Sunday, December 28, 2008

After-Christmas Rush

It's already started. The New Year.

Normally, I don't pack away my tree and all the trimmings until January 5th, 10th, or even the 15th. But that's because prior to this year, we lived with Mike's mom. We pretty much did Christmas her way. This year was refreshing. I set the table how I wanted it, cooked what and when I wanted to cook, and lit candles every day. I reveled in the simplicity of our very own Christmas.

In the new Cable household, the tree came down today! I was ready. With balmy NC temperatures, the weather afforded us ample opportunity to pull all the boxes out of the storehouse and begin the process.

Christmas, unfortunately, carried a mixed bag of emotions. Along with the wonder and excitement of Christmas in our old farmhouse, our oldest son, daughter-in-law, and grandson have decided to move to Arizona. Again. For Chris, a major job promotion made the decision, actually. It's hard to turn something like that down in today's ecomony. Still, we're dreading it. In just a few days, they'll be gone. I can't even say when we'll see them again. Arizona is so far away, we can't just hop on a plane like we used to, and with a new baby on the way, I doubt they'll be heading back to NC anytime soon. It's taking some gettin' used to.

But our daughter spent the holiday with us, so she helped heal the sadness surrounding the move. The three of us took in a Love Feast at a Moravian Church on Christmas Eve, spent Christmas Day in our pajamas, watched old movies, napped, ate until we couldn't find another corner in our bodies to fill, and spent the rest of the next day in a food coma.

The house was warm, cozy, and only mildly decorated. No elf threw up on my walls, not this year. Candles, a beautiful tree, and the sound of Christmas music filled the house from Thanksgiving until yesterday.

But as of today, it is officially spring. (In my mind anyway.) I'm thinking of paint colors for the porch and perennials for the garden. HGTV ran wonderful landscaping shows today, and I thought I saw a robin this morning.

Probably not.

It's just that once the tree is down, the holidays are over for me. My After Christmas Rush. Rush to get winter well on its way, as well as our lives. I'm believing in a better 2009 for everyone, despite what CNN says.

I'm thinking I just might look for daffodils in the yard tomorrow.

And I have even sang Auld Lang Syne yet.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Checking In

Ah, yes. It has been over a week since opening this blog. My fingers just feel, well, dead. Like they've been hijacked or beamed up into some abyss. A world of watching the clock, daily reports, and one-hour lunches.

Although I'm thoroughly enjoying my job, I miss my old one. The daily grind of writing in my jammies, and making coffee to get through a night of rewrites. Nowadays, I find myself dozing on the couch at 9 p.m., ready to hit the sack. A pile of stories ... untouched.

I like the routine of this new job. I love my boss and his wife and kids. I feel as if I've known them forever. He's even letting me sell my book at the front desk. How cool is that? The work is fairly easy, I enjoy our patients, and I'm taking home a real paycheck. That's nice.

Someday, in the future, I'll return to writing full-time. When that will be, is in God's hands. Right now, I'll try to blog more than once a week and find the energy to stay up past Gray's Anatomy. The world is flat at the moment. I don't want that to carry over into my writing. I'm working on a way to change my writing routine, as soon as the holidays are behind us.

In the meantime, if you care to check back once a while, you just might catch a new blog.

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Christmas Tree Time

Tonight was our little town's official Christmas Tree lighting. The mammoth pine in front of the Bed & Breakfast was the center of attention as folks bundled up and waited for the Mayor to flip the switch.

Unfortunately, I didn't last that long. An unusually frigid day for North Carolina kept the crowds huddled around hot chocolate, coffee, and hot cider tables. After helping out at the hot apple cider table for an hour, my feet froze to the cement pad and my head pounded from the bitter cold. My fifteen-month-old grand baby wasn't interested in waiting another hour to see Santa. I worried whether he was too cold as my nose dripped and my fingers grew numb. So, we headed to the warmth of the car and home.

Inside my house, the tree is lit and the mantles are decorated for the season. It's warm and cozy as the fire roars. It's Christmas tree time.

I love driving by houses at night, getting a glimpse of Christmas trees showing off in the windows. They blink and stretch toward the top of the curtain rods. Some are formal, dressed in white lights, while others dare to twinkle entirely in blue or even red. Occasionally, I sneak a peak at an old one, with those retro mammoth lights we had as kids. They came in every Crayola color, remember? Even orange. Hurling me back to the sixties when every tree was covered in angel hair and sprayed with fake snow, I love Christmas tree time.

But tonight, a fifty-foot tree in our town stands as host of the Christmas Season. I'll see it often, get some pictures, and remember it always. It will record itself in my memory book of my first Christmas Tree Time here.

I like that.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Joys of Working Women

I've got a blog post lurking in my head. Would love to stay and work on it. But it's 7:00 a.m. and I've spent too much time reading other friend's blogs. I better get my butt in gear or I'm going to be late for work -- writing for somebody else.

Oh, the joy of watching the clock.

Later, dudes.

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Post Thanksgiving Thanks

There comes a point in your life when you realize: who matters, who never did, who won't anymore ... and who always will. So, don't worry about people from your past, there's a reason why they didn't make it to your future.

I'm thankful, this rainy Sunday morning, for the friends and family members in my life. They are the substance of my existence. I'm also thankful, for my relationship (though sometimes a shaky one) with Jesus. Yes, I'm a believer.

It doesn't mean I'm a Bible-thumping, right-wing Conservative, in-your-face fanatic. No. It simply means, I've experienced the miracle hand of God moving in my life. I have seen the evidence of him as he has passed my way. I'm grateful he's in my present and future. I know what it means to have the blessed hope.

He is a living God. Make no mistake.

Not a fire-breathing, old man with a beard and lightning bolts in his hand, or a pissed-off God. A God ready to strike mankind off the face of the earth.

No.

He's my friend.

And like a true friend, he's always there when I need him. Never imposing, always patient, kind, and ready to remind me that I can talk to him ... even when I don't need him. He's misses me.

Thanksgiving was busy, but I was reminded of how he, like my friends and family ... needs to see me more often. We've had an on-again off-again relationship, but I've always known him to be there, waiting, faithful, and responsive. He's real to me. Very real. And above all this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for that.

It was one of the best Thanksgivings ever.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Blessings

This week, I'm fixing Thanksgiving Dinner for eight adults and one 15-month old. I started last week, planning, plotting, and pouring over my recipes. It's not an easy feat. Each day demands that I cook something ahead of time.

Saturday, Mike and I scrubbed floors (my hands and knees still hurt) and caught up on laundry. Last night I looked out my kitchen window and my husband had built a blazing fire under the stars. Down by the barn, the flames shot up into the cold Carolina sky. I thought it a blessing to live in the country ... where you can still burn leaves and logs and not worry about your neighbors. (Personally, I love the smell of a good bonn fire.)

Thing is, it was time to relax. For me it was sitting next to the fire inside the house, reading a book. For Mike, (he'd had enough of the Panthers game) ... it was time to piddle outside.

A great way to end a busy week-end. Now all I have to do, is stay on target the rest of the week. I am looking forward to the holidays this year. (New house and all.) There's always a new set of problems, stress, and things to "worry" about. But somehow ... we'll get through it. We always do. I'm learning more lately about how to let all that worry turn into positive energy.

I'm standing on solid ground. I refuse to walk into my future backward, glaring at my past. This week is going to be a good week. For you, also.

Thanksgiving Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Once In A Blue Moon

That's my blogging efforts these days. Once in a blue moon. The weeks fly by. This working full-time thing has tied up my time, my writing mind, and my sincere efforts to blog consistently. I'm amazed at how fast time has passed since my last entry. Thanksgiving is next week and I find myself still dreading computer time at home. When you work all day on one for somebody else, it's not fun to face it at home for yourself. It's just not.

I've determined that after Thanksgiving, I'm going to find a routine to write. Although I do squeeze in a bit of writing time nearly every day, it's not enough. Not compared to past years.

All I can do right now, at this minute, is say I'm sorry I'm such a wus when it comes to my blog. I will try harder in the future. And if by some miracle you decide to check in from time to time, just know that eventually ... I'll be writing under that blue moon.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Whining For No Good Reason

I've spent the end of October and the first part of November getting busier at work, crashing when I get home, then waking at the crack of dawn only to start yet another day. Weekends fly by. I feel as though I'm outside myself, watching my life pass by like an old movie. Halloween has come and gone, and thankfully, a President has been elected. All while I'm attempting to squeeze in time for laundry, a new recipe, and yard work.

