Saturday, April 21, 2012

The name of this blog, The Literary Leotard, marries two sides of me: fitness professional and writer. There really are more than two sides - I’m also a wife, mother and grandmother and completely enjoy wearing those three hats! But, this blog is focusing on the first two.

Actually, I explained all this in my first blog post, but when I went on my blogger Dashboard, which is supposed to have all my posts, I can't find that one. It's lost in cyberspace! So, here I go again.
I use the word “leotard” for the fitness side. I’ve been a fitness professional for thirty years, certified as a Group Exercise Instructor and a Medical Exercise Specialist. But, I threw out the leotards and tights about 15 years ago. Now it’s sweat pants and tee shirts – and definitely not leg warmers. My clients and I have aged and leotards just aren’t going to make it anymore. Sweatpants and tee shirts are so much more comfortable.

Now for the literary side. Liz Bergen, the protagonist in my novel, FLOURISH, also ages as the story unfolds, and like I changed my leotard, she changes her clothes, too. When the story opens Liz is at the tail end of her hippy phase still wearing her red bandana to wipe the sweat from her brow while she’s out picking grapes in her vineyard, but as the story unfolds she changes into more appropriate business attire. It wouldn't look right to show up in jeans and a bandana when your accepting a gold medal award.

Liz's huband, Dick, had walked out of their sixteen year marriage right before harvest time leaving her with two children, a vineyard full of grapes, full to bursting, and no one to pick the fruit or make it into wine. She found support in her friend, Bobbi, a young mother who helped out at the winery a few hours a week when she needed a break from her toddler twins and asked her to become her winemaker. Bobbi had no formal education in enology, but that didn't stop her. Together, they promised to give themselves one year to make the vineyard work. Liz's dad came to help, but she knew the three of them weren't enough. With nowhere else to turn,  she walked down her mile long lane and knocked on neighbors' doors asking the local stay-at-home moms for help.

The women came!

 When FLOURISH gets published you'll be able to read what happens over the next 25 years, all the challanges the women face: how Liz almost loses an arm pressing grapes, how their red wines won't turn red and how they used lingerie in place of oak barrels. You'll watch the women become a family and nurture the vines as mothers nurture their children and just as grapes grow from tender vines into mature wines, you'll see Liz and the women grow and create new identities for themselves.  

Here's a picture of Liz's vineyard at harvest time. Notice the yellow crates? Below is an excerpt from chapter 1, Road to Harvest. You'll find out what those crates are for.

There was a constant murmur reverberating throughout the vineyard. Her heart swelled as she overheard snippets of conversations. “Isn’t this place beautiful?” and “These grapes have the most delicious aroma.”“It’s so relaxing up here.” But she couldn’t help laughing to herself at the outfits a few of the women were wearing. Where did they think they were working today, in a bank? Then, her eyes shot open as she spotted a woman in jeans and a bra. No shirt! She shrugged her shoulders. Oh well, as long as the crates fill up, what do I care?

A soft calm wrapped its arms around her; everyone was so nice. So helpful.   Remembering that in two weeks the Seyval would be ready for picking, and after that, Vidal Blanc and Cayuga White, she whispered a prayer. “Please, everybody, come back. Just get me through this year’s harvest.” After that she’d have to tackle the winemaking and the bottling and the labeling. And so much more.

 Later, as she walked through the rows picking up the full bright yellow plastic crates, each laden with 35 pounds of grapes, and hefting them up onto the wagon, Liz sang along with all the other voices coming from the vineyard, like a hootenanny from back in her high school days when she won “Best Looking” for the Class of ’66.


  1. I loved the writing. Liz sounds like my kind of woman. Love the pic. Makes me want to be there. T Cat Taylor

  2. I love the marriage of your two sides, that of the fitness professional you are and the writer.