Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Losing a Mother

Last week we got the news that Dave's mother had suddenly passed away.  While unexpected on one hand, we also knew that she was in her 80's and had not been talking for several weeks.  That had happened before, though, and so it was not really cause for concern.

When I found out I waited for Dave to get home from work and then told him. Plans were made to find another sitter for Gideon and we got ready to leave the next afternoon.

Dave seemed fine.  He didn't cry and he didn't seem to be stressed.  What he did seem to be was relieved, and happy for his mother. She had not had an easy life.  In fact, most would say it was mostly unpleasant. He had grown up in a family that struggled constantly with money issues, moving from one house to the next, never knowing how long they would stay before the rent was raised or they got behind.

His mother, Mary, suffered from schizophrenia. She had been in and out of the mental hospital since Dave was about age 8.  That was the age he was when she tried to commit suicide.  Dave found her, with her arm blown off from the shotgun she had held to herself. Religion was the trigger that sent her down that path, and it would remain the trigger for future break downs.
Needless to say, Dave is not a big fan of organized religion.

She lived with a false arm, no money, and six children to care for. Her husband was an extremely hard working farm hand, with no hope for a better future. He worked as long as there was daylight, six days a week. Saturday nights he drank, and Sunday he rested. It may sound like he wasn't much of a man, but I am here to tell you that he was, and is to this day. Not many would have lasted in his position.  They would have abandoned the family, the wife, the job, or possibly all of them. Not him. He was a faithful, steady worker and strived to keep the family together even during Mary's stays at the state hospital. Most of us could learn a thing or two about perseverance from Dude.

Mary was intelligent, kind, and beautiful.  Yes, she had been quite a looker. She could also paint. Dude had been handsome and would sing on the back of a tractor on the main street of town. What a promising couple.  What a cruel hand was dealt to them. Their oldest got polio. Another was legally blind. The children kept coming, as the Catholic church forbade birth control. Even though they didn't go to church, that stuck in Mary's head. It would eventually drive her crazy.

Mary was always upbeat, though. She always joked, always cared, always was glad to see her children do well. She was one hell of a cook, and would not hesitate to get up at two in the morning if a boy came home late and wanted to eat.  She seemed to wake up the minute one of them arrived, ready to nurture them in the way she knew best.  Food.

Six kids...and not one of them turned out badly. No money, no real religion, a mentally ill mother and a father that drank. Social workers would tell you that the children should have been headed for trouble.  Should have been, but none ended up there.

That's because Dude and Mary had love.  Sometimes, love and persistence trump everything else. Sometime, just sometimes, life is kind to your children even if it wasn't so kind to you. I think Mary would have said that she would prefer her children to have a good life over her own. 

I bet Dude would say that, too.  He is 88 now, almost 89. Every day he picked up Mary at the nursing home and brought her back home for part of the day.  Toward the end, he was the one that prepared lunch for the two of them.

A few commented that Dave might be hiding his grief.  Others say it will hit later.  I don't know.  I think I know my husband better than anyone ever has. I know he will feel moments of sadness that he can't talk to his Mom again, but I am betting that he is honest when he says he is happy for her being finally released to peace.  I think he gets it better than most. Perhaps lack of organized religion has helped him see more clearly the beauty of life, and the beauty of death. Yes, perhaps that was Mary's final gift to him.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Historical Fiction Can Be Exciting! J. R. Tomlin Guest Post

As an indie author, I love helping other indies spread the word about their books, especially when they write in the same genre I do.  Today I am very pleased and excited to welcome  author J. R. Tomlin to my blog.  She has several books to her name and loves to write fiction with Scotland as the backdrop.

Let's hear why J. R. feels you might be selling yourself short if you think historical fiction is anything but exciting.

Let me tell you a secret about historical fiction. What many people don’t understand is this: it has almost nothing to do with history as you study it in schools. History, the academic history, is about movements and periods and the sweep of nations. But historical fiction is about – a person.

