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

Friday, May 26, 2017

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!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Pilgrimage of Place 002 : Let the Places You Come from Envelope You

I'm a Southern writer, born and bred in the deep south state of Georgia. Growing up, I couldn't wait to leave, head someplace more sophisticated and less “backwoods”. I wanted to travel the world, see the wonders, and leave this old, boring place behind. As of this writing I'm one year shy of 40 and I've lived in Georgia all my life.

While I have traveled a little, most of my time has been spent in the South. A few years ago, my husband and I left our home in Metro Atlanta and relocated to Savannah in the Deep South. We love this city, its people, and all the quirk that comes from being a port/college/military/tourist town. We meet people on a daily basis from all over the world! So many different cultures are alive and well in Savannah and there are plenty of places to go to “escape” the South, if we feel so inclined. The funniest thing to me is that although we're in the deep, old South, we are two of the very few people we know and meet who are actually from the South. So many of our friends and coworkers, the people we meet when we go out, are from other regions and other countries.

I've made peace with my Southern heritage. I'm not at all sorry that I've stayed here and I'm happy to be living in the Hostess City of the South. My husband and I both have wonderful jobs and we live 20 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. We're happy to sink our roots deeper into this rich, swampy earth.

There are myriad cliches about the south and her people. As I like to say, cliches are cliches for a reason. Come visit me and I can show you every single one of them - well, except for the guy who describes the tornado. I'm not sticking around for that. All those redneck jokes and Civil War horrors aside, the South is filled with beauty, majesty and magic. I've heard it compared with those old places of fairy tales and I must agree. Here things are larger than life, the trees reach the clouds and their roots wrap around seeds and bones. It's beautiful and deadly, serene and horrible, sacred and gritty. We're an old people, old souls, and we're slow. We're fierce and welcoming. We drawl and we dawdle and we sip and we rock. We're the cliches and the unexpected, the front porch tall tales and the backyard BBQs. We're haunted and backward and modern. We are lost and found..

The South is about memories, thousands of them. And stories. It seems that we're all born storytellers. But the only ones I can share with you are my own. I grew up Southern, I live Southern and I'll probably die Southern.

And you know what? That's perfectly fine by me.

We are where we come from. I know that makes some of you cringe. It used to drive me crazy! I didn't want to be Southern, not until I examined just what that really meant. Where you're from peppers everything you do. It oozes out of your pores and shines a light into the undergrowth.

Well I say let it shine. Don't hide your regionality or your nationality. Be yourself and let the places you come from envelope you. If they are painful, move through them, find the lessons, and move on. If they are delightful, breathe a deep hallelujah and step forward. If you're unsure, you moved around, were shifted and unrooted, that's OK too. Find the bits you can use and knit them into your own story.

Because that's really what this is all about.

Telling your own story through the places you've been in order to help pave the way to the places you're going.

Namaste,


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Commonplace 002 - A Day Late

This week slipped right by and right on into Sunday before I realized I'd forgotten Saturday's post!

I spent my off days outside painting, something I haven't done in years. It's such an interesting way to think : in terms of color and structure. I'm used to photography; I can compose photos either in the lens or later when cropping. Taking paint to a canvas, however, is an entirely new adventure. I've painted before but never with the intent to understand composition and color combining. It's fun and I'm enjoying experimenting with colors and shapes.

Saturday was spent meeting friends and family members who breezed into our city for weekend visits. This resulted in a lot of laughs and some really good food.

Today was spent hiking through a marsh-lined national park, getting my tennis shoes all muddy and letting snails crawl along the contours of my outstretched palm.

I finished reading my book for April. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach was spot on in the description of India. Honestly, it wasn't the best book I've read this year but I'm glad I finished it. It was completely different than what I'd anticipated and opened a new world of fiction for me. I've never been one to read a story that felt like real life without much else happening. In other words, the plots were everyday plots with frustrating, very human characters who pretty much didn't work through a lot of their issues but just moved through the book and out of it either by moving away, passing away, or going into hiding. The only reason it held my interest was because of Moggach's descriptions of India.  I spent two weeks in India 8 years ago and there isn't a day that goes by that something doesn't remind me of that baffling, beautiful, heartbreaking, bizarre, frustrating, magical land. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Now I sit listening to a record that portrays the seasons in music and nature sounds waiting for a forecasted thunderstorm. We've had amazing weather here the past two weeks but I'm getting a bit tired of the sun. Call me crazy but I love rainy weather. I love the sun too but my muse needs the rain.

Happy Sunday! I hope you had a great week.
Here's to a Marvelous Monday,
xxoo

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Things We Carry - 001

So many things travel with us throughout out lives.

Not just the tangible; there are ideas, dreams, fears and thoughts. There are beliefs and prejudices, stubborn falsehoods and wonder tales.

All of these make up who we are, have a hand in steering us.

This is a topic I've touched upon briefly, several years ago when first we moved from Atlanta to Savannah. It started with a box of china and has now extended past the items on my shelves and burrowed deep into the existential.

