Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Looking forward to writing in 2009

Hi, Friend and Readers,
When a year ends, rather than look back on opportunites missed and writings not published, I try to look forward, although I am no longer young, to new possibilities for publication. I have a short story due to be published in the first edition of a new magazine, New Love Stories Magazine, probably in January of 2009. Also, I have a manuscript of a historical romance with Kensington Publishers, waiting to be judged. Then, there are always new ideas and new possibilities, as long as one has a clear mind, the desire to write, and a computer. December is the be-all month for me. My birthday, Christmas, of course, with its parties and family visits, and my anniversary. After that, all the excitement has gone out of the year, and I can hibernate, which is good. It's the perfect time for writing...and reading, which is my passion. I have an old novel I want to revise. It is 300 pages--a romantic historical--but it needs to be 400 pages. There are many details that need telling and scenes that need plumping up, with more action and dialogue, scenes that are both haunting and exciting, and I really want to get started, but somehow the task seems daunting, and I keep putting it off "till the new year." I think I may be afraid to mess up what I think is already a good thing. I know that once I'm into it, I will get up in the morning eager to work, but that first cold splash is scary. Do any of you other writers feel that way? I'm anxious to hear. Please reply.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hi Friends and Readers,
It's been a long while since I've entered a blog. For a while I was working on a novel and that took all my writing time. Then my hussband was ill and I had to focus on him. But I have a quiet moment now and I wanted to share some good news with you. I have sold a short story for the first time in my 25 years of writing. That seems like an insignificant thing, but I have discovered over the years that there is almost no market for short stories. I have had twelve books published and at least that many articles but when it comes to short stories, publishers find they don't do well selling books of short stories unless the author is world-wide known, like Rosamunde Pilcher. Even Pelican Publishing Company, who published seven of my books, didn't want to see my box full of short stories that I have written over the years. Then one day, in our monthly newsletter of South Louisiana (SOLA) Romance Writers, in the Market News section, I saw that a new magazine, New Love Stories Magazine, was looking for short romances (2000-4000 words). So I dug in my box and polished one up and sent it in by email. That was six months ago. I had forgotten all about it. Then two days ago, I received a contract in the mail asking to buy my story for a pretty nice piece of change. I could not have been more thrilled. This might possibly be opening up a whole new field to me. And even if not, I'll have the satisfaction of seeing it in print. Just wanted to share this with you. The issue with my story will probably be released around December, 2008 and the name of the story is Friends and Lovers. So long for now. Mary Lou

Monday, February 18, 2008

Changing Styles

Every morning in the 1930s, my mother put on her stockings as she got out of bed, securing them with roll garters. Next came her leather shoes with Cuban heels and string ties. And so she was shod till bedtime. Mother was, like most ladies at the time, a stay-at-home mom. She wore calf-length dresses with a collar and long or elbow-length sleeves, and when she got to the kitchen to fix breakfast, she put on a full length apron, which also became part of her daytime ensemble. She had long hair, knotted at the back of the neck until I was about five years old when she defied my father and had it cut very daringly in a short straight style--longer on the sides than in the back--very much like young women wear today. I sometimes think of her discomfort when I slip into my slides (sans stockings), pull on a pair of shorts or Capri pants and a sleeveless top and begin my day. Forget the apron; I don't even own one.
Yet everything old is new again. Capri pants have come and gone in style at least twice in my lifetime. Short, straight hairdoes were popular in the 1920s, again in the 1950s, and today, as they say, anything goes. Ladies would not have thought of wearing long pants for daytime casual garb in the 1930s unless they were Jean Harlow or Kathryn Hepburn. But at least they were out of stays by then, and their feet didn't hurt at night. And if they were warm with no AC or window fans, they sat on the porch with a big palmetto fan and passed the time of day with neighbors.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Reading Old Favorites