Let me tell you a little about how I came to write historical fiction, and I hope you’ll see what I mean.
It was my granny who first told me the story the great Bruce and the day at the Greyfriars Church that he murdered the Red Comyn, he and his brothers and their followers, because the Comyn had betrayed him to the English. He gathered his followers and rode hard for Scone to be crowned King of the Scots. And that was part of the sweep of two nations at war.

What made a story, a novel, was something else. 

You see, at the top of hill in that Scottish spring, a young man waited. He was no great knight, no knight at all as a matter of fact. He was alone and poor because everything had been lost in the war. But he was tall and strong and broad shouldered, so they say. He had made an oath the day he learned his father had died in an English dungeon. He’d sworn that somehow the hated English would be driven from his lands. That somehow they would pay.

His name was James. And when Robert the Bruce topped that hill, James knelt and gave him an oath. And that was the start of a great story. It wasn’t always a pretty story. The stories of real people often aren’t. But it was a story that gripped me because it tells of one man’s loyalty and betrayal and love and grief and victory in the face of implacable odds. 

Of course, any period of history, particularly one as full of drama as the Scottish War of Independence, has more than one person who has a story and there was another one that gripped me. At the same time that James of Douglas was swearing his fealty to live or die for his king, a woman named Isabella of Fife, Countess of Buchan, was torn with a terrible decision. Her husband was a Comyn, you see. The Comyn’s now had a blood feud with Robert the Bruce, and the Comyn’s were the most powerful family in Scotland, even more than the Bruces. 

But she was a MacDuff and they had a loyalty and duty to Scotland. When a crown was placed on the head of a King of the Scots, it was a MacDuff who crown him. Her father was dead, her brother with English. If any MacDuff was going to stand for Scotland and her family’s duty, it had to be her, even if it meant betraying her husband. It is hard to imagine the courage it took when she rode out of Buchan and led her men-at-arms in a frantic ride for Scone. She placed a crown on Robert the Bruce’s head. When the Bruce and James Douglas were defeated in battle to flee into the heather, Isabella of Fife rode with them. She paid a terrible price…

What storyteller wouldn’t want to tell a story like that?

Buy links:



Connect with J.R. on twitter: @JRTomlinAuthor

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are?

When you are sitting alone or lying in bed thinking, who are you?  Or rather, who do you think you are? Do you tend to review the past several hours, finding fault either with what you did or what you didn't do?  Or do you congratulate yourself on your accomplishments, no matter how "small" they might seem to others?

In other words, are you your own worst critic or your own best friend?

How we talk to ourselves, how we truly see ourselves, manifests into reality. Unfortunately, the sword really can cut both ways.  Some people are never satisfied with themselves. They only find fault and shortcomings. They stop and admonish themselves internally at every opportunity.  "Why did I say something so stupid?" "How can he love me when I look so fat?" "I can't go to dinner with them anymore because they are so much more educated.  I will look stupid." "My kids are probably embarrassed by my looks or my lack of success." "We can't invite them over. Our house is nowhere near as nice as theirs."  The internal list of shortcomings goes on and on.  Oh, and on.

Then there's the opposite side of the spectrum. We all know some of these people.  We may even be one, but these people tend to not realize they are.  I'm talking about the people who think whatever they do is perfect.  They are smarter, richer, happier, have more talented children, a better sex life, and more exciting vacations that anyone else on the planet.  They never cease to tire of talking about themselves.  Never. If some lesser being has the audacity to actually try to get a word in, they are quickly interrupted by these people. Surely humanity does not want to hear opinion from others not as blessed! They always have advice, and they never wait to be asked for it.  Worst of all, they brag continuously. 

I used to think braggers had low self confidence.  Now I realize that's not always true.  Some of them actually do think that they are superior to most of us mortals and are only too glad to let us know it. They probably had parents that constantly told them everything they did was perfect, genius, and if other adults said any differently, those parents flew to their defense.  Ah, yes.  Your child came out of the womb perfect. Everything they touch is blessed.  Every thing they do is sublime, and they never have to learn from others nor should they have to work their way up. Because they are so exceptionally smart, they should be the president of any company they apply to, right out of college.

