Life Lessons from Mary Poppins

In addition to many fond memories of the magical nanny played by Julie Andrews and her side-kick Bert (Dick Van Dyke), a Cockney jack-of-all-trades, I have great appreciation for the life lessons imparted by Mary Poppins.

marypoppinsWell begun is half-done.

When Mary arrives at the Banks household, she finds the nursery in total disarray. The children are apologetic, but they make no effort to tidy up. With the help of a few magical tricks, Mary sets in motion a whirlwind of events that motivate the children to complete the tasks at hand.

Never judge things by their appearance…even carpetbags.

The children were fascinated by the bottomless carpetbag that yields an assortment of decorative items, among them a hat stand and a lamp. While there was magic in the air, Mary models a valuable lesson to her young charges: Dig deep and you will find your treasures.

As I expected. Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way.

There are several lessons here. First of all, Mary is not 100 percent perfect. “Practically” could imply 80 or 90 percent, an achievable percentage and reminiscent of the 80/20 rule. Second, Mary displays a healthy dose of self esteem by setting the bar very high for herself. And most important of all, the magical measuring tape does not display any numbers. Wouldn’t it wonderful if all measuring devices outputted only practical advice and empowering messages?

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Not every task will be pleasant. The trick, according to Mary Poppins, is to find or create elements of fun. It could be singing and sharing jokes while you work or making a game out of a tedious task.

A little spontaneity keeps conversation keen.

Mary sprinkles her conversations and songs with interesting expressions, among them one of the most famous made-up words of all time—Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Even the ultra-conservative Mr. Banks finds himself using the word when involved in a challenging work scenario.

I never explain anything.

Brimming with confidence, Mary is not upset or frazzled when dealing with a reprimand from Mr. Banks. She is not apologetic at any point in the film, moving gracefully from one situation to the next.

I shall stay until the wind changes.

It was not Mary’s intention to become a permanent fixture in the Banks’ household. Once she succeeds in helping Mr. Banks prioritize his life and spend more time with the children, she takes her leave. Had she stayed, it would have been comfortable but not challenging enough for the effervescent Mary Poppins.

FYI…Disney will release the sequel to Mary Poppins in 2018. More magic, music, and fun with Emily Blunt as the unforgettable nanny.

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

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Cover Reveal: Vampire Princess of New York

With the reveal of the cover for Book 2 in the Arnhem Knights of New York series, Vampire Princess of New York, we are this much closer to the release date.  It’s still to be announced.

I did give a sneak peek to my doctor who asked, “Is it as passionate as the cover implies?”

I said, “OH YEAH!”


Well, I’m excited. I don’t know the release date yet but it’s coming. It will be in Kindle first. As soon as it’s out I will be shouting from the rooftops and for those that can’t hear me, I’ll be shouting on Facebook, Twitter, on Nights of Passion and my website.

What is the book about?

It’s about a women who only wants two things. In the over two hundred years since Noblesse has been a vampire, she’s never found out what happened to her mother who disappeared prior to the French Revolution and she’s never know true love.

You know the saying that it’s either a drought or pours. Going from no men to two men who both want to claim her. Both are also lying to her. Then she’s torn between two cities that tug at her heart.

Being the Vampire Princess of New York is a responsibility. Noblesse is used to being the CEO of VMeer Industries when her father is out-of-town.

Love is an adventure Noblesse is about to explore!

Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!

Vampire King of New York, Arnhem Knights of New York, Book 1 available in Kindle and Print, Nook and Print


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English Language … Alcohol Content Over 22.5 Percent.

File:Champagne Deutz capseal.jpg

photo from Wikimedia commons


Did you know that the English language alcohol content is more than 22.5 percent?

What in the world, you ask, does that mean?

It’s hard.

Hard liquor can make you dizzy. Trying to figure out the English language can make your head spin too. English is hard for newcomers to the language and hard for many of us who’ve been speaking it all our lives—especially if you’re looking into the definitions of homonyms and paradoxically phrases.

