Saturday, November 11, 2017

Hiatus Notice

Image result for hiatus
lovely photo found HERE

Sorry, kids, but this blog's going on hiatus.

I wish I knew what the deal was. I wish I knew why I just can't seem to get a handle on the whole blogging thing. It was good for a few years, mostly when I worked a desk job and had eight hours a day to check on my blog, updating and commenting on others' blogs and returning the kind comments of others. I haven't had that kind of job for years.

Honesty, they say, is the best policy, so I'm laying it all out here. I miss that ability to actually feel connected to the blogging community and I've met so many amazing bloggers and writers and PEOPLE along the way. For whatever reason, life isn't cooperating. There's a rift between me and blogging and I need to put my focus and limited energy to other things. I've done this before, I know. I don't ever want to say goodbye for good but right now I've got to put this on hold.

Let's call it a holiday during the holidays.

That sounds much better.

We'll see how things go after the first of the new year. My health just hasn't been up to par for the past few months and I've been working on a couple of projects that take up most of my free time, including edits and revisions on a novel. Plus, and I feel this is most important, I need to get back involved with life outside of the computer. There's a lot of life around me and I feel it would serve me best to get outside and experience it. Something I haven't fully done since we moved to the coast three years ago.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years'. I wish you all the very best of everything and I do hope to see you again in 2018.

Much love,
Jen xo


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Insecure Writer's Support Group - November Edition

Hello and welcome to the November gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We "meet" the first Wednesday of every month to offer encouragement to those in need and to perhaps get a little for ourselves.

Learn more about our group and sign up by visiting the website HERE.

How about a big, round of applause for our fantastic co-hosts for this month: Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass! Make sure to stop by and tell them thanks for all their hard work!

                       * * *

Life has been weird. I mean, weirder than usual. Ever since Hurricane Irma I've felt disconnected from everything: life, the universe. Even the number 42 brings no comfort. I've edited my novel off and on - a novel I completed in June. I wrote the dang thing in ONE MONTH but it's November and I'm still only half way finished with the first round of edits.

And I'm fine with that. Really. It's the strange, disconnected feeling, the illusion that I'm not really here but just observing life going on around me and participating no where, offering nothing in return that's weighting on my mind.

Maybe it's that Celtic shifting of the seasons: All Hallow's Eve, Samhain, All Soul's Night and all that. Perhaps the veil between this world and the spirit world IS lighter, thinner, flimsier than we think and I'm having a bit of trouble deciding where I belong.

*cue Yeats' "The Stolen Child"*

But I have been working, diligently, on some other projects. The novel haunts me, which is good: it's horror. When I do edit, it's all consuming so, perhaps, it's not such a bad thing to let it lie for a week or two at a time. I've been working with my hands more, sewing, creating things that are tangible and corporeal. Stories are more real, yes, but they require your soul. You realize this, right? Embroidery doesn't ask for a pact signed in blood. Writing, however, does.

Don't tell me you didn't know that?

So, what? Am I afraid? Afraid of what might happen if I offer up my creative self on a pyre to be consumed by the stories that threaten to match-strike at any moment? The projects bring me peace and open up a side of me that relishes the idea of turning back and walking muddy tracks at the turn of the twentieth century. I need that.

It's the mud that keeps me grounded.

How do you find balance between two selves? The writer self and the self that needs roots, that needs dirt under the nails and the prick of needles to remind you that there's more things in heaven and earth, Horatio? Or would you rather catch flame with the fire of your stories?

I'll tell you a secret:

There's also a part of me that longs to burn.

Good luck to all you WriMos and happy November!
xo

PS: I've been out of town since Sunday and won't be back until this evening. I'll be paying first Wednesday visits starting tomorrow :)

Monday, October 30, 2017

What Books Chill You?

Happy Halloween!

October 01 begins, for me, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas fall into step and I'm constantly delighted by the tricks, treats, scares, food, songs, hymns, classic movies and myriad ways people express themselves and celebrate.

For me, Halloween conjures up memories of Princess Leia costumes, ghost stories, hiding under the covers, convinced the Headless Horseman was coming for me, and watching The Goonies, Gremlins and Ghost Busters. Not much has changed, actually, only now I'm more inclined to dress up as Luna Lovegood than Princess Leia. Still, there's nothing quite like letting your inward Nerd shine brightly and give yourself a few good frights.

Scary books are my favorite. I write horror and my reading leans more towards the spooky. While I'm not a fan of horror movies (not the stuff they put out today), I love a good, scary story.

And that, Dear Readers, is what today's post is all about! What books scare you? What stories chill you, send you hiding under the covers or cowering from those creaks in the attic? Horror isn't about blood, guts and gore. That's just Hollywood slash and trash. Disgust isn't where the truth in horror resides. If you'd like to really understand what horror is all about, read this brilliant piece on the Horror Writer's Association Website.

So, what DOES scare you? What books have left a lasting impressing of fright imprinted in your mind? And please remember that fright doesn't necessarily mean the monsters jump out and grab you. No, think about those slow seeping, long lingering horrors that make you shudder even on a bright, summer's day.

Here's my top five:

1. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
This is the grandmother of all horror novels. I've never seen the movie and didn't think the story was for me. For whatever reason, I picked it up several years ago and read it. Here's the interesting thing about it: yes, it was spooky. It was horrifying. But not for the reasons you THINK. I went into this novel with preconceived notions fueled by previews of pea soup puke and spinning heads. What I read was a story filled more with a battled between love and hate, faith and unbelief than the terrifying "ick" I was expecting. DISCLAIMER: while this is one of the best books I've ever read, I don't recommend it to anyone. It's hard - VERY HARD - to get through. It's about possession. It's about unadulterated evil encroaching upon an innocent child and the things that happen to this child are not safe for the whole family. You've been warned.

PS: After reading this, I didn't read horror for an entire year. Seriously. It impacted me that much.

2. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Again, I've never seen the movie. Not a fan of what Hollywood does to authors' visions. Susan Hill, however, is a genius at Gothic horror. She's a contemporary author who has the skill to weave tension and terror so subtly that builds and builds and, just when you think something horrible is going to happen - she lets you down, softly, and you heave a great sigh of relief. You realize your hands have been clenched, your muscles ache from trembling, and you're teeth are clamped firmly down on your fingers. Then, out of nowhere, WHAM! She hits you backwards and you sit, stunned, because you should have known what was coming but she placated your fears so well, so cunningly that you forgot you were reading a ghost story. So. Brilliant.

3. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Here's another genius of the Gothic story. I LOVE Gothic horror. It's all about horror - the emotion and what it does to the people involved. Gothic horror shows humanity at it's best and worst. It reveals what horror can do physically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. It twists some minds and brings out bravery in others. It makes people do things they would never, ever ordinarily do. It's not blood and guts. It's more horrifying than that. It's presenting us with a question and then asking us, "What would YOU do?"

Shirley Jackson, like Hill, gives us these totally believable situations, creates these totally fantastical series of events and then hits is where we're blindsided. Then, slowly, the truth seeps in. Days later you remember something and you back-maze into the realization that the story you thought was kind of silly was actually terrifying. In this way, Hill House does not disappoint. In fact, I'd be so bold as to say it should be a Gothic Writer's 101 text book.

4.  The Shapeshifters by Stefan Spjut
The first thing you need to know about this book is that it's translated from Swedish. If you've never read a book in translation before, it's going to seem a bit ... odd. Which is actually perfect for this odd story. It starts out slow and continues that way, all the while building something in the background of you mind that makes you wonder, simultaneously, why you ever picked the book up and why you simply cannot put it down. It climaxes and then, it's over. You're left sitting in your arm chair, staring at the wall, wondering why on earth you read it.
"That's it?" You question. You close it, you put it own, you walk away.
Then, three days later, something clicks. And it niggles and it bores into your mind and you shudder and *ugh*. You feel violated, like the story has somehow taken over your mind, your soul, and you'll never, ever be able to shake it.
And you won't ever, ever, ever be able to forget it.
* insert evil, toothy grin here*

5. Drood by Dan Simmons
This book is delicious. It's huge and very Dickensian in scope. Perhaps it should be Wilkie-esque in scope because the narrator is Wilkie Collins, a contemporary of Dickens and, yes, good, old Charles is a major player. If you haven't read Victorian novels since college, give yourself a bit of grace with this one. You'll need it to settle into the lengthy prose and plodding descriptions. But it is all so necessary.
This tome is atmospheric at best, gruesome at worst, and utterly horrifying in ways you won't ever be able t predict. It builds slowly, like a festering wound that you just keep picking at and won't get treated. This is another one that leaves you thinking and pondering and finally - finally - coming to the conclusion that the whole thing was twisted and wrong and down right demented.

If you like modern horror films, if you're idea of horror is intestines hanging from ceiling fans, then you won't like these suggestions. Well, maybe The Exorcist. But, if you like the slow, psychological trauma that comes from suggestion, from the idea that Something Else could control you without you knowing it, even after the story is over, and if subtle shivers and long, lingering, deep rooted terror keeps you up years after you've read The End, pick up one of these and read them. Devour them. Let them soak into your psyche.

Trust me. You'll be scared.
And you'll never, ever look at squirrels the same way again.
*shudder*
Ever.

So tell me: What stories scare YOU? Have you read any of these? Do any of these titles sound appealing? Do you prefer the slash and trash genre and if so, why?

Happy Halloween!
Stay clear of squirrels. Just saying.

 PS: If you just can't get enough of scary suggestions, check out the HWA Reading List. You'll definitely find something to freak you out. And if not, well, you obviously have no soul. ;)

PPS: I'm out of town until Wednesday of this week. I'll be sure to respond to comments and vists starting Thursday! Cheers!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Insecure Writer's Support Group, October Edition

Good afternoon! Hi there and welcome to the October edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you want to know more about us, click HERE. If you want to know more about our captain and fearless leader, click HERE.

A big, huge thank you to all our co-hosts this month. It's a big job and we all appreciate the tireless hopping the co-hosts do 💚

This month's question: Have you ever slipped any of you personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

Definitely, yes, and definitely on purpose and by accident. Bits of us get into everything we write. Even if I'm creating a villain, I still see some familiar attributes creep in. Nobody's perfect! Most of my main characters have some element of myself in them. I do this because when I write what I know, I'm able to create more realistic scenes with believe able characters. Every part of every moment of our lives is up for grabs when we write, even the nasty bits. Sure, there are situations I wish I could go back and "do over", but, then again, without those experiences, we'd be less dimensional.

It is fun, though, when something of yourself appears in your work and you didn't intend for it to be there. I had a friend read a short story and he said he loved how my love of tea and books was in it. Honestly, I hadn't planned on those things entering into the tale but I brought them with me.

The things we carry have a way of showing us that they matter, that they aren't without merit. Mine your life and experiences for things, for characters and descriptions. Don't be afraid of the darkness or the seemingly insignificant details. As Sylvia Plath said,  "Everything in life is writable about, if you've got the outgoing guts to do it."

...
Speaking of short stories, the Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life short story anthology is a part of a Halloween Reads promotion! It is Halloween time, after all. What books chill you? Stop by October 30-31 and let me know!


And if you need a little something chilling for the spooky season, pop over to the Lost Hero website and grab your own copy of The Mysteries of Death and Life!


Happy writing,


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Finding Where You Belong

There it sits afar off, like a lighthouse beckoning a lonely sailor. It shines and sings and as soon as you see it you know you're there.

Home.

What a powerful word! We all relate to it. We all have someplace we call "home". But what or rather where is home? Is it where we come from? Where we are? Or could it be someplace we've been? Somewhere we're going?

I have a feeling it's all of these.

My husband and I longed for a home by the sea for ten years before we were able to make that dream come true. We traveled to Savannah every year for a weekend get away. The first year we were ever able to take a week long vacation - a REAL vacation - we heeded the siren's call and we back to the city we loved. That was three years ago. I got a job while on vacation, found a house two weeks later, moved two weeks after that. Ten years, four months and a week or two and BAM! There we were. Where our hearts were. Where they are. Home.

I'm from metro-Atlanta and every time I go back to visit my mother, I go back home. She lives in the same house I grew up in. The first and only house she and my father bought together. It's filled with the ghosts of laughter and memory. The garden overflows with decades of tending. Muscadine vines clamber through pine trees and rain down fruit in the midst of storms.

Sixteen years ago I flew to Ireland. I'd longed for that far, green country since I was a little girl. The sky was overcast but as the plane cracked the clouds I saw a patchwork quilt of green. It was a very visceral response. I felt it in my gut. As soon as I stepped out of the airport and breathed in the air I knew I'd come home.



A longed for harbor.
My childhood.
A country I'd never been too.