A trip up to Mt. Airy, Pilot Mountain, and the Snappy Lunch Diner last Saturday lifted our spirits. The air was crisp and Autumn colors exploded over the foothills. A fleeting afternoon that although fun, it flew by.

I don't remember life being like this when I worked full-time before. I'm forcing myself to find a good book this weekend. I've started several bad ones, which have all landed back on my shelves with note to self: give away. (Somebody publish something worth reading, how 'bout it?!) But lately, it seems all I want to do is cuddle up with my husband on the couch and watch hours of mind-numbing TV. This past week election coverage was interspersed with HBO and ESPN. Nothing great, just plain old TV. I'm not a TV person, that's the weird part!

Quite possibly it's the season. Other than building a new fire pit out by the barn, we don't spend much time outside. The cooler weather means winter is coming. Life, in and of itself, is slowing down. In nature and inside me. I'm whining when I should be writing!

Work is good. In fact, it's great. If I have to work, this is the place for me. A fantastic boss, I work alone, I enjoy meeting the patients, and it's over at 5:00 p.m. There's no taking work home, worrying about getting behind, fear of tomorrow. It's perfect and I'm thankful for it. But I'm feeling guilty for not writing while I'm dozing on the couch.

I suppose it's going to take some time to sort it out. Get the feel of this full-time work thing again. Now if someone would just buy my novel ... my whining would stop. Ha!

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween Fun In Oak Ridge

Ahh, been a while. Sorry about that. Working full time leaves me pooped at the end of the day. Last Saturday was our Halloween bash in town. Enjoy the pictures!



Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hauling The Trash Out Of Our Life

I'm not pack rat. I love a clean house, order, and simplicity. But during last week's garage sale, I realized I had trouble letting go of a few things that ordinarily, I would've stuck right out there on the table and slapped a price tag on it. Maybe it's because these items have belonged to me for such a long time, it didn't seem natural to watch them being carried off by somebody else.

Things like - lamp shades I'm not using, chipped knick-knacks, picture frames, and dishes. It's not like I'm going to use these "things" any time soon. If ever. So why couldn't I bear to part with them? Possibly I didn't want to dig them out of the closet and haul them out to the garage, just to haul them back in if they didn't sell.

Habits, problems, issues in our lives are like that. We hold on to them, because they been there for so long, they couldn't possibly belong to anybody else. We're embarrassed to "put them out on the table" for folks to see. And what would happen if we tried to rid ourselves of the habit, when in the end ... we take it back anyway?

Something to think about, eh?

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Getting To Know The Neighborhood

Not all garage sales are alike. Today we had our first garage sale at our new place. We host a bi-yearly sale, inviting family to bring their junk/treasures to sell along with ours. In years past we've seen our first customer before dawn, usually at 6 a.m., selling out by 10 a.m.

Today, we didn't see customers until about 8. Everyone had had their coffee. There was no mad dash to be first in the door. Nobody bickered over the prices. It was a constant, steady, and slow stream of customers. In nice cars, clothes, and even full make up on a few women. (We're not in Kansas anymore.)

I tried to hide. My idea of doing a garage sale is falling out of bed, throwing my dirty, unbrushed hair into a pony tail, washing the night's grease off my face, and pulling on any pair of sweat pants and t-shirt regardless of the holes, paint, and coffee stains. Hey, at garage sales, I'm selling my junk, not my books. I'm not out to win any beauty contest. I like making $150.00 on crap that's been sitting in my shed and closets. It's worth a morning's work for that.

But it was interesting, having a garage sale in this new neighborhood. At first I thought we'd made a mistake, because there was nobody waiting to get in. But eventually, they trickled in until most of our stuff sold. Most people wanted to talk, find out who we were, where we came from, and if we knew the history of our house ... because after all, they'd lived in this town all their life, their grandma used to know the old lady who lived in our house, and they could tell us all about it. After all.

I felt like it I was hosting a family reunion instead of a garage sale. It was a blast, the folks were friendly, complimenting our home and barn. But I'm drained. I feel like I could go back to bed. Except there's $150.00 burning a hole in my pocket.

Garage sales, I've discovered, are the perfect way to meet your neighbors. It's like an invitation to coffee, and browse the tables for old books, Nascar paraphernalia, beanie babies, and mugs with and without cracks. And the talk is always light, fun, and friendly. Not a bad way to start a Saturday.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Leonardo

When you hear the name, do you think DaVinci or DiCaprio?

So I was reading Parade Magazine last Sunday (October 5, 2008) because one of my favorite actors adorned the cover. In an interview with Dotson Rader, Leonardo's star power has no boundaries. And neither does his burning desire for normalcy. He seems to be grounded with a better-than-average head on his shoulders. Not just in looks, but smarts. I love the way he's matured, grown not only as an actor, but as a man.

My point in mentioning this is that he said something amazing. It struck a chord with me. A loud, hard chord. Talking about his parents, he said, "All I have left are my parents ... I know that if one of them had been any different, it would have sent my life into a spiral of misunderstandings and insecurities about the world and about the relationships I have. Ninety-percent of the people I meet are dealing with issues they can't overcome because of bad parenting. That's the truth. There's that side of you that says, 'Time to get over the hurt and move on,' ... it's hard to do. So you just hang on to the emotion that this one didn't love me, or why didn't that relationship last? That stuff stays with you forever. You want to say, 'Get over yourself! Come on! Time to grow up!' Some people are able to do that, but a lot of us remain victims of it. So I was fortunate with my parents. Without them, I would never have been able to be as level-headed as I am, considering everything that's happened to me."

DiCaprio's parents were divorced when he was very young.

Made me think of my own grown children. I don't they they've ever gotten over some of it. It's my opinion anyway. I think they've been dealing with issues of bad parenting for many, many years. But it's over. Way over. We can't undo what's been done to us. They both are wonderful, wonderful people, thank God. Adults now, on their own, with great lives they've carved out all on their own.

Or did they?

I think they became such admirable adults because they were so determined not to make the same mistakes their parents did. They did a good job. But instead of feeling like DiCaprio feels about his divorced parents, I think ... their dad and I are still (on some level) the 'bad' parents. Now, no misunderstandings here, I know they love me ... and of course, their dad. They really do love us.

Maybe it's just I'm feeling the miles between us. They live so far away.

Anyway, not to worry. They don't read my blog. Or my books. I really wasn't the perfect mom. But they are and always will be, the reason my heart beats.

Leonardo says he wants to be known as someone who stood for something. I guess we all do.

God bless you, Leonardo DiCaprio, and your mom and dad ...

And blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Learning Something New

I'm learning a new software system. A medical software system. For my new job. And it's not easy. This weekend, I felt as though I were cramming for a final. My head hurt, I drank pots of coffee, and finally last night, my eyes gave out. Thing is ... I'm only half way through the book.

It's relatively easy to understand. But you know me, I have to know this thing! I pour myself over each page, making notes, trying to imagine each sequence. Ah-ha! I finally realized last night that this is the first time I've ever learned a software system totally on my own and entirely from the book! Not an easy task, especially when you're new to physical therapy and it's been a few years since running a medical practice.

The office is still under construction. A new physical therapy practice that is almost, but not quite, ready for patients. So I can't get my hands on a computer with this program on it, and until that time, there's been no sense in getting any instruction from the maker.

I'm wondering if I'm going to be so far ahead when I finally do get hands-on instruction, that I'll just whiz right through each application. Or, I'll have learned it wrong on my own, and become totally confused.

But in some aspect, working in medicine is like riding a bike. Some things have been drilled in so far, there's not a chance of forgetting. While others are new, fresh, interesting. The business side of medicine is complicated, and the insurance companies all have their own language. It's not easy. Yet I know, like anything else in life, once you apply it, learn it, know it ... you've got it! Until the next update. Policy change. Medicare notice.

Life goes on. I think I'll go read some good fiction.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Strong Women

Strong Women ...
May we know them
May we raise them
May we be them

An anonymous quote, beautifully scripted on a decorator pillow that adorns my bed.

How many strong women do you know? Have you known any? Don't think about Mother Teresa or Eleanor Roosevelt, but consider the women you meet every day. What makes a strong woman? Do you raise your daughters to be strong women? How?

Are you a strong woman?

Think about it.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

SCREAM!

Is there nothing more disgusting, disturbing, and annoying than some jackass punk who has turned up the bass on his "radio" so loud that you can hear it a half-mile away, in your house, with the windows closed? (No exaggeration, here.)

I moved out to the country for peace and quiet, and yet gangster-wanna-be high school punks out here in the sticks STILL race down my road on occasion, with the music cranked so dadgum loud, I can't imagine their hearing isn't affected. Mine is. And my windows are closed!

