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Category: A Bit of Magic

Meriam Wilhelm's column
Home > Columns > A Bit of Magic

Taking a chance on a unique adventure…

June 20, 2017 by in category A Bit of Magic tagged as , , , , ,

The other day my husband suggested that we go on an adventure together and a million intriguing possibilities raced through my head, until he added… to  search for old wood. Not the kind of adventure I had longed for, I offered several good reasons why one of our sons might make a better travel partner before finally agreeing to go. My husband has been renovating his office and looking for some wood for shelves or flooring or something else to “funkify” the space.

Little did I know that this trip would not only net him the wood he was looking for, but also fill my head with dozens of potential future story lines and provide our son with a treasured gift.

Off we went to Vernon, California to discover what turned out to be one of the most fascinating places I’ve been in quite a while – Silverado Salvage & Design. This 16,000 square foot warehouse is just incredible and as I meandered throughout the cavernous structure, I was immediately sucked back in time. Surely this is a rich playground for the inventive mind  of any storyteller.

Engulfed in tons of well-organized used wood, sewing machines from the early 1900’s and  every kind of old farm tool you can imagine,  I soon found a few rusted out machines that I never even knew existed. The farmers of those days must have been incredibly strong or had one sturdy horse at their disposal to be able to actually use this weighty equipment.

Old pieces of furniture, wine presses, doorknobs, windows and more were tucked into every corner of the building.  A well-preserved, cloth-covered baby buggy rolled into the entrance and made me wonder what had ever happened to the infant it once lovingly carried. I envisioned a housewife of years gone by painstakingly stitching her children’s clothing on that old treadle driven sewing machine. Where did those aged and intricate iron gates once lead to? Was it a garden, a mansion, a government building? Whose fireplace had the intricately cut wooden corbels once graced and what juicy secrets had they been privy to? Were the children who had long ago played with rusty fire trucks and cars still alive or had their toys outlived them? There was so much to see, so much to feel, and a ton of things to capture the imagination.

Sometime during our walk about I came upon a collection of old wooden shipping crates and was overjoyed. Our youngest sons’ birthday was coming up and he had wanted one of these to use as a coffee table. Reinvigorating this chest would be a great project for father and son. I selected the wooden crate I wanted and asked the knowledgeable shop keeper where it was from originally.

“The metal tab on the front is written in Hungarian, I believe,” was his response.

What? I’m Hungarian. My grandfather immigrated here from Budapest, Hungary as a child. And inside I found an ancient packing slip written totally in Hungarian. This was meant to be – a connection to my family’s past. I would later take the packing slip home, translate it into English and laminate it to remain within the trunk forever. I discovered that the trunk had once carried gas masks which left me a little unsettled and wondering how I really felt about taking it home. Either way, the trunk would soon grace my son’s living room after its lengthy travel here; minus, of course, any gas masks.

This store hosts some of the most creative and imaginative employees ever. I overheard designers talking about how one might revitalize an old sink, a chunk of brass, a stained glass window. Creativity flows within this shop with knowledgeable staff I’d  like to take home and just listen to. And a few had rather quirky names that I quickly added to my Little Book O’ Names I carry with me for future insertion into a story or two. I found it inspiring that the owner is such an affable, intelligent man who demonstrates a real passion for revitalizing what others might just throw away.

My husband found some very old wood which, I must confess, looked just like old wood to me. However, after talking with the trained craftsman it was clear that this wood had a lot more living to do. The two men put their heads together and a plan was quickly launched. This wood would soon be reincarnated into shelves and a desktop and my husband could not have been happier.

I now have three problems to confront. Where will I use the unusual names I collected, what story shall I write first and how are we ever going to get the heavy shelving and desktop upstairs and into my husband’s office. Three good problems to have!

If you get a chance, I encourage you to stop by Silverado Salvage & Design and be sure to bring your imagination with you!   (4625 East 50th Street in Vernon, California)

Meriam


Meriam Wilhelm

Meriam Wilhelm

www.meriamwilhelm.com

The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it.  When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.

I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.

I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.


Have you read about the witches of New Moon Beach?

SEA DREAMS

SEA DREAMS

$7.99eBook: $3.99
Can help from a lavender-eyed sea witch, a few enchanted cupcakes and a touch of New Moon magic really rescue a once famous now washed up artist from himself? More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Apple iTunes
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Books-A-Million
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1 0 Read more

There Is Nothing I Like Better Than The Pursuit Of A Juicy New Truth

May 20, 2017 by in category A Bit of Magic tagged as , , ,

There Is Nothing I Like Better Than The Pursuit Of A Juicy New Truth | Meriam Wilhelm | A Slice of OrangeThe Pursuit Of A Juicy New Truth Can Be Tantalizing.