Remember the blog yesterday about balance? It applies here, too. We have to be very careful about self criticism, but we also have to be careful not to see ourselves as the exception to the rule.  None of us are more important than others.  Some of us are smarter.  Some of us are prettier.  Some of us are richer.  Unfortunately, not many of us are kinder.

We all need to develop skills.  That means listening to experts in whatever area it is we are trying to succeed in. It doesn't mean you are "less than" if you actually respect and learn from others.  It means that you are mature enough to realize that there is knowledge to be gained from those with experience.

Nor do we all have the capability to do whatever we damn well please and do it well.  It really irritates me when people tell children (or adults) everyone can paint.  Or sing. Or whatever.  Sure, everyone can.  Just, not everyone can do it well.  A good amount of people will never do it well, no matter how much they love it.  That's okay. Do what you love.  Just don't plan on doing it and making a living if you are not much good at it. Maybe it should stay a hobby.  That doesn't mean you're a failure.  If everyone could paint, it wouldn't be called a talent. It would be a developed skill that everyone could learn.  Yes, everyone can learn to paint.  Few have the talent to make the leap to being an artist.

Hey, I suck at singing.  I have always wanted to sing, though.  When I was younger, my voice was passable for karaoke.  I would never have won a contest, but I wasn't booed off the stage, either.  Now, as I get older, my voice has changed and I can't even do that.  I suck.  And that's okay.  I have other talents, and I still sing.  It just happens to be at home!

So, who do YOU think you are? If you fall on either end of the spectrum, I hope you take the time to slide along the scale to the middle.  You are wonderfully made, and have been blessed with unique gifts. There is a reason you are here and the universe considers you valuable.  On the other hand, the whole world does not owe you its stage for hours on end. Yeah, you are wonderful...but so is every other single person out there, and we all have a voice that yearns to be heard.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Becoming a Life Juggler

I know I'm not alone in the great challenge of balancing a million roles on a day to day basis.  I have blogged about it before. There is some comfort in knowing that every person who reads this faces the same issue: how to find the time to get everything done we need to get done while at the same time enjoying life.

The tasks can change.  In fact, they usually do as time passes. Students face the challenge of finding time to learn, study, work, socialize, and see their parents.  New workers face the challenge of getting up early to get to a new job, working a full day, and still finding time to be with friends. Young couples balance each of their jobs, try to keep a home, find time for romance, and have some fun. Don't forget about becoming a new parent! All of a sudden, life before probably seems like it was a party. How in the world do you find time for a new human being amongst everything else?

Yes, how does one find time to be a couple (if in a relationship), a parent, a worker or business owner, a housekeeper, a valuable edition to society, a friend, and still nurture oneself?  To say it is a challenge seems minuscule compared to the difficultly of achieving a good balance.

The truth?  We never get there. Remember that old saying "Life is not a destination, it is the stops along the way" or something like that?  That, my friends, is the secret. Not one of us will ever be great at everything we so badly want to be great at. None of us will always be great at even one thing.  Nope.  Never.

Accepting that will take a lot of pressure off of you. Understanding it will free you to enjoy the stops along the way.  I have a book to edit, a blog to keep current, suggestions to message an author friend, a grandson to babysit and nurture, a new genre I want to try writing, painting to do for my soul, exercise to do, a four bedroom home my husband and I struggle to keep up with now that we are getting older, friends that I enjoy being with if only I can find the time, and a sex life with my partner that I would like to keep from being nonexistent. I will never succeed at doing all of those things as well as I would like to.

Instead, every day I will make only a few a priority We must begin the day with a fresh outlook on life and embrace the moment.  Right now, I have time to blog. Earlier, I exercised. Edited a bit. When Gideon comes in 45 minutes, I will let everything else move to the background and give him my full attention. I can be the best I can possibly be only if I am fully present at whatever thing I am currently doing. Multitasking has its place, but it has been way overrated. It's too easy to always multitask, thinking it's most important to get as much done as possible.  In the meantime, you aren't even enjoying being alive.  You're simply doing.  Not living.

