Throwback Picture

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Throwback picture from last year – this is my husband, Beazer (nickname ūüėČ ) and son, Ben, last year. This is such a happy memory for me, taken at my book signing.

I used two of my Kindle free promotion days today and tomorrow, which might not have been such a good idea as so many people are shopping or watching football! I know my husband is! (watching football; not shopping.)

Oh well, I am not the best at marketing!

I hope you’re enjoying your day, whatever it holds. I am headed off to write all day. I wrote a book-length rough draft that ended up being mostly back story and/or exploration of the strands of ideas I had. NOW I am writing the rough draft! I was hoping I would be able to write this book faster than I did the last one. . . but maybe not! ūüôā

 

 

 

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Posted in Books, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Grateful

I love this time of year. November brings a sort of stillness and quiet, animals settling in for the winter, people slowing down. (Well. . . they speed back up in December, but then they slow down!)

As Thanksgiving nears, I tend to focus my gratitude in part on seasonal blessings. Focusing is a good thing; it keeps me from going on and on. . . and on and on.

I am grateful for. . .

  • leaves that change from yellow and flame-colored to old gold and bronze maple
  • mist and wind and early morning rain
  • songs about such, like “In the Early Morning Rain”

  • a warm, dry place to sleep
  • fires, candles, blankets, quilts. Oh, and flannel anything (shirts, PJs), sweatshirts when they are new and soft, slipper socks

candle

flannel

  • tomato-based anything: chili, spaghetti, my mother’s vegetable soup
  • reading in bed, especially mysteries
  • family coming from out of town to be together
  • my mother, age 86, and my dad, age 87
  • my wonderful husband and Ben and Gary, our sons – loved, loved, loved everyday
  • spiritual blessings
  • seeing compassion and love, bravery and care
  • hope. . .for more of these, for all creatures great and small
  • hope. . . to do better, be better

And last but not least. . . anything pumpkin flavored: pies, muffins, bread, donuts (yes, I found them this year), lattes, soup. . .

“Hurrah for the fun, is the pudding done?¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!”¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†(from “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day” by Lydia Marie Child)

pumpkin

 

 

 

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Morning Mist

imageThis morning I headed out early. I mean real early. I woke up at four-thirty and got up shortly after. Around eight,  I decided I might as well drive on up to Red Top Mountain, one of my favorite places.

I’ll confess: I got coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts first. And a donut, a pumpkin donut. Then¬†I headed up the road.

I had planned to write a blog about fall and take some pictures to go with it. Not very original, I know, but I do love fall. And being awake in time to see the early morning sunshine on the first sunny day we have had in a while was exhilarating.

I thought I would take some pictures of fiery maple leaves catching the sun. Of the bright turquoise water and the blue, blue sky. Of dewdrops sparkling in the still-wet grass.

But this is what I got. image

And this. image

A misty morning. The woods around the lake seemed hushed and the mist on the water ghostly and mysterious.

I was reminded of one quarter in college –¬†(we still had quarters back then in the er,¬†um, ¬†70’s) –¬†when my roommate was studying in Germany and I lived with some friends,¬†at Furman University, on campus in a building called “the shack.” Living at the shack was a privilege reserved for seniors, and such a good time we had. The shack looked kind of like a log cabin, smelled faintly of wood smoke, and was all the way across the lake from the regular dorms.

Each morning I would walk across the lake on the footbridge, either to my first class or to “cold breakfast.” (I never made it up in time for “hot breakfast.”) Many mornings mist floated above the water, shrouding my path in mystery. I love mornings – although my husband might¬†disagree because I do not wake up exactly cheerful – but these mornings, especially, I have never forgotten.

Like snow, in a way, mist seems to make familiar surroundings look different. Perhaps they seem a bit strange, often magical. The difference, to me, seems in some ways promising. Who knows what this day will hold?

By the time I left, the mist was burning off and the water sparkled in the sun. I headed back to the “real world” actually glad I had woken up at such an early hour.

