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Showing posts from 2010

A New Year's Greeting/OR untrimming the house

A NEW YEAR’S GREETING FROM BARB
with apologies to Dr. Seuss

Cleaning up after the holiday
Isn’t quite as much fun,
As on the day
When the decorations were strung.
There was my family, all spruced, in the den,
With an eggnog toast, and a cheer, “Let’s begin.”
We set about bedecking every pillar and post,
Window and mantle -
With ribbon, wreath, Santa, and candle.
By the end of the evening
The tree was aglitter.
The windows were glowing
With the candlesticks flicker.
The children were happy
Mom and Pop, too.
To think we did all this.
You! You! and you!

But, then, the week after
Rolled quickly ‘round.
No time to untrim.
We headed to town.
To return all our presents.
To see a quick show.
What? It’s the first of January
The trimming must go.

Undo each ribbon. Undo each bow.
Untie the wreaths
Get that tree in tow.
It’s out to the trash bin
Arms loaded, we go.
Away go the boxes.
The cards and the letters.
Out comes our list of “Things to do better.”
Resolutions. Affirmations.
Declaration…

A Lonely Christmas

A large statue of the Virgin Mary guards the entrance to St. Francis Hospital. Nearby stands a big, snow-covered pine tree bathed in blue lights. As I pass through the reception area, a life-size, mechanical Santa waves a cheery hello.
On the third floor, under an antiseptic sheet, mother’s form looks slight, fragile. I am glad I’ve come. We kiss and hug and cry. She fusses. I shouldn’t have driven so far. The weather is to unpredictable this time of year. The roads are unsafe for a woman alone. But, her eyes light up as we talk.
The food is tasteless, she jokes. The trays look suspiciously like the ones she sent back to the kitchen during her last stay two months ago.
Was our respite so short, I wonder?
As we chat, we drink cider from the container on her window sill and munch grapes from the fruit basket on her night stand. The doctors and nurses are good people, she says, but they’re just too busy taking care of the patients who’re really sick. Besides, she is going to be all right…

Pearl Harbor, My Experience

Shortly after my trip to Pearl Harbor, this essay appeared in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Pearl Harbor, My Experience

Dec. 7, 1941: The memories sear, the blame washes away

"War! Oahu Bombed By Japanese Planes." I read the shocking headlines, back in the eighties on a visit to Pearl Harbor, from a souvenir copy of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, dated Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941.
I was waiting in line to board a tour boat to go to the USS Arizona Memorial. Finally, moving toward an empty boat, I noted that most of the people on the crowded platform were Japanese.
On the short ride across the harbor, I listened to a guide describe the events of that fateful day. As the small boat approached the white concrete building, the guide concluded, "The battleship Arizona still rests at the bottom of the harbor in 38 feet of water just eight feet below the water's surface. The memorial is an enclosed bridge that spans the sunken hull, but touches no part of the ship itself. Oil wi…

HUNKER DOWN AND WRITE...IT'S WINTER!

It's snowing here in Ohio which means it's time to hunker down and write. At least that's what it means for me. There's something about being inside a cozy warm house when the temperature outside is falling along with the beautiful snowflakes. My thoughts turn to the characters inside my head who are now demanding center stage.

What is it about a cold winter day that brings out the creativity in some of us?

I'm not sure --- but I believe it's born in us. A longing for something more. A longing that can only be sated by the sweetness of words on cold winter days.

It reminds me of fall when my thoughts turn automatically to buying notebooks and pens for the beginning of school --- though my school days are long over.

Thus, my winter writing odyssey begins.

This signals a new beginning for me. A time to renew friendships with the characters I abandoned back in the spring when the earth came to life with new buds and the Robins sang to me from their perch in the p…

Giving Thanks....

We're going away for Thanksgiving dinner and I'm giving thanks for the invitation to our daughter's house. No three days of cooking for this mom.

My oldest daughter does the turkey just the way I like it, tender and moist - she's a great cook and while there are many things I love about her, I especially love that she's a good cook and loves to cook. It's one other thing that we share as well as our love of books and reading. That's a whole other blog - all the books we've shared over the years. She started out just as I did. Reading books in bed late at night as a teen when she was supposed to be sleeping.

To our special dinner, I'm contributing the stuffing, candied sweet potatoes, plus the cherry and pumpkin pies. I may do homemade rolls as well. I know the grand kids who'll be there, Dan and Jillian, love my rolls and so they will be appreciated. All right, so I love them too!

Today I made the pie crusts and put them into the freezer. Makes …

Grandma's Rocking Chair...

Grandma’s Rocking Chair
by: B.W.

Grandma’s rocking chair -
passed on to our daughter -
headed for Wisconsin
loaded in a U Haul, nestled
between an antique secretary,
and a refinished dresser -
mirror long gone.

Our three year old triplet
grandchildren, faces pressed
to the window of the van,
wave good bye to me and grandpa
in the driveway, their tears
breaking our hearts.

