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.


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.


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.


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!


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?


"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!