Life Lived Out Loud, Very Loud

Two years ago, at 19, my daughter deleted her social media accounts. This is a kid who had lived on Facebook and Snapchat and all the rest, and then… poof, not just inactive, but Gone. She says she wants to stop worrying about the personna she was crafting for the world. But I suspect, as well, that she’s discovering the benefit of undersharing.

Two illustrative anecdotes and a spot of musing:

About fifteen years ago I was writing in a coffee shop. A couple sat down behind me. When you write in a public place you get used to tuning out the sounds of the people around you, but some times the pitch of a voice will grab and hold your attention. I didn’t mean to listen, but I got sucked in by the tone, then the words. They were getting divorced. They had chosen the cafe as a neutral place, and they were there to divvy up their property. They were trying their best to keep their voices low and their manner civil. If others in the cafe were listening, they gave no sign of it; neither did I. We all, speakers and auditors, pretended they were alone. After about an hour and a half the couple finished their negotiations, said awkward goodbyes, and left.

I don’t remember a thing they said, but I remember the event as clear as day.

Fifteen years later: I was at my haircutters this fall to get the blue streak in my hair refreshed. There was a delay–something had gone wrong with the prior client’s hair color, the stylist had had to re-do it, and now–the stylist’s helper looked a little nonplussed. Because of the delay, the client, who had to catch a flight, was doing her performance review via Skype. In the salon. “Come in and we’ll get started, but it’s a little… weird.” Continue reading

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Writers Club: The Rabbit Hole

I have a PhD in English. In my research, I focused on the Victorian period. Doing that research allowed me to dig into the reality of the Victorian period and I’d dive in and find myself in a rabbit hole. Specifically a warren with all kinds of tunnels and burrows. Eventually I’d remember to come out. Did I need to know this stuff? Mostly, no. Well, kind of. All the knowledge helped inform my understanding of characters in books and the implications of things that were said, or the events that happened and let me realize that sometimes I got the reading all wrong.

Case in point: Not Victorian England, but comes from Shakespeare. In Hamlet, Hamlet tells Ophelia “Get thee to a nunnery.” Nuns lived in convents. Now Shakespeare was inventive and could have and likely was using the term to mean a convent. But. Nunnery also meant whorehouse. There’s doubled meaning there that adds depth to the understanding of the characters.

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The Teahouse, Santa Fe

I am often asked where one may take afternoon tea in Santa Fe. Alas, the Wisteria Tearoom is fictional, and at this time there is no place in Santa Fe serving a traditional British afternoon tea. There is, however, The Teahouse on historic Canyon Road.

It’s a house. One may drink tea there – lovely tea – many types of exotic tea. It is not served in fine china, but it’s hot and delicious and comforting on a cold day. Continue reading

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My Very Dear Reader . . . writer vs. critic

It is scarcely the province of an author to refute the arguments of his censors and vindicate his own productions, but I may be allowed to make here a few observations with which I would have prefaced the first edition had I foreseen that the necessity of such precautions against the misapprehensions of those who would read it with a prejudiced mind or be content to judge it by a hasty glance.

In other words: “If I’d known you critics were going to slamdunk my novel, I would have put in a foreword to make what I was doing crystal clear.”

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The News From 2Dits Farm: Mouse Wars

It’s an unmistakeable smell, one of those olfactory sensations felt nearly as much in the back of the throat as in the nostrils, and when it hits while I am dusting out in the great room, I initiate the protocol for these situations. Burying my face in the crook of my arm, I beat a hasty retreat to the kitchen, gulp the fresher air, and glare at the cat. “Where’d you put it?” I demand.

Now, if you are owned by a cat, you will recognize the futility of such a question.

  1. This mouse has obviously been dead for long enough to be in a fairly advanced stage of decomposition, which means it was probably killed (or succumbed to its injuries from a friendly game of tag) several days ago, which in turn means Gracie has no further interest in the matter. She demonstrates this by licking her paw and yawning hugely in my face.
  2. The cat is wise enough to know that I have a nose, because often enough she awakens me by batting it. As a fellow meat-eater, therefore, I should be able to follow the scent trail of a reeking mouse. It’s a pretty pathetic hunter who can’t find dead prey, and Gracie will not play enabler to a nasally-challenged human.
  3. Cats don’t actually talk, so the odds of getting an answer weren’t good to begin with.

