Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday Inspiration

Too many times we hold back because we don't believe in ourselves. We have a hard time believing in our innate greatness. And this isn't a greatness that need be powerful or tremendous in the eyes of the world. In my opinion, the greatest inspirations, the most necessary helps, come from those who don't claim to be super heroes. They are simply doing what they do because they understand the undeniable magic, the unfathomable potential present in each and every human soul.
(Image found via Pinterest )

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Wrestling a Dragon to Tea (Updates)

Breath is an important part of life.

Some may say that it IS life.

Part of the challenges that I face with myalgic encephalomyelitis is sudden shortness of breath accompanied by debilitating fatigue. I just took a shower. I might as well have asked a dragon to tea.

Then again, having a dragon to tea sounds like fun! Perhaps I should rephrase: I might as well have wrestled a dragon into acquiescing to my request for tea.

Then again, maybe not :)

Slowly I've been acclimating to the news of the anthology publication.

Even slower have I been processing the work still ahead.

The learning curve, however, is steep (I hope) and I am surrounded by a great cloud of those who have gone before. They are kind. They are encouraging. They are filled with a SLEW of great ideas that I am in constant awe of.

I can only hope my efforts will help and not hinder.

Speaking of The Anthology, the anticipated release is in May of THIS YEAR! I'll let you all know when we have an actual date. It's pretty exciting and, like I mentioned above, there is still a lot of work to be done. But I'm thankful everyday to be a part of this wild ride. Wander over to Dancing Lemur Press and check out the wonderful array of genres they represent! I'm over the moon to be a part of their family!

In other news:

* The kittens now seek fun in climbing into window sills and up bookshelves at 3 a.m.

* We STILL do not have a second car and I am enjoying being chauffeured about by my long suffering husband. One of my goals in life is to be Jessica Fletcher. Not driving is one step closer to fulfilling that goal. Sadly, it is one my husband is not too keen on seeing permanently fulfilled.

* Savannah feels like Spring. What? Last week we were freezing. This week I'm wearing short sleeves. Those who know me know I'm part reptile and am therefore always cold, always seeking a warm, sunbathed rock upon which to sit. And here I sit, in short sleeves. Comfortable. Oh, Dear February, be kind.

* I am in the midst of a marvelous book by Italo Calvino called "If on a Winter's Night a Traveler". This book is spectacular! A true gem. Bizarre and spiraling, sprawling and a bit confusing but so tantalizing I find myself needing to know what happens next. Spoiler alert: He makes you, The Reader, a main character.

* I've just started research on a novel.Well, I've just refocused my research on the bug-bear of a novel I mentioned in THIS post. It's looking less and less like molar extraction, but still has yet to take on the guise of easy flowing maple syrup.

image found via Pinterest

May you always wonder, my Friends

Thursday, January 12, 2017

With a Lightness of Being

January comes in cloud-like, don't you think? It carries on it all the hopes you have for the future yet, there at the back, there's a dark blur that is the past.

Not that the past is always a bad thing. "Dark blur" can simply be interpreted as baggage. Something one wishes to shed in order to step lightly into the things to come. Many lovely things happened last year; many frustrating and sad things also happened. The first few weeks of a new year blend my hopes and fears, my wishes and dreams, my reality and my feelings of inadequacy into a gloppy, green mash.

The past few days have been whirlwind. Brain fog coupled with that Great Cloud of Unknowing that whispers each January blinded me vision and kept me from writing. I sought solace in books and found myself returning once more into the comforting arms of the words of Madeleine L'Engle.

In "A Circle of Quiet", L'Engle continually returns to the concept of ontology : the word about the essence of things; the word about being.

The essence of being. What, I wonder, am I BE-ing? What AM I and what did I used to be? Deep questions, like snow drifts, and I'm huddled against them this night. 

When I was young I saw myself on the cusp of 40 in an entirely different place - geographically and professionally - than I am now. I was an ambitious little girl, wanting to be someone, something; I wanted to be famous and have my name on every bookshelf, in every CD collection in the world. 

