Sexy, Dark, and Gritty

 

Portrait of Poe

Portrait of Poe

 

Do you like to be scared? We were discussing this on messenger recently and decided that if we really didn’t like to be scared we should not watch or read stories meant to scare us. Then it came up: What movie or book scared you the most?

Of course The Shining from Stephen King is right up there on top. Both the book and the original movie are tops in the scary field. My pick for recent movies that terrified me the most is The Ring. What reminded me of this is the recent release of The Rings, which appears to be a sequel to that original of a few years back. No matter how much we try it’s difficult to define why so many people enjoy being terrorized by both books and movies. I have to beg off on Psycho. I didn’t think it was all that scary, but I did like it. And there lies the rub. I like good stories that manage to intrigue and/or scare me.

What is really scary?

Today we are supposed to be frightened by Zombies. To me Zombies are disgusting, gory and tasteless (pardon the pun) but not scary. I do admit to liking the Walking Dead but that’s because the characters and their stories are so very, very good. I often have to shut my eyes during the gorier scenes. But that’s not scary.

The worst thing about my thirst for terror is it doesn’t stop with the good scary stories. The bad ones intrigue me as well. I’ve been known to read some of the dreck along with the best as long as it’s scary. You know the kind. Giant spiders, killer tomatoes, and the like. Bad writing and acting is actually sometimes fun. There’s no explaining that, because I’ll usually throw a bad book across the room, unless there’s something supernatural, or a ghost or demon involved.

Into the Past

Edgar Allan Poe is an example of an author good at scaring me so bad I feel great. In his day Poe was a writer of all genres. He is credited with inventing the detective story in Murders in the Rue Morgue. Arthur Conan Doyle fashioned some of his Sherlock Holmes tales after Poe’s earlier works. And there were Poe’s love stories, The Purloined Letter and who could forget The Raven or Anabelle Lee?

On the other hand, The Tell-tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher were so creepy they were not popular with the readers of his time. They are two of my favorites for that very reason. I get the shivers reading them.

Twisting of Poe

A few years ago I decided since my brand is sexy, dark, and gritty I would write a mystery series. I needed an idea for a theme and settled on titles twisted from Poe’s works. I could sneak in a few scenes or characters harking back to that fantastically talented writer. I began with a twist of The Purloined Letter thus The Purloined Skull was released; I went on to steal The Tell-Tale Heart by titling the next mystery The Tell-Tale Stone; This was followed by The Pit and the Pendulum my title being The Pit and the Penance; and due out in May, 2017, is The Masque of the Rising Moon twisted from The Masque of the Red Death. In the works and due out in May of 2018 is a twist on The Fall of the House of Usher with no title as yet.  None of these are in any way copies of Poe’s works, just that twisted title and the ambiance in places that might remind readers of Poe. Look for them all on Amazon as ebooks or print, and let me know if you enjoy them.

Actually, all the Poe twists are set in fictional Grace County, Arkansas. The stories revolve around my experiences during the ten years I worked and wrote for The Washington County Observer. The books are fictional, as are the town, the characters, etc. But I do include some fabulous personal experiences and twist them all around into these suspenseful tales.

If you like horror, check out A Savage Grace, no connection to Poe, but set on top of the Boston Mountains in Arkansas. Demons in the Ozarks? Hmmm.

Curious about Edgar? Check here.

final-coverThe Purloined Skull

The Tell-Tale Stone

 

 

 

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promises-series-1

On a happy note, I have a fun, sexy, romp in Montana coming out in a six-part series, and I thought you might like to know about it. Read the first now, Montana Promises, and forget all the disturbing things that may be going on in your life. Or not. Back in the 1800s right after the Civil War people had a lot of troubles, but it was an exciting time as well.

Montana Promises begins with sadness and troubles when seventeen-year-old Tressie finds herself abandoned by a father following the gold rush and a mother who dies in childbirth. Imagine having to handle such a situation. But handle it she does and she and Reed, a Civil War soldier on the run help each other survive while walking across the high plains into Virginia City, Montana.

In Montana Treasures follow Tressie as she builds a life and cares for a baby whose mother dies birthing him. Reed has gone on his way trying to clear his name so he can return to the woman he has grown to love.

