““Yes, Molly, the truth is true but few know how to get at it - you do. It's hard to write like Molly.
It looks so easy and fluid and accessible but, trust me, it's very hard.’” Consuelo Saah Baehr, author of DAUGHTERS and 100 OPEN HOUSES.”

Consuelo Saah Baehr, author of DAUGHTERS and 100 OPEN HOUSES. 

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Photo Credit East Side Flicker

I have never lived in a big city. I think it would be exciting. First off, the whole cooking dilemma would be resolved, because all I would have to do every night is call a different restaurant, and they would deliver dinner to my door. Here in the heartland, they only do that with pizza. If I lived in New York, for instance, I could throw away my crock pot and the big frying pan. Really, I could get rid of almost all the pots, the infusion blender (who talked me into getting that, anyway?), my roasting pan, and just about everything but the microwave and the toaster. It would be blissful.

Cities have views out of the windows of gorgeous twinkling lights at night, cars whizzing by below, and I would get binoculars and become obsessed with the people in neighboring buildings—Rear Window all over again.

There wouldn’t be lawns, this is true. But no mowing! No weeding! Instead, there would be gorgeous parks to stroll in. Frizbeeing in meadows. Not that I have ever wanted to throw a Frizbee around, but in New York, I bet I would. Instead of a lawn, I would have a little balcony or terrace with lovely pots of herbs and small trees. I would go out on the balcony in some sort of fashionable negligee, and water all that stuff with a copper watering can, my hair mussed by the breeze. Of course, I would have coffee out there, and I could read the New York Times. What. I might.

In the city, I would of course be able to afford a pre-war apartment with lots of molding, two bathrooms with the original tiles and antique pedestal sinks. But there would be plenty of storage in my apartment, of course. I would have herringbone original wood floors and Persian carpets. A fireplace in the dining room.

Neighbors? Well, in cities, you have them, but apparently you don’t have to talk to them. This might be a hardship for my husband, who spends most of his time in fair weather wandering around our neighborhood, looking for unwary neighbors to chat with. Most of them seem to like it. In New York, he would be at loose ends. And if he approached people in the park, he might get arrested. So there’s that.

In the city, you never get bored, because there are so many things to do. Museums, little shops, used book stores, plays, poetry readings. I would do that stuff. Don’t remind me that we have those things in Dayton, Ohio, and I never go to them. I would in New York. I would.

I know that apartment living means that one must divest. There is just no comparison between a 2300 square foot house in Dayton and a 900 or so square foot apartment. But I hear that tiny living is all the rage, and it is so freeing. No, not free.Affording rent in my kind of place in New York might be problematic, especially since I would most likely be living by myself (see neighborhoods and husband, above).

I have seen so many TV shows and movies about people who live in cities and seem to love it. They all have interior brick walls and floor to ceiling windows. The rich ones almost always have little libraries with dark red walls. I want one of those. Although I got rid of most of my actual books when I bought my Kindle.

My urban fantasy includes one pet. I have five cats—way too many for the city. Most apartments let you have one small pet.  So if I were to go there, it would be hard to choose which cats to leave behind. With my husband.

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I wake up. It’s seven thirty. My God. Too early. Shut eyes and concentrate on sleep, dammit.

Nine. Ok, then. Stumble down the stairs. Make a bowl of nuts and seeds. Really, this paleo thing kind of stinks. Add blueberries and one drop of vanilla. No sugar, because PALEO. But pour on some heavy cream. Oh, yeah—paleo doesn’t always suck (the cream may not be Paleo but Atkins. Who knows. All that matters is the low carbs and high fat). Make a flat white. Carry it upstairs.

Get in bed, balancing the nut mixture on chest. Eat drippingly onto chest while reading the NYTimes app on phone. Lots of drippy scrolling. My God. The news is always so bad. So move over to Huffington post. Finish nuts. Move onto coffee.

Push cats off chest, spilling a little coffee on brand new pjs. No matter; they all end up stained and tattered anyway. Continue to push cats off chest, then finally give up and lie back down, balancing coffee cup amidst purring and mucho cat hair. Sneeze a few times.

Get up. Get dressed. Walk the dog. This is exhilarating. We go for an hour, but arrive home with the dog raring to go. But I need a rest. So watch three episodes of House Hunters. Scorn all the young couples who think that all kitchens must have granite countertops and huge islands. Yawn.

