Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Evolution Of Hot And Heavy Work

If you haven't heard from me for a while, it's because I'm into hot and heavy work ... edits (major and minor) surrounding my novel ... TELEVENGE. Since returning from my Thanksgiving trip, I've buried myself in my novel. My goal ... submit by Spring. Spring is a broad term as far actual dates, but still ... Spring. Therefore, every waking minute available, I'm working on the novel.

Yesterday was a 16-hour day. I dragged myself to bed at 2 a.m. And still, the story rumbled through my head like an oncoming storm. I like what's happening, however. I'm thrilled when I tighten a chapter even more and it works. I toast myself with whatever I'm drinking at the time when I find hidden and unnecessary backstory. I get goosebumps finding the perfect word that has eluded me since the third draft. And I hug myself when I decide ... I'm writing this the way it needs to be written, not the way an editor thinks it should be written. Okay, I break some rules, but I know why I'm breaking them.

But I damn well know the rules of the craft I can't break. This is draft number 7 and by God, I'm landing on my feet with this one. And yet ... I know there will probably be at least one more quick rewrite before the final send off. Do I want the brass ring? Doesn't every writer?

Yes, I'm still promoting Southern Fried Women. It's doing very well, thank you, in fact ... it's like a recipe you try and don't expect much and WOW! It's a hit! I intend to speak at least once or twice a week at venues ... talking about SFW and wetting appetites for TELEVENGE.

But as I look back, this novel has been 15 years in the making. I began making notes and outlining the manuscript in 1991. But the story evolved as my life evolved. Time passed, I kept writing. Pieces of the story languished in typewriters, in drawers, in my head, and on yellow notepads. An overheard word, phrase, and a Southern-sounding name written on a napkin, intended for the manuscript, was found stuck in an old purse several years later during a move.

Stacks of spiral notebooks filled with scenes from Part I, cluttered the bottom of my file cabinet for years. Rewrites of outlines, chapters, character sketches littered my box marked, "FOR THE BOOK."

More changes in my life and major changes in the book occurred simultaneously. Working a full-time job left little time, other than weekends and occasional nights for changing or adding a sentence, a chapter, a word or two. But still, the story never faded from view. Never.

Every so often, another character, another chapter appeared on paper. Not a week went by for years, but what I wrote something for this massive work. It grew over time; the magnitude of it often overwhelmed me. Taking classes, working on the craft, throwing away the first and second drafts. Traveling all over the country to learn from the experts, one writing conference after another. I almost quit a time or two, convinced it was all crap.

Oddly, the story evolved again and at the strangest times. Got tighter, clearer, I "found my character's Achilles' heel and stomped on it" a time or two. I remember writing sixteen pages of TELEVENGE longhand in an airport. Tucking a notebook full of opposing outlines into my briefcase and missing my lunch over a period of weeks - cutting scenes and rewriting the entire second part of the book.

I remember writing when I should've been preparing payroll. Laboring over Chapter 33 for a whole week, when I needed to be compiling marketing material for my department. I also recall sitting in a writing conference in New York City, pulling out the synopsis, and tearing it up. Several days worth of work ... thrown in trash.

I remember sitting across from a literary agent, telling me the title sucked and that I needed to rename the book. So I told her to give it a shot. She did. And it was brilliant. Unconditional became TELEVENGE. (Looking back, it really did suck.)

I put the book on the shelf for a year, taking it down only occasionally. Wrote like a maniac for six months, then put it on the shelf again. Attended critique groups. Spent big bucks on a full edit of the first 100 pages. I read Donald Maass's book and the accompanying workbook on Writing The Breakout Novel. Twice. And then a third time. Then decided, as much as I respect him and like him, I don't agree with everything he says. And that's okay. I don't have to.

In addition to Don's book, I skimmed over a dozen other books on writing in addition to all my classroom work. The books pretty much said the same things to varying degrees. So I kept on writing.

I think of the professionals that wanted to chop here, and delete there, add this, subtract that ... I remember sitting at a table in front of Don Maass who laughed at the monster manuscript. I, however, only glared at that 4th draft of over 1,000 pages and cried.