Our daughter, Jill,
heavy with the child of her new husband,
hums to the children
And soon they are fast asleep.

The rocking will start
while baby is in the womb,
this new grandson of ours,
whose name before
he's even born, is Austin Cole.
He will learn from his mother
How rocking soothes the soul.
Nourishes the spirit.
Links us one to the other
And to generations past and future.
just as we were linked
as children forming the circle
for ring around the rosey.

-the end-
Comments Welcome!

Is Life what you Gather or Scatter?

RED MARBLES
By Anonymous


I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily appraising a basket of freshly picked green peas.

I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the store owner) and the ragged boy next to me.

'Hello Barry, how are you today?'

'H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas. They sure look good.'

'They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?'

'Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time.'

'Good. Anything I can help you with?'

'No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas.'

'Would you like to take some home?' asked Mr. Miller.

'No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with.'

'Well, what have you to trade me for some o…

Inspiration for Writing Found on the Road...

Amazingly enough, I found some inspiration along the highway coming to Wisconsin.
Could it be the time I had to think? Or was it the quiet novel we listened to on the way? Or, the long stretches of road? Or the time to talk to R without interruptions or chores.

Whatever it was, I found myself thinking of several stories I'd like to write. Not going to say a thing about them here because I've learned that talking about a story before it's written can give it the only life it needs and when one starts to write the story it folds in on itself. This is true for me, at least.

Raymond and I were reliving some funny events that took place in the fifties in our families and all of a sudden, I could visualize my characters having these experiences. When this happens you need to run for pen and paper or pencil and napkin or whatever.

I jotted down ideas on the back of our map and when I get home I can give them some body.

It's good to take a vacation. Especially driving in the …

Nov. is Writing Month...

Since I spent Aug/Sept sick and so far Oct. has been spent doing birthday/grandchildren things and catching up on the necessities of life, I've proclaimed November as writing month for me. The entire month. Every day. Well, Sunday off for church and cooking or whatever.

Nothing is allowed to get in my way except something of extreme importance. Emergency dental work etc.

I look forward to beginning on the first of the month and making as much progress as possible by the end.

I have several projects that I have in mind to work on as well as the KILL ME project. I find I have to give myself some freedom to move between projects. Otherwise, I freeze up. There's the fear of that anyway. My writing seems very precarious presently.

I may seek out some old stories. I left behind some characters that are worthy of saving from life in the back of a dark desk drawer.

And then there's the sequel to HUNGRY FOR CHOC. titled SWEET BABY JAMES who is about an abduction. Baby still hasn…

Climbing outside the writing box...

This week I've tried without success to get back into the story KILL ME OR DRIVE ME TO FL. First I read over parts of the story. I climbed into the car with this group going to Florida and it was stifling. Nobody would say or do anything. Nobody moved. Not even mouthy Daisy.

I was ready to chalk it up to another failed story attempt.

Then I started thinking. First I took myself outside the car, outside the box I'd written these people into.

I woke up thinking about the characters one day. I still didn't have anything to write. That night I went to sleep thinking about the story.

The next morning it hit me. These four characters had lives before they got into that car and that's where I had to start.

At that moment ideas started jumping out at me.

And with that I was/am back on track.

I keep having to re learn everything I've learned about writing in the 20+ years I've been at it.

Sometimes I think I'm not meant to write a novel length story. Or am I?

I'…

Clara Walk's Fashionable Barbie Boutique...

Every little girl who lived on Cherry Lane in the seventies knew about Clara Walk’s fashionable, affordable Barbie boutique.

I met Clara not long after moving onto the street. She was the matriarch of the weekly coffee klatch, having teen aged children and beyond. I learned a lot from Clara. And, not just about children either, though she clearly had a soft spot for little ones and a great flair for doll fashion.

My first taste of Clara’s Barbie fashion designs came when I accompanied a friend to Clara’s. Her daughter’s new Barbie needed a wardrobe.

The array of outfits that Clara offered for Barbie was astounding. She not only sewed the tiny garments she created on the sewing machine, but she hand stitched embellishments such as flowers, pearls, buttons, and fancy pockets. She crocheted and knitted suits, coats, hats, caps, and scarves. Barbie could be outfitted for everything from tennis lessons to ball room dancing to playing in the snow in a matter of minutes, all right in Cla…

Giving Thanks for Legs and Arms...

You're probably wondering if my heading is the title of a new story. It's not. Unfortunately it's a story that hits close to home.

My husband lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident when our middle daughter Susan was only two. She's in her forties now so that will tell you how long it's been.

Since losing his leg, and after a long recovery at the time, he's been in and out of the hospital dozens of times for a myriad of reasons, most related to the loss of his leg and that bike wreck all those years ago.

However, what I want to say has to do with giving thanks. Giving thanks for the things we have in our lives - like legs and arms and toes and fingers - and not harping on what we do not have.

