What’s in My Purse?

The Wednesday Writers are back! We took July off because so many of us were going to the RWA National Conference in San Diego. Oddly enough, there’s actually a connection between that event and the contents of my purse.

.WW August 16


I have for years carried way too much junk around in one oversized purse after another. Way back in high school (in a previous century), I had a shelf full of purses and changed them frequently to match my outfits. I guess that seemed important back then, and I probably had less to carry around. Definitely no phone or camera, probably a wallet, a hair brush, school supplies, and a paperback novel.


Now I buy a purse and use it for months, until something breaks or I get bored and crave a new one. And for years I’ve been very particular about purses: must have three sections, with a zipper on the middle one, so many pockets, some place to clip my keys on, and so forth. All very well, and all rather large. I bought a new one earlier this summer, and realized it was closer to a tote bag than a hand bag.


Heading for San Diego in July, I decided I needed a small purse, something easy to carry, that would hold my large wallet, my new smartphone (also rather large), my Kindle, and a few other odds and ends. And I discovered I really liked it, but when I got home it was just a bit too small for everyday use.


So I went out and bought a slightly larger purse in the same style: one section, a couple of outside pockets, a couple of inside pockets, and someplace to hang my keys. And I set out to declutter my purse.


No need for that big notebook, not every day anyway. Cut the fourteen pens down to five. Ditch the address book—I’ve put all that information in my phone. Ditto the shopping list. And the calendar. (Heck, that’s why I spent all that money on the phone, isn’t it? I don’t make many calls, but I sure like having a little computer in my purse!)


PurseNow I’m down to wallet, phone, checkbook (I could probably leave that at home), keys, extra sunglasses (clip ons, I keep my regular pair in the car), aspirin, bandana (for cleaning my glasses), tissues (smallest possible package, highest cost per tissue), five pens and two styluses (styli?), lipstick (the extent of my make up needs), chapstick, hand cream, nail file and clipper, magnifying glass and measuring tape (don’t take up much room), extra car and house keys, clip on watch (I don’t wear one, and with the new phone I probably don’t need the purse watch), and a hair brush. If I need something to read, my Kindle fits in there, too.


With a little effort (or a smaller wallet) I could probably downsize even further. Maybe back down to the purse I bought for the conference. Maybe I could even pick up a couple of other colors and change them now and then. Maybe . . .


Stop by and see what Tammy Baumann, Wendy LaCapra, Priscilla Oliveras, Carol Post, and Tosha Sumner have been carrying around in their purses.

Writer Wednesday: What Makes a Romantic Date?


My idea of a romantic date? What’s a date? Oh, yeah, I remember. Vaguely. It’s been a long time. But we’re talking about ideas here, right? So I’d vote for a good meal and a long conversation.

That’s not exactly how my first date with Jack went, several decades ago.

We’d met, at least enough to nod and say hello, in an 8 AM anthropology class at Florida State. It was a graduate level class. I was a senior and had the prerequisites to be there. Jack was a junior (although he was twenty years older than me, a returning student) and didn’t belong in the class. I have no idea how he managed to register, but he could talk his way into (or out of) just about anything.

I think the class was Ethnology 401, rather sleep-inducing at that hour, and I paid very little attention to the students around me. Jack noticed me, but when he decided to look me up, he ran into a problem. My name wasn’t spelled like it sounded, and he couldn’t find me through the registrar’s office. So one day he followed me home from school. Today that sounds like stalking, but back then it was funny, not strange or scary.

I’m sure we talked a bit, maybe had a coke or something, but our first date was a visit to the North Florida State Fair. That was fine with me—junk food, animals, carnival rides, the fair had it all.

We started out by getting in the wrong line. For everything. No matter where we were, the other lines moved faster. But what the heck, it was a lovely fall night, and we were in no hurry. We wandered around, admiring enormous hogs and baby lambs, and watching the other people, as many local folk as students. We ate junk food. We went on carnival rides.

I love carnival rides (well, I did back then—it’s been quite a while), the music, the feeling of flying through the air. I didn’t find out until much later than Jack hated them. While I was soaring through the heavens, he was frantically examining the structure, looking for loose bolts or tie bars about to fail.

We topped off the evening with a flat tire on the way home, on a country road with no artificial light and a moon that insisted on hiding behind passing clouds. Good thing Jack was driving a little two-seater Fiat at the time. I watched him change the tire while I held a cigarette lighter to illuminate the detail work.

Jack, circa 1992It probably says something about our marriage that in later years he watched me change a tire or two. That first date may not have been traditionally romantic, but it was the beginning of a relationship that lasted thirty-three years, until Jack died in 2002. We must have gotten something right, to share all those Valentine’s Days.

For more Wednesday Writers and their ideas of Romantic Dates, visit Tamra Baumann, Priscilla Oliveras, Shelly Alexander, Sharon Wray, Jean Willett, KD Fleming, and Wendy La Capra.

Writer Wednesday: Naming Names

Our Writer Wednesday topic this month is “tell us you favorite character name,” but I couldn’t think of one, WW Octobereither as a reader or as a writer. But names are important, and for a writer they require quite a bit of thought, and sometimes just as much planning.

Many of my favorite keeper books are science fiction, because I enjoy the world building. And names are often part of that world building. Character names in books like Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern, or Marion Zimmer Bradley’s tales of Darkover often tell the reader quite a bit about family, social position, or occupation.

I find I can’t write about a character until I know his or her “true name.” From time to time I have realized that I simply can’t remember a supporting character’s name, a sure sign that whatever name I stuck the poor soul with is the wrong one. I like to play with names, and sometimes they take on an extra layer of meaning. In one of my manuscripts, the heroine is called Liz, short for Elizabeth, and the fact that the Spanish version of her name is Isabel becomes an important plot point. In another story, the heroine calls herself Charlie, but the hero, a European with a formal streak, always addresses her by her proper name, Charlotte.

Sometimes a character’s true name never shows up, suggesting that there’s something else about the Columbo & Dogcharacter that isn’t working. That thought reminded me of Lieutenant Columbo, who never had a first name, and his dog, who never had a name at all. Columbo tried out several names for the dog during the series, but none of them seemed to work, and the dog remained Dog. Come to think of it, Mrs. Columbo didn’t have a first name, either.

On the other hand, I’ve recently been reading a series of old-fashioned Regency romances, originally published in the 1990s, in which nearly all the male characters have at least three names, first, last, and title(s). How other people address these men speaks to relationships and social position. People in contemporary stories are generally casual about names, but in historical tales, arriving at a first name relationship may be a major romantic milestone.

Do you have a favorite character name? Or are there names that push your buttons and make you put a book down? For more thoughts on names, visit Wednesday Writers Sharon Wray, Lauren Christopher, Natalie Meg Evans, and Wendy La Capra (and be sure to check out Wendy’s upcoming release, Duchess Decadence).