Monday, December 21, 2015

it's the most wonderful time of the year

A Merry Christmas you shall have, mmm? Good things in the New Year for you I see.
And speaking of seeing, YES I saw The Force Awakens and YES it. Is. AMAZING.


Happy Christmas week!

I hope you have all had a marvelous December. Ours has been really, really good. There are things in this world I would change, for myself and for all humanity, but on the whole things are really good. Jon and I had our Christmas yesterday morning. Coffee and presents and one cat enjoying the catnip pouches I made him = a perfect morning. The afternoon was spent with a dear friend at the beach. Boy was it COLD! Blustery and bright, the sea was freezing and we went back to her beach house, fingers and toes numb, happy to fill mugs with piping hot cider.

Christmas will be spent with much overdue visits with family and friends while the New Year promises to be quiet, spent inside with a midnight toast between husband and me.

Looking ahead to a new year is always exciting. I love to look back, too, and see where I've come, where I've been, before contemplating where I'm going. This year saw wonder on top of wonder and I am humbled and in awe of both blessings and lessons learned. My husband found his niche, his place, a job he loves and supports whole-heartedly. I slid into a place filled with knowledge, a place that helps the community around it and one that is filled with people more family than co-workers. Sure the washing machine still leaks sometimes and the stove top creates mini-wars when trying to use more than two eyes at a time but we're blessed. And I'd wager, so are YOU.

So Happy Christmas, Dears. Happy family and friend time. Happy feasting and present-ing and pondering a bright tomorrow. Take time this week to breathe, to remember WHY you celebrate. Reflect on WHY you wrapped all those packages or baked all that fruit cake. Remember WHO you did it for. Whether a little or a lot (and I've celebrated with both), may your days be merry and bright.

May you have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed, happy, prosperous New Year. Here's to adventures, stories, and magic.

See you next year!!
I can't wait.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Commonplace



The air is chilled and here I sit by radiator with tea and stitchery. The cat sleeps soundly to my left, oblivious to all but feline dreams and the occasional rustle of bird or squirrel outside. In the air is the sounds of Christmas sung in Latin and for this moment I am at peace and I am free.

Happy Wednesday, Dears.
May your day be merry and bright.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

IWSG: December Edition


**The Insecure Writers Support Group is a monthly gathering of writers to help encourage and inspire others by sharing our triumphs and concerns. You can find out more by clicking HERE and sign up if you'd like! We're always happy to add one more to our ranks! As always, a great big THANK YOU to our fearless leader, Captain Alex who created the IWSG and all the fabulous co-hosts for December.**

***

Good morning! This is it, kids! The final posting of the Insecure Writers Support Group for 2015. Now, I know some of you are going to say that the year whooshed by and left your head spinning. I'm in the other, smaller camp: for me, 2015 has dragged by, not as slowly as last year, but slow enough for me to actually differentiate between months and seasons.

It's been a good year. A really good year! My husband and I survived our first year in a new city. I changed jobs and Jon found a career. Things are still a bit cramped on the homefront, but the Christmas tree is up, the decorations are out, and this Christmas will see us going home to visit family and friends. It's a much, much brighter scene than last Christmas.

Am I feeling insecure? Not at all. Even though I failed to produce a NaNo novel for the third year in a row, I'm ok. I hope everyone else who participated got out of NaNo what you'd hoped to accomplish. For me, I realized that writing frantically on a story I wasn't wholly committed to just to say "I did it" wasn't a good enough reason to write. In fact, November had me in a "I'd rather be sewing" state of mind. And sew I did (ba-dum-ching).

Now that the holidays are in full swing, I'm feeling the old tug of the muse. I've taken up pen and paper again and I'm slowly etching an idea into being. I've learned a lot of lessons about myself this year, one which hit me yesterday in full epiphany form and I'm letting it sauce and simmer while I explore it through a new form for me: the essay.

It's a lovely exploration of writing for writing's sake. Not for the pursuit of publication but for the sheer joy of emptying my mind and pushing words around on the page. Just to see where they'll lead. So far, the rabbit trail is nothing more than a faint dent in the undergrowth but I'm slowly following, slowly discovering and uncovering.

How are YOU, Dear Reader? Did you complete a novel in November? Did you do any writing at all or did you sit back and enjoy the season? Have a fantastic holiday season: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, New Years' and anything I may have missed! I'll still be blogging up until the week of Christmas and then it's two weeks off to enjoy family, friends, and all the wonder. Then it's a bright and shiny 2016! I wonder what wonders we'll write?

Happy Holidays and WRITE ON!
All the best,

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Deep Breath Before the Plunge?



Good morning!

I hope everyone in the States had a marvelous Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving. I love the idea of a day set aside to be thankful for the people and things and events that have shaped our lives for the better. To be thankful for what we have and for where we're headed. What I can't stand is how chaotic it's become! I noticed it two years ago, how Thanksgiving seems to now be rebranded into "Black Friday Eve". Now, I remember people going Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving when I was a kid. Heck, that was when we got our Christmas tree. But lining up at [name a big box store] at 3pm on THANKSGIVING?!?! That's when lunch is in full swing and dinner guests are just arriving!

I'll rant no more.

For now :)

But seriously, everywhere you turn there's mentions of the "chaos" of the season and the "rush and hurry" to "shop 'til you drop". Why?

When did the holiday season become a marketing tool?

I know, I know, YEARS ago, right? Thanks to social media, however, it seems that this attitude has rooted deep and pulled us down into the quagmire it's created.

A lot of people tend to view the days before December as a ramping up, a bit of calm before the storm of shopping and parties and gifting and traveling. That's all true. I LOVE buying and making Christmas gifts. I LOVE going to and hosting Christmas parties. I love, love, LOVE giving gifts (and, let's be honest, getting them). This year we even get to partake in the great holiday exodus and I'm especially looking forward to that. What I DON'T love is the presumed stress of it all.

It's easy to look at the ticking clock and the dwindling calendar and think, "Oh GOSH I haven't bought the ham yet!!" "Aunt Ethel's sweater isn't in stock!" "What am I going to do if they sell out of season whatever of Game of Thrones???!!!"

Take a deep breath.

Go make some tea.

I'm going to tell you a secret. None of that matters.

Not. One. Bloody. Bit.

Parties can be potlucks and gifts can be handmade. If Wherever is sold out of Whatever, give a gift card telling the recipient what you were going to get them and instruct them that THIS card is for that item (or whatever else they would rather have).

I'm the world's worst at wanting everything to be Martha Stewart perfect but let's face it: I don't have her film crew! They wouldn't fit in this tiny box anyway. The point is, the holidays are about BEING together. About ENJOYING one another. About GIVING and LAUGHING and RECEIVING the kindness and love and joy of OTHERS.