All of these places are home to me. It has to be in our DNA. How can you walk into a city and immediately feel at home? How can a location tug at your heartstrings and beckon you in your dreams? How can you set foot on foreign soil and feel a stirring in your soul and know - just know - that you have finally found your way back home?

It would take a lot more room than I have for this post to postulate the genetics of place. It's a concept I've long contemplated and I'm sure I'll return to it again and again. Do we carry places in our genes? Do our cells quiver with the ancient lands of our ancestors? Was it my great-great-great-great-grandparents' essence that whispered to me as I felt the soft, Irish rain: "Welcome back?" If you're willing to delve into the esoteric and wonder at the mystic, I'm sure you could argue along with me that our bodies are far wiser than we are. If we only we'd listen deeper. If only we'd let our blood and our bones carry us home.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Things We Carry : Hurricane Irma Edition

Our things are in the spare room, cluttering the floor, spreading out like water burbling from the center of the floor. I gather my thoughts and meditate - really meditate - on why I brought what I brought. Evacuating from ones home isn't easy. It's not something you want to do. You struggle, you fret; your heart is a constant tug-of-war with your head: should I stay or should I go?

Things take on a new weight. Items that were once so necessary are left on the shelf; things tossed in in bins, shoved to the back of cabinets become priority. Bits of fabric from grandmothers get gently folded and tucked onto a basket. The tea you just blended, the coffee mugs you toast Sunday mornings with, a stack of old herbals originally from your mothers shelves all get carefully packed and lovingly loaded.

The drive is long but beautiful - this time we took back roads - and our destination eases into view a bit before seven in the evening.

Those canvas bags, those reusable grocery sacks get lined up, an army of memories, dreams and goals.

I stayed up past midnight wondering of their significance and what each paper, each book, each scrap of fabric wants from me. Why did I bring them? Why do they call to me and what jobs do do I need to do to encapsulate those erratic dreams into solid, achievable reality?

We're back home and all is well. Nothing was lost or damaged; we never even lost power. The wondering, however, is still here. With every folder unpacked, every book reshelved, I've asked myself again and again, "What do you want from me? Why did you have to go too?"

It's exciting, really, the digging. In reality, I do know the reasons. The verdict has always been with me, as long as these slips of paper and half tried recipes. But it's in the gathering that thoughts are solidified and I'm enjoying taking it slow, revisiting every idea and letting them whisper again their stories and remind me just why these things are so important that I'd carry them for thirty-plus years and 300 miles.

                                      ***

Forgive the lateness of this post; we just got back into town after our second hurricane evacuation on three years. We have power but our Internet is down and I typed this up on my phone. Thankfully, our city was spared. My heart and prayers go out to everyone in the Caribbean and Florida who took the brunt of Hurricane Irma.
~ xxoo

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group September 2017 Edition

Good morning!

It's SEPTEMBER and I have to tell you, I'm happy to see it. Welcome to the monthly gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's the day we writers get together, post about our insecurities or send out a little inspiration into the Internet with the hopes of helping others. This group is the beautiful brain-child of Alex Cavanaugh. The marvelous co-hosts for September are: Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant and Beverly Stowe McClure. Make sure you stop by their blogs to say hello and THANK YOU for their hard work and dedication.

Stop by the IWSG website and see what fun our fearless leaders have planned. Our new ANTHOLOGY contest kicks off TODAY and next month is the Show Us Your Writer Insecurity contest.
                                     * * * * *

SEPTEMBER'S QUESTION: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?

The simple answer to this is, YES! Over the years, I was a confirmed fantasy author. I have a box in an attic in Atlanta that holds over 3,000 pages of a fantasy trilogy to prove it! Over and over again I tried to write about other worlds and magical creatures but nothing stuck. I love fantasy, I argued. I've always wanted my own dragon! I believe in fairies! Still, no good. The writing came across as stale, the plots regurgitated from Tolkien.

Then I took a little walk in the woods and found an overgrown path. I wandered down it and discovered that what I really loved were ghost stories, scary stories. Things that go bump in the night and follow you through the trees stories. So I dabbled in horror. Something clicked and I spat out three short stories and novellas. But...well, they still didn't quite feel right. What could I be missing?

One day I sat down to edit one of those novellas and gave my character a very, VERY Southern voice. Not accent, mind you; dialect is difficult to write in and almost always degrading. No, I had her use slang, idioms and colloquiums I was familiar with, illustrations that anyone from any other region may not be familiar with but would know were distinctly Southern. I put words together in a way that swayed with the pine trees and dredged up red clay.

And suddenly, like those little blocks in a game of Tetris, everything made sense. I realized I'd been fighting my voice for years, for fear of being seen as ignorant or fake or too "down home" and innocent for anyone to take me seriously as a writer. Truth is, I was ashamed of my Southern heritage which was to say I was ashamed of myself. It wasn't until I made peace with that and accepted myself that I was able to weave words together in a way that not only made sense but rang true. And that's when my words leaped off the page and surprised me.

What about you? What have your words done that surprised you? Have you ever had to face yourself in the mirror of your stories in order to make peace with something that was holding you back?

Summer may have fled in terms of calendar but here in the South it's still hot as blazes! Still, I'm back from my blog sabbatical and ready to work. I finished a novel in June and finished editing the first draft in August. I've started rewrites and hope to have a shiny first draft by the end of this month. After that? Well, that's the scary part.

Summer Reading Review

Confession time : Back in January, I made a glorious list of books to read. The list consisted of fiction I'd never read before and re-reading books on the writing craft. Some of the latter I've read before, others I hadn't. I was doing really well. Until Summer.

The reading list got tossed to the breeze while I did a bit of novel writing, editing, and some good, old fashioned summer-ing. We didn't go anywhere. We just spent our weekends about town and at the beach. It's been wonderful. When I have picked up books, they've been of the cozy mystery type (my guilty pleasure). And I've been enjoying every minute of it! Hopefully I can pick the list back up in the next few months, maybe even play catch up, but here's the thing I learned: don't be afraid to let life get in the way. There too many wonderful experiences to enjoy out there that may be lost to lists and plans. Don't give up on dreams, mind you; just be open enough to let life in the door from time to time. Most to-do lists will wait a little bit while you run wild and free!

* * * * *

I want to apologize for not responding to the comments on my past three posts. My only excuse is that I was swallowed up in Summer and simply let life get in the way. Still, it was rude of me and I hope none of you took the lack of response personally.

That being said, I'm currently taking a class on Wednesday mornings and won't be near my computer until after 1pm. I'll be returning visits and responding to comments after that! Thank you for understanding.

