Monday, November 21, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving...and Dragons!

OK, so maybe not dragons (sad face, sniffle), but we went and saw THIS yesterday:

(Totally snagged this image from the movie poster at the theater. 
Yes, kids, I took this on my phone. No credit necessary :))

This movie is beautiful. It was so well done and J.K. Rowling proves again why she's such a master storyteller. And I realized some things about storytelling that I hadn't paid attention to before. Things that I understand now makes great storytelling possible. What are they? Well, I'm going to wait on that. In fact, I'm going to let YOU go see Fantastic Beasts for yourself and let you see if anything speaks to you. There are many things Rowling does that confirms her gift and they are ALL present in this film. Yes, kids, she wrote the screenplay. The cast is superb and HOLY COW!! The BEASTS! I kind of need them. All. Well, OK, maybe not the giant dung beetles but everything else is a go!

Sorry for the lack of depth in todays post. Last week was a doozy and this week is a short work week. Thanksgiving is a'coming and we're hosting a couple of family members this year. I'm SO happy to be able to open up our little home to others. I'm also really glad we don't have to do any traveling :D. For all you HOSTS and HOSTESSES out there, HAVE FUN! Enjoy the day and remember: perfection does NOT a happy thanksgiving make. For all you GUESTS and TRAVELERS: be safe, enjoy yourself, don't overstay your welcome, and take a good bottle of wine.

(I did not take this picture on my phone: PICTURE CREDIT HERE)

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! Have a wonderful week and I'll see you here next Monday.

Cheers,


Monday, November 14, 2016

The sound that will lead you home

Music – STORY – resonates from a deep pain. Pain doesn't necessarily mean something negative. Yes, pain reflects tragedy; it reflects loss and hurt. But it also reflects this insistence to notice, to experience and to appreciate the beauty and brevity of life.

I've thought a lot about music this past week. I grew up listening to old country and bluegrass, songs that I didn't know at the time were rooted in folk music. Folk music rooted in the mountains and across the Atlantic to Ireland and Great Britain. I grew up singing hymns that were rooted in the folk tunes and pub songs of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Germany. These songs sailed to America, got lost wandering the Blue Ridge Mountains and became the will-o-wisps of bluegrass, became the protests of the folk movement, became the twang of late '80's country.

These songs tell stories, stories of pain and beauty, of heartache and wonder. They sing of tragedy and happiness and call us to fear the darkness outside our front doors. I'm entranced by their siren, and I itch to return to those ancient pathways. They are overgrown; they are weed ridden. I have my basket and I have my gloves. The nettles sting fierce and yes, there are snakes.

I'm goin' huntin' and gatherin', Children. I've got my walkin' stick at hand. There's a song in those old forests, a story echoing along the edges of the pines. Oh that VOICE! How it whispers of magic and my ears, pricked to follow, beg feet to hurry, forget shoes, stub toes, break nails. Be afraid of what you may uncover but don't turn back because of the fear. Press onward into the twilight, dig up the monsters under the loam. Let them snarl and growl and threaten and write down every word they say. Ask them to repeat until you can hum their tune. Then you can turn them around and connect them to beauty; a circle of living that's forever being told.


Follow the music that catches you. Let it carry you over mountains and streams. It may lead you to a vast ocean or a hidden glade of foxglove and bees. It's the resonance that tells you “You're on the right path.” A deep resonance that fills your belly and vibrates your soul. That's what you need to be following. That's the sound that will finally lead you home.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Voice of the Mountains

I am a beach girl. A water baby. I grew up with a swimming pool and parents who loved going to Florida or South Carolina. There are pictures of me in the water at less than a year old (with my shoes on but still, I'm in the water). If you gave me one choice of scenery for the rest of my days I'd choose the sea.

But there's something about the mountains.



After the stress of Hurricane Matthew, I repacked my suitcase and went to the Southeast Wise Woman's Herb Conference with some ladies from work. It was delicious. Time in the mountains is something I've not had for years. I'm not one for women's groups. I shy away from "girl's night out". I always have. I was terrified to go into the woods with a whole slew of women, most I didn't know. But it was illuminating.

I learned so much from the lectures, so much to take home and digest. I'm still processing the information, still recopying my notes so I can fully grasp their wisdom. An entire lecture was directed to those of us with auto-immune diseases and I think I was the teacher's poster child for her talk.

But it wasn't just the learning. It wasn't just discovering that large groups of women aren't (too) terrifying.

It was listening to the voice of the mountains and coming away with my heart full of story.



My current WIP is set deep in the heart of the North Georgia Mountains. The foothills of Appalachia so to speak. I grew up going to those mountains and I cut my teeth on the Foxfire Books, especially volume 2 and its entire section devoted to "Boogers, Witches and Haints". Legends of the mountains.

The mountains are mystery. They call to a deep, wildness in me. This time they whispered of herbal folklore, old magic, and the depth my story is calling me to. A depth I have been avoiding.