Go ahead. Take another deep breath. Brew another spot of tea.
Now, instead of plunging into December, why don't we wade in gently.

Happy Monday, Dears.


Monday, November 23, 2015

A Shift in Light

Light is a fickle beast. It comes and goes with the movement of time, of earth, of clouds. You can wake up knowing weather by light itself. Sometimes light nudges you gently. "Get up." It whispers. "Go. Look." And what you see is a world of quilt batting, gently rolling filament over rock and twig and road.

In the summer light is harsh, a beating from Apollo, a raining warmth that can grow a garden and set sensitive skin aflame. Spring light is muddled through storm clouds. It casts a green glow over the windowsill and flaps with the shifts in cloud and leaf. Autumn light, o fleeting! It's sometimes orange and sometimes yellow and sometimes the color of fog. Autumn light moves, creeps over the back of your couch and BAM hits you in the eyes. Autumn light differs by day, by moment. It can come through the bedroom window today, enter by living room tomorrow.

I love the way light shifts from one season to the next. Autumn light is the most interesting. This morning it peeped from behind a cloud and hit the orange throw, setting it on fire. Yesterday it lit the bedroom in a symphony of white showing every errant strand of cat hair. Tomorrow it may yet dapple the walls and split open the blinds; one never really knows in autumn.

My favorite light is the light of winter. It's crisp, cold, blue-tinged weathering that fingers you with icy awareness. Fleeting as it is in the South, winter light sings of snowfall and I have memories of precious mornings as a child when by the light alone I woke and KNEW it had snowed during the night.

Today I am thankful for the light that illuminates our tiny cottage. It shows the dust and cat hair, reminds me where to clean. It angles (angels?) around my books and collections reminding me of the blessings of lovely little things. I am thankful for the light of words that shifts with the reader, diffusing the soul into a thousand wings of thought. I am thankful for the light of others as it shows me where I falter and where, on the rare occasion, I shine.



Happy Monday, Dears!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mrs Queen Takes the Train


I do love a good ghost story. Recently finished "The Woman in Black" as a matter of fact. Gloriously gothic tale! But sometimes, I need a story that makes me feel happy and content. That is exactly what "Mrs Queen Takes the Train" by William Kuhn did for me.

This book invites you into the imagined world of HRM Queen Elizabeth and yet it is so realistic you have to wonder if Mr Kuhn happens to, himself, be a part of The Household. The book tackles some hard issues such as depression, confusion, the loss of loved ones, and handling difficult emotions but it does so in such a wonderful way that you take a deep breath, feel the hurt, understand it, and go through it to the other side.

The Queen is a bit down lately and accidentally leaves Buckingham Palace (whoops!). She befriends a couple of young people and a blind couple and their German Shepherd. She leaves the palace in a bit of a hush-hushed uproar and sends one soldier, her personal attendant, a long-time butler, and a lady-in-waiting on a bit of a dash to Scotland in an attempt to intercept HRM before MI6 interferes.

It is a lighthearted romp through London into Scotland via public transportation and it is one that I think you'll enjoy. There's a lot of bantering in the "Upstairs, Downstairs" sense between classes and the humor is deliciously dry. If you like a story that seems more like a deep breath and a lovely, long exhale then this is the book for you. Perfect for a chilly weekend spend indoors with a pot of tea and cozy blanket.

Or, of course, for a trip on the train!

Happy reading, Dears!

Monday, November 16, 2015

There is beauty to be found here.

a view of Gaston Street in Savannah, GA

An epiphany was had this weekend.

There is beauty to be found here.

HERE, wherever "here" is for you.

For me.

The world around us rages and it seems that everywhere we turn there's bad news, dreadful photographs and ugly language seeping into our memories and consciousness.

There have been times when I've found myself raging, seething to escape the confines of strangers, strangers who cut me off from my present. My selfish present. My consciousness became toxic from constant exposure to the traps of social media.

Have you ever gone away from it? Unplugged from the constant updates of everyone else's lives? I've stopped blogging before but I realized that wasn't unplugging for good. It was removing myself from a creative community and each time I've done it, I've faded.

No, I'm talking about FBook. Perhaps I'm being oversensitive. I am the happy owner of a hyper-sensitive personality. Oh joy; we take up only 1% of the population. It's not easy being green. It's not self-preservation, well, not JUST. It's a preservation of the beauty that is always around us.

Yes, Dear Reader, there is BEAUTY around us. Always around us. Sometimes you just have to look harder, find the microcosm that is easily missed.

As of this morning, I'm not existent on FBook any more. At least for a while. It may be permanent. My only hesitation of the forever is I have friends there who aren't involved in blogging or on Instagram. Why Instagram? Because it's a celebration of the lovely. It's easier to find others who want to paint the world a better place with joy and gardens and positivity. 

Am I avoiding "real life"? Not at all! Walking away from virtual anger is walking into the waking realm around us. Oddly enough, I feel I've just woken from a long, strange dream. The scrolling stopped and I felt lighter. A beautiful lightness of being. I wasn't on FBook terribly often, but I realized last night that I would suddenly have a lot more time. If I have more time, I wonder about the other hours flitted away by others who are there more and more often.

I'm not condemning social media. I'm a blogger and I post pictures of my cat on Instagram. It's a wonderful form of communication and connection. There are people in my family I've reconnected with and stay in touch with in ways I wasn't able to before. But, for now, I'm here in the blogverse, I'm on Instagram, and I'm out THERE. 

In the great, wide wonder of reality with hopes of better fueling myself to create my own!

TELL ME:
Have YOU ever removed yourself from Social Media? What about those of you who AREN'T on FBook? Who have permanently removed yourselves from it? Did you feel freer, less constrained by the whims of others? If you've never been a part, why not? 

Happy Week, Friends!


Monday, November 9, 2015

The Power of Words

Words are powerful. Magic.

Writers deal with words. They are our medium, our palette, our tools. We are the artists and words are the ways we present our art to the world.

But do we really, really know the power of words?

"Sticks and stones", we used to chant, "will break my bones but words will never hurt me."

So, so untrue.

Words have the power to build up and tear down.

Words have the power to create and destroy.

Too many times I find myself saying things outloud that I shouldn't. Many times those words are directed to myself. People laugh at self-deprecating humor. Some of us wield it like a well-trained butter knife.

Be kind to yourself and to others. When you're writing, choose your words well. I'm not talking about nitpicking every single thing you say. I am saying that there are perfect words out there for every thought you want to convey. Take the time to find that perfect word or phrase. Sure it will take more time, but it will make your work sing.

And when you start to insult yourself, take a step back. Pause. Breathe. So you goofed. So you didn't get that word count in for NaNo last week. Big deal.

