Monday, July 16, 2018

This Fairy Tale We Call Life

The weekend was long and full of bad feeling. I thought I'd shaken the weird stomach thing I'd fought last week but it woke up with me and wanted to tag along to the cafe. I sipped some tea, ate a muffin, and eventually told it to take a hike. Still, I clung to some deep rooted feeling of despair.

Not about writing. About life and there's no pinpoint to it. A general dissatisfaction that crept into my bones and flooded every cell with a hopelessness. Bless my husband for he is long-suffering and a good listener and we walked around the neighborhood and I vented and he tried to take responsibility (as usual) and I grabbed at that and refused to let go (as usual).

This morning the sun woke me up before the alarm clock. All night, between dreams, I'd wondered at my change in mood. The month of June found me feeling great: no pain, no fatigue beyond the norm, and no debilitating brain fog tentacled around a general bad mood and depression. Then July came to stay and brought with it an ogre and I'm swinging my ax left and right and connecting with smoke. And mirrors. The kind that reflect back at you what you "should" have done or what you "should" be doing.

Can I just tell you how much I hate that word?

OK, it's not the word's fault. It's the judgment that comes hand-holding when you look at your reflection and freak out because you aren't exactly where you envisioned you'd be by now. Of course, what do we really know when we're 10. True, our child selves are infinitely wiser than our adult selves and if we want to live authentically, we need to sink deep, kneel down, and ask her/him, "What the hell is going on here?"

So I got my knees dirty and I asked and little old me laughed in my big, adult face and took off running down a pine needled path. My crinkled knees cracked a bit as I wobbled to stand then rushed as fast as I could. I ran through dappled sunlight as the humid breeze rustled past and I heard her laugh, pause, keep going.

Footfalls were muffled and the oaks reached high. A fork in the road made me turn right, left, then I heard her and I kept going straight, through what was more deer track than cleared walkway. Finally, I caught her. I was out of breath and she, still laughing, looked at me and smiled. She jerked her head behind her and I saw a house sat in a clearing, surrounded by gardens, settled in the midst of a circle of trees that widened the sky and let the light all around.

Oh I recognized the house alright; I'd been there many times before. When I was true and real and not trying to BE. When breathing was easy and my feet were bare and I didn't care if my bangs grew past my ears and became one with the rest of the wild kelp bed on top of my head, all strings and frizz and thistle down. I felt the warmth of the sun and slipped off my shoes so my toes could exhale. I could smell the trees again and I knew the rosemary for what it was. My fingers raked over the mint and moths flew past, back to where the little girl I was once stood. She was gone and the moths kept flying back into the dark of wood. And I walked forward, up three steps plus two, and knocked gently on the blue front door.

I suppose it's no surprise that I answered.

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I hope your weekend was lovely and your Monday has started off with a freshness that gives you breathing room. May your work bring you joy and may your thoughts run only to wildness and the freedom that only YOU can bring you :)

Tell me: Have you ever asked your younger self for a road map? Have you ever felt lost in your own life? Have you ever felt the need to run head-long down a faded trail in your mind to see where it leads? Have you ever followed it back to yourself? And tell me, Dear Ones, was it a fantastic, frightening homecoming back to your true reality?

Ah, this fairy tale we call Life...

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Hello, Dear Ones

Hello all! Boy did I drop that proverbial ball with the IWSG last week. Whoops! But your comments mean so much to me and I've finally gotten to them and responded to them ALL.

Thank you, thank you, for putting up with the mess that I am! You know the old cliche of the dysfunctional writer/artist? That's me.

I've been battling some depression this week and it's taken a lot out of me. Nothing severe; just the usual Fibro-fog of "OH GOD I HAVEN'T DONE WHAT I SHOULD HAVE WOULD HAVE NEEDED TO DO AND NOW I'M TURNING 41 AND I STILL LIVE IN A RENTAL HOUSE THE SIZE OF A BOX AND THE WALLS ARE CLOSING IN AND IF I STEP IN CAT LITTER ONE MORE TIME I'M MOVING TO BORA BORA!" depression.

