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


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


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.