There's got to be a law. There's got to be some way this invasion of my peace and quiet can be stopped.

And I'm not an old fart! I'm a classic rock lover from way back. But this shake-the-windows-in-your-car-and-my-house has to stop.

Beware, crack heads. I'm taking down license plate numbers and reporting them, hoping eventually we can create a law to stop your stupidity.

I love to bitch on my blog. It's gets it off my chest.

For what it's worth.

To Be Content

I look back at the past five years of my writing career with smiles and moans. I never expected the turns and twists, the bumps and the bruises. Well, maybe a few.

But it seems this writing thing I do, has taken a mirror image of my past struggles. We writers often think there's going to be a big pay-off someday. That fate is going to hand us a trophy for our diligence and our damn-it-all tenacity to succeed. Many of us fully believe we will find our rightful spot on the shelves of Barnes & Noble. And some writers see their name on the bestseller lists across the country.

Yet, for as much as I believe in dreaming those big dreams, I'm finding the "pay-offs" if you will, are not always what we anticipate. And like my daddy says, "wishin' ain't gettin'."

I sat next to a couple of lovely ladies this past week at the High Point Literary League's Fall Luncheon, where Jodi Picoult was the guest speaker. These ladies were as enthralled with the fact that they were sitting next to me, the author who wrote Southern Fried Women, as they were to hear Jodi Picoult. To these women, Jodi and I were on the same playing field.

Ha! Can you imagine?

I tried to explain, I'm a starving artist compared to Ms. Picoult who is light years ahead of me. But they didn't care a twit. They said they loved my book, "as much as anything Jodi had written."

My book. A collection of short stories. My only book, so far. A small accomplishment in comparison to Jodi P. I felt a little embarrassed. Embarrassed that I have not been able to yet see the success I thought I would by now. Embarrassed I'm such a small fish in an ocean of authors.

But then, I got to thinking. If this is all the success I ever see, then I'm going to be okay with that. I'm going to hope that Don Maass is right, that it does take a good decade to make a great novelist, but if it doesn't happen ... I'm going to keep on writing because ... that's my heart. That's what I love to do. Not because I think I should be on the same playing field with Jodi, or Nora, or Danielle, or Diana. When you get to my age, and you've been through a few of life's wars, your accomplishments begin to take on different shapes. Strange how that happens.

Does that mean one should settle for whatever comes? No. It means we writers must find contentment to be who we are, not who we hope to be.

Should I continue to pioneer my way to publication? By all means. But it doesn't mean there's going to be a big party waiting at the end of the trail. By all means, dream big. Always dream big.

Just know, there may never be a big "pay off." There may only be one book and this blog. But as long as I write for the right reasons, believe there's a few who want to read what I write, then I'll keep plowing my field. Sowing my word seeds.

Harvest may be a ways off. I may have to pray for rain. But in the meantime, I'll just go ahead and write the next story.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cookie Weather

I love to bake cookies. Especially in the evening, they make the house smell yummy. But I especially love to bake on cold, wintery evenings. Like tonight. We've skipped Autumn and have landed on a Winter's day. A prelude of things to come.

After working for ten hours, there's nothing better to clear your head than fresh baked cookies, a glass of cold milk or hot tea, and a good TV movie. Along with a crackling fire. A toasty blanket. And a riveting book to read during the commercials.

This evening, I popped a couple dozen chocolate chips and peanut butter chips into a brown-sugar cookie batter, added a few chopped walnuts, and Wa La! Comfort food to get through a night of howling, cold wind, rain, and dropping temperatures.

It's amazing how a batch of hot cookies, fresh from the oven, can melt away your problems. (Godamighty, I sound like a commercial for Pillsbury.)

I feel like I'm preparing for the holidays. This year, in my new (old) farmhouse, I'm ready for it.

It's cookie weather. And I'm ready for it, too.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What A Dish!

Saturday, Replacements Limited in Greensboro held the grandest yard sale of the year. A dish lover's paradise, over two acres of porcelain, china, dishes, bowls, serving platters, you name it ... they had it. In boxes on the ground. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Close out patterns, some chipped, but most were not. You could dig through the boxes, pick around and pull out a real find! The place was packed, but folks walked away with thousands of dollars of dishes for $5.00 a box!

And so did I.

After I hiked a mile from the parking lot, it was $5.00 to get through the gate and $5.00 for an empty box, which you could fill as full as you wanted. Or could carry.

I was in heaven.

Fortunately, Michael came to my rescue to carry my box instead of relaxing and waiting on me in the car. So then I decided ... I'm going to fill the darn thing up!

And I did.

Beautiful plates, a few serving bowls, and tea cups and saucers. 130 pieces in all. All for 5 bucks! That's almost for free!

What am I going to do with them, you ask? Some have already been through the dishwasher and have held my breakfast. Some are on my walls. The rest will end up in my own garage sale. I'll make more than 5 bucks on what I sell, you can bet.

But then, a few will be given as presents, Christmas and otherwise, to friends and family whether they like pretty tea cups or not. (So look out!)

My husband has always said I am "quite the dish!" Ha. I guess that's not far from the truth.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Are These The Last Days?

I think Wall Street would like us to think so. CNN and the rest of the networks have to sensationalize something, don't they? I mean, well gosh, there are ratings to think of. They've got to keep us glued to the Boob Tube somehow.

Your remember Y2K?

Trouble is, it's hard to separate honest reporting from sensationalism. Folks are always running scared from one thing or another. From Anthrax, terriorism, long gas lines, poison Tylenol, coffee, sugar, and even colored toilet paper. But nowadays, they're running from just the possibility of bad things. Always looking over their shoulder for the next bomb to drop. In my opinion, this financial crisis could be solved in one fell swoop. Let's get out of Iraq. Period. Simple. (Well, I wish it was that simple ... but we spend billions every day fighting a war nobody wants.)

But that's too simple for Congress. Somebody is making money off that war, and it sure isn't the average American.

I'm also very, very familiar with "end-time" signs. The born-again Christian's belief in the end of the world. Go to http://www.raptureready.com/index.php and check it out.

It's not just the journalists who have everybody scared to death. I grew up with the fear that God was going to destroy the earth any second. Truthfully now, I vividly remember thinking that my children would never grow up. It was in the late 1970s and I honestly believed that we (the good Christians who were rapture ready) would never see the 1980s.

I'm not so gullible in 2008.

I'm also not so arrogant to think these aren't the "last days." But I don't worry about it anymore. I live my life. I can't change the gas situation, the money market situation, or the problems with the Federal Reserve. All I can do, is cast my vote and pray. Besides if you believe in the hereafter, like I do, our lives are just a blip on God's radar screen.

Are these the last days? Nobody really knows. Nobody.

What I can do, however, is have peace in my own house. I refuse to live in fear. Flat out refuse.

And if that means keep the Boob Tube turned off, that's what it means. If that means boycott web sites like "Rapture Ready," then I will.

My trust in God has nothing to do with the world and its problems. His eye is on the sparrow, you know? I won't bury my head in the sand, but I won't live as though these are the last days.

Even if they are.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pioneering A New Frontier

I've been thinking about the word pioneer. I wrote in yesterday's blog, "My plan is to pioneer a path to publication ... " Hmmm. What do you think I meant?

Numerous definitions in the Dictionary drove a chill down my spine, as if someone dropped an ice cube down my shirt:

One who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress ...
To be the first to open or prepare a way ...
To take part in the beginnings of; initiate ...
To lead the way for a group; guide ...
Being the earliest, original, first of a particular kind, etc. ...
One who opens up new areas of thought, research, or development ...
Leading the way; trailblazing ...

Am I a pioneer? Can I do this?

Pioneers traveled to our country’s frontier for many different reasons, they all wanted an opportunity to start new lives.

I too, want an opportunity. A life as a writer where my work is read by millions.

Most pioneers were farmers.

Most writers are hard-working citizens. Not looking for a hand-out, we work relentlessly in solitude. Most writers are middle-class, average folk ... not celebrities who can't write a lick and are handed publishing contracts for their stories written by ghost writers.

Pioneers went to Oregon, Texas, and other areas of the frontier for land available for homesteading.

I, too, will venture into a frontier, an unknown territory, to homestead my place on the book shelves of America.

Pioneers wanted the rich, fertile land for their crops.

My desire is to find rich, fertile minds -- hundreds of thousands of readers for my books.

Other pioneers traveled to the frontier because they had heard stories that made the new lands sound like magical places. Some went to the frontier in order to prospect for gold, to hunt and trade.