Please tell me you understand where I'm coming from...

But the sun always peeks out, doesn't it? It comes around the corners and grabs at you when you can't breathe. I have to actually go outside, wave it down. The house is just too dark and even the sunlight gets a bit down trying to get in through the old, crank windows that lost their cranks some years back.

Then I remember what I really should be doing. Not what I THINK I should be doing, not what I WONDER if I should have done when I was 18 and stupid (aren't we all at that age? OK, so there's SOME out there who aren't. I'm not talking to you...scoot!) No, it's a soft breath of air that whispers through that draping moss. It sounds a lot like cicadas singing. A distant, constant drone of chirping that you get so used to you forget it's there until someone points it out and wonders aloud, "Gee I don't know what I'd do if I lived somewhere without cicadas?"

Me either. I think they're one of the creepiest things that ever survived the Cretaceous period but their song is the South. It's always there, haunting, singing, never letting up except in those odd fade outs that exist on the fringes of human hearing. Then, like the tide, it's back, carrying you away and you realize you're home again. You've been home all along.

If you pay attention.

That home is writing and I can thank the Chatham County Public Library system and Susan Hill for grabbing me by the throat and shaking some sense in my muddle mind. Seriously. I had to return some books yesterday and while I was there, I wandered around the stacks, just looking. I like to write down book titles I want to eventually read. I could publish an encyclopedia of Books I Want to Read Some Day. Perhaps I will. It'll be full color on that lovely, recycled paper that's kind of stiff, you know, and feels almost dusty under you fingers? Anyway, I decided to creep around the mystery section (because, that's how one explores the mystery section) and I saw the name Susan Hill. You know I love ghost stories and I've only ever read her spooky stuff. But these were murder mysteries (my guilty pleasure). What? Why didn't someone tell me she wrote mysteries? Off with you head if you knew and didn't share!


And it hit me, like a branch from the person hiking in front of you and swears they'll keep that Rhododendron back long enough for you to cross the stream * thWACK!* You should be writing.

You. Should. Be. Writing.

And I just spent WAAAAY too much time looking at memes for this...but here's David Tennant.
And you can click that link for more memes. You're welcome.

And that was that. Whoosh, Susan Hill writes mysteries, I should be writing, David Tennant and here I sit. OK, David Tennant had nothing to do with it but it's not a bad picture to have on a blog, is it? I didn't think so ;)

Have a marvelous afternoon, Dear Ones. Forgive this foggy minded, occasional depression warrior's whoopsie of not logging on during IWSG and taking this long writing back to you all.  Pay attention to your Souls. They know what's best for you. Not the thunder, not the crashing waves, not the neighbor down the street who screams EVERY SINGLE WORD HE EVER SPEAKS. Listen to the cicada noise. The soft, ever present hum. Tune in. It's still there and it's your deep truth. Seek that truth, cling to it with your teeth.

And write.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

IWSG July 2018 - The Trouble with Summer

Writing in the Summer is a derelict house in desperate need of repair. It sits and crumbles as the wind and waves encroach. Sand sifts in through cracks and under doors. No one is there to sweep it away. It just gathers, waiting for a footprint for company.

Summer finds me in other sands, not behind an unhinged door but across the dunes at the water's edge, playing tag with waves.

I'm always thinking, always considering what to write. I sit down at my computer and decide I'm going to write for a bit, just put some things down and nothing comes. I pull out a piece of paper and doodle, sketch a flower, try and draw my cats. Then I go get a glass of water and some watermelon and the mood is lost. I don't want to write stories in the Summer; I want to live them. I want to sit and read the stories of others while the waves kiss my toes and the gulls beg for grapes.