And that pursuit made me miserable.

What am I BE-ing? Hmm...that shall take a bit longer to unravel. For now, I sit, editing, researching, reading back issues of British Country Living. In a few moments I'll heat up spaghetti, wash a few more dishes in my too-small-sink, and continue to let the kittens fight over who gets to sleep in Mom's lap this time. A British documentary about art thieves is on the telly and my coffee sits atop the radiator to keep it warm.

I suppose one might say I am BE-ing. Just being. Taking deeper breaths than I took yesterday after a long, internal feud with myself. My perceived inadequacies. Deep breath and a clearer vision. These small things of being are what make life worth living. Goals are ahead of me; work lies deep against my dreams but I must not lose sight of the lovely little things that make breathing (BE-ing) easier, lighter, more wondrous.

It is from these breaths that art is born.
It is from this lightness of being that stories are told.

Be kind to yourselves, Dear Reader.

Let January cloud past and leave you with a smile and a clear vision of the next eleven months.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Power and Bravery of very small steps


Those last few months were rough. We had to have our sweet cat Colby put to sleep because of pancreatic and liver cancer. September and October literally blew in rather violently with hurricanes, one which saw us uprooted and evacuated with no way of knowing what we'd return home to. Chronic illness raised it's ugly head, I was T-boned by a pick-up on my way home from work, and I had to have an abnormal growth removed from my back which was akin to minor surgery (a fact the doctor's office didn't seem to think particularly important to tell me beforehand).

This isn't a woe-is-me post. I don't want sympathy. I'm sending out a very real photograph of what the last four months were like for my husband and me. Crazy. Wind-blown. Grief stricken. Scary. Stressful.

And yet...I had this little, tiny goal.

Back in September the Insecure Writer's Support Group posted about a new Anthology competition. The topic was announced along with all the other submission guidelines. The due date was November 1st. It had been a long, long time since I'd submitted anything other than a cookie recipe. My mind was made up: I would write a short story (something I'm not very adept at) and submit it. 

That was it. Just one, tiny submission.

Then the M.E. I deal with came up like Cthulhu, all tentacles and foreboding omens. We evacuated our home and most of our possessions. The very next weekend I went to a conference for work and the following weekend we were in Atlanta for a concert and family reunion. 

I was millimeters away from saying, "You know what? No one will blame me if I sit this anthology out. I've been through a lot."

But I didn't. I wrote while we were on the road trip-family reunion-concert weekend. I sat at my mother's dining room table and finished off the major (MAJOR) editing so I could get under that blasted word count. I agonized over a title. I read it out loud at least a half dozen times. The cats loved it! They fell asleep every time :/

October 30th. Two days before the deadline and I emailed the story in. It didn't go through. I fixed the program, uploaded it to something else and resubmitted it. Success!! I breathed a sign of relief, drank a glass of red and was proud of myself. I did it. I accomplished a goal. I submitted a story.

Sure, I wanted to be published. I even thought over my title good and hard thinking, "If it won, what title would be a good one for an entire anthology?" But I didn't stress. 

Flash forward to December 23.The day before Christmas Eve, I was sitting at my In-Law's kitchen table when I saw an email. It was from Alex and the subject line said: IWSG Anthology.


With shaky hands I opened it. I read the words printed. I read them again. Then I screamed. I started to cry. Everyone in the house looked at me, went silent. My husband looks at me calmly and says, "Is this a GOOD thing?" I shoved my phone in his face and let him read:

"This won’t be officially announced until January 04 so please don’t announce it until after that date. Your story made it into the IWSG anthology! Congratulations. The IWSG Admins wanted to give you an early Christmas present. The publisher will be in contact with you after Christmas. And guess what? Your story came in at number one! It will be the featured story and the anthology will be titled after it."



I've had recipes published. I've had personal essays in newsletters published. But this? This is my fiction. My heart. My soul. 