I can’t take any credit for today’s blog. I found it buried in a file of interesting writing emails I had saved from 2005. I don’t know where it came from so I can’t give the original author credit. It’s just one of those things that floats around on the internet that I thought was worth keeping. After reading it, I’m sure you’ll agree that English can be a screwy language … and don’t depend on your grammar check to fix it.

Here are a few gems to consider.

  • The bandage was wound around the wound.
  • The farm was used to produce produce.
  • The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  • We must polish the Polish furniture.
  • He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  • The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  • Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  • At the Army base, a bass was painted on the head of a bass drum.
  • When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  • I did not object to the object.
  • The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  • There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  • They were too close to the door to close it.
  • The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  • A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  • To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  • The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  • After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.
  • Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  • I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  • How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Screwy pronunciations can mess up your mind! For example, if you have a rough cough, climbing can be tough when going through the bough on a tree!

As natural speakers of English, we take the language for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on and you drive on a parkway and park on a driveway.

Do you have a favorite crazy English paradox, homonym (words that sound alike but have different meanings), homophone (a type of homonym that sounds alike and has different meanings, but has different spellings), homograph (words that are spelled the same but have different meanings), or heteronym (a type of homograph that is spelled the same and has different meanings, but sounds different)? If so, write them down for us and we’ll be right grateful that we’ve learned something from your learned contribution.

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Are You Still Listening?

In my last blog to you, I spoke of listening and how to listen, to make an effort to listen to others. How did you do? Have you already forgotten? Sometimes, I have to admit I do interrupt, but it is a work in progress. But how can I incorporate what I learned about listening into my writing?

Have you ever seen the quote, “What you say may end up in my next book.” It is everywhere. On mugs, on totes, everywhere, and for the life of me, I can’t remember the exact words. But you know what I mean. It means I listen (and steal). People are fascinating. They have things to say, stories of their own to tell. As a published author, have you ever met someone who had a story to tell, but wanted you to write it for them? Me, too.

Have you ever listened to strangers talking on the bus, or at the table next to you, whispering during a movie? This is a great place to get ideas on the rhythm of dialogue. Just don’t look at the people speaking. It might get creepy if you do.

So how else does listening help you write?

My second novel takes places in New Orleans, where I lived for many years. I know the city and its people. They do not speak like Southerners. In fact, many sound like they are from Jersey. So a native from New Orleans wouldn’t say coughin’. It would probably sound more like coffin.

When you live in a city or town, they have their own reference points. In New Orleans, they don’t say south or north in giving directions. They say go towards the river or the lake. Someone from New Orleans will tell you to go to the river side of St. Charles or to walk toward the lake, never will you hear go east pass St. Charles. (Is it really east?) Adding dialog like the above add to the atmosphere of the book, makes people believe you know that area. But sometimes it can be way too much.

For instance, I once read a self-published book for a friend (before self-publishing became popular). It was set in Scotland, a place I dearly love, but every word of the book was written using the sounds of the Scottish dialect, not just the occasional “ye” but every word, even the narrative. It was so difficult to read, I never got a good grasp of the story. You want to make your novel true to the country or city setting, but not so much that you lose the reader. If a reader has to stop to interpret something, that reader may not start again.

And there are other ways to listen. Do you play music when you write? I do. For some reason and I don’t know why, but I love to hear “Phantom of the Opera” in the background. I also use the soundtrack to “Braveheart” when I’m writing historicals.

But there are still more ways to listen. Listen to the outside. Listen to the inside. Listen to your heart beat. The sound of a train, of a bird, the wind blowing (or howling), the click of a keyboard (slow, fast, aggressive, angry), someone breathing (someone you love, someone who scares you, someone chasing you). Listen, then have your character listen too. It’s one of the five senses.

Critiques: I hope to cover this more in my next blog, but for now remember to breathe and listen. Don’t argue. Don’t explain. You won’t be able to do either of those to your audience. And never, ever throw a book at your critique partner. Throwing up isn’t good either.