There's a spot just north of the lighthouse we like to go. The chairs thwack our hips and the basket chafes but it's worth the walk across the hot sand, cross the jetty, to where the tourists don't go. Some do, the intrepid travelers who, like us, hate the lifeguard stands and the whistle blowing and the cops that dole out tickets for glass bottles of wine. When the tide is low you can clamber around the rocks and tidepools and watch the surfers ride the little waves that lick the North Beach. That's we sit, a ways from the rocks, in front of houses, and wait for dolphins to crest.

These are the stories of Summer and they're the ones I want to relive again and again, even if it comes up a rain and we can't out run it and we fall into the car laughing, soaking wet and sand caked. But I'm trying to get the words out, to tell of the sunsets and the terrible karaoke at the bar we can hear over the waves and the laughter from the group of people swimming in the dark.

I hope you're having a wonderful Summer so far or, for those of you in the Southern hemisphere, I hope your oncoming Winter finds you cozied up with plenty of tea. Enjoy yourself, wherever you are, and remember to live your stories. They'll make the ones in your mind richer.

Cheers and Happy Independence Day :D

Monday, July 2, 2018

Reading Hemingway

The weather was perfect, not too hot, with a nice breeze helped along by the two fans behind me. The tea was cold and the flies wouldn't discover my cookie for another whole minute. I hadn't read Hemingway since not long after we moved to Savannah. I picked up a copy of The Old Man and the Sea from a Little Free Library and read it in an afternoon. I'd forgotten how beautiful it was, all bare bones and emotions.

When I picked up The Sun Also Rises (also from a Little Free Library) all I knew about it was that a friend of mine hated the bull fighting scenes. So there I sat, old book spine cracked in my hands, getting ready to read a book that I thought was about bull fighting.

It wasn't.

If you've ever taken a college English class you're familiar with Hemingway's sparse writing. There's no fuss, no muss. His characters appear as flesh and blood, his places are pulsing with life, with sun, with dirt, with sweat. There's nothing flowery here. No multi-syllable words unless the story required something written in French or Spanish. Hemingway shows us real life with the veneer stripped off, in all it's gore and glory.

I grew up reading fantasy. I love being transported from "real life" to some magical realm that begs for beautiful descriptions and the strange and unusual. I run from books that people suggest that have anything to do with  "a woman who faces a tragedy and must find the strength to over come it." I see that every day. I live it, breathe it, watch it, have experienced it. And, yes, we can argue that all stories are ultimately about characters facing challenges and finding the inner strength to fight things that, underneath the monster facade is really just a metaphor for an every day struggle. But what Hemingway does is present us with people and places and plops us down beside them, between the backseat, getting grit between our front teeth, and eavesdropping on conversations that you walk way believing actually happened.

He doesn't try to give us someone facing a tragedy and digging deep for the strength to go on. He gives us flawed human beings, like me, like you, who are living life. They make poor choices, they enjoy themselves, they get into fights, they eat, drink, catch fish, have affairs, love, and hate. What he did was exactly what he set out to do: find the truest sentence he could write and write it. He makes me realize that there is beauty in the every day and that is what I should be seeking. There's nothing wrong with fantasy; I still love it, but the challenge isn't world building but showing this world as true as we can, through our unique lens. Hemingway writes about war, fishing, love, hate, men, women, and those damned Hills Like White Elephants. He writes about you and me and everyone in between. And isn't that really where our fantasies lie?

This Summer I want to learn more about that "one true sentence" that's sitting inside me. It's out there, sitting on the jetty just north of the lighthouse. It rolls in and out with the tide. It's on the fresh sliced watermelon and on the ice in the glass just after finishing a mojito. They wait, not buried beneath mounds of the unexpected but right there, to the left, of that dirty fork in your sink.

Summer isn't good for writing. I don't want to write about the sand, I want to be out there, toes in it, laughing as the tide creeps in closer to my chair. I want to live stories, not write them. I want to read them and let them soak deep and force me to look at life clearer. That's what Hemingway has done for me. These past three days I've paid closer attention to the mundane, looked for the story in the washing up. And it's there, hidden deep, in the truest sentence I can write when I sit down ready again to write.

