Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hello, Beauty

Riding through a leafy tunnel. The Little Blue River sparkles in the distance. Earbuds deliver Paul Potts' Con Te Partiro to my brain.

Round a corner, a deer stands in the path, unperturbed by my approach until I get within two or three feet. It bounds into the woods, white tail flashing through green.

I surrender.

Crazy Over Potts

YouTube introduced me to Paul Potts, the cell phone salesman who won Britain's Got Talent this summer. I was charmed by Paul's round little body, his snaggle tooth, and his apparent terror. But his voice took me away from this world. It made me cry.

In the time between my first YouTube viewing and this morning, I'd forgotten his last name, only had his first and the fact that he sold cell phones. Google supplied the rest in 0.13 seconds.

Just downloaded Paul's CD, One Chance, from iTunes. Never been much of an opera fan, but this man's voice is a conduit to the Great Beyond, a connection to angels. Listening to him feels like finding something I didn't know I'd lost but have been looking for, for ages. It loosens a knot in my soul and eases my shoulders down from my ears.

I'd rave on, but Paul and I are going for a bike ride now. We may not be back for a long, long time.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Black (pants) Magic

I believe in the transformative powers of black pants. I must. Why else would my wardrobe consist of two pairs of jeans (two pairs that still fit, anyway), one pair of khakis, and eight (8) pairs of black pants.

What do you suppose I just brought home? Yep. Another pair of black pants. I tried. Really I did. But nothing else did a thing to diguise the sad truth that butt-in-chair results in butt-the-size-of-chair.

They’re going back tomorrow. I’m going for a walk. Right now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Just Another Day in Kansas City

Pouring rain. My dog's in the closet. Apparently she finds more comfort in lying among my dirty laundry than next to me. Thunder and lighting make me thankful for batteries and wifi. Remember when a big storm meant you couldn't use the computer?

I've been wandering the internet, reseraching a book idea I might pursue with the woman from the coffee shop. Tracey is a young woman, 36 I think. Has 5 kids, the oldest 18. She's gorgeous is a Marsha Brady kind of way, smart, and funny. When she found out her husband had hooked up with a 22-year-old, she did not take it lying down. Turns out lots of women don't.

We're looking for ways to solicit those stories. When Tracey originally hatched the idea, I thought it was hilarious and totally commericial. I guess I imagined all the stories to be like hers or like this or this. You know--bizarre and funny but basically normal.

Then I found Revenge Lady,. Sad, in every sense of the word.

I revisited Post Secret and found it as touching as ever.

Could the difference be the addition of art? Maybe it's the space limitations of the postcards. Or maybe the intention behind the project.

Lots to think about while the lightning flashes and the dog hides.

Ideas about how to solicit stories are more than welcome.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Strange Sensation

Had the strangest dream last night. There were many images and parts to the "story," but one thread ran throughout it all. The left side of my face periodically contorted in an exaggerated grimace that was totally out of my control. Kind of like a charley horse, but in my face.

In the dream I was aware of this and concerned by it. I even commented that it had happened once before. Oddly, I had a similar dream last week.

The contortion felt as though a wire were strung through the muscles of my face and some cosmic force jerked it together from time to time. The points of connection were just below my mouth, at the top of the apple of my cheek, and at my temple, all on the left side of my face.

This morning my face feels odd, slightly numb I'd call it, and the areas around those "points of connection" don't exactly hurt, but they don't feel normal. I also have a slight headache.

Ideas? Anybody? Anybody?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ready for a Change

Working to meet a deadline, so not much time/energy for blogging.

Hope you're all enjoying a beautiful autumn day. It's going to be 90 here again today.

In so many ways, I'm ready for a change. Seasons, projects, redecorating--bring it on!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Sun Also Rises

Strange stuff happens.

Yesterday I was sitting in a cafe, writing. My brand-spanking new copy of A Three Dog Life was sitting on the table in front of me.

Lo and behold, a fellow reader happened up and prepared to sit down. Before she got her iced tea placed just so on the table beside me, A Three Dog Life caught her eye. We made small talk about the book for a minute or so, and then her friend joined her. The three of us began a conversation that lasted more than two hours.

Pretty sure neither of these women imagined spending their lunch talking to a stranger. I sure didn't plan on such a thing. But from the moment we started really talking, I felt we'd stepped into the center of the big wheel of Karma. They both have fascinating stories and one has what I think is a fabulous idea for a non-fiction book. She and I exchanged e-mails this evening and agreed in principal to work together. I'm incredibly excited about the project and look forward to telling you all more about it as soon as we've ironed out our next action items.