Over a year ago, I stopped working on the sixth draft on a daily basis (only opening the file every once in a while.) Southern Fried Women took priority for a while. I finished the short stories, found a publisher, and began promoting it ... and now here I am. It's coming down to the end of this long journey. Should I have trashed the novel years ago? Or is it my destiny? How many books have I started and not finished because TELEVENGE calls me to attention every time? I have other books in me, yes, some nearly done. But this one has gripped my heart with a firm hand. It's the book many professionals declare you should write and throw out. "Get that first novel off your chest. Write the sucker and throw it out."

Yet, the green light is still on. I can't help but believe when you know, without a doubt, that there's a higher power involved in finishing a book like this ... you don't throw it out. You finish it. You take it all the way.

And so ... I am. I will do my part and pour myself into the story, one more time. Making it as perfect as I can make it. Then I will leave this book in God's hands. In the meantime, I've got some hot and heavy work ahead of me tonight.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Taste of Thai and Ihop

Last night's speech, given to the Southern Guilford New Generation Rotary, was delivered at the Taste of Thai Restaurant. A warm group of Rotarians listened intently and received me with open arms and ... they purchased my book. I love Rotary clubs. They get it. They really do. A growing group, this small but active Rotary feeds the homeless and is involved in children's charities. They are to not only to be commended, but encouraged to continue their quest for growth. Kudos to these great Rotarians.

I invited two of my dearest writing buddies (Ed and Dena) to last night's event to hear my speech. Afterward, we headed into the restaurant, soaking up a few glasses of wine and some spring rolls. Thirty minutes later we decided the Thai food had not quenched our appetites. That's when Ed said, "Ihop ... just around the corner ... anybody up for chocolate chip pancakes?" We paid the bill and lit out of Thailand like pigs at a picnic.

Going from spring rolls, peanut sauce, and wine to pancakes, patty melts, and coffee ... it's a wonder we didn't go home and get sick. But what fun! Writers spend so much time alone, that when they do get together ... it's a party. We celebrated too. Having just ended a long and grueling couple of years on the board of a writing group, that I'll not name, we toasted our relief to be out of it. Kind of like going from spring rolls to pancakes.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Week Off

A week off from blogging to take time and enjoy family and friends over the holiday. But, as much as you try to relax, it's a stress-filled time. The push to load the week with visiting the masses can wear a body out. Yet, Thanksgiving included all the trimmings. Tina and I cooked all day Wednesday (pies, beans, salads, dressing to name a few sides.) Thursday we popped a turkey in the oven, mashed potatoes, threw the rest in the oven and WaLa ... a Rich and Cable turkey fest! Tim, Dustin, Tina, Michael and I ate until you could nearly roll us from the table to the couch. But the table would've made Martha Stewart proud. I thoroughly enjoyed myself this year. Truly. Thanks to my dear friend, Tina who said, "It's your day ... do it your way!" And I did. Don't you appreciate friends like that. I love these Ohio friends. Tina is a rare diamond in my pocket of rocks from the past.

A day filled with football, food, and fun! I think I watched more TV this week than I do in 6 months at home. Tina and I enjoyed watching the classic, Gone With the Wind. In the end, she didn't really see the attraction of this old film. I suppose when you compare it to the special effects of the thriller movies of today it comes up lacking ... and yet, the epic remains a classic in my mind. The music, the words, the STORY.

Saturday, a book signing and reading at the Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson, Ohio! We packed the small room downstairs and sold a "right smart many" books. Those yankees know a good book when they see one, bless their hearts.

The rest of the week we visited the Ober Farm, my kids, my sister and her four beautiful girls and four extrodianarly beautiful grandchildren ... and yesterday evening we arrived home. What a week! Gordon and Elaine Ober, their children Martin and Claire, remain part of my beloved family. It was truly a treasure spending time with them and with Aaron, Annie, and Jillian, my children. (Well, Annie is Aaron's girlfriend and I've claimed her.) They fill their lives these days with work, friends, and family all on their own. But I managed to hold my 30-year old daughter on my lap and snuggle a bit.

My sister made us yet another Thanksgiving feast on Sunday ... her family is the light of her life, as they should be. Paula Deen could learn a few things from this family of great cooks. I swear.

Now ... I have to catch up with work. Lord, Lord, I have so much to do and never enough time. Tonight I'm speaking and I need to prepare for that!

Excuse the short blog ... but enjoy the pictures of our great adventure to Ohioland.

A week off and I feel so far behind I think I'm first! (Somethin' my daddy used to say ...)

