Wednesday writer: Fran Larkin

Fran SmilingNAME: Fran Larkin
PLACE OF ORIGIN: Harwich, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod
CURRENT BASE: Newburyport, Massachusetts
FIELDS: Self-help, motivational, memoir
NEWEST BOOK: 5 Words and Then Some (How to succeed in this big game we call life)
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: This is more than a book. It’s hope and inspiration. And it gives everyone, especially graduates, a road map on how to succeed in life. It can be ordered in any bookstore and is available from Amazon and on Kindle and Nook.

THE TELLING DETAILS

What prompts you to write? I have 35 years of business experience and 67 years of life experience. I just want to give that back in a variety of writing forms.

How do you go about working? I write when I feel like or when a thought or story strikes me.

Your goals? I hope to publish my second book, a memoir called Cape Cod Forever, next year and complete several short stories I have ideas for. I will also continue to write poetry and general topics on my two blogs.

What attracts you to the genre you work within? I work in multiple genres, and they are all related to giving back .

Outliner or pantser? Pantser.

Early bird or night owl? Early bird — up around 6 a.m.

Identity? Enthusiastic and vivacious.

I have lived in both the city and the country and like them both. Ideally, I would like to live on a horse farm in the country and enjoy the quiet, peacefulness, and solitude.

How has your other employment influenced your identity and/or work as a writer? When I worked at IBM, I put together a lot of presentations and wrote comedy skits for our office meetings.

What do you collect? Tabletop baseball, basketball, and football games played with dice and charts.

What is the weirdest space you’ve ever written in? If I am not writing in our family room, I have written during some open mics when some thoughts have hit me.

Does the space where do you usually write have a window? Yes.

How does place of residence or surrounding environment affect your writing? It doesn’t.

As for a getaway or travel opportunity? Italy. I can’t wait to see Rome and go to Pompeii.

Name one thing that makes you angry. Long lines and waits.

Something you’d change if you could? Eliminate poverty and Alzheimer’s.

What most annoys you in others’ writing? Nothing. I respect it all.

What do you do as a spiritual or artistic practice? I paint, draw, and reflect on beach walks.

Magic or mystery? Mystery.

Favorite bliss? Vacationing with family every summer.

Favorite charity? Pennies for Poverty.

Social cause or activity? Poverty and Alzheimer’s.

Do you cook? Yes, BBQ on my smoker.

What comfort food would match your mood now? Ribs and brisket.

At the top of your favorite foods list? Lobster, steamers, and fried clams.

What food item would you not eat even if it’s offered? (Gag food?) Lima beans.

Coffee or tea? Coffee,

Beer or wine? Beer, although I love champagne.

Dog or cat? Dog.

Favorite color? Yellow.

Any favorite food writers or local hangouts? Bobby Flay. Bob Lobster and Nancy’s Marshside.

Describe your significant other in one word or phrase. Fantastic.

What is something you like about your appearance? I have little hair to worry about!

Any regrets? I should have played high school baseball.

Any tattoos? No

Favorite age? Current.

Who’s the favorite character you’ve created? Elmore Root.

When it comes to writing, who do you turn to for energy or inspiration or admire the most? Robert F. Kennedy. His Works of Our Hands or Day of Affirmation speech he gave in South Africa in 1967 is my favorite and I keep it on my bedside table.

What question would you most like to ask others? What’s your latest discovery?

What question would you most like to be asked, as well as your answer? What does it take to succeed in life? Hard work, enthusiasm, positive attitude, perseverance, and having fun doing it.

And your latest discovery? I like to write.

A FAVORITE SAMPLE

A Christmas Story

 Christmas Eve day

Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, is a town of a couple of thousand people in the southwest corner of the state. It is a picturesque New England town, founded a few hundred years ago. It has a beautiful Rhododendron State Park that people come to from all the state in July to see them bloom. And it has one of the oldest granite quarries in the state. Away from the town center are many old farms with views to the west of the Berkshires. It has a beautiful town common with 12 antique buildings that ring the common and several are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. And one of those buildings is the Congregational Church. And something special has happened in that church every Christmas Eve for the past 10 years.

Christmas Eve service, 4 p.m.

John Logan and Bill Horton were the two ushers in the church. They can both trace their ancestors back to the original Scottish settlers in the 1700s. John is retired now and lives in a beautiful farmhouse outside of town. He and his wife Lizzy own 20 acres, have a small pond on the property and views to kill for, looking off to the southwest toward the Berkshires. Bill runs the general store on the common. His wife died a few years ago. He says it keeps him busy. He lives in a small Cape a few miles out of town on Lower Troy Road.

“Do you think he will come again?”

“Well, we say it’s a he. Maybe it’s a her or a them,” Bill said.

“It’s been 10 years now. Every Christmas Eve service has had $2,000 in the collection basket or in the poor box at the back of the church.”