Prior to writing any new book I take time to consider potential characters, plots, conflicts, relationships and settings. Additionally, I do what many writers do; I seek out unique bits and pieces of information to tuck into my story. I’m always looking for a different way to add color, depth and dimension. It requires a lot of time and effort to find the most unusual, weird or provocative nuggets of truth. I’m constantly looking for the “what else” factor. What else is out there that I can add to make my story more readable and my characters more unique? In the end, this effort not only supports a personal learning curve and makes the writing experience more fulfilling; I hope it makes for a better book. And besides that, it’s fun!

Sometimes I pursue a tangent based on a remark I overheard, a comment on television, a magazine article or just some bizarre curiosity I’ve developed. I’ve had a blast investigating things like Wiccan marriages, time travel, spiritualism, bridal fashion design, mural painting, the migration patterns of the local whale population and professional kitchen appliances. Quirky, right?

In my next book I delve deeper into the power of gemstones and crystals and the various forms of Reiki healing These are both  topics I have always been curious about but knew very little. In making up my many spells, I reviewed over five hundred different magical spells that I found in books, diaries and articles. I was compelled to discover  exact language that working witches use in their spells before I felt comfortable writing my own. I love to take field trips to bookstores, museums, paranormal shops and libraries as I snoop out funky facts. And along the way, I meet the most interesting people; reflections of whom you just might see in one or more of my books.

Currently I am on a quest to learn more about Herkimer diamonds and Reiki healing. I had never even heard of Herkimer diamonds before starting this book nor was I aware of their potential powers. So cool!  And Reiki healing was a totally new pool of information for me to dive into, because again – I was curious. I’m learning important concepts, new vocabulary, different ways of thinking and where to find even more information. Sometimes I tweak the data, changing names or enhancing certain traits or characteristics to better support the plot. Other times I just share facts and figures as I found them. It’s become like a treasure hunt for me. Unfortunately, I sometimes get way too carried away in my search, gobbling up precious writing time to pursue more data than I can ever fold into one story.

Although I feel truly free when writing in the paranormal genre, I always want to make sure that my stories include facts that are both interesting and whenever possible, true. If I can understand a topic better my characters might just sound smarter, more in tune and a tad more realistic to the reader. In short, I hope to make my storyline more believable.

Sometimes, sitting for hours with just me and my computer can get pretty tedious. However, forcing myself to learn something new and then challenging myself to integrate that information into my next story really does keep me on my toes. It forces my mind to stay open and hopefully keeps my writing fresh. Sometimes, just one juicy new puzzle piece will totally change the direction of the story.

There’s one other benefit; I am a cornucopia of sometimes useless, but always fun, facts and stories to add a little zing to any family gathering or cocktail party….if I ever went to a cocktail party that is.

Meriam


MORNING MAGIC

MORNING MAGIC

$9.99eBook: $3.99
New Moon Beach is a charmed hamlet by the sea. But when Olivia Merriman returns home from college to open her dream shop, Mystique Creations, the entire town erupts in magical chaos. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Books-A-Million
Buy from Indie Bound

Meriam Wilhelm

Meriam Wilhelm

www.meriamwilhelm.com

The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it.  When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.

I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.

I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.

2 1 Read more

I Won’t Apologize For Being A Logophile!

April 20, 2017 by in category A Bit of Magic tagged as , ,

I am a full blooded, totally committed Logophile. It’s something I practice everyday and everywhere. In fact, I am so addicted to Logophilia that I carry a small floral notebook in my purse at all times to support my addiction.

Not familiar with the term? Neither was I. However, I was searching for the right word that would clearly define something that I do daily. The term Logophile comes from two Greek words – Logos which means words or speech and Philos which means dear or friendly. In short, a Logophile is someone who likes words very much. And I do.

However, my addiction to words centers more around the gathering of names. I am a dedicated name collector; not just normal names, but rather the unusual, ear catching ones. Whether I am in the airport, the hospital, the grocery store or my doctor’s office I am always listening for and recording unique names. I’ve even been known to collect a name or two off the billboards that overhang the Las Vegas Strip. As a writer, I use these names when I am searching for the perfect moniker for one of my characters.

For instance, Dr. Barleycorn is the nickname of my character, Matt Maxwell, who is a horticulturist in my book, Morning Magic. He’s an expert in growing things and since barley and corn are grown in the fields I decided to retrieve this name from my BookO’Names. I actually heard the real Dr. Barleycorn being paged at my local hospital years ago and I wrote his name down. Of course, I had numerous other options like Dr. Peachbottom, Dr. Driven and Dr. Roebust. But none of them seemed to fit Matt just right. I can’t wait to use the name Penelope Pendergast in my next book. I instantly fell in love with that name when I heard it in the airport in Europe. Penelope, if you’re out there – I love your name!