Do you find it hard to write in the Summer? Have you ever binge-read an author? Do you prefer bare bones prose or long, lingering descriptions? What about that "one true sentence"? Any thoughts?


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Murder at the Marina - Guest Post by Ellen Jacobson

Good morning! 

I've got a very special treat for you today. A fellow author has released her very first book! 

Yes, this calls for tacos AND confetti! Ellen Jacobson is one of the wonderful authors I shared story space with in the Hero Lost Anthology last May. Murder at the Marina, the first mystery in the Mollie McGhie Sailing Mystery series, was released on June 21st. Click the links at the end of this post to learn more about Ellen, her sailing life, her books, and to order Murder at the Marina.

Ok, Ellen, take it away!!

Thanks for hosting me on your site today to celebrate the release of my cozy mystery, Murder at the Marina. This is the first book in the lighthearted and humorous Mollie McGhie Sailing Mystery series, featuring a reluctant sailor turned amateur sleuth.

My own sailing adventures and misadventures inspired me to write this series. My husband and I bought our first sailboat in New Zealand in 2012. After a couple of years cruising in those beautiful waters, we returned to the States and bought a bigger boat which we moved onto in 2015. We've since cruised in Florida and the Bahamas, labored over endless boat projects, and worked to keep our cruising kitty (savings) topped up.

I wanted to reflect my experiences learning to sail, cruising and living aboard a boat, and being part of the boating community in my cozy mysteries. You could say that there's a little bit of me in my main character, Mollie.

I thought I'd share one of the boating tidbits which I wrote about in Murder at the Marina—namely, the types of characters you might find at a marina. Mollie meets all sorts of interesting people at Palm Tree Marina including a boat broker (kind of like a marine real estate agent), a sailing instructor, several people who live aboard their boats full-time, and a young guy who is a bit of a “boat bum” and struggles to make ends meet.

One of the things I love about the cruising community is that everyone seems to march to their own drummer. It isn't exactly considered “normal' in our society to sell everything you own, move onto a small, floating home, and travel around to different ports. Boat people are often adventurous and looking to lead a simpler lifestyle, one where joy comes from experiences and not things. It will be interesting to see over the course of the series, whether Mollie embraces this lifestyle as well.  

If you'd like to learn more about Mollie and her sailing adventures, you can find details about Murder at the Marina below.


A dilapidated sailboat for your anniversary—not very romantic. A dead body on board—even worse.

Mollie McGhie is hoping for diamonds for her tenth wedding anniversary. Instead, her husband presents her with a dilapidated sailboat. Just one problem—she doesn’t know anything about boats, nor does she want to.

When Mollie discovers someone murdered on board, she hopes it will convince her husband that owning a boat is a bad idea. Unfortunately, he’s more determined than ever to fix the boat up and set out to sea.

Mollie finds herself drawn into the tight-knit community living at Palm Tree Marina in Coconut Cove, a small town on the Florida coast. She uncovers a crime ring dealing in stolen marine equipment, investigates an alien abduction, eats way too many chocolate bars, adopts a cat, and learns far more about sailing than she ever wanted to.

Can Mollie discover who the murderer is before her nosiness gets her killed?

Buy Links

Murder at the Marina—A Mollie McGhie Sailing Mystery #1
Print ISBN 978-1-7321602-1-7
eBook ISBN 978-1-7321602-0-0

Author Bio

Ellen Jacobson writes mystery and scifi/fantasy stories. She is the author of the “Mollie McGhie Sailing Mystery” series. She lives on a sailboat with her husband, exploring the world from the water. When she isn't working on boat projects or seeking out deserted islands, she blogs about their adventures at The Cynical Sailor.

You can connect with Ellen on:

The Cynical Sailor Blog -
The Cynical Sailor Facebook Page -
Newsletter Sign-up -

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Ya'll go on over and check out Ellen's blog, her author website, AND give that book an order!

Thanks for letting me host you today, Ellen! I'm super excited to read your new mystery and I hope that there are many more Mollie McGhie mysteries to come!