Every two months you can pick up a print or ebook copy of this series that will continue following other characters living and working in Virginia City. Here’s an excerpt from the first book to give you a taste.

Darkness had fallen to the ground, though the sky gleamed like silver around early sparkles of stars. She heard only the roar of a wild fury that blotted out the nasty burring of a rattler in her path. Quicker than lightning, Bannon hit her from one side, knocking her away as the diamondback struck. She landed hard, gasping to regain her breath. At first she had no idea what had happened, but on rising to a crouch saw Reed Bannon where he’d landed on hands and knees, facing down the snake.

I guess you’ll have to read the book to find out how they get out of this. But even when they do there’s more adventures to come.

I know you’ll enjoy traveling the high plains with my young couple. I’m so pleased to bring you this Montana series that will keep you guessing every step of the way.

Get the first in the series and preorder the second at Amazon. Here’s the ebook link, or order the print here as well. https://www.amazon.com/ebook/dp/B01M9C7J1U

treasures

Here’s number two in the series, Montana Treasures that will continue the story of Tressie and Reed. Pre Order it at Amazon now. I know you’ll enjoy this entire series.

 

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Why Not Me?

 

Having a Party

Who am I?

For a long while now I haven’t posted a blog. Life sometimes takes hold of us by our ears and when it finishes shaking we’re not sure where we’re at or where we’re going. I guess that’s what has happened to me. One thing I have not stopped, no matter what else goes on, is my writing. Funny thing, and this flies in the face of what most writers urge, I have never kept a journal. I think my time has been spent talking to and writing about others so there’s never been time to write my personal thoughts.

In the few times I’ve tried to base a story on myself I’ve found it impossible. Just never works. Oh, sometimes something I think or see will show up in my fiction, but autobiographical stuff has never worked out for me. And believe me, I’ve tried. Just like this blog. I will never be satisfied writing something about me. Sharing my health problems or emotional problems, etc., has never appealed to me. Only my closest friends know those things.

Yes, I’m sharing this about me here, and already I don’t feel comfortable. If you asked me to talk about my writing I could go on and on about that. But that’s not what readers want to hear. What they want reflects today’s social activities. Everyone wants to know something personal about celebrities. Who they’ve slept with or who they fought with or what their sex life is really like.

If I ever became a celebrity I still wouldn’t share those things. Not that there’s anything to worry about there. I’m working on my 33rd book which is contracted. Besides those, others have been written and are hiding under the bed or in plastic storage boxes, never to be read by anyone. Of those, I’ve lost count. And I’m still not famous or rich, just content that I’m doing what I enjoy and a few readers are interested in the results of my labor.

Interesting things are happening in the publishing world today. My earliest published books, the Montana Series originally released by Penguin, have been available on Kindle for quite some time, as have my other western historical romances published in the early Nineties by Topaz. Having all of them still available for new fans to discover is a good thing. This made possible by Kindle.

2cover-300What else is a good thing is that small publishers are taking up the reins dropped by the big publishers in New York who are struggling to remain alive. My latest historical romance, Tyra’s Gambler, will be out soon from Wild Rose Press, where I have five books. The romantic suspense series A Twist of Poe #4 The Masque of the Rising Moon will be released by Oghma Creative Media next May. Friday Oghma will release the first of a six-part Montana series in paperback. Montana Promises will be followed in two promises-2treasures

months by Montana Treasures, available on pre order Friday. Keep an eye out for these quick reads. My books are easy to find just about everywhere books are sold online.

Those are just a few of the books I have coming out soon. Simply examples of why I’m able to continue writing and being published. So if you want to get me started ask me what I’m writing, not how I’m feeling. Read a book and spend time in a very special place created just for you by an enthusiastic writer.

 

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Where have I been?

 

 

Good question. No blog for over two months. What’s going on and where in the world have I been? Sometimes I feel like I really don’t know where I’ve been or what I’ve been doing. I’m working as Distribution Director for Oghma Creative Media. At 80 years of age, to say I’m working is fabulous, yet I’m doing more at home than I once did in an office. And each morning I wake up happy to be alive and involved in something so exciting.