I’m going to have to do this the hard way. Continue reading

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A Tricoastal Woman: Karate Love Song

KicksWhen I was living in Wichita Falls, Texas, I decided to take karate. I went over to the YMCA and signed up for a twice-a-week class, never having watched a class.

The first night I got there a little late, so I just got on the mat and tried to copy the other students. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt – not the best kind of clothes for martial arts. Which is to say, I did just about everything wrong, but fortunately the teacher didn’t throw me out.

I can’t remember now – it’s been too many years – but I was probably the only woman there. Over the year I trained there before moving to Washington, DC, I remember only one other woman in the class. I kept trying to get my friends to join, but the couple I got to come to class with me said not just “no,” but “Hell, no.” Continue reading

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There’s a Bimbo on the Cover Verse 5: The Castles of Seattle

Bimbo, Verse Five:

There’s a castle on the cover of the book.
There’s a castle on the cover of the book.
Every knight is fit for battle, but the action’s in Seattle.
There’s a castle on the cover of the book.

Today’s discussion is about iffy places. In the song, the fictional writer turned up with a castle and knights on the cover of a book set in present day Seattle. Let me be clear: the only castle that appears on one of my novels is there legitimately. It’s a bit too glitzy, but it belongs there. As do the warrior dudes who are, indeed, fit for battle.

In fact, I freely admit I that do not know of any such book, but “battle” and “Seattle” rhyme. So there. A songwriter’s gotta do what a songwriter’s gotta do. I do, however, know of books in which the cultural trappings on the cover were not what the writer had in mind when the book was written. Continue reading

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In Troubled Times: Finding an Inner Guide to Political Action

Like many others, I did not sleep well on election night or the following nights. Shock and dismay had hijacked my mind. I felt as if I had been catapulted into a very dark Twilight Zone episode. My thoughts went hither and yon, partly batted about by a political racket, partly going from shiny/horror to next shiny/horror.

In my recovery from PTSD, I have learned to be protective of my sleep and my inner balance. I quickly detected warning signs and realized that I had to put my own mental and physical health first. Without that foundation, I wasn’t going to be able to make any sense or take effective action. So I set about using my “tool box” to reduce my anxiety. Besides sleep management and calming techniques, I reached out to my family and close friends. I tried as best I could to keep the focus on myself and my feelings, not politics. I took notice of which conversations made me feel better and which did not.

I felt better about myself when there was something I could do for the person close to me. Perhaps this was because I felt less powerless, but I believe it was because I felt more connected. Research suggests human beings are hard-wired to feel pleasure from helping others. Whether or not this is true, feeling valued and needed is a good thing.

So the first “movement” of my journey was to take care of myself and then to reach out to those around me.

Once I was feeling a bit more settled, I started to look around for other actions I might take. This required a great deal of filtering of news and social media. News sources inundated me with blow after terrible blow as events (and nominations or appointments) unfolded. I realized I could spend 100 hours a day on the various calls to action, and that not all of them were appropriate for me. Some would put me right back in the zone of risking my mental health.

How then are we to know how to proceed and what actions will not damage us? Continue reading

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BVC Announces Witch’s Child by Hunter Morrison

Witch's Child by Hunter MorrisonWitch’s Child

by Hunter Morrison

Tyler’s command of the mystifying fighting art called Combat may not be enough to save the life of his dear friend, Molly. In the enchanted Southern California town of Escudillo, nothing is as it seems to be.

Rogue clowns roam the streets, a mountain highway twists through the heart of town, and no one driving it knows the town is even there. When an old man, who owns a copper bowl everyone seems to want, dies in a fire, Tyler begins to learn a terrible truth about himself, the town’s past, and deadly peril. Continue reading

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