Thursday, December 17, 2009

December Post

Ah yes, it’s December. If there’s anybody out there who has been diligent in reading my blog, despite my once-a-month effort, I pour out my heartfelt thanks to you.

No excuses now, but a whole lot of new stuff is happening, and if you’re patient just a little longer … my blogging will be current almost daily.

A special shout-out to the Minnesota Magnolia Southern Book Club! Because of you dear ladies, I have resurrected HOPE … Southern Fried Women is still out there, and among some circles has become a cult classic! I’m thrilled. And honored. I’d be most happy to speak to your group when you’re ready!

Although this Christmas is probably the most simple and uncomplicated Christmas I’ve ever experienced, my heart is in full bloom. Michael and I are about to step into a new chapter of our lives, and for me this includes writing/publishing/promoting on a major scale.

The new house is cozy, warm, and we’re loving it. It has become home, which is shocking to us after leaving the farmhouse. But we feel confident in our direction and know that God is watching out for us. Life is good, not perfect, but whose is? Eh? Still, I’m excited and ready to blast forward into this New Year.

I see great and awesome things ahead.

To anyone out there reading this, a Blessed Christmas to you and yours -- and a prosperous New Year.

Thanks, y'all ... for reading.

Monday, November 02, 2009

A New Adventure

Gone are my hardwood floors, my large front and back porches, my arbors, and my gardens. My new front porch is a good size for a little house. I have a nice deck out back, but there’s linoleum in the kitchen and bathrooms and I’m back to wall-to-wall carpet.

Gone is my country view on all four sides. My new neighborhood is full of well-maintained little houses and lawns, but there are lots of dogs and kids and basketball hoops.

Gone are my big spare bedrooms. My new house has one spare room with a queen-size bed that has to share its space with Mike’s desk. The smallest bedroom is my new office.

Gone is the three-car Morton barn building, the three-compartment out-building, and the potting shed. My new house has a utility shed in the back yard and a single-car garage.

Gone is Michael's weekly three-hour two-acre mowing, now he’s looking at a half hour … maybe … to cut the sweet little back and front yard.

Gone is my five-minute commute to work. Thirty minutes might get me there on time … at least for now.

Gone are my spacious bathrooms. I think I can turn around in both new bathrooms. I think.

Gone is my pantry, my laundry room. Now they are one in the same.

Gone are the six fireplaces, old wood mantels, and unique wooden walls and ceilings. My new house has one wood-burning fireplace and beautiful stonework, but the walls are drywall, the ceilings – popcorn. But clean. Clean is good, right?

Gone is my country kitchen. Hello range that needs replaced, and pink Formica countertops.

But halleluiah, also GONE is the monster mortgage payment. Ginormous heating bills. Stressing over the economy. Time to make changes, sacrifices, and move forward. To a new dream. A new adventure, as my sister put it. A move back to Ohio in five years, to be near our children, grandchildren, and to build a new house. A new house that’s every bit as beautiful as the Farmhouse. Our current temporary, smaller, cheaper house is part of making that dream come true.

I’m grateful for it.

A Southern Fried Woman moving north? Yep. You heard it here first. At some point in the next few years, this southern woman will head north. The “South,” however, never leaves you. It remains in your heart no matter where you hang your hat. For me, as I grow older, what’s more important than my geographical location … is my family.

And that’s all I need to say.

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Hello November?

It's November 1st. I've skipped a whole month.

I'm moving. Yes, moving.


Downsizing, economy, moving closer to family ... too many reasons to name. It's a good thing. Truth is, October was filled with mixed emotions, tons of work (packing up a house is lots of work) and writing. WRITING, WRITING, WRITING.

Many good things loom on the horizon. More than ever before. Michael and I have entered into what we believe to be (despite the economy and the move into a much smaller house) the most exciting time of our lives. We welcome it.

We'll keep you posted.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Goodbye September

September has blown in, spun around, and is threatening to leave the same way summer did.


Rain. God, when will it stop? Occasionally, I think God likes to remind me what it was like to live Ohio with continuous days of rain. Falling on my gray moods, rolling fog penetrates my head as well as the air outside. The house is damp and cooler. I'd like to start making fires in the fireplace and forget the world exists outside of my cocoon. I withdraw once again to the computer, to my stories, and to a world in which I'm most comfortable.

I'm making decisions this month. Going so long between blog posts (as usual) is not because I'm not writing. In fact, I'm consumed with reading and writing these days. Blogging has taken a back seat, once again. I've been consumed by one book after another, and seldom sit without a book in my lap. My heart longs for the next chapter as my hands reach for my reading glasses. I'm engrossed in many genres I don't write in. It's refreshing.

I met with my best writing friend this week, and the one thing I realized while having lunch with her is that this whole year has taught me a valuable lesson about how I want to spend the rest of my life. Writing. The passion never wavered. In fact, it strengthened. Working a full-time job has forced me to look hard at my future. I'll blog more about that later.

But for now, I'm itching to do what I love most. What relaxes me, moves me, makes me who I am. It's been long enough, the funnel is full and I'm ready to get to it.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009



I see it, feel it. The air around me is enhanced by the smell of change. Hot and humid evaporated and left us with cool and cloudy. School buses, mums for sale, brown corn waiting for harvest. It's September. Not yet Autumn, no longer Summer. That in-between month not sure what season to call itself.

The air conditioner has been turned off. Crisp night air blows into my bedroom, carrying an aroma of plowed earth and the occasional scent of a far-off skunk. I'm waiting. For more change.

Change. Brilliant, earth-shattering change comes so seldom in our lifetime. An idea, a thought, a dream of success drives us to make changes. More often, change is subtle and we adapt to most of it. But unfortunate or deliberate mistakes force changes that are often perceived as horrific, when in fact, they are not. I thought perhaps this entire past year would stifle me, hurt me, turn my writing into scraps meant for the dogs.

The sabbatical, as I call it, has accomplished quite the opposite. As I read the dribs and drabs from the past months of here and there, I view my writing very much as grapes in a press. Condensed, but richer. Turned into something undeniably palatable. Smooth.

I like this change.

There are more changes to come. Some not so good, I'm afraid. But, as always, I'm a survivor. I'll get through it and it'll end up as prose somewhere in one of my stories. This year has proven to me one great fact. Unconditionally, I'm a writer. That, dear friend, will see me through the rest of my life. Every change in life can be twisted to the good. If we want it to be.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Rules? What Rules?

I'm deep into the third book of the Outlander series. If you've never read the books by Diana Gabaldon, I highly suggest them. My head is wrapped up in the ecstasy and agony of Claire and Jamie and what could possibly happen next! I've been meaning to finish all five books before the new one comes out this year. I hear OUTLANDER has been successfully optioned for film and they're currently casting characters. But who knows where that stands, really. All I know is that they're going to have to go some to make the movie as magnificent as the novels.

But, here I am, not only devouring the novels, but studying Diana's writing style. She's quite a genious, in my opinion. Her research is amazing (like Jodi Piccoult) and, once again, Gabaldon holds me in the palm of her hand as my time slips into the stratosphere. We Gabaldon readers tend consume her books in only a few day-long reading marathons.

What's even more amazing to me, is she breaks every damn rule in the book. Not only are her novels 800 pages to over 1,000 pages in length, she does stuff like change point-of-view not only within the paragraph, but within a sentence!!! In the book VOYAGER, I recently read point-of-view being changed twice in one sentence. I just sat there. Stunned. I had to read it over and over. But then I started to laugh. The way she wrote it, it made perfect sense. I understood who was thinking when, and was not confused by any "talking heads."

Now, if you've ever sat through months/years of creative writing classes, as well as hours of never-ending writing conferences, you would know that changing point-of-view within a paragraph or a sentence is a huge WHAT-NOT-TO-DO RULE. A big no-no. It warrants immediate rejections from editors and agents. Unless, I guess, if you've already sold millions of books and your name is Diana Gabaldon.

You go girl. My hero.

Blessings to you and yours, Ms. Gabaldon.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Where Do You Draw The Line?

As a writer, we're bombarded with emails. It's our own fault. We signed up for every newsletter available.

As the Internet became the popular breeding ground for writers seeking to advance their careers, we found ourselves overwhelmed with information.

If you're a writer, you know what I'm talking about. How much time have you spent, reading one blog after another? Do you find yourself caught in a maze of Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace? How many Writer's Digest and Publishers Lunch emails land in your Inbox each week?