You're amazing just because you're here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

November IWSG : how do YOU NaNo?


Greetings and welcome to the monthly posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our goal is to encourage and inspire each other as well as hold the hands of anyone and everyone experiencing hard times in the writing world. We've all been there and we all need a hand to hold. The IWSG was started by our fearless Ninja leader, Alex Cavanaugh.

Unless you've been hidden away in a cellar or out traveling with the Doctor, you know that November is National Novel Writing Month. EVERYONE it seems is writing a novel or attempting one. Between November 01 and 30 you'll find groups of writers scribbling and typing away in coffee shops and book stores everywhere.



I missed last year but decided to sign up for 2015. I haven't posted an update and I just started writing yesterday. Some would say I was already 3 days behind and over 5,000 words late. But I realized something this year: NaNo is what YOU want it to be. Sure I've done the race for 50,000 words. I've even DONE 50,000 words in a month three times. It's hard, it's exhilarating and, when you "win", it's triumphant!

This year, though, I had a different approach. I've been working on a nonfiction project for a year now. It started as a way to uncover memories from my childhood and turned into a gathering of craft projects, recipes and memories of past holidays. It's fun and I'm enjoying it. I decided I'd use NaNo to get as far as I can in the second draft of this project. No, it's not a novel. I'm not even sure if the outline and summary I have will add up to 50,000 words when all is said and done. But I've made my choice and my goal and I'm going for it.

If you've decided to compete in the NaNoWriMo Challenge, GO FOR IT!! Grab those word counts and see just what you're made of. It's fun to do it, the Challenge Way at least once. You really find out just how you write best. But for those of you on the fence, or those of you who have been afraid of NaNo, here's my little ray of sunshine for you. Go ahead and sign up. You don't have to post any word counts unless you WANT to. The NaNo Gestapo won't show up for regular updates. As far as I know, one doesn't exist. The reason I signed up is so I'd have something to focus on and something to check my own progress against. That's all.

Maybe I'll make that 50,000. Maybe I won't. The point is to set MY goal and go for THAT. Goals are important, but remember they are YOUR goals. Unless you're writing for a publisher, then flexibility is required. But until then, use whatever works for YOU to get YOUR work done!

Happy writing!!


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Something Wicked This Way Comes

It's coming.

The wind shifts mid-month and a chill creeps through the window.

The window you THOUGH you'd closed up tight.

Should I? You ask yourself. Or shouldn't I?

The choice is yours, to let It in or let it pass.

Either way, It's THERE, seeping into your consciousness and haunting your normally placid life. If you say "no", It taunts you from the bushes, nips at your heels and calls your name, unbidden, in the night.

If you say "yes", well, It's relentless.

Your days, your nights, suddenly fill with the clacking; your eyes go bloodshot; your fingers ache. You'll wake, drenched in sweat, wondering if you'll make it, wondering if you should bow out.

But you won't.

You can't.

Gird your loins, Dear Writer, and sharpen your wits.

IT'S ALMOST HERE...

NANOWRIMO COMETH!!!


Happy Halloween, Dear Reader! Don't let NaNoWriMo fool you. It looks unsuspecting but inside beats the heart of a beast. A frumious bandersnatch! Stay strong, fellow Wrimos. Stay strong!



Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The NEED to write


Write.

Craft.

Repeat.

This is my life lately. Ok, if I was HONEST, it would be more craft, repeat, craft, repeat, craft - Oh YEAH! Write!

Have you ever had to put your writing on hold and found yourself MISSING it? Found yourself reading books -old favorites and new finds- just so you can be close to words again? That's been my life for the past month. I was on a ROLL with editing a two year old novel and then -- screeching halt!

A friend and former employer of mine asked me if I wanted to be a vendor at her boutique. Of course I said yes. BOOM! I started a business. Don't ask for details. There aren't any! It's very slap-dash still. I promised a bundle of items without having ANYTHING made! HA! So I stitched like a mad woman for five days and produced some really fun items:


That was a month ago. Since then, I've been stitching MORE items (again, like mad) and have a fresh, new bundle to hand over to her on Friday. I'll have a photo by then, don't worry. They aren't actually done yet!

Funny, but getting back into embroidery has really, REALLY showed me how much I LOVE writing. I MISS it. I miss the creation of story, I miss the clack of the keyboard and the scratch of pen on paper. I miss spending mornings in coffee shops writing before work and on off days.

And I'm glad. I'm glad to have this opportunity to share my crafts with others. Where it will lead, I'm not quite sure. That's in the morphing process as we speak. But I'm enjoying seeing a new side of creativity.

And I'm also enjoying seeing this rise of WANT in terms of writing. THAT'S why I signed up for NaNo this year. I NEED that crazy deadline to get me back in the groove. Once I finish this last item for the shop, I'm taking a bit of a hiatus from stitching. I'll be designing new items during the month of November which will allow me to focus more down time on writing. NaNo will give me that extra incentive to get those words out there.

Still mulling over what story to work on. Yesterday I posted about an old draft. Now I've got two more ideas vying for my attention. The countdown begins. Knowing me, I'll decide on November 01 when I sit down at the computer and start typing.

Here's to happy "accidents" and the sheer JOY of creating!
Cheers,


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Research and Writing


Thanks to Bish Denham and her MARVELOUS blog hop yesterday, I find myself consumed with the idea of list making. Okay, okay, even MORE consumed with list making. I'm already addicted to lists of all sorts: to-do lists, grocery lists, project lists. And I'm all in favor of checking things off said lists. Unfortunately, what usually happens is a keep making new lists, adding the undone things from previous lists. In other words: I rarely cross anything off!!

Counterproductive, I know.

Anywho, all this list making and reading got me thinking: I should really make lists pertaining to my work. Not just lists of story ideas (I have plenty of those) but lists that coincide with each story and what I need to be doing in order to get that story enfleshed and out into the world.

One list in particular, a list of research topics by Chrys Fey, really got my creative juices flowing. I've never actually sat down and listed what I need to research for a current WIP. Which is really strange because I love research more than list making. (Seriously. If anyone out there knows how I can get a job as a research assistant for, say, any of Oxford University's libraries, you let me know. I'll do whatever it takes.)

My current WIP is one I started two years ago. I sat down and wrote the first draft in 8 days. Yes, I pulled Hemingway. Still, it sat for two years before I really took a good look at what needed to be done to make it publishable. I've worked a second draft and then realized the first draft had more meat in it. I tried steering it in another direction for draft 2 and didn't like the outcome. It made it clunky, limping, and I found I was going back and trying to reference draft 1.