Casey asked me yesterday if I wanted to sign a ten year contract for Beyond the Moon so it could be included in the contract we’re signing with Audible for audio books, I had to laugh. While I may not be around ten years, I sure plan on it, so I agreed. After all, what could keep me alive more than having a purpose.

I always worked away from home in business offices until we moved to Arkansas. Then I changed directions. In our mid-thirties and kicking the rut behind us, we started living a back-to-the-land existence. Ten acres in the mountains changed our lifestyle enormously. Too old to be classed as hippies, we nevertheless were living in much the same way.

reporter-mode

My Favorite photo taken at work on The Washington County Observer 1990-1999

Here in this serene place I truly found myself. I’d always told stories in my head. Now I had the freedom to embrace that creativity. Painting, sketching, writing, music, all opened up new avenues for me. In the end writing won out. It came so natural to me that, after free-lancing articles and columns to several area newspapers, I was hired as feature writer for The Washington County Observer. I learned journalism on the job and about the same time finally sold a manuscript to a New York Publisher.

Sometimes we have dreams of what our life might be, often fate can smash those hopes. Mine came true. I was living my dreams with a terrific family and the perfect job. Couldn’t believe I was being paid for a job I loved. Not everyone is blessed in that way. I still love that job. At 80 I just saw my 29th novel published. I’ve lost count of the short stories, creeping up on 20 I believe.ocw-book-table

And I work with exceptional people. Casey Cowan who owns Oghma Creative Media is brilliant, thoughtful, hard-working and successful at what he does. Working with him and other members of the company is a real pleasure.

I have the most wonderful daughter in the world. She and her husband make sure I have everything I need and only recently assured me I would get to remain in my home because they are remodeling it for that very purpose. The rest of my family keep me feeling safe and well loved. I couldn’t be happier. Somehow, I felt it important to let all my friends and readers and family know that.

 

 

 

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Life Can Be Beautiful or Ugly

our house

Could be our house

Lately many people have revealed having lived childhoods of abuse. This makes me realize just how very fortunate I was growing up. Looking back now I see that it could have been so different had my family history gone in different directions. That might easily have happened. For the men in my family, father, uncles and brother were all alcoholics.

But the story, fortunately for me, did not develop as you might expect. My father, with his Cherokee heritage, did not handle liquor well, and after he came home from the war, he soon became addicted to it, as did his brothers. However, my dad was well liked by everyone, no one suspected his secret because he was not an angry or violent man. I guess you could say he was a fully functional alcoholic. For many years he ran a construction business with a partner, a buddy from the Navy.

Dad with plane

Me, my brother, granddad and Dad

When I look back on my life I see how very lucky I was. He loved me and I loved him, never guessing at his secret growing up. It’s difficult to believe because men who drink are often portrayed as loud mouthed, violent, unreasonable and abusive. I never once heard my dad raise his voice to my mother. He never lifted a hand to me. Oh, he set down some strict rules, or so I thought then, but they kept me from making many a dumb adolescent decision.

He fought my marriage because I was so young. Still never any verbal or physical abuse involved. I see now what kind of man he must’ve been to be so kind and well liked and successful despite his addiction to alcohol. As we all do he had his faults, but my mother told me right after his death just after his 61st birthday, that he was the best man she ever knew. The life he chose to live must have hurt her, for women loved him and he often didn’t resist the temptations that brought about. Yet they had a wonderful life together and my childhood is nothing but good memories. He insisted on a summer travel vacation every year and we had some exciting and unforgettable times.

Why did I write this? Because so many harsh stories are being written about abusive childhoods at the hands of brutal men that I thought it was time a better story was told. It’s all far in the past now. My parents are gone, my brother is gone and I miss them still because we were always close and always happy. Life often turns out with twists and turns we have no power over. But what we do control is the way we react to the events that make up our lives. And ultimately, who we blame if we fail to triumph.

 

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The Flight of Time

B 29 Boeing

 

Wow. I’ve seen a lot of examples of how time flies, but when I checked my blogs and realized I hadn’t posted one since the last week in May I knew I’d really had my wheels up and the flaps straight out in June.