Then there are the writing groups and conferences, all pulling for your attention. Shoot, I just want to go for coffee with my writing buddy, Dena. Talk writing. Gossip. Share the latest in our quest for bestseller-status. Laugh about it.

Throw in a full-time job, family time, time to clean the house, mow the yard, and do the laundry ... hells bells, it's no wonder we're frustrated. We squeeze writing and editing time into the early morning hours or late in the day. Occasionally, when things are slow at work, I can write a blog. Like now.

As I sit here now, I yearn for the days to attend another writing conference, plan my next publicity and speaking tour, support the open-mic in Winston-Salem with the Writer's Group. I'd give a kidney for non-stop writing time. I want to live in my stories. Start the next book. Finish the current one.

Setting priorities is tough when there's so many of them.

I need a new website, gather my thoughts for a few magazine articles I'm wanting to write, set my writing goals for the rest of the year. The list becomes longer as I think about it. I'm ready to draw the line.

So very ready.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Practice What You Preach, Pam. Take Time To Blog.

Where has the month gone? I strolled through Garden Ridge the other day. You know, the cheapie store that sells housewares. Well, I kid you not, they've stuffed the front of the store with Halloween yard decorations. Front and center. Smack dab as you walk through the door. Christmas trees and walls filled with every ornament imaginable are just beyond the pumpkins and broomsticks. Of course, summertime clearance items are now stashed way in the back.

I hate it when stores rob us of our time.

Our time on this earth is so fleeting. My children visited recently and we poured through bags of old pictures ... sighing ... remembering. They were babies only yesterday, it seems. Laughing and crying over one memory and the next, it made me stop and ponder real hard about how little time we have to make life matter. To write a letter. To perform a kindness. To learn from our mistakes. To say we're sorry. To express our love. To call an old friend. To rest. To leave a legacy.

To blog.

Take time to make life matter.

Don't let time take you.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Garage Sales Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

Yeah, Yeah … another garage sale blog. But did you know, oh faithful reader, that there’s a dark side to these blissful Saturday morning outings?

A couple weeks ago my husband and I started out early. After three successful stops and a trunk full of rock-bottom, dirt-cheap, slap-me-silly fabulous finds, we ventured to the west side of town. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a gum-chewing, cell phone-gabber (and quite possibly texting) woman, bore down on our backside. She might as well have hitched a ride on our bumper and saved her gas.

My husband growled. “She’s too close!” And I said, as I ignored him, “Slow down, there’s big ole’ yard sale up ahead in that empty pasture next to the County Line Grocery.” So, he did what all obedient garage-saleing husbands do. He slowed down, put his signal on, and proceeded to turn right into the parking lot. Until …


The bumper-hugging woman rammed into us like two 1972 Ford Zephyrs battling it out in a Demolition Derby. Her air bags deployed. Her front end was smashed up to her steering wheel, and obviously she didn’t have her seat belt on. Her chin was a bloody mess.

We were shaken up a bit. But not injured.

The Fire Department, EMTs, and State Police showed up. Quite the three-ring circus, I must say. Nobody was hurt enough to go to the hospital, thank God for that.

She and my husband exchanged a few not-so-pleasant words. She said, “I was following one car length!”

“ONE car length?!?” Michael shook his head. “Go back and read your driver’s education manual! At 50 mph, you should’ve been FIVE car lengths behind us!”

Well … you can imagine the rest.

Needless to say, she totaled her car. We, on the other hand, drove away with just a few scratches.

But the worst thing was … we missed the garage sale.


Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Day I Met God

It's an amazing thing. Meeting God. I remember the day, like it was yesterday. Have you met Him yet?

I'm not talking about the day you gave your heart to Jesus. That Sunday you walked the aisle and the preacher wrote your name in the Lamb's Book of Life. I'm not talking about confessing your sins to a priest or before a congregation. I'm not talking about that revival you walked away from, so full of hope and joy unspeakable. I'm not talking about shouting at the altar, or the day your lips trembled and your tongue got thick during a particular "come to Jesus" meeting.

I'm talking about a bonifide experience where God shows up and you know in the deepest region of your heart and soul, it's Him. The day He stepped out of nowhere and introduced Himself to me was a REAL life-changing experience. Have you had a meeting like that?

This weekend, I understand that 11,000 women (or more) are decending upon our local coliseum to listen to a few popular Christian women speakers. These evangelists, I'm sure, can lift a crowd of that magnitude to pinnicals of heart-felt glory. I've heard them speak on-line, they're really something.

The testimonies they sport on their web-sites are impressive.

The women I know who are attending are excited beyond belief. They've purchased their tickets months in advance.

Did you hear what I said? They purchased their tickets. 11,000 women at $75.00 a pop. Or more. You pay extra for your box lunch. That's a lot of money, folks. A lot. Makes me wonder. What about you?

Do you think these lady evangelists/teachers/prophets (whatever their titles) ... do you think they sell their books, tapes, cds, t-shirts, keychains, etc. at the back of the room? You bet they do.

Do they take up yet another offering during the services? (Not sure about that one, but my guess is ... yes.)

Do women really meet God there? I don't know. I hope for that kind of money they at least get a glimpse of Him.

If you're going, I hope you have a wonderful time. But I won't be there. Personally, though I am a proclaimed woman of faith, I don't do well in evangelical crowds. If you knew my history, you'd know why.

For me, I met God at the darkest hour in my life. Not in church, not in a crowd of evangelicals who all think alike, not in a Praise and Worship moment. No. I met God in a place where one would think God would not be.

Powerful does not describe it. Words have suddenly escaped me, trying to reveal the moment. To recognize Him, to see His hand moving swift and steady, it's an experience I will never forget. Never.

Miracles happen as He walks into your life, and you change as your circumstances change. For me, He revealed Himself during a great struggle. In the middle of the night. In the wee hours when silence rings so loud in your head it's disturbing. When darkness squeezed in around me so tight, I thought I would die ... when I believed my life was ending. That's when God showed up.

Now God certainly listens when 11,000 women gather together to sing and worship Him. He enjoys the praise of those who love Him. All I'm saying is that some of us are made differently. We don't need to be pumped up. An evangelist's message may be honest and pure and full of Rah-Rah Christian ladies!! But ... I do have a problem with the millions they rake in. I have a real problem with it. I suppose during hard economic times, revivals of any kind are money-makers.

It's just that I've come from a different spot. My message is different. It's not a made-for-TV message.

I'm not saying the way I met God is the best way. Maybe gathering together, listening to high-spirited messages is a good thing - for some. Maybe a few folks need that more than others. And then, maybe you can meet Him jumping for joy in the midst of 11,000 women ... but it's my belief that God doesn't charge admission.

You can find Him ... anywhere.

Everything I am, all that I know, feel, act, think or do ... changed that day I met God.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summer Romance

I'm deep into romance. A romantic novel, that is. The author writes scene by scene and ties them together with expert skill. In this case she has created one of the great love stories of our time. I'm convinced I'll never read a better romance novel. She has set the bar in the stratosphere.

I'm not one to read only romance. But hot summer breezes on my back porch demand a good love story. There's nothing better than a porch swing and a cool drink to transport yourself to another place and time. Romance novels are usually light, funny; a fast read. But not the one on my lap. It's 850 pages of intrigue and history. The love story is hot, constant, and keeps you involved. The skill of the author is consistent, her story never falls short. In other words, my eyes have not skimmed the pages to get to the next scene. Not once. I'm chewing on each word.

There's no better season than summer to immerse yourself in a good romance. Even if it is a hot, steamy novel.

Grab your book, a glass of ice tea, and a fan; come join me on my porch!

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Garage Sale Etiquette And Otherwise

I blog about this every July; it's my summertime passion.

$250.00 Frye Boots for an amazing $7. Cool-looking boots that some man wore only three times. Four beautiful sweaters for me - $1 a piece. One like-new couch (like never sat on) - $100. (Four decorator pillows thrown in for free.) One Lazy-Boy chair, in great shape and the perfect color - $20. Gorgeous antique side table - $5. Stemware; water goblets, wine glasses, juice glasses, and drinking glasses, service for eight, in perfect condition - $4. Hallmark Christmas ornaments - 50 cents each. L.L. Bean like-new jacket for Mike - $1. Tommy Hilfiger shirts in new condition - 50 cents each. Depression-glass antique plate - $1. Antique mirror - $2. Liz Claiborne purse and matching wallet, never used - $3. Hushpuppy winter boots, again, never used - $1.