And they said yes.

It didn't seem real. It still doesn't! But the more communication I have with the publishers the more real it seems. I've danced in the kitchen much to the kittens' chagrin. I've ran in circles around the living room (tiny circles, but circles!). I've cried. I've laughed. I've freaked the crap out because now I have to: up-my-game-in-the-blogging-writing-world-connecting-get-more-stuff-out-there-there-are-four-other-short-stories-I-need-to-edit-and-submit-and...

You get the picture.

So here I am. Bare bones and breathing. Shaking. Terrified. Fluttering in the wind for all the world to see. There is a responsibility that comes with writing. An even greater one with being published. I have a lot of work to do but I'M EXCITED. I have a little nugget of encouragement.

I did it. I can do it again.

The point of this long post is: SUBMIT your story. Especially if you think you can't. I took a chance, tightened my belt and, like Bilbo, went on with the dwarfs into Smaug's cavern. And this time it paid off. Next time could bring rejection. The next dozen times could bring rejection but that's OK. I have a dollop of glitter and I'll never, ever let it diminish.

I now KNOW I can do it. And I'll cling to that knowledge until the skin falls from my fingers. My fondest wish for ALL OF YOU, Dear Readers, is that you TOO find your shard, your glimmering truth. Whatever it may be, let it be a guiding light, a talisman that reminds you, especially in your darkest moments, YOU CAN DO IT AGAIN BECAUSE YOU DID IT BEFORE.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG January 2017 - A Year of Ink-Stained Hands

Good morning!

Welcome to a NEW YEAR of posts from the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our Fearless Leader Captain Alex created this wonderful group and you can read more about him and this group by clicking the links:

Captain Alex
Insecure Writer's Support Group



I hope the holidays treated everyone well and that you are all ready for an exciting NEW YEAR filled with opportunities. Writing is a never ending process. If you're a true writer (and I believe you ALL are) then you know that finishing one story or one essay or one novel isn't enough. There are more waiting in the wings of your imagination. More that want their turn in the spot light. These stories want wings and they want your blood, sweat and tears to push them out of the nest and teach them to fly.

Stories are hard evidence that magic exists. Writers often complain about not having enough time to write or not having enough hours in the day to put in a few more sentences before sleep over takes them and another day, another week, another month is gone and the screen is still blank. The notebook still empty. And yet we know - KNOW - the truth:

Writing only happens when we finally exhale and begin.

That's why this year I have only one, major goal.

To Exhale and Begin

Exhaling story to screen and paper; beginning the ideas that have been sucked dry by the Beast of What Everyone Else Says You SHOULD Be Writing. A year of writing for the pure pleasure of it.

What if you spent this next year with ink-stained hands? What if you pulled out those old ball-points and brushed against fields of fiber and tilled the fertile soil of your imagination? I'm not talking about finished productions and I'm not talking about six figure book deals. I'm talking about a year of writing. Just writing for the sheer pleasure of the ink stained page. Spend time nourishing the Writer and gently remind yourself why you started writing in the first place. Get back to the essence of writing. Reacquaint yourself with the simple, beautiful magic of word-smithing. The feel of pen strolling over paper. The pleasure of creating words that flow and slide and sail. I'm tired of striving for stars and thunder. I long to mine for dandelions in the cracks in the pavement.

Happy New Year, Dear Reader.
Here's to a year of ink-stained hands.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Christmas

Let there be peace on earth
and let it begin with me.


Happy Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Silent Night

Go outside tonight when it's dark. Really, go on. If it's cold, bundle up. Gather up some cocoa or open yourself completely to the elements.

Breathe deep the wonder of the stars overhead. Sing choirs of angels and behold the snow as it wanders across leaf and twig. Drink deep of the magic surrounding the landscape.

Tonight is Christmas Eve. Never underestimate the power of believing in magic. Never stop believing in the unseen. And never, ever stop singing your hallelujahs.

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Happy Christmas xxoo