Friday, February 26, 2010

Speaker For The Day

I spoke to a group of business women yesterday at their monthly meeting at our local community college. Sometimes people ask me what I speak about. Actually, I have several topics that are tweaked to the specifics of the group and what they might be looking for. But once in a while, a group leader tells me to speak about anything I want. And that's what happened yesterday. I had heard there were a few women in the group who were thinking about writing a book. I had about fifteen minutes to deliver something they could carry home with them. Here are bits and pieces of my notes from my talk yesterday. Oh, my topic?

The Life of a Writer. What else?

"My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night; but ah, my foes, and oh my friends, it gives a lovely light!" A quote from Edna St. Vincent Millay

I say, she was talking about the life of a writer.

My name is Pamela King Cable, I’m a writer, an author, and a speaker. I often say I was born and raised by a tribe of wild Pentecostals. My mother, however, would not admit to that fact. She would admit that I cut my teeth on the back of a church pew, however.

Today, I want to talk to you about the life of a writer, the writing process, or as you may have been told - the mystical and magical world of a writer.

What is a writer? Do writers write only what they know? I say writers write what they are passionate about. There are events in the lives of most writers which possess powerful magic, influencing the stories they create.

But let me ask you, are there any books or stories you’ve read recently, or years ago, that you remember vividly?

Characters that linger and come to mind … at the strangest times?

Have you ever read a novel that has had the capacity to haunt you for days, weeks, years?

Do you have a favorite author?

What in their voice gives them an edge?

It is not a myth, that if you belong to a family with a writer in it, there are no safety zones. ...

One of my favorite quotes is by Harlan Ellison. He says, “It is not enough merely to love literature, if one wishes to spend one’s life as a writer. It is a dangerous undertaking on the most primitive level. For, it seems to me, the act of writing with serious intent involves enormous personal risk. It entails the ongoing courage for self-discovery. It means one will walk forever on the tightrope, with each new step presenting the possibility of learning a truth about oneself that is too terrible to bear.”

A writer’s life is a solitary life. For the most part. We have a room or a place where we prefer to write. A routine, a time of day, music we listen to, and habits and superstitions we refuse to break or talk about. We hope we possess that raw talent, unique originality, and gut emotional appeal. We raise the stakes on each and every page and hope, and pray, and believe that some day … we’re blessed a bit of luck.

I can tell you I have labored days over a paragraph. On the book I just recently completed, The Rose and the Charlatan, that book began over fifteen years ago. But that’s really not the norm. I have, however, spent many twelve-hour days writing. I can tell you that I have sat at my computer so many long nights that I thought I was going blind. I have been told by my doctor, that because of all the sitting in my chair, the disks in my back are degenerating and I’ve gone from 5’4” to 5’3 ½“ Writing, my dear friends, can be hazardous to your health.

But let's talk about the traditional publishing industry a bit. It's cutthroat. Since the recent recession, the chance to “make it” has gone from slim to almost none. The rejections by major agents and New York publishing houses, can discourage the very elite.

For the majority of writers, it can take up to a good two years to write a bestseller. You cannot submit unsolicited manuscripts to traditional publishers. So you need a literary agent. Once the manuscript is complete, a query letter is sent to secure an agent. This process could take another six months to a year.

Then once you land an agent, you hope they know their stuff and get you the best deal from a reputable publisher, preferably a major house. Then all parties negotiate rights, foreign rights, film rights, and the ever-shrinking advance. You sign away some rights, such as book cover, maybe even the title of your book, and a few other things. Once the contracts are signed, then comes the editing process.

Ah yes, we have already edited the hell out of our book, but no, it’s not enough. There’s another possible few months spent with our publisher’s editors. And there’s a deadline for that, too. A deadline to get it back to the publisher or everything you’ve worked so hard for, for so long, becomes null and void.