Do I have your attention?

Never-used power and garden tools, great books, lovely jewelry, never-used purses, nice stock pots, awesome antique clock, clean rugs, spotless tablecloths, vintage linens as seen in Southern Living Magazine, to-die-for quilts, valuable framed artwork, pretty vases, plants and patio furniture, etc. etc. etc. ... all bought for REAL rock-bottom prices over the years.


Garage Sales. Yard Sales. Barn Sales. Estate Sales. Moving Sales. Sidewalk and Parking Lot Sales. Flea Markets.

I NEVER pay retail price for anything in my house. Well, maybe my TV, my computer, my mattresses, and my underwear. But I guarantee you, they were on sale for at least 50% off or more. So listen up! I've got better news for you than Fox, CNN Headline, and Nancy Grace!

Due to the economy, sell-your-first-born sales are in abundance this year. Hurrah for me! Hurrah for you! It's back to basics. An honest-to-gosh stimulus package for our finances - finding what we need (and sometimes what we want) at neighborhood garage sales.

Therefore, now more than ever before, it's time to lay down the rules for these sell-my-crap-to-pay-my-rent sales. If you're thinking about hosting a garage sale, you need to know the rules. If you're contemplating a sneak peak at your neighbor's garage sale, you still need to know the rules. The "nicer" neighborhoods are getting into the act this summer; more than ever before. Those folks, especially, need to know the rules. To get the most bang for your buck, everybody needs to know Garage Sale Etiquette. It's a must!

It seems everybody is hurting in the wallet area today. Making a few extra bucks these days is a great mood booster, agreed? Beginners are chucking their pride (please God don't let my Country-Club friends see my garage-sale signs) cleaning out their attics, basements and closets, and hosting an I'm-in-a-money-funk-so-I'm-selling-my-junk sale.

Well now, I've been hosting and hunting garage sales for over twenty-five years. (Mainly because I've always been in a money funk.) Rising at the crack of dawn every Saturday, summer-after-summer, throwing on pants I paint in and a t-shirt with holes, pulling my hair into a greasy pony-tail, and trudging across hundreds of dew-soaked yards to get to the first table of junk, I dare say that I'm a veteran. I know whereof I speak. Inevitably over the past few decades, I've learned a thing or two about garage-sale etiquette.

Here's the deal, folks -- you really do need to know the rules.

Rule #1. You can't charge RETAIL prices for your junk. Prime Example: Yesterday, a neighbor at the end of my street (in a pricey neighborhood) tried to sell her Longaberger basket collection for $35 per basket and up. Ha! Now I know they're collector baskets and folks pay $100 or more for just one of these "designer baskets" at Longaberger HOME PARTIES. BUT, you're not having a home party. You're having a GARAGE SALE! Oh yes, deary, there's a difference.

Note to Newbies: I've found Longaberger baskets (in like-new condition) for $1, $2, and $3 per basket at garage sales.

LEARN THIS HARD-FAST RULE: If you're hosting a garage sale to make a bunch of money, you're doing it for the WRONG REASON. (Unless for charity.) If you think your "stuff" is worth more than a few bucks, then you need to take your "stuff" to a consignment store, or sell it on e-bay. I don't give a flying flip if you were stupid enough to pay $200 for your designer purse or $50 for your pretty rug. I'll give you no more than $5 for it at a garage sale. It's as simple as that.
Remember this: Garage-sale hunters need a real bargain. Otherwise, they'll go to Walmart. Get it?

THE PURPOSE OF HOSTING A GARAGE SALE, is to clean out your closets! To rid your house of crap you don't want, and in the process you stick a few extra bucks in your pocket. That's it. There's no other reason to host a garage sale. It's BONUS money!

Therefore, Miss-My-Shit-Don't-Stink-First-Time-Garage-Sale Hostess, sell your precious Longaberger baskets to get rid of them or stick them on e-bay. (By the way, for the fun of it, I went back to her sale hours later. Every retail-priced Longaberger was still baking in the hot sun. Still beautifully displayed on her pretty table collecting dust. Along with the rest of her pricey junk. Still not sold. Shocker.)

Rule #2. Don't worry about displaying everything as if you're running a store. Put price tags on whatever you can, or have dollar tables, 50 cents tables, etc. And get up EARLY. Open your garage door by 7 am. That's the typical time a sale should begin. Don't be dragging things out of your shed, house, barn, or bedroom closet at 9 am. You'll lose a lot of sales. Be prepared.

Rule #3. Get a garage-sale permit if your town requires one. Be respectful of local ordinances.

Rule #4. Always say "good-morning." Or "how-ya'll-doin' ?" Be friendly. That way, if you ask your host to lower their price on the Phalscraft lamp you have your eyes on, you'll stand a better chance of getting it for $5 instead of their $8 asking price.

Speaking of bickering for a better price, it's perfectly acceptable to wheel and deal at any and every sale. Period. Some beginner hosts are rather taken aback when approached, but they get the picture after the first few garage-sale veterans rummage through their precious "stuff."

"Will you take $5 for the whole set of dishes?" A good garage-saler will never pay the asking price on anything marked over $1. Especially at the end of the morning. Prices go down as the day wears on, just so the host won't have to haul it inside again. But please remember, anything under $1, just pay for it and be thrilled you got a vintage linen tablecloth for a buck. (Which I have done.)

There are enough garage sales every Friday and Saturday, that if hosts aren't willing to wheel and deal, you can move on to the next.

And remember to say "thank you" and "have a great week-end." It's the gracious thing to do.

Rule #5. Television sets, irons, toys, anything that must be plugged in to work, ask to plug it in. Check it before your purchase it. Don't be shy, just ask. If it doesn't work, they shouldn't be selling it. UNLESS, they post a sign on it, "Doesn't Work." Common sense stuff.

Rule #6. Use cash only. Enough said. And all sales are final. Don't ever return a garage sale item. It's tacky.

Rule #7. If you host a sale, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take a course in proper signage first and foremost. Use large white or neon poster board folded over and write with a big, thick magic marker in HUMUNGO letters.
(draw an arrow pointing to the sale)
ALWAYS use arrows pointing in the right direction. Make it clear. ALWAYS USE THE DATE. NEVER list items you have for sale. It's too much to read for the garage sale hunter, and we don't care. DON'T nail your signs to a telephone pole. Use two sticks and pound the sign into the ground. Or use a metal frame from a real estate sign you may have lying around.

Make your sale easy to find. Post signs at all major and minor roads leading to your home. And for cryin' out loud! ... TAKE YOUR SIGNS DOWN AFTER YOUR SALE! I can't tell you how many sales I've searched for weeks afterward, only because some lazy garage-sale host didn't take her sign down.

Rule #8. If you don't live on a street where folks can park and get to your sale easily, then don't have one. Or find an empty parking lot somewhere and pitch a tent.

Rule #9. You don't have to list your garage sale on Craig's List or even in the newspaper. I rarely refer to them. There are enough garage sales every Saturday that if you just get out early and drive, you’ll find them.

Rule #10. Finally, make it fun, make it a treasure hunt. Somtimes I drive slowly past a sale, see that it's mostly all baby stuff, kids clothes, toys, (stuff I'm not interested in) and I don't stop. Sometimes even when I stop because I think it looks like a great sale, it's not. The stuff is dirty, broken, and should've been taken to the dump. Often I hit four or five bad sales before finding my treasure sale. The sale to beat all sales. Then the fun begins.

Last month I found a piece of Italian porcelain, over 75 years old at a yard sale. The host thought her inherited piece was ugly. She hated it, even though it had belonged to her great-grandmother. I bought it for $2. I can tell you it's worth much, much, much more than that. (Giggle.)

The thing is -- you never know. The old cliche' - one man's junk is another man's treasure - is true. You have to give up a few dollars of gas, a few hours of sleep, and a Saturday morning, but you may find the treasure of a lifetime. I think that even if I had all the money in the world, I'd still treasure hunt at garage sales. I'd continue to find what I need for pennies on the dollar, not because I'm cheap, but because it makes sense.

Just use proper etiquette to do it.

Here's to a successful garage-sale summer! Mike and I just might see you out there!

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The True ART Of Writing

Writing is an art. Don't let anybody tell you different. You're either gifted with this talent, or you're not. That doesn't mean you can't develop your talent; taking it from beginner to advanced. Talent given to artists, it seems to me, is awarded in varying degrees. I think God expects that once we discover our talent we must do something with it.

