Thursday, January 23, 2014

Books for your Profession

Books for your Profession
or what you wish you could be when you grow up

How do you react with you find a voice of bits of sage advice and a fresh perspective on a subject you love? Do you smile to yourself, assured that there are writers out there who can connect with your career? Do you immediately gobble up the book in a night and savor over it’s contents like a dog licking a meat bone he just found buried in his backyard?

When I find such a book, I go through it carefully with a pen nearby to mark the passages and pages that strike my inner core as a writer. I carefully devour the pages as if I sat at a feast I had prepared all day in the kitchen and now chewed each bite fully to savor every flavor.

To my sadness, I forgot such books existed for writers.

At my previous job my boss was frequently getting us books to better ourselves. If there was a book that was a good influence on people in the industry she was quick to get a dozen or so and pass them out.

The last book she passed out was the latest personality test for business people. Dutifully I read the book and took the test. What I hadn’t expected was the results. It didn’t reflect my job; it reflected my profession as a writer. It described what I did within stories. I was shocked and happy.

Happy that even though I wasn’t spending as much time writing as I wanted that I was still very much a writer in my most secret of hearts.

Shocked that the results weren’t really weren’t for my job. (Hint to self: while I was good at my job I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do).

This past Christmas my father sent me a book about writing and I fell in love again with the process of writing. I had forgotten that such books not only encourage us to continue to write but they give us new ideas and they remind us to be patient but persistent with our work.

It is like land receiving rain after a long bout of drought.

I open my mouth to the precious rain and drink.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Control, the illusion

So you think you control your life?

When you are single, yes, you can control your life mostly.

Of course that is after you move out of your parents home, and financial strings.

Barring natural disasters, wars, and calamity. You can organize, revise, Twitter, Facebook, and do whatever you want as you want.

But if you get married, your control changes. I would not say diminish because Husbands and Wives are partners in life.

You wouldn’t be getting married if you didn’t love your spouse – so, as I said, your control changes. You agree to share it with someone and you still mostly do what you both like and want.

Then you add a child to the mix.

This is when you can kiss your control good-bye as it flies straight into outer space without warning.

And this is before the kid even gets here. Because women’s bodies do wacky things when their pregnant.

I craved more meat and more carbs – two things I used to allow in limited amounts. Some women are sick for three months and others are sick the entire time. We can get the strangest cravings to the wildest mood swings.

Then our child is born. Happiness right?

Well yes, there is a lot of happiness. It’s a good thing you are very happy because this way you don’t blame the kid for totally rearranging your life and taking control of it.

You think it’s cute that your baby cries when they need to have a diaper change, you don’t think ‘I have become a sanitation worker.’

It’s concerning when they spit up because you don’t want them to have an unpleasant experience, you don’t think ‘I will never be able to dress cute again unless I want to ruin a shirt!’

When your darling child wakes you up repeatedly throughout the night to eat, you are quick to respond because they’re hungry. They need your love and attention. You don’t think ‘If I ever get a full night’s sleep again, it will be a miracle.’

And if this isn’t fun enough, add an animal to the mix.

Yeah, control is an illusion.

For single people, you can live in the illusion 24/7. For Married people without kids, you still have the illusion but now you are reshaping the experience into what you and your spouse wants. And for the rest of us with kids – we have no illusion. Until our child gets a few years older and potty trained – the control is with the kid’s need.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Death by Baby

Death (of writer, even intelligence) by Baby

When someone dies, an obituary is written. It states who died, if any relatives survived them and maybe a thing or two about their life.

I feel as if I have died in my writing since my son was born. He took over my life, changed my perspective and took my energy away from me for a good six weeks.

In my rebirth, as a mother, my conscious became attuned to Michael. Alarm clocks are unnecessary; his cry awakes me like a cattle prod to my brain.  My body often responds before my mind catches up.

He likes getting up for an early morning feeding and I try to get him to go back to sleep afterwards. It’s like conversing with a half asleep animal; with the proper prodding they’ll do what you ask them without thinking. I’m only that lucky if he finishes eating before six.

I love my bed. It’s one of my favorite places in the house. Now my dear little boy takes me from my bed every morning and often I end up getting him out of his crib so he can play on the floor.

And do I go back to my warm comfortable soft bed? Heck no. I am denied.

I keep pillows and a blanket in his room to doze on the carpet until I’m ready to wake up. However, it’s not a true sleep – I am constantly listening to him in case he gets into trouble – I pop up and fix the problem so I can go back to my half-dozing-zombie state.

When I was working I would talk to my husband about the events of a day, a tense situation from a deadline blown, what problems I was having with my writing…that’s all faded away now.

My conversations have turned to the regularity of my son’s bowel movements, how big he was, a new expression discovered, how often I had to change his diaper…such riveting stuff that holds the interest of absolutely no one but the parents.