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, November 20, 2006

An Ohio Thanksgiving

Off to the land of Champions ... Ohio, home of the Buckeyes. Whoo Hoo! Did you see that game? Me neither. I couldn't open my eyes long enough to watch. A nervous wreck, I had Michael come into my office during commercial intervals and give me the score update.

I think the only attachment I have to Ohio these days, are a few friends, some family, and The Ohio State Buckeyes football team. Jillian (my daughter) lives in Columbus and received both degrees from OSU. My son Aaron, lived, worked, and attended college in Columbus for a while, so we became very attached to the school and its football team. My whole family loves the Buckeyes. Except my stepson, a Penn State fan, but we won't talk about that. Will we, Christopher? We all still love him anyway. Especially his stepsister although she made sure to rub this victory salt in while partying in Columbus last Saturday.

So ... it's going to be the talk at the dinner table in Ohio this week. All the way through Thanksgiving. But isn't that what most American families do on Thanksgiving? Eat until you can't stand up, nap, read the paper, read, watch football. Eat. Enjoy the company of friends and family. Eat. Play games, clean up the kitchen. Eat.

Yeah, us too.

We'll be spending the day with our dear friends, Tina and Tim. At some point during the day, the kids will pop in. I'm going to enjoy this turkey day, I can already feel it.

Here's an update on the Kentucky Book Fair just in ... Email received this morning from the Director: Out of 209 authors SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN was #11 in Sales--quite a feat for a first time attendee to the Book Fair.

Whoo Hoo, AGAIN!

Just made my Thanksgiving quite the holiday! I give thanks this year for so many rich blessings the good Lord has bestowed on my family and me ... I truly do.

Y'all have a great one, many happy wishes on this blessed day.

Blessings to you and yours. (I won't be blogging again until Tuesday, Nov. 28th ... see you then!)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

How Thick Is Your Skin?

I love entering a room of Rotary members, or a full room of working women who have come just to hear me speak during their lunch. Any writer would appreciate the attention of 200 folk gathered at a hotel for a seminar. I've spoken to groups as large as a 300-400 people. Delivering a speech to that many souls is exhilarating, and yes, a bit nerve-wracking.

But I need to tell you of the lesser events. Of the disappointments. Of the events that humble your spirit, let you know just where you fall in the scheme of things. For to say every place I go is an event, a success, a triumph ... I'd be one foolish writer. One hamburg short of a happy meal. For this blog to be real, you need reality. So ... here you go.

The past couple of days I've spoken at two different libraries. One with an audience of two, and today's audience ... five (one was my husband.) Is it exhilarating and nerve-wracking? No. Obviously, not. But as a writer promoting her first book, I've learned not to take it personal. Many factors are involved. But you're there to get the word out. Even if only to ONE soul.

So, you throw away the speech. Today was really ... pleasant, because not only did I read from the book, of the five in the audience two were writers. We had a great conversation about writing and encouraging each other. The library had set a table with snacks, juice, and soft drinks ... so we enjoyed ruining our supper while we talked.

Was it a waste of time? Some writers would definitely think so. But, I sold six books from those two sparse audiences. It more than paid for the gas to get there. Sure, I could've used the time to be home writing, but I've got a book that's in the process of being promoted. I'll go wherever and whenever to do that. And if only one person shows up, that one person may lead to more book sales than you could imagine.

You have to have a thick skin as a writer. A thick skin not only to ward off rejection and criticism, but showing up to read and talk about your book to an audience of ... one.

Here's a quote by Srully D. Blotnick for every writer to wrap their head around and never forget. "What looks like a loss may be the very event which is subsequently responsible for helping to produce the major achievement of your life."

An old Appalachian song my grandma sang and played on her banjo was, "Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, keep on the sunny side of life ... it will help us every day, it will brighten all the way, if we'll keep on the sunny side of life ..." (Don't know who wrote the lyrics, but it's an old song and maybe you've heard it ...) Just remember to sing it during those times you need to thicken your skin.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mt. Airy Business Women Rock!

Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Name ring a bell?

Picture a simpler time ... a fishing pole, a sheriff and his deputy, a little redheaded boy, a town drunk, a goofy gas station attendant, a nosy barber, and a roly-poly mayor ...

Mayberry. The Heart and Soul of America.

