The Warp of Time

Did you ever notice how when you’re looking forward to something it seems to take forever to get here?

And when you’re nervous about something, it seems to come far too quickly?

I think these both describe the release of a new novel.

I thought I’d be finished with final edits. (Maybe I am and I’m freaking out about nothing.) I thought I’d have the cover in front of me – something visual for me to get me through those long nights of worry.

But, so I’m told, we have some time.

But will time go slowly? or will it speed up and suddenly be here and I won’t feel ready?

There’s so much more I want to do with this one – more book signings, more marketing. With the lift of restrictions, that is a possibility.

This story is a little different than my usual. But, then again, I have crossed genres before. I’ve done a little mystery, a little horror, some magic realism, but this is different. There’s actually a romance in this one. That’s not the only thing- you guys know me. The dark stuff is there. The mystical is there. So is some cold hard truths about love, drugs, marriage. And also – the beauty is in the details.

I hope to have a cover reveal for you in a few short weeks! The photo above – HINT. HINT. HINT.

Wellness Writing Prompt

When I first came to yoga, our instructor made fish pose a regular part of our sequence. And for so long, I disliked it. It was uncomfortable – and I thought possibly unsafe.

matsyasana or fish pose

Fish pose, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is a pose in which the person lays flat on their back, but then lifts their upper back and head to place the crown of their head on the floor.

This pose, or rather the dislike of this pose, inspired a story titled Matsyasana. It is the very things which make us uncomfortable, which may (or may not) be connected to other, deeper things, that we must explore.

When I started looking at Fish Pose from a different point of view – thanks to the story – I understood what the pose could be. For me, it became about looking at life from a different point of view. Sometimes we get stuck in our discomfort. If we don’t or can’t move past it, we will never find what is on the other side. And nothing is as bad as being stuck – anywhere or in any way.

The first writing prompt for the group Writing to Wellness is to approach this topic in some way. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a yoga pose, but consider a position which makes you uncomfortable and write about it. If you’re perplexed, begin by attempting to describe the pose or position, then delve into the part of it that makes you uncomfortable – either in a fictional or non-fictional way. The point is just to start thinking about it and writing about it. This group is a safe place. We will support one another in our individual journeys. Feel free to share or ask for feedback.

Self Care and Writing

This year is a year of self care. The people I’ve met and those I’ve chatted with are seeking self fulfillment, searching for growth; it is a year of healing.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish. We are a well. Empty wells can not serve or help others. We need to refill our wells, take care of ourselves in order to be any good to our children, our spouses, family, or community.

We can heal through writing. We can find ourselves and our purpose through exercises meant to expose our deepest desires and inspire our motivation.

Many years ago, I met a woman who was in so much physical pain, she could barely walk and used a cane to get around. Through our semester together, writing exercises, guest speakers, and the process of opening up, she found what was eating away at her. Once exposed, her physical pain began to resolve. She walked with much more ease and moved with more freedom than she’d felt in years.

We can heal through writing. We can resolve our deeper issues. We can discover our purpose. I’d like to invite you to a group Writing to Wellness . The group is on facebook for the moment as that seems the platform where we can not only post and respond to writing prompts, challenges, and answer each others’ questions, but we can also do live writing groups, which I’d like to do at some point. We can also welcome speakers and post videos there.

Please feel free to join. I invite you to respond to prompts, receive writing feedback, and take part in a community dedicated to healing and wellness. Negative comments, trolling, and other uncivil behavior will not be tolerated.

3 Ways to get Unstuck

We all have those moments when we feel a lack of motivation, we’re dry on inspiration, and inevitably dragged down by the same. The continuing covid plague hasn’t helped the situation. These are three things I (and other writers) have tried with some success to release the damn and restart the flow. (This is not just for writers!)

