Tag Archives: Canyon of Doom

Three Easy Rules That Will Change your “Comma Life” Forever


Diamond 1, 2, 3

Commas have never intentionally hurt you, have they?

Okay, maybe you made a bad grade or two on a school paper because you used the two-inch rule; that is, you placed a comma every two inches on your term paper just to show your instructor you were seriously trying.

When your paper came back with severe grammar-scoldings written in the margins and a link for you to immediately hook up with Grammarly or fail the course, you may have sworn off comma-love forevermore.

Of course, if someone tried to eat your relative when you penned, Let’s eat Grandma instead of Let’s eat, Grandma . . . that surely could have caused a ruckus.

When you think about it, was it really the fault of the commas?

I believe if the commas you have used incorrectly over the years could talk, they’d probably thank you for all the interesting misadventures. Just a thought.

Falling stars on the red carpet with flash lights from camerasDon’t hold a grudge. Those little guys are waiting to make you look like a professional punctuator if you will but open the door to them. What do you say? Ready to be a Comma Star?

Exhale. Blow out the tension. Wiggle your fingers. Slap your cheeks, and let’s begin.

1. Introductory phrases/clauses

When you introduce your sentence with something that isn’t a stand-alone sentence, it needs a comma after it. It could be a phrase or a dependent clause, but who cares? It doesn’t stand alone, and that means it needs a comma for support. Don’t get nervous. It’s easy.

For example: When I go to sleep at night isn’t a sentence, is it?

Those are words used to set up (introduce) the reader to what you are going to tell them happens when you go to sleep at night.

When I go to sleep at night, I dream of galloping through the galaxies.

See that?

The introductory phrase (When I go to sleep at night) introduced the rest of the sentence (I dream of galloping through the galaxies).

To separate the two parts, you merely add a comma.

Here’s another example: Since I am king of the world, I can skateboard with a monkey on my shoulder.

Separate the introductory clause (Since I am king of the world) from the explanation (I can skateboard with a monkey on my shoulder) with a comma.

That’s it. Don’t get mired down with subordinate conjunctions, predicate verbs, and all that crap proper grammar terminology. It’s important, but not necessary to remembering where to place your commas. *And please don’t, in a fit of frustration, tell someone where they can place their commas if you know what I mean*

2. Commas between two independent sentences separated by a conjunction

This rule is as simple as stirring sugar in your coffee. In your writing, you don’t want all your sentences so short they sound like a robot learning to speak, do you?

I am Robot Maid. I can clean your house.  I can clean for you. I am Robot Maid. I do not clean windows. I do not clean refrigerators. I am Robot Maid.

When we combine a couple of the sentences and separate them with a comma and a conjunction (and, but, so, for, nor, and so on), our writing sounds more sophisticated.

I am Robot Maid, and I can clean your house. I am Robot Maid, but I do not clean windows or refrigerators.

How about this: I won a golden goose yesterday, and now I need to hire a trustworthy money adviser.

Two complete sentences separated by a conjunction need a comma. Easy-peasy.

3. Commas in a series

A series is a comma’s best friend. Or is the comma a series’ best friend? Anyway, in this instance, the commas act as little separators in a series, or a list, of items.

No commas:

We took salad chips cookies sliced tomato sandwiches and soda pop to the lake. I have to ask, are they taking salad chips to the lake or salad and chips to the lake? Are the cookies sliced? Why are they eating sliced tomato sandwiches?

Now use crafty commas to clarify what the sentence really says:

We took salad, chips, cookies, sliced tomato sandwiches, and soda pop to the park. (Yes, the sandwiches are sliced tomato sandwiches).

The last comma in a series is up to you, or your teacher, or your boss. It’s called the Oxford comma. In Associated Press (AP) style, the last comma before the conjunction is omitted. In many other venues, including the novel publishing world, the comma before the conjunction in a series is left in.

Example:

Gerard Butler is tall, handsome, articulate and talented. (AP style)

Gerard Butler is tall, handsome, articulate, and talented. (Oxford comma used)

Question: How are commas used in the next sentence?

To tell you the truth, commas won’t give you rippling muscles, money, or a live-in maid, but they will clarify your writing and earn you praise.

Answer:

1) This sentence has an introductory phrase (To tell you the truth) followed by a comma.

2) It has a series with each object separated by a comma, including an Oxford comma (commas won’t give you rippling muscles, money, or a live-in maid).

3) It also has two complete sentences separated by a comma and the conjunction but.

One last thing . . . which singing icon of the sixties made commas famous?

Neil Sedaka!

How?

Sedaka’s blockbuster song, “Breaking up is Hard to Do” (click the link to hear it), begins and ends with:

Down dooby doo down down,

Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down,

Comma, comma down dooby doo down down.

Strange as these lyrics are, they elevate the lowly comma to heights of greatness!