Yes, yes, like wine and cheese, a talent often requires that we age a little. A few decades of hard work to bring out the "Michelangelo" in some of us is a good thing. But what I'm wondering is, why are there so many published authors out there who continue to write one bad book after another? Is their fan base that strong? Are their stories so fantastic that the quality of writing is overlooked?

My husband thinks its because they wrote and published their first works way back in the 70s or 80s, and some in the 90s. When the competition wasn't like it is today. When publishers published anybody with a pulse and a half-way decent story. Over time, they developed a platform, a fan-base, that never went away. These writers didn't have to worry about a pristine-perfect query letter; marketing and promotion; 225 rejection letters. I can't tell you how many "mistakes" I find while reading published books. Mistakes that these authors get away with, while the rest of us unknowns would be rejected for. I think these authors continue to rest on their laurels. Well, some of them.

Others, mind you, deserve their good fortune. They paid their dues. I applaud them. The few of them.

At this moment, I'm heavily entrenched in reading. I'm deep into two novels at once. Actually, I'm studying the writing. Asking myself, why these writers? What is it about their work that makes them a success? These two well-known, New York Times bestselling authors have sold millions of copies.

The first writer, I'm concluding, is brilliant. Her story is mind-blowing. Though a very, very long book, I find she captures and holds you for ransom, insisting that you read well into the night. The depth of her research rivals that of any scientist, I assure you. Along with her millions of fans, I find myself lost in the made-up world she created by what else? Her talent.

The second writer, well-known, her work is seen on retail shelves in every state. Bookstores, grocery stores, and otherwise. (No, it's not Danielle Steele. They can't give "her" books away at fire sales in my neck of the woods.) No, the author I'm talking about, her work is full of air. That's my best description for it. Hot air. The reading is easy, true enough, you can fly through a 300 page novel. But the stories are surface. Flat. There's no depth to them. As if she wrote it quickly. Didn't take the time to have it edited for content. I'm skimming through chapters. On top of that, the story is not plausible. I hear myself saying, "Yeah, right. Like that would happen!"

Thing is, the first author writes about time travel. It's far easier for me to believe her story than that of the second author who simply wrote about a rich woman waking up one morning and finding herself destitute. Her adoringly-rich husband, whom she has loved with all her heart, has died and left his billions to his mean and horrible siblings.

I think it all boils down to one thing. Talent. How they tell the story, draw you in, hold you captive.

To write well is to allow the story to boil over and spill into your hands as you type or print. It's feeling, no- I mean really feeling what your character is experiencing. Can you pour yourself into another body? Are you able to transport yourself to another place and relay it, in all its beauty or horror to your reader? Can you write a great story and make me want to devour every word as if my life depended on it?

Can you?

That's the true art of writing.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

37 Years Ago Today I Married The Wrong Man


July 1, 1972. I was 17 years old; what did I know? I'll tell you what I knew.

Not much.

It was a beautiful day. I was a blushing new bride who took hold of my daddy's arm and walked down a fifty-foot aisle to a young man in a crushed-velvet tux with two dollars in his pocket. He carried me across the threshold of our $100 a month rented trailer.

Of course, I'm sure he would relay pretty much the same thing, that we knew nothing about how to make a marriage last. Very few high school sweethearts stay together forever. Or were meant to. We, like so many others, just simply grew in two different directions. For seventeen years we drifted further and further apart, like two continents divided by one big ocean. Unlike my parents, or his for that matter, "for better or worse" didn't mean a damn thing.

Some say you need God in your marriage to make it last. In our case, there was too much "God." Too much religion, not enough love.

A couple good things came out of it. Two fantastic kids. A few good memories, (sigh.)

But now all these years later I look back at the bliss and the horror and find it tangled in my memory like some nasty vine that needs cut and trimmed back, making way for air and light to get to the buds. Thank the good Lord, time slapped salve on the worst of it and I've allowed myself to go on. I'm so glad I did.

Thirty-seven years later and six and a half years into my marriage with Michael, I wish I could wrap up what I know now and sell it on the Internet. I look back through time and see a foolish young girl. I wish I could talk some sense into her. Make her see her mistake. But all that's left is this middle-aged woman, in the youth of her old age. No, you can't go back. That's for damn sure.

Many times Mike and I look at each other and say we wish we could've met way back then. Back in our youth. But time has made us both different. Life's worst moments made us who we are today. They strengthened our resolve and created a love with bonds made of steel.

I suppose some marriages last a lifetime, while some drift along for twenty years before crashing into the rocks. A few long marriages should've ended decades ago, giving way to healing and a better life. And yet, I'm a strong believer that marriage is forever.

My forever had an ending.

I'm more than glad. Because sometimes you have to go through the fire and the flood to find the love of your life.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yes, It's A Sad, Sad World

You know the emails that get forwarded to you over and over, the ones you delete before you even peek at them? Well, today I peeked. This one was worth posting on my blog.

Irena Sendler- who recently died at 98 years of age, was a 2008 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

During WWII, Irena was given permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a plumbing/sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive. Being German, Irena knew what the Nazi plan was for Jews. Irena smuggled out infants in the bottom of a tool box she carried in the back of her truck.

She used a burlap sack for bigger children. She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers wanted nothing to do with her dog. The barking covered noises of the infants and children.Irena managed to smuggle out and save 2500 infants and children, before she was caught!

The Nazi's broke both her legs and arms, and beat her severely. Irena kept a record in a jar buried under a tree in her back yard of all the children she smuggled out.

After the war, she tried to locate all parents that may have survived to reunite families, but most had been gassed. The children she could not reunite were placed with foster families or adopted. Irena was nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.

She was not selected.

Al Gore won for a slide show on Global Warming.

A sad world, indeed.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dreaming of Time

So much is happening this summer. Or, should I say, same stuff--different summer. As I grow older, I find that change and challenge is not quite as appealing as it used to be. I like consistency and (cough) mundane. But after working 40 hours a week, it leaves you with little energy and time.

Garage sales, house maintenance, cleaning/cooking/laundry, weeding, and a few spare minutes at the computer fill the remaining time allotted in my week. Throw in visits from my family (my folks are here this week) and wa-la! Before you know it, the summer has withered on the vine like my dried out honeysuckle.

I want something for my birthday this year that nobody can give me. Time. Time to read, write, sit on my porch swing, try new recipes from cookbooks bought and not used, clean out my closet, rearrange my kitchen cupboards, and take long walks in the woods. A consistent and quiet life.

Sounds like I need to go find a holler somewhere and just be.

Maybe I will. At least in my dreams.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier


It takes 21 steps for the guard to walk across the tomb of the Unknown soldier. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

The guard hesitates 21 seconds after his about face to begin his return walk for the same reason.

His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5' 10' and 6' 2' tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30.'

Other requirements of the Guard: They must commit 2 years of their life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives.

They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform or the tomb in any way. After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as a guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn.

The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

The guard’s shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.

There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone, nor watch TV.

All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred. Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis (the boxer,) and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of WWII.

Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, our US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer. Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

Interesting and fascinating facts to ponder.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

WalMart Meltdown

You know, I'd rather take a beating than shop. For anything. I'm not the typical stereotype for a woman. I especially hate grocery shopping. But last night, after a quick dinner at Panera, my husband and I decided to stop at Wally World for "just a few things." I was tired and my patience had worn thin by the time I searched every aisle in the grocery section for beans. Just beans.

First, we hit the health & beauty aide aisle for mouthwash and razor blades. Then we trucked to the stationary department for two reams of printer paper. After a wild search for cheap potholders (since mine are shot) Mike located them hidden behind the dishtowels in the middle of the store. Why are no two WalMarts alike? Anyhoo, we circled the sock section on the lookout for soft socks. My work socks are full of toe-holes, so I decided to blow the moths out of my wallet and buy a couple pair of dollar-socks. Fine. That was when my head started to hurt, my hip began to ache, and I had to pee.

But no, we weren't quite done. Soft Scrub. Mike (the coupon King) had a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for Soft Scrub. The search was on. Up and down the aisles of dish soap, laundry soap, toilet cleaners, and Windex-like cleaners. But no Soft Scrub. "WHAT?" I screamed. "No Soft Scrub?! WHAT kind of a place is this?"