I realized all over again this morning as he and I made our way to the prosthetic shop, how fortunate I am to have my arms and legs. His knee needed a repair, we thought, because it wouldn't bend anymore, but it ended up needing to be replaced. So, he had to leave …

Trouble Getting Back on Writing Track....

I just spent 15 minutes doing a yoga work out. I feel stronger, more centered, and on my way back to being healthy again.

Yet, I seem to be having trouble getting back on the writing track.

My whole life seems off kilter.

Staying in bed for a week or so with an illness must turn ones mind and body to jelly. That's exactly how I feel. Shaky and unsure of myself.

I KNOW. It doesn't take much to get me off track in the first place. But why is it so hard to get back on?

Do you have that problem? When you've been away from your work for whatever reason, away from your writing for awhile, do you feel you'll NEVER get back on track again.

For me, writing always starts with writing. I can't think about it, reason it out in my head. It never works. All that works is actually writing.

So this afternoon I'll be doing just that. I'll be writing.

Blessings! Stay well, stay focused, and write.

Stoned by a Kidney Or Birthing a Stone...

I have a kidney stone and that's why I'm not writing. Mostly I'm bending forward and moaning when I'm not taking a pain pill or an antibiotic for the infection.

This affliction hasn't hampered my reading - thank God - so I just finished reading the novel, COCKTAILS FOR THREE, by Madeleine Wickham. Very good. Pen name Sophie Kinsella who wrote the Shopaholic books.

As soon as this stoning by the kidney ceases, I'll get back to my writing. Under the influence of all this medication my dreams have certainly created some pretty weird characters. Probably best left in the closet of my mind.

I did finish the new and improved summary for HUNGRY FOR CHOCOLATE and sent it to the publisher. Will keep you posted on my new venture.

Must run- it's time for my pain pill. Tomorrow the doctor will give me the news on exactly how we are going to deliver my body of this precious "stone." Surgery, or lazer or who knows?
I'm busy now thinking of a name.
Do you ha…

HOW MANY BOOKS IS TOO MANY BOOKS?

My friend Liz and her husband recently stayed two nights with us while on vacation in this area. I pulled a dozen or so books from my shelves to share with Liz - who is also an avid reader and wonderful writer. (She writes as Elizabeth Vollstadt and has various books and stories in print, including YOUNG PATRIOTS: Inspiring stories of the American Revolution- which she co authored with friend, Marcella Anderson. It's for children but I love this book!)

THEN, Liz unloaded the books she'd brought to share with me. (She'd also brought a gift for me - a book, what else!)

While she was here there were books stacked on the coffee table, the end tables, the dining room table, and the kitchen bar. A few books more than my usual stash covered every available surface.

I'd catch her reading as I puttered in the kitchen, or at night we'd have tea and then she'd head off to bed with a book tucked under her arm. Early one morning I looked out and she was reading a novel i…

Writing a New Summary/ Or setting as Character

After I sent my 80,000 word novel, HUNGRY FOR CHOCOLATE, to the publisher last week, I decided I needed to do a new summary for this particular publisher.

Since the book is set in West Virginia and that's where the publisher is located, I felt I needed a summary that incorporated all the mountain state elements and flavors of the story.

Earlier summaries of this story centered on the surrogacy itself and on the relationships between the characters. Setting wasn't mentioned. Not so, this new one.

I wanted to play up the setting as character. The story takes place in 1998, in the small fictional town of Shady Creek, West Virginia. The people are close knit, not tolerable of strangers, or new ideas. And, surrogacy to the people of Shady Creek was indeed "strange."

The fact that the main character lives in a historic landmark, an old Victorian home built in the late 1800's, that First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited in the late 1930's when she toured West Virgin…

Small Steady Steps plus Hungry Update

This post is about small steady steps and how going at writing in this way leads to success, in my opinion. Success being totally subjective and having different meaning for all of us in regards to our writing endeavors and how successful we want to be or even think we are.

I've never thought much about the process of writing or of how I pick and choose when and how and what I write. I just know I do something each day toward writing. One small step. And it's satisfying.

Whether it's journaling, blogging, reading - a huge piece of writing well, or working on an essay or a piece of fiction - somehow I am attending to the side of my self that needs to create with words. Small, steady steps.

My first story to get published was one of the first I wrote. That lead me to believe that getting published was easy. All I had to do was jot off an essay that was mildly interesting with a dash of humor, Erma Bombeck style - give it a nice beginning, a good strong middle and an ending t…

The Writer - The Pancreas - AND Octomom Lips

Dang pancreas. It's had its way with me one too many times. I'm done with it. AND I'm declaring WAR on IT and any other body part that intends to stand in the way of my writing. FOR NOW AND FOREVER MORE!

I've had to stop too many stories, often for months at a time, to deal with the havoc it wrecks on my life. Not to mention my health. And that of my family.