My frontier is filled with stories, new lands, and magical places. I will also prospect for gold, hunt, trade. My wagons have a way to go, my load is heavy, but my spirit is stronger than ever. It took time to cross the country, danger rode along with each pioneer, some never made it. But in the end, they blazed a trail. Found a better way.

My intentions are not to discredit the industry, but just to find a better way.

In the end, I recall and will live by the Pioneer's Creed: The Cowards Never Started. The Weak Died Along the Way. Only the Strong Survived.

Wagons Ho!

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Making Changes Everywhere

My new boss came to my house this morning, equipped with an armful of notes and physical therapy "stuff" he wants me to review. Michael was working away in his office upstairs while Andy (my boss) and I spread out a ton of paperwork on my dining room table.

I wrote a Press Release for him, reviewed his web site pages and rewrote his business brochure. Right up my alley, you might say. Fun stuff. We discussed setting up the new office. It's going to be sleek and contemporary, very cool. I've been reading up on physical therapists and what, exactly, they do. It's amazing how important they are to not only the injured and post-operative patient, but also to the athlete. Andy is one of only 16 Sports Certified Physical Therapists in North Carolina. There will be all kinds of runners, football players, soccer enthusiasts, and swimmers working out in our offices to treat an injury or to prevent one.

I'm looking forward to this change, working with my community, and getting to know most of the folks here in my new home town. And one thing is for sure, going back to managing a medical office will be a bit different this time. I'm starting at the beginning. I don't have to clean up somebody else's mess this time. There will be no patient charts, everything is on-line. I'm loving it. I can insure everything is done right the first time. It's a great way to work, if you're as anal as I am.

I'm already forming a story in my head. Strange how that happens. Another story for the next short story collection. The past few months have caused me to see things differently, as I've already blogged about, writing wise. My plan is to "pioneer" a path to publication, make my own success. There's a better way, and you can bet I'm going to find it. Somebody has got to change it, or at least try. Why can't it be me?

And so ... if I have to work a while to make that happen ... then that's what I do. I'm making changes everywhere.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying my dive into this PT practice. I'm blessed with a nice boss, a new place to work only minutes from my house, and I'm the only employee. Hey, if you have to work, this is a pot-of-gold situation.

You just never know when life is going to throw you a curve ball. I guess the best way to approach it is with a catcher's mask and good, strong, glove.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Weathering Life

My thoughts this morning are like the rain. They're pouring in and disappearing in the cracks of my brain before I can write them all down. I'm growing older, I can feel it. But I'm not dreading it, as some would think. I find life is much like the weather. Blowing in and out, cold fronts, warm fronts, and a few hurricanes ... we withstand the storms, get through the droughts.

I'm thankful to be warm and dry this morning. It's pouring here in NC at the moment. The skies are gunmetal gray, the first signs of Autumn fill the soaked air. A day for ducks and umbrellas, it's not an enjoyable day, I just want to get through it. I look forward to the sunshine again.

Isn't that just like life? We can wander around down in some valley, yet we know there's a mountaintop ... somewhere. Somehow, we climb out of our situations, enjoy a little sunshine on our face.

I'm looking at life differently these days. I see things a little more clearly, even through the rain.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

On Being Friendly

Today I attended the Bookmarks Book Festival in Winston-Salem. As a featured author at the Winston-Salem Writers table, I spent my time meeting and greeting folks who meandered up to the table and perused the books by our authors. We just ... well ... talked shop!

I ran into to Quinn Dalton, a lovely lady with just as lovely of a personality. http://www.quinndalton.com/ We chatted awhile. Then I spent some time with Sheryl Monks (http://www.press53.com/) ... what a special woman with a heart for writers. I met her mama who sat next to her at the Press 53 table. It's a blast to talk writing with folks who love it as much as I do. I often run into the same writers/editors/publishers on the "circut." It's soothing to my writer's soul, catching up with these folks.

There are many emerging writers who attend these festivals. I love encouraging the newbies because there's much to learn and many routes in which to go. The new writers eyes are wide and their hearts are even wider. They absorb it quickly.

I find great and enormous satisfaction rise up when I plant a seed of encouragement. Then when I see the harvest of that seed, I know I did a good thing.

A few years ago, I spoke at historical society that really ... didn't draw many folks to the event. But one little, pretty lady showed up at my table and we talked for quite a while about writing. We shared our stories and our lives, and in the end we kept in touch throughout the years. She felt so unsure of herself, but over time this precious woman blossomed! Recently, she mustered up the courage to enter a writing contest, in which she won third place!

I saw her today. Her smile and her warm eyes were penetrating. She's still trying to gain confidence, but she's definitely on her way! I expect great things out of her in the future. I can feel it. It's coming.

Very simply, in taking the time to get to know her, encourage her, I encouraged myself.

Are you getting my point?

Today, I also sat next to a table (the group shall remain nameless) where a prominent member of this popular group manned the table. Few folks visited their table (at least not while I was there) but one thing really bothered me. The prominent member never smiled. Not once. Not to me or anyone who walked up to their table. The cold personality of this person blew my way. I felt it. I tried to make eye contact, speak, even nodded a hello ... but nothing was returned. Even though this person knew I've been a great supporter of the group. I felt heartsick.

Here's the thing, folks. It doesn't take much energy to be friendly. If you're in the public eye, representing a group, cover your bad mood and slap a smile on your face. I'm wondering how much of this cold personality has taken over their group? Oh sure, I watched this person speak to folks who they thought were "important." But to the little fella ... it was quite a different story. Amazing.

I hope to God, if I've ever snubbed another human being, I've made some sort of restitution. Listen, there's no excuse for not offering your hand to your fellow man. Do I sound preachy? I hope so. I'm about fed up with cruel people, unkind jerks, and holier-than-thou humans who think that because they've "been there" and "done that" that they don't have to lower themselves to befriend the woman standing next to them.

I'm no saint. I've made mistakes. Plenty of them. But God knows I'll never put myself up on some sort of a pedestal. We're all made out of the same kind of mud. If you're a writer that has experienced any kind of success, it's your responsibility to take the emerging writer's hand next to you and pull them up.

Let's all just get over our big, bad selves. How about it?

Love covers a multitude of sins. It's time we thought about that. So what if being friendly doesn't come natural to you. So what if you have to fake it. Maybe if you fake it enough, it'll become real. Be a friend. It's the best feeling in the world.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Looking Back

I spoke to a large group of Greensboro Methodist women this past Tuesday evening. Warm, open, and receptive, these women (like so many other women I speak to) sat glued to their seats. Coming Out of the Dark and into the Life of a Writer has become my signature speech. Often a difficult speech to give, I'm left with a heightened sense of urgency after delivering this last one.

Maybe it's because I'm going back to work and I feel as though my time will now be limited. Limited to how many engagements I can actually book before wearing myself too thin. Strange, I've never felt more sure of my purpose than I do now. And yet, publication eludes me. I keep thinking that going back to work will allow me to take matters into my own hands, and get Televenge published and launched. And yet, I can tell I'm going to yearn to be home writing, like a mother of young children longs to be home with her babies.

I'm attending the Bookmarks Festival tomorrow, sitting at the Winston-Salem Writers table. I'll be talking to folks about books, my book, their book ... it's an author's paradise and a voracious reader's event of the year. I know I've got other engagements still booked for this year. But I'm now having to share my life with ... a 9-5 job.

I look back on all these blogs and I know this time was not wasted. Nay. Not at all. I will pick up the torch yet again in the future. And maybe this time, I'll carry it all the way to the finish line. In the interim, it's quite possible that I'll find even more time to write than before.

Let's hope so.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hanna

This hurricane is showing her back side to North Carolina. She's moving fast, about 20 mph, and dumping wind, rain, and misery on our coast, as well as in the Piedmont. I hear she's moving North. Doesn't much like our Southern hospitality, I reckon.

Life is like a hurricane, sometimes. One day the sun is bright in the sky, the next you're wondering if you should build an ark. Life goes along smoothly, just as you've planned it ... then out of nowhere, you're blindsided with troubles. It happens. To the best of us. The Good Book says that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. I suppose nobody is exempt from disappointment or, well ... rain in their life. Nobody.

I like a good storm, though. And life's challenges only make us mighty. I just wish they were as easy to predict as a hurricane.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Back To Work

I'm going back to work. Well ... the real kind of work. The eight-hour-a-day kind. For many reasons. But I'm no less of a writer. I'm no less of a speaker. I will continue to speak, write, and publish. Probably with more gusto than ever. Finding spare minutes in the morning or evening, time management will become like a prescription. A bitter pill I must swallow every day- like it or not.