So. Draft 3. I think (and this is a tentative THINK) draft 3 is my NaNo novel. I've gone back to the original idea but I realize it will require some research and reshaping. Or rather, some deepening. I'm not afraid of that; I just know I may not make the NaNo goal when I start digging.

So here's a little question for you, Dear Reader: I'm botched NaNo several times and I'm not ashamed to say so. I got ideas out, enfleshed some that may have not been given breath, and was able to figure out what worked and what didn't. There's a part of me that really wants to see that WINNER badge on my blog at the end of November but more than that, what I really want to see, is a carefully constructed story with carefully researched facts that allow me to weave together a believable tale. Well, as believable a tale as speculative fiction will allow :)

Just writing all this out has given me a bit of heart-peace about my NaNo decision this year. I love the idea of getting 50,000 words written. Yippee! You made it!! And it is quite a feat to write a novel in a month. I've done it several times and it is a very good feeling indeed. Still, it's never been a solid novel. Know what I mean?

Are YOU participating in NaNo this year? Are you sitting it out? Or, do you create your own NaNo and sign up just to keep yourself on track?

That last one sounds more and more like the way to go this year for me.

Write on; trust your story,



Monday, October 26, 2015

The Listing Hop!

Good morning!

Today is the Listing Hop brought to you by Bish Denham to celebrate her EIGHTH YEAR of blogging. Woo-hoo!! Wander on over to congratulate Bish and check out all the other entries. Congratulations, BISH, and thank you for hosting such a FUN bloghop!!

The rules were soooo simple. In fact, I have to say this is the simplest bloghop I've ever been involved in. All I had to do was sign up, grab the banner, and make a list of between 5 and 25 things. Seriously. That's it!

I've thought all weekend about what to list. I make lists for EVERYTHING, especially creative projects. I have this huge (and I mean HUGE) green, three-ring binder FULL of story notes, ideas for articles, and pages and pages of lists.

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought about the things I LOVE writing about, the things I'm most interested in. It gave me an idea to make a short list of some of my favorite herbs. Some of you know that I've worked in the alternative health field for over five years and I just recently returned to it after a year-long hiatus. Herbs fascinate me not just for their health properties, but also for their beauty, their practicality and their folklore.

Oh yes, Dear Reader, herbs have tales to tell! And the funniest thing about them is I find myself having tales to tell whenever I dip my hands into the soil to plant, harvest, or just clip off a few sprigs of an herb and inhale the fragrance. Perhaps they really do have magical properties: herbs invoke stories. I like that!

I also like saying their Latin names. Makes me feel a bit Hermione-ish.

So here's my list! Just a few botanicals that can inspire, intrigue, and perhaps, even make your halloween a bit spookier :)



1. LAVENDER (lavandula angustifolia)
Ahh, lavender. That sweet, musty smelling fragrance that instantly reminds you of grandmothers and old wardrobes. Frankly, I love the smell of old wardrobes. Very Narnian of me. My mother has always loved lavender. It peppers her house and wafts from the corners, weaving past all the cinnamon and clove. Lavender is well known to calm and soothe and it's used in loads of perfumes, room sprays and sachets. I love the long, graceful, purple fronds and enjoy drying them. They look lovely bouquets or even tied to packages with a bit of string. Lavender can even be used in baking and turn ordinary sugar cookies into something a bit more posh. Try it at your next High Tea!

The next time you're feeling stressed or just a bit anxious, take a deep whiff of lavender. Better yet, keep it next to you while you're watching all these lovely Halloween movies! I've got mine right here...I just started reading The Woman in Black!



2. SAGE, CLARY (Horminum Pyrenaicum)
Sage. I LOVE this herb. It's spicy and woody and the smell is downright comforting. There are several types of sage. Common garden sage is the one most of you are familiar with. It's the one you find in your seasoning blends and at your local garden center. It has a wonderful flavor and is used in heavy meat dishes, especially stews. Clary Sage, however, is a bit more pungent and is used more often in medicinal blends than in cooking pots. ( Unless your cooking pot is a large, black cauldron...) The adjective "clary" calls another name to mind, "clear eye". An infusion of clary sage was traditionally used in eye drops and was thought to clear the eyes.

The essential oil of clary sage has also been used to help clear the mind. It's a wonderful oil to sniff when you need to remember something, like study material for an upcoming test. I've used it while writing to keep me focused on the task at hand. Also, Clary Sage has been used in extreme cases of hysteria. Do with that bit of information what you will :)



3. ROSEMARY (rosemarinus officinalis)

" There's Rosemary, that's for remembrance." ~ Shakespeare (Hamlet)

"Are you going to Scarborough Faire?
Parsley, Sage, ROSEMARY, and Thyme?" ~ traditional folk song

This has got to be one of my favorite herbs. Rosemary is found everywhere, along garden paths, growing in pots at restaurants, and in every garden center in the spring. It's sweet, warm, spicy fragrance calls to mind peaceful, happier times. Seriously. Every time I see it, I have to run my fingers through the spikey fronds and gather some of that luscious fragrance for myself. It's cleansing and always reminds me of my mother's herb garden.

See? Shakespeare got it right :)

It has been said that rosemary can be used to stimulate hair growth or strengthen hair growth when the hair is thinning or falling out. You dilute some of the essential oil in a bit of water or in some coconut or olive oil and massage it into the scalp, leave it for several minutes, then rinse. It certainly can't hurt and at the very least you'll smell lovely afterward.

Rosemary always reminds me of the folk song Scarborough Faire. Most everyone has heard Simon and Garfunkle sing it but search for Sarah Brightman's or Haley Westenra's versions. These ladies add an even more haunting spin to this enchanting song. Why is it so haunting? I honestly don't know, but I love to hum it around the house and it always puts me in the mood for a ghost story. Seriously. It's weird...



4. NIGHTSHADE, DEADLY (atropa belladonna)
**POISON**

This plant, as the name suggests, is deadly. It is a beautiful flower with tempting berries. Sadly, those berries have historically been enticing to children with disastrous results. It's deadly nature comes from it being filled with atropine, a poison that, according to Mrs. Grieve, requires only 1/10 of a grain to do it's dirty deed.

Here's a bit of fun about this plant taken from A Modern Herbal by Mrs. Grieve:

"According to old legends, the plant belongs to the devil who goes about trimming and tending it in his leisure, and can only be diverted from its care on one night in the year, that is on Walpurgis, when he is preparing for the witches' sabbath. The apples of Sodom are held to be related to this plant, and the name Belladonna is said to record an old superstition that at certain times it takes the form of an enchantress of exceeding loveliness, whom it is dangerous to look upon, though a more generally accepted view is that the name was bestowed on it because its juice was used by the Italian ladies to give their eyes greater brilliancy, the smallest quantity having the effect of dilating the pupils of the eye."