I'm thankful for those few days and for discovering that the mountains still speak to me. I may crave the hypnotic undulations of the Atlantic, but there's a deep place rooted in Appalachia. A deep place that I must now sink my roots deep into and allow to drink in great, mud filled gulps. Stories lie buried in those hills and I'm honored to be a part of that root-system.



Thoughts for the week:
What landscape speaks to you? Where do you prefer to be? What calls you home? Have you ever felt rooted to a land that wasn't, necessarily, your own? Do you believe there are stories in the land beneath our feet?

Speak up! I really do want to know :)


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Insecure Writer's Support Group - November Edition


Good morning! Welcome to the November edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our mission is to offer support, advice, cheer-leading, and general inspiration to writers throughout the blog-sphere. Click HERE to learn more or to join in!

Our co-hosts for this month are: Joylene Nowell Butler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie-Collard, Tamara Narayan,Tyrean Martinson, Christine Rains, and *GASP* ME! Yes, folks, I bit the bullet, volunteered, and LO! Here I be a-co-hostin'. I'm a total newb at this so I hope I uphold my station as co-host with honor and do it justice. I'll admit, that's one HUGE insecurity I have this month!

***

October was crazy. Did anyone else feel like the universe was cosmically against them last month? Between an unexpected hurricane evacuation, an herb conference for work and a family reunion I was out of town half the month! I'm ready to curl up on my own sofa, read a good book and drink at 
least a half bottle of wine!

November has me feeling a little uncertain. I submitted a story to the Insecure Writer's Support Group Anthology Contest (*WHAT?!?*) and I'm working on an essay to submit to another publication in December. I have a baby novel just learning to walk and there's several short stories and one lifestyle publication on my desk begging to be edited and brought to life. On the other hand, I have my very first HORROR PUBLICATION BY-LINE!

*confetti!*

er...

BLOOD!

Our local record shop, Graveface Records and Curiosities, sent out a call for any and all things Halloween back in September. I didn't have time to concoct a story a mere 500 words or less (anyone who can do that has my utmost admiration and jealousy) so my very first horror by-line isn't a story. It isn't a novella. Heck, it isn't even a horror movie review. No, kids, it's a recipe for chocolate chip oatmeal cream pies!!!



In my defense, they are scary good ;)

I suppose the point in all this gibberish is this: life throws us craziness at times. We can have everything planned out, outlined, categorized and summarized and then *WHAM!* a hurricane threatens to tear our home to shreds and blow our beloved city off the map! But we have dreams, we have goals and we have to push ourselves to see those goals through to completion. It would have been so easy for me to not submit my story to the Anthology competition, so easy to say, "Well, things got weird in October and I didn't have time to trim those extra 150 words off the 6000 word limit I went over." And I almost did but I knew I'd never forgive myself for not at least trying.

No matter what life hands you, you must put your goals in front of you and hold true to them. They are important. YOU are important. Your dreams will never become realities until you decide to make them a priority. Do the very best you can and let those stories go out into the world. You have no control beyond your best. And who knows? You might get a cookie recipe published in a magazine called The Corpse Reviver.

Hey. stranger things have happened :D

photo credit

***
Question of the Month: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?
Writing is one of those professions that chooses the person, not the other way around. People say they want to be writers and never write. I hate to tell them but they aren't writers. Being a writer is like breathing and you have to write or you're miserable. That said, my favorite aspect of being a writer is knowing that I have the power to tell stories. Any story I want. If there's a story I want to read, I can write it. I can inhabit any world, any profession, any place. I can invent words and worlds. It's a powerful, humbling, and marvelous thing to be a writer. And I'm thankful to whomever came up with this question for reminding me :)

What about you? What's YOUR favorite aspect of being a writer?

Have a marvelous day! OH! Best of luck to all of you WriMo's! May your 50,000 words come swiftly and smoothly. Get those stories out there! Go on. You've GOT this!!

I promise.
xo

Friday, October 14, 2016

Aftermath and Off Again!

Happy Friday!

This week has been just a bit crazy, what with that hurricane and all last weekend. Thankfully we returned home to nothing more than a bunch of limbs and debris in the courtyard and the top of a tree hanging out on our carport roof.



Trees are down everywhere; centuries old oaks uprooted and laying on their sides. It's crazy, really, what wind can do to a towering mammoth with roots the size of a Volvo.

People did lose houses and businesses were flooded. Sadly, two lives were lost as well. BUT in light of what I've seen of other locations where Matthew ravaged, we were extremely blessed. It was a miracle that things weren't worse than they were.

Savannah is a resilient city. We're strong and we'll come out of this on top.

As for me, I'm off to an herbal conference in North Carolina. It was planned months before and we did discuss at work Tuesday not going. However, the unanimous decision was to go ahead. My boss is happy because she'll have power. Her house on the islands is still in the dark.

