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Behind The Words

A journal by Barbara Wood

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Summer Reading

by Barbara Wood last modified Jun 19, 2018 11:12

(image of cartoon woman with head open

Summer's almost here.

Do you have your Summer reading list ready?

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A Brand New Day

by Barbara Wood last modified Jun 09, 2018 06:30

(image of cartoon woman with head open

When I was a teenager I watched a movie on TV starring the great Barbara Stanwyck.  In one scene it’s morning and she’s waking up her children. She walks to the window and throws open the curtains to let the sunlight in.  And she declares, “It’s a brand new day that’s never been used!”

That phrase has stuck with me ever since – the concept that each new day is a clean slate, a chance to start over.  Forget what you did yesterday, whatever blunders or mistakes you made or the laziness that got into you (as it gets into us all!).  And tomorrow is no guarantee. So we have today, a chance to write that story that’s been rolling around in your head, or to begin that book you’ve been itching to write, or to drag out that manuscript that somehow got becalmed around page 200, and dust it off and look at it with fresh eyes.

The world and all its choices and possibilities awaits, because today is a brand new day that’s never been used

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Too Much Information!

by Barbara Wood last modified May 31, 2018 08:31

(image of cartoon woman with head open

I am often asked if I have a Twitter account.  I think I do.  At least, I recall signing up for it because my publisher recommended it.  But I don't use the darned thing.

You see, I have a mailbox out on my sidewalk where bills and catalogues are delivered.  I have a land line telephone that rings and stores messages on a machine.  I have a cell phone that chimes when I get voice mail and texts.  I have email that bings every time a message drops in. I have a website that I visit regularly to chat and retrieve messages. I have a Facebook page that I visit regularly to chat and retrieve messages.

But I draw the line at Twitter and Tweet.  I worry that if I open one more line of communication my brain will explode.  Plus, I am after all, in the business of writing novels.  How can I get anything written if I am at constant beck and call?

I am still being dragged into the twenty-first century, kicking and screaming.

 

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Vital Signs and #metoo

by Barbara Wood last modified May 20, 2018 10:23

My novel about women doctors, “Vital Signs,” is being reissued in several countries, thirty years after its initial publication.  I am told that it has to do with the current international Me Too Movement, as the book’s content is as timely today as it was three decades ago.

The inspiration for “Vital Signs” sprang from my experiences, in the early 1970’s, as an operating room nurse.  I witnessed first-hand the steep challenges and blind prejudice women had to face and overcome in order to enter the all-male world of medicine.  “Settle for being a nurse,” the men would say.  Further, once in that world, women doctors found themselves shunned and criticized by their male counterparts, and in fact did not receive their full due from the women nurses either.

Great strides and sweeping changes have been made since then – bravo to those gutsy women who stood their ground.  However, thirty-five years later, we still have a ways to go yet.  A close friend of mine is an Emergency Room physician, and she tells me that even in this day and age she still sometimes goes into the cubicle and introduces herself, and the patient (usually an older man) will say, “Are you a real doctor?”

 

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Happy Mother's Day

by Barbara Wood last modified May 13, 2018 05:53

To all the amazing Moms out there!

Enjoy your day :)

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Just Write

by Barbara Wood last modified May 09, 2018 08:12

(image of pen and paper)

One of my favorite writers, Maeve Binchy, gave us this advice:  “Don’t get it right, just get it written.”
     Brilliant, yet simple, advice.
     Many writers, myself included, get stuck on a paragraph, a character, a scene.  It’s not exactly writer’s block, it’s just that we’re trying to perfect something.  So we work on that scene, that character description, that bit of dialogue.  Because it has to be perfect, right?  So we work on it for days or weeks.  And the book never gets written.
     We are all guilty of it.
     I do it.  I have a bit of description.  I want to make I perfect. So I work at it, for hours, possibly days.  And I have lost sight of the goal.  Ernest Hemingway did it, so did John Steinbeck (I would bet even Shakespeare did it).  To make that scene, that piece of description just right.  Going to make it perfect but the story, the novel, the play never ends up getting finished.
     But what does that kind of behavior do?  It keeps us from writing the story or book that we are aiming to write.  It holds us back!  Okay, you’re writing … but are you really writing?
      What Maeve says is, “Just write it.”  Because you can always go back to it and polish it.  The point is to just write.  That’s all. Don’t fuss and dither.  Don’t go to dictionaries.  Don’t agonize over sentences or adjectives.  Just write it
     That’s how books and stories get written.