You now know three basic comma rules. I learned them in high school, and they have served me well. They’ll do the same for you.

Red umbrella in Storm.Are there other comma rules? Gosh yes. However, when you learn these three rules, you’ll be heads above the crowd.

 

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Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Don’t Just Sit There . . . WRITE!


Don't Just Sit There . . . WRITE!

Don’t Just Sit There . . . WRITE!

My personal advice to budding writers is not simply . . . WRITE! but dang near it.

Like all writers and novelists, I followed a myriad of roads to be where I am today. I can see that many of my roads were constructed of circumstances. Yet, the gritty asphalt of the highway leading to the inkwells of corporate writer, humor columnist, scribe, and author was built from pure tenacity.

Writing in the library, the car, in bed, on the toilet . . .

I’ve always written. In school, I loved nothing more than getting essay questions. I’d fill up the page and write on the back or in the margins of the test questions. Off and on, I kept diaries and journals. I wrote Christmas letters, poems, free verse. My letters to friends and family were dubbed “epistles.”

I volunteer-wrote for charities and ministries and rewrote safety manuals for an insurance company. I simply wrote . . . before I had children, while I was raising children, and after my children were adults.

What happened?

A little book happened.

Wherever I volunteered, I was always given some kind of writing task. Researching how to write press releases for my children’s school one fateful day, a little book practically fell off the library bookshelf and into my trembling hands. It was Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write, an archaic book written in 1938, of which Carl Sandburg said was “the best book ever written on how to write.”

Ueland essentially said that if a person wants to write, she or he will. By hook or crook, they will plow ahead. I can’t explain it, but that book inspired me to return to college and get my Business Management degree. Naturally, I had to sign up for something related to writing, and I decided on a journalism class.

It was the best decision I ever made.

Before long, I was a campus editor, and soon I was making professors laugh with my crazy brand of humor columns. I learned how to interview and take my own human-interest Journalistphotographs. I took a summer job at a small, local newspaper where we set up our own columns on an old Apple computer.

It turned into a circus-worthy balancing act with two children, a husband, and my penchant for keeping a dirt-free habitation, but I never stopped smiling!

What a ride!

If you ask, I will answer

It’s awesome to be honored with a question about your journey to an accomplishment. Recently I received a personal message on my author Facebook page from Skylar. She had just completed her sophomore year in high school, and she aspires to write books. She asked for my advice.

Skylar agreed that I could use her name, so here, in microchip fashion, is my advice for her and all budding authors:

Hi Skylar! Thank you for writing me. I’m happy to offer you a bit of writing advice. My journey to becoming a corporate writer and author came through journalism.

My college journalism courses taught me to “hook” my audience with my very first sentence, my first paragraph, and my first page. I highly recommend studying journalism because it also teaches you to write succinctly and to the point.

Let me also say that a highly developed sense of grammar and proper sentence structure/syntax undergirds all types of writing.

Creative writing course do not get my stamp of approval since they seem to focus on writing wildly descriptive sentences that, though fun to read, are not popular in our sound-bite culture. Learn to say a lot using powerful adjectives and few words.

Whenever you can, attend writing seminars and take online writing classes for fiction and/or non-fiction.

I was always a non-fiction writer, but I decided to challenge myself to take a fiction magazine-writing course with the Institute of Children’s Literature — a great institute, by the way. At the end of the course, my mentor, Chris Eboch, encouraged me to write a novel. I didn’t think it was possible, but she believed in me.

She was right! My third novel comes out this summer, and I’m already working on another one.

It hasn’t been easy, but nothing worthwhile falls into our laps without sweat equity and a burning desire to improve. If you really want to write, you will, and you’ll take every opportunity to get better at your craft. We writers never stop learning!

Good luck, Skylar, and keep me posted on your progress. Never hesitate to ask me anything, and if I can answer it, I will.

The Sky's the Limit, so WRITE!

The Sky’s the Limit, so WRITE!

 

And I’ll do the same for you.

 

 

 

 

 

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Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches summer 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Bungler or Ace . . . What Kind of Interviewer Are You?


Do You Struggle With Interviewing?

Stop Struggling. Conducting Award-Winning Interviews is a Matter of the Proper Ingredients.

The recipe for conducting an excellent personal interview can be compared to making a delicious cake.

Use the proper equipment, mix up a few high-quality ingredients, bake at the right temperature, add the icing, and voila! You have something the interviewee loves and others clamor to read or hear.

The Right Mixer = The Right Research

A high-quality mixer gives an advantage in producing a fancy cake just as research makes the difference in creating a powerful interview. The “mixer” in this case is the interviewer beefing up on the highlights of the life of the person about to be interviewed.

A person will be sitting across the table from you, or speaking to you via telephone or Skype. What has made them who they are right now . . . today? What have they designed, written, studied, invented, or changed? How have they affected others?

