How Bedford Manor Got Its Name

When I purchased this house, there was no doubt I would name my small estate Bedford Manor. If I ever sell this plot and move, the new place will also be christened Bedford Manor. And probably every property I own after that.

Bedford Falls is the quaint hometown of George Bailey. Not sure what or whom I’m talking about? Only the greatest Christmas movie ever.

It's a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life

I adore the message in this movie: It’s not about the money. It’s about the people. And when you’re lower than the floor, you can do the Peter Panda Dance count on your people to be there for you, even after you’ve done your best to alienate them. It’s a Wonderful Life is about home.

Another reason I chose the title Bedford Manor is because of thirtysomething. That show back in the early 90s that everyone talked about. In my early 20s and away at college, there were two shows that my people and I watched without fail. Beverly Hills, 90210 and thirtysomething. Tuesdays and Thursdays were relegated to predictions while Wednesdays and Fridays brought great discussions about the inevitable bomb-dropping that occurred. I had a knack for predicting upcoming storylines. I wasn’t always right, but my peers and I certainly had fun dissecting the episodes before and after they aired.

thirtysomething was produced by Marshall Herskovitz’s company, Bedford Falls Productions. Who remembers the end-tag each week as we all sang “. . . and dance by the light of the moon . . .”?

Yup. Just another reason I wanted to live in a place called Bedford.

As you know from last week’s post, one of my favorite college courses was Mystery Writing 101. (It really was called that. Or maybe it was English 101 – Mystery Writing. I prefer the former.) That’s where I learned about novellas and hidden clues and solving crimes. And that’s where I picked up this book.

The aptly titled Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories (1988).

The aptly titled Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories (1988).

Which is still on my bookshelves. Only this week it’s being promoted to The Shelf — that special spot I keep available for my most favorite books and the ones I still use as reference. I call it The Shelf at Bedford Manor.

In mystery novels, elegant homes are often referred to as (this) Estate or (that) Manor. So when I started looking for a house to buy, it had to fit the title. Lo and behold, it does.

My home is cozy, clean, welcoming. A refuge from the desert (except that dratted sand lot of a yard!). An oasis to travelers far and near.

And while it’s not yet finished, I’m okay with that. Because Michael and Hope never finished their house no matter how often they went to work on the construction, decorating and all the other little and big things that go into turning a house into a home.

Bedford Manor means progress. It means togetherness. It means striving and thriving. It means I have a place to come home to. A place to work. A family waiting. And a world to explore.

I can be safe here, or daring. I can rest or run a mile.

Bedford Manor means open doors.

It means all the things that make me me.

Desk and chair set with old typewriter

My “new” workspace ~ a real desk!

And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!

You may also enjoy reading:
My Housing Project: Back to the Beginning
I am Defined. And I am a Mystery.
You’re Gonna Make It After All.

I am Defined. And I am a Mystery.

Last week, I had the honor of meeting and speaking with two very exceptional writers.

As a member of the local California Writer’s Club, I attend monthly gatherings to network with other local writers and hear from a guest speaker who shares his/her experiences and advice.

Just over a week ago, we had special meeting. Because Victoria Zackheim and Anne Perry were in town.

Meeting Anne Perry & Victoria Zackheim

Meeting Anne Perry & Victoria Zackheim

Who are they, you ask? Just two of the best women writers on the market today. No, I’m not exaggerating. Victoria writes, edits, and teaches at UCLA. Anne’s books have sold over 30,000,000 worldwide. So no. I’m not exaggerating.

Y’all know I’m working on four books as we speak. I realize some people call this lunacy, but it works for me (the writing part. Not the crazy part. Well . . . maybe a little bit of that last one). Two are the compilation books, one is the fantasy and the last is NOLA.

A photo collage of online resources to inspire me while writing my story set in New Orleans, Louisiana.

NOLA Inspiration

I have each plotted out from beginning to end. The only thing left is to finish the writing.

Except I’ve been stuck with NOLA. I have the beginning, some of the middle, and the end. But I couldn’t figure out how to get from A to E because I didn’t know B, C or D.

And then I heard Anne Perry. And I talked with her and Victoria. And I realized, I’m writing a mystery novel. It’s always been a mystery. I’d just not identified it before.

It was like eating the first bite of a cake you just baked. It was like taking that first sip of coffee that you brewed in your new Keurig. It was like opening my eyes to see where I already knew I was.

Beignet with powdered sugar on green and white checkerboard paper

My not-from-Cafe-de-Monde Beignet

When I talked with Victoria and Anne, I realized I’m writing a mystery novel. And the lights turned on. I know now how to get from A to B to C . . . all the way to Z. I know now that I need to introduce a few more characters and expand on those already in the story.

When I was in college, my favorite class was a Mystery Novel Writing class. We read The Maltese Falcon and watched the film. We read Tony Hillerman. We analyzed Double Indemnity.

Lately, I’ve been remembering that class and the material. So I watched Double Indemnity the other night. It’s a fine mystery movie. I looked at my bookshelf. I have quite a collection of mystery novels. Many by Stephen J. Cannell. Wait . . . what? Stephen Cannell’s a mystery writer? How did I not turn that light bulb on before? Collecting his books, reading them, meeting and talking with him about writing . . . and for some reason I blanked out on the mystery part? There’s another breath of fresh air. My mentor was a mystery writer.

Stephen Cannell & I

Stephen Cannell & I (2010)

I’d already started rewriting NOLA based on input from my critique group (another benefit of being a member of the California Writer’s Club). I need to add more dialogue. It’s okay to jump into a scene instead of leading up to it. And never, ever mention a dead body unless there’s some sort of follow-up.

Yes. I’ve finally identified who I am.

And I am a mystery writer.

And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!

You may also enjoy reading:
Why I Write. Every Day.
What’s Your Writing Style? Creatively Overcoming Writer’s Block
Five Things Friday: THE BIG EASY