Saturday, December 8, 2012

Strong Women Of The Past


Congratulations to "Jane", the winner of Melinda's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated.


I’ve written a number of blogs on strong female characters. The other day, I was cleaning out a drawer and I stumbled on some old photos of my grandmother and her sister growing up. And I suddenly realized that I didn’t have to look anywhere except to my family to find women who kicked butt. If you were born during the 1920s, between the war, the depression, and disease, you were either tough or you didn’t survive.

My grandmother and her sister were raised during the Great Depression. (The two girls standing on a street in Philadelphia circa 1940).  Their young lives were ruled by the golden rule of making due with what they had. But as my grandmother always said, “We didn’t know any different. Nobody else had any money either.”

She was always grateful because her family was one of the lucky ones. Even though they couldn’t afford luxuries like toothpaste, they never went hungry. Her father was a plumber and her mother was a seamstress. Between the two working parents, they had food, clothes, and shoes. Dresses were homemade, so were catsup and root beer and Christmas presents. A vacation was a rare day trip to the beach. (That’s them at the Jersey Shore, circa 1930.). Public pools were closed during the polio years.

Growing up in hard times made strong women. When they got older, they sent their men off to war and raised their babies alone. Their fortitude didn’t keep them in the house. With no men at home, the women worked in factories. My grandmother (shown sitting on her stoop in 1944) ran a drill press in a machine shop. 

Sadly my aunt passed away a few years ago, but my grandparents are in the 80s now.  They remain frugal and hard-working. They still live in their own house, which is cleaner than mine (much cleaner). They throw very little away. My grandfather grows his own vegetables, and he’ll slice the mold off two week old ham and eat it no matter how much we beg him to throw it away. Leftovers are recycled into another meal. Bread heels go into the freezer for future stuffing. It’s a way of life for a generation who made a life for themselves through sheer hard work, ingenuity, and backbone.

When I was a little kid, I was always amazed at the things my grandparents could do. It wasn’t until I grew up that I realized it wasn’t a love for crafts or special talent. They learned to sew and paint and cook and fix things out of necessity.

Real strength comes from diligence, tenacity, and the willingness to do what needs to be done, not big muscles or a gun (though my grandmother was reportedly an excellent shot in her day.)  These qualities show up in my heroines, too. They’re usually regular people rather than cops or federal agents. Often, they’re the quiet type that everyone underestimates, especially the villains.

Rachel Parker, the heroine of She Can Tell, just wants to get on with her life after an accident ends her riding career. But before she can do that, she has to contend with her sister’s abusive husband, a violent stalker, a cold murder case, and a hot cop she doesn’t want anything to do with. 

Melinda will be giving away a Kindle copy or ARC of SHE CAN TELL (winner's choice).



Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Dec. 8th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@justromanticsuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.

36 comments:

  1. So true@ My grandmother lived through a civil war and subsequent dictatorship, studied medicine, and was a practicing physician--very much a male profession-- all her life... and Superstorm Sandy knocks out the Internet for a days here and I wonder how I'm supposed to survive!

    Loved SHE CAN RUN, so stoked for SHE CAN TELL!

    stalkers00(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Cris, We lost power for a few days after hurricane Irene. I learned I wouldn't have made a very good pioneer. Thanks for stopping by.

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  2. This sounds like a really awesome book i love getting on here and finding new author,I thank you all for putting these up here.Debra Stolhand ( cher123@cableone.net)

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    1. I love Just Romantic Suspense, too, Debra.

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  3. I love reading about strong female characters. There are different ways to have strength, sometimes it's physical, mental or both. Often I find I can appreciate a woman's strength more when they have something to learn from or recover from. I know I'll enjoy reading about Rachel.

    Cambonified(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Rachel has had a tough life, but she soldiers on. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. That's one of the best blog posts I've read in a long time.

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    1. Thanks, Michael. When I found these old pictures, I couldn't wait to write about them. I glad you enjoyed it.

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  5. Sounds like a gread story!

    boomer21(at)rogers(dot)com

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  6. I love strong female characters, too, and try to incorporate them into my writing. MarthaCFE(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi Martha. Thanks for reading. Good luck with your writing.

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  7. Congrats on the new release, Melinda. My mom used to make clothes for her and her siblings.

    janie1215 AT excite DOT com

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    1. Janie, my grandmother can sew and paint and cook and not knowing how to do something never stopped her. She amazes me.

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  8. I agree with Michael. One of the best blogs I've read in a long time too! And I love the pictures. My goodness we're a lazy generation.

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  9. My grandmother was one of the strongest people I ever met and she was also a tiny little Italian woman... the stories I heard about the way things were for her and her family when she was growing up and later having to raise her kids while my grandfather was off to war... strong strong woman!
    Thanks for sharing & Happy Holidays!

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    1. Thanks, Colleen. They were a tough generation. They had to be, just to survive.

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  10. Melinda, congrats on the new release! Thanks for sharing your grandmother's story. The world was such a different place then. Simpler. But the women (like your grandmother and mine as well) knew what needed to be done...and did it.

    author@JL-Hammer.com

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    1. Hi JL. Nice to see you here. My grandmother is still pretty tough and she's 88.

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  11. Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by

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  12. Excellent post. She Can Tell sounds like a really good story. And a new to me author!
    kacbooks(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  13. Thanks for sharing. Reminds me of my mother who worked long hours in the family store while raising five children.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

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    1. No doubt your mom was a strong lady. Have a great holiday.

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  14. My grandmother had 10 kids, 7 girls and 3 boys. Unfortunately all 3 of the boys died while they were infants. I honestly don't know how she managed. She was a very simple woman, she didn't really understand anything electronic, but she was one of a kind. I was fortunate enough to have her with me until shortly after my first child was born when I was 23. My mother was also a strong woman. My father died tragically in a house fire on Christmas day when I was 8 years old. My mother didn't really have any kind of job training but she went to work as a waitress back when they were still called that. She always did the best she could for us and I think it helped me to grow up as a strong woman. She is 91 now and still is the strongest woman I know. I would love to read your book, it sounds like an excellent story and one I would really enjoy. I hope you have a happy and safe holiday season.

    seriousreader at live dot com

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    1. How awful they (and you) had to endure so much tragedy. You're blessed to have such role models in your life. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. Loved the pictures! My husband had 2 aunts that were Rosie the riveteers. I'd love to be entered to win this book, sounds awesome.

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

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    1. I love these pictures, too. Thanks for reading.

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  16. I always love the stories my Mother tells from her growing up years. People made, or made do, or just did without.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. Definitely. I can't imagine not being able to afford toothpaste or stuffing my shoes with newspapers to plug the holes. Thanks for stopping by today.

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  17. Sounds fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing!

    efender1(at)gmail(dot)com

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  18. Your pictures are wonderful Melinda. I have had my eye on your writing for a long time now. Strong female characters are fun to read. I look forward to reading yours.

    Jan

    janet_kerr(at)msn.com

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    1. I'm flattered, Janet, and I hope you enjoy the story.

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