Thursday, November 29, 2007

The South Seeps In

I spent Tuesday night painting pottery and soaking up lots of one-liners. In a room full of good ole' Southern gals, you expect it. So I kept quiet and made lots of mental notes. Like this one: "He may sleep in my house, but if he ain't careful he's gonna wake up in Hell!"


Good one. You may see that in one of my stories.

One little gal blurted out something about Santa, "My mama says believin' is receivin'!" I do believe that's found in the Bible somewhere, as well.

Oh sure, you can be smug about your vow to keep a few of your Northern traits. Some folks have taken up residence in the Southland and proudly proclaim their Yankee status. They eat healthy salads and refuse hush puppies, never partaking of barbeque. They laugh and carry on about the twangy accents around them that filter through their ears. Ah, but this is South. This is a way of life. It's not an act. It's not even a gimmick. It's who we are. And to the smallest degree, it will ooze into your pours after you've been here awhile ... like it or not.

This Dixie speech directs us and grounds us. Even those who hail from states above the Mason Dixon Line, eventually it'll seep into your vocabulary. A few words at first. Then suddenly, red is no longer one syllable but two. Sara Evans and Brooks and Dunn tunes begin to trickle off your tongue and you're apt to order grits with eggs and sip a sweet tea for the fun of it. A few Southern girlfriends is all it takes to trigger your tongue's ability to twang.

So the next time you bite your lip to keep a "bless her heart" from flying out, just let it. It's like taking your bra off before bed. A relief to give into a moment of freedom.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Feast and Family

A special time, indeed. My sister's house in Atlanta overflowed with the trimmings of feast and family this Turkey Day. Jillian drove from Ohio to my house in North Carolina and together we descended on the King family in Georgia. Michael stayed at home this year to tend to his family's Thanksgiving, but I drove south to mine. Traditions cannot be set in blended families, it seems. But who cares, really? Every year is different. Keeps it interesting, at least.This year Kathy's house filled to brim with the "King girls." It was fun to be with my nieces. Britney, Bethany, Sara, Kelsey, Shaina, Marissa, and my great niece ... little Brooke (Bethany's baby.) My one lone nephew, Sam, came home from college in Louisiana with his girlfriend, Megan. (So that added yet another girl.) And there was Britney's husband, DJ, and their two precious boys, Evan-3 and Adam-2. Add my Jillian into the mix ... and of course mom, dad, my two sisters, Kathy and Lisa, and brother-in-law, Dave ... it was a houseful. And we can't forget the cats, Ginger and Jag, and the dogs ... Bo (or fondly known as Butt-Bo) and Mr. Bently. And Duke. How can I forget Duke?My Aaron and his fiancee, Annie, couldn't be there due to work. Eric, my brother, was missing-- (as usual--there's one in every family, isn't there? We love him, but we NEVER see him.) And we also missed Bethany's husband, Greg and their son Caleb-3, who stayed at home in Texas.But it was the first time that many of us were all together under one roof to celebrate a holiday in way too many years. Kathy's BIG, beautiful home was more than accommodating, it was beautifully decorated. Turkey and all the side dishes covered one whole table. Every cook came to share their special recipe. We laughed ... we cried ... we ate until we popped. This one was for the memory books.
Enjoy the pictures!

My hope is that your family remains close, and above all else stays healthy and happy through every holiday season.

MANY blessings to you and yours.

Monday, November 19, 2007

We Rocked!

Dena Harris and I rocked the house this past Saturday at the North Carolina Writer's Network Fall Conference. Jam-packed with great information on PUBLICITY and PUBLIC SPEAKING our class, we believe, was one of the best.

Afterward, one lady reported she had signed up to take another class (one that was noted as "full" prior to the conference.) This woman went on to say she was bored in this "full" class so after ten minutes--she left and wandered the halls wondering which class she could sneak into. Then she heard the commotion from our room. "Wow! This was the best class the entire weekend," she said to me. "I think I got more information from you two than I have in a month's worth of classes!"