Some of the things going on that caused this breaking the sound barrier to occur had to do with conferences. Not only have I been in charge, more or less, of planning Storytellers of America coming up July16, 17, I decided to take Dusty and Casey up on an invitation to attend Western Writers of America for Oghma Creative Media. I’ve not regretted either decision, but that’s where June went without my noticing it.

It goes without saying that I hate to be out of communication with my readers that long for fear they’ll forget me.

We returned from Wyoming late Monday night after several unusual happenings that weren’t all welcome, but we did come home all in one piece thanks to a couple of emergency hospitals, one in Cheyenne and one in Hays, Kansas. Enough can’t be said for the people at both. Their kindness, helpfulness and support brought us home healthy and happy. No, it wasn’t me who needed them, which was a definite possibility when I agreed reluctantly to accompany my good friends on the trip.

Wyoming and Western Writers of America were both exceptional experiences. I was so pleased to meet one of my favorite authors, Craig Johnson, who writes the Longmire series. What a perfect gentleman and delightful man he is. Not to denigrate others, for there were many western writers there whom I admire. What fun they all were. Some were western ladies, too. With my forgetful brain, it would be a mistake to begin to name all of them, because I’d leave some out, so let’s just say it was a wonderful experience I’ll always remember because of all the super folks we met.

Now, on to Storytellers of America. I’ve been in touch with Crow Johnson several times and she can hardly wait to join us and share her superb talent for creating music. Lisa Wingate is also eager to talk to us about experiences writing her popular inspirational fiction. And Gordon Bonnet is flying down from New York just to be with us. These three stars will only make up some of what’s in store for those attending our first “official” creative conference for Storytellers of America.

Prior to the conference, Oghma Creative Media is sponsoring a three-day authors retreat where we’ll all share with each other and have a great time at gorgeous Sky Vue Lodge on top of the Boston Mountain. I for one am looking forward to both events. It’s time Arkansas had their very own yearly creative gatherings where all the authors of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, script writing, as well as musicians and artists can get together and share their wealth of knowledge.

For those who haven’t registered yet, there are a few openings. Check us out either on my website or look here or for a glimpse of the lovely locale. Hope to see you there.

A view out over the Boston Mountains, at sunset after an afternoon storm

The view from Sky Vue across the majestic Ozarks

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F**k Changes

going nuts

Quickly Going Nuts

In all probability I’m too old for this changing world. I’ve tried, really I have. Learning new things on the computer, not complaining when all the voices on my telephone were electronic and not real, learning to shop online at Amazon, which I will admit is one of the better changes. This list could go on and on but I’ll bet you know what I mean.

Okay, so I realize that if I were an American Indian I’m old enough be to put on a floating iceberg, or under a tree or on the edge of a cliff, and bid farewell to. Come to think of it I have some of that heritage, but we don’t do that nowadays. We respect our elders and allow that they probably have learned something in their years on this earth.

I’ve learned how to use a computer because I’m a writer, not because I had any particular yearning to spend a day on Facebook. Speaking of that, it is a good way to stay in touch with grandchildren, but it also makes sure they don’t bother to write cause FB is there. Or send birthday cards, or Mother’s Day. Yeah, well, stop grumbling old woman.

What began this rant was is the changing of my bank. All these 44 years we’ve banked with a local bank. When things went online I learned to pay my bills there, balance my accounts, use a debit card, etc. But now they have sold out or merged or whatever the hell they call it and established this new account system online. I set mine up, got it approved after about four tries, then noticed that it said transactions would not be shown yet. So I waited four days. Today I tried to get into my account with the same earlier approved information and what do you think? Nope. I don’t exist. All I can hope is that by the time my June bills come due those electronic idiots will have figured it all out.

There, that’s my blog for the day cause I had to get this out of my system and the cat don’t care, she just flat don’t care. As long as she gets in and out of the house, has her food and water, is allowed to sleep anywhere she wants to from the bed to inside one of the kitchen cabinets, then she don’t care about my problems. Oh, and yes, I know that isn’t grammatically correct, but it comes from an old commercial I really liked. If you don’t remember it I’m not in the mood to jog your memory.

I appreciate your reading this. Photo of your cat

 

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Friendship, Mummies and Loss

 

Iva me

Back in the days of black and white

 

Two years ago last month I lost my lifetime friend to cancer. Memories of our days together are crowding in on me today. I find writing about things often sweetens thoughts out of the past, so bear with me and I’ll try not to whine.

