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 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.