There are so many ways to discover factoids. I personally use the Internet, public library, business periodicals, company history pubs, trade rags, etc. If it’s important enough, you might consider conducting mini-interviews with family, friends, or colleagues. Without being a nuisance, you can learn a lot in a short time.

Of course, the amount of time spent on personal research directly correlates to whom you are interviewing, why, and how much time you have in your schedule. The fact remains that most people – celebrity, businessperson, politician, author, or Joe the Plumber – are complimented when an interviewer has taken the time to learn a thing or two about them.

No matter what you find out in this initial process, be open to listening to different versions from the people themselves. Unless you’re writing your interview for the National Enquirer, avoid gossip and hearsay.

High-Quality Ingredients = Respect, Sincerity, and Dynamic *appropriate* Questions


Pinup american military girl pulling sea anchorRespect
Set a time for the interview, and don’t be late. No excuses. If the person must cancel, be gracious in rescheduling another time. Use good manners, and don’t be disrespectful. Ever. You catch more fish with delicious bait than a sledgehammer, right?

Sincerity –  Don’t try to feign sincerity. Do you care about people? You’d better, or your phony earnestness will quickly become a throbbing blister on the heel of your credibility.

Questions Make your questions insightful and real. Ask things others haven’t thought of asking. Find out why Barbara Walters had the reputation for making interviewees cry during their interviews. (Hint: It wasn’t because she was mean!)

Something to keep in mind: attempting to fake yourself into the interviewees’ world will show up quickly in the question stage. Keep it real.

Don’t be rude, but do be persistent if you feel an appropriate question should be addressed. Save your hardest and/or most controversial question for last. Trust me, it works out better that way.

Be creative! The questions you design for interviews can define you as a Barbara Walters superstar interviewer or as an amateur wannabe. It’s up to you to study the greats and put your own spin and heart into each facet of your interviews.

Bake at the Proper Temperature = Finish with finesse

End on a positive note. Thank your interviewees for taking the time to talk to you. They didn’t have to, but they did. Be grateful.

If the interview is to be published, get busy and finish it while everything is fresh in your mind.

Icing on the Cake = Your Reputation

  • Don’t rat out your interviewees by blabbing things they told you in confidence.
  • If you promise a printed copy or a copy of a verbal script to your interviewees, be true to your word.
  • If you told them you would call them when the interview airs or comes out in print, do it!

Pin-up sailor girl on boat. Holiday abroadYou’ll be surprised how quickly your reputation as an interviewer will spread. Your integrity is on the line every time. If people trust you, they will tell others. Soon, you will be in demand, and that’s when the icing on the cake becomes your path to being an acclaimed interviewer.

Good luck!

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches summer 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Why are Metaphors Both Awesome and Terrible?


Miss Metaphor! Image from Wikipedia Commons.

Miss Metaphor! Image from Wikipedia Commons.

One dreadful  inspiring morning at a writing seminar long ago, I emerged from a face-to-face editor session feeling as though I were stepping out the door and onto a parade float. For a few minutes, I could have sworn I was wearing a pageant gown, a tiara, and a ribbon sash proclaiming I was Miss Metaphor, and not in a good way.

Said editor had reviewed the first pages of my first novel and practically stamped that lofty title *Miss Metaphor* on my chest.

I emerged from the room fluttering a weak little Miss America wave at the other terrified aspiring writers awaiting their turns at the chopping block.

That experience caused me to

  • Greatly revise my manuscript, and
  • Wonder why metaphors are both awesome and terrible

With a little research, I found a true Metaphor Devotee — Italian semiotician, literary critic, and novelist Emberto Eco, who said, “…metaphor gives birth to pleasure (in writing).”

He claims that knowing how to conceive metaphors is an art.

I agree.

Metaphors, and their cousins – simile, hyperbole, allegory – add punch to pallid writing. They enlighten and freshen dull manuscripts.

Too Many Metaphors

Some writers (Jodi Lea Stewart in the past, for example) are addicted to figurative language. Consider the following paragraph, and yes, I wrote it myself, and furthermore, it was easy because I could almost live inside a metaphor but that’s another story, n’est-ce pas?

The female fire hazard blazed her way into the board meeting – bull nostrils flaring, poblano pepper eyes glowing – and roared at the Sovereign Power himself, “Give me back my job or I’ll torch your underwear from the inside out!”

Thirty-nine words, twenty-one of which indicate some kind of metaphor.

That’s overkill.

Writers who use metaphors to that extent might want to hook up with a 12-step Metaphors Anonymous program sooner versus later. Over metaphorizing *I made that up to add interest* dulls out the reader almost as much as the writer who doesn’t use figurative language at all.

