Talking Dirty by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Thanks to the Magic of Stories for inspiring this post. Karen J. Mossman talks, in a way, about creating a balance between being realistic and providing an escape for our readers.

Can you think of any scenes where people go to the bathroom? I’m going to be vain and tell you that in my memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, I talk about going to the bathroom a lot. In one scene, I’m making oatmeal, and my husband Bill, totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes, is sitting at the kitchen table in his wheelchair. Suddenly, he says, “Oooh, I gotta pee. Oh, it’s too late. I wet my pants.” This gives my readers an idea of what I went through as a caregiver.

What about farting? In Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show, there’s a scene in which a high school football coach flatulates while lying in bed, reading the newspaper, much to his wife’s annoyance. This gives you some idea of what kind of guy the coach is. Bill also liked to expel wind through his posterior, but I couldn’t find a way to bring that into my story since it wasn’t related.

How about belching? I’m going to be vain one more time and give you an example from a short story I wrote several years ago that hasn’t yet been published. It’s called “Living Vicariously,” and it’s about a Catholic family dealing with issues related to religion. In one scene, a teen-aged girl who has lied about attending confirmation classes, is eating dinner with her father in a pizza joint. She’s drinking Dr. Pepper, and she says she doesn’t want to be a nun because she doesn’t want to give up the beverage. Then, she belches for emphasis. Again, I’m showing you her character.

Eating is another bodily function often portrayed. One great example of this is in the book, Prizzie’s Honor. Charlie, a mafia crook, is eating lunch with his boss. It’s an Italian ten-course meal. This emphasizes the irony that evil people enjoy the good things in life.

I suppose we ought to talk about sex, but I’d rather not. None of my work has vivid descriptions, and frankly, such scenes bog a story down. Hand holding, kissing, and embracing are enough to show the reader two people are in love.

What do you think? Do bodily functions, including sex, enhance a story or slow it down too much?

***

I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir and am currently working on another novel. My work has appeared in The Weekly Avocet, Magnets and Ladders, and other publications. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes soon after we were married. Before that, I was a registered music therapist, working with senior citizens in nursing homes and other facilities. I also taught braille, facilitated a support group for the visually impaired, and served on the advisory board for a state trust fund that allows people with low vision or blindness to purchase adaptive equipment. For more information, please visit my website and blog.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

I Love You, Peter Guillam…Thoughts on Point of View

helen-currie-foster-hotxsinc Written by Helen Currie Foster

 

2018-09-16 HELEN FOSTER WWW IMG_1910Okay, I’m addicted to John Le Carré. I’ve repeatedly re-read his “Smiley Trilogy.”  As you may know (but no spoilers), the seminal Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy tells us how George Smiley unmasked a mole in the British secret service (the “Circus”). Remember Alec Guinness as Smiley? Wonderful, but not as short and tubby as we imagine Smiley to be. When Smiley’s People was reissued, Le Carré wrote a preface referring to his completion of a trilogy: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974); The Honourable Schoolboy (1977), and Smiley’s People (1979). Was he done, then? We’d hear no more about finding the Circus mole and foiling the Russian mastermind Karla? Could Smiley retire to study German poetry, maybe retrieve his beautiful unfaithful Ann?

John Le Carré will be 87 on October 19. In 2017, with A Legacy of Spies, Le Carré reaches back before Tinker, Tailor into The Spy Who Came in from The Cold (1963), where Alec Leamas (Richard Burton starred in the movie), is killed at the Berlin Wall. Indeed, Le Carré goes back to his 1961 debut, Call for the Dead, where we first meet Smiley, his subordinate Peter Guillam, and the German assassin Hans-Dieter Mundt.

Part of Le Carré’s genius is his use of point of view. Legacy is all told, first person, by Peter Guillam—described as “tall, tough and charming” in The Honourable Schoolboy, but always just a supporting character, never at the seat of power. In Legacy, the aging Guillam (white hair, hearing aids) is called back to a hostile Circus from his Brittany home. and informed he’s a defendant in a lawsuit concerning Leamas’s death. In Legacy Guillam is protagonist, not just narrator. He’s thrown into painful memories of the Leamas (apparent) debacle as, at the instruction of the current unlovable Circus bureaucrats, he slogs through years of records, some of which he wrote himself, including the one he wrote about the loss of his beloved—never mind. No spoilers.

