said no, I don’t believe I need any books. Oh, please, they said, you’ve got to let us give our pitch—we get points for that. How long is the pitch? I asked. About ten minutes. No, I said, I just don’t have the time, and besides I’d be wasting your time, because I’m not going to buy any books.

They became a little angry, and one said I should at least support them by listening, because here they were working like crazy, and I sat in my air-conditioned house. By then I had become slightly mad, so I excused myself. Have a good day, I said, and closed the door. One of them kicked the door. I let it go and went back to my work.

In an hour, my husband came home through the front door because the garage was stacked wall-to-wall and to the ceiling with appliances and boxes.

Honey, he said, your big rock is missing. What?? Oh, I was so mad, and explained it had to be those boys who took it. Probably they smashed it somewhere. I was really angry at those rude young men.

About that time, the phone rang. A young mother I knew lived three doors down, and she said, Celia, I need your help. Will you walk down here? Since you’re a science teacher, you will know what to do. Hurry, she said, I’m a little scared.

What is it? I asked. She said, I think it’s a bomb that dropped from the sky, maybe from space. It has things protruding from it and it’s making a hissing sound, like gas or something escaping. And it must have fallen from a long distance because it made a depression in my yard. Come quick and tell me what to do.

My husband walked with me, and both of us were a little unnerved. Since I am skeptical about almost everything, I wondered, what is it really? At the edge of her yard, she called from the porch to walk around that area by the sidewalk. I looked down, saw the depression, and in it was my biggest round rock. And yes, let me tell you, I heard a hissing sound.

I wanted to laugh, but the hissing sound bothered me. My husband squatted and rolled the rock to the side a little. Under there was the round metal cover over the water main. And yes, it was making a little noise like s-s-s-s-s-s-s.

I called to her. It’s safe to come over here. There’s no danger at all. When she stood beside us, I said, that’s just a rock. In fact, it’s my rock.

She frowned and said, I don’t believe you. You’re just saying it’s your rock. It is, I declared, and I proceeded to tell her my story about the young men. Soon the three of us were laughing our heads off, and she said oh, please don’t tell anyone about this. I told her, Honey, I have to. It’s too good to keep secret.

She said you’re going to tell my mother, aren’t you? (Her mother and I are good friends.) You know I will! I can’t keep it to myself! She laughed some more, and we went home with my rock.

When I see this young woman at her work place, she starts laughing. We both remember the funny story, and she always says, you were so sweet not to call me stupid.

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