  1. Discuss creativity and inspiration with a colleague or two. Recently, in a discussion with another writer, I was pleasantly surprised by their take on creativity. I found it refreshing and it actually inspired me to consider my own thoughts. I soon fell into a lovely flow.
  2. Take a day trip. There are two types of trips I like to take – one is to a place that is familiar which gives me the warm fuzzies and shakes ideas loose. But when I’m really stuck – someplace new and unfamiliar. The beach or the mountains are always a good idea, but visiting a town a hop, skip, and jump from you, a new museum, or a place that would never fall on your top ten list. I was in North Carolina recently and stopped by the Museum of the Bizarre. I enjoyed talking to the employee who was knowledgeable about the history of the place and I lucked into a sword swallowing show.
  3. Search for your old notes and writing. Whenever I’m looking for something, I run across old writings – my notes and stories and ideas are scrawled everywhere. I collect them and save them for times when I’m feeling dry. While I may not relate to an idea my twenty five year old self was thinking, there may be a kernel in those scribbles for a new idea. Even if I don’t pick up that idea, just rereading these releases bubbles for new ideas.

Let me know what you do to shake off the stickies.

Four Ways to Grow as a Person

Do you know people who don’t change, they stay the same, saying the same things, thinking the same narrow thoughts? Dealing with these people is challenging. It is a great fear of mine to get stuck – to narrow as I age instead of continuing to grow.

This is my theory to never get stuck or to get out of being stuck is to embrace these four suggestions:

  1. Read everyday. I’m not going to say it doesn’t matter what you read; in some ways, it does matter. Read far and wide, don’t discriminate. Magazines. Sci fi. Young adult. Horror. Literary. Self help. Reading builds intelligence and empathy.
  2. Write everyday. Even if you’re not a writer. Journaling, writing down thoughts, dreams, ideas, or even what happened in your day is a way to reflect on yourself and your life. Self reflection helps us grow. Especially if you are a writer – write something!
  3. Forgive. Forgiveness if not for the person who wronged you. It’s for you. Forgiveness sweeps the dust from our souls. To forgive does not always mean to forget, and it certainly does not mean to allow the person to wrong you again. Forgive and move on.
  4. Gratitude. Be thankful for where you are in life or for the power to change where you are. Be grateful for your health, the roof over your head, the motivation to grow, the inspiration to follow your dreams, the desire to work toward your goals, for the bird song, the blue sky, the rain, or that you’re one step further away from what you don’t want and one step closer to what you do.

I’ve known too many people who have lost out on a real life, a happy life because being stuck is more comfortable than change.

These suggestions are only a beginning, but they are a good start or to continue on a journey to become a more open, intelligent, and sensitive person.

Interview with Jo Rousseau, author of Tourists in the Country of Love.

I can not tell you how much I love Jo Rousseau’s writing. Her book, Tourists in the County of Love, is prize worthy. Her writing is sensitive, thoughtful, reaches into the depths of the individual soul, searching for the reasons for immoral acts.

Her previous awards include a first place essay, “Becoming Rousseau.” “Dead Dog Blues,” won the Writer’s Digest Short Story Competition. “Why Can’t We All Play Guitar like B.B. King” won the Seattle Magazine Short Story Contest.

Her book, Tourists in the Country of Love, features stories of men and women who make decisions that are sometimes beyond their own understanding. The first story is “Reading to my Mother.” A tender story of a mother who is no longer able to care for herself and the question arises – who will care for her? It’s never an easy answer, but added complications make it even more difficult in this story.

This interview with Jo Rousseau focuses on her story, “Maurissa takes the F-Scale.” (The F-Scale was a test after World War 2 designed to measure fascist tendencies.) There are questions and answers about the novel as well as her writing style. I hope you enjoy watching as much as I enjoyed speaking to her.

Here’s where you can take the F-Scale

Happy Birthday, Mr. Poe

In 1809, a baby boy was born. I imagine his mother knew he’d change the world; we mothers know those kinds of things. He triumphed over numerous challenges that made his writing deeper, darker, stronger. He created a truly American literature that separated us from the mother country, transformed literature at the time and formed what literature has become today. We owe a lot to Edgar Allan Poe.

My tributes to Poe include Eddy. Eddy was born from my passion to understand his darker urges. In 1848, he bought two bottles of laudanum (morphine, heroin) from a pharmacist and seemed intent on ending his life. Eddy is the imaginative version of those moments – and what brought him back from the brink.

I was interviewed about Poe’s Mysterious Death on SuperNews Live – Dark Times.

In 2018, I read Eddy at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Virginia.

My other blogs include A Poe-Cation, The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe, Fast Facts about Poe, and check out my Poe page.