Finally, by the time I went on my wild rampage for beans, I was ready to spit. "I'D RATHER PAY DOUBLE AT HARRIS TEETER THAN SHOP IN THIS DAMN STORE AGAIN!" I shouted to no-one in particular, just anybody in earshot. After a couple of strange looks and my husband walking the opposite direction, I calmed down just enough to stand in a long line, listen to a couple of screaming babies, and then get stopped by the WalMart greeter to check my slip to make sure I didn't steal anything.

Never again. Whip me, beat me, call me Edna, I'll not go into WalMart again. Not for at least another week.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Blog

So I'm blogging three or four times a month now. Instead of every day -- or every other, a few times a month I manage to pluck out a few decent words from my brain, shove them down to my fingers and on to the monitor. Not that I don't think about blogging more often, I just don't have much to say. My life has become boring to me. It's work, work, work, come home, eat, read a bit, watch a smidgen of TV, and drop into bed at 9. Day after day. Week after week. I wish it weren't true, but alas ... it is.

On the weekends it's grocery-store time, laundry catch-up, pull a few weeds out of the flower beds, make a decent meal or two, and then ... get ready for Monday morning.


I long for retirement. When I can just write away the hours. It seems when my time is my own, I'm much more productive. Much more creative. Much more fun. I enjoy my house more, my family more, and by all means my writing. More.

Although my job isn't bad, in fact, I like being in the center of town. I got a great boss. And I do get lots of great lines for stories. But a real job can be stifling to the writer. The creative side of the brain slows down. At times, it appears to come to a dead stop. Sometimes I blog because I know if I don't ... it'll be the only thing I write in a few days. Reading keeps me going, but the need to write makes my fingers itch. Then why don't I?

Time. Just when you get a story into high gear, it's time to go back to work.

It's like getting the wind knocked out of your lungs.

Who knows how much longer I can stand it.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Good vs. Bad

I spoke at Shakespeare & Co. this past Saturday and it felt good. This independent bookstore hosts many local and "famous" authors. I sat on a panel with Pam Duncan, author of Plant Life, Moon Women, and The Big Beautiful, as well as Lyn York, author of The Piano Teacher and other great books. Several women attended this intimate gathering and it just plain felt good.

Good to be in the company of writers and readers again. Good because I was once again in my element. Good in the sense that reading my work aloud stimulated my heart's desire to finish my next story. Good for the muse in me that cries aloud to be fed.

But along with good comes the bad. Bad that I'm so damn frustrated with time limitations. Bad because I see a pin-light at the end of a never-ending tunnel. Bad because I can't find two spare minutes to rub together.

Sometimes it's good to hurt. The "bads" in life are often forks in the road. Wake-up calls. Striving for the good is not a bad thing. Often it's simply ... life changing.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Limping Along

I've been nursing a sick husband for two weeks. Knee surgery at any age can be a test of endurance and patience. Well into the month of May, I'm still optimistic that this month will bring tidings of great joy.

Just not in the way I thought.

I'm grateful for a successful surgery and a husband who tolerates pain. Life's perks don't always appear in the ways you think they should. Blessings don't arrive like watching a car pull slowly into your driveway. Sometimes you don't realize a blessing until months later. Even years. Often, the good times in life don't seem like it. In the midst of adversity, we cannot see the advantage. We don't feel like blessing God for His miracle hand.

Today, I'm grateful for the trials of life, as well as the blessings.

They've made me who I am.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

To Say Thank You

I arrived at work this morning and to my surprise, a pot of bright-white daises greeted me. My boss and his wife are, no doubt, the best folks I've ever worked for. Their thank-you to me was out of the blue, just because they're thankful for me being there for them. Unexpected, this gesture blessed me.

It made me wonder how many times in our life we say, "thank you." How many times do we say it and mean it? To give thanks is not just reserved for a November Holiday. To be grateful and thankful and show it, is often an art.

Some folks have no idea how to show their thanks. Where others go overboard. But I find as I grow older that a simple gesture, or a homemade card, or a note, or a kind word, or a pot of fresh flowers ... that's thanks enough and so appreciated.

Whether it comes from you or from those you love, remember to celebrate Thanksgiving ... even in the Spring.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Looking Forward To May

April is nearly over. Time for warmer weather, the yard is in full bloom, and my optimism is soaring. Hope is a good thing, especially in times like these - despite the constant doom and gloom conversations enjoyed by the "I'm-more-righteous-than-you" folks.

Last evening my husband and I had dinner at Paneras. Across from me, two men and one woman were engaged in conversation that made my ears bleed. You would think the world was about to explode according to these folks. The economy, the "blunders" of our current President, and lots of speculation as to where "we" as a nation were headed - it filled their mouths like a plate full of liver and onions. The "righteous-folks" love to promote wrath-of-God stuff. They talk loud so everyone can hear their opinions - thinking if they broadcast it, they'll escape it.

Now I believe there will come a time when God will be the final authority and that He is soverign. I believe He will judge the earth. I believe only He knows when the "end of days" will begin. But I also believe His love is beyond our mortal comprehension. We may be headed toward tougher economical times, yet isn't God is a God of peace, and hope, and optimism?

He has given us a brain. We can't change the world, but we can use a little faith, wisdom, and common sense to ignore those who spread fear like a bad case of the flu. In the end, doesn't scripture tell us that God enjoys the prosperity of His people?

I doubt the doom and gloom spread by "righteous do-gooders" is a sweet sound to His ears.

Have a happy May. Enjoy your life, no matter what.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle, The Definition Of Inspiration

April holds a time-honored tradition for writers. Especially poets. Though I've been told I often write "poetically," I'm not a poet. But in honor of National Poetry Month, I give you the words to one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

The lyrics to I Dreamed a Dream, is from Les Miserable. I saw the play on Broadway many years ago, and this particular song stung me with such a force of kindredship. Today, I viewed a performance on You Tube by what I consider the definition of inspiration. I'm not a You Tube fanatic, but this one will keep me coming back. Click here to view ...

Susan Boyle. Remember the name. She the real deal, folks. She rekindled the memory of this song for me. (Not sure who really wrote it.) But I once belonged to the words. It could've been written about me. But time has changed things for me. I have become ever grateful that this song no longer reflects my life. Now, I just enjoy listening to it. Especially to Susan Boyle sing it. I share it with you.

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Finding My Pretty

I find I'm preaching to myself a lot lately. It's working. The doors are cracking open and I like what I see. Opportunities. No time, but plenty of opportunities. I don't know how, but I get the feeling God is working out a deal with my future and the talent for which He has given me.

Lately, I felt like I lost my Pretty. You know what I mean? Not the outwardly flawless kind of pretty. But the Pretty that makes me smile inside. Giggle. Those shots of energy that colors my world happy and, well, Pretty. I need to write. Daily. I need to be in the midst of my craft on a continuing basis. I need to say, 'hey that's pretty darn good!'

It's been difficult this past year, squeezing in time when I have exhausted my mind and my body in full-time employment. But life took a detour. Now, the thought of finishing what I start excites me to no end. The very idea of losing my Pretty depressed me. I need my Pretty like I need my coffee every morning. A jolt of optimism, a hope realized, a constant source of inner encouragement that everything is going to be okay.

But there comes a time when women like me have to put the past in its place, and not let it infect our future. Move forward no matter the circumstances. I know I'm not broken. A little bruised maybe, a little worn around the edges, but certainly not broken. Every girl needs a little Pretty in her life. And every writer needs Pretty. Otherwise, we don't get very far past the first paragraph.

After I get through this, I'll find my Pretty again. A different kind of "pretty." Like an aged door. Somewhat cracked, the paint flaked off, and a bit squeaky, but a beautiful thing to look at that still works and functions and makes me smile inside just watching it swing open.

My door is open to every possibility God wants to throw my way. That makes me feel Pretty great.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Faith Or Risk?

Once or twice in your lifetime you take a plunge. Into an unknown abyss. A jumping off point suddenly appears in your path and it's all or nothing. You realize nobody is looking. Then again, not a soul cares if you win or lose, try and fail. Everyone around you is self-absorbed in their own life's battle, there is no time for yours. So, with nothing other than your own resolution, you risk it all and free-fall, hoping to land in a better spot than the last time you leaped.

Some of us are known to do this more than others. I feel a time approaching when I may have to jump off. My family members are anything but risk-takers, which makes it difficult for me. Most folks I know live their lives the same way, year after year. Passovists who are quite content to work the 9 to 5 shift, retiring with two or three weeks of vacation a year, a small savings, a simple life.

I can appreciate that. I too, long for a simple way of living. A simple, quiet life.

