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Author and Strong Woman Ann Parker guests today about SISTERS on Writing Strong Women. She also guests on Writing Strong Women at Blog Talk Radio. Airing today at 1:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time. Of course, if you miss the broadcast you can pick it up in the archives and listen at your convenience. Her Sisters story is powerful, and one which most women who have sisters, whether by blood or by choice, can relate to and smile. (My sister and I certainly can!)

Ann Parker is a California-based science/corporate writer by day and an historical mystery writer by night. Her award-winning Silver Rush series, featuring saloon-owner Inez Stannert, is set in 1880s Colorado, primarily in the silver-mining boomtown of Leadville. The latest in her series, MERCURY’S RISE, will be released November 1.


Sisters is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.  ~Margaret Mead 

When I began my Silver Rush historical mystery series, one of the things I did was “gift” my main character, Leadville saloon-owner Inez Stannert, with a younger sister. Nearly a full decade separates Inez and Harmony, and yet Harmony is the family member that Inez turns to for help when she must send her young son William away from Leadville. Harmony is the one who takes in William, the one to whom Inez pours her heart out (albeit circumspectly) in letters. Missives between Inez and Harmony fly back and forth as the sisters console and confide in each other throughout the series.

Out of all the topics I have researched for my books, the one where I drew mostly from my own heart is the sisterly relationship between Inez and Harmony.

I have my own little sister, Alison, and our relationship as my guide. Alison certainly belongs in this blog focused on Strong Women, for she is one of the strongest women I know. We have been on the sisterhood “journey” for more than five decades now, and my love, admiration, and respect for her continues to grow.

Of course, it wasn’t always so.

I am older by almost three years, exactly.  I don’t recall Alison as a baby, although one nicely posted photo has the two of us, Alison as infant, me as young child, smiling companionably, eyes directed stage left (probably at a toy held aloft by the photographer). I recall very little from our early years together: Alison’s head, ruffled with curls, as she lay sleeping in the trundle bed that slid out from under my own bedstead. There’s one horrifying old home movie in which Alison is toddling along in front of our old home and I race up to her on a tricycle, only to screech to a stop at the last moment, after which Alison plunks down to the sidewalk on her diapered rear. (At least, I hope I stopped short. Scrutinizing the silent, grainy film, I find it’s hard to tell whether she lost her balance from the surprise or whether I actually bumped her.)

Sharing a room for fifteen-plus years, we diverged early and definitively. She was the “artistic one,” I was the “bookish one.” (Witness the photos: Alison with paints, me with a book.) I was disorganized and messy. Alison was neat, everything had its place. (My “place” for things was under the bed). The only way to keep a sort of peace in that shared space was to draw a line down the middle of the room. Later on, our differences crept into the audible zone: Alison loved rock and roll: the Beatles, the Monkees, the Rolling Stones. I preferred classical: Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart. There were screaming fights over things I no longer recall—in one spectacular incident, a face was slapped and a chair was thrown (I shall not divulge who did what: it will remain a “mystery for the reader.” 😉  )… In retrospect, we seemed just bound and determined to annoy each other!

Time passed, and we left the turbulent teens years behind. We no longer share a room or even a residence. Alison moved to New York, I stayed West. She became an artist, I became a writer. We went our “separate ways” but have grown closer even so. I treasure the times we have together and the bond we now share: texting/emailing, and talking on the phone, plus the times we manage to arrange “face time” with each other, flitting cross country to opposite coasts. We share a common history, a common language, a common memory.

Alison is also a survivor of ovarian cancer—not once, but THREE times over. I marvel at her resilence, her determination, and treasure our times together on this coast or that. I am in awe of the strength of my little sister, and learn from her, even as we grow older. What a journey it’s been. Pam Brown, an Australian poet (who I’ll bet has a sister) sums it up nicely in this quote:

Sisters annoy, interfere, criticize.  Indulge in monumental sulks, in huffs, in snide remarks.  Borrow.  Break.  Monopolize the bathroom.  Are always underfoot.  But if catastrophe should strike, sisters are there.  Defending you against all comers. 

Alison is there for me, no matter what, and she knows that I am always there for her… no matter what. We laugh, we sympathize, we share, we learn from each other.

There are, thankfully, no more lines down the middle of the room.

For after all, they are sisters. (SDS)


Ann Parker is a California-based science/corporate writer by day and an historical mystery writer by night. Her award-winning Silver Rush series, featuring saloon-owner Inez Stannert, is set in 1880s Colorado, primarily in the silver-mining boomtown of Leadville. The latest in her series, MERCURY’S RISE, will be released November 1.

Leave a comment on this post to be eligible to win one of Ann’s Silver Rush mystery books!

Sisters–especially when they are both strong women–aren delightful, infuriating, fun, worrisome and wonderful!


18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Cynthia Herrmann #

    I can’t wait to read your next book! Inez was so fortunate to have someone she trusted so completely who was willing to care for William.