I am fully convinced that I am better off when I don't multi-task.  I don't want my days, weeks, months, years, and life to be measured by how much I got done.  I want them measured by how much I lived, and how much I made a difference to others.  I can't do that if I don't give each task my complete attention.

Too many young people don't understand that. I pray that at some point they learn that faster is not better, that doing six things at half attention will never give them the same sense of satisfaction as doing one thing at a time at full attention.

See, it's your life. You either live it, or you can task through it, not realizing that it's passing you by.  I want to know I fully drank of life by the time I am done.  It that means my house is dirty, or my hair is flat, or I forget to get something done, to hell with it. What I will do is enjoy the people in my life and make sure that I take care of my mental, emotional, and physical needs, so that I can be worthwhile to others.

I'm only human.  And being human is something worth being fully present for. Enjoy it. It will be over before you know it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Transition of Seasons

As an indie author I have the pleasure of sitting outside and writing my stories during the nice weather. Here in Minnesota, that means for slightly less than half of the year.  Usually starting in May, and runnig through October, it's warm enough to sit outside and write without being too chilly. April is nice, but one would need a jacket and usually it rains.  So much for bringing the ol laptop out!

We had an unseasonably warm summer this year (as did most of the nation) with about 32 days over 90 degrees F. We usally get about 14 I think. We have a lot of 80's, though.  But, as warm as the summer was, fall is arriving very early this year! I couldn't believe it when I saw a few leaves changing in August.  WHAT???

They say it is because of the drought. We haven't had a good rain for over a month now.  I guess that, combined with cooler evening temps, has talked the trees into peeling off their clothes early. I bet we will see peak as far as leaf color goes the very early part of October.  Here in the Twin Cities that usually does not happen until mid to late October.

Temperatures have been fickle just like autumn. It was in the mid-90's Tuesday and in the 60's Wednesday.  Now we will have three days in the 80's and next week?  50's a couple of days.  Yikes.
Time to start thinking about retiring the capri slacks and getting out the socks and jackets.  Bummer.
I'm a summertime type o' gal and I hate to see the hot weather go. I will be the first to admit that without our pool I would not be wishing for the 90's, though. When it's that hot you really can't enjoy doing anything but being in the water.

It's funny how you automatically start changng when fall approaches.  Suddenly I have lost interest in my annuals.  Oh, I water them and pick off dead blossoms...but I'm ready to move on. Chili and scalloped potatoes with ham au gratin is starting to sound better than burgers on the grill. A fire in the fireplace sounds romantic.

Yeah, I am a summertime type o' gal...but hot chocolate and kisses by the fire is pretty darn nice, too. Especially if that hot chololate has a little something extra in it to warm the spirits.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Book by Claire Ridgway-Great Self Publishing Advice!

Today I have the pleasure of featuring a guest post by Claire Ridgway. She has written a nonfiction book that features tips from indie authors that both new and seasoned indies can benefit from. If you fall into either category, I hope you pick up their book.

The Rather Steep Learning Curve of Writing and Self-Publishing
by Claire Ridgway

Self-publishing is an incredibly steep learning curve and Tim and I should know. We've only been self-publishing since February 2012, but we have learned an incredible amount in that time, enough to make our brains explode!

I've been a writer since I can remember, but self-publishing is not just about writing, it's about running a publishing business and being responsible for very bit of it. Author Sue Grafton got herself in hot water recently when she accused self-published authors of being “lazy”. Understandably, self-published authors were angry and hit back. Successful thriller author Adam Croft pointed out that self-published authors are anything but lazy because they have to find a proofreader, editor and cover designer, and then they have to do their own marketing. They don't have a publisher or agent to help them through the minefield that is publishing, they have to do it by ourselves. It can be costly, both in terms of money and time, but it's worth it and I believe that authors learn from the mistakes they make on the journey.