Her name was Iva Dell. She was dark skinned, had black hair and chocolate brown eyes. My skin was golden, my hair blonde, eyes blue. Those were only the beginnings of our differences, yet we fit together with perfection.

It was 1943, the war raged on. She turned eight that August, the following February I caught up. Movies were back and white, and Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff terrified us. Still we couldn’t wait till the next one opened. We lived in Plainview, a housing complex near Boeing. In those days kids walked everywhere, the only fear being that of memories of The Mummy or The Beast With Five Fingers chasing us all the way home. Every shadow was straight from the terrifying monsters on the screen.

All our lives we kept in touch, even when she married and moved to New York. We soon followed when we visited them and fell in love with the excitement of the Big Apple. Nine years later we trekked back to the heartland and landed in my home state of Arkansas. Sadly, she left her husband and brought all five children back, ending in Wichita.

Close together again, we visited often. For some reason I never understood, except she said her husband loved blondes, she dyed that gorgeous walnut colored hair platinum and though they parted, she kept it that way. Even when cancer stole her long luxurious locks, she bought a platinum wig until it grew back out and she could once more bleach it. Sometimes we did things that the other one never agreed with or understood, but it never effected our feelings toward each other.

I remember our last time spent together vividly. She was going with an older man who had a lot of money. He owned a summer home on Monkey Island on Grand Lake of the Cherokees in Oklahoma. I was invited to spend the weekend with them there and we would drive. He flew his own plane down from Wichita. She had affected the look of a well-kept woman and carried this tiny little dog around everywhere she went. Even when we took the boat over to the mainland for breakfast she carried that dog. And I’ll never forget how classy she looked and acted. Not stuck-up, you know? Just classy.

I did see her one more time, when she was dying and had dark circles under her eyes and wore that blonde wig. We spent the night together and went to breakfast. We both ordered biscuits and gravy, then she ordered breakfast for her great-granddaughter who lived nearby and took care of her in her last days. I kissed her on the temple and told her goodbye. When I looked back she was sitting in the booth gazing out across the room. She never turned to watch me go.

So many times I’ve thought she deliberately accompanied us in her own car to that restaurant so we wouldn’t be faced with a private final goodbye. It was just like her to spare me that.

I miss the sound of her laughter, her touch, and I miss those dark nights when we ran screaming through the streets pursued by memories of the mummy and his ghost. Running from a fear that was not real, that was not threatening, but was the most fun we could have.

Mummy

The Mummy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where am I and Why am I here?

samsung phone

Takes pictures and videos

Last week I bought a new camera. It also makes phone calls and goes on the Internet. It’s not very large so I can carry it anywhere. That way every time I see something beautiful I can bring it out and snap away. Now here’s something fantastic. It keeps all the pictures in its tiny little bosom for me to look at or show to my friends. Sometimes it plays music, but I usually ignore that. I have a feeling I’ve been spirited to another planet, or perhaps the future, cause the last time I looked my pictures were in an album and this was back in the black and white days. The world turned to color about midway through my life.

Televisions have done about the same thing. They call this monster in my living room a smart tv, and they are right. It’s smarter than I am, that’s for sure. The only trouble I see with it is all the little controls necessary to keep it working. It has something called a Fire Stick hanging out of its belly button and that requires a tiny control. It’s pretty cool. I can watch movies that came out twenty-five or fifty years ago, or catch up on series. They call it streaming. Other controls they call remotes do everything from switching channels to playing movies I get in the mail on what looks sort of like 45 rpm records.

If I want I can use one to hook up invisibly to a satellite floating around out in space somewhere. From there three or four hundred channels run programs, some of them pretty dumb. There’s one channel where women scream at each other all day long. Men do some utterly stupid things on some of them. Like live in the north woods where they have no electricity or running water. Can’t figure why anyone would want that.

tv old

Good ole days of tv watching

I have to admit, though, it’s a big improvement over watching one channel from Tulsa that sometimes had a picture, another from Springfield that was like sitting underwater, and one from Fayetteville that wiggled and wobbled consistently. I remember our first tv. We lived in Wichita and had been married a few months when my parents bought us a tv for our combined birthdays. It too, was in the age of no color, but I took right to it, being alone evenings cause that’s the shift hubby preferred. I worked all day. The new tv was good entertainment at the time, but I look at those shows now (using that Fire Stick) and wonder what in the world was wrong with me that I enjoyed such nonsense.