After three or four such bouts with this cantankerous organ, I had to stop again recently while editing HUNGRY to tango with this persistently unhappy body part of mine.

Our dance was done a few days ago at Ohio State University Hospital. Outpatient with Dr. G and his staff officiating.

A balloon - perhaps a robust red party balloon - who knows? - was used to stretch some sense into the duct - hoping to put an end to all the shenanigans it had been doing, and then to assist the balloon a plastic stent was inserted to keep the little "devil" duct open as it is supposed to be naturally.

After a much needed…

Fifties Music Cure for What ails you...

Yesterday I was feeling sick but went grocery shopping anyway to pick up a few things we needed.

I shop at one of those stores where you can buy everything from groceries, to the latest movie, to tires for the car.

I passed one of those machines that plays music. The ones where you punch the song you want to hear and it takes off. Mostly the machines offer Celtic tunes, or peaceful songs to lull one to sleep. Not this one. It had some great selections.

My choice was SODA SHOP CLASSICS and when it started playing, I was whisked back to the late fifties right there in the music/candles aisle of the super store. Back to when I was 12 or 13, just at the age when all of life seemed impossibly tragic and out of my reach.

WHY MUST I BE A TEEN AGER IN LOVE by Dion & The Belmonts sent chills up my spine because I remembered singing that to the Ricky Nelson and Elvis posters on my wall when my first boyfriend shunned me, pretend mike in my hand as I sprawled on my twin bed with the blond …

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow...

Last week I noticed noises coming from my laptop, sort of like a low buzz that had never been there before - I thought it was static on the old radio in my office. But no! It was my baby, starting to groan a sad good bye.

The next morning I turned on the laptop and was flabbergasted. There were multi colored stripes running horizontally, a loud wall paper kind of thing, in shades of pink and brown. Not at all unpleasant but I knew the meaning behind the sight was not a good thing.

I'd seen that look once before on the unit and that was when the video part of the computer went bonkers and had to be fixed, both costly in time and money.

I'd hoped the laptop would last until fall. But it was living on borrowed time. It had been fixed two years earlier. I bought it used in the first place, though it wasn't cheap. Macs never are, it seems.

So, a quick trip to my Mac Lady told me that the innards on my baby were shot and could not be fixed. Even if it could be fixed no guarante…

Writer & Story: A Tale of Lovers...

I'm totally excited at this point in my editing of my novel. I'm nearing the last 20 pages and as the story comes full circle - and I must say well edited by several friends and myself - I can see why I've always believed in this story centering on Vada Faith Waddell's quest to be "somebody" more than who she is when the story opens.

I'm excited as I begin to think of marketing this novel - again.

I was burned out a year or two ago when I worked to come up with a new marketing plan. My feet were dragging and I was no longer interested in the project. That's called STORY BURNOUT. It happens to all of us, especially those of us who have labored to birth a particularly difficult story over the period of several years. What started out as a glorious projects brings one into the depths of despair as they realize the story may never be read by anyone other than oneself and his/her friends.

The story wasn't difficult in the creativity phase. That was the b…

Backstory on HUNGRY FOR CHOCOLATE

Just a quick update on my progress reading through HUNGRY FOR CHOCOLATE. Since getting the BOLD print debacle corrected, things are going along much more smoothly with the story.

I'm going to skip back to the story behind HUNGRY because of a few questions I received. That manuscript was with an excellent literary agent for four years. It didn't sell after repeated efforts. It may be that the story was before its time. That's why my next marketing efforts will be directed at a publisher in WV.
Its tone is distinctly West Virginian.

HUNGRY is set in WV and is about a surrogacy gone wrong. The main character, Vada Faith Waddell, wants to make some extra money - she can't seem to make enough for a down payment from her job at the beauty shop for a down payment on a new home out in the fancy subdivision of Crystal Springs -SO she decides to answer an ad in the local paper and become a surrogate mother. She figures it can't be all that hard. She already has a set of six yea…

Update on editing HUNGRY...

As I was printing off the 300+ pages to read, I decided mid print that for some reason I'd put the manuscript in BOLD and that I needed to put it in regular print to save on ink. Not sure why I did it in bold in the first place as I was setting up the novel. Anyway, I went in and corrected the problem. Changed the print to plain for the rest of the pages.

After printing, I read the first 100 pages with no problem. Actually the novel read like a book off a book store shelf. (I always joked that my goal was to have a book on the bargain table at Big Lots.)

When I got to page 101, the material no longer matched though the page numbers were in sequence. It took a while for me to ponder the situation and figure out what was wrong.

Taking away the bold print had re figured the pages. I was now missing several chapters which I had to go back and print.

Anytime I come across a problem like this I've finally figured out at my age that I have to work on it first thing in the morning. As th…

Hungry for Chocolate or endlessly editing...

HUNGRY FOR CHOCOLATE is the novel on which I worked this past week. I finally finished making the changes my writing buddy/professor/friend Liz suggested. Now it's time to read the story through to see how it reads.