Then there’s the waiting. And waiting, and waiting some more. Next come the book galleys to proofread and edit yet again. And finally a year or two later, the book comes out.

It’s at that time you realize that writing the book and everything up to now was the easy part. It’s what comes after the book is out- that’s the hard part. Because unless your name is Nora Roberts or Stephanie Meyers or James Patterson or Nicholas Sparks … there’s very little publicity money for you. If you’re a first-timer, you’re on your own to get that book marketed. And hopefully, unless you go into a second printing in a relatively short time, your precious novel is removed from the shelves at Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Booksamillion. You’ve got about six months, if you’re lucky, to make it a hit.

And then somebody decides to make it available as an ebook, thus taking your profit from about a 1.00 a book to even less than that. There you have it. The life of a writer.

Is it worth it?

Yes, is my answer.

I began to chase the dream of writing as a child in the early 60s in the coal towns of West Virginia where my grandparents lived. Many of the stories in Southern Fried Women are based on truth, shreds of truth, people I’ve know, places I’ve been, and of course history plays a great part in some stories, like Coal Dust On My Feet. I was born a coal miners’ granddaughter. That fact inspired this story. A love story set amidst the longest and most violent coal strike in the history of our country. It is truth and fiction.

My mother was a skilled storyteller without knowing it. All I wanted to do when I was a teenager was to duplicate my mother’s life. ... She would agree with Pat Conroy, I’m sure. He said that the whole south runs on denial. If you don’t say it, it doesn’t exist.

What I didn’t know is just how much I would treasure her conversations someday. How they would become a part of me, part of my very existence as a writer.

More than anything else, I wanted to sit and listen to what came out of her mouth next and write it down. ...

But the most precious gift she gave me was a love for the written world. Be it the word of God or of Mother Goose, she was my inspiration, and one day I picked up a pen in the sixth grade and began to write and I haven’t stopped.

The next forty years would play into my storytelling, and how after surviving life’s heartaches and hardships, it gave me plenty to write about. From that moment forward I wanted to inform, educate, and entertain my reader’s mind, but more than anything I wanted to touch my reader’s heart.

As writer you must know more than how to put together a correct sentence. Yes, there is a never-ending learning curve to the elements of writing … but unless you are great storyteller, the other means nothing.

Allow me to quote ... So you want to be a writer by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody else,
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.
if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.
don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to sleep
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.
when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
there is no other way.
and there never was.

Thank you.

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Scattered Families

I watched a Sunday morning program; a family in India who all lived under one roof. Not out of necessity, but by choice. This appeared to be a more affluent family who pooled their earnings into one bank account. (Can you imagine?) One part of the family ran a coffee shop, another were contractors and builders, and a third (I think) ran a flour mill. In total there were over 20 family members, working together and living under one large roof. Taking care of one another.

I'm sure there were problems. And I'm not sure the women in this family experience the same freedoms as American women. But there was something comforting about this big family. The old were not cast out or made to feel like children. They were honored and loved. They were not burdens, or made to feel like flies shooed away from milk. No, on the contrary. The old grandfather was blind, but worked in the mill with a family member nearby to insure his safety.

It makes me wonder about American families. What have we become?

In my own family we are spread over many states. I have come to despise this fact. I wish to God in Heaven we all lived at least in the same state. We are missing so much of our grandchildren's lives. We've already missed years with our children. Regret doesn't even come close to describing how I feel about that. I am becoming more and more aware of my need to feel my family around me. I am obsessed with turning this around, because my question is ... are scattered families-- happy families?

In my perfect world, Mike and I would live around the corner from our parents. Our children would live no further than a 20 minute drive. Sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews would all live an hour away or less. How wonderful would that be?

Oh for sure, there are families who live in the same town, and I'm positive they roll their eyes and say they have their share of problems because of it.

But please, allow me to say with great emphasis--count your blessings if that is you.