 

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What's Up?

by Barbara Wood last modified Apr 29, 2018 20:54

When writing about a specific locale – whether a city or a country – it is wise to do your homework and make sure your characters engage in dialogue that suits the area.  Local jargon, slang and idioms, for sure, (Texans say, “Boy howdy,” New Yorkers do not) but also topics of conversations.  For example, if your characters live in Southern California they must always bring up two subjects first: traffic, and the smog.  Oh, you can touch upon minor incidentals such as brush fires or mudslides or the heat or the rising/falling costs of houses, or “Did you feel that earthquake last night?”  But at any gathering or just meeting a friend for lunch, everyone has to comment first on his or her experience on the roads getting to the party or restaurant or whatever, and then they have to weigh in on the day’s air quality.  Continue . . .

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A Chance Meeting

by Barbara Wood last modified Apr 23, 2018 06:48

Last night my husband and I were at our favorite restaurant, and we met an interesting man. My husband met him first. I got a place at the bar where we usually have dinner, and began chatting with some of the regulars. I saw my husband being friendly with some people in a booth. Soon, he came hurrying over to me and said there was a man he wanted me to meet. I went over and was introduced to "John." He was a tall, attractive man with a vibrant personality. He was having dinner with his family and telling interesting stories. Soon, others were stopping by the table to meet John. Other friends of ours came over until there was a crowd there, listening to John's stories, laughing with him and his family. Next thing we know, we're all having our pictures taken with John. After a while, the crowd dispersed to tables and the bar, but not without hugging John first and saying it was great meeting him. Back at the bar we were all talking about this remarkable man who drank red wine and golfed every day. His uniqueness? John is 104 years old. It was an amazing and not-to-be forgotten moment. I think that was why we were all drawn to him, everyone wanting to shake John’s hand, and having our pictures taken with him as though he were a famous celebrity. All these strangers patting him on the back and congratulating him, and he positively soaked it up! I guess we wanted his magic to rub off on us, we wanted him to sprinkle some of his lucky fairy dust on us. We all went back to the bar saying to one another, "Imagine, living that long and still enjoying health and life." I guess you could say John gave us all hope.

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The Far River

by Barbara Wood last modified Apr 15, 2018 16:10

I enjoyed writing my newest book, “The Far River,” (my 30th, actually) as it was about German immigrants, the Schallers, coming to California to make a new life for themselves, and the challenges and trials they had to overcome.  I could relate to that experience because I was an immigrant to California myself and found many strange new things I had to adjust to.  One of the biggest challenges was the language. Ironically, we came from England, but Americans couldn’t understand us! Oh, they had heard English before, in movies, but it was the posh kind that James Bond speaks.  My family came from northern England (Liverpool-Manchester) which is a whole different form of English altogether!  This was before the invasion of the Beatles (after that, Americans considered a north-country accent as cool).  But before then, Americans didn’t know what to make of us.  My brother and I especially, as we were in grade school and all the kids made fun of us.  We worked hard to sound like Roy Rogers.  But it baffled us – Americans actually pronounce their “R’s” and say their “T’s” like “D’s.”  And none of the kids had any idea what a “jam buttie” was or a “dripping sandwich.”
     And don’t even get me started on the difference between “Zed” and “Zee.”

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A Real Taste of History

by Barbara Wood last modified Apr 08, 2018 09:40

I had an amazing time-travel experience this morning.  It was unexpected, and quite a hoot, but one that I wouldn’t wish to repeat. In the wink of an eye, I was flung back to the pre-washing machine era.

Since most of my novels are historical, people tend to think that I must wish I had lived in ages past.  But the truth is, the more I have studied history, the more I am glad I live when I do.  While bygone eras might seem romantic to us, I think that truthfully, we would not find them so pleasant.

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Happy Easter

by Barbara Wood last modified Apr 01, 2018 09:11

Happy Easter everyone! However you are spending it, I hope that you have a wonderful day :)

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30th Book - THE FAR RIVER

by Barbara Wood last modified Mar 27, 2018 10:04

Today marks the publication of my 30th book, THE FAR RIVER !!!

You can read all about it on my FEATURED BOOK page. I hope that you enjoy it!