This is a work in progress that I've worked on for far too long. But in writing a story, how long is too long?

The story was born over ten years ago via a short story titled Joy Ruth and Vada Faith, twins - it never went beyond my desk, it may be more a character study than a finished story.

Then it branched into a novel and became Vada Faith's story - a much changed VF from the first story. It became the story of her life, her relationship with her twin sister, and with her husband and extended family, then gathers around her surrogacy- a surrogacy that goes wrong, both in hilarious and heartbreaking ways. She's always wanted to be something more than she was and goes about it entirely the wrong way.

More on this as I go through the endless process of editin…

Mabel and the Garage Sale - a short story

Mabel and the Garage Sale was dramatized by British Broadcasting and used on their short story program worldwide on public radio. I can't help it. I still love Mabel. What do you think?

MABEL AND THE GARAGE SALE

Interstate 64 is taking Mabel's house. The highway is slated to run south, through the middle of her living room, all the way to the ocean. Mabel figures the road will roll down right where the gold velvet love seat rests now. She gets uneasy thinking about it. But it's too late. They have the house and Mabel has the money. All that's left is deciding where to go with it.
Her daughter, Donna Faye, has said she can move in with her. But Mabel knows the girl isn't sincere. So she's drawing out her last days in the house, trying to decide what to do.
She has thought about renting one of the new brick garden apartments near the center of town. Except she isn't good with figures and has no idea how long $30,000 would run her.

Wednesday Feels Like Monday...

I was shocked to discover that it's Wednesday when I thought sure from the way I felt that it was Monday. I have a headache, I'm tired, out of sorts, our four wonderful grandchildren left with their parents this morning and there's a hole in my heart and I just want to lash out at someone or something.

Not sure what that's about. But it feels as though the world is off balance. How can Wednesday feel so much like Monday?

Our three daughters had an anniversary party for us on Saturday afternoon with family and friends from near and far. It was the best party in the world with great food and a scrumptious wedding-looking cake. I talked myself into a stupor as I visited with everyone and savored each second of the party.

Am I feeling the results of all that fun? Or the after shocks?

Is that what this deflated feeling is about? Having such a high from all the excitement and then being dropped suddenly to the ground without any warning when it was over? Have you ever felt lik…

Honorable Mention a Kick in the Pants...

Thanks to 1st honorable mention win in the West Virginia Writers Contest this week end for KILL ME OR DRIVE ME TO FLORIDA, I'm back in the saddle again and ready to spur this story on to more adventure. Therefore, I'll be adding more pages and as Hemmingway said re: finishing a novel, I'll "write on through to the end of the damn thing." If the Lord is willing and the creek don't rise. (I'm covering myself!)

Why is it that we need these little boosts to move us forward? Is it just me who can't seem to keep moving forward or are there others out there who need a fire lit under their behind to get them going again?

I love the story I'm working on. I love all the stories I've worked on. It just seems that life keeps intervening and I fall off the wagon much like an alcoholic who wants to leave alcohol alone but just can't because the need to drink is greater than the will not to.

Whatever the reason for falling away from my writing, I'm rene…

Regrouping...

Thanks to all who read my post about the loss of my niece dear sweet Charlotte and made such kind comments.

I'm home from the family reunion which is what it turns into when someone dies and we all gather in West Virginia at the funeral home. Kathy from Cleveland, Ella & Paul from Dayton, Joann, Barney & Guy from Florida. Karen, David and family from Pennsylvania, and my family from around Ohio. Plus dozens of local family members and friends.

I don't have an ounce of energy left today. I could go on with a long list of complaints. BUT I won't!

The words of my mother come to me now - if you can't say something good - then say nothing at all.

And today I can't think of one good thing to say. So I'll say nothing at all.

Except, I'll post again after I regroup. The well has to refill and I need to let the comfort of my own life settle in around me.

I'm praying the sorrow of loss gets easier for all of us to bear.

And, may you and yours be blessed!

The passing of Charlotte

How could I write anything today without telling you that my sweet niece Charlotte passed away this morning, during the quiet hours before dawn. She leaves behind two adult sons, their wives, and four young grand children.

She endured a pancreas transplant and bowel removal two years ago at Univ. of Minneapolis. I stayed with her there for two weeks and some days it was touch and go.

She never fully recovered and never again ate a meal she could enjoy.

Approximately six weeks ago, she had a transplant of stomach, bowel, and all the digestive system at Georgetown, Univ. One of 12 such transplants in the world. I've decided it's better not to be among those numbers.

While it's the end of her pain and suffering it's the beginning for our family and her husband, John. She was such a dynamic and beautiful person both inside and out. A raven haired beauty with blue eyes that snapped with emotions, whether she was happy or sad. She never lost her West Virginia accent or her good…

LET'S HEAR IT FOR RECUPERATION...