Well, bless her heart. She may have been exaggerating a bit, but it was an hour and a half of fun, sharing, and well, hey ... when you put two publicity and public speaking queens in a room ... what do you expect?

I think we gave them their money's worth. Enough that we received a special shout-out from the NCWN's Executive Director, Cynthia Barnett at the dinner on Saturday evening.

Thing is ... when it comes to delivering information, Dena and I want to make a difference. Just like the North Carolina Writer's Network makes in the lives of writers across the region. This network is there for beginning writer, the emerging writer, and the experienced writer.

Jill McCorkle, Keynote, spoke Friday night. Her speech hit on censorship. That writers must have freedom in their writing. To censor one's writing is to stifle the creative process. I loved her delivery and I agree with her. But to me, censorship is also about those in the industry attempting to not only "censor" what we write but HOW we write. Censorship seeps into the minds and hearts of the writer and all but stops creativity. Because somebody says, "you can't do it that way, and get published," it causes writers to become mentally challenged with severe limitations. They never progress any further than the next "HOW-TO WRITE and PUBLISH" book on the market or the next authority figure that thinks they know what it takes to "make it."

It stinks in the nostrils of God. (In my humble opinion.)

I'll bet if anyone told my dear friend, Gail Cauble Gurley that she couldn't produce and write the screenplay for her book, Red Dirt Tracks just because she'd only written three books and all of them self-published, and because she's a senior citizen ... she'd laugh in their face. Because indeed, it is now a motion picture to be released in the spring of 2008. The movie, Red Dirt Rising, is a testament to the human spirit and the determination of one woman who ignored the "experts" and did things, HER WAY.

So, yes. I loved Jill's speech Friday night. Indeed I did.

Chatting with my good friends at Press 53, and other writers, agents, editors, publicists ... the conference is always a boost to my writer's soul. I'm thankful and grateful to the network for continuing in the face of adversity. I know there are challenges ahead, and the road will not be an easy one for the incoming Executive Director of the NCWN, (Ed Southern.) But the network will flourish, as long as they have instructors and presentations at their conferences that rock like ours certainly did!

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

These Dreams

I think there's a song by Heart with that title.

I'm not talking about hopes, goals ... those kinds of dreams. I'm talking about sleeping dreams. What do you dream about, if you remember? Most dreams are forgotten within hours of waking. I'll bet that's a good thing. I forget most of mine within minutes. Unless I wake up and write it down immediately, I have no chance of recalling my "in-house cinema."

Nightmares are another thing. I have a recurring one. It involves ... tornadoes. Oh sure, I've had the flying dreams and the dreams of finding myself buck naked in a room full of people. Oh God, the worst. But these tornado dreams occur every few months or so. They've been whirling around my sleep cycle now, for ... years. And there's usually more than one tornado in the dream. But I always manage to get away from it. I'm usually watching them tear the world to pieces. It's pretty scary. Do I know what they mean? Nope.

I just know I'm glad to wake up from one. I have one other nightmare that haunts me from time to time and that's about the house I grew up in. Of course, I believe it's haunted. Rumor has it that the original owner (way back at the turn of the last century) died on the staircase in that house. Who knows? I do dream dreadful dreams about that place. Although, my memories of growing up there are for the most part ... good ones.

The brain is a strange thing. I hear we only utilize a small part of it. (Some of us utilize less than others, I think.) But it makes sense to me that your soul is in your brain. That part of you that goes on after you no longer breathe. And I wonder why we dream what we dream? Maybe it's your soul and your subconscious talking to each other. I'm sure somebody (some psychic or soothsayer) might say that my tornado dreams are about the "tornadoes in my life." Maybe they are. I'm sure every dream-reader has an opinion.

But once in a while, I have a great dream. One I don't want to wake up from. Like winning the lottery, or the Pulitzer, or I'm on Oprah ... or something way out crazy like that. Dreams are a funny thing. And sometimes wacky. And all too often, scary. I have lived in nightmare situations, however. So maybe it's just a way of my old brain cleaning house.

Again, who knows?

I'm just always glad to wake up.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Just Me, Trying To Find Something To Write About

Let's see ... it's been a few days since my last blog ...