Michael and I receive a DVD every few months of our Arizona grandchildren. Watching them grow up this way only puts holes in our hearts. And although we are more than grateful to receive these precious DVDs, it dosent leave us with smiles on our faces when the TV is turned off. Quite the opposite really. Hours later I can still hear my grandson, his face large in the camera ... "Hi Papaw, hi Mamaw!" It simply breaks our hearts.

There's a new baby coming in August. And there is a new baby in Texas, born to my niece. I have little great nieces and nephews whom I barely know. These four, five, and six-year olds don't know me from a stranger on the street.

My own nieces and nephew--Lord, I'd give anything to be a small, small part of their lives. But, (sigh) I am not. They're busy. They stay in touch with my mother (their grandmother) and that's wonderful. My siblings, well, that's another story for another day. But I wonder if we all lived closer, would we be closer? I would like to think so.

My sister, Kathy, and I talk about this often.

Then there are extensions of family I know and love. Dear friends and folks who mean as much to me as a family member. Why is it only once a year we manage to connect? Are we that busy? Is money the motivating factor that makes us work day and night and never reach out to those we think about, but never see? Does it have to be that way?

I'm not old in the true sense of the word. Certainly. But I'm beginning to feel the shortness of life and how fleeting time really is. It scares and concerns me. My heart and personality has mellowed and softened, like the skin around my eyes and on my neck. Once hard and calloused, my youthful face and I plowed forward in life, doing and saying pretty much anything we wanted to do and say. The selfish part of me met with life's pitfalls and became instead--self-loathing. The oceans of fire I walked through and endured ... left many bad memories in its wake. But it did something to my heart and the way I look at life. Most assuredly.

When we are young, we are immortal. If we possess basic health, we do not see, think, or feel our immortality. It is not until we have gone through the fire and flood that we begin to realize there is an end to this life. How much of it is spent in quality time with those we love?

There's nothing more important than the love between a man and woman, their children, and the people dearest to them.

Not even money.

Will the circle be unbroken? For many of us, it already is.

Why can't we get along? Why can't we put aside petty differences and see our lives for what they really are? Short. Father along, will we really understand it all by and by?

The families in history, now dead and gone for decades, did they have something we no longer possess? There were no phones, no computers, no technology for communicating every day. Yet they were closer to each other than those of us who live with abilities they couldn't even wonder about. Think about this. My God, this fact just blows me away.

Some day, Michael and I hope to live closer to our children. Our grandchildren. Or at least see them more than twice a year. If we can accomplish that, we'll grow into old age with smiles on our faces. Most assuredly.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, February 19, 2010

To Have Or Have Not

The other day I watched the Sex and the City movie, feeling stupid about "labels." I suppose, if you live in big cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago -- designer labels are just something you grow up with. My guess is that people who work and live in fast-paced environments know instantly what you're "wearing" and if you have a sense of "style." They have been schooled in what not to wear. Socialites can tell immediately whether you're carrying a Louis Vuitton or a knock-off.

Carrie, in the Sex and the City movie, bought throw pillows for $300 a piece. A PIECE!

Do people really live like that?

Shocking, but yes, they do.

If money were no object--would I?

No. I'm sure I would not.

Like so many who were raised in the Great Depression, our older citizens continue to wash out sandwich bags and save tin foil. Now I'm not that bad, but I can tell you that should I ever have "money" ... I will still shop at Walmart and continue my Saturday morning garage sale hunts.

I have scrimped and done without so much for so long that ... well, hold on ... yes, it would be nice to travel, buy better pieces of meat, or slip my feet into more than one new pair of shoes every six months. It would be nice not to clip coupons or color my own hair. I would love to indulge in pedicures and facials once in a blue moon. I can think of a few more things I'd like to buy and not worry how much it would ruin the budget.

But to spend even $50 for a throw pillow? That will never happen in my lifetime.

Are the clothes in Walmart only for poor people? Should you drop into depression because you shop at Kohls or Target? Just because you grill hot dogs and not steaks ... does that mean you can never expect anything better in life? Good grief, no.