Hi, Friends and Readers,
Do you ever go back and re-read novels that were your favorites years ago. I do. There is a reason why those plots are so treasured in your memory, and it is amazing how many details you have forgotten in those stories. Not the main story line, of course, but the ambience of the period, the dialogue that reflected the protagonist's character, and the minor characters that added so much to the mix. Before the hurricane, I had dozens of hard cover books by my favorite authors --John Grisham, Rosamunde Pilcher, and Richard Paul Evans, who wrote stories that touched your heart. I lost the books that were downstairs in my townhouse in the flood, and I had to give away--it breaks my heart to say it--many books I had no room for in the tiny apartment we rented in Kenner for a year after Katrina. Later, I bought many of those old books at Paperback Palace in Kenner and read them again, because I can no more go without good reading than I can go without food and water. If you have some golden oldies like this, go back and read them again. Give yourself a treat. I'm presently re-reading King's Row, one of my all-time favorite stories. Good luck and good reading!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Nostalgia Series

Hi, Friends and Readers,
Let me tell you how the notalgia series (New Orleans in the 20s, 30s, 40s etc.) got started. I never intended it to be a series at all. Like most writers, I wanted to record the memories of my childhood. I wanted to share recollections of the City Park swimming pool, which seemed so gigantic to me as a child; of the concert stage where dancing schools performed in glittered costumes and Ruby Keeler tap shoes on Sunday nights; and of roller skating in the Peristyle. I wanted to tell those too young to remember how shopping downtown was a dress-up affair, and how the now cold, forbidding hotel exteriors that stand shoulder to shouder on Canal Street were then beehives of activity, with stores like Maison Blanche and D.H. Holmes offering everything from ladies wear to sewing notions to haircuts, Heavenly Hash, toys, and books. "Dime stores" like Kress and McCrory's sold ladies' underwear, cosmetics, and instant photos, four for a quarter. The "Thirties"book was a hit and I was asked to do "The Forties" and so the series was born. Today, there are six in the series: New Orleans 1900-1920, N.O. in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. They are available at retail stores, Amazon.com, and through me at mlwidmer@cox.net. $24 + postage. All liberally illustrated. Email me. I'd love to hear your memories.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mary Lou Widmer

Hi, readers and friends,
Blogging is new to me, so please forgive mistakes and aborted attempts at putting my blog together. I want to keep you posted on my activities since there are several new things going on in my writing life. Today, I'll talk about my most recent release by Pelican Publishing Co. in September, 2007, the book "NEW ORLEANS, 1900-1920," a non-fiction panorama of life in New Orleans in the first years of the 20th century, when plumbing and electricity came into the homes and street lighting brightened up Canal Street at night. The book tells of the last yellow fever epidemic, the hurricane of 1915 (unnamed, but the worst in our history until then), the great influenza epidemic, World War I, fashions, architecture, developing neighborhoods, and amusement parks. The story comes to life with vintage photos of families on porches and touring cars, of cotton bales on the riverfront and camps on Lake Pontchartrain. It is available at all retail outlets, through Amazon.com, and through me at mlwidmer@cox.net. Take a trip down memory lane. Cost $24.00 plus postage. Keep watching for more news.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mary Lou Widmer

Night Jasmine, a love story set in New Orleans in 1906-1920 ia the story of a first generation Italisn girl who flees the slums of New Orleans and becomes a domestic servant in the home of one of the city's most prestigious families. In time, both sons of this wealthy, aristocratic family, fall in love with her and are willing to abandon family and fortune to be at her side. The book can be purchased through www.Authorhouse.com for $14.20 plus postage or in retail outlets for a higher price. This book has been out of print snce 2006 when Hurricane Katrina flooded 2500 copies, but is once again available. Contact www.Authorhouse.com or mlwidmer@cox.net. It was on the required reading list of several girls high school for many years and became a local favorite. More news about the author to come.

Mary Lou Widmer

This is my first entry into my new blog and I'd like all you readers out there to know that I a a New Orleans published writer, whose most popular book over the past 25 years has been NIGHT JASMINE. In 2006, when Hurricane Katrina flooded away my last 2500 copies, I was out of business. No, I am not a self-published autor. This love story was originally published by Dell, but when the first edition was sold out and local readers kept calling me and asking where they could get the book, I decided to invest my own money in reprinting it. I did this twice, and the book was still in demand. It was on the required reading list for seniors in six New Orleans high schools, and through those young ladies, word spread and the story became a local favorite. After Katrina, I had to wait until I was financially able to put it back on the market, but it is now available once again.