Here's to Autumn, a respite from the heat, new writing adventures and forward motion!


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group - August Edition

                  JUST KEEP GOING


Good morning and welcome to the August gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. For more information on our group or to join, click HERE. For more information on our fearless leader and creator of the IWSG, click HERE!

                               ***

Are you worried about not getting "enough done"?

Do you constantly think about other things you "should be" doing when you're working on your art?

Do you find yourself in the middle of a free-write session and the ticking of the timer makes you think about the pile of laundry, the dirty dishes, the smelly dog, the masterpiece sitting unfinished on your easel?

Some people call this FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out. I call it Distractions of the Writer Kind Aimed at Discrediting our Profession. Guilt is a nasty enemy and it sneaks in when we are working our hardest on the project of our passion. I'm notorious for sitting down to work on a draft and wandering to the laundry pile, the dish pile, the litter box ever thirty minutes or so because I SHOULD be doing something else. According to whom? The thing is, life happens. We HAVE to cook dinner, eat dinner, clean the litter box. We have to. It's the responsible thing to do. Those things shouldn't attack us. They'll wait and we'll get to them.

Then there are the things we want to do: the painting we just took up, the potter class we signed up for, the garden that needs tending, the cake that needs baking, the friend that needs calling. Those thing call too and they are important. They take us out of ourselves and our work and set us down on terra firma. We need that grounding or our stories will carry us away and make it very hard to function on the same plane as the rest of humanity.

Don't fight these things. Let them move through you. Acknowledge that they are there, they are a part of you, allocate them to a time slot and go on. Let them know you know they're there. Don't ignore them just plan for them. Get yourself a calendar, a planner, a big piece of poster board and physically chart what you need to do and what you want to do. Seriously. Don't use your phone or your computer. Paste it on the wall or leave it open on your desk so you'll see it, touch it. If you have to walk past it every day or move it so you can get to your computer, you'll pay attention. It's far too easy to shut off a phone reminder (believe me, I know).

Keep writing, Dear Reader. Keep working and cleaning and painting and gardening. Keep inviting your friends to tea and watching those last few episodes of Sherlock. Know that it's all a part of this great wide adventure called life. Don't beat yourself up. Allow life to be life, take responsibility for your life and your dreams and you WILL get things done and you WILL be on the road to success.

Cheers!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group JULY EDITION : A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Summer Writing Break...

Well, good morning! Welcome to the JULY meet and greet of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you're new, click HERE to read more about this wonderful group and click HERE to be introduced to our fearless leader, Captain Alex.

                                 * * *
So...

... my last post announced that I'd be taking a quasi-social media break and a writing break until September. I've done pretty well with the social media break: I'm only posting on Instagram and it's been refreshing. I did post on FBk today just because of IWSG.

The writing break, however, has been a bit of a flop. I intended to spend my off days dabbling in arts and craft. I intended, on the days I didn't go to work, to refresh my imagination with reading and getting a new perspective through the hands-on arts I love. I thought I'd enjoy more time to pursue some ideas I've been longing to get my fingers into. That was the plan.

"The best laid plans of mice and (wo)man..."

I failed. Miserably. Instead of taking three months away from writing I did just the opposite. For the past month I've written every off day I've had, for several hours at a time. Actually, it's worse than that.

I wrote a novel.

An entire rough draft. During the first month I said I wasn't going to write anything.

Perhaps the whole idea of breaking away from writing tricked my brain into desperation mode and the story just started to spill. I don't really know. But what I learned during the process has been invaluable:

1. If you feel like you need to take a break - even from writing - do it and don't be afraid that you won't have anything to return to.

2. If, even after said break is planned, the story decides it's ready and starts to overflow, let it. For the love of Mike LET IT! Run with it! I sat down three days a week and my fingers were on fire. The words tumbled, jumbled out and I got completely and totally out of the way.

3. When a story is ready to be born, it will let you know. No amount of begging or pleading or trying to outline it will change that. This story has been with me since my actual writing break I took last year. I tried, over the past ten months, to flesh it out to no avail. Then, suddenly, the dam broke and I found myself waist deep in a raging river. I had to write myself out of drowning.

4. GET OUT OF THE WAY and let the STORY TELL ITSELF. In other words, a rough draft is just that: a draft that is rough. Really rough. There are misspellings and plot holes all over the place! I changed some key points and forgot a couple of names along the way and, at first, I felt like I had to go back, dig them out, and make sure things were write. Once upon a time, someone very wise said: Don't get it right, get it written. I now understand just how true that is!

5. When you finally DO finish that draft and you're able to breathe, TAKE A BREAK from your writing and do something - ANYTHING - other than writing for a while.

I'm now actually taking a break from writing. The draft is sitting on my computer, steeping. I don't think about it. I know it's there and when the time comes, it will be there for me to pick and prod and whip into shape. This is a strange, new feeling for me. I've written rough drafts before but this one, I don't know...it's comfortable and I'm comfortable with it. We have a symbiotic relationship. It's taken a lot from me but now it's giving back in terms of space. Next week I plan to begin my first round of edits. That's the fun part, isn't it?

I hope you're having a wonderful summer so far and that you all had a fantastic Independence Day! I'm going to try and visit a few blogs today but otherwise, I'm still officially "offline" until the IWSG in August. Hopefully, I'll have some more good news in terms of this tale and have learned some more lessons along the way. Well, of that last part I'm sure!!

This month is pretty special to me. It's my birth month and I turn, *GASP* 40 this year!! I'm excited about it. Each new decade has been better for me than the last and I expect 40 to be no different. Bring on a new decade!! I'm ready for it!

See y'all in August!
Stay cool,


Friday, June 9, 2017

On Sabbatical...

Hello!

Thanks for stopping by. As you can see, I'm not here right now. I'm spending the summer soaking up some outside time, away from the Internet time, and far away from the Social Media junket as I can time.

If you need me, I'll be right there, by the Atlantic, or in my courtyard reading, crafting or slowly scrawling words into a manuscript that's finally chipped it's way out of the clay vessel it arrived in. Well, at least, that's what I'll be doing on my off days. Still working the PT day job! I will more than likely post on the Insecure Writer's Support Group days but nothing beyond that.

Life's too short to stay glued to the computer, the Internet, the news updates and all the negative mumbo-jumbo people spout out on a daily basis.

I WILL be posting on Instagram simply because I love the format, I love the pictures, and I love the general positivity that pervades. If you want to keep up or catch up, do click over! I'd love to see you there.

