Edie Ramer

Today I’ve invited Edie Ramer to be my guest on Stringing Beads. edieEdie writes women’s fiction about quirky, strong minded people. This year, she’s a finalist in Romantic Times American Title V contest. I’ve enjoyed Edie’s creative style and unique voice since I first read her work a few years ago. I’m sure you will, too.

Thanks so much to Debra for having me as her guest! I love her Lagniappe, where she reveals that one of her passions is looking at houses. She says, “Sometimes while driving in a strange town, I gaze on homes we pass. Nearly always one house will reach out to me until I can almost see those who live inside, can nearly feel the emotions of their lives.”

I feel the same way! She mentions the Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee, and I’ve taken the tour three times. (See the picture.) But though I love looking at the rooms, my favorite part is hearing stories about the people who lived there.

I’ve toured other old homes, too, and I get a sense of ghosts and wisps of memories, just out of my reach. At night when I drive past homes with the shades open and the lights on, I stare, drinking it all in. I’m not looking for a glimpse of furniture. If that’s all it was, I’d go to a furniture store. No, I’m fascinated by the glimpse of lives of other people.

In DEAD PEOPLE, my American Title V book, the haunted house is a character with its two turrets and a secret room. It was part of the Underground Railroad, a history that affects the outcome of the story and was fascinating to research. And I had fun giving the house old ghosts and new inhabitants.

There are five rounds of the ATV contest. The first round was, appropriately, first lines. My hero is a songwriter, and every other chapter starts with one or more verses from his songs. But after the verse in the first chapter, I introduce the house as a character. So here’s the first paragraph that I didn’t use in the contest:

Cassie Taylor cruised down the snaking tree-lined driveway, her foot on the brake, as if her body knew something she didn’t. Ahead of her, a twilight shroud draped over the twin turrets of a pre-Victorian house. A greenish light shimmering in its tall windows reminded her of swamp gas, an effect she’d never seen before in central Wisconsin. Behind the house, the stagnant lake appeared murky, secrets hidden in its depths.

I wrote this paragraph to give the book a Gothic feel. But right after this, I turn it on its head and Cassie has a snarky dialogue with her traveling companion. Who happens to be a ghost. First the glimpse of the house, then the glimpse of the people.

Have you used a house or a building as a character in a book? Or perhaps a place, like NYC in Sex and the City or small towns in so many Southern books?

Edie Ramer

Thank you for your wonderful post, Edie. I’ll keep my fingers & toes crossed for your win! Readers, please go to American Title V and vote! ~ Deb

Preparing for Christmas

We bought our Christmas wreath today. We’ve had an artificial tree for nearly two decades, but each year Christmas Wreathwe drive up to a tree farm at the base of the Pocono Mountains to buy a real wreath. Oh, I love the piney smell that oozes from a real tree indoors. A wreath hanging outside in the cold doesn’t give off such a scent. But that’s how things have developed in our home. We trim a fake tree hauled up from the basement, and hang a real wreath hauled down from the Poconos. It’s now a tradition.

This year’s wreath is smaller than last year’s. Most everything about this year’s Christmas will likely be smaller. No matter what a person’s income, it has become impossible for anyone to ignore the country’s current economic condition. And who knows what 2009 might bring?

Across America, banks are foreclosing on houses. Factories and plants are closing their doors. Those still employed wonder – am I next? Layaway plans are making a comeback and frugal living blogs abound. Rampant worry over the publishing industry has published authors encouraging others to buy a book to give this Christmas. Hey, a book is a great gift anytime!

Our giving this year leans heavily toward the practical, and the personal. Our sons are now on their own. They’ll find useful gifts under the tree. For geographically scattered siblings, I’ve created a newsletter blog. For others, I’ll give gifts from my kitchen.

But how does this influence our writing? The industry has realized that we’re in a recession. Publishers are laying off employees and downsizing books. For aspiring authors, is it practical to maintain professional memberships? What about next year’s conferences? Can we hope to sell? But in the grand scheme, does it matter? Life, after all, is a cycle. Shouldn’t we simply keep writing?

And shouldn’t we rejoice in the spirit of the Christmas holiday? This year can again be a time of profound beauty, if we prepare.

Will the current state of the economy influence how you celebrate this year and, if so, how?