Yes, I would love to pay off every bill I owe, shower my family with gifts, give money to my favorite charities, and have a little left for myself. But that would not change who I am inside or my future spending habits.

I've heard the world is quickly becoming a society of haves and have nots. That may be true but there are worse things than doing without, believe me. I believe since this dang recession hit, there are many who would agree.

Besides, I like hot dogs on the grill. And I've never owned a Louis Vuitton anything. That's okay by me.

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Southern Fluffy Literature

As a reader, I keep a "southern" book within reach at all times. Southern studies, short stories, novels, essays, memoirs ... all by southern authors, I immerse myself in the works of its rich, rich culture. Mixing in a book or two here and there by the current works of Piccoult or Gabaldon or Russo or Shreve ... authors who make no claim to southern roots, I really can't say I prefer one culture over another. It's just that my roots are in the South. I may live in the North someday, but those who came generations before me were southern born. Living in the South today, I am influenced by the people, the language, the landscape, the culture around me. Good, bad, or ugly ... the South continues to deliver prose near and dear to my heart.

However, some of this "cutesy southern fluff" is starting to get to me. It's becoming cliche, rather fast. Maybe already is to a few folk. I'm not sure if there are many who would agree with me, but I'm suspecting some of it has run its course.

I'm not talking about dealing with the issues of the South. The Grit Lit, so to speak. Or the gut-wrenching messages in Southern Literature.

I'm talkin' 'bout the twangy debutantes swooning over their rich, country club, tennis-playing boyfriends, who graduated from Ole' Miss. The Ida Maes and the Patsy Sues who bake the best sweet potato pies in five counties, despite their bee-hive hairdos and press-on nails. The Mee Maws and the Pee Paws who save their bacon grease in coffee cans and praise Jesus every Sunday morning at the corner Heaven Bound Baptist Church. Precious Dahlins and Sugahs who wear nothin' but pearls, all day long, drive convertibles and only shop at the Piggly Wiggly. (By the way, there are no Piggly Wigglys within a hundred miles of where I live.) Stories so sugary sweet, so full of chicken pie and Aunt Beulah's homemade molasses--well, it makes me want to throw out my Tupperware and salt & pepper shaker collection. The Driving Miss Daisy, Steel Magnolia, Green Fried Tomato, Ya Ya Wannabes. Stop! It's been written already.

I steer clear of these stories today. The South is not all about cornbread and pinto beans. As far as rednecks go, they live in every state in the union. They are not synonymous to the South. Though it is absolutely true that the South gives us plenty to write about, we have to be careful not to write characters our readers have already overdosed on. Originality in writing is key to the next great story to come out of the South.

Personally, I like Bubba and Betty Lou. They're fine folk. I just don't want to read about them all the time.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Brown And Cold Winter

Winter grass in North Carolina is brown and lifeless. It's the ugliest color this time of the year. Everything appears dirty and frost-bitten. I think most of us would rather skip January and February altogether. Fighting the traffic on ice-covered roads, gasping for warm fresh air; the birds are gone, the flowers and gardens are asleep. Life is still and quiet. Nonexistent.

It's hard to find beauty in winter, unless you're an honest-to-God nature lover and live in the woods.

I'm thinking about the season today. It seems endless. Winter. I've never been too fond of it. I'm looking forward to March and the blooming Bradford Pear trees. It signals the beginning of warm temperatures for me.

I'm a summer girl. Always have been. Always will be. But as much as I moan about the winter, I think I would miss it somehow. I love the seasons. The changes they bring. What they mean. And somehow I think God created the winter so we all slow down a bit. Hibernate. Rest.

Sooner or later winter always comes and eventually stays. As does spring, summer, fall, and winter once more. This cycle is the very definition of time passing; each season’s death brings me a little closer to my own. It's not a morbid thought, not really. It's time reminding us to live each season to its fullest.