Happy Summer to those of you in the northern hemisphere! And to everyone: take care and I'll see you back here in September :D

Cheers,







Ahhh. That's much better. Now, where's that Mojito?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group - JUNE Edition

Happy Summer! Today is the June edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group posting. We gather virtually the first Wednesday of every month and air our insecurities or offer hope and encouragement to those in need. Stop by and visit our website and make sure to say HEY to our Fearless Captain Alex over at his space.

Our AMAZING co-hosts for the month of June are: J.H. Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Megan Morgan, Heather Gardner, and  ME! I haven't co-hosted in a while and I volunteered again because, let's face it, it's fun! If you've never been a co-host (or, if like me, you haven't in a while), let Alex know you'd like to. Trust me! It really is fun :)

                           

NEWS!!

Check out the Insecure Writer's Support Group site for information on the upcoming IWSG Guide to Publishing for Profit anthology! I don't know about you, but I'm interested :)



***

Optional question for the month of JUNE: Did you ever say "I Quit!" If so, what made you come back to writing?

I've never said "I QUIT!" permanently. I have, however, taken a hiatus from writing. It was the best thing I could have done. Last year, I didn't intentionally write for the entire summer (June - August). I spent that time cleaning out the piles of file folders I had filled with ideas and partially started novels and stories. I digitized them all, scanned them in, and have them all on my external hard drive and my laptop. For whatever reason, that break really helped me develop a couple of stories, one of which turned into my winning entry to the Insecure Writer's Support Group Anthology Hero Lost that was published this past May. The other story is still in the works. It continues to slither in and out of my grasp, wanting me to let it be something I'm not entirely I want it to. Hmm...I should probably just let it go and see where it leads me, eh?

Funny that this is our question for today because I'm doing it again. I'm taking a Sabbatical for the summer with writing and social media. The blog will lie dormant as will my Facebook page. I'll still be posting on Instagram (and I may cross post onto FB but I won't be actively on there) so if you want to keep up or catch up over the summer, by all means, follow on over!

I wish you all the very BEST summer! Whether you're taking a writing break (like me) or if your pens and keyboards are on fire, take care of yourself and do what you need to do. And if you do take a break, ENJOY IT! Clean out your closets and see what may be lurking inside. Take up a new hobby or do nothing on your off days but read. We writers are always "ON" and it's nice to let our writer brain recharge. TRUST ME: if you let your writer brain rest, the ideas won't disappear. They'll become fine tuned and you'll be more focused than ever when you come back. I'm looking forward to September. Maybe that blasted story will finally let me wrangle it onto the page.

Happy Summer everyone!
See you in September :)


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Feels a lot like summer

I know.

Summer doesn't "officially" arrive until June 21. That's the Summer Solstice. Here in Savannah, however, Summer came in with Memorial Day.

It's been in the 90's, humid, and even now I can hear thunder rumbling in from the islands.

Do you get a little lethargic in the Summer? I know I do. I don't want to work on anything serious. I leave work and come home and sit outside with a cold drink and my feet propped up until it's time to cook dinner. At least once a week we pack up some sandwiches and picnic on the sand

Today, I'm working on a project while listening to Jimmy Buffett. The sun went behind a cloud and the cats are asleep in front of the back door. I could keep typing but I also could go sit outside with a cup of coffee and watch the storm blow in.

Summer is like that, you know? It gives you an excuse to just enjoy life.

To just BE.

Enjoy.
xo

Monday, May 22, 2017

Lost Heroes Go A-Traveling

This past Saturday I was fortunate enough to do my very first book signing/promotion event. Some dear friends of ours own a charming bookstore in Hampton, GA called Speakeasy Bookstore. It's cozy and comfortable, the perfect place for a nervous, first time author like myself to set up in a corner booth and sell some books.

See? The dark side really DOES have cookies!


Don and Shannon LOVE what they do. They love books, they love coffee, and (most importantly) they LOVE the community in which they work. When I called to ask if they'd be willing to host a little book event, I think they were more excited than I was! I got to see a lot of people I'd not seen in years and several ladies from the book club I belonged to in Hampton came out. We sat, sipped tea and enjoyed catching up on some local gossip.

Ana and Johanna, ya'll are the BEST...
just don't kill me for posting your pictures here :)


Of course, I can't take my husband into a coffee shop without him getting wrangled into pulling some shots! Jon became the unofficial Guest Barista for the afternoon. I'm pretty sure he didn't mind :)


Having people you love come out and support one of your biggest dreams is a humbling and awe-inspiring experience. You really get a sense of the community that surrounds you. I am still reeling from all the faces I got to see, all the hugs I got to give (and receive!) and the genuine excitement these wonderful souls had for my little story.



Thank you, thank you, Speakeasy Bookstore for allowing me to occupy your corner booth and commandeer your book shop for a Saturday afternoon. Ya'll are the BEST and I can't wait to schedule another book signing in the future! And thank you to EVERYONE who came out to support the Anthology project and my writing. You truly mean the world to me and I don't think you can possibly know how much it meant to see you all there.

Big love,


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

When we let our minds wander

If you haven't noticed, there's been a thread running through my posts lately. I've become a bit obsessed with the ideas of pilgrimage and wandering with intent. There's no real beginning to this. At first, I believed there was a STORY in it and oh I started digging. Maybe there is, but that's not why the Idea visited me.

This Idea visited me for the sheer joy of discovery and I want to follow it as far as I can. Wandering sounds easy but our modern lives make it hard. Example: I live three blocks from a coffee shop. I've been there twice in almost three years. Now WHY (aside from the fact humidity in Savannah can make three blocks feel like 30 miles) have I not wandered up there more often? Sure, the street is a bit busy; sure the traffic rarely stops for pedestrians and the last time I went there I was almost hit by a car backing out of a parking space. But seriously: three blocks. Am I lazy?

I don't believe laziness has anything to do with it. I believe it has more to do with always feeling that we have to be ON THE GO. I found out years ago that there's a personality trait that labels one an HSP: a Highly Sensitive Person. Now, that doesn't mean that you'll hurt my feelings if you look at me wrong (though you might) nor does it mean that I cry at the drop of a hat (though I do). It means that my senses are more acute than others and I am far more likely to be overwhelmed by loud noises, crowds of people, negative situations, and being in a public place when a lot of energy is happening. This could be a concert (which gives me anxiety attacks) or a large group of people suddenly starting a riot (which sends me into sheer panic). To leave my house, to walk alone, to go into a place that's unfamiliar all is stressful for me. As in heart palpitations, hard time breathing, mind racing to think of just the right things to say when I get to the counter stressful. Once I'm seated, I have personal space and I settle down. But leading up to that? Well, is it any wonder I just elect to stay home?