The real Mayberry was patterned after the town of Mt. Airy. After all, it is the hometown of Andy Griffith. But my, my ... how times have changed.

Upon entering Main Street today, it still exudes a certain amount of nostalgia. The shops are much the same as they were in the 50s and 60s. Snappy Lunch, the Drug Store, the Sheriff’s Office.

And when I think of Mayberry women, I think of Aunt Bea, Helen Crump, and Thelma Lou. The plethora of women in that old TV show was ideal specimens of women during that time period. They wore house dresses, perfectly coiffed page boys or French twists, baked pies, and waited on Andy and Barney to come a callin'.

Well, let me introduce you to the women of Mt. Airy (Mayberry) today.

Last night, I spoke to the American Business Women's Association of Mt. Airy ... and these gals have turned the tide of "hometown women" into "women in business." Thirty-five women gathered at the Elks Lodge for their Annual Business Associate Event and to honor their elected Woman of the Year. Their motto, "Changing women's lives ... one woman at a time." My keynote speech to them reflected on the power of the Southern voice, and to be proud of their heritage ... but you could already see it in their eyes. This was their town, and they had made a difference as women in Mt. Airy.

This networking group of women belongs to the larger group, a national group of the ABWA. They've been asked to sponsor the statewide event next year in Greensboro, so their pride is well deserved.

Mt. Airy may be Mayberry in the fictional sense ... but in reality, Mt. Airy women have made their mark. They have rocked their community, their world, and have come out on top.

My hat is off today, to the women of Mt. Airy. I was very proud to be a part of them, if only for one evening in November. (And I have to say, the food was fabulous! I thought possibly Aunt Bea might've joined the ABWA and had agreed to cook for this event!)

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Call Me Kentucky Happy!

Sitting in my hotel room, after returning from the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort, euphoria has overtaken my mood.

(In case you're wondering, that's me and Ann B. Ross in the picture.) I headed to KY with no real exectation (nor excitement) for sitting AGAIN all day behind a table, waiting to sell my book ... nor did I expect anybody to show up as I awoke to nasty weather and lots of rain in Frankfort. But this book fair took on a whole new meaning to sitting behind a signing table! What a trip! These folks in KY know what they're doing! Kentuckians love their books!

The committee was friendly and bent-over-backwards-helpful. They filed past my table all day, asking if I needed anything, even brought me lunch. But beside the typical networking, the crowds were enormous! All day long, folks filed past, saw the book and ... smiled. Many made the rounds then came back to buy. It didn't hurt that I sat directly across from two of my favorite authors, Ann B. Ross and Silas House. And what was so cool ... I was interviewed by local cable TV right there at my table! I'll take free TV publicity any day. I made great connections and created more speaking possibilities in the future.

In the end, I nearly sold out ... I sold 80 books! That's a whole lot for a venue like this where there are hundreds of books to choose from. And believe me, folks noticed. I got to speak today to a room full of authors. We traded information about book promotion and public speaking.

The entire book fair was run by Connie Crowe, manager of the Kentucky Book fair, and her crew. Joseph Beth Booksellers assisted in check out. They came to my table twice to ask if I had enough books because ... "we're seeing lots of your books sold at the cash registers ... want to make sure you won't run out!"

Thank goodness, Michael threw an extra box in the car before we left home. But ... Joseph Beth was able to get a clear picture of the top sellers ... do you think they might put the book on their shelves, without someone coming in and ordering it? Hmmm. I sure hope so.

Today was a great success. We more than paid for the trip ... take note writers.

The picture here is the first crowd of the morning, but as the day progressed, so did the crowds. By 10:30 a.m., you couldn't move. Mike and I were astonished as men and women bought bags of books. It renewed my faith in the reading market. It thrills me there are still so many folks reading books out there!

One woman stopped at my table and bought EIGHT books. Count 'em ... 8! They were for her book club. They're going to read Southern Fried Women! And it's plain thrilling when someone walks up to your table and says, "I came today just to see you and get this book I've heard so much about!" Made me want to get up and kiss them. I swear ... I had to refrain myself!

Michael and I were road-weary on our way here ... but when you see the fruits of your labor up close and personal like we did today ... it made the trip more than worth it.

I'm eternally thankful to the many readers who bought Southern Fried Women and said, "would you sign my book?" I'm more grateful to the KY Book Fair committee for believing SFW would be a great addition to their long list of books. The day flew by, so many folks walked past, stopped to talk, then buy.

