Monday, June 28, 2010

Wise Words From Maya Angelou

My sister forwarded me the following email. I seldom post stuff like this in my blogging, as they’re usually forwarded around the email circuit a few times. But I felt it was worth posting. Maya Angelou is one of my favorite writers, and this is a classic. I don’t know who originally put the following together, but kudos. I’m glad you did.


Oprah recently interviewed Maya Angelou on her birthday. Oprah asked her what she thought of growing older. And, there on television, she said, regarding body changes, there were many occurring every day, like her breasts. They seemed to be in a race to see which will reach her waist, first. The audience laughed so hard they cried. She is such a simple and honest woman, with so much wisdom in her words!

Maya Angelou said, “I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”

“I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

"I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.”

"I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as 'making a life.’”

"I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.''”I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back”

"I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.”

"I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.”

“I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.”

"I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.”

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Time Well Spent

My speaking engagement at the High Point Country Club was one of the best ever. Over thirty women gathered for their monthly meeting of the Triad Women's Forum. I was the guest speaker. I love venues like this. These women opened their hearts and received me with warm hugs and words I really needed to hear. Their encourgement and compliments sent me home wishing I could speak to groups like this every day.

Southern Fried Women is still selling! The ladies stood in line while I signed their books. It did my old heart good. And, of course, I got to plug Beth Hoffman's book in the meantime! Oh yes, I did. Writers can either resolve themselves to total and complete competition with other writers or absolute support. I choose support.

I can't even count how many times I've talked about my friend, Dena Harris, during my speeches, encouraging others to check out her web site and buy her book, Lessons in Stalking. I've only met Jodi Picoult on three different occassions, and I've recommended her books for years. Now I'm toting Beth Hoffman's book everywhere I go. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is a warm and wonderful feel-good read. It stirs the heart, and I have put it into many hands the past few months. It should be read and enjoyed. Kathryn Stockett's book, The Help, is another one of my favorites this year.

Writers should be part of other writers success stories. I've been told and have read that the industry is cut-throat. That may be the case, but I won't have any part of it. There are plenty of readers to go around, and although the tastes in reading varies from reader to reader, I will continue to market the books of my dear writing friends, as well as my own.

My focus has changed since beginning this journey. Someone said recently, that they haven't seen me at any writing conferences lately. Well, there's a good reason.

Where I used to spend boatloads of time and money on regional and national writing conferences, critique groups, classes--I find my time is better spent these days concentrating on producing the work. So, where is it you ask? Hold on to your hats, folks. It's right around the corner. After a few years of bumps and bruises, I'm hopeful. With two novels in hand, I hope to see the light of a publishing day in the very near future.

Conferences, critique groups, and classes are important and I do encourage writers (especially beginners) to take part and find the resources to attend as many as possible. But there comes a time when you got to write! There are only so many hours in a day, and when you divide those hours with the time you need to spend with family and other necessary daily functions (like cooking, eating, bathing, blogging and RESEARCH) well you get the picture. Your time for writing can slip away and nothing can bring it back.

One day I began to wonder how many conferences, critique groups, and classes was Harper Lee involved in? Or Margaret Mitchell. Or Flannery O'Conner. Or Eudora Welty. Or Truman Capote. Or Louisa May Alcott. Or even Dorothea Benton Frank, Barbara Kingsolver, Diana Gabaldon, Ken Follett, Anita Shreve, or J.K. Rowling. I know these writers gave of themselves by teaching ocassional classes, and probably did their fair share of marketing, but did they neglect their writing time? Of course not.

A writer can spend years in class, and never be published. I don't have that kind of time.

Now, I hardly put myself in the league of the above greats, but I'm striving for it. I'm working my butt off to get there sometime before I pass on. It's a goal, and if I see even a portion of it, I'd be thrilled beyond words.

It takes huge blocks of time to produce great stories, and although we never know it all--we're always learning more about our craft--I sincerely doubt I'll ever spend the kind of time I spent in years past on more writing conferences. Sometimes, you just have put your nose to the grindstone. Do what Diana Gabaldon told me once. Read. Write. Don't Stop.

So, in a nutshell, that's what I do. Throw in speaking engagments, where I continue to support other authors and sell my work, and my time is spent. I do look forward to coming up for air, speaking when I can, and meeting my readers--but if I don't spend time writing, then what a waste of the past twenty years. I got a lot of great stories inside me. It's not fair to keep them all to myself.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bits And Pieces of June

Much goings on, down here in North Cakalacky. Too many things to even blog about, actually.

I'm writing like mad, of course you know that. My research this month is taking me to Native American reservations, digging into the meaning of Wakan Tanka, and just what, exactly, is a peace pipe? And how, after all these centuries, does the American Indian seemingly lag so far behind in their civil rights? It's painful research. I learned that just because my great-grandfather's wife was a full-blooded Cherokee, it doesn't make me one. But what it does do, is cause me dig for terrible truths that will find their way into my books.

For the most part, June has been hot, hot, hot. Thunderstorms pop up every day, and so do the weeds in my flower garden. I manage to water the poor suckers every day, but that's about it. Every few hours, I stand, stretch, and walk around, just to clear my head. My story is all-consuming.

We had a baby shower for my daughter-in-law in June. Or rather, Jillian, Elaine, and Claire had one for her. Annie is coming right along, cooking that bun in her oven. The baby is growing and we're coming down to the wire. Michael and I will be heading to Ohio in the near future, this baby is a blessing for all of us. The parents have requested that they be alone with their new baby girl the first week of her life. Therefore, Mike and I will wait until sometime later to see our granddaughter for the first time. (I know, unusual request. My family is used to one big party during the birth of any new baby in the family. A party that starts at the hospital and lasts a full week. My mother stayed with me two weeks after each birth.)