I have a plan, you see. I have a vision, a purpose, a reason to fill up the piggy bank with as much as I can squirrel away.

I wonder how many writers are just naturally - well ... rich? Most writers work day jobs. I certainly have in the past. It's nothing I haven't done before. If a writer is lucky, she can write for a living. Journalism is always a favorite way to pass the time until the novel becomes a "hit." But I've been blessed. To have had the full-time ability to write day and night for the past few years and see the fruit of what I've sown.

However, I have a dream. (To quote a very famous person.) My vision to become a full-time published author doesn't end just because I've "gone back to work." Am I trying to convince myself? Well, sure. A little. But at my age ... after all is said and done, I know my life's path. True, I'll give 100% to my employer, but I will continue to push for the dream to come true - always.

The blog will continue, as well as my speaking engagements and my stories ... they'll still get published. In fact, I anticipate publication in a new anthology next spring. My fear, however, is that folks who have heard me talk about Televenge will think it'll never happen. Maybe I talked about it too soon, but I can tell you ... my enthusiasm for this novel will never, ever waiver. It WILL get published. It's a great story. So, if I have to save money to go to New York and hire the biggest and best publicist money can buy ... then so be it.

We do what we have to do. Or can do. God does the rest.

I received an email this morning from a dear friend. One who has read the manuscript. She's well respected and her opinions matter to everyone who knows her. She said, "... glad to hear you found a job, but I still believe in you and your book!" There have been other comments, much the same, and they're appreciated.

I'm speaking next week to a group of women. A large congregation who will gather to hear the speech Coming Out of the Dark and into the Life of a Writer. I'll always be a writer. But for the next few years, I'll also be working in a medical office, giving it my undivided attention, as well. Something I'm very familiar with. Who knows? I'm sure there will be a story or two that will come out of it.

I have a plan, you see. I have a vision, a purpose. Nothing will stop that.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Shacks

After moving to North Carolina years ago, I began to notice the ever-present abandoned shacks that dot our counties. Travel down any country road and you'll see them. Old, dilapidated buildings constructed some fifty to one-hundred fifty years ago. I used to wonder why there were so many here in the South, but few in the northern states.

Duh. It didn't take long and I realized the milder southern climate does not wear on these relics as does the snow, salt, and consistent rain of the North. Either that, or our southern ancestors just loved to build more outbuildings than those who settled in northern states.

Of course, these buildings weren't always old, decaying shacks. What were they?

Good question. I'm guessing some of them were chicken coops, outhouses, smoke houses, sawmills, tobacco barns, potting sheds, moonshine stills, any number of reasons why these smallish buildings were constructed. I see them hugging the roads, covered in weeds, kudzo, and ivy ... abandoned for decades. I wonder who owned the land? Who built them and why were they left to rot? They squat like hundred-year old men, just waiting to die. But they don't. They're made of rock foundations and tin roofs. The wood walls, though worn, are so old they're almost petrified.

Home to the ground hog, a fox or two, spiders, and mice ... these old buildings serve only one purpose for today's generations. To remind us that once upon a time, a family lived on that piece of land. A family now gone. Dust to dust. The old shack won't die though. Not until some land developer decides to rape the land to throw up a hundred houses so close together you can hear your neighbor's toilet flush. Progress, they call it.

There's a cluster of old shacks across the street from me. I love them. Aged and care worn, their patina is a luster of all things mysterious. They scream out their story and I strain to listen to them. They're not eye-sores. They blend in with the trees and the red dirt. I hope they stay there always. I hope they will continue to be my only neighbors at least until I'm carried out of my house toes up. I hope they'll warm up to me and finish telling me who they are. I'll visit them often in my walks in the woods. Shacks can be scary, ominous, and uninviting to most folk. But to me, they're just a bit of history ... just waiting to tell their story.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

First Lines

I believe the first line to any story is crucial to the success of the book. That initial sentence will hook most readers. Sometimes a whole story comes to me after I've written the first line. The following are first sentences from my own stories, some published, some not. (But I thought I'd share.)

Howard was the last man to lay up on my bed under the blue patchwork quilt. (The Evidence of Things Unseen - unpublished)

Had I known my mother was going to leave me the day after I was born, I would’ve fought to stay inside her a while longer. (Cry: Southern Fried Women)

Peggy picked at the dirt between her toes and glimpsed up from time to time to watch a string of drool slide down Earl’s chin and land on his bright red satin tie. (Old Time Religion: Southern Fried Women)

I gaze up at the sky and wonder if it’s rain or pee from Victoria’s diaper that’s dripped on my leg. (Vernell Paskins-Mobile Home Queen: Southern Fried Women)

When I was ten, Mom gave up and spread us out among family members. (Macel and Annel - unpublished)

"You're ugly as sin, Stella. You stink like a dead cow, too." (Atlanta's Stories - unpublished)

"If I had heard you sing like that when we were little girls, I wouldn’t have wasted all those years thinking you were dumb as dirt." (Half Slip - unpublished)

In all of Andie’s youth, never had there been a time when she was more ripe and ready for love than the summer of her fourteenth birthday. (Televenge- unpublished)

Your mind can take over from here ... or you can read the story. My point is, I love first lines ... they, along with the last line, are the jewelry of the book. The earrings on the story. The cherry and the last slurp of chocolate of a sundae. They reel us in, then soften our landing. I never know when a first line will hit me. But when it does, I'm lost in time until the characters appear in my head. Then my morning is gone, the hours fly by, my day is shot.

Often, a first line will change once the story is in progress. I read other books and wonder how they came up with that first sentence. Or, why did they write that as their first sentence? Some authors pay little attention to it, while others (you can tell) have labored over it.

Open your favorite books, read the first lines again. Enjoy!

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Time In A Bottle of NyQuil

It's all a blur. The past few days I've been fighting what seems to be the worst cold/flu I can remember in quite a long time. And it started on my birthday. Happy birthday to me. My husband brought home what I thought to be just a head cold. He suffered a few days, while ingesting a ton of meds and herbal remedies. I prayed that I wouldn't catch it. But, as always, we share everything.

I'm on the upswing. It hit me harder, unfortunately. I've lost my voice. But I refuse to let this week copy last week. Aches, fever, congestion, and basically ... oh God, just let me die.

If I could save time in a bottle ... isn't that an old song? I can't even begin to think about time. I've taken the summer off from just about everything I'm committed to. A whirlwind of weddings, traveling, moving to this house ... it's overwhelming. My friend, Dena, says I'm just filling up the funnel for good things to write about. I hope she's right. At this moment, however, I just want to breathe through my nose again. All my time has been sucked up into a bottle of NyQuil.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Little Bits of Nothing

After a dozen conversations with Time Warner and Earthlink, I believe we've finally solved the problem. But I find I'm not the only woman who loses her temper with computer glitches. My good friends, Dena and Blair, came for dinner Saturday night. Dena, it seems, has about as much patience with incompetent "help" as I do. Anyway, it was good for a few laughs ... comparing our all-too-patient husbands and our own what's-wrong-with-these-people! personalities.

Life here in Oak Ridge is quiet. Unless, of course, you include the loose horses running at break-neck speed down the street. One of our neighbors left her gate open and two young mares took the opportunity to make a run for it. Right toward downtown. I heard, what seemed to be a stampede, and then saw these two horses kicking up their heels and having a ball. Naturally, I was concerned for their safety and I called the fire and rescue. Eventually, "Thunder" and "Lightning" (my made up names for these horses) were captured and walked back to their corral.

I'm finally moved in completely. I feel like I've been here for years. The birds have returned to the feeders, evidently they've decided the new owners are friendly. Not much else happens in my neck of the woods. Little bits of nothing.

I like it that way.

But I believe it's way past time to get back to work. I'll keep you posted.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Troubleshooting or Shooting the Trouble

Troubleshooting? A message from an angry customer.

Don't use Earthlink. Don't use Time Warner Cable. Don't. Save yourself time, grief, and effort. I really believe they hire anybody with warm blood.

After several attempts to explain we have moved to a new location, they are still screwing with our Internet and email. And cable phone? Don't bother. You can't hear well, there's static on the line, and frankly ... it's not worth the money.

Troubleshooting? Right now, I'd like to shoot the total idiots who've caused all the trouble.

Time Warner Cable - Earthlink. Don't bother. They're not worth it.