I'm just plain ole' happy tonight. Thank you, Kentucky.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Stuck in the South

Traveling across the South, delivering speeches from the bottom of my heart, I've met a few transplanted Southerners who amaze me.

And not in a good way.

It's been an eye-opening experience for me lately, that some people just don't want to live where they've ended up. An awakening. In fact, a few women I’ve met … two, as of late … walked up to me after my speech and declared with innate sadness in their voices, “I hate the South … I’ve been here (30, 25) years … and I hate it. I’m originally from the North! I want to go back!”

I wanted to cry. Why? What made them tell me this, I wonder?

One lady hailed from Michigan, the other born and bred in Minnesota, but both women were quite clear in their voice and in their meaning. They hated the South.

“I’m stuck down here!” Their proclamation astounding, but nevertheless, they wanted me to know it!

And I thought to myself … Nobody should be stuck anywhere. Not in America.

But then, I’ve been thinking about these women for the past few days … why in God’s earth would they say this to me? There I was, clearly a Southerner, I’d just delivered my heart – an inspiring speech about Southern accents, Southern women, and my love for this region of the country … and these women, without warning, blurt out … “I hate the South!” I think it surprised them as much as did me.

Suddenly, I was at a loss for words.

Next shock ... they buy my book. (Maybe they bought it to be nice and then went home and buried it in the backyard or something, who knows ...)

I mulled their statement over and over for hours. Then I realized … I had to "put this experience to bed." I couldn't figure it it out. We all know there’s good, bad, and ugly everywhere you go.

Ah, but once you fall in love with a place … it’s like falling in love with a person … you love them faults and all. And just like a human, every area of the country has its good points and not-so-good points. Even Minnesota and Michigan.

But most, or rather the majority of women who hear me speak … have found a sense of pride in the fact they were born, grew up, and have lived, worked, and will die in the South. They’re women who’ve raised their children in the suburbs of Atlanta, Memphis, and Birmingham. They’ve carved out careers in the cities of Savannah, Tallahassee, and Charleston, and labored side by side with their fathers and then their husbands on rural farms in Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. They’re women who’ve returned to the Southland when the rest of the country made no sense to them. The land of tobacco and cotton, mountains and sea dunes, red dirt and bayou—this land speaks to them, like none other. It’s home to them. It’s life to them.

My reply to the women stuck in the South was simply, “I’m sorry, it’s a real shame you feel that way, Ma’am.” And I smiled. Because whatever it was that made them feel this way … I am truly sorry it happened. Sorry they couldn’t get comfortable here. Because clearly--they’re miserable, unhappy women. The look on their faces were evidence to it.

As they walked away, I mumbled, “I would love to know how many Southern women live in the North and feel STUCK.” And then it hit me like two by four! Wham! I WAS ONE OF THOSE WOMEN!

But, bless God, I unstuck myself! I wanted to say to the women I met … How horrible for you to live in a place you don’t want to be. How devastating it must be to you each day you wake up as life passes you by and you dream about your home … wherever that is.

I wanted to reach out and take them by the hand and say, “Don’t buy my book, Darlin’. Save your money … and find a way to go home.”

Don’t live the rest of your life feeling … stuck in the South, or anywhere for that matter!

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Why is that when a woman looks a certain way, a little too heavy on the eye makeup or bad hair-dye job, folks just automatically assume … “oooh girl, look at her, she’s so trashy.”

Or a risqué song comes on the radio and your momma says, “Turn that nasty song off … it’s trashy.”

And then, according to my dad, there’s “trashy TV.” Desperate Housewives, (my mom’s favorite that she thinks we don’t know about) COPS, most reality shows … Dad just lumps them all into one big trash heap.

How about my neighbors across the street. It’s a rental house. These folks haul loads and loads of trash out every week to the side of the road. Where do they get this stuff? And it’s always the DAY AFTER the trash trucks pick up. Therefore, we have to look at their trash for a whole WEEK before pickup. I’ve called the City. All they do is whine that there’s nothing they can do. “It’s not their jurisdiction!” Better yet, they don’t even try. They’re not proactive enough to even think about giving me a name or phone number of anybody I can call who might be able to do something about it. They’re clueless. And we have to put up with trashy neighbors … all week.