Whether or not it was delivered by the devil, it's best to leave this one alone. Lovely to look at, but please don't touch!



5. FOXGLOVE (digitalis purpurea)
**POISON**

Oddly enough, foxglove is one of my favorite plants. You've all seen it. It's sold at garden centers in the spring along side other beautiful, flowering perennials. Planted next to snapdragons, they complement the garden as tall, elegant spikes filled with little bell shaped flowers in varying shades of purple and pink. It is a wonderful plant for a bee garden as honeybees are attracted to the flowers and the pollen within. Originally it was called FOLKSGLOVE which alluded to the thought that fairies, or The Good Folk, used the flowers for gloves. It naturally grows in shady dales and valleys-prime fairy watching spots- and naturally associated with the Folk. An old legend suggests that Foxglove got its name due to bad fairies giving the flowers to a crafty fox who wished to creep unheard into a nearby farmer's chicken coop. The "gloves" muffled the sound of the approaching fox and allowed him all the fresh chicken he could eat.

Foxglove's poison comes from the chemical digitalis, found it its leaves. You may recognize the name, Dear Reader. Digitalis is a heart medication and, when administered correctly and by a health care professional, can help those inclined to heart problems. However, it's poisonous reputation comes from the abuse of this helpful nature. Too much digitalis and it will inspire a fatal heart attack.

Hmm, I suppose this little herb can teach us a bit about moderation.

So there you have it! My list. Click over to Bish's blog and find a whole list of people who are making and sharing lists. Feel free to share your own, even if you didn't sign up for the bloghop. Give me a head's up and I'll read yours! 

Do YOU make lists for your writing or any other crafty projects? For your daily life? For the sheer fun of collecting ideas? Do tell!

Enjoy your day, Dear Reader, and have a very happy (and safe) Halloween!!

Happy Listing,







(***reference material found at Botanical.com, A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve. If you wish to use herbs for any reason, do your homework. Don't be stupid. It's not becoming and it can get you into trouble in the plant world.***)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

An update of sorts...


This photo is the best picture of life I can post. Piles and piles of ideas. Ideas that have been in notebooks and computer files for YEARS.

And they are suddenly, yet slowly, becoming reality.

Needless to say, like you,  Dear Reader, I've been busy. Good busy, but busy. October is the start of festival season in Savannah. Okay, okay: we ALWAYS have festivals going on. It just seems like in October, EVERYone is having a festival, a party, a gallery opening, etc. The coffee roaster where my husband works has been busy with HUGE orders AND getting out in the community. The natural health shop I work for is celebrating 37 years in business this week as well as figuring prominently at a local food festival on Saturday. Not to mention the usual buzz around Halloween and the coming holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Whew!

I love it. It's what we've always wanted. To put down roots in a thriving community. Add to that a creative opportunity that takes all my spare time AND the fact I was just crazy enough to sign up for NaNo this year...

...yeah...

But I'm happy. Very, very happy.

How have YOU been, Dear Reader? Busy? Resting? Gearing up for the celebrations of the coming months?

Have a WONDERFUL Wednesday,

Thursday, October 8, 2015

BE-ing in Exchange for Success: Part II of Oct. IWSG Post


First let me say a great big THANK YOU to everyone who stopped by yesterday. Your comments were warm and the encouragement was much needed. I am constantly amazed by this fabulous group of writers that I've fallen in with. I started here some 7-8 years ago and it's been a wonderful ride. Even though I tend to get off the trail, switch horses, or set up camp in the woods for years on end, you are all still here, riding along solidly, ready to welcome a wandering soul back into the fold.

I am grateful. Truly.

***

I've been rolling around in my head the post I did yesterday. I realized it could mean two different things and it seems to have signaled a pause in my writing. Granted, I've needed that in the past (as we all do from time to time) but that's not the case this time. THIS time, I NEED to write. My hands literally (and I'm using this in the real and 'literal' sense here) itch when I think up a story or have an old tale return to my imagination. It's kind of weird, actually. Isn't there an old wives' tale that says if your palms itch, company's coming?

Does that ring true for characters? The ever elusive Muse?

There's a research project in that, kids!

Anyway, this permission to just BE is something everyone should give themselves. It is especially important for creatives. You see, I believe we are born with an innate knowing of who we are and where we belong. It's an instinct bred from stars. We KNOW who we are at a very young age, even if that knowing manifests itself in immature or contrary ways.

The very first thing I ever remember wanting to do was write. I can remember being somewhere around 4 or 5 and telling an uncle that I wanted to be a doctor but I knew that wasn't true. I wanted to be a writer. A story teller. I said "Doctor" because it impressed, even though I didn't understand "impress" at that young age. Prior to that, I'd written stories at home, in school, and I was always and forever making up games for myself and my imaginary friends. (My imaginary friend at the time was Mickey Mouse. Apparently I had celebrity connections in Imaginary Friend World.)

You see, THAT'S what I'm talking about. That need to impress. That, "Gosh if I tell them I want to write historical romance they're going to think I'm nuts!" mentality that makes us answer, "hard-boiled crime fiction" when someone asks, "So, what do YOU write?"

And have you noticed, until you're published, people ask it that way. What do YOU write? as if we're just another one of a million book author hopefuls who really can't write but think we'll be rich and famous one day? Now that's a soapbox for another time entirely.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand: there's a need in all humans to be accepted. For whatever reason there are groups of people who view the arts as something nice to do on a rainy day or something to remember when you retire from your "real" job. There is another group who sees the arts as a viable career, but only if the type or medium or genre fits in with their idea of "successful" art. Or, in my experience, their idea of what YOU should be creating.

Ah, now we're getting down to the bones of the issue. We want people to be proud of us. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Aunt Edna, Uncle Phillip who secretly writes prize-winning Haiku under a pen name so all "the boys" won't know it's him. We want them to be proud of us! And rightfully so! No shame in that. But there are those genres, those art forms, that tend to get a gasp or a confused scratch of the head when mentioned. Or my personal favorite, the apprehensive step backwards.

Finding our place in art takes experimentation. Some people write what sells and they make a good living at it. I applaud them. I'm not able to do that. I've tried. I have a couple of finished and half finished manuscripts that I pounded out because I thought it made more sense than what I really wanted to write. And they have potential, truly. And I'll probably finish them one day and see what happens with them. Maybe I'd be foolish not too. Seriously: one of these books I wrote the first draft in 8 days. How very Hemingway of me. Why NOT pound out book after book, month after month, and submit it. What if they're successful?

Well, what if they are? Am I being un-authentic? No, not as long as I'm still being true to myself in other writing.