However, Michael and I have seemingly dedicated our lives to, "wonder what's around that corner?" Quite the uncoventionalists, we have taken risks most folks only gaze at from a distance. True, our stress levels are on constant roller-coaster rides, but often we have had little choice, or we've leaped way before we should have. And yet, knowing all this ... I don't think we'll change at this point.

Most of the time, we land on our feet, thank God.

We're so very grateful for our home, our family, our loved ones. So thankful for the many blessings we've encountered along the way. Despite the tree roots and snakes along our path, we have been blessed. SO, is it FAITH or is it RISK when you see the cliff's edge? Do you have faith that it's God's will ... to jump, or is it blind ambition or stupidity that causes you to cannonball off the cliff?

"The road less traveled," I've been told that is my path. We shall see.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Back Then

Back then I was hopeful, if nothing else. My dream of becoming a famous writer began at the tender age of 12. I may have touched on this subject before, but today I've got a new prospective. From the time I wrote the first draft of that sixth-grade story ... nothing thrilled me more than to put pencil to paper and scribble my fantasies into complete gut and heart-wrenching fiction. Fiction I just knew, without a doubt, would make any stone-cold heart bawl his or her eyes right out of his or her head.

Back then, I wrote a story the day before my Senior Prom. About a girl who gets trapped inside a cave with her boyfriend on the night of her what else? Senior Prom. Silly. But I was a romantic. Even back then. I wrote about life and love and meany teachers and giggly girlfriends. It was all I knew. Back then.

Back then I wanted to be a young Harper Lee or Margaret Mitchell. I just knew I had it in me. Then the Vietnam War changed my prose and the Women's Movement did strange things to my protagonists. I wrote about anger and injustice. I wrote stories about Southerners who were cruel or drunk or stupid, and about Northerners who were arrogant or pushy or boastful. Stereotypes. For the most part, they were just stories to entertain nobody but me, as it seemed nobody else cared to read them.

Back then, I began to take heart and believe I just might be good enough to publish something. So I told my (at that time) young husband about a novel I wanted to write. About a white girl who grows up in Cleveland during the 60s and travels to Mississippi to march with her black pen-pal girlfriend she has never met. He laughed at me. But I ignored his discouraging remarks and enrolled in my first formal creative writing classes. It was the pre-computer 1980s. I typed and typed and typed some more on a noisy IBM Selectric, tucking pillows around it at night so not to wake my kids who were just in grade school.

But back then, each and every story I finished got shoved into a box. Or burned. Or lost in a move to a new apartment or another rented house.

I'm not pitying myself, I'm looking for a reason to keep going. I'm searching my pantries for writing fuel to nourish my nearly-starved published self.

Anyway, back then, I began to see the fruit of my labors come together. It was the 90s and after years and years of night classes, a doctor (a Urologist, to be exact) with whom I worked read one of my stories. A published author of some hot Vampire novels, this man took time out of his busy schedule to mentor, critique, and encourage. Something I desperately needed and until that day, had never received. It caused me to dig my heels into the dirt and write like a woman not quite wrapped right. A woman gone mad.

You see, back then, I was the victim of a broken home, a broken heart, a broken life. I had collected lots and lots to write about.

Not so far back I published my first book. I thought, yeah baby ... this is it, the beginning of a spectacular writing career. My precious and supportive new husband and I traveled hundreds of miles pushing, promoting, and marketing my hot-off-the-press book. Shoot, we plum wore out two cars. Back then.

As I spoke to groups and sold my collection of short stories, we were warmly received. In churches, at book fairs, civic organizations, and country clubs, everywhere we traveled, appearing at one sort of meeting or another, I was honored with several standing ovations and consistently invited back. Folks clamored for the next book, even followed us out to the car just to talk about my stories. It was just a glimpse into the world of being that famous author. Anyway, that first book did very well, thank you, and is still selling copies. But not like back then.

But then I began to pull together the pieces of a novel I'd been writing for fifteen years. A novel I believed would rival any masterpiece ever penned. As I ended a two-year book tour for my first book, I trusted I had built the platform for this new novel. Believed it so much that I would've staked my life on it. I worked non-stop. Literally. Spent two more years stapled to my chair and glued to my computer for 12-hour days, pouring over edits and chapters, words, paragraphs, scenes ... making it as perfect as I could. I lost my health over this book. Unfortunately.

Back then I was sure I'd receive at least a few rejections from my first query letters. Eventually, I thought, some lucky agent will fall in love with my manuscript after they've asked to read it in its entirety. They'll insist on representing it and sell my greatest-story-ever-told to the highest bidder so the world will have another Gone With The Wind. But alas, that dream is just about gone. With the wind.

Never give up, they say. Never give in. It's been drilled and screwed into me like toggle bolts on a washing machine. I can't say I'm even able to give up. But I'm sick of the publishing world and who and what they represent. I'm sick of their A lists and B lists. I despise the few who frighten and inject ridiculous statements into so many writers, making them think they should never, God forbid, self publish. I'm fried with writing groups and writing classes and writing conferences and know-it-all agents who pretend they can make or break you. I'm sick to death of blogs, Face Book pages, web site after web site that bores me to bloody tears. In fact, if there is one thing I've completely given up on, it's wasting my time on know-it-all agents/editors/writers/publishers and their smell-me web sites.

We know the publishing industry is in the toilet, along with the economy. We know that. We hear it over and over on the news. We know the big publishers are not interested in taking risks with new authors. But the toilet has not been flushed. The big dogs in New York need to find a way to pull themselves out of the porcelain tank and update the whole process of finding new authors. The hoops we writers have to jump through will probably never go away. But do the publishers need to set the hoops on fire? If so, writers are going to find other ways to publish. I'm sick of worrying about it. Frankly, once again, I as well as many of my colleagues, are sick to death of it.

All I want to do is to return to ... back then. And just write.

And never give a damn if anybody ever reads it. I'm a writer. Nothing this side of Heaven or Hell can ever, ever change that.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A New Family Member

Lauren Christine ... doesn't the name ring of all things pink and princessey? Our new baby girl, our new granddaughter was born on the 18th of March. Both mama and baby are doing well and little brother (or should I say big brother) is taking it all in stride. I don't think he's aware of the significance of his new little sister yet, as he's still just a baby himself. But Drew (who is almost 2) had a whole bunch of fun running the hospital's hallways during visits. As soon as I can, I'll post some pictures. They are two beautiful children, I really must say.

Thing is ... Chris, Nicole, Drew and now Lauren, reside in Arizona. Michael has not had the grandfatherly pleasure of holding his granddaughter yet. And God only knows when that will be. We're not able to make it down there, with working and so many things going on here. It's not easy living so far away from your kids. Everyone in this family has felt so torn at one time or another. Life takes its toll on your mental and physical health when family members are spread apart.

Once upon a time, whole families lived in one big house. Privacy was at a minimum, but it was a financial necessity. I think we're returning to that time. Raising a family is not easy. But it's much easier when grandparents live nearby. Nicole and Chris are blessed with her parents to help them at this time. I know other families who depend on grandma and grandpa for support in one way or another.

It seems the more technology we amass in this country, nothing really changes much. We're all still people, with the same wants, needs, wishes, and hopes for the future that our ancestors possessed. We still fight wars, struggle for the American Dream, get sick, give birth, raise children, die. Sure, there are more channels on our TV, our kids face different distractions, but when you boil it all down ... just how different are we from those who pioneered this country?

I'm not talking about how much easier it is now than then. Sure, we have household appliances these days and aren't forced to wash our clothes in the river. I'm talking about in general. We're still people. We've not evolved into a human much different than our great great grandparents.

My point is, we hurt the same, cry the same, and want the same dreams to come true that they did.

We've yet to find a miracle drug for yearning, longing, excessive hoping. We're all going to go the same way we came in ... with family around us.

Family ... the word is trite and overused. But oh, how precious the meaning. We're blessed to have a new little girl who just recently came into our family. Welcome.

Things to think about this morning.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

These Dreams

Consider these song lyrics by Heart, made popular by the same group:

Spare a little candle, save some light for me. Figures up ahead moving in the trees. White skin in linen, Perfume on my wrist, and the full moon that hangs over these dreams in the mist.

Darkness on the edge, shadows where I stand, I search for the time on a watch with no hands, I want to see you clearly, come closer to this come closer to this. But all I remember are the dreams in the mist.