Aspiring authors and new indie authors have to be willing to ride this learning curve and to keep their minds open. Don't ever think that you know it all, you don't. You should never stop learning in this business, particularly as it's an industry that's in such a period of change at the moment. Here are some tips to help you ride this rollercoaster of a learning curve:

· Be willing to learn from others who have gone before you and made a success of their writing careers – read their stories, keep up with their blogs and try what they have done.
· Teach yourself about sales and marketing, and test out different ways of connecting with readers.
· Look for ways to improve yourself as a writer – Read books on writing, take a course and listen to the feedback of your readers.
· Use beta-readers to give you feedback on your work before you publish.
· Treat your writing and publishing as a business and always be professional.
· Take advice – Listen to your readers, to your editor and other authors. Don't be proud, everyone needs help.
· Give self-publishing a good name by creating a quality book – Don't cut corners.
· Hire professionals – If you're struggling to format your ebook, for example, then hire a formatter, don't settle for second best.
· Keep up to date with what's going on in the world of publishing.

There is no secret, quick fix or magic recipe for success in self-publishing, it's about education and hard work. Tim and I learned from other authors' stories and experiences, and that's why we interviewed top indie authors for Interviews with Indie Authors: Top Tips from Successful Self-Published Authors, because we knew it would help others too. Those authors were so giving of their time and information, and that's what is so wonderful about the world of self-publishing; it's a real community of people who are willing to help others. Just never be afraid to ask and learn.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - NonFiction
Rating - G
More details about the authors & the book

Connect with Claire Ridgway & Tim Ridgway on Twitter & Facebook


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Special Guest Post by Paranormal Author Cate Dean!

Paranormal fiction is extremely popular and has been for the last few years. Cate Dean sits down with us today and talks about why she writes it. Enjoy!

You will find contact information, buy links, book description and a small excerpt below the post. I suggest you give Cate Dean's books a try!

Writing the Paranormal

 I grew up loving the spooky, the otherworldly, the supernatural. So it’s no surprise I ended up writing in the paranormal genre. For me, sitting down to write is an escape from the everyday, and a chance to create characters with not only unusual, but paranormal quirks.
A Gathering of Angels, Book 2 of The Claire Wiche Chronicles, is paranormal suspense – a cast of characters that are not all human, thrown into a tense, fast-paced situation. I am incredibly visual, so I write the story as I picture it in my head, and readers have also found reading it to be a visual experience.

For me, this is one of the most compelling genres simply because the people who inhabit it are not average, or even normal. In my books, I chose to go a bit sideways – instead of vampires or in-your-face witches, I chose a witch who is – more, an apprentice witch who casts more mistakes than spells, and a Jinn with a dark past.

They grow and change with each story, and because they are more than human, they can change in unique, unexpected ways. As a reader, I find that type of character fascinating, and fun to know. As a writer, I find it an incredibly satisfying challenge.
Paranormal is filled with as many stereotypes as other genres. My goal when I started writing The Claire Wiche Chronicles was to be as original as possible, while still fulfilling the desire readers of this genre have for the different. Claire and her friends have quirks, histories that make them unique, yet an appeal that has my readers coming back for more of their story.

I write the paranormal because I love it, plain and simple. Nowhere else can I have a conversation with a friend or fellow writer like this: “I was refining my version of Hell yesterday.” Or scare myself silly researching my own story. (I consider that one of the perks. ;-))

I read it because it is always surprising, often bone-chillingly scary, and one of my favorite ways to fall into another world.

Thanks for hanging out with me today!


Author bio:

 Cate Dean has been writing since she could hold a pen in her hand and put more than two words together on paper. She grew up losing herself in the wilds of fantasy worlds, and has had some of her own adventures while tromping through the UK, and a few other parts of the world. A lover of all things supernatural, she infuses that love into her stories, giving them a unique edge. When she's not writing, she loves cooking, scaring herself silly in the local cemeteries, and reading pretty much anything she can get her hands on.

Amazon Author Central:

Book blurb:

 Claire Wiche sacrificed everything to keep her friends safe, revealing her true self. She expected the final battle to be the end for her. But she is back, breathing - and threatened by an enemy she doesn't have the means to fight.