At first I was going to stay home, hole up and breathe a sign of relief. As an INFJ that was the comfortable thing to do. Relax in my home that I had to leave behind in the path of a monster storm but also be here "just in case" I was needed. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I needed to let go and enjoy a chance to commune with nature. Learn about herbs. Get away from the stress that hovered over us like a dirty smog since last Thursday.

SO!

I'll be back home on Monday, Dears, but no post until Wednesday. Have a wonderful weekend and take care. If you were affected by Matthew, I pray that you and yours are safe.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Living on the Run

Life got crazy last week. We had a visit from a very unwelcome traveler named Matthew. I certainly hope everyone who was accosted by this bully is safe and well.

I've never had to pack in a hurry and adhere to a mandated evacuation announcement. Yes, we could have stayed. Many did. But we joined the 75% of Savannah residents that left. There were many reasons we left. A co-worker's daughter put it this way, "If there's even the slightest chance any of us could be hurt why would we stay?" My husband put it another: "Do you really want to live for an indeterminate number of days without electricity, water, functioning sewer system or means to cook the food that will go bad in the dead refrigerator?" Both of these were reasons enough to load the car and join the mass exodus on I-16.

My what big teeth you have! PS: the green dot is where I live.

When I was little, I heard about people not leaving during a hurricane. I thought it was rather foolish. OK, OK: stupid. Now that I live on the coast and have had the choice to leave or stay I understand. I didn't want to go. We didn't want to leave. We almost stayed despite the mandatory evacuation announcement. I mean, they couldn't come and force us to leave. But if something, anything, had happened to us (say, a giant oak tree had blown through our bunker of a house and crushed us) no one would have come to help. No. One. All First Responders were under orders NOT to go out in the Category 3 hurricane to save someone who decided to take a risk and fight Mother Nature's evil offspring. That, I must confess, was a bit disconcerting.

The reason people stay is primal. If I'm at home I'm safe. HOME is SAFE. Also, if I'm at home, I can protect it. Protect myself and my family. My castle = my defense. That's why people stay. Not because they're stubborn. Not because they're defiant. Because our homes are created to be buffers from the outside world. And no 115 mph wind is going to change our minds.

Still. We left. We got home around 2:30pm. We grabbed some clothes, several bags of food, a case of bottled water, and -

- and what?

What else do you take when the worst case scenario is that whatever you take is all you have left? That thought was shuddering. Frightening.

These are the things we carried:

- My husband's computer
- My laptop.
- A stack of my writing drafts and research that is not digitized and cannot be reproduced:

You know you're a writer when THIS is what is in your hurricane evacuation bag!

- A framed picture of our cat.
- A picture of my dad in uniform before he left for Vietnam.
- My copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

That's it. That last one surprised me. It's the only book I grabbed. I didn't dare look at the book shelves. How do you decide on one child over the others? It was too much. I was afraid if I looked at them I'd have a breakdown. We loaded up the car and left after I took a picture of the bookshelves and locked the door.

Honestly, I think the main reason I left them was to give me hope that all would be OK and we'd go back to an untouched home.

As I type, the sun is shining and all is peaceful in metro-Atlanta. We've seen pictures of ancient oaks uprooted and laying across the parks and streets. Bodies of our brave dead. Power is slowly being restored. Friends are OK. Tybee Island is still there and NONE of the homes were decimated. It is a miracle. 

And now, we wait. We wait to hear if they are letting residents back into the county. We wait to see if the streets leading to our house are re-opened. We wait. We wait. We wait. 

The waiting isn't really the hardest part, as the song says. It's the not knowing.

Yours Most Truly:

Hurricane Refugee

Friday, October 7, 2016

Oh Play Me Some Mountain Music


Oh how we complained when Mom and Dad popped in a cassette of "that mountain music". We'd been raised on classic rock, oldies and country. As we grew up our tastes changed but our favorites stayed the same: Clint Black, Garth Brooks, The Beatles, The Beach Boys. For a few hours, road trips rumbled along with my sister and me belting out choruses of "Friends in Low Places" and "Surfin' USA". Somewhere between Conyers and destination Higher-Elevation, one of our parents would ever so cunningly slip in a tape of hammered dulcimers and fiddles and my sister and I knew our music would not be heard the remainder of the trip. Two or three songs in we warmed up to it and soon played air banjo in the backseat.

Now days I'm far less antagonistic towards bluegrass and "mountain music". It makes me smile. It isn't often my husband and I are able to escape to the mountains for boiled peanuts, apples and cinnamon dipped candles.When we do, I find myself drawn to the shops with open doors and the drifting strains of an Appalachian front porch. Those haunting chords remind me of childhood and the vast stretches of undulating hills of trees through the Smokies or thick copses of pines lining unnamed red clay back roads. Just the smell of wood smoke is enough to send me back to those car rides and lazy afternoons spent leaf peeping, rock climbing or simply enjoying another, Southern Autumn weekend.

* * *

And just in case your unsure as to what "mountain music" sounds like, 
here's a bit for your listening pleasure:

Mountain Music by Alabama
(link provided just in case this video embedding thing doesn't work)