But that's not good enough. My goal this summer is to wander more. My goal is, at least once a week, to walk the three blocks, order that dang chai latte, and sit in the local cafe and ... and what? Well, who knows? Maybe I'll write. Maybe I'll read. Maybe I'll watch cars go by. Maybe I'll sew. The point is, I'm open to whatever and THAT'S what makes wandering with intent intentional.

Right now, I'm breaking out the sewing supplies. I don't really have a plan, just an idea, and I'm letting my thread wander. You know, just to see what might happen.



Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Wander well,

Friday, May 12, 2017

Wandering for a Chance of Connection

Why do certain ideas pull at you? Is it the place you find yourself in life or is there something in the unseen air that grabs us by the soul-strings and tries our attention? For several weeks I've meditated on the concept of "pilgrimage". What does it mean? Do I need to uproot to wander? Should I develop my own "pilgrimage" where I am and see what reality has to offer me?

I can't uproot so the idea of creating a personalized pilgrimage at home sings compelling. I'm at odds, though, as to what it may look like. I've toyed with maps of the area, even put in cities within a 100 and 200 miles radius of my location, just to see what it would take to get there for a weekend. As much as I love to travel, as much as I desire to experience the unknown, those soul-strings are marionetting my attention towards the local.

Could revelation be uncovered while walking to the store?
Will my feet really take me where I need to be?
Are there other wondering souls nearby, wandering for a chance of connection?

I'll never know unless I try. Originally my plan was to sequester myself into books and research, hide under a parapet of vicarious dreaming. I needed the foreign, I thought, to find my way home.

It appears, however, I need to learn to love where I am before I can engage with where I'd love to be.

This has the makings of a very interesting summer.

Happy wandering, Dear Reader!

Oh, and always feel free to share in the comments your own tales of wandering, both home and far away.

Cheers,



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Faint Glimmer in the Twilight

Ever since my short story was published ("The Mysteries of Death and Life"), I've been thinking long and hard about genre.

Most of us write in the genre we most love to read. I've been a speculative fiction reader since the age of four. Of course, I had no idea that was even a "thing". I loved magic and unicorns, dragons and dinosaurs. I loved space and ghost stories and anything weird and wonderful.

Fast forward and you see a young girl writing (terrible!) science fiction with her best friend in middle school and (even worse!) ghost stories with her sister. Creep a little further along and you'll see a young woman in her first apartment, sitting on the floor on the furry, brown carpet, writing feverishly on a fantasy novel she believes will be a best seller.

I've flung my sword at high fantasy, science fiction and horror. I wrote a short screen play in college based on an alternate telling of the Wizard of OZ and wrote my final project as a modern day ghost story. My first published piece is about the Angel of Death, a young woman down on her luck, and a lady who has lived for centuries under the imprisonment of love.

Fantasy.

Or is it?

Oh trust me, that first drivel was definitely OUT THERE! I had space ships and talking china dolls and boys discovering a power to control fire because of his fairy ancestors. I say drivel not because of the genre. I say drivel because they were TERRIBLE!

About a year ago, during my Writing Sabbatical, I came across a term I'd not heard before. Magical Realism seeped into my thoughts. It's poetry when you say it and makes you reconsider every shifting shadow in your driveway, every faint glimmer in the twilight. I began to wonder what it was all about. I found LISTS of magical or magic realism authors. Most of them are Spanish or Latin American but there are others who have adopted the tradition. Salman Rushdie leaps to mind. As does Alice Hoffman. As I dug deeper (read, gave Google a run for its money with my very long and detailed search phrases), I uncovered some wonderful articles written on the topic of magic realism and several books on the subject.

Author Stephanie Carroll has a marvelous three part introduction to magic realism that I highly recommend reading if you are even remotely interested in the subject. Oh, and that's another thing: it's not a genre of itself. It's an aspect of another genre. In other words, any genre - literary fiction, romance, historical fiction, crime fiction - can have elements of magic realism. The key is not to let the magic outweigh the realism. Too much magic and it's fantasy or horror; too much realism and it's plain, old fiction. It's a balancing act and one that I'm enjoying researching.

Back to my more recent works. Are they fantasy? Or are they magical realism? The short screenplay is, as it stands, magic realism. If I were to take it further, turn it into a novel, it would cross the line and become fantasy because it requires me to cross into another world. Boom! No more realism; it's off to the land of OZ. The short story I submitted for my final university project IS magical realism and it stands as such, even when I try to expand it. It is firmly rooted in this world with a very human protagonist. The magic element is the hitchhiker she picks up who was of this world but isn't any longer. Why is this not fantasy? Because it doesn't detract from the realism. The appearance and disappearance of the old man is as believable as you reading this text. He's there. He talks to the young woman. He's gone and leaves her a task. She's startled but doesn't really question the happening and she finishes the task without any internal or external struggle. If I'd expounded on the mystery, taken it further, had her research the why and the where and the what, pulled her out of reality and into the realm of the spirit, then it would cross the line and BOOM! We're back in fantasy land.

See what I mean by balance?

As for my current story, I'm unsure. I feel upfront, it's magical realism but I do delve into a bit of explanation as to why the centuries old woman is still there. Still, it's a simple explanation and the protagonist doesn't question it. She doesn't question the Angel of Death too much either. She's startled but accepting, acquiescing into the tale and letting each character become a part of her story.

And I believe that's the key: don't explain too much and don't have your characters run around trying to expound upon or theorize about what is going on. They have to blink, shrug a shoulder and move on, accepting that there are, indeed, "...more things in heaven and earth, Horacio, than are dreamt of in your philosophies."

What are your thoughts? Have you ever written magic or magical realism? Do you read magical realism authors? Or do you prefer to be swept away into a world of Other, where the realism of the everyday melts away and things are unfamiliar?

strange lights in the woods. 
not the best picture but neither are those Bigfoot photos... :P

Happy Wednesday and happy writing,








If you're interested, here are two more links to thoughts on Magical Realism:

Elements of Magical Realism by Michelle Witte
What is Magical Realism and How Different is it from Fantasy by the Gotham Writers

And, if all else fails, get Google to work for you. I Googled "how to get started writing magical realism" and found a wealth of knowledge!