But, hey, Annie and Aaron want that special time to be all theirs. I can understand that, as well. They want to do it on their own. I don't have a problem with that, at all. In fact, they may have the right idea. New parents are nervous enough, without everybody watching them, poking fun. And baby girl needs to bond to mom and dad, first. Not to her twenty-five other relatives who will be following her every move the rest of her life anyway. She'll get to know the rest of her crazy family soon enough.

So, I'm heading to Kentucky, soon, to see my dear friend, Beth Hoffman. I can't even tell you how much I'm looking forward to it. Beth Hoffman, NY Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, has been a great fan of mine, as much as I am of her. We have so much in common, and I'm just chomping at the bit to spend time with her. I'll keep you posted. If you have not treated yourself to a great read this summer, get Beth's book. It's a five-star read! You'll love it.

I'm excited about the future, my hopes are high, and although the hot weather is a drag, I'm thankful for every day. If you don't see a new blog, just know my fingers are flying across the keyboards. My novel, The Sanctum, is coming down the home stretch, and I'm loving every minute of it. It's a beautiful, courageous story and I'm looking forward to seeing it print!

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Writing Weather

The summer months have always been my favorite time of the year. Days are long, I personally don't mind the heat and sometimes even the humidity. It's like the sweating lodges of Native Americans, the bad inside us just oozes out our pores. Air conditioning is nice, but for the most part, I like bright blue skies and hot sunshine. Salads, eating light, ice cream in the evening, large glasses of ice filled with tea, hamburgs on the grill, summer tomatoes and corn on the cob--summertime trips to anywhere are the best.

On the flip side, I can hibernate in winter with the best of the bears. Tons of snow and ice, stock pots of soup on the stove, reading by the fire-curled up with my favorite blanket. I love looking at cold weather, I don't like driving in it. So working from home fits into winter for me. Blistery, snowy days can be heavy work days for me. For some reason, my mind flips into high gear on a day everybody else stays home to keep off the roads. I enjoy winter, as long as it's from my warm, snuggly house.

And who doesn't love a good thunderstorm? (I'm not talking about tornadoes, hail, hurricanes, and floods.) I'm talking about the storm that rolls in, bangs around a little, waters our gardens, and then floats away. Great stories have been written during thunderstorms, I am sure!

My point about summer/winter is this: As a writer, I pay attention to the weather. By itself, it is a great motivator. It can stir imagination, memories, and provide lines of prose for your readers, dropping them into season you want them to feel.

Can a writer make you feel the cold, the heat, a gloomy day even if the sun is bright outside your window? Too much talk about weather will cause a reader to skip to the next paragraph or close the book. But just the right amount, here and there, will keep a reader in the season you want them in. Even if it's July and they're reading about a Christmas blizzard.

Writing weather is a talent unto itself. It's all about paying attention.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A Short Blog

Working ten-hour days on this new book is kicking my wide behind. I find very little time for myself. Meals are quick or non-existent. I've realized I can go two days without washing my hair if I pull it back in a ponytail and don't look in the mirror. Quick showers mean my legs don't get shaved but once a week. My wrists ache, and I won't even mention my back. Makeup? I throw on some lipstick and blush once a week, if Mike is lucky. Grocery shopping? That's my husband's dirty job. I do laundry when there's not a clean towel, pair of socks or underwear to be found. And I'm praying my flowers will make it through the summer with my inability to remember to water them.

Oh yeah, and blogging takes a back seat to it all. So please be patient with me, and know that I'm writing a great story.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Okay! So check it out! It's June and my summer juices are flowing! My new and dear friend, Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, did me the honor of asking me to submit an essay to appear on her blog, BRAVA! It's the June issue, but be sure and read all past submissions! They're great! Interesting and funny people, Beth has invited wonderful authors to write on her blog.

Speaking of Beth Hoffman, do yourself a favor and check out her entire web site! What delicious stuff. This woman is made up of an eclectic mix of both North and South. She lives in Kentucky, but has spent a great deal of time on tour for her new hit book. We began emailing back and forth after I discovered she gave my book, Southern Fried Women, a five-star review on Amazon! When I wrote to thank her for that great review, our relationship took off like a rocket and we haven't stopped emailing since.

I think it's because we're made out of the same kind of mud. Our backgrounds are very much the same and we're both of the same generation. But it's our love for the written word that binds us. Our respect for each other's work. We think along the same vein and I feel within my heart, we honestly feel a mutual desire to see each other succeed in a great way.

It amazes me when two women come together and form, what I feel, to be a lifetime bond. I've experienced friendship with other women writers, and some of them were fleeting, but some were deeper, cultivated, and have grown stronger. It all comes down to being made out of the same kind of mud. I told Beth that some day she and her best friend, and me and my best friend will sit around a lunch table, hang out, drink "iced tea," roll onto the floor laughing, plot stories, and just plan share our lives. That's the best part of having friends, isn't it? Real friends who can share your burdens and your joys in life.

I was truly thrilled and honored to have appeared on Beth Hoffman's Brava! And if you have not experienced her book, let me introduce you to Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. There's a reason this book is hitting the bestseller lists all over the country. Find out for yourself and pick up a copy. It's a great read for the beach or anywhere!

Life is good on Brava! Thank you, Beth!

Blessings to Beth and her fans all over the world!