But then, I remember a time in the distant past… those dark corners of my remembrance, about a instance I'd just as soon forget. A memory that sometimes comes back to me in my dreams. In those days, I walked in a dream world as if trudging through waist-high mud toward a shore I knew was there but could not see. Searching for some rocky substance I could grab hold of and pull myself out of the tar pit.

I faintly remember one cold, gray winter day from my long-ago past. A moment when I walked out of work to go to my car. My coat was old, tattered. My hair, in need of a good cut and combing. My shoes (funny how I remember the shoes) were worn down. And my countenance, I’m sure, as gray as the sky and tired. I walked past two young girls in the lobby of the building where I worked. I believe they were waiting in line to get into an expensive downtown restaurant. I remember being hungry, having no money until payday, and dreading going out into the cold to get in a car I had no idea would start or if I had enough gas to get home.

These trendy, hip, young girls, their world seemed rosy and sweet to me. In their early 20s, their hair beautifully done, pretty faces, nice smart clothes, I knew they worked in some law firm on the 14th floor. As I walked past, the one young girl said to the other …”She’s either poor as dirt or plain trashy.”

I suppose I was both. I recall thinking that if I ever saw a woman who looked like me; I would never think of her like that. I would never judge a woman by the color of her skin, the shape of her body, the newness of her clothes, or the countenance of her expression. I would assume she was in need, and that quite possibly, she’d just hoed a long row of sorrow. Maybe of her own doing, but who cares. I would know she was hurting, and nobody, not within my earshot would ever call her trashy.

The word stuck to me like glue for a long time … trashy. It’s a funny word … comedians use it a lot. It’s moved into a universal definition … for one who is a lesser human because they cannot afford the best food, clothes, cars, and homes. I think everyone should experience a little bit of “trashy” in their lifetime.

Maybe I should go across the street and ask my trashy neighbors if they need some help carrying it to the curb, think?

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Music of Southern Fried Women

Well, we certainly weren't Dolly and Porter. Or Tammy and George. Or even Johnny and June. But we did entertain the folks yesterday at the Mother/Daughter Tea at Heritage Greens. A beautiful Senior Living Center, the annual Fall Tea PACKED the room.

Walking in, Michael carried his guitar and announced, "Band's Here!" Which, was true. One guitar. I made Mike promise not to slip into any Smoke on the Water during our performance. Reluctantly, he agreed. With his rock and roll background, I'm sure it's an itch he'd love to scratch someday. But, like Elvis, that old gospel bluegrass runs in his veins, as well.

If you'll remember, Southern Fried Women was put to music last month by Rose Lindsay Pfaff, an accomplished pianist from Greensboro. Since then, I've been asked for repeat performances. Miss Rose, however, cannot accompany me to all these places ... and so, my accomplished guitarist husband has added one more duty to his long list as we travel around the country.

The guitar is an instrument lending a beautiful sound and backdrop for Southern Fried Women. Many of the old gospel tunes originated on the guitar. Frantic, Michael practiced last week until his fingers were sore. But oh, how the ladies loved him!

"So soothing!"

"Keep the guitar, no piano needed!"

"I knew every song he played!"

"Has he been on TV?"

We're not sure he's ready for the Grand Ole' Opry just yet, but the performance will be repeated in the future, I'm sure. In fact, I was surprised he even sang with me in a few spots. My eyes got big hearing his pretty baritone voice! I could've stopped right then and kissed him! It was perfect. He had worked so hard ... and it paid off. Because we sold a bunch of books afterward!

The Music of Southern Fried Women is not new. It's old material ... most of it has been around for decades. But, like an old pair of shoes that's comfortable and won't wear out, this music will continue to be around forever. We've just put into a whole new light, that's all.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, November 03, 2006

On Being "You-Nique"

Yesterday, the title of the Virginia Dare Business & Professional Women's Symposium, centered around our unique abilities, talents, passions, and each woman's heritage. Being "You-Nique," A Day of Rejuvenation And Self Discovery.

Yes, thanks for asking ... I was the Key-Note Speaker! Quite an honor for this all-afternoon event. And boy-hidy, these women know how to have a good time and learn something in the process! Their seminar, their grand get-together, held in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina ... entertained, inspired, and motivated the women of the Outer Banks.