    I always wanted to be an only child; it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I could appreciate my sisters – and then, only the ones that had already left home. Geographically, we’re scattered, but with free long distance phone time, email, and Facebook, we remain connected.

    September 26, 2011
  2. Ann #

    Hi Sylvia!
    Thanks so much for hosting me at the start of my mini blog book tour. It’s wonderful to have a chance to “pay tribute” to one of the strongest, most influential women in my life: my sister.

    September 26, 2011
    • You are most welcome, Ann. A delightful story of sisters–reminds me so much of mine!

      September 26, 2011
  3. Oh that quote says it all. My older sister was my hero, my adviser, my counsel and my friend. We have fought, made up, fought again, not spoken, spoken too much and even cast each other off permanently.

    But despite our combined efforts to dissolve our friendship, it has remained, tattered, torn and even threadbare, but always, a solid link between us. Strong, resilient and a constant stabilizer in a unsteady world.

    September 26, 2011
  4. Me, too, Karyne. My sister and I fought like cats and dogs as teenagers–and it was all her fault (see my tongue in my cheek!), but she tells a different story–but yes, the one constant in my life!!

    September 26, 2011
  5. Great post about sisters. I have 5 of them and wouldn’t trade in a single one even though we have widely divergent opinions now about just about everything. It makes me sad that my own daughter doesn’t have a sister.

    September 26, 2011
    • Sharon, I have one sister, and my daughter got three brothers instead. She always wanted a sister–but alas! However, she does have a neat friend that helps!!

      September 26, 2011
  6. I am an only child and, growing up, always wanted a big brother for some reason. Now, however, I ache for a sister. I do now have a sister-in-law, which is probably where the feeling comes from: we are very different but get on reasonably well, however I just can’t completely trust her with confidences that I would share with a biological sister.

    My wip features teenage sisters and I’m enjoying writing their relationship. They’re very close, so I’ll have to remember to add some sulking and fighting to make it more realistic. Thanks for the pointers!

    September 26, 2011
  7. Ann #

    So wonderful to read about other folks and their sisters—real and imagined sisters, that is! I too enjoy exploring the fictional relationship between my protagonist Inez and her younger sister Harmony, the conflicts and the closeness. Thanks, everyone, for sharing your stories!

    September 26, 2011
  8. Carol-Lynn Rössel #

    What a delightful story! I’ve no sister, but a loverly brother. As we’ve aged, funnily, my daughter and I have become rather like sisters.

    September 27, 2011
  9. Ann #

    Hi Carol-Lynn!
    As my daughter nears adult-hood, I find that our relationship is also shifting in that direction. And lest I leave out the brothers … I have two, and they are lovely human beings. 🙂 Thinking about it, the specialness of the sister relationship we have could partly be due to the fact that we arrived numbers one and two in the birth order, so had some “alone time” together before the boys arrived (and we had to share that room!). 😉 My sister promised to drop by the site and chime in… She’s a busy woman, so we’ll see if she manages to add a comment over the next couple days.

    September 27, 2011
  10. Barbara Bibel #

    I have two younger sisters and they are both wonderful. Now that we are all grown up with children and one of us is a grandmother we have even more to share and enjoy.

    September 27, 2011
  11. Alison Parker #

    I am a bit at a loss for words (my sister does a much better job of putting thoughts “down on paper” than I), but I do want to express my deep love and gratitude for having such a caring and talented sister! Ann has been there for me in a way that no one else could. Thank you, sis for writing such a wonderful story about our lives together. I have no memory of the trundle bed or the tricycle incident, but I do recall our infamous slap/throw chair fight (your secret is safe with me!) and the line down the middle of the room. Ah, the memories! Pretty amazing we made it through the tough times to become the best of friends.
    Many thanks again for the loving heartfelt words, and your support and encouragement through the tough times. And I hope our continued journey in life together as sisters will bring us more joy, laughter and shared memories. xoxo!

    September 28, 2011
    • Alison, my sister and I have some of those stories, too, and our take is different from each side!! Guess our memory cells protect us from the real truth sometimes–which is usually right down the middle!

      September 28, 2011
  12. Ann #

    Hello Barbara,
    We haven’t hit that point yet, but I recently went back East with my daughter, and the three of us were able to spend some “women time” together. It was great! And since my sister and daughter are both artists, they have a very strong bond, which makes me very happy. 🙂

    September 28, 2011
  13. Ann #

    Hello Alison!
    Welcome to the blog-o-sphere! 😀 And thank YOU for giving the go-ahead to share our story, because it’s *our* story, and I wouldn’t put it out “on the airwaves” without you being a-okay with it. Wow, those photos sure bring back memories… thanks for the love, the hugs, the laughs and, yeah, even the fights, because we wouldn’t’ve grown into the women we now are without all that and more. yer sister, ann

    September 28, 2011



    October 3, 2011
  15. Alison Parker #

    Thanks for the warm welcome, sister! It’s been fun looking back and remembering. We can laugh at all the drama now! Many hugs back to you on the west coast.

    October 10, 2011

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