This reminds me: never, ever, ever give up. Things may feel rotten. You may think you've failed as a wife or a mother or a writer. Possibly even as a husband or the gate-keeping swain in a kingdom of swine. Wallow in those feelings as much as necessary, but remember that this, too, shall pass.

In the words of the inemitable Dee Ready, "The sun rises, and the sun sets."

The sun was pretty low on the horizon last weekend, but it's rebounding in many ways right about now. Updates soon.

Fantastic Memoir

If you're interested in reading or writing memoirIf you're interested in life, go get A Three Dog Life. Read it as soon as you can. Heck, stop what you're doing and go read it today.

I may be am a little prejudiced because I've been dealing with the aftermath of my son's traumatic brain injury lately, but people this is not merely good writing, it's great writing. In a featured blurb, Stephen King says "This book is a punch to the heart." He's right.

I'd write more in praise of A Three Dog Life, but I need to read the rest of it. And you need to go get yourself a copy.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Thank You

Thank you all for your comments and e-mails and love.

Things are much better. I'll write more soon, but for now wanted all to know I'm fine and moving toward some resolutions.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tough Cookie

When things get rough, I often tell myself and others that I'll be all right, that I'm a tough cookie. Never mention my cream-filled center, though.

The situation between Evan and me is deteriorating by the moment. He's angry all the time and uses that anger like a hammer. Today he hit me with two of his best: my weight and the fact that I didn't give birth to him.

As in, "It's a good thing you didn't have real kids, isn't it?"

I know he's hurting. I know he's lonely. I know he lashes out with what he knows will hurt worst, whether he believes it or not.

I also know I promised myself I would never again live mostly in my bedroom or hide from his anger in my closet as I did when he was in high school. He's not expressing his anger with violence. Yet.

I'm writing this from my closet, but only because I don't want him to hear me cry.

I need help. Please pray (if that's your way) for us both.

Future Shock

Thoughts of this post woke me this morning, but I didn't want to write it. Didn't want to admit to wasting my time on such trash.

Last night I found myself being sucked into the Ben Afleck movie, "Paycheck," even though it's the kind of thing I normally avoid at all costs. (I plead insanity due to exhaustion.) The premise involves the downside of being able to see the future. Can't shake thoughts of that, even this morning.

My closest friends can tell you how often I obsess about wanting to know something--anything--for sure. Ad naseum.Thing is, looking back I know I wouldn't have believed much of my life story if someone HAD told me ahead of time. And, in my ignorance, I would have tried to avoid some painful events that turned out to be my greatest blessings. Yet, I'd still give a lot to know what's heading toward me.

I am trying to love the questions themselves, a la Rilke, but that's hard. Damn hard.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Been reading Miss Snark over the last few days. The blog's dark now, but the snarkives remain, and they're a goldmine for anyone interested in finding an agent or in publishing in general, for that matter.

Her Royal Snarkiness pegged the James Frey thing down to the nitwit. First, she posted doubts about the book and the man long before The Smoking Gun got hold of him. Then she predicted the snarkstorm that followed. It's her final prediction on the subject that breaks me into a MLP at the moment. She said that the furor would die down and Frey would return, pretty much unscathed.

Now comes the announcement that Frey's coming out with (another) novel. HarperCollins.

Guess it was just a matter of time before someone couldn't find their integrity lost behind a bunch of shiny dollar signs.

(Heavy Sigh)

"I don't care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right." Mae West

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Spurs that Jingle Jangle Jingle

My little doggie is having terrible trouble with allergies right now. She scratches like crazy all the time. Guess it's not unusual--our vet told Mom yesterday that 90% of the people they saw yesterday were in because their dogs were scratching. Mom's got her dog on steroids, but I'm reluctant to do that, so I'm washing Cassie's feet every time we come in and trying to help her be comfortable the best I can.

Meanwhile, her scratching has been driving us crazy at night, even Evan, whose room is at the opposite end of the house. All night long, we hear jingle, jingle, jingle. She's right next to me in bed, and it gets a little crazy-making.

Last night I got the bright idea of taking her collar off for the night.

What took me so long?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Here We Go Round In Circles

Pedaling along the Little Blue River on Sunday morning, I learned something from the actual pushing of the pedals. Yes, Mystic One, I hear you laughing. But I did.

You see, I was pedaling up a huge and horrible hill when I remembered a guide on one of my adventure trips explaining to me that you're supposed to push the pedals for the entire revolution. All you guys may know that, but I'd spent my whole life just pushing the pedals down and letting the up take care of itself.

I concentrated on making full circles, and it really is a whole different feeling. Plus, when you consciously bring the pedal back up, you increase power of the revolution.