Make lunch on Formica countertop. Share with dog.

Sit down to write another chapter of new book. Dog whining is distracting.

Decide to lie down with dog and cuddle for five minutes. Wake up an hour later.

Realize with a start that dinner is in two hours. You got nothing. Google “easy meals with less than four ingredients.” Decide that scrambled eggs is perhaps ok just this once. Look in fridge. Whew. There are six eggs. Oh, no. Well, we will just have to have toasted loaf ends. Put bread on grocery list.

Take a nap, for God’s sake.

Wake with bleary eyes thirty minutes later to the dog staring at you whining. Oh no, she didn’t poop on the walk. Scramble to feet, rush to get the leash. Walk her around the yard, where she tangles the leash in the yew bushes three times, nearly chokes herself trying to murder a squirrel,  painfully pulling that rotator cuff you have been meaning to go see the doc about. But she does not have a poop in her. Sigh and go back in.

Set table. Scramble those eggs. Throw in some shredded cheddar for piquance. Make the paltry pieces of toast. Serve dubious husband, but assure him that there is ice cream in the freezer.

Watch an episode of something British, with bicyles, tea, scones, and one vicar who seems to have many women in love with him. Wish that you had a fireplace in every room in your house, and maybe more wall sconces.

Brush teeth. Wish you had a silken pair of women’s pjs (see British dramas, above). Fall into bed, exhausted. Four wide awake hours later, go downstairs for an orange and write: a blog post, two chapters of your next novel, an email to your daughter telling her that she should try making this great paleo recipe you discovered, or a few Tweets that you know you will regret in the morning. Stagger blearily up to bed.

Wake up and start all over.

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I suppose that in Paris, if you are invited to someone’s home for dinner, it is really about the wine. Or maybe in New York City, it is about the sparkling conversation, or maybe the clothes the women are wearing. I guess in most cities, it is not really about the food.

I think this is wrong. I live in Ohio. The heart of the Midwest. Although if you look at a map, Ohio isn’t really in the middle of the west, but I digress. We have dinner parties in Dayton. There are glamorous people hosting them. Not at my house, however. Another digression. What bothers me is the disingenuousness of all this. Because in my opinion, dinner parties should be about the dinner.

Most of these soirees start at around seven. People arrive. The hosts give you a glass of something. There may be some veggies and dip, or a bowl of peanuts. Some hosts even do canapés, but this is rare. So there you are, holding a glass of something, and you have to content yourself with a few nuts and some random conversation, all the while simply dying of starvation.

When, finally, you get to sit down at the table to actually eat food, it is often not enough. I think all people who contemplate having people over for dinner need to be reminded that what the cookbooks say serves six actually serves four. This means that by the time the mashed potatoes get to my end of the table, there is maybe a tablespoon left. And don’t get me started on salad! Good Grief! One of those bags of salad will never satisfy more than two hungry people! Use at least two bags, you foolish churl of a host!

At least in Ohio, when we have cocktail parties, we believe in tons of chips. And all of those little cubes of cheese. These have fortified me through many a long and boring conversation with some stranger about weather patterns, dog grooming techniques, or my least favorite, but it keeps popping up—Rand Paul (I know next to nothing about Rand Paul. I know even less about Ted Cruz, so those cheese cubes are very important).

I would like to start a new truism. A meme. A rule to live by.

Let dinner parties be about the dinner. Amen.

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HIM:  Are those your new glasses?

ME:  Yes! What do you think?

HIM:  Those look identical to your old ones.

ME:  No, no. The old ones were more square, and they had pink on the edges. These have green.

HIM:  But you couldn’t see the pink part. And you can’t see the green, either. So they are the same.

ME: NO. These have more tortoise shell. Really, you have no fashion sense. I like these better.

HIM: You look the exact same. I bet not one person today will say, “Hey, are those new glasses?”

ME:  Well, for sure, no men will.

HIM:  Why did you need new glasses, by the way?

ME:  I was tired of the old ones. I wanted to change things up.

HIM:  Thank God you aren’t that adventurous, or I might not recognize you. You are the woman who has had the same hair style for forty years, after all. I guess your choice of specs is understandable.