No matter how cold and brown that season may be.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

In Defense Of The Telemarketer

They're annoying. Agreed. Right in the middle of meal, or a good book, or at the end of a movie. They call, with their syrupy voice that smiles through the phone. Even at your place of employment, they call. "Is the Office Manager there?" Recently, I found myself hanging up on them. With no energy extended on my part. Just a "click." That'll teach 'em.

Most can't be understood anyway. You want to scream, "If your chosen profession is telemarketing, at least learn to speak English properly!" Right? Low-lifes. Can't they get a real job? Probably illegal aliens. If I want to buy something, I'll shop for it myself!


I felt this way until I began to write a story about a man who is down on his luck, can't find employment to support his five children, and resorts to telemarketing. In my plotting and research, I thought hard about this individual. Who is he? Why is he in this financial shape? What events caused him to resort to telemarketing?

How does he handle the rejection that's not just daily, but minute by minute?

Has anyone ever thought how difficult it is to be totally dependent on commission sales?

He's a good man, a kind man. A man who worked hard all his life to be thrown out on his ear at 55 because some younger stud could pull twice the weight. He's an ex-con, but it was a white-collar crime he didn't commit. Still, who is going to hire him now? He can't sell real estate, insurance, or even cemetery plots. One must be licensed. Background checks knock him out of every ballpark. He can't even sell cars. His wife is dead, his children age from ten to twenty. He needs cash flow. What does a man like this do?

I began to sympathize with my telemarketing character. I think many telemarketers are at dead-ends. Perhaps they hate having to smile on the phone. Perhaps they despise trying to entice you with a product that not only you don't want, but they don't want either.

I think the next time I get a call, I'll not be rude. I'll put myself in their shoes. I'll simply say, "No thanks, but have a good day."

Then again, who knows? Maybe this person has something I can't live without. Maybe I'll even listen to the whole presentation. They're not all out to get us. Some, I've found, have good intentions. Honest products. A sense of humor. Some, even, represent wonderful companies with awesome products and opportunities not found anywhere else. How would one ever know about them, except by way of a ... telemarketer.

The point is. Be kind. He may very well be a schmuck. But you don't have to be.

Something to think about.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Women In My Family

She's nineteen. Today's she having her first baby. She is young, beautiful, and single. Surrounded by her sisters, her mother, and her grandmother, my niece is in labor as I write this. Her baby son is about to make a grand entrance into the world. A grand nephew, indeed.

In my immediate family, there are twelve women. Each of us, unique and different. Some of us, vastly different from each other. But what my sisters and I have in common is that we gave birth to some stunningly beautiful girls. And now, they are birthing their own children.

For my mother, my sisters, and myself, the road has been full of potholes the size of canyons. It's our daughters who motivate us forward, to fill those damn blasted potholes.

No matter their course, our daughters will forever receive the support from the women in their lives. Today, as my young niece finds herself in the throes of hard labor, she will contemplate this new road chosen. She will consider the many potholes that await her. My wish for her is courage, supernatural strength, and an abundance of patience. More than anything, she must carve out a life for herself and her son that will be full of good things for him and for her--separate and apart from everyone, and yet remaining a close member of her family. The women in my niece's life have caught her in the midst of a great fall, lowering her softly to solid ground and the security she has known all of her young life. And that's a good thing.

Yet, I'm positive this is the hardest thing she's ever done.

My daughter, and each of my nieces, also possess class, charm, humor, intelligence, and a love for their own mothers. But I doubt any of them know the boundless love their mothers hold for them. It's something a woman doesn't see in its entirety until we become a certain age.

I'm hoping, as my precious niece goes to death's door to give life, she's allowed a little peek at the love the women in her life have for her. It'll give her the courage, strength, and patience she needs to go forward.

God bless our new baby boy.