This was a message from our sponsor ... Southern Fried Woman. A woman who'd love to fry the folks at Time Warner and Earthlink who can't get simple English through their first grade brains.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I've Come Undone

I don't know why, maybe it's the summer breezes, but I'm finding it difficult to sit my butt in the chair and write. It's certainly not writer's block. I've got plenty going on inside my head, but the thought of plugging away on a story right now ... it just doesn't appeal to me.

I think maybe it's the house. Well, duh, in fact I know it is. I'm still in a new home owner zone, and I don't know how to shake it. Not sure I want to. The writing world is passing me by, and somehow - I don't care ... I know I'll catch up. But at this moment, I'm immersed in reading. All my books are now on shelves. Beautiful ones my dad built for me. Books that have not seen the light of day for years are now staring me in the face.

I'm reading Wally Lamb's classic, She's Come Undone. I'm also reading The Shack written by William Young. I'm finding myself absorbed in story, but not wanting to put my own into action. Not quite yet.

Discouraged that Televenge has not yet sold, I try to tell myself the process of selling to a major publisher takes time. That often, it's years before a bestseller is born after completion. But the long wait, the silence, doesn't make it any easier. My next book is in process, I just can't find the energy to finish it.

All I want to do is rest, read, and make great meals in my new kitchen. I've "come undone," and I don't care.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I'm Back!

I've got Internet! And TV. And telephone. For the past two weeks I've been moving into a new house and waiting for Time Warner to get their butt in gear and hook me up. Finally.

In the meantime, however, I feel as though I've lived in some kind of time warp. My house, built in 1888, has not only kept me busy 24/7 organizing, cleaning, and finding a place for every little thing, it's held me captive. By not having all the technology at my fingertips, I've found my love of gazing at the morning sun again. Watching finches, hummingbirds, and cardinals eat, peck, and swirl around a feeder. Listening to a distant neighbor's peacock and roosters in the morning duel it out. I found the stars are brighter than ever. Felt the wet grass under my feet and picked corn from another farmer's field. (His welcome to the neighborhood present.)

I scoped out the best tree for a tire swing for my grandson. Found the perfect spot for a sandbox. Fell asleep to the sound of tree frogs and crickets from my open bedroom windows. Filled my kitchen with great smells from dinners I cooked myself. Enjoyed washing clothes from a new washer/dryer. Peeled peaches for a cobbler. Ate blackberries at midnight. Enjoyed a spider weaving her web. I've lost weight (a very good thing) from all the moving, streching, sweating, and cleaning. I've slept like a rock.

Did I miss the Internet? No. TV? No. Telephone? Not a bit.

But now, since I'm all hooked up and tuned in to the 21st century, I've no excuse but to get back to work. The list of things to do is still a long one, but they are little things that can be done over time. Everything is still new to me. This house. Waking up and having coffee with my husband on our covered back porch. Watching the wisteria and the rose bushes grow. It's a dream I never want to wake up from. Never. The views all around the house have thrown me into a different place in my life. I don't feel the rush, the hurry to get it done, the OMG I'm not hearing a thing from my publisher! Somehow, it just doesn't seem so important anymore.

I've taken a deep breath and blown out real contentment for the first time in my life.

That's worth it all.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Update

90% moved in. I've unpacked over 70 boxes and still have another 20 or so to go.

I'm beginning to really miss my work, however. The stories are whirling around in my head, some are in outline form, some are half written, one in particular is reading for editing. Another two ideas are written on Panera napkins. I can't stand it. No such thing as writer's block for me. In fact, right now, I believe I'm being tormented. All these ideas and characters and plot points are ripe for the picking. What I wouldn't give for three or four days of writing time.

Huh. Like that's going to happen anytime soon. Thing is, Time Warner Cable has informed us that it will be August 2nd before they can hook up our cable, Internet, and land line. AUGUST 2nd!!

Now, I don't care much that I won't have TV. I can live without it. But my emails and the Internet, that's another matter.

Point is, after this blog, you won't hear from me until after August 2nd. I'll have no way to blog, unless I go to Kinkos or a friend's house. If you need to reach me, call me if you have my number. Any way you shake it, I've got enough housework to keep me busy until the cows head to the barn. (As my grandpa used to say.)

So despite the craving to put my hands on my keyboard and punch out a few stories, I've got a new house to put together. See you on August 2nd!

Signing off ...

Big blessings to you and yours until then.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Real Place

It seems about once a week is my normal blogging time these days. At least for now. I'm spending my days boxing and unboxing. Organizing a kitchen again. Finding things I've not seen in years. Like letters from my son in 1995 when he went to boot camp. My daughter's bronzed baby shoes. A ceramic bowl given to me by my grandmother. My mother's china that serves 10. Pillows, lamps, linens, pictures, stemware, and on and on. The house is filling up.

I can see the end of the tunnel, however.

I'm pressing on. At times I feel like I'm walking through a dream. That at some point I'm going to wake up and it's all going to be gone. Funny how that moves me to finish. Like if I finish the house, then I won't wake up.

I've forgotten all the details to housekeeping. We've lived with my mother-in-law for seven years. Seven long years. It's been a blessing in a large sense. There are good reasons why we did this. But, well, two women in one house for that long ... it's not healthy. It's just time. Time to have our own home.

I'm hoping to be back to my old writing schedule within the month. For now, this house is all I can think about. You see, I've never owned my own home. Never had my name on a deed. My husband has been instrumental in the fulfillment of this dream. Yet isn't it strange, a woman of my age, homeless in a sense, all my life.

I'm grateful. You learn to never take anything for granted. I tear up and giggle at the same time. Almost every day. This summer I'm enjoying moving into my own house. Not a dream, but a real place I can finally call home.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Buelah Land

I'm consumed with moving. Totally. Boxes, bags, furniture, a little of this and that spread over the old house and the new. I can't find my shoes, my favorite bra, or my Advil. It's a nightmare. How many times have I moved? Can't count at the moment, but this is bar far, the most unorganized move. There are issues to warrant that, but I'm trying to get it together. You'd think I'd have this down pat by now. No such thing.

Seven years of boxes and furniture have been collecting in Mike's mom's attic for this move. I can't even remember what's in them. I have to call the garbage man, cable guy, and buy a riding lawn mower this week. There's painting to be done. A new kitchen needs set up with everything from a coffee pot to groceries. I need to decide - do I want sage green in my living room or robins egg blue? My list is as long as both legs. Exciting, exhilarating, and scary all at the same time, this move into the house of my dreams is yes, all consuming.

I wish I could find more than an hour to sit and do what I do best ... write. But I have a new office to furnish. That motivates me to get it all done. My poor husband is working long hours, we both fall into bed each night ... exhausted. But deep in the back of my mind, I'm working on a new story that's developed from all this. I've got the title, the characters, and the message. Beulah Land. It's a metaphor for Heaven. It's also the name of my protagonist. A rough-edged woman, with a soft and doughy heart for her dog, a lost love, and an old house. Haunted by a confederate soldier. The words, Beulah Land, struck me recently as I walked over the property. I looked up the scripture.

"Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married." (Isaiah 62:4)

I'm moving to my Beulah land. I hope it has lots of stories to tell. But right now I've got to get seven years of ... whatever is in those boxes moved to the house, find my shoes, my bottle of Advil, and Lord help me ... my bra.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

We Begin A New Chapter

Michael and I have started a new chapter in our lives. We have purchased a home, complete with land, barn, outbuildings, and a house built in 1888. This house spoke to us the moment we drove down the long country road and caught the first glimpse of its beauty, tucked inside its magnificent trees. Surrounded by farms, this slice of heaven was God sent. Truly. His divine hand guided each and every move of this purchase. I believe it with my whole heart.

I plan to spend the rest of my days here. Reading and writing my stories. It's peaceful. It's where we're supposed to be. It's ours.

Few neighbors, at least within earshot, we love the seclusion. We were blessed to max. I'm weepy and elated all at once. It's been such a long, long time - years ... waiting, hoping, wishing, planning. Now here it is. Something I've dreamed of since a little girl. My own home.

Once upon a time, there lived a writer and photographer in a beautiful old house ...

... and the story begins ...

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pay Dirt

It was a very good day. A very good day, indeed!

Seven great chairs to fit around my dining room table. (Will need painted, but they're in great shape.) And a round wooden pedestal table thrown into the bargain.

A wicker settee, complete with pillow seating and decorator pillows. All very clean and in super, new shape. (For my covered back porch.)

A whitewashed four-drawer dresser. An antique. Just beautiful.

A large antique-looking picture in a fabulous frame.

And all for the mere price of 70 bucks!