While this adventure was taking center stage in my life, my stories lived in the back of my mind. Every so often they would try to find a way onto that stage to remind me I still have dreams beyond my baby.  
Hint Taken. Time to get back to writing.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Choir of Angels: A Christmas Treat

Some of you might know that from Oct. 1 until the end of each year, I read only Christmas novels. I love to get into great Christmas-themed books. Right now I'm reading The Christmas Train by David Baldacci. My friend Michele Mirabile has just published a new short Christmas novel (with my own publisher, co-incidentally). Choir of Angels is at once cozy and tender, reminding us that, like her character, Riley, we know “exactly what Jesus would do” when the warmth of the Christmas Spirit is interrupted by adversity. Riley teaches us that when we let go of pride, a spirit of love will wash over us and settle into our hearts. After all the presents under the tree have been opened, only the gift of love and humble acts of sacrifice bring lasting meaning and happiness. Be prepared to fall in love with Christmas all over again. . . 
I asked Michele to share with us how the story came to be, and an excerpt of the first pages:
"I drew on the emotions and trials of my own life over the past few years. Our oldest daughter passed away in January due to complications of the flu, leaving behind a husband and four sons. Shortly afterward, another daughter announced her first pregnancy. And all the while my husband bravely battled through one complication of his stage-four cancer, and then another.
"These trials of life and death filled us with joy, anger, and untold pain. But the angels of our community reached out with support and love and gave us a whole new perspective of the importance of service, and the gift of sacrifice. It was during this time I came up with the idea for Choir of Angels, the story of how a young boy’s redemption made for the “Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”  
"I always wanted to write a Christmas story, and my mind was constantly sorting through elements and wondering how I could pull them all together for a good read. My father was a band director, and he kept his kids busy with music lessons of one kind or another. I played the piano and flute, and spent years performing in concert and marching bands. So I understood the dedication and elation (the story's main character) Riley felt while competing for the part of Joseph and winning.
"I hope everyone who reads Choir of Angels will come away with a renewed desire to serve. And that their lives may be enhanced with the same degree of joy and satisfaction Riley experienced during Riverwood Elementary School’s best Christmas pageant ever." 

And now, an excerpt from the beginning of Choir of Angels:

Riley loved Christmas as much as any other boy or girl. He loved how his breath 
hung in the crisp December air like little puffs of clouds. He loved the way lights twinkled like tiny stars from the eaves of houses. And he loved the way his heart soared at the sound of Christmas strains. 
As far back as he could remember Riley had been moved by the sounds of 
Christmas. As each melody wafted from the radio or from carolers who strolled from 
door to door, Riley’s soul filled with such bliss it was all he could do to keep his feet on 
the ground. 
But this year, he had a whole new reason for such joy. He’d earned a spot in the 
school choir, and today he was auditioning for the part of Joseph in Riverwood
Elementary School’s annual Christmas pageant.
Even now, the thought sent Riley’s heart soaring to grand new heights. All he 
could think about was how great he’d be as Joseph—and how much everyone would
admire him. 
He’d worked very hard in preparation. He’d rehearsed every word of every song
until he could barely eat or sleep because of the music that rolled through his head. He was so consumed with the pageant and the prospect of playing Joseph he didn’t know 
what he’d do if he didn’t land the part. 
“Come on, Riley. Let’s hustle.”
Derek pushed through the open door and stomped his boots on the mat. He’d been 
Riley’s best friend since Kindergarten, and he came by every morning at the same time to 
pick him up for school. 
Riley jumped at the sound of Derek’s voice. He’d been so lost in his thoughts he hadn’t heard him coming up the walk. 
He scrambled to his feet and snatched his jacket from the back of the chair. The last thing Riley wanted today, or any other day for that matter, was to risk being late. Because late meant trouble. And trouble meant Sam.
“Bye, Mom!”
“Good luck today.” His mother waved from the kitchen. “And don’t forget your 
Riley grabbed his homework and his crutches, and made a beeline for the front door.
Riley had never been able to run like other kids. He wore special shoes with built-up soles and a leg brace for stability. Most of the time, he got around just fine with the help of crutches. But every so often, when his strength just wasn’t up to par, he needed a wheelchair. 
Today, however, was a good day for Riley. He stepped outside into winter’s icy embrace and pulled his zipper to his chin. Draped in a blanket of new-fallen snow, the world had transformed into a wonderland. 

Riley looked left and then right. Catching no sight of Sam or the Wilson twins, he followed Derek down the walkway, shuffling through the powdery wilderness like a boy without a care. He loved the way the snow crunched beneath his boots and clung to his lashes. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Camel ride

This is us on the three yer old Kenyan camel named Baracka. He was gentle but we didn't get near his head to see if he would spit on us. riding a camel is like nothing else you have ever ridden on.Kind of like a giant rocking horse with an odd forward gait. It rises on its rear legs first propelling us toward the front at a precarious angle as the two knees unbend then the front legs come up throwing us backward so far you think you will fall off the back. This is a I have done it won't try it again adventure but worth the uncomfortable ten mijnutes just to say I have ridden a camel.

Camel ride