ME:  You are the person who has worn corduroys and flannel shirts for forty winters, but let’s not get snarky.

HIM:  Snarky? Isn’t that dried beef?

ME:  I rest my case. My glasses case.

So here is the proof. These glasses are completely different. If you are a woman.


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Great Article From a Great Book Blogger


Dayton, Ohio author Molly D. Campbell’s new YA novel “Keep the Ends Loose” has drawn widespread interest since its February 24th release. Well-known writers such as Beth Hoffman, Robin Black and Anita Hughes have lavished praise on the work, bestowing terms like “brilliant”, “charming”, and “insightful” on both the book and its writer. For Molly Campbell herself however, the novel, a coming-of-age story, about a quirky fifteen-year-old named Miranda Heath, is simply the end result of her interest in unusual names.
“I’m a humor blogger,” the two-time Erma Bombeck Writing Award winner said at a local coffee shop recently. “And I’ve been blogging for a long, long time. I was writing my blog and very active on social media, and apparently my mind works in strange ways. I’ve always been interested in names, particularly unusual names. Your own name, ‘Tim Walker’,” she continued, ”is a perfectly normal name – but if you were walking around with a name like ‘Reginald Arbithnot’, how would that affect you and your life? How would that change things?”
“So,” she said, “I started a Twitter account called “Characters in Search of a Novel”, where every day – and this was just for my own entertainment; I had no followers at first – I would post a person’s name and a one-sentence description of that person. And I did this every day for a year, and I wound up with a few hundred followers. I was just doing it for the heck of it. Then a very gifted writer named Robin Black contacted me and said ‘You know, you’re throwing these away. You need to hire an illustrator, and write a book, with a story written around each one of these characters.”
“So I did that,” Molly said. “And that became my first book, “Characters in Search of a Novel”, with local artist Randy Palmer illustrating the stories for me. And then one day while online I came across The Story Plant, who is the publisher of the new book – I thought it was a literary magazine, and I submitted one of my little character sketches to them. And they wrote back and said ‘We’re not a literary magazine, we’re a publisher – but have you written anything longer?’ I said no, and they said ‘Well you really need to consider doing that.’ At that point I thought they were crazy. I’m a blogger, so I said no. But they kept dogging me, and for a period of probably five years we had this ongoing conversation. So finally they convinced me to try and write a novel.”
Their persistence paid off, it seems. The five-year effort on the part of The Story Plant has been rewarded with an excellent Young Adult crossover novel, “Keep the Ends Loose”. Miranda Heath, the teenage protagonist, is just one of the many interesting characters – and yes, many of them do have unusual names – in Campbell’s second book. “It’s about a teenage girl, she’s fifteen,” Molly outlined when asked about the book. “Her mom recruits her to find this guy who’s her long-lost uncle, and all sorts of things happen. Family secrets are revealed, and chaos ensues.”
Written in a stream of consciousness style which immediately puts one in mind of Holden Caulfield, the book is a charming, poignant, and and often very funny slice of teenage life from a girl who views life through cinematic terms – every time she gets into a difficult situation, she imagines that it’s actually the plot of a movie.
Her older brother, her best friend, her father Roy Heath, her mother and her aunt Iris Fletcher all combine in Miranda’s eyes to make the novel a story of family, love and loss that will have you alternately tearing up and then laughing out loud. The familiar skyline of Dayton, Ohio makes an appearance as well.
“I’ve been in this area for a long, long time. I graduated from Miami, and taught English at Miami-Jacobs. Dayton is in the book – the family doesn’t live in Dayton, but they come to Dayton on one of their quests. The town they live in is totally fictitious, because I didn’t want to be tied down to anything factual where she lives. I had a bunch of information in the book that the publishers asked me to take out, but I asked them ‘Please let me leave the Dayton stuff in, because we’re from Dayton and it’s kind of a tribute’, so there is a lot of local stuff in there.”
Fiction lovers from all walks of life are sure to get a kick out of Miranda Heath’s quest and pithy observations on teenage life. And for those who read the book and wonder if there might be a sequel someday?
When asked if she has any other novels in the works, Campbell responds “Yes, because now that I know I can do it, why not?”
Follow Tim Walker’s blog!
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