Blessings to you and the women in your life today.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Late Night Memories

Watching the news as a young girl, American soldiers dying in the Vietnam jungles and rice patties, the networks brought the war into our living rooms. Along with the twangy little girl selling Shake n' Bake, and the plop, plop, fizz, fizz of Alka Selzer, we were also dished out a daily ration of sensational conflict.

Except at my house, my mother refused to allow TV watching during dinner. As much as the war fascinated me, it scared Mother to death. Boys with whom I’d grown up, attended my school and church—just three or four years older than myself—were coming back to the states broken, busted up, or in body bags.

One night after his late shift, Dad arrived home tired and moaning loud enough for me to hear. “I want to relax tonight, clear my head, and fall asleep to the TV. Shultzie's son. They're bringing him home. Tomorrow. The guys at the shop took up a collection.”

I peeked around the corner. Mom had positioned herself at the end of the couch, rubbing Daddy's back. “Want your usual?” Mom asked.

“Uh-huh.” I heard her tip-toe to the Zenith, which sat next to my bedroom. Mom had a habit of fiddling with the knobs on the TV longer than necessary, searching for a late night Western movie for Dad to watch. Preferably one with John Wayne or Jimmy Stewart. I had curled up on the floor, just inside my room in time to watch Dad toe off one shoe and then the other and groan with delight. He’d stood on his feet all day at the Plant 5 Chemical Division of the Akron-based Goodyear Tire and Rubber company. A job that over time, broke him physically.

It wasn’t supposed to do that. We were decendants from a long line of West Virginia coal-miners. My dad escaped the mines hauling his family north, hoping to add years to his life. In reality, he’d traded one abusive job for another.

“What you doin’ up, Sissy?” He'd caught sight of a corner of my pajamas.

I crawled out on hands and knees. “Just wanna kiss you goodnight, Daddy.” Reaching where he lay, I hugged him. He hugged me back, then pointed to the kitchen.

“There’s a candy bar in my lunch bucket, don’t let yer mama see.”



"What happened to Mr. Schultz's son?"

I could see it in my dad's eyes. He was thankful for his three girls. "He died for his country, darlin'."

"In Vietnam?"

"In Nam," he nodded. "Get on to bed. Eat that candy bar tomorrow."

“Okay, Daddy ... g'night.”

“‘Night, darlin’.”

Dad brought himself home, every night. He was faithful to his wife and his children—that was worth all the candy bars in the world to me. But I remember thinking about Mr. Schultz and his three sons. Then I prayed my childish prayer for all the sons there. In that awful place torn by war. I looked back to see my dad sprawl across our L-shaped couch. I recognized Jimmy Stewart's voice on the TV. Though the sound was turned low, the music and words soothed me, along with the glow from that late night movie.

I heard my mom walk in. I knew she was carrying a tray of heated-up leftovers. Their nightime ritual of chit-chat was interruped as Walter Cronkite broke in to report the latest casualties from a place called Khe Sanh. A Marine base had been hit. A shattering barrage of shells, mortars and rockets had slammed into the base. Eighteen Marines were killed instantly, forty were wounded. I heard Dad’s heavy sigh and my mother's bleak response, “When will it end?”

Now and again I think of those nights, waiting for the sound of that front door to open, and my mother's heavy footsteps from somewhere in the house padding down the hall to greet him. The sounds of their voices, the dull gray light from the old TV set, and the smell of leftovers, I felt safe. Even in the midst of war.

Now late at night, watching my husband sleep, I turn the TV volume down and flip through hundreds of channels. A war overseas still rages. I think tonight, I’ll flip to the cowboy channel. Maybe I’ll find an old favorite of Daddy’s. The Man From Laramie. Jimmy Stewart just puts me to sleep.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

My Mother's House

"You should see it. It's gorgeous. Cinnamon Berry. The color is the perfect accent to the Carmel in the living room. I don't know why we didn't paint these walls sooner."