It’s too bad you don’t feel good when you have the flu. Taking pills and
drinking juice doesn’t take up a whole lot of time. Then you have all this time while you’re feeling rotten to lay on the couch and stare up at cobwebs and dust you’re too sick to do anything about. The sun shinning through the window doesn’t help. Every flaw in the room is magnified. You finally have to put on sunglasses because of the floating dust. Its very presence makes you sicker.
When you don’t feel good the people around you change. They become impatient, short-tempered, and busy. Too busy to find the remote. Too busy to pour juice. Too busy to put on some soft music.
Forget asking them to shop for more Kleenex. They balk at wetting a washcloth for your feverish brow. They don’t have time to fill the vaporizer. Or make a piece of dry toast. Or darken the room because too much light hurts your eyes.
If you felt good you could enjoy the pot of chicken soup with the homemade noodles and the loaf of warm yeas…

No time to stare...

I've been in a reflective mood this morning. Wondering what all the busyness is about.
I run in circles every day, like an ant pushing a crumb toward a hole, only to turn around and do the whole thing over again. Gone are the days when we used to while away a Sunday afternoon on the farm porch swing and let the Sunday afternoon move slowly over us, as we counted cars on the country road, or watched the leaves move lazily on the trees. The horses and cows would graze in the field and we'd just stare at nothing in particular and enjoy everything in general.
This verse says what I'm feeling.
Before the busyness of summer sets in - let's find some time to just stand (I prefer sitting) and stare. Blessings and enjoy! Barb

Time to Reflect

What is this life, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs
Where squirrels hide their
nuts in grass;

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies
at night;
No time to turn at …

Priming the Pump...

Why is it that when I’m away from writing for more than a day or two, I forget everything I’ve learned about the craft and about myself and the process of writing?

The last few days I’ve been "working" on my story. Or I've been trying to. I’d promised myself not to edit, therefore, I was not allowing myself to read over what I’d written previously on this new W I P. But, by not allowing myself access to any part of the story, I could not make the words come. Not words that made any sense to my story, anyway.

I’d made the rule that I couldn't read anything I'd already written because I'd want to edit and make it better. SO, I had to write something brand new. But I'd started the story days, no, weeks ago.

I was trying to make myself jump off the writing cliff without the safety net of the words I’d already penned, the foundation of my story. Without those sentences I had nothing to grip onto. I was holding onto nothing, giving it nothing, and I was getting n…

Gathering words - Gathering sea shells

Gathering words together to form a story is much like going to the sea shore to gather shells.

The first day out, we gather all our arms can carry, and hold them close lest one slips away.

We aren't at all choosy in the beginning. WE pick up the ragged, the worn, the unfamiliar, the ugly, the beautiful, even the shards. Who knows what can be made of each piece.

A few days or weeks into our journey, we become more selective. Do we really need all that we've gathered, those words, those shells. Maybe? We don't truly know yet what our use is going to be for our stash. We decide to hang onto everything. Wise choice!

I'm in that place right now in my work in progress. Gathering everything to me, afraid to let anything go. Pulling everything out that I can from the inside, the outside, the subconscious, the conscious, the unconscious.

Until I've gathered all I can from the secret places where words come from, and only then, will I allow myself to start sifting through what…

Writing without expectations...

Today, I will go to my desk without guidelines, or a to do list, or goals or any expectations other than giving myself wholly and unconditionally to my story. There will be nothing between myself and my laptop- just an open mind.

Today, I'll write the way I was meant to write. Creatively. Without boundaries. Or lines keeping me in or out.

Today, I'll leave my perfectionism behind. We succeed not because of perfectionism but in spite of it.

Today I believe totally in myself.

I believe in my work.

And I believe in you.

So let's get started.

Today will be the first day of our lives. Let's get started. At least, for today.

Blessings!

Mother's Day brings family, fun, food, books

I love when a holiday brings all the family together with good food, fun, and presents that revolve around writing and reading.

Jill gave me The Maeve Binchy Writer's Club book, which is full of Maeve's wit and wisdom, combined with writing advice from her as well as other writers. They even left some white space for notes by the reader. Then, included at the back of the book are columns written by Maeve for the Irish Times. Plus seven new short stories by her. Jill also included the latest cd by one of my favorite singers, Rod Stewart. Love the cd and can't wait to read the book. It will be a reward for getting lots of writing finished on my WIP. Thanks Jill.

Yesterday was ladies day out with a movie and mall shopping. We saw Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carrell. A total hoot. Laughed til I cried. A must see if you like comedy! Thanks Lisa and Susan. Also received bath and body lotion & a beautiful angel for my collection.

In the mall at Waldens Books I found a t…

Flying by the seat of my pants...

I'm never setting a writing goal again. Tomorrow is Friday and as of yet I haven't written one word this week. THIS was going to be the week I put on those orange heels and covered new ground with my WIP. I was going to write and not edit.