“And one year the envelope was left on the table in the back of the church under the bulletin board.”

“There are always 20 $100 bills in the envelope and a note that says ‘For the children in need in Fitzwilliam.'”

“I’ve never heard of this happening in any other town around here,” Bill said.

“Me neither,” said John.

The crowd was beginning to file in. It was a popular service. People came from all over the southern part of the state, and cars in the parking lot had Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine plates as well. One year there was even a New York plate.

“Do you think it’s someone from town? Or someone from out of state?”

“Who knows.When we do that special holiday collection after the end of the services, I always keep my eyes open, looking for that envelope being deposited. But I never see it.”

“Me neither,” said Bill.

It’s a beautiful Christmas service. The church is decorated inside and out by the local Mothers’ Club and the garden club. And the church choir practices all year for this day. People are standing in the aisles and in the back of the church.

A little after 5 the service was over, and downstairs in the church hall is a holiday reception. Lots of homemade cookies, breads, punch and coffee, all prepared by the ladies of the church. Upstairs Bill and John were counting the money from the collection and the poor box and getting ready to deposit it in the bank, when they saw it.

“There’s an envelope. It looks like the ones from the other years. Open it up, Bill.”

Bill took the envelope and sure enough, there were 20 $100 bills and a printed note that just said “for the children in need in Fitzwilliam. May they have a merry Christmas.”

“Unbelievable. Who does this? I didn’t see anyone. How do they do this without anyone noticing them?”

“Well, we know what to do. Let’s go down and get a cup of coffee and a cookie or two, deposit the collection money, and then get to work,” said Bill.

Christmas Eve

A few minutes after the services were over, a red Ford 150 was driving south out of Fitzwilliam on Route 12 heading to Massachusetts. The driver had found a Dunkin Donuts before they closed at 6 p.m. for Christmas Eve and bought a medium coffee for the ride. After about an hour and a half drive, the Ford pulled into the driveway of a modest 3-bedroom Cape set on about half an acre. Christmas lights were on outside the house on the bushes and he could see the Christmas tree lit up in the living room window. The driver went inside and could smell homemade chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven.

“How did it go,” his wife said.

“Great,” said the driver. “I deposited the envelope in the collection basket this time. I don’t think they noticed. It was pretty crowded.”

The driver poured a tall glass of Bailey’s Irish Cream over the rocks and had a couple of those delicious cookies.

“Well, it’s a pretty nice thing you do every year,” the wife said to the driver.

The driver said, “We’ve been so fortunate. We both had good jobs, we saved our money, the kids are grown up and moved out, plus we have Social Security and our pensions. And the mortgage is paid off. So we have some extra money. One in 5 kids in this country lives in poverty. We can’t help them all, but a few kids in Fitzwilliam will have a special Christmas.”

And back in Fitzwilliam, John and Bill did what they had done every Christmas Eve for the past 10 years. They wrapped presents for a few hours. And they knew who in town was hurting, who had been laid off, who was sick, who had lost a spouse.

Christmas morning

And early Christmas morning several families in Fitzwilliam looked out their front doors and saw packages wrapped in a red ribbon with Merry Christmas emblazoned on the ribbon.

And on Upper Troy Road, Billy got that Lionel train set. And on Richmond Road Tracy got Disney Frozen Sparkle Dolls, and out Route 119 Sam got that baseball board game from Replay Games. And Johnny got a football board game from Plaay.com. And Jimmy got Lincoln Logs and an Erector set. And Mary got an Arts and Crafts Supply Center. And in several other houses, young children got special presents. The parents couldn’t believe it. They stood in their living rooms, watching the kids play with their presents, the excitement in their eyes, and looked at each other in amazement and said “Maybe there really is a Santa Claus.”

And early Christmas morning several families in Fitzwilliam looked out their front doors and saw packages wrapped in a red ribbon with Merry Christmas emblazoned on the ribbon.

And on Upper Troy Road, Billy got that Lionel train set. And on Richmond Road Tracy got Disney Frozen Sparkle Dolls, and out Route 119 Sam got that baseball board game from Replay Games. And Johnny got a football board game from Plaay.com. And Jimmy got Lincoln Logs and an Erector Set. And Mary got an Arts and Crafts Supply Center. And in several other houses, young children got special presents. The parents couldn’t believe it. They stood in their living rooms, watching the kids play with their presents, the excitement in their eyes, and looked at each other in amazement and said “Maybe there really is a Santa Claus.”

 ~*~

And you thought Christmas was over? Not when it comes to Fran’s enthusiastic and generous outlook on life! 

5words_LR~*~

Wednesday Writer is a weekly feature profiling devoted writers of all stripes, most of them laboring outside the celebrity spotlight. To my mind, they are the lifeblood of the literary world, both as active readers and exponents of the empowered word.

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