An enemy bent on vengeance and possession, whatever the cost.

Trapped, alone, Claire has to find the strength to stand against what she knows she can't defeat. And the courage to face the people she thought she left behind.

*Includes a short preview of Back in Black, Book 3 of The Claire Wiche Chronicles, coming in Fall 2012.

 Buy links:

Short excerpt:

    Sitting on the edge of the bed, Annie Sullivan tapped three sleeping pills out of the bottle and into her palm. After a short debate, she added another one. She set the bottle on the side table, dropped the pills in her mouth and chased them down with a long swig of beer.

It didn’t help any more than water, but it did make her head fuzzy a little faster. At least, that was the excuse she would give to Marcus if he ever found out.

He watched her like an overprotective brother. She wanted to slap him down for it, but she knew he was worried. Going into the fourth month after losing Claire, Annie looked like she was the one who fell into Hell.

She scrubbed at her face, then climbed into bed and stared at the ceiling, waiting for the pills to take effect. For the dreams to yank her in.

It didn’t take long before she was pulled under, slipping into smoke and shadow. Into a dream where she wasn’t alone.



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Unleashing the Creative

Last night I finally got back to painting class.  It had been two months since I had picked up a paintbrush! While I am primarily a painter in my soul, I am also an indie author, and I am trying to build an income writing fiction.  It is a tough road, but not as tough as trying to make it as a painter!

July found us vacationing during 3 full weeks.  August was a month where my art teacher vacationed.  I was busy finishing the first draft of the 4th book in The Gastien Series. So, here it was - September -  and I had not painted since June. I was worried that it would seem foreign, that I wouldn't be able to switch on my painting brain. It was also the first time in a few years where I went to class at night.  After editing all morning and babysitting all afternoon, would I be too tired to create?

My fears were unfounded. What a pleasure it was to get back to creating visual art! We had a brief lesson about Josef Albers, an abstract painter who is known as The Godfather of Color.  That lesson was perfect for me.  I am interested in the energy of color and I love abstract. This brief visit into Alber's world connected me to my source of creativy. I was back in the world that feels like home, the world of painting and color.  Albers wanted to paint color for the sake of color only.  There was no subject matter, only the play of colors against each other, broken down to the simple.

Then we used colored paper to make a collage based on his style.  Mine was supposed to be shown above. However, as I blogged about earlier, I am still learning how to use my smartphone.  For some reason I can post photos on Facebook and text or email them, but not put in my blog!  Another thing I have to be shown. I will turn this into a painting someday I think.  My husband does not like this one, but I love it.

Then we began individual projects.  I am working on a new abstract which is going in a direction I had not anticipated.  If it not at all like an Albers. Will I like the finsihed product? I don't know.  Will I learn from it?  Definitely.

Yes, it was good to be back. I feel more complete once again, and my mind sees things in a fresher way.  Once again, I was reminded who I really am deep inside. "Welcome back," the color whispered.  "Welcome back."

Friday, September 7, 2012

Smartphone? Not if the User is Me!

As an indie author I have found myself learning all kinds of new things. I had a very basic knowledge of Word until a couple of years ago and that has improved immensely.  I can format books to go on Amazon, B&N and OmniLit.  I have learned to tweet, create a character page on facebook, make that character talk on facebook, and I created and use this blog.

I was feeling quite proud.  Until last week. Enter the Smartphone.  Dear God, please forgive me for all of the times I lost patience with my mother when she could not figure out voicemail! This phone sits and glares at me, daring me to push a button and try to figure out what to do after doing so.

I can't even figure out how to add phone numbers to my contacts!  It imported my google contacts for email and it imported my friends on Facebook.  Most of those friends don't list a phone number.  There has to be an easy way to add a phone number, but I simply get nowhere when I try.

As for other functions, I get screens when I push a button that don't appear the next time I push it.  Perhaps they will never appear again.  Or maybe they will appear out of nowhere, while I am driving, only to taunt me before disappearing once again into the vast frontier of cyberspace.