Too Few Metaphors

If Elements of Style by Strunk & White makes you salivate,

If you love stringent grammar rules and feel it is a crime to alter them,

If you use symbolic language ultra-sparingly, or not at all,

If you wallow in strict English correctness,

Stop reading this blog.

Grab your Elements of Style and repertoire of grammar books and take a nap with them because you’re boring us all to death  with your writing. Sleep. Just sleep.

However, if you are boring even yourself, and you are often told by readers, agents, or editors that your writing lacks color, excitement, or imagination, then I have a suggestion for you.

Run, don’t walk, to buy Arthur Plotnik’s Spunk & Bite. Read it under the covers with a flashlight if you must, but read it without delay.

Plotnik, a self-defined, writing-rule-rebel said,”Both Strunk and White knew well that bending the rules…can give writing its distinction, its edge, its very style. Bending the rules can spring writers from ruts – get them out of themselves, out of the ordinary, and into prose that comes alive, gets noticed, and gets published.”

Strike the Balance

A sassy blend of metaphor mixed with essential writing rules will let you stand proud on that Miss *Mr?* Metaphor float, or anywhere else. Just as a superb pageant contestant is lovely, well-rounded, and interesting, so is the kind of writing that stands out from the crowd.

“Metaphor is the supreme figure of all…connecting notions and finding similitude in things dissimilar.” – Umberto Eco

What about you? Have you been guilty of too much flowery writing? Did anybody ever tell you to stop? Maybe you abhor metaphors, simile, hyperbole and the like. Tell us about it. We love to hear from you!

When writers share, we just get better.


That dame saw me borrow unauthorized social media. Maybe I can dart under the table...

That dame saw me use unauthorized social media. Maybe I can duck under the table before she calls the coppers.

Pssst! – All media used in my blogs are either acquired by payment for their use, or don’t require licensing for public use. Often, I use my own personal photos. Please play it safe and don’t recycle images, okay? (P.S. This one of Henry Fonda is free for all. Borrow like crazy if you want!)


Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

The Story Behind: Made Just Right…MAID-RITES!


 

Mom's MAID-RITE...made right!

Mom’s MAID-RITE…made right!

1939. The year my mom first tasted a MAID-RITE hamburger. She and a couple of her girlfriends were coming home from their swimming lesson at the YMCA in Muscatine, Iowa. Enticing aromas tempted the girls’ nostrils as they passed a walk-up window restaurant. One of the girls had a bit of pocket change, so she paid a dime each for the girls to enjoy their first MAID-RITE.

Mom remembers the “juice” running down their arms as they giggled and devoured the delicious hamburgers invented by Fred Angell in1926.

Thus began a 75-year love affair between my mother and the loose-meat sandwiches smothered in a cabbage, onion, and pickle sauce.

I grew up eating those sandwiches; but I have to admit, I didn’t know their actual name was misspelled. Mom called them “MADE RIGHTS”, and that was all I knew about it until I traveled through Iowa as an adult.

“Maid-rite? What? The whole franchise is misspelled?”

I couldn’t believe it. It hurt my author/editor soul, let me tell you.

Since then, I’ve come to terms with the fact that Mr. Angell was, to quote the MAID-RITE website, “quite a sandwich maker but not much of a speller.” Apparently, Mr. Angell invented the sandwiches and named them after a deliveryman’s comment that the sandwich was made right. Hmm.

That’s reasonable, isn’t it?

A Disappointment

2008. Mom and I marched into one of the franchises in an Iowa mall grinning from ear to ear. We couldn’t wait to order a MAID-RITE. Passing up every other eating opportunity as we traveled across the country that day, we were starved and anticipatory.

After all, this was to be the first store-bought maid-rites Mom had eaten since 1939. I’d never eaten any but my mom’s.

Honest. I have to be honest and say that something drastic happened to those maid-rites since Mr. Angell first cranked them onto the streets via his four franchises by the end of the 1920s. Dry. No cabbage in the topping. Tasteless. Disappointing.

I still see mom shaking her head as she sat across the table from me. We took a few bites and shoved the sandwiches to the side.

You’re About to Get Lucky

Since 1939, Mom has served us MAID-RITES like the ones she first tasted – just like the ones Mr. Angell used to sell. Since she also happens to be a fabulous cook, I have to believe her method and her recipe are PURE.

The other evening, Mom made MAID-RITES. I took a picture of my plate and put it at the top of this blog. Now that’s a MAID-RITE made right! So right, that Mr. Angell would rise up and give my mom a high-five if he could only taste one!

The only thing we’ve added to the mix over the years is a sprinkle of cheddar for the top. It’s a great addition and really adds flavor. If you want to make these easy but incredibly yummy loose-meat sandwiches, cruise on over to the Chuckwagons and Campfires section of my blog for the authentic recipe.

You can’t go wrong when you go rite!

Ever had a MAID-RITE? We’d love to hear about it!

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Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.