Monday and Tuesday got away from me completely. (Husband is better, to all who asked, thank you). Then, I woke up mid week with a few red spots on both arms. Mosquito bites? Spider bites? I wondered. Then they started to spread. I had Poison Ivy - which I'm highly allergic to.

Made a trip into town to see the dr. Cortisone shot and an RX for strong cortisone tabs, and a $90 bill later. I'm counting on some relief and soon. It's welty, red, swollen, weeping. The blisters, not me, though I could weep easily enough. When the famed itching started I thought I was going to scratch my own eyes out. To anyone who has not had it. You do not want it. I promise. It's awful.
I've dealt with one crisis after another this week.

Tomorrow…

Wearin' of the orange postponed but not cancelled

I got up on Monday determined to wear my orange shoes and write my heart out. And then my eyes took in the basket where I keep the monthly bills and realized woe is me it was May 3 and time to write checks, etc. So, I put on my bill paying cap and sat down to pay bills which required a morning of calling, first, to clear up a bill that had been paid and put on the wrong account and another, my wireless which is my most valued possession. Though Verizon has already taken the money out of my account, somehow they can't "find" it. So the bank has faxed paperwork three times to amend the problem. Alas, they still hadn't "found" the money yesterday. That attributed to the beating of my head on the office wall for a full five minutes before I could control myself. Ok we're well into the afternoon by now. I got all the bills paid, problems ironed out, check book brought up to date, and it was dinner time. It came out of a can and the freezer.

BUT I had Tuesday …

Orange High Heels Spark Creativity

Yesterday I had lunch with "E" a literary agent and friend. She was in town to speak at the Romance Times Book Lovers Conference in Columbus.

It was sunny with blue skies as we walked from the Hyatt to a nearby restaurant, just enough warm breeze on our arms to feel good. Dressed up and downtown. How fun is that? Something I do only often enough to appreciate it.

As we ate we talked about her work, what books she's recently placed with publishers, how the industry is changing, how hard it is to sell good books, and then a bit about our personal lives.

Woe is me, she then asked about my current project. I was dreading the question. Let me explain, E was my agent for a couple of years and marketed my very first novel, a mainstream titled HUNGRY FOR CHOCOLATE, which was about a surrogacy gone wrong. Set in West Virginia, with a cast of zany characters, E loved it. (Oh, everyone in WV is not zany - just MY characters). The book was ultimately rejected and is now resting on my …

Celebrating Orange Shoe Day...

I celebrated Orange Shoe Day yesterday by wearing my new orange strappy heels, jeans, and my orange tank top. It seemed the least I could do in their honor - was give them their very own day. Besides, once they're placed in my closet next to 22 other pairs of shoes they'll become ordinary. Or maybe not. Certainly, their brightness will cast a glow on the other residents in my closet. Plain beige, brown, and black shoes.

I was given my orange strappy heels by Katrin, my new YA friend from Germany. I felt I needed to give my new shoes a warm welcome and what better way to pay tribute to them than by by wearing them, proclaiming the day Orange Shoe Day, and turning an otherwise ordinary day into something special. Now, all orange shoes have a day of their own.

I feel pretty spectacular in them too. No matter that other things in my life were falling apart. All I had to do was look downward at my toes peeking out of those orange straps and I smiled. The sun shone brighter. The cloud…

Clearing Your desk and Your Head....

My thoughts can't seem to get wrapped around writing today. Instead, my head is filled to capacity with thoughts of not only our time in Wisconsin with Jill and the grandkids but also of putting the house in order and putting away all the clothes and suitcases. Now that most of it is finished, I'm having trouble switching gears. I can't seem to get into my story because of all that's playing out on the screen of my mind.

Usually all I need to do is to clear my writing space of clutter and sit down and turn on the computer.

Not today. I've done all that and it isn't working. It seems I must clear my head as well.

How do you clear your head for writing when you've been away for a week or so? What works for you? Can you just sit down and start tapping out words on the computer? Or do you have to fix a cup of tea? Put on a cozy sweater? Light a candle or two? Put on the coffee pot?

What signals your move toward the creative world?

Nothing has worked for me today. In…

Tennessee Williams on writing...

I'm learning to put myself first. It should be against the law of nature to have to learn to take care of oneself. (It's usually the female who has to learn this - it comes naturally to the male species!)

It certainly isn't something I've ever been encouraged to do. I learned from strong women who were married to strong men. They taught me to take care of the men first, then the children, then the community, and then the church. I don't remember anyone ever telling me to take care of myself. If anyone did, it would have been my mother, my greatest cheer leader and fan.

Taking care of oneself is kind of like money in the bank.

A financial counselor will tell you to pay yourself first before doling out to anyone else. Excellent advice for all of us, especially writers.

I'm slowly realizing that if I don't take care of myself, nobody else will. Knock me over the head. I feel as though I've JUST learned something profound. Shouldn't I already know this a…

Shedding my writer's skin...