Charles Baudelaire, a French Poet and Poe’s contemporary, recognized Poe’s genius and gifts then, acknowledging that American audiences didn’t know what they had.

We do now. We have for a long time.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Poe. Happy Birthday.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Horror Film or Docudrama?

Gosh, you guys, not sure about this one, even as I write it.

First I have to say – It’s a Wonderful Life has been one of my all time favorite movies ever since I was a child. Sometimes I even watch it during the year. Even today, my dog walked in with her ears perked and her head cocked as if to say “what’s wrong with you?” as I cried – AGAIN – at the end. I swear I didn’t think I’d cry this year, but it gets me every time.

HOWEVER, maybe it’s from watching it so much that one begins to question things that shouldn’t be analyzed in a lovely holiday movie.

But if I’m going to do it – here goes. (Seriously, I’m about to ruin this movie for you forever, you may not want to venture further into this blog).

Did anyone else notice how George’s father had a heart attach RIGHT AFTER Mary made her wish?! WITCH! Later in the movie she states, this is what I wished for, he and her in that house. She got her “wish,” didn’t she?

The real horror for me is that George wants out of that small town and through a series of circumstances beyond his control (mostly) he never gets out. Maybe this hits close to home – not that I came from a small town, but many of the minds were small and there didn’t seem to be any living or growing to do there.

George has to earn his own money to go to college which keeps him there four years longer than his friends. That’s not bad. Working for what you want builds character. Then he’s ready to leave and his father passes, and he needs to take over the Bailey Building and Loan while his little brother gets out! He has to deal with that horrid Potter character or the town will be damned. Then – Mary and her witchy trickery, casting that spell to keep him. What happened to if you love someone, set them free?

If that’s not enough – Clarence the wingless angel appears to show him all the good he’s done. Anyone else see this as just a tad manipulative? When I was younger I thought – omg, that’s beautiful, but lately I’ve been thinking – well, wait, who’s to say if he got out of that town he wouldn’t have made a bigger impact! He wanted to build skyscrapers and cities. Perhaps his actions would have touched even more people! But then again, we must consider that George was a good man, a nice guy, and he may not have made it in the dog eat dog rat race. (yes, I know, I used two cliches which is far worse than using just one!)

Has the pandemic soured me this much?

Perhaps it is just my nature to question things.

The movie is, after all, about the small things we do that can cause big changes in others’ lives in our communities. This is something I believe.

The pandemic has changed the world. I believed we would come out of it as better people. Some of us may have, but there seems to be a whole lot of people who did not. The world is in a bad, bad place right now.

With all this horror happening around us, we can be the difference in the world. We can be a little more patient, a little more understanding, giving, and loving. It is the small things that will make a difference not only in others’ lives, but in our own lives. We feel better not having had a meltdown because our coffee was late or angered because we were cut off on the free way. We will walk into our own homes on a softer sweeter note having left someone a compliment rather than a complaint. We should continue to look for the good, hope for the best, and believe in something.

Recovery Road

The neighborhood I grew up in claimed a lot of victims in all kinds of ways. I carry an image of the big kids – 17, 18, 19 year olds – hanging out on the church steps partying on Saturday nights. Their voices so loud, we could hear them at the other end of the block.

Some became alcoholics, some drug addicts, some ended up in prison for related issues. Maybe some broke free and got out.

They were just trying new things, trying to have fun, rebelling maybe. No one intends to become an addict.

I was fortunate; when I got older my friends and I sneaked drinks, but I never liked the taste and didn’t try it again until I was much older. Some of my friends continued to drink, try other things. Some didn’t make it into adulthood. Others still fight the battle.

I had no idea what “recovery” was until much later in life when I met people who were struggling. I read Needle by Craig Goodman to gain an understanding of the struggle of addiction. But I’ve come to learn, for many, recovery is a struggle too.

Many people have no understanding of addiction and recovery. I spent a number of years investing myself in the topic to gain that understanding. Addicts lose family, friends and, after awhile, most familiar contacts. Our system is not set up to help people who are in serious trouble. In fact, Dopesick on Hulu shares how part of the problem was created.

My next book – title to be revealed – features a lead character who is finding his way out. Even when an addict feels they are on the other side of the battle, triggers can surprise them.

More to come…..