Monthly Archives: October 2012

Happy Halloween

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“Hold on, man.  We don’t go anywhere with “scary,” “spooky,” “haunted,” or “forbidden” in the title.”  From Scooby Doo

It’s Halloween, and who doesn’t adore the cute little costumes, the bright purple, orange and black decorations, the candy corn, which they’ve just announced has like 140 calories for 7 pieces (how is that possible and what does it mean if I eat at least that number plus another 50?).  The cutesy side of Halloween is…well, it’s cute, but that’s the only side I like.  There are no horror movie marathons for me – no Jason or Freddie or Michael.  Maybe Casper and maybe Scooby and Shaggy.  That’s about all my system can manage. 

My children are too big for Halloween so now I soak in all my Halloween fun with my niece and nephew.  That is after, of course, a day with first graders.  Whew…shouldn’t Halloween be relegated to weekends only?  I know…the thirty-first is the day, but school and sugar-hyped children just don’t mix.  The sugar-high will last for days, by the way.  Days and days! 

For the Halloween lovers, Boo-Screech-Howl!  For the sissy’s like me, worry not about the caloric count of candy corn.  Instead, think of Junie B. Jones (the precocious little girl from the Junie B. Jones children’s book series ) who discovers that, strangely enough, candy corn is not made out of corn at all!   Oh, the horror!

My Spooks – Halloween 2001

Autumn

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The leaves waved goodbye to me today as I walked in the crisp, autumn air.  Dry and weak, some waved from their branches telling me so long.  Others held on with a burst of color, but even they have so little time left.  Fall can be beautiful, but still, it can be melancholy.  I’ll miss the color, the thickness covering the tree limbs.  I’ll miss the leaves that whisper in the wind as I walk.

Tennessee brings beauty during every season, so even as the leaves whisper goodbye, there’s a promise of what yet is to come.  Spring will return.  New leaves will grow and the trees will be full again. I look forward to that day, but for now, goodbye pretty little ones.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

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Journal Entry
For Halloween I want (to be) Cleopatra!

Kids…you gotta love them!  They could say (and/or write) anything at any given moment, and you can’t make up the things they say.  It’s priceless.

The same precious child that wrote the words above, also turned in her spelling sentences today.  One of them said, “A bar my mom goes to is fun to her.”

Aah…out of the mouths of babes.  We have a saying in teaching – “Don’t believe everything your child tells you about us, and we won’t believe everything they tell us about you.”

Love Stories and Fairy Tales

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I have a complete and utter fascination with love stories and fairy tales.  There’s no sense denying it.  I adore them.  My family tolerates my favorite T.V. show for one hour a week – Once Upon a Time.  The fairy tale characters, the ornate costumes, the wooded setting – I love it. 

I’ve often wondered why I don’t or can’t write anything other than love stories.  The female characters I write are usually going through an intense period in their lives, and yes, they meet a male character at some point in the story.  This doesn’t mean the male character saves the woman from her troubles – far from it.  Usually he adds to the disarray!  It’s what they can do together that fascinates me.  The power of love, the bond that forms when you find a person that makes you stronger.  It’s the sacrifice, too – that complete commitment and the utter surrender of your own wants.  That part of the human spirit is amazing.

Katie is one of my favorite characters.  She’s scholarly brilliant but romantically dumb.  She craves love but has no clue what to do with it.  Here’s a snippet of her story:

     “That’s my favorite kind of book.  I want the happy ending…every time,” Katie shyly admitted.

     “Why?”

     Feeling uncomfortable with the question,the prying into her soul, she fidgeted, glanced toward the tarp and then back again.  “I don’t know.”

     “Maybe it was because you never had the happy ending growing up.”

     “But I did!  I got it when momma and daddy got back together.” 

     “You were eighteen by then, Katie.  Your wiring had already been set and programmed.  After living without it for so long, you can’t help but crave it.”

     “Brandon…that’s just…”  Turning away, she caught a glimpse of the picture of Brandon and his father.  A tender boy, a doting father – they’d missed out on their happy ending, too.  Swallowing her own tumble of emotions, she finished, “That’s just too damn close to the truth.”

Kids and Trucks

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There’s nothing like the innocence of a child. I write about them often because not only are they pure, they’re also hilarious. I teach school and have for the past 20 years. If only I’d kept a journal of all the things they say – goodness, you can’t make up the stuff that comes out of their mouths!

This precious boy is my youngest when he was four. He loved his battery operated truck and drove it around our yard every moment he could. One day I found him with my daughter’s life-size Barbie. He had one arm around her shoulders as he drove. I asked him what he was up to and he informed me that he and ‘fweetie’ were riding around. I’ll never, ever forget ‘fweetie’ (sweetie).

He’s a handsome, almost sixteen year old these days, finding his way through high school. He’s counting down the days until he gets his license.

And yes, he already has a truck.  A real one this time.

Keeping On

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 “If you write a hundred short stories and they’re all bad, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed.  You fail only if you stop writing.”

A friend gave me that quote many years ago.  I had been working really hard on a book, and was filled with self-doubt.  Was it any good?  Did the characters seem real enough?  Would anyone else understand or love the story as much as I did?  She must have sensed my insecurities because she sent me a ‘you can do it, keep on keeping on’ email along with the quote.  I wrote the quote on a little neon green post-it note and stuck it to my desk.  All these years later, it’s still there, faded with time, but still so very poignant. 