Donna, Rae, Shirley, Laura, Fran, Rosalie, Mary and all the amazing women involved in spear-heading this event, worked endless hours. This labor of love was evident from the over 50 door prizes, exquisite vintage pocketbook table settings, the program booklets, unbelievable gifts to the speakers, and table decorations of pocketbooks for each women to take home ... complete with pearls, candy, a poem, and a charm!

Talk about feeling SPECIAL! Over 100 women, gathered together to celebrate!

Three guest speakers wowed the women ... Courtney Northrup, Founder of Gallop Funeral Home. An amazing young woman who worked her way through school and into her dream job. Joyce Anderson, Coach, Writer & Lecturer. From my area, Joyce and I also belong to a group of networking women in Greensboro. Joyce's presentation ... Inspiration, needs to be heard by every woman seeking to find her purpose and passion in life.

And of course, how could I not mention the female "Elvis!" Felvis. The owner of Diamonds 'n' Dunes on the Outer Banks, rocked out ... hoping we would believe she was Elvis--reincarnated as a woman. Well ... hey ... she looked and sounded authentic to me! What a hound dog!

A lunch fit for a queen, fun, fellowship, making new friends, selling my book--Southern Fried Women ... a picture perfect day.

The theme for this symposium was, "Old Pocketbooks." Thus, all the gorgeous centerpiece purses on each table filled with flowers of vibrant colors. Like those old purses, I wanted to stir these lovely ladies' imaginations, create the story in their heads, conjure up their own memories, and pour the image of my character into their spirit ... so I started off with My Grandma's Purse ...

Grandma’s pocketbook … black (always black) big, roomy … scary … peering into it was like looking into a deep, dark well, or a cellar … remember the feeling? And how it smelled? A little musty, or of leather, or tobacco, or Blue Waltz perfume … no rhyme, no reason, totally disorganized … emery boards, teaberry gum, twist ties, rubber bands, a spare button from last year’s coat, safety pins, a needle and thread, Sen Sen (remember that old licorice minty breath perfume? Nasty.) A hair net, her cheap dime-store pressed powder that all the Pentecostal women of the day wore, her embroidered hankie, a bag of peppermints, lifesavers, or some kind of candy to keep us girls quiet in church. Reading glasses, and always … always her New Testament. Lint … if you got to rub your fingers on the bottom … and usually a coupon for 20 cents off a bag of bread flour or a recipe for chicken pie--stained, grease spots, crumbled, a recipe she’d wanted to get from her friend, Flossie, for weeks. My recent wallet-sized third grade picture, bent, but she’d lovingly written my name and the date on the back, and I knew she’d passed it around to all the women in her sewing group--her fingerprints were all over it. A Monday morning grocery list, or a scripture she’d written down … to give to a friend in need. There were always … pennies … loose change … never more than a few dollars … crumbled … no wallet. She didn’t have much money … but what she did have was a pocketbook that kept me quiet during long sermons … a virtual attic to rummage through right there in the church pew.

Compare that to my Prada knockoff of today … organized, everything-at-my-fingertips wallet. Visa, Debit Cards, drivers license, lipstick, perfume, Tums, antibacterial gel, sunglasses, mascara, eye drops, my business cards! CVS, Harris Teeter, Food Lion and Lowes Cards, Insurance Card, palm pilot, a mirror, Blockbuster card. Extra Strength Tylenol, car keys, tweezers, coupons for Starbucks, tampax. A twenty-dollar bill, maybe two--enough for lunch and nice tip … movie ticket stubs, a gas receipt, dry cleaning receipt, a restaurant receipt, mapquest directions. A piece of paper with a website written on it … one I want to remember to check out. A cork souvenir from a wine tasting, something you'd never, ever see in Grandma's purse! Spare earrings, backs for those earrings. A Cape Hatteras brochure, a hotel keycard I forgot to turn in, and of course … the obligatory modern day woman’s CELL PHONE.

What a difference time makes … I don’t even want to think of what my granddaughter’s pocketbook might hold someday.

But that's what makes us all UNIQUE! As I came home again, to over 187 e-mails and tons of work waiting for me, I planted my feet up on my desk and closed my eyes imagining the warm November breezes of those barrier islands, smelling the salt-air, wishing I was there again. Thank you to the women of the Outer Banks! I want to come back and see you all again sometime soon!

Blessings to you and yours.