Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Learning Part 1

It has been a bit since I went to South Carolina for the Book Festival and I wanted to write down some of the major things I learned while there.  So I did.  I wrote a very nice, long post and forgot to save it when I shut down my computer.  Then I got busy working on second novel and forgot to rewrite.  

First of all there are a whole group of nice people out there called writers.  All different genres, but all kind, encouraging and nice.   Let me tell you about Ahlumba.  She bought the first book I sold, she set up my Square (credit card reader) correctly, she gave me some fancy bags to put my sold books in and she remained amazingly cheerful the whole time.  Her booth was to the right of mine and she steadfastly worked it with really no help.  She writes short inspirational, self-help type books.  She wrote Fat Girl Pick Your Head Up! and I love it.  Check Ahlumba's website out.  She is as delightful as she can be.

My next acquaintance was with panel mate Susan M Boyer. She was two booths down to my left and when I introduced myself to her, she immediately told me not to expect too many sales.  "This is to get your name out there, to get acquainted with others, don't let slow sales get you down."   She told me what to expect on the panel.  She was a fount of information and wasn't a bit reluctant to share knowledge.  She writes mysteries with some cozy elements.  Lowcountry Boil, Lowcountry Bombshell, Lowcountry Boneyard, and will release Lowcountry Bordello.  Her protagonist Liz Talbot is a tough as nails private eye.  I quite like the series.

The next writer I want to high-light is Jana Oliver.  She writes YA urban fantasy (I think).  I am not real clear on the genre but I bought Briar Rose which is "a dark steampunk retelling of Sleeping Beauty complete with a ghost and metal magic." Whaat?  It is next in the queue for reading.   Jana and her husband sat with us at dinner Saturday night and I shot questions at her thick and fast.  She answered, sent me links, she was crazy helpful.  She did not have a booth, but she was a presenter and I am sure did a fabulous job.

There are several other interesting bits I wanted to say about the festival, two more writers to highlight, what not to do, but I see your eyes are crossing.  I'll share another day.

These women are kind, intelligent, and fun.  Thank you all.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Just a Bit Outside

I enjoy writing. I can express myself better on the page than in person.  I have time to consider and reconsider my thoughts and find just the right words that expresses those thoughts in a way that I like.  Plus paper and pen are not intimidating.  They don't mock me.

So when the South Carolina Book Festival People contacted me to see if I would be a panelist for one of their workshops--I pretty near lost my cookies.   I knew I had to say yes, but I wanted to crawl in a hole.   This is Way-Outside-of-my-Comfort-Zone.  One on one, I seem to be able to be reasonably competent in the speaking sciences but put me in front of people with a microphone and my knees turn to water, my brains to mush, and my mouth to an arid desert with out so much as a drop of saliva.

Oh well, I take comfort in the thought that no one knows me there.   If I make a complete idiot of myself I will find just the right words to write  in my next blog post to make it seem like it was humorous walk in the park.

Monday, May 4, 2015


The Alzheimer's wing of the Cedar Rapids care center is a hard place to visit.  Each individual has his or her set of problems compounded by foggy, smudged memories.   Visiting John's mom is both agonizing and sad.  The aviary is busy with twelve wrens flying about, ever hopeful that the clear glass is pure, sweet sky, but being repeatedly jolted into reality from invisible walls blocking their freedom.  

John's mom is full of hugs and love, although she doesn't know us.   She constantly licks her lips, mouth dry from medications or lack of water...or lack of remembering that she should drink.   She looks at an unknown distant memory and her eyes seem vacant and then something delightful happens and she snaps off a sparky retort that is full of amusement and giggles as if she is in the moment.   Her hair is not styled, her nail polished chipped, her clothes stained, but she has bigger troubles and is not concerned.    She recounts tales of who all visited her that morning (none of which actually did) and suggests that we all go to her house so that she can fix us a meal. We assure her that she is home (a lie not meant to harm) and she responds with gibberish--words that haven't been invented yet.  We do our best to make sense of the words...but fall woefully short.  

The physical therapist comes by to play kick ball and seats all the patients in a circle. She stands in the middle and starts gently bouncing the large beach ball to each one.   Some bat the ball back with their hands, some kick it back, some try--but miss, and others catch it inspecting it for some clue as to why it is in their possession.  John's mom's reflexes are lightning fast (a by-product of raising five children no doubt) and she has a much easier time than most.   And her eyes sparkle.  She feels productive and useful.  One lady is very angry and continually yells, "I hate you. I'm going to kill you.  I wish you were dead!" to an unseen agitator.   After several minutes of hearing these spiteful words, Eunice (John's mom) has had enough and she snaps back, "That will be enough.  I don't want to hear another word out of you! You stop it now!"   This breaks the repetitious pattern the other lady cycled into...and she gets peace for a minute.

John's dad has been here so much he knows each person's name, he knows what touches their hearts, and he knows what questions to ask.  "Did you milk the cows this morning Susan?" "Roger, did your dog come home last night?" "Sam, what happened to your head?  How many stitches did you get?" And so it goes.

We sit, we enjoy, we listen, we watch...and tears pour silently down our souls as we watch Eunice take tiny bites of her snack, each time offering it to us first.   Each time getting a little more chocolate around her mouth...her napkin clenched tightly in her other hand for it's usefulness has long been forgotten.

The care-takers speak with kindness and love, never raising their voices.  The room is clean and spacious.  The meals look and smell delicious.    And yet the loss of memory has imprisoned Eunice with invisible walls of fear, empty days, and hopelessness.   Alzheimer's is a demon of epic proportions.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

New blog

Today I start a new blog.  Not because I have something to say, but because you do.  I miss reading blog posts, but often forget to go check them out.  A few minutes on Facebook, or the grands are over, or meal time, and all my good intentions aren't even a blip on my memory screen.   Once I get this blog rolling I will be able to see what you have to say.  Although I must say, starting up has been difficult.   This is my 1,987,684th attempt to start a new blog.