Perhaps THAT'S what I'm really insecure about. If I write something because it came to be easily and it was one of those, "Wow. That was kind of a breeze" things, am I selling out? Or am I being smart and taking advantage of a good idea whose time has come?

I guess as long as I still write what my soul's begging me to write, I'm doing OK. Those tales just take longer. They demand a lot from me and that's why I've shirked them. Not very loving of me, eh?

Sorry for the long post. It is rather rambling but I'm curious: have you ever put your true stories on hold -the ones that haunt you- for stories that came easily? Ones that seem to be quicker to create and possibly quicker to sale? We can't know that for sure, but I'm talking about appearances here.

Just curious.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October Edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group


Good morning! Welcome to this months' edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! We meet monthly to let out our frustrations and insecurities into the world of writers. We also offer support to those who are experiencing more than their usual amount of insecurity and fear. If you're a writer (or if you know one or two) feel free to join us! You can click HERE to learn more about our group, our mission, and our fearless leader, Captain Alex.

***

Insecurity comes from being moored on unfamiliar shores. Of this I am convinced. When I'm writing, I am free. When I'm not writing, I know I should be. Words are my breath and the expression of my soul. Reading the words of others is breathing and I am caught up in a whirlwind of stories at present, both by others and of my own making.

My insecurity this month comes from a couple of sources. First, a new job has thrust me into an unfamiliar world. The subject is known to me but the manner in which things are carried out on a day to day basis is still, even after almost a month, stressful and hectic. Second, there's that ancient niggling at night that whispers, "What are you doing? Shouldn't you be doing this, that or the other?" You know what I'm talking about. It's that well-meaning interrogation you receive from those who love you, those who knew you Once Upon a Time.

"Well, you SHOULD be ..."

"I don't understand why you stopped..."

"So what are you doing NOW?"

"Back at that old game, huh?"

Now, I know these questions aren't asked to jibe. They are sincere queries with sincere answers and expectations. It's those expectations that grate to bone and soul. What many people don't understand is that some of us have to try different things to find where we belong. Some of us have to do things we'd rather not spend our precious time doing in order to make ends meet, all the while pushing in the evening hours toward those things that bring us joy.

My insecurity this month comes from that inevitable and age-old question, "So, what have you been up to." There's a pressure, Dear Reader, to answer with EVERYTHING: working on a new novel, experimenting with this genre, creating that, fiddling with this. Oh am I guilty of the avalanche of Impressions! Someone fires off the shot and down comes all I've ever attempted.

I'm at the deep breath stage.

I don't want to cavalcade down mountain sides anymore. Not even when those I'm talking to seem to have "made it" while I'm still digging up fragments from a potentially rich archeological site. Peace is calling me to just BE. That, Friends, is hard. People rarely understand a state of BE-ing that doesn't shower with accolades or impress with accomplishments noticed.

Sometimes the victory is in the clean dishes, the folded laundry and the swept floor.

Sometimes the victory can be felt in the clasp of a lovers hand while watching and old Disney movie.

Sometimes it's the sigh before the first word is ever written.

And yes, sometimes, it's those big moments that are publishable and noteworthy.

Right now, I'm living in Ordinary Time. My insecurity? Being OK with BE-ing.

***

Have a wonderful week! Whatever your insecurities are, find yourself a support group. If you're in need of one, join the Insecure Writers Support Group. They take good care of their own.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Doorways in the Dusting


We raised with liturgy are used to the miraculous. We believe in virgin births, walking on water, resurrections of the dead.

It's the mundane Holiness we have a hard time with. I look for dragons and wardrobes that lead to untamed lands but fail to see the majesty and grace in ordinary time.

I can wait for wings of fire and hope for ghosts but the budding of a flower, brewing of coffee, wiping of rag over counter get dusted aside, polished away with spaghetti stains.

I am comfortable with conversations between stars and find no wonder in Titans. But a barefoot walk on sharp stones fails to prick me with the marvel of anatomy and the miracle of senses.

I need fresh eyes to see doorways in the dusting, lingering angels in the laundry. I look so hard for fairies I miss the cherubim in the vegetable garden.

All wardrobes lead to wonder to a willing and hungry heart. Lord, air out my cupboards. Let my spirit sing praises as the dust rises from shaken coats and shifted books.

The windows need cleaning.

They are clouded with glory.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

When Fear gives way to Faith


They say "time flies when you're having fun" but what about when you're working on a dream? Writers understand this. Sure, you enjoy writing. Some days it's even FUN. But does the time fly? Do you wake up one morning, suddenly, and go, "Ha! A book! It's complete!"

No.

Real life dreams don't work that way either. It starts with a dream. Something that won't leave you alone. An idea. A character. A city. You jot down some notes, pay a visit. You start an outline, put in an application.

Then the work begins. A story is born. You now have to write it.

You get the job. Now you have three weeks to move.

The book gets written because YOU sit down and write it. And it takes work. And tears. And sweat. And many, many words which cannot be uttered here.

The move happens because you sell half of what you own, drive 250+ miles three times in three weeks to do a job interview, look at a teeny, tiny house, then pack up your cat and race to make the 3 o'clock deadline to put down a deposit so your water can be turned on.

The next day. And you have four people staying with you to help you move.

But I digress.

One year ago TODAY my husband and I packed up a waaaay too small U-Haul and chased a dream to live by the sea, in an artist-friendly town. We downsized by 700 square feet and traumatized our cat who thought it a great idea to panic and leap up on the dashboard of the car when I was driving 70 mph down the interstate.



One year ago TODAY we said YES to the craziest idea we've yet to have.

People see the dream. They see the pictures and envy the sand between our toes. What they don't see are the oceans of tears, the fear of lost jobs and mounting bills, and the many, many words that cannot be uttered here.

Chasing a dream is HARD. Let me say that again: chasing a dream is HARD. VERY, VERY, HARD. It is hard work to build a life from the bits and pieces of wonder and magic you have collected and hoarded your entire life. Parts get left out. They get left behind. And many of them don't fit the final product. But the funny thing is that the final product starts to look much better than YOU imagined.

The final product is still many years away but I'm enjoying the building process. I could have NEVER done this without my life partner in crime. Jon Chandler, THANK YOU. And thank you to everyone who has supported this massive uprooting and who still envy our beach pictures and shots of that silly fountain that still, after a year, tends to crop up in our Instagram feed on a regular basis.

Follow your dreams, Dear Reader. But let me warn you: it's one CRAZY ride!



Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Reclaiming Mystery

To retain the mystery of one's faith is what keeps it faith. As humans, we want to know and understand things. WHY did that happen, WHAT did I just see, WHEN is it going to be? But truth be told we'll never know everything. We can't. Even if we uncover and understand everything in our current universe something else would crop up for which we have no explanation,

And this is GOOD.