My neighbors (who are Gideons's parents) have endlessly worked with me to get me up to date with a scanner (I had a fax/printer older than Methusda), different way to connect to the internet (through that darn Smartphone...if I can remember how) and ye olde Smartphone. They are patient and kind, but must think I am two levels below Dunderhead.  Jen will show me how to enter contact phone number today, she says.

In the meantime, there are red thingys indicating something I should be aware of but when I click on them nothing happens.  The little instruction book assumes you are not still back in the days of flip phones and don't need your hand held.  I don't just need my hand held, I need CPR!

It just made a noise.  When I went to look at it, I could see nothing new for me to check out, inspect, read, or mistakenly delete.  Was it laughing at me?
I bet so. 

Well, I am going to have the last laugh. I will not only learn how to work it, I will make it sing some dorky song every time it rings and perhaps find some humiliating skin, or picture, or screen, or whatever that it must always wear.  If you can do that. If not, I will tie a bow on it and then call it Big Boy.  It is going to learn some manners yet!

There is one consolation in life.  So far, technology has not managed to make a corkscrew too complicated for me to operate. There is a God after all.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Meeting With Other Authors Can Only Help You

As an indie author, I understand only too well how lonely and alienating it can be to write stories for a living (or even for a hobby!). When you write you spend the majority of time in your head. Usually you are alone, writing, researching, editing, formatting...the only voices you hear are your own and those of your imaginary characters.

Sometimes it is even hard to be present in reality and feel you are really part of a social group when you are with others! Someone once wrote (I can't remember who) that as a writer they always felt on the outside of things, like they were watching but not really participating.  And that perhaps it had to be that way in order to notice everything that a writer needs to know in order to make stories "real".

I get that.  Yet, as humans we all need interaction.  Make sure that you do things with your family and friends.  I can't stress how important that is for your own mental health and for the sake of your family! 

There is another important way to interact that many indies don't do.  Interaction with other writers can be so inspring and rewarding! When you sit and talk with others like you it makes you feel not so alone; not so odd. Not to mention that you can also learn a lot from each other. I am just talking about a social get together where authors talk and support each other.  This is not a critique group, although those are great, too.  I am talking about socializing with like minded individuals.

I started a group here in Minnesota about 9 months ago.  We meet quarterly and keep it very simple.  My home is the base and everyone brings what they want to drink.  If they want to they can bring a snack to share, like chips or whatever.  I provide chips and salsa. Easy, easy, easy. And what fun to talk to other people who sit and pound the keyboard every day just like I do!

A good place to find people to start your own group would be  In the Writers Cafe there you will find hundreds and hundreds of authors.  Just post a new topic like  "Looking for authors who live in Minnesota for a get together" and watch what happens! You'll soon have some new friends who love to talk about writing and their characters, just like you do.  You will also always look forward to those get togethers as a time to connect and just enjoy being who you are.

I know I do.  We are meeting this Sunday and I can't wait!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Loving My Real Face

On August 26th I turned 57 years old. During the last week or so leading up to that event, I felt depressed and useless.  I went into a depression for about a week, wondering if I'd even be able to climb out of bed every morning.This isn't how I usually am.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I don't bounce out of bed ready to take on the world. In general, though, I am a happy, positive person. I tend to see the good in people and the possibilities in life.  So what, I wondered, was eating at me? Fifty seven isn't that big of a deal in the countdown of years. There are milestones like 21, 30, 40 and even 50 that hadn't affected me in this way, so why now?

Then I remembered that my father had died at 57. Just came in from jogging and died. I had breast cancer a couple of years ago and am overweight. I also had a complete hysterectomy at 35. Now that I don't take hormones, did I increase my chances for heart attack to the point where I would be like my dad?His dad and all of his brothers except one died young, from heart attacks. Was this going to be my last year?

Once I realized that I had discovered the underlying issue the depression went away.  Hell, I thought, no one gets out of here alive. You had breast cancer and were lucky enough that they found it very early. The women on both sides of your family live forever.  So long, in fact, that they forget who they are or where they are, and shit themselves while whiling away the hours in never-never land.