Is it cloak and dagger, could it be Spring or Fall? I walk without a cut through a stained-glass wall. Weaker in my eyesight, a candle in my grip, and words that have no form are falling from my lips.

There's something out there I can't resist. I need to hide away from the pain. There's something out there I can't resist.

The sweetest song is silence that I've ever heard. Funny how your feet in dreams never touch the Earth. In a wood full of princes, freedom is a kiss. But the Prince hides his face from dreams in the mist.

These dreams go on when I close my eyes. Every second of the night, I live another life. These dreams that sleep when it's cold outside, every moment I'm awake, the further I'm away.

Pretty song but a bit spooky. Yet to a dreamer like me, it speaks volumes. I’m a dreamer. Not the heady kind who consistently has her head in the clouds daydreaming, fantasizing, scheming, an optimist with no vision of reality. No, not that kind of dreamer.

I dream dark, murky, and often violent dreams. At night. When I’m in a deep sleep. Often, I have night terrors, waking my husband with a scream or in a sweaty fit. I’m infected; it seems, by visions of my past. For some unknown reason, there are two things I dream about consistently. Tornados and the house I grew up in. Last night was one of strangest dreams about the old house on Waterloo Rd.

During my growing up time, nothing scared me there. I felt loved by my parents, safe, cared for. But truly, strange things happened in that house. Mostly to my mother, who has always been sensitive to “things not seen.” But that’s a subject for another blog.

Anyway, in this latest dream, I was standing in my mother’s kitchen. It looked exactly as it did when we lived there. My parent’s house was full of antiques, but tastefully done. I was peering out the windows over the kitchen sink which happened to be the front of the house. Suddenly, a large bolt of lightning exploded in a straight line from a violent sky. It seared across the front yard, like a ban saw, heading straight to the middle of house. As it cut the house in half, a train track appeared and a passenger train crashed through the house. The train stopped, as if the middle of my parent’s house was a train stop. People got out. Nice folks, apologizing for this horrible intrusion. I was screaming, “How can you do this? Why did you ruin this house? Watch out, don’t touch a thing! Stay away! Get out of here! Get out!”

In a way, I suppose it sounds funny. But in the dream, it was no less than terrifying. In other dreams, I’ve watched my parent’s old house slide off the face of the earth into some red, hot abyss. Tornados tearing it apart, and on and on. But always, my nightmares are about this old house. A house I’ve not seen since the day they moved out over a decade ago. I’ve heard the new owners have all but trashed it. But I dream about this place of my growing-up years, at least once or twice month.


I’ve not a clue. I heard once that someone died in that house. Way back in the 20s or 30s. It was a pretty house. My dad worked endless hours on it, remodeling every part of it. His handiwork was evident in each room. Mom, however, worked like a dog to clean it, repair it, fix it, and decorate it. She was glad, she said, to leave it and move back to the South. It was nothing but work to her.

To me, it’s nothing but a memory. And often, a nightmare. But again, I have no idea why.

I think it’s time to pray it out of my head. I need to get a good night’s sleep.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

River Song

River held tight to the end of her rope. He'd left her for the last time, he’d said. He'd left her every Valentine’s Day. But this time he’d packed his favorite shirt, his socks, and his dog.

Piney’s words echoed off peeling walls and cardboard ceiling tiles. "Cain’t do it anymore. I cain’t pretend this is where I'm supposed to be."

River could hear his Dodge, as eager to get out of town as her husband. The truck’s muffler rumbled and spit behind foggy windowpanes. She sat in tense silence and stared at the faded green carpet, averting her eyes from the conflict. Slumped down into the old, overstuffed couch, venturing sheepish glances as she clutched her mama’s throw pillows, this time felt different.

Wiping tears from swollen eyes, River whispered to her daughter who straddled the arm of the couch as if sitting atop her horse. "Sit by me, Kip."

But the nine-year-old, transfixed by her daddy’s fit, licked at her own tears while her parents bludgeoned each other with words.

"You know where you can find me," said Piney. His mouth was set in its distinctive smile, but his eyes were hollow.

"Go then!" River shouted. He’d worn her down with authoritative edicts that made no sense. Every time she presented a logical explanation, Piney shot back with something asinine wrapped in his typical theological and patronizing tone. His agitation bubbled under the surface of his reasons for flight, but his face bore no sign of fire. It only grew more rugged and redder by the second.


This is the first part of my new short story, River Song.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009



It's been forever, it seems, since blogging.

Maybe I've given it up for lent. My lent happened back in February, I suppose. I've been taking a sabbatical from every thing I used to do.

Except writing stories.

I've written a couple stories for contests and have been working steadily on Book Three of the Televenge Trilogy. But since I'm working full-time right now, blogging takes a back seat. Like when you used to sit in the back of your dad's station wagon. Way back.

It's my life right now.

My blog on my dog has mysteriously disappeared, so in case you're wondering about Harley, he's doing just great! I love my dog! Love, love, love him. He's the best dog ever, I swear. He's learning new tricks ... like stay, come, down, speak.

It's been fun, despite the cold North Carolina weather. Our recent snow accumulation is about gone, the daffodils and spring flowers are poking through the ground. Soon the South will draw in it's famous hot weather and we're back to our norm for this time of the year.

Ah, yes ... the plight of this writer is just to get from one day to the next, one story to the next, and not worry about the blog, which, I'm sure I've lost most of my readers anyway. But I'm moving forward once again in getting something published this year and there's only so many hours in a day. So peak in from time to time.

I'll hit this blog every so often.


Blessings to those who continue to watch for me, despite my shortcomings.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Groaning and Griping

It's winter. A season a gripes and groans.

I'm griping because school systems in the South tend to think they need to close at the very thought of a patch of ice on the road and a dozen snowflakes. Can you imagine? They closed the schools here today. By noon the temperatures were in the high 50s with sun-filled skies. The roads had been dry all day. A patient called me before I left for the day, informing me she might not be able to make it in for her early morning appointment "due to snow."

These folks need to live a month in Cleveland. Northern folk seldom, if ever, close their schools for a whole dang day due to snow. Those of us who live in the South, yet have spent a period of our childhood in the Snowbelt, laugh at the spooked Southerners and their fear of bad weather.

I'm groaning at the cold. Despite the fact my blood has thinned from this milder climate, I still hate cold weather. Even North Carolina cold. I'm ready for robins and daffodils. Trees with buds and sultry breezes across my back porch. I want to wear my flip-flops. Open the doors in the morning and feel the sun on my face. My heart yearns for green grass, coffee on the deck, the neighbors rooster to crow again.

I guess I'll just groan and gripe all the way to Spring.

Blessings to you and yours. Stay warm!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Medicare 101

My boss thought it would be a good idea for me to attend a one-day seminar on Medicare. We do see Medicare patients from time-to-time, and the more I know about the Medicare process, the better for the practice. So he paid the sixty bucks and I spent the day in a Marriott ballroom learning all about Medicare 101.

Shoot me.


Who makes this stuff up? I'm convinced that nerds from all over the country get their revenge in one simple way. Medical Insurance. And the biggest nerds write the rules for Medicare.

I know we need it. Thank God we have it. But I cannot imagine for one minute that anyone really enjoys working with this stuff. Prior to my full-time writing career, I slaved in the medical field for a good many years. I learned enough enough about the insurance process to get the job done and supervise others to do the job for me. But to study it? Get excited about it? Memorize the ICD-9 and CPT codes?

I'd rather not, thank you very much.

The room buldged with women (of course) who work in medical offices all over the state. Some of them, you could tell, have spent their life working claims, dealing with irate patients, doctors, and administrators. It showed. Their faces and personalities were lined with endless years of dealing with this stuff. Of being stapled to their desks, tied to their phones, glued to their computers. It alters ones personality and eventually, it'll kill you. I'm convinced.

I, of course, sat at the back of the room and observed it all from a different point of view. Now, that's not to say I didn't get something out of it. I did. It truly is my desire to do a great job for my boss, he's such a good guy, and I appreciate his position. He heart is in the right place, as the man really cares for his patients and their welfare. So, I gathered as much from the conference as I could, asked a few questions, made some notes, and went home. I had to at least get sixty bucks worth to take back to the office with me. Right?

But oh, my, gosh. At one point I sat in the back of the room and laughed. (To myself, of course.) Why in the world would anyone indulge in this type of self-torture for a living? I was ready to slit my wrists.

And then it occurred to me. A story line. A character came into view. She works medical claims by day and walks the street by night. Hmmm.