Things happen and we look to logic and reason to make sense of it. And many times, with diligence, we find that sense. That accepted explanation. But oh the times we can't. What then? Give in to those who discredit, who refuse to believe anything intangible? Who mock ones who, through personal experience, have walked with stars?

Some things are better left unsaid. At least in word by word commentary. This is the power of Story. To take those things, those experiences for which we have no name, no scientific category, and mold a world around them.

The power of Story is the freedom of fiction. Not a telling of lies in the guise of literature. No. It's the communication of truth through its most ancient of mediums.

***


Happy Banned Book Week everyone! Pick up a book you wouldn't normally read this week. Grab one off that "forbidden" list. Like Guy Montag, discover why books ARE so dangerous and why we so desperately need them. Need the Power of Story. NEED the Freedom of Fiction. Not the Prison of Fear in the sheep's clothing of Protection.

Monday, September 21, 2015

In Praise of the Weekend


For the first time in six months I had a weekend off. Saturday. Sunday. All day, both days. I know, I know: a day off is a day off and it really doesn't matter which days you call your own. There is, however, something about weekends.

I'll admit I was raised in an old school family with a mother who stayed home and a father who worked Monday through Friday. I don't apologize for that. In fact, I'm thankful for that. When I was a child it was commonplace. Now that I'm an adult I realize it was a gift and a rare one at that.

Weekends were sacred. My sister and I were up with the sun, tiptoeing out to the den to watch cartoons. If it was summer, we'd wait impatiently in our bathing suits for Mom or Dad to wake up so we could FINALLY go swimming. Outside or in, we'd play until Dad announced breakfast was ready. Not that we needed that announcement. The smell of sizzling bacon called us from the furthest reaches of the back yard. On school days we ate cereal or toast. On Saturdays we had a feast!

We LIVED outside! Dad and Mom would garden and do yard work while we played house in the small blue cottage beneath the far back pines. We slew demons while Dad sliced weeds and took tea with dragons while Mom plucked lemon balm from the burgeoning herb garden. Lunch was lazy: sandwiches munched on the porch or at the breakfast table amid ongoing projects that usually consisted of fabric scraps, dried herbs or beeswax.

Those crafts and more occupied our time when the crisp autumn winds blew in or the winter kept us by the hearth. For dinner we cooked out or fired up the cast iron griddle inside. There were hotdogs and mac-n-cheese while the Braves played baseball on the tiny TV.  There was meatloaf and biscuits, gravy and chicken at the dinner table. Bills and paperwork, craft projects and math books cleaned off, shifted to another counter so we could gather together and say Grace.

Sunday was church day, grandparent's day, lazy day. The smell of coffee warned it was time to get up, eat eggs and grits and put on dresses and polished, patent shoes. There were ruffles on our socks and embroidery on our sweaters. Sunday school smelled like clean carpets, wood shelves, and dust complemented by butter cookies and punch. The sanctuary was Gothic, complete with the requisite pipe organ and stained glass. I still remember watching the light shift through the hour-long service, spilling rainbows over the backs of the heads of little old ladies in front of us. Robes and choirs and Gloria Patri, thank you all for coming, God bless you, Amen.

Mawmaw had roast and potatoes and green beans. Nanny had cakes of half inch layers, crunchy icing between each and everyone. We explored gardens and pecan trees and cried when we had to leave, unless, of course, it was summer and we knew the pool waited.

Sunset brought lightening bugs or cold winds. We'd take baths and eat ice cream and watch movies or Halloween specials. Christmas movies and Murder, She Wrote colored our dreams depending on what time of year it was. Of course we hated that Monday meant school but it also meant five more days until Saturday morning. Five more days before the next, blissful weekend.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Daily Rituals


I don't know about you, but I have been guilty of beating myself up if I go one day without writing. Then, when I do write, I'll beat myself up if I don't write ALL DAY. And true, there are some people out there who can write all day, every day. That's wonderful for you. Really. But there are others of us who simply can't.

I'm not talking about jobs or families or outside obligations. I'm stating a fact that I have learned and have recently accepted about myself. I cannot write all day, every day. What I can do is short spurts of several hours where the words flow or the editing is spot on. Suddenly, without warning, usually at a very good stopping point, the flow ends and I simply stop.

The End for the day.

I'll confess that used to bother me. Aren't we supposed to be Writers with a capital "W"? Aren't we supposed to sacrifice all for the art? No. No we're not.

I just finished this wonderful book called Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. The book is a collection of the daily creative rituals of a whole slew of writers, artists, composers, scientists, philosophers, etc. It's a massive selection of the creative practices of some of the most brilliant minds in the creative fields. I checked it out from the library thinking, "Hey, maybe I can pick up a few tips from the masters and figure out how I can force myself to work harder and longer at my craft." Surprise, surprise. That's NOT what I learned!

What I took away from this book is something very quietly profound. Almost all of the writers highlighted in this book only wrote for a few hours a day. Most averaged about 3-4 hours in the morning (some in the evening) and then they went on about their lives. The majority of the daily goings on recorded in this book talk about daily walks, dinner with family and friends, the smoking of a favorite pipe, the visiting a favorite museum or symphony. Swimming, playing with children, reading in bed: all of these simple things were the brunt of these geniuses' days.

I was dumbstruck. Really? You mean George Sands didn't shut herself up for 12 hours a day to work? Flaubert wasn't chained to his desk from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday? No. A big fat no to both and to all.

And yes, there were those writers and artists who DID work a full 8 hours a day and longer. But most of them didn't. Some of them even had outside jobs that they kept long after their classic works were published.

Here's the Thing: YOU have to find out what works for YOU. If you can manage a full 8 hours (and there are days we all get those bursts of the Muse) then by all means GO FOR IT! If, however, you're like me (and 97% of the rest of the writers highlighted in this book), and all you can manage are 3-4 hours of labored writing/typing where half the time you're getting up and wandering around the house, puttering in the garden, and washing 3 dishes, then so be it. Do what works for YOU. One writer said (and I'll have to reread the book to get specific quotes and references): even if I write one page a day, that's 365 pages a year and that's a good bulk of work.

Tell me: Have YOU found a ritual that works for you? Do you write every day or are you a writer who works in spurts, who has to walk away from the keyboard or notebook and do something else? What keeps you grounded in your work and your life?

***

Speaking of rituals, I start a new job today, kids! I bid a sad farewell to the Kitchen Boutique Monday to go back into the Herbal and Natural Health industry. My schedule will allow me mornings and weekends and I'll be rediscovering what works best for my creative endeavors. Here's to the rest of the week, for finding our footing, and for adding as many words as we can to our WIPs!