R and I are on our way to Wisconsin, driving and taking our time. We're going to visit our daughter, Jill, and her husband, Jason, along with the grandchildren, eight year old triplets, Mackenzie Lauren, Chase Andrew, and Tanner Riley, and their four year old brother, Austin Cole.

We saw Chase a few weeks ago when he came to visit but we haven't seen the rest of the family since Christmas. We're excited to be getting away from home for a few days and visiting them at their home. We love seeing all their "things," which they show us with great enthusiasm - what's new in their rooms, what treasures they've collected recently, their school papers. I read to them and I listen, to their stories - and they have dozens- and to them reading their books to me. They have quite a library of their own. I'm pleased that they love books, that they love to read, and that they love to write stories of their own.

On the trip, I'm working on shedding my writer's …

Writing and there's always something else...

Some days no matter how hard you try there is always something else to do before you can sit down to write.

I can't write when the sink is full of dishes. So I do the dishes.

I can't write when the bed is unmade. So I make the bed.

I can't write when there are wet towels. So I wash a load of laundry, dry, fold, and put everything away.

I check to see what's for dinner. (Can't write unless I know that!) Okay, tonight we can have leftover spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread.

Then a visiting baby boy, four months old, eyes of blue, and smelling of Johnson's baby lotion needs to be rocked. That takes at least thirty minutes to satisfy my nurturing gene. I come away smelling of baby - what a lovely scent.

Next, it's on to yoga for strengthening and limbering my body. Feels great. Thanks, Rodney Yee, for coming up with moves I can master.

Then I MUST read my Daily Bread and tend to my spiritual side.

Oh, I forgot to eat this morning - well a banana and a slice of apple b…

More on my dad

Thanks for reading my post about the mining accident. I appreciate all the comments about my dad. And prayers for the miners.

Losing my father at an early age is a subject close to my heart and I realized as I went over my WIP that my little Daisy has no father - I'll be able to put all my pent up emotions to use when I write that part of my story.

I can't even think the word "father" without having a whole gamut of emotions, a flood of tears and all. Strange isn't it to miss something you don't remember having.

I'm sure that not having a father in my life, made me choose someone older to marry. I've always felt secure and protected by my husband.

Any thoughts on how we choose our life partners?

Let's pray they find the miners soon, whatever the outcome. The families need to bring them home.

Blessings!

Montcoal, West Virginia & my daddy's death

The mining disaster in Montcoal, West Virginia opened up a wound in my soul that has never completely healed. Whether miners lose their lives in a disaster or lose their lives from the coal dust they breath every day, it makes me sad to think there are men still going underground to make a living so that someone else can live well and long.

Cecil Carl Null, my daddy, worked in the mines in Raleigh, West Virginia in the 1940's and died at age of 47 of lung disease. I was two when he died. I have memories of him which are either real or set in place by stories told by my sisters, Sue, Ella, or Maxine.

I used to cry for him when I was mad at the world, sure that if he were here he'd save me from my heartache. I still believe that. Little girls need a strong daddy to protect them. I had one but he watched over me from Heaven. Believe me I liked the idea of having a daddy in Heaven because my friends didn't have that. They had daddies who came home for dinner every night. Who pus…

Just Writing it vs Writing it RIGHT...

Part of the problem I have with working on novels is I want to write it right the first time. I know I cannot although there may be writers who can. I'm a huge rewriter. It seems I can't give myself permission to just write it. I want to "write it right." Do you have that problem?

When I wrote HUNGRY FOR CHOCOLATE I came home after a few days at a writing retreat and I sat down and wrote every day for two months, not allowing myself any major rewrites. (WHY WAS I SO STRONG THEN?) I allowed myself to look over the pages at night and to make a few minor changes the next morning then I required myself to continue. In two months I had finished the rough draft. IT took many more drafts to get the novel to where it is today. And it hasn't sold. So. What am I missing?

Now, I'm so much smarter and have more years of writing under my belt and I still want to second guess every other word I write. Do I need intense hypnosis to make me lose the desire to rewrite. I want t…

What does candy have to do with Easter? A lot!

It's the day before Easter Sunday and I ate all the Easter candy, including 24 small chocolate covered marshmallow eggs, and a bag of fruity jelly beans.
I went to the corner mini mart this afternoon to avoid going into town and bought a bag of small Hersheys bars for the kiddies tomorrow and a bag of fruity jelly beans, the good ones. The Hershey bars are almost gone already - I knew I shouldn't have opened them. I only had one but fed them to the grandkids who were helping R work in the yard. They did a super job and I owe them more than a candy bar. I did give them lunch as well. So, now, what to do for candy tomorrow when the kiddies come?
I hope Susan makes a WalMart run this evening. I can usually count on her.

I'm wondering what your favorite candy is for a holiday or just for every day.
My blogging buddy from the farm, Gail, said she loves malted milk balls. I do too.
I'm trying to find a candy I do not love just to stock and have in the house when we have the kids…