Cheers!
xo

Monday, May 8, 2017

An Exercise in Wandering with Intent

I enjoy wandering, ambling along paths draped by moss-laden branches, listening to the whispers of the past. I like to dodge the tourists, the students - rushing, always rushing - and slip into a coffee shop, a cafe, gather provisions and continue on.

What am I looking for? Experience, really. I wander for the experience of discovery by happenstance. Though I don't believe in coincidence, I do believe that when we put ourselves "out there", we align our bodies with our intentions and with the things in life we're meant to find or accomplish. Sometimes we run into people who become life-long friends or we may exchange words with someone briefly, words that solidify a decision we've been ruminating.

I'm a homebody by nature. Though I love to travel, I also love to be at home, ensconced in my cottage of books and ideas. I love the clink of my own tea cups and the sound of my own coffee pot percolating in the corner next to the back door. This comes from my battle with chronic illness and the need to hoard energy for the days I go into work. Were I to work at home, I'd be more inclined to venture out of doors and into the great wide world that surrounds me. Perhaps that's an excuse; it is, however, the truth.

Perhaps one can take a pilgrimage without leaving home. Perhaps one doesn't have to don leather sandals, book a ticket to Spain and hostel with a thousand other searching souls. Yes, there are still religious pilgrims, but I believe that we also need pilgrimages in our day to day lives; journeys of intent towards something that holds meaning for us. It could be a place, a grave site; a record store carrying a vintage album you lost once in a move and would love to have back. It could be a bookstore, a coffee shop, a hidden beach or lost woodland path. How? Easy. It all depends on what you're looking for.

A bookstore in itself can be a holy site, true. A shrine of silence and intelligence passed down between pages through time. But don't step out and drive to the nearest B&N; stop a minute and ask yourself WHY. WHY do I feel drawn to leave in the first place? When I get there, what will I look for?

It's a practice, you see. An exercise in wandering with intent. Our own personal Camino de Santiago.


The next time you've got a day off, think about something you want for yourself, your family, someone you love. It sounds selfish but I suggest you start with yourself. When we take care of ourselves, we're better able to take care of those we love. What are you after? Not a thing, mind you. Something internal, external, something that can build you up, resurrect those buried dreams?

Don't be afraid of sounding silly. If you want to go back to school, think of what you'd study then pilgrim to the library for a little research. If you want to lose weight buy a bag of carrots and eat them whenever you think of chocolate (perhaps this is more purgatory than pilgrimage but you get my drift...).

The point is to start, to leave the comfort of your armchair and go: across the street, across the Internet, into the library, the cafe, the admissions office. One step is all it takes to set off an entire journey.

Choose your first step wisely. You never know where it might take you!
Happy Monday, Dear Readers. Where are YOU headed this week?








xo

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," he used to say. "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."  ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." ~ Lao Tzu

Friday, May 5, 2017

Living with Intention: a Little Pep-Talk

I've contemplated sabbatical for some time. A longing to shed normality for a year (or more) and venture into unknown territories because they're there. Because they're exactly what I'm not used to. Sabbatical comes from the root sabbath: in Hebrew, shabbat, meaning "a ceasing". 

"To cease" sounds so final and yet companies grant sabbatical leave to employees in order for them to refresh themselves, learn something new, or explore new career paths. It's not necessarily and escape from a job but it can lead to new pathways and open doors.

Sounds like a dream, doesn't it? Someone actually giving you permission to leave your normal life in order to immerse yourself in another culture. Someone saying it's OK if you leave behind your day to day in order to learn a new skill or language. Yes, a dream, for most of us a vapor. And yet, I wonder, have wondered, is there a way I could give myself a sabbatical? Not a total uprooting (although that would be nice); more of a shifting in intention. Permission to pilgrimage and discover new roads.

The word "pilgrimage" is usually associated with a religious journey yet it is also defined as a seeking of significance. We find significance through living on purpose. A pilgrimage, therefore, could be defined as intentional living. A means to discover our purpose through a journey outside ourselves. 

How do you live "on purpose"? How do you intentionally live? For starters, you make decisions based on your dreams by turning those dreams into goals. Attainable goals. The key word here is attainable. Little by little a mountain is climbed or, as my psychology professor told us, "You eat an elephant one bite at a time". In other words, if you want to visit Canada but don't have the money you don't take out a loan, mortgage the house and head north. You determine what it will take to get there through research, saving money, sacrificing unnecessary things and devoting every bit of your free time and energy to making your goal a reality.

All you really need is creative thinking and a healthy dollop of determination. 

*  *  *  *  *

What would your sabbatical look like? Where would your pilgrimage take you? 
Happy weekend, 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group MAY : Book Release, New Projects & a Nice View!

Good morning!

Welcome to the May 2017 edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group!

Founded by our fearless leader Captain Alex, we gather on the first Wednesday of every month in order to air our insecurities and seek to either give or receive encouragement from the writing world.

We also, on occasion, get to toot our own horns!

                               *****

Many of you saw the posts yesterday but I wanted to do a little more promo today for the Insecure Writer's Support Group Anthology. Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life was officially released yesterday! I want to say Thank YOU to everyone who posted, tweeted, Instagram-ed, emailed, and in any way, shape, form or fashion helped get the word out. It's my first ever official publishing experience and it has been such a good one. I cannot thank enough my fellow anthology authors for their amazing talent, their kindness, their willingness to give of their time and experience AND their patience with this publishing newb. Grandma thanks you all for your social media prowess; heaven knows I gotta a lot of learning to do! Drop by their blogs, say HI and get a glimpse at the enormous talent they all possess : L. Nahay, Olga Godim, Tyrean Martinson, Elizabeth Seckman, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Yvonne Ventresca, Sarah Foster, Ellen Jacobson, Erika Beebe, and Sean McLachlan. Ya'll ROCK!!!

*****

If you want to pick up your very own copy of Hero Lost, you can go to our website and click the links there. OR...if you just happen to be in the neighborhood...I'll be doing a BOOK PROMO EVENT at Speakeasy Bookstore and Coffee Shop in Hampton, Georgia on May 20!! I'll be there from noon until ??? with copies of the anthology. I'd love to meet each and every one of you in person but Hampton is just a little north of the middle of nowhere. Still, if you have a hankering for pastoral scenes and red, Georgia clay, do drop by!