I don't mind telling you ... the wait is not just grueling. It's exhausting. It's hard to wait. But it's the holiday season. So any further responses to my query letters and manuscript may hold off until January. Who knows? I have hope, however. The positive news is that four agents requested the manuscript. I'm happy, despite it all. But it's tough to zero in on the next project and keep writing ... knowing ... Televenge may be in print next year. Or thereabouts. Oh gosh ... my head spins thinking about it.

I spoke to a mother/daughter tea this past Sunday. It went ... okay. At least I got paid for speaking. Book sales were light. But that's probably because I spoke to the same group last year and many of the ladies already had my book. And truthfully, senior citizens (the over 70 and 80 crowd) are not big book buyers. All in all, a great group of women, though. Sweethearts.

Today, Dena and I practiced our presentation for the North Carolina Writer's Network Fall Conference. It's this weekend in Winston-Salem. We're teaching a class on Publicity, Public Speaking, and Pulling Your Hair Out. (Something we know quite a bit about.) It's going to be a fun weekend mixing and mingling with writers, editors, and agents.

For me, I'm always glad to see January come. I'm not one to bask in the holiday season and its moods/music/drama. I suppose I've had a lot of bad ones, maybe that's why. My husband, however, loves it. So I try. Maybe next year. I think things will be different next year.

In fact, I know they'll be different. So stay tuned.

Well, hey. A few paragraphs are better than nothing.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Greensboro's Finest

Lisa, Brenda, Dena, Carol ... some of Greensboro's finest artists, writers, entrepreneurs. My Shundi group. I've blogged about them before, but we sat in the hotel lobby of the O'Henry and had "tea" yesterday. China, linen, comfy couches, finger foods, and us. I realized as I sat looking at my friends, in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s ... it's not just the common ground of friendship that draws us together for moments like these ... it's the need. The need to feel that friendship.

True Girlfriends are a special lot. Those who are true friends, not just acquaintenaces looking for good dirt or gossip, but true friends who care ... are hard to find. Though our lives have all taken different paths, we recognize that friendship must be handled with care. Nurtured. Treasured. Though we cannot keep constant tabs on each others day-to-day events, we know that coming together once in a while and catching up is enough to make us feel close again.

Friends. Lending our shoulders, our hands, our resources, and sharing our smiles ... and our tears.

Blessings to you and your special girlfriends.

Monday, November 05, 2007

November Already?

Kicked off the beginning of the 'holiday' season with a trip to Charleston, WV and a meeting with a literary agent. I met her for a casual lunch and a long talk into the afternoon about everything literary. Including my manuscript! She's damn impressive and I like her. A go-getter, that's for sure ... but like I said, it was chance for both of us to get to know each other, goals-dreams-those kinds of things ... and lots of smiles all around. Loved it. Every minute of it. We'll see.

The mountains of WV are in full bloom autumn colors ... sugared and crisp, the air relays winter warnings. Makes me hungry! For winter foods. Like chili, hearty soups, holiday food! But hey, a great place to eat in Charleston is Joe Fazio's. Real Italian cuisine right smack dab in the middle of the city. Reservations needed, believe me. Standing room only on Saturday night. But if you're ever in the Mountaineer State, make Fazio's a must eat place.

This morning Michael and I headed to Burlington, NC. I spoke to the First Presbyterian Church Ladies Group. The sanctuary was full and I think they were quite pleased with the presentation ... at least so many of them spoke to me afterward and said so. Coming Out Of The Dark, a speech that moves many to tears, is hard to give. However, I am consistently amazed at the response. I sold LOTS of books, which is always a good thing, especially since 20% goes back to their organization. If you've followed my blog, you know I've given this speech many times over the past two years. But for me, each time I get up to give this ... it's truly like the first time out of my mouth. I still cry. I still feel the hurt. I still glory in its ending. I'm still grateful I'm free.

It reminds me to count my blessings. Every day. Not just on Thanksgiving.

What a way to start out the month of November! One busy day after another.

Blessings to you and yours.