***

As for WIPs: my current project is rambling on. I discovered I need ANOTHER draft in order to reacquaint myself with my main character's true self. There was an element to the story I took out in the second draft but realize now that it needs to be there. No worries! Looks like I'll be clacking away on Draft #3 starting tomorrow!

I JUST finished the second draft of a horror story!!! Gonna let that one simmer for a bit and then I'm going to take up the keyboard for one more round of drafting. It's a doozy and it takes a lot out of me BUT I really, really LOVE this story. Scares the mess out of me every time I work on it! And my cat always chooses THIS story to creep around the house uncharacteristically...evil minion..

Happy Writing!


Saturday, September 12, 2015

When your characters want one more draft



The idea I'm currently working on fleshed itself out in book form over a year ago. I think it was last May. I wrote the entire first draft in seven days. How very Hemingway of me :). I then put it aside and sat on it until last month.

After a year and a half I thought I was ready to tackle that second draft. I had a better idea of who the characters were, where they needed to go and how they needed to get there. The meat of the story is still true but the direction, the road was under heavy fog.

For a month I've been working tirelessly on the second draft. Thursday I was at the point I thought I was ready to plow through to the very end.

Then...

Something tugged at the back of my mind. It was a concept I'd put in the original draft, a concept I thought needed to be taken away, to streamline things. The problem is that concept won't leave me alone. It seems to be a very integral part of my character. It makes her more interesting, more grounded, much more three dimensional and, quite frankly, waaaay less Mary Jane.

The problem is that it will require a draft I wasn't planning on. This draft, number two, was to be the one before my Crit Partner Draft, you know, the one you send out to those trusted souls who put up with your ramblings and agree to help you edit. Well, that is not to be.

I could let this part of my character go but I fear if I do she won't be who she wants to be, who she needs to be for this story to carry itself to those fabled words The End. Not only that, this book sets up a second story - unconnected - that needs its roots to be firmly founded here and now. Though the stories aren't a series, the subject matter is similar and is required for a third book that will bring these two full circle.

Sounds confusing, yes?

Maybe it is, but that's the way my stories come to me. Confusing and cyclical.

Always cyclical.

Let me ask you: how important is it to YOU as a writer to take as much time as you need to make the characters who they WANT to be as opposed to fleshing out the story in the quickest and (for you) easiest way possible? I don't want to cop out and I'm not talking about laziness. I'm just curious. I know what I have to do (write more drafts!). Have you ever had this problem?

Happy weekend everyone!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Keep moving forward



The rain has been coming down in sheets all morning and afternoon. It's been like that all summer long. Odd, really. Summer in Savannah is supposed to be all oppressive heat and searing sunlight.

Not this year. This year it's been different.

Fitting. This year my life has been different.

One year ago, yesterday to be exact, I got a phone call that changed our lives. I told the biggest lie of my life and - whoosh! - we sold almost everything we owned, found a place to live, and moved in three weeks time to a city that captured our hearts ten years ago.

A city we've been wanting to move to for those ten years.

But, of course, it didn't go the way we planned. I honestly don't believe that things ever do.

The thing is, change is hard. Most of the time, it sucks. It comes at you - wham, BAM! - like a comic book fist and all you can do is block the blows, hope the assault ends soon. All I ever want to do is bury my head in the sand and wait for it to blow over, take the storm clouds with it.

Change, it seems, likes to hover about until you take notice of it. It hovers good and long like fog on the marsh. Thick, white, can't-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face.

One year and I'm still having a hard time seeing my hand in front of my face. Every now and then, however, I get glimmers of black water when the marsh clouds shift. In the reflections I discover job changes, novels coming together, and an assemblage of creative ideas long buried under pounds of sludge.

Despite these small rays of hope, there have been times I've wanted to pack it all in and go back. The only thing that gives me any consolation that we're here and we're RIGHT is my husbands job. It's perfect, he's happy, and that's a first in 11 years! That (and only that at times) is the only thing keeping me clinging on.

But here's the thing: even if that wasn't a major factor, there really is no going back. Sometimes doors are closed and no amount of banging or prying can get it open again. Truth is, I wouldn't want it to open. Going back can be good. If you need to make things right with a loved one or friend it's important to find your way back. Even if it's just for your own peace of mind. However, most of the time we have to keep going forward, even if it seems we're moving backwards.

Sometimes, especially when it seems we're moving backwards.

C.S. Lewis once said that sometimes a person has to take steps backwards in order to get back on the right path. In other words, if you are a mile down Path B but you really needed to go down Path A, you'll have to go backwards for a while in order to move forward. The truth, however, isn't that you're moving backwards at all. You're moving to the right path which will move you further in the direction you need to go.

Aim. Pull back the bow and shoot. If you miss, don't walk away. Go fetch the arrow. See where it landed. You may only need to look a bit further over another hill or bush to find the path you need. Or you may have to backtrack a bit to find it. Regardless, never, ever GO BACK. Move on, with purpose.

You'll make it.

And so will I.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

September 2015 IWSG

Welcome to the monthly gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! We're a group of writers so that means we're neurotic, needy, moody, and prone to fits of rage, sobbing, and general malaise. Basically, we need to gather and hear from someone, anyone, that it's all OK and what we're doing does make a difference. The IWSG is about encouraging each other, letting our insecurities and fears out into the open so that they don't take control of us and cause us to cower from our gifts, our stories. Click HERE to read more (much more!) from all the talented members of this diverse group!



***

Well.

THAT was an unexpected but much needed hiatus. How ARE you? How was summer? I hope it treated you well.

My name's Jen and I used to blog at The Cup and Page. I also used to blog here, many, many moons ago.

I almost didn't come back for fear of rejection. For fear of past followers unfollowing and friends from The Cup and Page thinking "Uh-oh, here we go again!" And you know what? That's OK. Rejection is a part of life, especially the writer's life. We work hard, long, lonely hours, hoping our words will strike someones heart strings, someones soul shadow. There's no promise, no guarantee those words will ever reach beyond our crit partners.

Still, we write.

We write for hope because we know - KNOW! - our words are important. They are important to us and must be let out. We breathe story and with it the prayer words touch and resonate with a kindred somewhere.

That's why we blog.

We blog to reach out. It's a fumbling in the dark, linking arm in arm with others along the journey. We write differently, think differently but we're all headed towards that same pin-prick of light.

Fear not those who won't understand. Keep moving, keep saying "YES" to the steps that will move you forward to your North Star.

Readers come and go.

So do followers.

But keep your own quiet knowing, that silent confidence in every new story. Even if it takes a dozen drafts (or a dozen blog or job or genre changes) to do it.

I've missed you IWSG.
It's good to be home.