Room to welcome everyone

They definitely weren’t suburban. A big pink Victorian house suits Cassia’s colorful extended family in my novel What’s Left. And guests, even guests of guests, are typically welcome.

Have you ever been welcomed in a home like Cassia’s? How does it differ from yours?

~*~

Theirs also had a witch hat, something like the one here.

Old soldiers never die, as we used to sing

My novel What’s Left began percolating as I considered the dimensions of the hippie movement and realized it had never really died but continued disguised in many streams of action. Yes, I’d published my Hippie Trails series but so much still felt unfinished.

And, as a consequence of Cassia in the new novel, I went back and transformed the others into Freakin’ Free Spirits.

Looking at the world today, what pressing issues do you consider unfinished?

~*~

My novel is available at the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Scribd, Smashwords, Sony’s Kobo, and other fine ebook distributors and at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

Within a daughter’s own living Greek drama

Also on the plate

Why does the restaurant business sustain so many immigrant families? Just look at all our ethnic options in dining today, even in small cities. Not just Greek-American, like the one in my novel What’s Left.

What’s your favorite food stop? Is it run by a single family? Does it have an ethnic identity?

~*~

Look at all these Greek specialties!

In case you’re not conversant in Tibetan

Having Cassia cast a Buddhist chant as a spell in my novel What’s Left, is a bit of an inside joke. She may be trying to intimidate her middle school classmates, but what she utters, Su To Ka Yo Me Bha Wa, translates as “Grant me complete satisfaction” or “Grant me complete satisfaction within me.” Not that they have a clue.

Besides, I feel a shade of Harry Potter here, without an ominous wand. These words can simply feel magical.

By the way, Cassia’s chant is one letter off from Su Po Ka Yo Me Wa, “Grow within me” or “Increase the positive within me,” which also fits.

Just in case you’re wondering.

~*~

Think of some word or phrases you repeat often.

Do you have your own “mantra,” a word or phrase to raise your spirits?

(My favorite 9-year-old introduced me to “Yay!” So yours doesn’t have to be the least bit exotic.)

~*~

Cassia’s aunt Pia came from a family that owned places like this. Not far from Lowell, Massachusetts, where she grew up, for that matter.

Family honor means something

In my novel What’s Left the family-owned restaurant is a local institution, one set at the edge of campus even before her grandparents and their siblings took over and made it distinctly their own. Everybody in town seems to know them.

Have you ever been recognized because of something your parents or grandparents did?

~*~

My novel’s available at the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Scribd, Smashwords, Sony’s Kobo, and other fine ebook distributors and at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

The paperback cover …

Working all hours, for starters

Here’s something I’ve pondered in revising my big novel What’s Left:

Does the restaurant business essentially operate at the fringe of normal society? Or do weird characters naturally gravitate toward jobs there?

If you’ve ever worked in a commercial food operation, what’s you most telling impression?

~*~

What a tradition!

An insider’s tricks of the trade

Her aunt Nita in my novel What’s Left, has an interesting insight on showing up for work before all the others. It doesn’t fit every job, but it did hers. And then I cut this from the final version of the book:

If you’re the first one in and the last one out, you can disappear in the middle of the day and your coworkers and bosses are none the wiser. They just assume you’re out on assignment.

~*~

Not all jobs require you to punch-in or punch-out on some kind of clock. I’ve never had to work one of those, fortunately, although I’ve often had to fill out weekly time cards before being paid.

What I did find, though, was that even when I was putting in a lot of unpaid overtime (the joys of being low-tier management!), I could still feel the judgmental eyes behind my back.

Are you ever considered a slacker on your job? How does it feel? How do you respond?

~*~

In the family, Cassia would have had food like this. Greek olives! Best of all, packed in olive oil!

With a focus on the family

Cassia’s future father marries into a family that owns a popular restaurant. So that’s one additional connection for the members.

Considering his wife’s sister and three brothers, all with potential partners of their own, he’s not the only spouse thrown into the mix. And that’s before getting to those who want careers elsewhere.

What holds your extended family together? Or are you widely scattered?

~*~

The family also buys an old church, something like this, and turns it into a community center that features wild rock concerts.

How well do you know your cousins?

Would you agree that a close-knit extended family like the one in my novel What’s Left, is uncommon in today’s American society? Of my own five surviving first-cousins, only one remains in communication — a brief note every Christmas. None grew up in our city; two lived in the other corner of our state; the other four, at the time, in California.

~*~

In a passage I cut from the final version:

It wasn’t quite like that when Baba shows up, but only because we kids aren’t yet on the scene. First, we need some marriages, like when Barney and Pia get a new generation rolling, followed by Tito and Yin and then my parents.

~*~

And if Cassia’s uncle Dimitri or her aunt Nita had been adding to the gene pool, we’d have an even bigger slate of first-cousins to draw on. When it came to the novel, I had to limit things somewhere.

Have you ever been introduced to family members and found yourself asking yourself: Just who are these strangers? Have you enjoyed some of your kin at one point in your life but not at others? Do you ever feel some have been treated better than the rest?

~*~

Do you ever get lost when older members of your family start mentioning so-and-so? Just how do they all fit together?