That's my mother. Last night. Talking about their latest house "fix." Long retired, my father is as into the aesthetics of his home as my mother, so he grabbed a paintbrush last week and went to work.

I learned how to "design on a dime" from my parents. Way long before it was popular. Decades before HGTV hit the airways. My parents "eye for style," particularly that of my mother's, is coded deep within her DNA. Her love of furniture, fabric, linens, dishes, paintings, lamps and accessories began at birth. My mother passed her love and appreciation of all things "homey" on to her daughters.

I remember walking into my friend's houses as a young girl thinking, Does her mother not know those colors are hideous? I wonder who picked out that wallpaper? My gosh, this couch needs thrown out! Oh yes, we King girls have been trained in the art of decor. Of house couture. A few times we've landed our butts in trouble because of our inability to pass by a furniture store, a gift shop, or a garage sale.

My mother's taste changed over the years. In the beginning, she was "Mid-Century Modern." But actually, that indeed was the 1950s. Then, long about 1965, she acquired an antique desk, and that began her voyage into the Victorian era. Slowly, she moved into rustic, then country, and now her home is full of antiques, lace, velvet, and all things Queen Anne and Victoria. Their Georgia home reflects their love of the past, having collected antiques long before it was popular. Therefore, you'll not find many homes like this one. You won't find an antique organ in many homes with a centennial carving on it that reads, "possession of the first English-speaking colony."

My father's artistic ability to "gingerbread" is overwhelming. Literally. A cabinetmaker with lots of time on his hands, Dad's trim work is unique and special, but it adorns every window and doorway. Home Depot has asked him to give lessons at their stores. But Dad is content to live in his workshop, carving out his latest project.

On vacation, touring many historical homes and mansions, I have to giggle. My parents could make a fortune, just from the sale of tickets to those wishing to tour their home.

It's not overdone, it's magnificent. The house and it's innards are extravagant, made for glossy magazine articles. House Beautiful has seen nothing like it, I'm sure. But the thing is, my folks have no clue how beautiful their home really is. It's their hobby. It's their life's work. It's their refuge and safe place. They live there, eat and sleep there. Entertain their children there. It's not a museum. It's home.

They are children of the Great Depression. They grew up poor. Dirt poor. They married with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. My mother's parents were alcoholics and abusive. She was torn from her family at an early age. My father escaped a life in the coal mines of West Virginia, went to college, and had brothers who were jealous of any little success in his life. So, now in their 70s, my parents live in the house they spent over 57 years building and creating. It's one of a kind. My mother's house will forever be burned into my memory, as well as the memories of all of her children and grandchildren. Nanny's house is where you go to breathe her in, feel the best of her, and rest a while.

My mother's house is as much a part of her, as her arms and legs. It truly is ... home.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, February 01, 2010

A New Day

Today is a milestone. Although I cannot go into detail at this time, it marks a rebirth. I'm excited for it. The change is here. It's upon me now and I have no choice but to surrender to it. January 2010 was a month of preparation. But now, after over 15 months of slow blogging, few submissions, countless rewrites, I can now say with enthusiasm ... I am BACK!

That's not to say I didn't learn a few hard lessons during these past 15 months, because indeed, I did. One would think at my age the lessons should all be learned. But I believe God had a few more up his sleeve with my name on them.

Reading my own blog submissions from this 15-month time period, I hear the frustration in my voice. It grieves me. I grieve for the time lost. Yet, the reading and writing sabbatical was needed in order for me to get to where I am now.

I have not taken steps backward. If anything, I have moved farther ahead in my writing than where I would've found myself had I continued at the rate I was going. Confusing, I know. I ask myself, who cares? Nobody, probably. It's just that I know where I'm headed, finally. The journey I took to get to today has been a rocky one. But I'm here. I'm full. My cup runneth over with good things to come.

It's a new day. And I'm glad it's here.

Blessings to you and yours.