*****

I've got some new words swimming around in my mind, but for the time being, I'm taking a break from fiction. I've found a couple of new roads to pursue and I'm really enjoying the essays I've been posting here on Mondays and Fridays. Non-fiction is a far cry from the dark fantasy I've written for years and years, but it's refreshing and forcing me to take a deeper look at myself and my surroundings. It's a lot of fun and I hope you'll join me weekly and see where these rabbit trails lead!

As for the nice view, here you go:


We finally made it out to the beach for the first time in MONTHS. It was a bit chilly, very windy, but the tide was out and we were able to enjoy the sunset while soaking our toes.

Have a wonderful, fantastic week, Dear Readers! Thank you for your continued support of the Hero Lost Anthology. Now get out there and write your little hearts out!

Oh! And don't forget to come see me in Hampton, GA on May 20th if you can!

Cheers!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

After these messages...


Sorry for the lack of post.
Today's my anniversary and we're
Out exploring the coast!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Reflections in the Bottom of a Cup

The box of Blue Willow moved with us. An entire box. When Mom phoned to ask if I wanted "some" of my grandmother's dishes, I assumed she meant a couple of plates and a cup or three. Try a dozen dishes, half a dozen bowels, four coffee cups, one coffee mug and a coffee pot.

We downsized when we moved; there was no room in the inn for more dishes. Honestly, I think the box was labeled "STORAGE" but so much of what was supposed to be stored came with us and vice-a-verse it wasn't a surprise to find yet another case of something we didn't have room for.

It was when I opened that box of Blue Willow that nostalgia hit me. In the chaos of the move, in the frustration of finding boxes of things we didn't need and not finding boxes of things we did need, I pushed back cardboard and found memory. There were reflections in the bottom of the cups that whispered, laughed, and spoke late into the night. I started to cry, standing in the middle of the hallway that was now our kitchen, while the cat looked on in condemnation.

The dishes were in tact. Not a chip in them that wasn't already there. It wasn't the state of the dishes it was the memories attached. My grandparents were in there. So were my parents. Everything about my past incensed from that box. Even my love of "Murder, She Wrote" episodes wafted towards me. Jessica Fletcher's Blue Willow dishes make an appearance in every episode set in Maine. Mom and I watched the show when the episodes were new. I now hunt them down on DVD to watch on rainy days.

As I carefully unwrapped them I marveled at how a stack of dishes could move me to tears. The thought bubbled up that things must carry part of us with them and we, forever, carry throughout our lives a bit of the things we've used, owned and collected.

Do inanimate objects soak up DNA? Could a genetic code for memory be found between book pages or in linen closets? I didn't need tea leaves to read; my past was written in porcelain and it's one that I reread with every clink, every steep, every sip.

------->>>>>------------

Have you ever come across a box of items that punched you in the gut? Things that conjured up smells, sounds, people long gone? Have you ever cried over a box of dishes?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Live the Life Creative 002 : National Stationery Week

Did you know that today is World Stationery Day? Until two weeks ago, I didn't even know there was a day (or an entire week for that matter...guess what? It's this week!) that celebrated writing letters. I happened upon an Instagram post by Sarah Becvar and she informed me of this lovely idea! By the way, click over to her Instagram account. She does delightful embroidery on note cards. If her work doesn't make you want to pick up  pen and write a note, well, you may want to check your pulse!

I LOVE writing letters. A friend of mine and I exchange letters once a month. I have another friend who's suggested if every my fingers itch to send a little post I should send it to her (and I really, really need to do that!) 

There's something beautiful about receiving a card in the mail. A real, honest to goodness card. You know, a piece of paper encased in an envelope with YOUR name and address HAND WRITTEN on the front. Something that's NOT a bill or a flyer for a new appliance store or dentist opening up in the neighborhood?

Yes. 

The first thing many of you might ask is, "Why? Why in this digital age should I waste what little time I have to sit down and write what I could text?"

The answer is simple: how many times have you received a text and thought, "Wow. How nice it was for that person to take 22 seconds and send me a terribly impersonal message with misspelled words, missing vowels, and some strange amalgam of symbols and consonants that, to some, constitute 'text-speak'?"

I'm going to guess never.

Yes, it's nice when someone sends you a, "Hey, how are you? I've been thinking about you" text. It's so convenient to shoot someone a message to make sure you're meeting at the cafe at 11 instead of 10. Email is fantastic for work! It keeps introverts like me away from telephones, *shudder*. But if you really, really want to catch up, sit down, pull out a nice piece of paper, a lovely pen, and write down your thoughts.

There's a war being waged against handwriting. Many of you are probably aware that public schools have stopped teaching handwriting (or cursive as we old folks call it). It's been said by folks with heftier degrees than mine that it's pointless to have children learn how to write in cursive. Pointless for them to learn the mechanics of their own hands and arms. Pointless for them to see their name, their NAME, written in whatever gorgeous or scrawling or chicken scratch or abstract or calligraphic handwriting that comes out through their fingers.

Ugh. Really? Handwriting is extremely personal. I can pick out my mother's handwriting, my husband's handwriting, even my father's handwriting from a stack of papers a decade or more old. 

No one recognizes your typing. Because it all looks the same. Are you the same as everyone else? Are you? 

No. I didn't think so.

And THAT'S why we need to promote handwriting. It MATTERS. It's individualistic. It's an art form. Heck, it's ART. And art, if I may straddle two soapboxes at once, is also under attack at a national level. The National Endowment for the Arts is being scrutinized and a band of highly unenlightened individuals would rather pump funds (funds that come from YOU and ME, mind you) into such marvelously glorious funds such as defense spending and siphon it out of the funds that encourage education, art, music, and science. In other words, let's take away the nation's ability to promote beauty and creativity, free thinking and individuality and hand weapons of mass destruction to the uneducated masses.

That's scarier than a telephone to an introvert. Heck, that's scarier than forcing this introvert to go to a rave on New Year's Eve!

Forgive the rant. The point of this entire post is to say this: support the ARTS! Write your memoir. Pen a story. Paint a picture. Take out a piece of paper and send your mother/aunt/uncle/best friend a note that says, "Hey! I think you're important enough to spend a few extra minutes writing to and a few extra cents to slap on a stamp and whisk a lovely bit of papery goodness your way."

When you do something with kindness, love, and passion that's art.

Even something as little as a handwritten note.

Happy National Stationery Week and World Stationery Day!








xo

PS: How do YOU feel about sending and receiving letters? What about handwriting? Did you know the National Endowment for the Arts was under attack (again)? Do you disagree with me and think that he NEA SHOULD be de-funded? Come on writers, let me know what you think!