But it didn't end there. Mike and I (trying to furnish our new house) visited a few consignment stores yesterday evening. There we purchased a white computer desk for my new office, a great comfy couch and matching chair and ottoman, and an antique armoire for our TV.

But the cherry on top was the very, very old ironing board for 20 bucks. Quite possibly, turn-of-the-century old. The wood was worn and magnificent! I only wish the thing could talk. What stories it would tell.

One woman's trash is another woman's treasure. How trite, but how true. I love Saturday treasure hunts. Especially when I hit pay dirt!

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Treasure Hunt

My how time flies when you're crazy busy. When I finally got home from the wedding, I thought I might have some time to write, but as fate would have it ... I've got boxes to pack. My list is as long as my leg. Because we're moving! (More details to come.) But this morning we're off to find a few treasures. And you know what that means. Garage sales.

It's early, but despite my aching back, sore muscles, and bum leg, I'll be out the door in a few minutes with coffee in hand, hair pulled back, no makeup, and my treasure map. A list of sales spewed throughout the area. Hopefully, I'll find some chairs for my chairless kitchen table.

Who knows what the day will bring?

Only the Garage Sale God knows.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Wedding of Dreams

I think this is the longest time I've ever gone between blogs since 2005. But for good reason. I wanted to take time off, spend time with my family, and participate (without interruption) in all the wedding festivities on June 21st.

Here I am, back home in North Carolina, realizing my first-born is now a married man. Aaron and his beautiful bride, Annie, are now exploring Nova Scotia on their honeymoon. It was, for lack of better words, a wedding of dreams. (See pictures below.)

The week began with final details and all the running around a bridal party experiences. Last minute tux fittings, a forgotten corsage to order, food trays to keep hungry guests happy between the ceremony and the reception -- you know, the crazies everybody in the throes of a big wedding goes through. But cool-headed Anne Marie handled every detail with flawless etiquette. Her kindness and ability to create calmness out of possible chaos is simply a goddess-like virtue. My new daughter-in-law is nothing less than a gift from God.

God, in His infinite wisdom, smiled on my son this past week, bestowing him with the most precious gift of his life. As Aaron's new bride walked down a long aisle between her parents, tears filled their eyes. Tears of happiness, and of course, a little sadness. Memories of their precious daughter, watching her grow through the years ... I'm sure flashed through their mind's eye at that moment. The crowd was breathless.

The ceremony, officiated by Father Steve, held us in awe. A string quartet within the acoustics of this magnificent Catholic church sent goosebumps to every arm. Elegant, the bridal party in black, strolled to the front while Michael and I sat mesmerized on the front seat. A birds-eye view. The place was full of guests, both bride side and groom side. I was amazed at the multitude who came to share this sacred moment.

Later, at the reception, it was time to par-tay. Big time. Under a white bridal tent hooked to a grand and restored Wooster Inn, a mouth-watering and glorious meal was served to the mass of guests. Beer and wine flowed freely. Aaron danced with his new bride to "Making Memories of Us" by Keith Urban. Handing her to her father, they danced to "Annie's Song" by John Denver. Next, the groom danced with his mother (me) and my new memory book began. As the evening progressed the party grew more and more intense, until at the end of the evening the dance floor evolved into a packed club-scene-strobe-light-get-down dance fest. Awesome. The young and young-at-heart rocked the night away. Until the last dance.

And then ... it was over.

I drove away with a smile on my face. Aaron's happy. Annie's happy. That's all that matters. We love them. We wish them love. All the rest of their lives. Together.

A special blessing to Annie and Aaron this day. And as always, blessings to you and yours.


Friday, June 13, 2008

On Hold

Aaron and Annie are getting married next Saturday. My son and his fiance' are now counting down the days. I'm nursing a bad back, packing, and getting ready to make the long trek north. So much is going on at home, the stories I was working on last month are stuck in a file to be continued ... later. Life, and all the obligations that go with it, often make a writer's life take a back seat.

It seems it's been that way for me since spring. As hard as I try to hole up in "a room of my own" and write, my Virginia Woolf writing mind is pulled elsewhere. I continually keep a plot working in my head, and I will write many phrases and ideas down in the process of getting back to the computer. But I long to sit, uninterrupted, and pour myself into my work. It's just not the time to do that.

I'll get back to it. Eventually. With luck, prayers, and the good wishes of my friends and family, my agent will call me with good news soon. That will send me into the madness of my work with a smile on my face. In the meantime, I have lots of packing to do, traveling, and a son who is about to step into the land of matrimony. I want to be there for every precious moment of their adult lives, as well.

So my writing life will have to wait a few days. Who knows what great story will come from this? A writer looks at each day, each life experience, each opportunity and sees a story. My point is, it's okay to take a break now and then. In fact, you need to step back and let life happen to have something to write about. It'll catch back up to you. And when it does, your fingers will be itching to find a keyboard or a pencil.

I'll be back in a week or so.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Political Correctness

The following is the 2007 winning entry from an annual contest at Texas A&M University calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term. This year's term was
'Political Correctness. '

The winner wrote: 'Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.'

The best definition I've heard in a long time.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Map Your Own Success

This past Wednesday, Michael and I sat on a panel at the Winston-Salem Library. Along with Press 53 and other local well-known authors, we talked about the world of publishing. To a packed house, I might add. Sponsored by the highly-popular Winston-Salem Writers, this panel showed a glimpse of how to, "See Your Work In Print." Afterward, lots of familiar faces in the crowd came up to talk and grab a hug. Folks I'd not hugged in a while. I sold and signed more copies of Southern Fried Women, and met a few new area writers. What fun.

I like panels like this. I don't have to do all the talking, for one thing. As much as I push folks to learn to speak in public, it's refreshing when you can sit back and listen sometimes. My 2 cents, however, is more along the line of marketing. When it comes to marketing my work, I can usually say, "been there, done that." Building a platform for your work, whether fiction or non-fiction, is just as important as writing the book. Lordy, how many times have I said that, I wonder? But you've got to draw your own map to success.

The list of things to do never ends. I struggle to get my web site updated, my face on the ever-popular Internet sites of today along with setting up more speaking engagements, and of course, finding time to write! Nobody can do it all! It's simply not possible. Unless you're loaded and can afford a secretary, a high-priced publicist, a web designer, along with a cook and a maid. Otherwise, you're finding your own way. And very often--it's in the dark.

I suppose you have to figure out what is most important to you. I used to freak out every week that I wasn't getting it all done. My writing has consumed me at times. I see it on the faces of other writers, as well. Writing! It's such a passion! Every waking moment, you're thinking about the next story. Riding down the road, your thoughts are wrapped up in plot and character. When you're in the midst of putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, you can forget your name even. Bathing, grooming, and eating ... it all takes a back seat to life at the keyboard.

But after a while, when the book is done, your eyes open. You realize, I have a life. Not just as a writer--but as a wife, a mother, a sister, a best friend, and a grandmother. Although I would probably give my left foot to be an A-List author ... I have to find balance in my life. It's never easy. Nothing good ever is, is it? It's like searching for buried treasure.

Maybe that should be a topic for the next panel discussion. Or the next How To Book for Dummies. Getting it All Done, in Six Easy Steps. I've said it before; life gets in the way of our dreams. Living day-to-day can squash all plans to put that marketing plan into action. Our children, our spouses, our family--they pull at us, and though we give of ourselves freely ... by the end of the day who feels like putting in more time at the computer?

So the trick is to find your own day-to-day balance. A good quote on Jackie Stanley's web site http://www.encouragementalways.com/ is by John W. Gardner: What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.

Our attempt to do it all, get it all done, may often seem insoluble. But it's not. You can be a great writer and speaker. Sometimes you just have to draw your own map.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Breaking More Rules

I just read a book by Alice Hoffman, Here On Earth. Riveting. Wonderful. I highly recommend it. Alice writes an easy read, with fully developed characters. She weaves the backstory in and out, and she does it in such a way one would hardly notice.

One thing, however. She switches point-of-view often. And I mean ... within the paragraph, even. One minute you're in Gwen's head, thinking her thoughts, the next--you're in March's head, remembering her past. Masterfully done, however.

I wonder. Are the rules meant only for the unpublished? What am I missing?

It doesn't matter; it worked. I was never confused. Not once. The book was well written and kept me reading until the end. I see why one of Jodi Piccoult's favorite authors is Alice Hoffman. I'm going to be on the lookout for her work. My point is, it's interesting as a writer to read the popular authors. To study what they do that makes their work stand out in the massive amounts of submissions to New York. I'm fascinated that so much of what we learn -- we unlearn. I'm realizing that a key to writing a great story, is practice. There are other things, but it's that good old fashioned work ethic, the diligence, persevering when you don't feel like writing ... practice.