I want to explore these "things", unearth them, turn them about in the daylight. Like an archaeologist I need to examine the good, the bad, the baffling; I want to take  microscope to the macrocosm that surrounds me.

Every person is filled with stories, carry things with them from long past and recent memory. It's these things, these pieces that shape us.

I find that utterly fascinating.

xo







This is the third part of a new, four part posting schedule. To read more about all four weekly series, click HERE. And thank you :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Life Creative 001 - Reconnecting

 
I've been an artist my entire life. My first works were coloring book pages with random lines drawn through the pictures and sheets of paper with very delineated skies and grass with great swaths of empty space in between.

Notebooks were torn apart just so I could glue the pages back together with my own covers made from cardboard and construction paper. I made catalogs with magazine pages, sketched nature scenes with colored pencils, and wrote stories of imaginary worlds and journaled all our vacations.

Photography, jewelry making, soldering, free-hand embroidery, felted soap: yep, I've tried it and, for the most part, enjoyed it! The problem is, none of them took.

The problem is, I got caught up in well-meaning people telling me I "should" be doing this or I "ought" to be doing that.

So I did. I pursued some art forms professionally and got - how do we say this nicely - disenchanted with the business. I got caught up in goals I thought were MY goals and let my artistic side slide away.

The trouble is, it was always there, lurking, haunting. It would whisper when I was working or when I was at home, on my off days, working on what I thought I "should" be working on. After all, THAT'S what everyone expects me to do, so I should do it. Right?

Bleck.

Tired, old subject. I've posted about it a hundred times, but bear with me. There's a reason for that, kids! Some are lucky; they are born with an innate knowledge of what road they should walk. Some find it earlier than others. Then there's those like me: we have to learn the hard way. We have to walk round, and round, and round in circles, treading the same, tired paths until we finally, FINALLY, get tired of picking thorns out of our toes.

"Hn?" We say. "I should probably stop this foolishness."

Why do we do that? If I knew, I'd be a psychiatrist and retire in a few years to the Bahamas. But what I do know about this subject can be summed up into two points:

1. None of the time you've spent walking in circles or doing the same old, same old has been wasted. There are lessons to learn, stories to mine, and art to be created from even your darkest, most desperate places.

2. It is never, ever, ever too late to get on the right path and begin.

When you hit that path, you'll know it. You'll find an energy you didn't know you had. You may need to do a little soul searching. Or a lot, as in my case. You may have to take up yoga, join a kick ball team, change your diet, drink nothing but juice for a week. Whatever it takes to get to you own, personal enlightenment.

Your journey is YOURS. Find it, enjoy it, and make the art you were born to create! Pour yourself into it, your experiences; your joys, your triumphs, your disappointments and regrets. All those dumb decisions or stupid choices carry light. Find it and let it shine out of your fingers and toes and your voice.

Never let those missteps drag you down. Climb higher and turn them into your masterpiece.

xo







PS: Were you one of the lucky ones? Did you find and stay on your path early? Or are you, like me, just now getting your toes back in the water of your own river? There's no right, wrong, or better answer. Take a deep breath. GO.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Pilgrimage of Place 001

Smell and sound have a way to transport us to the past. Memory is married to our olfactory glands. Science explains away the mystic, but I feel there's a deep resonance between place and the spirit. The places we've been, that we've inhabited, imprint themselves upon DNA and move with us through time and space. Every now and then, something crops up. A snippet of scent raises it's head above the blowing yellow blooms of rapeseed and instantly we're back.

Back. Where?

To the place we first remember as HOME.

Yesterday we sat in the courtyard sipping when our neighbor fired up the lawnmower, bursting through our silent Sunday with a sputtering, coughing engine. Ah well. We do live in an area with old houses and not so grand yards.

Then I smelled it: gasoline and cut grass. Back, back I catapulted to early summer evenings when Dad would get home from work, put on a pair of shorts and ride the mower round and round until the yard was conquered. Gasoline and grass become precious incense. From fresh cut grass I progress to vinyl and chlorine because when Dad started cutting, the pool was already open.

Petrol and greenery; plastic and pool chemicals:

Frankincense and myrrh to a child.

Mom still lives in the house where the pool once was, where the lawnmower once stowed in the back shed, gathering rust and spiderwebs each autumn and winter. I can sit on the back porch and smell it again, when the breeze shifts and the ice clinks in my glass just so. The hum of the air conditioner becomes the old pool pump and I wait again, eagerly, for Dad to come home, mow the lawn, and make waves we could ride on an old, orange float.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Commonplace 001

Happy Saturday to you!

The sun is shining and the birds are singing. It's definitely the day before Easter. I've always loved Easter: the promise of new life, resurrection, the dawn after the long, dark night. I've also always enjoyed the other side of Easter: the chocolate bunnies, the egg hunts, the gathering of friends and family for feast and conversation.

Spring officially arrived two weeks ago but the weather decided to show up on the tail end of last week. Oh has it been delightful! The courtyard looked a mess after the hurricane of last autumn and the ME/Fibro flare-up induced neglect of winter.