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Who Was Saint Patrick Really?

by Barbara Wood last modified Mar 17, 2018 06:17

Having been born in England (yes, I came as an immigrant to these golden shores) I found the holiday that honors Ireland’s patron saint something of a surprise, considering that these colonies were no longer part of the British Commonwealth. Curious about the roots of this unique holiday (in which Americans don shamrocks and drink green beer) I did some research and was surprised to learn that the holiday is a very old one as it began in 1737 when The Irish Society of Boston organized the first Saint Patrick's Day Parade in the American colonies. In 1780, during the Revolutionary War, General George Washington had soldiers of Irish descent under his command and he allowed them to observe the holiday on March 17. From that day to this, Saint Patrick’s Day has been celebrated in America by Irish and non-Irish alike.

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What's Blowing Your Way?

by Barbara Wood last modified Mar 04, 2018 09:09

So, how's your March going so far? This well known phrase refers to the weather and I my home land (England) is definitely feeling the lion right now.

March seems to be a month of sayings:

- A dry March and a wet May? Fill barns and bays with corn and hay.
- As it rains in March so it rains in June.
- March winds and April showers? Bring forth May flowers
.

To the farmers of old, deciphering weather patterns was crucial. Looking to the constellations for inspiration was also employed: the placement of Leo (the lion) and Aries (the ram) during the month of March perhaps? At the beginning of March, Leo is in on the eastern horizon at sunset and at the end of March, Aries is on the western horizon at sunset.

For me, I just need to keep an umbrella handy.

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A Blank Page Is . . .

by Barbara Wood last modified Feb 24, 2018 19:32

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

annoying

motivating

waiting for a question to answer

waiting for an answer to a question

an opportunity

about to be crumpled

a resting place for my soul to be heard

next, after my first cup of coffee

expecting to be filled

there every day.

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Say What?

by Barbara Wood last modified Feb 21, 2018 18:57

I just read a funny article on how kids the Pledge of Allegiance.  I had these same problems when I was little.  For the life of me I couldn't figure out who "Liverdy" and Justice Verall" were, but I knew that they must be important people.  Or why we were pledging to four witches where they stand.  (My older and wiser fourth grader brother laughed and said I was stupid.  "Don't you know it's For Richard Stands?")  And why we were invisible under God  I mean, doesn't He see everything?

It reminded me of when I first learned my prayers before I could really read.  Hail Mary I got, and that she was "full of grapes"? I could understand.  But why did they give Jesus an extra name by calling him "Thywoom Jesus"?  And why were we asking Mary to bless his fruit?

I think I had to become a writer to clear things up.

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Happy Valentine's Day

by Barbara Wood last modified Feb 14, 2018 06:36

Happy Valentine's Everyone!

Hope you're sharing the day with the ones you love.

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A Source of Inspiration

by Barbara Wood last modified Feb 02, 2018 07:16

I am a big fan of Dolly Parton – I admire the woman, her music, her films, but most of all, her outlook on life. I recently read an interesting item about her 2008 album, “Backwoods Barbie.” Amazingly, this woman who is one of country music’s greatest artists of all time, could not find a major record label to release the album. Even more amazingly, the music industry seemed to be telling Parton that she was a has-been and no one was interested in her songs any more! But Dolly Parton was not to be deterred. Being an optimist at heart, and a clever entrepreneur in her own right, she created her own label and produced the album herself. It came out to rave reviews and went on to be a smash success.

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Why Make My Bed?

by Barbara Wood last modified Jan 16, 2018 16:25

Why bother making your bed when you’re just going to get right back in it and rumple the sheets and blankets all over again, right?  Well, aside from the fact that I like sliding into nice, cool, smooth sheets at night (a well-made bed is inviting, I think, to the weary body) there is a theory that people who make their beds every morning are happier and more productive than people who don’t!  It makes sense, because I am a fanatical bed-maker, and I like to think of myself as happy and productive.

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No Time Like The Present

by Barbara Wood last modified Jan 08, 2018 07:36

Now is the time to start writing that novel you've been thinking about.  What?  You say a novel is too big of a challenge? How about this: can you write a page in one day?  That's all, just sit down and write one measly little page.  Well, if you do that every day, at the end of this year you will have completed your novel!"

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Top

2018-06-19

Summer Reading


2018-06-09

A Brand New Day


2018-05-31

Too Much Information!


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May 12, 2018

Hippokratova přísaha


Nov 27, 2017

My Next Book - The Far River


Nov 20, 2017

Audio Book - Woman Of A Thousand Secrets


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Copyright © 2007 by Barbara Wood. All rights reserved.