When we went to movies, again in Wichita, a bunch of us kids would get together on Saturday morning, each with a quarter in our pockets to pay our way in and buy a coke and candy bar. We’d walk down to Highway 54, then across the viaduct that spanned all the railroad tracks and on to Douglas, the main street through town. There were a few theaters along the way, but one in particular showed westerns and those fifteen or twenty minute serials where the hero or heroine was left dangling over a tiger pit or tied to a railroad track so we had to return the following week to see what happened. Again, this was back when the world was black and white and everyone talked strange.

ticket

A ticket to anywhere

Now we go to these narrow theaters, sit in chairs that rock back to stare up at a screen as wide as the entire room, plug our ears against the roar of sound and watch movies that transport us right into the midst of the action. And everyone uses words my mother would’ve washed my mouth out with soap for saying. All in brilliant color. And oh, that quarter? Never mind, that won’t even buy a candy bar.

I’ll leave cars that park themselves, take you where you’re going, etc., for discussion another day.

 

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Whatever happened to tomboys?

 

Dad with plane

Me, my brother, granddad and Dad

 

When I was nine Daddy returned from the South Pacific. The war was over and my life, our lives, would change forever. Mother, my brother and I and my cousin who came from Arkansas to live with us, lived in special housing in Wichita. My mother worked at Boeing in a job now classified as Rosie the Riveter. She worked on B-29 bombers.

In a matter of months after the war ended, we bought a house on a dirt street a few blocks off Highway 54 on the west side of Wichita. Us kids changed schools and Daddy went to work for Rowdan, a small airplane manufacturer. They built and serviced recreational planes.

In the neighborhood where we moved there were several vacant lots. The one next to our house had an old horse barn on it. It ran the width of the lot across the back, leaving a perfect place for all the kids to gather and play baseball, football, or anything else we could come up with. Cowboys and Indians was one of our favorite games, and we chased around shooting our cap pistols at each other and playing dead. Far as I know, not one of those boys or girls who played that particular game ever shot anyone or even grew up to be violent or criminals. Makes you wonder, hmmm?

horse barn

Horsebarn with Cuddles my cat

Anyway, it didn’t take me long to discover I liked boys’ games better than girls’ games. I went from paper dolls and making mud pies to football and baseball. Mostly because there were only three girls around my age living close by and about six or seven boys.

My brother, two years younger than me, was a little runt and I was tall and gangly. So it followed that if he got picked on, big sister did payback. I didn’t care how big the kid was either. Once a big boy passing through on our street took it in his head to push my brother around. I tackled him and he threw me over a five foot high fence, ripping my shoes off and tearing my shirt. I went home to change and my mother went ballistic. I must’ve been quite a sight, covered in dirt, both knees bleeding, carrying my shoes and holding my shirt together, laughing about the fight. But she finally got used to it.

the gang

Neighborhood gang The tall one is me

My favorite game with the boys was tackle football and they spared nothing tackling me. Usually I was the only girl in the game, while the others sat on the sidewalk playing jacks or dolls or something equally sissified. The only thing I did on that sidewalk was roller skate, flying at top speed, long hair blowing out behind me. I might have grown up to be a roller derby queen if there’d been one around at the time.

I grew to be almost six feet tall during those years. And I guess I was pretty. All the boys said so, and somewhere along there I took up with three boys from a street over who started courting when I was eleven. We climbed trees, played on top of that flat-topped horse barn, secretly built fires out back of the building and pretended we were on campouts. We were inseparable until we all started high school and mostly drifted apart.

But I never quite got over being a tomboy. I always preferred the company of boys. Today you never hear the term tomboy. It’s as if it’s forbidden, or means something else. But back in those days, we girls who indulged in being tomboys were proud of the term. Maybe we just weren’t sensitive enough.

velda 1948

That tomboy

 

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