 

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Social Media Tag

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Many thanks to my dear friend, Barbara Pyett, http://barbarapyett.wordpress.com/

for tagging me to share about my book via Social Media Tag. I have never met Barbara in person – and I don’t know if I ever will; she lives in Australia! – but I feel as if I have come to know her through her kindness, warmth, and wonderful writing and photography, as well as the art that she shares on her blog. So I’ll give it a go, Barbara!

This tag was created to let people know about your book published or Work-In-Process or just have fun.

Here are the rules: Copy the questions below and answer them. Then, tag five people to do the tag and notify them; make sure to leave a comment including your post’s URL for the person who tagged you, so that they can go read your post!

Let’s begin!

Eight questions await your answers,

Eight social media it reveals.

Carry on, the knights and lancers.

The crowd is waiting with the squeals.

TWITTER- Describe your plot in 140 characters or less.  Eighteen-year-old Jessie encounters mystery & love, & faces her fears in this coming-of-age tale set in the Appalachian Mountains.

FACEBOOK- With your parents/grandparents flooding this site, who is your oldest character? Jessie’s grandparents; when visiting them, she discovers a secret about her new friend, Cade.

INSTAGRAM- What does one of your characters look like?¬†¬†¬†Jessie has brown eyes, and¬†favors skinny jeans, fur-trimmed hoodies,¬†and knock-off¬†“Ugg” boots – or dresses and western boots – or hiking boots for the mountain trails where she lives, depending on the occasion! She thinks her light-brown hair is too curly.¬† ūüôā

WORDPRESS- Designing your theme is the funnest part, so how would/did you design your book cover?

I worked with a designer at CreateSpace.  I had the idea for a star and the mountains at night, and he did the rest!   You are right; it was fun! Winter Wish

TUMBLR- Naming your blog is so difficult! What did you name your book?  Winter Wish.

SPRING.ME- Get your weirdest questions answered. Ask your main character one weird question, and have that character answer.¬†¬†¬†¬†“Why did you go by yourself out to Kyle’s land?”¬† “I guess I¬†trusted¬†people in my small town. It never occurred to me that I¬†could come into danger in these mountains that I love so much.”

PANDORA/SPOTIFY- What kind of music are you playing whilst writing? If you don‚Äôt listen to music, what do you think your main character would listen to?¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†I listened to Jayhawks’ Smile CD, especially “What Led Me to This Town.”¬†¬†Jessie would listen to¬†Matt Costa’s “Cold December”, to Ellie Goulding, and to Basia Bulat.

MYSPACE- All good things must come to an end! What is one book idea that you were really into but lost interest in? I was working on a book¬†for middle graders, about a mystery in the woods behind Holly’s and Tyler’s houses, but I have a little problem. . . I don’t know what happens next! Actually that is more than a just a little problem. ūüôā

Tag. You’re It Ladies!

I am tagging the following bloggers, whose blogs I enjoy so very much! They are all great writers! ūüôā

Mishka at  http://awriterslifeformeblog.wordpress.com/

Kate  and Brit at     http://twintypebooks.com/

Rachel at      http://rachelcarrera.wordpress.com/

Maggie at     http://mcwilson1956.wordpress.com/

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

My Answer Surprised Me

61OseHVD69L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_[1]I was recently tagged on Facebook in a challenge to name the ten books that had most influenced¬† me. (I haven’t yet completed the challenge because I have tendencies toward procrastination. Just tendencies, haha.) But one book I know will be on my list is Heidi by Johanna Spyri. At first I was surprised that I had put Heidi on my list, but then I did some thinking about this book I read so long ago.

It is amazing to me how often I have thought about this book over the years. Is it because I read it at such a formative age? Is it because it truly is a wonderful book? Certain books from childhood are still some of my favorite books, even now. They were loved early and loved long!

I admired the character and had a desire to be like her. She was brave. She helped¬†people. Yet she was vulnerable too; she was an orphan and lived with her grandfather, who she didn’t know at all at first.