Lastly, listen to your novel. So many people say to do that, but when it’s a 400-page tome, it’s difficult. Still take the book by the horn and read it. Listen to it closely. You can hear what your readers will. You have one chance to have them listen to your story. Make it as perfect as you can.

Are you listening, world? My name is Patricia Charles and I love to  write romance.

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In Love With My Characters

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Belle Ami. Today, Belle reminisces about the characters in her novels and shares her latest release, One More Time is Not Enough. Here’s Belle! Let…

Source: In Love With My Characters

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What I learned at RWA this year

San Diego ViewIt’s August (for one more day), the traditional time for back to school. One of my memories from the first month of school is the “what I did on my summer vacation” essay. So this is my attempt at recreating that experience.

This summer I attended my second RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference. This year it was in San Diego, California. Last year, I skidded into New York the day before the conference. This year, I went for a week and attended a few extra, smaller, conferences. For those who have never been, or wonder what on earth writers do at a conference, I’ll just summarize it by saying that I came home with my brain as full as my book bag. Here are a few highlights.

  1. I love San Diego. I’m from Arkansas. July is miserable at home. The weather in San Diego made me cry for all the right reasons.
  2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. (Thank you, Grace Burrowes.)
  3. I have wonderful taste in friends. Last year, my first conference, I knew very few people. This year, my best memories involve reuniting with friends from last year and finally meeting people I’d only met online. (Yes, Inklings and Sisterhood of Suspense, I’m talking about you.)
  4. My critique partner, Carrie Nichols, is a superstar. Seriously. She knows everyone and doesn’t mind introducing me. Not only that, but she can now add a Golden Heart to her list of awards.
  5. Romance writers are an amazing group. Funny, smart, encouraging, and self-effacing. They don’t mind sharing what they do well.
  6. I laughed more in that week than I had since January. Yes, Beverly Jenkins is really that funny, but so is Sherry Thomas, and so are so many other authors (on so many different subjects).
  7. I was really glad to come home. I am an introvert. I can fake extroversion for short periods of time. Apparently about a week.

There are lots more things I could list, but this post is already late. Here’s what I’ll leave you with: If you’re a new author who’s never been to a conference and is terrified to go, don’t be. It will change you in great big, confidence-boosting, ways.

And, if you’re not a writer, or a romance writer, take a minute to talk to a few before you make a blanket observation about us or our chosen genre. You might just be surprised at who you find behind those delicious covers.

Mia KayMia 

Find me at:
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What Fascinates?

Tea CUPIt was, of course, a hot August day when I worked my sweaty fingers over the keyboard to get ideas down for this blog post. My brain felt as waterlogged as the day’s humid air. Dew points aside, and no cool weather front expected for days, I decided to write about nothing.

Writing about nothing lasted as long as it took to type this sentence. Why? Because that devilish imagination of mine popped up with, “You always have something to write about. You’re always fascinated by things.” That led to the question of what fascinates me?

Since I’m a “lister” (one who makes lists), I began to type and ended up with more than three pages, in a two-column format on my computer screen. In other words, lots of things interest me. My list began with subjects and the top subjects and their lists were:

— Space, as in: aviation, astronauts, stars, our solar system, planets, moon, and all things outer space, deep space— plus the technology to get us to the stars and beyond

— Earth, as in: geology, archeology, ancient civilizations, modern technology, oceanography, biology, chemistry.

— Faith, as in: religions, myths, gods, angels, and legends

— History, as in: all things medieval, Roman, Russian, Mayan, Renaissance Italian, and ancient to modern Britain.

When I finally paused and reread my list, it occurred to me that I should make the “Faith” entry part of the Space entry. After all, where else do gods and angels live? And where else does one find a multitude of legends spangling starry constellations across the heavenly voids?

By the time this blog entry is posted, the weather certainly will have changed. August’s Dog Days will have waned, giving over to September, Labor Day cookouts and BBQs, and the kids going back to school. The days shortening, cooler nights, and Autumn in the air. Autumn fascinates and astounds me with the brilliant foliage and a world of russet and orange, pumpkins and pie, and Halloween.

So, what fascinates you?


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