It's amazing what you can walk away with from a Medicare conference.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Strange Friend

It's strange how we separate our friends into categories. Friend is a loosely-used term, I think. One day they appear, seemingly out of the blue, stick around for a while, then poof ... they're gone.

But like I said, friends fall into many slots. Those we email - occasionally. Friends we write to once in a while, sending a card or thank-you note. We lunch with friends who are great for a couple hours of stimulating conversation. Then with a well-meaning kiss and a wave good-bye ... you don't see or hear from them again until the next lunch date. And that's perfectly - okay.

First friends, boy friends, childhood friends. It's true, friends can leave us as quick as they appear. Then pow - we run right into them in the produce section, or the Walmart parking lot. Or the dreaded class reunion. Old friends who instead of sending us their own snap shot, send portrait pictures of their kids in Christmas cards. A younger version of themself, hoping to trip your memory of when you were all just ... kids.

Sisters can be friends. Or not. And some friends can be more like sisters than real ones. Best friends, it is said, mate for life. They can be tossed over-board and still swim back to you. Half drowned and naked, she's still a friend. Not a drop of love has been lost between you. You cherish that kind of friend. It takes a lifetime, I believe, to make a friendship like that. It's not until a person goes through most of your weakest and worst moments with you, along side of you, that you can call them a best friend. Best friends have the unique ability to see you for who you really are, and still love you to pieces in spite of yourself.

Your spouse can be a best friend. Or at least recognizes the need for his best friend/spouse to have yet another best friend. Sounds complicated, but really, that's a priceless virtue in friends: the ability to share the friendship, and not get all jacked out of shape about it.

Every girl, however, should have a best girl friend. One who knows how to be there, and be quiet. Scream in your face, then know when to back off. A best friend who knows which buttons to push and which not to touch. One who is selfless, has been there all or most of your life. One who will hold your hand while you're dying, while making sure there are no hairs to be pulled on your chin before you're laid open in your casket. That kind of friend.

Friends, for the most part, are human. But there are other friends. A dog or a cherished animal of any species can be a friend. How many stories have been written about the animal friends in our life? Lassie, Free Willy, Marley and Me ... wow. Often, our animal friends, are our best friends.

Well, to be honest, I set out writing this blog thinking about a different kind of friend. The strangest friend anyone could have. An inanimate object with no feelings. A thing. Something that most would look at and think nothing about. The perfect noun ... uh, or rather, friend. A lifelong friend.

Linus had one. Most babies carry one until it's tattered and torn. Some children rub one against their face while sucking their thumb. Even college-age kids will sneak one into their dorm, hidden between the shirts and pants in their suitcase.

My security blanket, has been my lifelong friend. Here's why: Back in 1971, my then mother-in-law-to-be (who was in her late 40s at the time) crocheted. A lot. She made one afghan after another with a real ivory crochet hook. She was good at it, and I told her so. Young I was, only 17, when she promised to make me an afghan for a wedding present. She made more than an afghan. She made thirty-plus years of memories.

This huge, hand-crocheted afghan is plain blue with ivory, yellow, and variegated-blue stripes on each end. Ugly as sin. But this blankey of mine has gone with me everywhere. It has slip-covered many a hideous-looking chair or couch since the 70s. It's toasty warm and can be doubled, still covering every part of me. It has wrapped its warmth around my children when they were sick. Covered them as babies, first-graders, eighth-graders, and when they had their wisdom teeth pulled. It covered my son the day he came home on leave from boot camp and slept for 24 hours straight. It rocked and lulled my daughter to sleep after a broken heart. It has soothed me during my darkest hours. This old blankey has seen the three of us through some hard, hard times.

It has absorbed a ton of tears. Believe me.

It waited for me, patiently, as I lost my mind and then found it again. Folded, it has rested on my beds, sofas, and now hangs in a place of honor in my hold farmhouse. A place where we can still grab "covey" as my husband calls it, and snuggle. I've done a whole lot of "snuggling" under that old friend. It has warmed my cold legs while I sat at the computer writing story after story. It never complained, never yelled at me, never told me to quit. It just covered me.

"Old Blue," as I call it, has appeared in many family snap shots. No matter my decor at the time, this afghan looks better with time. There's not a hole to be found, after well over thirty years. It's been through hundreds of washings, laid in a heap on the floor for days, covered doll babies, puppies, kittens, and resisted the heat of an old attic once while packed away for a period of time.

Wrapping it around me is like a time machine. I can see where we've been, how far we've traveled, and how we have ever so gracefully - aged together. I realize now, I've never gone anywhere, without it. It's been my most loyal friend. It's been on most car trips, enjoying the back seat. Old Blue has covered the ground for a picnic or two, has laid on a few beaches, and rode in an airplane. It's quite the traveller. And for all it's wanderings, it has welcomed me home day after tired-day.

There's something about that old afghan that draws me to it. I either want it buried with me or cremated with me. Ha! Now, that's a friend.

My now ex-mother-in-law, who by the way I still love, is in a nursing home. Tucked away in her 80s, she no longer flips a crochet hook around her fingers. But not long ago, I asked her if she remembered that old afghan she made me. She looked at me strange with a twinkle in her eye and said, "You know, I prayed over that thing as I made it. I prayed it would cover the wrinkles in your life."

"It did," I said. "It really did."

Old Blue is my most trusted friend. A strange one, indeed.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Chill of Winter

Filling a writer's well can mean different things. It's winter here in NC. In more ways than one.

As plants, flowers, trees, and some animals lay dormant or hibernate, they are, in fact, preparing to pop once the sun's warmth signals spring. Remaining still in their "beds," they're gathering nutrients, strength, and conserving energy for their moment of rebirth.

This winter, I'm filling notebooks with dribs and drabs. Nothing coherent to the reader, just ... stuff. I can't find my muse, but I've got a good hold on thoughts, ideas, words, a jumble of mixed and matched scenes and places.

When I'm not at work, I've decided to rest. Read. Watch a few movies. Old and new. Also, pray. Pray for inspiration. Guidance. And Believe. Believe that I'm just in flux. That old will become new and that eventually, spring will come to us all.

There is peace in winter's landscape. A soft pattern of frost and fog fills and smears itself across the fields around my house. Shadows are long. Huge, bare trees stand guard over it all. It's quiet. A few birds gather at the feeder. There's no vegetation to speak of. Only the chill of the season. It pulls the covers over itself and whispers to me in the mornings, I'm going to sleep a while longer.

I've decided to be patient with myself. Fill this well of mine and get through the chill. I'll thaw with the landscape, I think. Winter will eventually end, but until it does ... I'll just make a few more notes, watch a movie, read a book, try not to worry so much. That might take the edge off.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A New Year

The sun is shining, it's a new year. In working with patients day in and day out, I find myself counting my blessings. And the blessings of those I love and care about.

We whine and pine. Mope until all our wants in life become giants. Searching for things to be thankful for has been a lifelong obsession of mine. After writing blogs, then re-reading them the next day, I sometimes feel as though my writing is bi-polar. Me, on the other hand, I keep my outward emotions (for the most part) in check. Stable. No extreme highs or lows. There is, yes, a bit of a drama queen who rears her ugly head once in a while, but I'm realizing as I grow older -- I like simplicity. Quiet. Less bumps in my road.

Yet, we can't always steer the rudder of our existence.

This morning I heard John Travolta's son, Jett, has passed away. A 16-year old, who suffered from seizures. Although I don't agree with the Church of Scientology, I'm not looking at that right now. I'm looking at parents who have lost a dear boy. A son they loved. All the money in the world cannot bring him back, or restore to the Travoltas what they had only days ago.

I've followed John Travolta's career, sort of. I mean, I was there the first time Vinnie Barbarino came into our living rooms. Saturday Night Fever liberated me. (It's a long story for another blog.) I watched Travolta grow older, along with me. We're the same age, approximately. I've never met him, but I've always liked his smile. All I really know about him exists in the characters he plays.

But my heart goes out to the Travoltas today, regardless.

We don't know what 2009 holds for us. We can make resolutions, determinations, and attempts at change. In the end, it's the character inside us that tells the tale of who we really are. How life's disappointments affect us, writes our true story.

Be thankful each day. Laugh when it hurts. Keep an open mind. And remember to pray for those less fortunate. We can't have everything we want. But we can be thankful for everything we have. Like a new year.

It's 2009. Use it wisely.

Blessings to you and yours.