I think I was also intrigued by Heidi’s close friendship with Peter, ¬†who tended the goats on the alpine meadows. This pairing of a boy and girl together as¬†main characters was somewhat new to me at the time. Usually the girls mostly hung out with girls and the boys with boys. But whenI got older, I would see this type of pairing again, in a wonderful way, with Scout and Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird ¬†and then with Meg and Calvin in A Wrinkle in Time.

Another thing I loved about this book Рand still do, to this day Рwas its sense of minimalism. I mean, Heidi slept on hay. She ate mostly bread and cheese.  She lived in a small house, a cabin, really, in the Swiss Alps.

I have always felt that¬†in many ways, Heidi had everything she needed.¬†Her food was simple. And tasty!¬†(I like bread and cheese. We won’t discuss how much I like bread and cheese!)bread¬†I am drawn to small houses, which is a good thing since that’s what we have. (I’ll bet that Heidi’s house, however, was not cluttered like my¬† house! I am working on it, though!)

Sleeping in hay. . . well, that won’t work for me. I like the sound of it. The idea of the sweet-smelling hay in the simple loft. But I’m allergic, and the one time I went on a hay ride, my eyes turned so red, I had to take my contacts out and be half blind, rather than wear my thick glasses in front of the boy I had a crush on. (The hay ride was really fun, before all the sneezing , itching, and pile of Kleenex kicked in.)

The character of the grandfather is interesting to me. He is a hermit, and in some ways reminds me of one of  those mysterious figures that appear sometimes in traditional tales, like a crone, a wise woman, a magician, a bean-seller.

On a lighter note, added bonuses for me with Heidi were her braids and her name. I coveted those braids, even though my chin-length¬†baby-fine hair would not have made¬†lovely, thick, glossy braids!But¬†I wanted my hair to look like Heidi’s and like Pollyanna’s in the movie with Hayley Mills, and like Betsy in the Betsy Tacy books. I also wanted a name like Heidi, or Melinda or Katrina, or Marianina. (Yes, really.) As you can see, I was firmly grounded in reality.

betsy

And on a MUCH lighter note, I have enjoyed reminiscing about Heidi as I wrote this blog, and the only down side is that I seem to have a tune stuck in my mind now. It begins “Oh, VRENili, my PRETty one,” and has the words “My HOME it is in SWITzerland, it’s made of wood and stone.” Trust me, it gets old fast.

The descriptions in the book of nature, of ¬†the meadow, the mountains, and the pines above the¬†Grandfather’s house¬†are beautiful, and I enjoyed knowing that Heidi spent so much time outside. I often think about how Heidi fell asleep at night, seeing the stars outside her loft window, and listening to the wind in the pines.pines

 

 

Posted in Books, Children's books, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Summer’s Busy Days

fire trail treesSummer’s days have not always seemed busy. But this year they have. Busy and full and rich, for the most part. Or busy and. . . well, just busy.

When I was a child, the days in summer seemed long and loose and golden. Endless.¬†Later, as a teacher,¬†I thought they¬†still seemed long, but green with early morning’s promise, bright with exquisite choices – leisurely coffee? the lake with my children? lunch with a friend? The months, now, that was a different story. The days may have been long, but the months . . . the months were short, compressed and compact. Mini-months.

Now, even though I am retired, summer months stand bookended by the rest of the year. Set apart as exceedingly precious. I watch my younger friends and neighbors take their children to pools, to grandparents, to the library Рand I remember. I savor night song of cicadas and tree frogs, the fragrance of mimosa trees, the sight in stores and markets of berries and melons and fresh shelled peas.

This summer there have been a lot of things I haven’t gotten to do.¬† Although I have been able to write, some,¬†it hasn’t been¬†as¬†often as usual. (And unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I am somehow trying to write two books. How did that happen?! Who, me, not focus? LOL. . . )

But I haven’t blogged since June 26th and haven’t been able to read and comment and “like” – (sorry, M-R! smiles) – my blogging friends’ posts nearly as often as I like to.