Me, I'm all about the down, all about putting out. (No, not like THAT. Get your minds out of the gutter now.) Putting out effort. It's the up, the taking in that I haven't been so good about lately. That's why I put down the computer and picked up the bike in the first place: to breathe in the clean, cool air and the beauty of early fall.

That's also why I went to the movies to see Hairspray last night. I came home happy and energized. (And singing Good Morning, Baltimore.) I loved that movie. Can't wait to see it again, as a matter of fact.

There's power in completing the circle, breathing out and breathing in. A morning on the bike or an evening laughing with friends puts fuel in the tank for writing and for living.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


A little more of the story.

Anyone in my family would tell you I could never leave well enough alone, could never be satisfied until I’d gone too far. Must have been true. This time I pushed myself so far into the tube I was out of control from the moment I let go of the sides.

I struggled to keep my arms over my head and my legs together, but the force of the water was too strong. I flopped and wallered around, knowing I needed to either get straight with the current or right with the Lord.

My right foot flew out and smashed the edge as the tube spit me out. I felt the jagged metal slice through my heel, felt the meat gap open. Tumbling downstream, head over hind end, I was helpless to do anything other than hold my breath and hope.

Some would have prayed, but I figured God had bigger fish to fry. After all, black men were being beaten to death in Mississippi, Mr. Johnson was fighting a War on Poverty, and "that damn Barry Goldwater" was running for President. God didn't have time to waste on one foolish little girl cutting her foot off on a bridge culvert in the backwoods of southern Missouri.


Rode my bike from my house to mom and dad's this morning. Four and a half pretty miles of narrow, crooked road through corn and soybean fields. Along the Little Blue River. Past a Pop Warner League football field where parents scream at second graders to "get that f'n ball."

Four and a half miles of blue morning sky and deep green leaves. 58 minutes of hard exercise and deep thought. As I pedaled, I thought about something Holly said in an e-mail the other day, something about the color of dirt roads. That got me thinking about the iron in the soil making the dirt red in the Deep South and how the dirt down home doesn't have enough iron to be red.

And suddenly, I knew I need to change a line in the passage about dirt roads. That instead of describing them as worn-out, I need to use the word anemic, because that's what they are--anemic: lacking in iron.

To me, finding that one better word felt like finding a gold nugget in a shaker pan of pebbles.

This is the richness of a writer's life, the space where the dots of a comment from a friend and a morning bike ride connect up with something from 5th grade science class to create a moment of clarity.

I LOVE this life.

Friday, September 07, 2007


I've had it in the last few days. My true voice, I mean. The one that speaks in the rhythms of my head and heart, the one that isn't concerned with impressing people or making them think I'm smarter than I am. The story I've been writing may or may not be good yet--it's a first draft after all--but the voice, that voice is the one I've been trying to uncover for a long time.

It went dormant in the night.

Writing this morning, I find myself typing convinced when sure would be the natural choice, describing what happened rather than living it out on the page. My sentences would totally please Grammatica, but they don't please me. They have such good posture, sit up so straight in their chairs.

What now, damn it?

The other day I read that real writers are the ones who keep writing even when they don't feel like it. The ones who plod on and trust in revision. They don't wait for inspiration. They don't believe in magic. They do believe in hard work.

I believe in hard work. I really do. So, this morning I've plodded on. But I'm writing dreck. Stilted, formal, city-girl dreck, a faded gray photocopy of the story inside my heart.

Maybe what I need is to get away from it for a few hours. Think I'll go ride my bike on a tan dirt road this afternoon. There's one not far from my house that runs parallel to a spring-fed creek. Maybe eating a little dust and watching the water run is what exactly I need. Cause more of this certainly sure isn't the answer.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Life-long Learner

Mystic Wing helped me find the end of my story yesterday. We were talking on the phone and, in his usual way, he asked the questions I needed to hear answered, knowing those answers would lead me where I needed to go.

I'm older than Bryan by a couple of years, but he's become the big brother I've always needed. When I count my blessings, he's near the top of the list, every time.

So, last night I spent a lot of time helping Evan study for his first test (it's tonight) and then an hour or so googling to find out why bugs fly towards lights, why moths are attracted to flames. Turns out it's tied up with their navigational system, that when they encounter a bright light very close to them, they mistake it for the moon, which throws them completely out of whack. They instinctively know they shouldn't be so close to the moon. Fascinating and perfect for the story, too.

You'll see some of the details when I get the story done. My point here is what a gift it is to write and to live a writer's life. Many of our conversations with each other are about words, about ideas, about the themes of life. We discover some factoid, study it, and use it to illustrate a point. We grow and learn and share.

More than anything else, being a writer means being a life-long learner.

Sign me up!