Thanks to the gorgeous weather, I've been able to potter about outside and get the courtyard mostly in order:


THIS is where I've been working on my "off" days. This little cafe table was given to us by my Mom after one of our moves. The arm chair was found at the end of our lane. Someone sat it out for the garbage pick up...or for people like me who just LOVE to take someone else's cast offs and turn them into favorite belongings! It's got a wee hole in the seat but it's nothing a bit of fun, decorative duct tape can't fix!

How has your week been? Your writing? Your creative ventures? My mind has fully awakened to the new birth and resurrection themes of Spring this year. I've been sketching ideas, doodling dreams, and seriously shifting some priorities. There are so many ideas running 'round in my head, I get dizzy at night trying to sort through them all! And, of course, my mind has not been at my day job in quite a while. I knew I had to sit down, take stock, and figure out what I really wanted to work on and what needed to go back on the shelf for a bit longer.

Such a refreshing last few days!


Plus, it's nice to get all of THAT out of my head and onto my computer!

I wish you all a wonderful, relaxing Saturday and Easter Sunday. However you celebrate, or if you don't celebrate at all, I hope you find yourself surrounded with friends and family, or take the opportunity to breathe deep and enjoy some much needed solitude.

Pass the ham, won't you?

xo 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Hooray, It's Friday!

Good morning! It's Friday.

We made it :)

I hope you have a wonderful weekend planned, even if your plans look a lot like this:


Easter is Sunday. For those of you who celebrate, I hope you have a fantastic day of worship, of family and friends (and, of course, some excellent food!) We'll have a quiet one with a small ham dinner for the two of us and quite possibly a trip out to the beach. There's a sunrise service out at the pier but when Sunday is your husband's only day off, you don't make him get up at 5 a.m....not even for the sunrise over the Atlantic!

How has your week been? Was it filled with all the things you love to do? Crafting, writing, running, weaving, reading, eating, coffee drinking?

Whatever you do, whatever you love, whatever your passion and whatever your joy, I wish you all that and more this beautiful, Easter weekend.

Cheers!



A Peaceful Interlude


Friday, April 7, 2017

You Don't Need No &#^$*!@ Filters!

Like me, you probably know at least a handful of people who could be described as having "no filter". They say whatever comes to mind without regard to how it sounds or who it upsets. If they don't like something, they say so. If they don't like you, they let you know. At times I've wished that I could be that way, especially when someone is inexcusably rude to myself or someone else. Then again, I'd rather NOT be that way. I'd rather not get the negative reputation that comes along with not pausing to think about what you say before you say it.

photo found on Wikipedia

Conversation filters in our day to day lives are good. When it comes to our writing, however, word filters can get in the way. According to creative writing professor Jacqueline Hesse, filters can detach the reader from the story and cause him instead to observe the character.

In an article on The Writer Magazine's website, Professor Hesse gives several examples of the filters writers most often use. I'm as guilty as they come. In my current draft, I've been flipflopping between first and third person POV, trying to figure out which feels more authentic. Something I've noticed in both POVs is that I use a lot of words like said, thought, felt, remembered, recalled, saw, etc. Something about them bothered me. I knew there had to be a better way to communicate the action of a scene without constantly resorting to tired old words that pull the reader away from the story. Thanks to Professor Hesse, I now know what they are called and why they're such annoying bugbears.

~~~

#1. He walked to the abandoned building. He saw something shift in the shadows. Somewhere he heard something creak. In the distance, he heard the cry of a crow that made him jump. He slowly climbed the steps of the old porch and looked in the dirty window. He wondered at the neglect and remembered his parents house and how time took it before it took them.

Now then. Try this one on for size:

#2. He walked to the abandoned building. Something shifted in the shadows. Something else creaked. In the distance, a crow cried and made him jump. He slowly climbed the steps of the old porch. The windows were filthy with neglect like his parents house. Time slowly took it before taking them.

~~~

This may not be the most perfect example; I'm still learning exactly when a filter word is a filter and when it is and isn't necessary. You can see the difference though. This difference caused quite the Ah-HA! moment for me. The first example tells us what the main character is up to. The second example, you guessed it, SHOWS us. Glory be! Do you know how long it's been since my writing mentor first said, "SHOW don't TELL!" and I have been wondering just what the HECK she meant by that!

Eureka, kids. I've found it.

These filter words obscure our vision. They cause us to watch the character and not be fully involved in the scene. When we remove these filters, our vision becomes clearer and we're IN the story. We experience the scene THROUGH the character rather than OBSERVE what he or she is doing.

Of course, there are times when filter words are perfectly acceptable and help rather than hinder. For me, the discovery of "filters" was exactly what I needed to help me move forward in my current W.I.P and finally understand that old maxim "show don't tell".

Don't tell me the moon is shining; 
show me the glint of light on broken glass
                                                                                                       ~ Anton Chekhov

To find out more, read Professor Hesse's entire article at The Writer Magazine.

~~~

TELL ME:

When was the last time you experienced an AH-HA! moment for your writing?

Do you lean too heavily on filter words?

Did you already know what these were and why they limp a story along or, like me, is this brand new enlightenment?

Have a marvelous weekend, Dear Readers!








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