In my latest book, Sea Dreams, one of my central characters is named Thor Hudson. I adore the name Thor and was hoping that someday one of my kids would name one of their kids – Thor. We had a rousing discussion one night during which all but one of my children voted down the name. Since I guess I won’t have a grandson named Thor any time soon, I can at least have a favorite character with that name.

I also love to play with names by not spelling them in a traditional or expected way. I don’t do this to confuse, but rather to draw attention to the character themselves. Brady is a rather boring way of spelling a last name but Braidie certainly draws your eye and attention and that’s what I wanted my character to do.

My quest to gather names continues. As I was walking by the beach last week I heard a guy call out to his friend whose name was Templeton. Hmm, I like it. Not sure when I will use it, but it now holds a place on page 12 of my notebook. Can’t wait to dream up a character who will step up and own that handle!

Meriam WilhelmMeriam
www.meriamwilhelm.com

The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it.  When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.

I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.

I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.

1 1 Read more

A Namaste Revelation

March 20, 2017 by in category A Bit of Magic tagged as , , , , , ,

Woman doing yoga outsideI spent a couple of post retirement years writing full time and I had a blast. 5 books on parenting and 4 of my first fiction series – The Witches Of The New Moon Beach later, I felt fulfilled. However, I never anticipated how quickly I would gain weight and at the same time stiffen up from lack of movement. Oh sure, my fingers were regularly flying across the keyboard but my butt remained stationary for hours on end.

All three years I focused my energies on my writing. During that time I religiously avoided visiting my bathroom scale until one day when my doctor asked me to “step on up” and I froze. Yikes, I had gained ten, twenty… uh oh more pounds! What had happened? After all, I wasn’t a total slug. I had actually taken an occasional yoga class or two.

I knew that I had to make a change so I altered my eating habits, upped my yoga classes and increased my walking time. I poured myself into my black stretch pants and promised to stay faithful to my yoga master and my new found routine.

But wait! My weight gain was not my moment of enlightenment; at least not the one I want to talk about today.

Almost anyone can do yoga and I am surely an example of that. Moving from Mountain Poses to Yoga Backbends has taken some time, but I have actually started to enjoy it. I find myself centered and calmer as I leave the studio and that certainly has helped me with my writing focus. It was during one of my recent yoga sessions that I had this revelation of which I now speak.

Here it is – Practicing yoga and writing a book have a lot in common. I truly believe that as a byproduct of my self imposed, yoga packed, body limbering routine, I simultaneously improved both my body and my writing abilities!

According to the latest YOGA Journal the three segments that every yoga class should have include a slow warm up, a recognized theme and a slow cool down. Hmm, sounds similar to the elements of writing an article, story or book. 

Slow Warm Up– Just as a yoga master warms up their students through challenging stretches so do writers warm up their readers by introducing characters and locations to engage and stretch the imagination. While yoga teachers struggle to keep their students fully involved in their yoga practices – so do writers toil to keep readers connected to their story line. It’s important to mix up yoga poses and some sessions need to be more impactful than others. This is also true when writing a book. A good writer builds from scratch, keeping the action moving and creating momentum while making some passages more action packed than others. A solid warm up is critical to the success of yoga students and writers as they learn to stretch both body and mind.

Recognized Theme – While a yoga class may focus on leg stretches or balance enhancement a book must have an equally identifiable focus or theme. The writer must be able to clearly articulate a storyline. Whether completing a challenging yoga experience or typing the last words of a book, the benefits can be similar. Both can bring satisfaction -physical and mental.

Slow Cool Down – One can find a parallel between a yoga cool down session and the completion of a well written conclusion. A passionate yoga practitioner might expect to feel more limber, relaxed and properly aligned – both mentally and physically – upon completion of their workout. Upon creating a final passage, a writer could anticipate feeling mentally stretched, emotionally fulfilled and totally in tune with their thoughts. Of course, throughout the process, both activities can be potentially filled with frustration and challenge.

I found a couple of other similarities between yoga and writing. I have to work hard at both to achieve any success and neither come naturally to me. Upon completing a satisfying chapter or a fulfilling yoga class I experience a sense of calmness, mental clarity and satisfaction. Usually exhausted at the end of either, I quickly recharge. I am now fully committed to both as they bring me joy. And some of my best storyline twists and turns have actually come to me in the calm of my yoga studio.

Surely you too can add a bit of magic to your day. I would encourage anyone to take a yoga class and if your heart so desires – try writing. Over time, you are sure to find satisfaction in either or both. For me a side benefit is that the scale numbers are going down; something we can always talk about later.

Meriam
www.meriamwilhelm.com
Meriam Wilhelm
The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it. When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.

I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.

I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.

2 0 Read more
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