So even though a tiny voice sometimes whispers you can’t, I will.  And even though my dreams seem unreachable at times, I’ll dream.  And because I’m filled with faith in what lies ahead, I’ll keep on writing.

Freedom

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I voted today.  I was a proud American, voting for president.  It was my privilege and honor to vote, and I’m grateful to live in a country where I can.

Here’s the kicker – I really hate politics.  Really. Hate. It.  Did I say really?  The farce of it all, the picking of sides.  Yuck.  Not for me.  But I voted, and I’m glad I did.  We truly are blessed to live in a free country.

My latest character, Maggie, lives in the late 1800’s, and she’s far from free.  Society dictates what she wears, what she says, what she can do, and she hates it.  She’s defiant, and I love that about her.  Maggie doesn’t want to wear a corset, she refuses to ride a side-saddle, and she doesn’t want to be fake or prim and proper.  She wants to be herself…just Maggie.  And even though her life has been shattered and pieced back together, she’s not afraid of moving forward.  She’s finding her own freedom.

Here’s a snippet from Maggie’s story:

     Mrs. McGreevy stood at an island in the middle of the room, kneading bread on an ancient wooden slab.  Her crooked fingers worked the dough with power and speed.  Glancing up, she grinned.  Taking in Maggie’s attire, she cackled, “So you want to learn to bake, do you?”

     “Yes, I do.”

     “No time like the present, I always say.  Come on over and let me show you what I know.”

     Rolling up her sleeves, Maggie moved in beside Mrs. McGreevy and studied how she pushed and flipped the dough in half.  “What are you doing that for?”

     “It’s called kneading.  You knead the dough to prep it for baking.  No mixing with a spoon for this.  Maybe for a cake or a batch of cookies, but for bread you have to put your hands into it and give it a good once over.”

     Watching the elderly woman work, Maggie itched to try.  But first she declared, “I’m not crazy…I just wanted you to know that.”

     Mrs. McGreevy cackled again, “No mum, you’re not.  Not at all.  You’ve just had a changing of the mind, of the heart.  Am I right?”

     “Yes, exactly so.”

     “Nothing at all crazy about that.  Some might even say it’s nothing but a blessing in disguise.  Not many of us get to change our personalities along the way, and if I may say so, much for the better.  I’d reckon to say that your conk on the head was nothing more than God himself kneading your life.”  Glancing up, her old eyes twinkled, “You ready to give it a go?”

No Time for Tears

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Oh…my…goodness…just fed my daughter and the rest of the family.  What is it about college students and their craving of home cooked food?  If she’s home, she’s hungry.  And if she’s hungry, I’m-a cooking!

College…it’s not nearly as scary as I had thought it would be.  An actual blessing, if truth be known.  My beautiful girl is blossoming, growing, finding her focus.   It’s truly amazing, truly wonderful.  And nothing, not anything could make me happier than knowing that my children are finding their way.

I thought college would be a time of tears.  Far from it.  It’s been a time of thankfulness, of joy, of pride.  If there are any tears at all, they are happy, thank you Jesus, tears.  There’s no time for tears in our house…we are finding smiles instead.

Clouds Among Us

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Whispering clouds settled into the valley’s of the autumn flanked hills.  Even backed by a sky of gray, warm yellows and blistering oranges dotted the hillsides.  Stepping across the curving slopes, wispy tails of clouds left their marks, settling low to the ground and so far away from their homes.  The sky reached down and touched the earth this morning, blending the two into one.  There was no separation of space, no line marking where one began and the other ended.  For awhile, on a rainy, autumn morning, nature meshed leaving clouds among us.

Maggie

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My latest character is Maggie.  Maggie is complex – her story is complex.  Instead of traveling forward in time, Maggie has traveled backwards, possibly to a previous life.  I’m still hashing that out.  She has no memories of her previous life, no memories of the life she is currently living.  Everything is new and strange and complex (there’s that word again).   Maggie knows two things – she doesn’t fit in and she’s lonely. 

Writing about time travel is tricky!  Only ‘I’ know she traveled…Maggie doesn’t, her husband doesn’t, her children don’t.  They all believe she lost her memory in a terrible accident.  What I’m finding difficult is keeping the connection between what was and what is.  Very tricky indeed.

Questions about time travel and 1888:  Did women ever wear pants? The internet says no, but I keep picturing a western cow-girl in my head with a split skirt…hmmm…could I get away with that with Maggie? And too, what about underwear? The panty type. All I keep finding are pictures of slips and corsets…did women wear panties or just pantalettes? Do any of you know where to find good, reliable information on the late 1800’s?

A paragraph from Maggie’s prologue:

“Desperately wanting to escape the torture and the worries of her children, she closed her eyes and prayed.  A prayer for the ones she was leaving behind, and a prayer for a hasty exit into the next world.  She knew she was dying…if the pain from her injuries didn’t kill her soon, the gas she smelled would.  Behind the black of her eyelids, she succumbed to the weight of unconsciousness.  Letting it take her away, she floated into darkness.  There, in the dark, she let of go of her pain, her worries of  life and the way it had once been.  Already she knew she’d never be there again.”