Haven’t cooked as much as I¬†want to. . . haven’t continued on my decluttering path. . . haven’t – well, you get the drift! (I am really sad to say I haven’t even been in the water!!! But that will be fixed this week!) But all of the things I haven’t done are in part because of the things I have.

One¬†of those things is¬†spending time outside. Summer beckons us out. I am finally getting back in the habit again¬†of walking outside in the mornings. Thanks to my brother, Stephen, I rediscovered my love of walking near Kennesaw Mountain. It’s sooo nice. . . as long as you don’t wait too late in the day, that is!¬†July in Georgia is no joke!

Here are a few pictures from near Kennesaw Mountain. I hope to keep spending time there in the mornings – and I ¬†hope to somehow add more “summer things”¬†into these¬†days. Before they go flying by any faster!

big tree trail

fire trail arch

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These Are a Few of my Dad’s Favorite Things

mom and dad pic My dad went home Monday!! He was strong enough to leave A.G. Rhodes, the beyond-wonderful place where he received such great care and therapy. My parents have wonderful caregivers helping him, and he is HOME!

To celebrate, I decided to write a blog post about just a few of my dad’s favorite things. There are so many. . .¬†I chose¬†a few¬†that came to mind easily, including¬†one or two¬†that, honestly, I was conveniently able to take pictures of! ūüôā

sunset  My dad always told us his favorite time of day was sunset.  To me, this time of day is just the tiniest bit tinged with sadness in spite of its great beauty. Or perhaps that is part of its great beauty? He liked that it is peaceful, and quiet. No small wonder, with a stressful job that he nonetheless loved, and our house full of kids.

One of the things he especially enjoyed about this time of day¬†was the¬†song of the wood thrush. When we were children,¬†he would call us to come listen to it. Now . . . I am going to attempt to “embed” a Youtube video in this post. My wonderful,l technologically gifted¬†friend, Mary, is on vacation, alas!

He often also¬†called us – us being my mom and all five of us “kids” LOL – to listen to his favorite songs.¬†He bought¬†little 45s, or sometimes albums, and we learned to love his favorites. I especially remember Glen Campbell’s version of John Hartford’s “Gentle on my Mind.” (I must confess; I had a huge crush on Glen Campbell!) ūüôā Another attempt at embedding video, here goes!

Then there were his “Saturday clothes,” (pronounced “Sa-er-dy clothes). He would put on some of the most mismatched, old, comfortable clothes and go outside to work, pick berries or plums, or artifact. I really like the concept of Saturday clothes. I have always had my own version, which I have to this day! (This old blue flannel shirt is perfect¬†to wear while¬†cooking, or for reading in¬†while it is raining outside.)saaturday clothes

For years and years, picking blackberries was a favorite thing, which we shared with him, including the wild, sweet taste, the sense of accomplishment, and the nights lying awake, miserable with insect bites! My wonderful mother would make blackberry cobbler or jelly. I can still see the cheesecloth hung with dripping berries, while juice stained the cloth an impossibly beautiful dark, bright purple. blackberries

The last memory I will share illustrates one of MY favorite things ABOUT my dad, the happy fact that he shared his loves and joys with us. To this day everyone in our family, including our own children, loves so much of what he loves.

This last memory is really a little story. When I was turning fourteen, I had a spend-the-night party. Of course, we stayed up late, talking, laughing, and who knows, maybe levitating someone. My mom finally fell asleep, but my dad went upstairs to read.

When it had gotten really late, he called me to come upstairs. I thought, “Uh oh, he’s going to say he¬†seriously means for us to pipe down!” Instead, he said, “Dixie, listen to this.” It was an Eastern screech owl, its call eerie, haunting,¬†and beautiful in the north¬†Georgia summer woods.

This post may be a bit light in tone. . . at a time when emotions run deep enough to undo us at any moment. My dad is more frail these days. But he is still with us, still himself. We spend a lot of time, all of us, talking about favorite things and memories. Such joy.

 

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