It's what molds us into the writers who can bend, break, and blow all the rules right out of the How To Write books.

According to Don Maass (Literary Agent) it takes ten years to become a breakout novelist. What I think he was saying is that it takes ten years to learn the rules well enough to know how to break them and make it work.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Celebrity Playlists

It’s no secret. I’m a huge I-tunes fan. I love the 99cents-for-a-song deal. Trouble is, they add up, and before you know it, you’ve spent 20 bucks. But the amazing thing to me, are the Celebrity Playlists. Famous people who list their favorite songs. Every week, some famous actor/actress/singer posts their favorite songs, and it’s supposed to make us want to buy them. The Sex and the City ladies have recently posted their top tunes. Oh. So I looked.

Yuck.

Okay, not all yuck. But a lot yuck.

Do celebrities choose to be that extremely different just so they come off as cool to the rest of us? But I got to thinking ... hey, maybe they really do love those songs. Who am I to say what's cool?

Yet, just because it’s their favorite song list, doesn’t mean we have to buy it. I have to admit, though, a golden nugget often hides in a Celebrity Playlist. It’s either a song I’ve not heard, or one I’ve forgotten about. And if I find myself going back again and again to listen to the “sample,” I usually buy it and download it.

So, I started thinking again, I’m a connoisseur of music. Loving all styles of music, I glean from every category, except maybe rap (it's not singing) and the really hard, nasty stuff that makes absolutely no sense. I’m a child of the early days of classic rock, so naturally, I adore The Stones and the Beatles. But I was born into a family of fiddle players and banjo pickers, so country and bluegrass runs in my blood. I find myself drawn to movie Soundtracks. And I love Bach, songs from the 40s, and Elvis. I once downloaded Mel Torme. It’s great music if you’re entertaining a large group and you want to keep the evening lively. I’m all over the place when it comes to music.

When I’m writing, I live in my headsets. Usually, it’s soft music, new age, or some soundtrack that plays in the background, setting the mood for the scene, chapter, or the “movie” rolling through my head.

Driving music is usually, rock, pop, R&B, or country. Nothing like flying down the road to a little “Sweet Emotion.”

Bluegrass plays when I cook or clean or when I want to write about the rural South. I’m not really into the old stuff, mostly Alison Kraus, Gillian Welch, Dale Ann Bradley, and Vince Gill. Sitting around a bon fire at night, there’s nothing like bluegrass. Oh yes, my cousin, Clint Lewis, wow. Fantastic!

My cell phone rings to Brooks & Dunn’s, Red Dirt Road. What can I say? Love the lyrics.

Whatever my mood, I’ve got great stuff to listen to.

The list is way long but for what it’s worth, here’s my “celebrity” (ha!) playlist. It’s really, just the tip of the iceberg in my collection, Enjoy!

-Caribbean Blue – Enya
-Gabriel’s Oboe from “The Mission” – Ennio Morricone
-Theme to Out of Africa, Ghost, Rainman, Road to Perdition, Legends of the Fall, Dances With Wolves, Titanic, The Piano, Gladiator
-Photograph – Def Leppard
-Sweet Emotion – Aerosmith
-Mama I’m Commin’ Home – Ozzy Osbourne
-Kyrie – Mr. Mister
-Dancing Queen – ABBA
-Whiter Shade of Pale – Annie Lennox
-Missionary Man – Annie Lennox
-Crazy – Alanis Morissette
-No One In The World – Anita Baker
Anything Alison Kraus sings
-Gone Country – Alan Jackson
-Boondocks – Little Big Town
-Georgia Rain – Trisha Yearwood
-The Devil Had a Hold of Me – Gillian Welch
-Making Memories of Us – Keith Urban
-Gotta Keep Moving – Kelly Pickler
-Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
-Bless the Broken Road – Rascal Flatts
-Ruby With The Eyes That Sparkle – Dirk Powell
-This One’s For the Girls – Martina McBride
-I Need You – Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
-Colder Than Winter – Vince Gill
-Wave On Wave – Pat Green
-Caleb Meyer – Gillian Welch
-Redneck Woman – Gretchen Wilson
-Day Tripper – The Beatles
-Paperback Novel – The Beatles
-Revolution – The Beatles
-Alabama Bad – Marshall Chapman
-Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones
-Ode to a Butterfly – Nickel Creek
-Copperhead Road – Steve Earle

Oh let’s cut to the chase – too many to list! Bon Jovi, Bo Bice, BackStreet Boys, Bangles, .38 Special, Boston, Bread, Brownstone, Alan Parsons Project, ALABAMA, NSYNC, Argent, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, The Bangles, The Beach Boys, Benny Mardones, Billy Ocean, Bruce Hornsby, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, Bryan Adams, The Calling, Carpenters, The Cars, Celine Dion, Cher, Christopher Cross, Clark Anderson, Crosby-Stills-Nash&Young, CREEDENCE, DAUGHTRY, Def Leppard, Don Henley, Doobie Brothers, Duran Duran, Earth Wind & Fire, Electric Light Orchestra, Elton John, Eric Carmen, Eric Clapton, FLEETWOOD MAC, Fergie, Foo Fighters, The Fray, Genesis, Gloria Estefan, Graham Colton, The Guess Who, Guns n’ Roses, Gwen Stefani, HEART, James Taylor, Jane Child, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Johnny Hates Jazz, Jon Secada, Joni Mitchell, JOURNEY, KIM CARNES, LeAnn Rimes, LEONA LEWIS, Lifehouse, LINDA RONDSTADT, Lou Graham, Madonna, Maroon 5, Michael Bolton, Nelly Furtado, Nickelback, PETER CETERA, PHIL COLLINS, Pointer Sisters, R.E.M., Roberta Flack, Seal, Sly and the Family Stone, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, Sergio Mendez, STEELY DAN, STEVIE NICKS, STEVIE WONDER, Sting, Taylor Dayne, Three Dog Night, Tom Petty, Tori Childs, U2, Tears for Fears, Van Halen, The Who, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, ARETHA, BEE GEES, Four Tops, FRANKIE VALLI, Prince, Lovin’ Spoonful, The Mamas & the Papas, The Righteous Brothers, Steppenwolf, Steve Winwood, THE DOORS, Stone Poneys, Temptations, Tommy James

and on … and on … and on … Just because they're my favorites, doesn't mean they should be yours. Point is, start your OWN LIST!

Is there anybody I don’t particularly like? Yeah. Jimmy Buffett, Billy Joel, and John Denver. The final point, find what you like. Immerse yourself in music once in a while. Turn up the music in your life, get away from the TV, kick back and enjoy. Choose your own favorites, sink into your comfy spot with a good playlist and a great book. That's living large.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Grandma's Apron

This was sent in to me by a dear friend. I have no idea who wrote this, but I loved it. It brings back so many memories of my Grandma King and her apron. She's gone now, but I can see her use her apron in each one of the following scenarios:

The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.

After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace the 'apron' that served so many purposes. But you can bet, I'll be wearing one in the very near future.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Commentary on Memorial Day

My grandfather was a veteran. My father is a veteran. My husband is a veteran. My son is a veteran. All three of my uncles were veterans. My great uncles were veterans. My family has a long and dedicated history of service to this country. In fact, on my father's side, we have documented history of a very, very great grandfather who fought in the Revolutionary War.

Monday, May 25, 2008 article from the Associated Press states, "... Military veterans are being buried at such a rapid rate that national cemeteries use heavy equipment to make room. 'We're still in growth mode right now,' said Bill Tuerk, undersecretary for memorial affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 'We're in a very high-demand time period, and we're trying to respond to it.' An average of 1,800 veterans die each day, and 10 percent of them are buried in the country's 125 national cemeteries, which are expected to set a record with 107,000 interments, including dependents, this year. And more national cemeteries are being built ..."

Memorial Day is a sad day. Yes, we love our parades, fly our flags, and salute our veterans as they proudly march past. But for me, it's a day to mourn those fallen in battle. To pray for peace. And to really begin to ponder ... who do we want next to lead our nation?

As a woman, I'm thankful George's reign is just about over. As a woman, I want an end to this war and the tears of mothers and wives in this country. And as a woman, one day before I'm gone from this earth, I want to see a woman in the White House. A woman with sons.

Then, quite possibly, there may be fewer veterans to bury in our future.

God bless our veterans this Memorial Day.

... and you and yours, as well.