Suddenly, death didn't seem as awful.  Look, we are here for however long we are here for. Other than using some common sense, I'm convinced that there isn't much we can do to change our expiration date.  Am I going to sit and worry that I might die anytime or am I going to get busy and enjoy life until the day I finally do croak (or don't even know I am living)?  That was an easy decision. 

Game on.

Then I realized something else. I had been wearing make-up since I was age 12. For 45 years I had covered my face to make it "prettier", "more glamorous" and, eventually, "younger".  Forty five years. For four and one half decades I had insulted my true identity by telling it that it simply wasn't good enough.

I made a bold decidsion. No more. That day I quit wearing make-up.  (Well, okay, I wear lipstick. It helps my lips keep from cracking. Ando, sometimes, I dab on a little blush or put concealer on a blemish...because yes I still break out once in awhile.) I got a half dozen compliments on how much softer my face looked, how much prettier. Strange, that. I do know I inherited my mother's good skin and my father's lovely eyes.

At first it felt weird.  I was kind of embarrassed when people looked at me.  It's a shame how advertisers have convinced us that as women we don't look like we care enough if we don't alter our faces. Yes, I was almost ashamed.  I even apologized to my husband, for God's sake! He said to go without the make-up all the time, it didn't matter to him.  Bless his heart.  He gets it.

Then, all of a sudden, it felt immensely freeing.  One less thing to take up my time in the morning.  Several less things to spend money on, several less chemicals my skin is absorbing.  I go everwhere without make-up now.  It feels absolutely wonderful.  .

So, here I am.  Finally, after 57 years, this is me.  If someone doesn't like it, they kiss my left butt cheek.  If they're still bothered, they can move on to the right one. I am Caddy Rowland, fifty-seven-year-old married woman who writes, paints, and doesn't wear make-up.Finally, I am no longer disapointed in who I am or what I look like.That's good enough for me now, and it always should have been.The miracle of being here is all that matters.

Will I never wear make-up again?  Oh, I will sometimes. I was always one attracted to make-up, lingerie, expensive perfume, and all of that. So, when the urge to be more dramatic strikes me, out will come the tubes, brushes, and colors.  But here is the difference: make-up no longer makes me better. Make-up is simply a prop that I will infrequently pull out because I want to play with color, just for the fun of it. Most of the time, I will forego it and be bold enough to live in my own skin.  Fun is found in many other places, and I want to world to see my real joy while I experience it.

Game on.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Excitement! Babysitting Gideon Full Time

Today I start a new adventure.  I will be Gideon's full time babysitter every weekday (and will probably get some other time in, too!).  It will be about 22 to 30 hours a week, giving me time to write (and do a little painting).I hope my fibromyalgia can take it!

What an honor to be such a major part of this child's life.  He will learn so much from me. Being a one-year-old, every day is a new adventure for him.  I am going to make sure that he learns new things every day and has a lust of life that keeps him always wanting to learn.

I fully understand that I can't just be the "fun" grandma.  Not when so many hours of his formative years are spent with me.  From me he needs to learn that there are boundaries and how to interact with others.  How to share and how to be polite.  But he will also learn a deep respect for nature and others, a solid sense of self confidence and self worth and he will know that he is unconditionally loved. And we still will have a whole lot of fun.

Right now he is still a baby, just beginning to become a toddler. There is only so much one can "teach" him in regard to boundaries and interaction.  But it is not too early to teach him the important things.  This is what I tell him a couple of times every time we are together:

You are smart.
You are creative.
You are cute.
You are kind.
You have a fabulous sense of humor.
You are a great listener and a wonderful decision maker.
You can do anything you set your mind on, so choose wisely.
You are loved.
Forever, you are loved.

He looks at me and smiles.  I know he is processing it. What a gift to help this child become a valuable addition to society, what a pleasure to help him enjoy the wonder of being on this planet. 

I am blessed.