In contrast, Tinker, Tailor builds the story with three points of view: first, that of George Smiley himself, forced to retire from the Circus by the nefarious Russian “Witchcraft” plot, and currently abandoned by his beautiful and unfaithful wife; second, that of Bill Roach, a “new boy” with “no friends” at the horrid Thursgood school where the wounded spy Jim Prideaux now teaches French; and third, that of Peter Guillam, another “Witchcraft” victim now banished to a dead-end Circus assignment in Brixton.

Roach’s observations of the new teacher, Prideaux, show us both Prideaux’s strength and charm, and the daily pain and fear left by his capture and torture. Prideaux names Roach a “watcher,” the “best watcher.” Roach worries himself sick, watching, fearing for Prideaux, and he’s the one who tells Prideaux that his peaceful isolation at this school has ended. Strangers are asking about Prideaux in the village. With sinking stomach Roach watches through the rainy window of Prideaux’s trailer as Prideaux reassembles his gun.

2018-09-06 HELEN FOSTER WWW IMG_1909Guillam’s narration, as he helps Smiley undertake the search for the Circus’s Russian mole, tells us how he lies for Smiley and, heart thumping, sweat pouring down his back, steals records from the Circus that Smiley asks him to get.  Guillam shares thoughts about Smiley that Smiley himself could never convey—his brilliance, his invincible calm in interrogation, his vulnerable invulnerability. We see Guillam as a romantic, still attached to the Circus by idealism and the drive for adventure that (we suspect) also characterize the author.

All three points of view build purpose and suspense. Without Roach, we could not share Roach’s acute terror about Prideaux’s situation. Without Roach we would not have seen Prideaux try to level his trailer in the rain, drink vodka to dull the pain of the bullet in his back, teach perfect French to his students, engage them in wildly wonderful play. Roach has made us care about Prideaux.

Smiley sees himself as a fat balding spy, cuckolded by his beautiful wife. Without Smiley’s point of view we would not feel his guilt as he opens bills reflecting his wife’s unfaithfulness, feel his irritation with the pompous ambition of the not particularly competent men running the Circus, feel his terror at waiting, feel his satisfaction as pieces fall into place, feel his conflicted but unshakable determination to find the mole.

Without Guillam’s point of view, we might not understand that he so admires Smiley that at Smiley’s instruction he’ll attempt the perilous theft of records about the Witchcraft plot, and coolly lie about his presence in the building (sweat running down his back) while he’s interrogated by superiors.  With Guillam we feel a field man’s terror and joy in completing a successful field operation, but also his puzzlement about the multiple layers of the plot.

Back to the first-person narrative Le Carré uses in Legacy.  One character, the reliable but somehow removed Peter Guillam, suddenly bears the emotional weight of decades of deception. We like him. Perhaps we feel he’s one of us: a field man, not a cerebral strategist like Smiley; still human, still romantic, but longing for rest. In Legacy we, with Guillam, come face to face with the secret he has suppressed for so long.  We so want him to find rest. No spoilers., though.

John Le Carré! I’m drinking a toast to you tonight. Happy almost birthday!

***

Helen  Currie Foster is the author of the Alice MacDonald Greer mystery series: GHOST CAVE, GHOST LETTER, GHOST DOG, and GHOST DAGGER. She works as a lawyer in Austin. Married with two children, she lives north of Dripping Springs, Texas, supervised by three burros.

 

 

I Regret Nothing: My Love Affair with a Punctuation Mark

 Kathy Waller UnCon 10 06 2016 written by M. K. Waller

2018-09-03 www semicolon (2)

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

“With educated people, I suppose, punctuation is a matter of rule; with me it is a matter of feeling. But I must say I have a great respect for the semi-colon; it’s a useful little chap.”
― Abraham Lincoln

LEWIS THOMAS

Sometimes you get a glimpse of a semicolon coming, a few lines farther on, and it is like climbing a steep path through woods and seeing a wooden bench just at a bend in the road ahead, a place where you can expect to sit for a moment, catching your breath.
 Lewis Thomas, M. D.

KURT VONNEGUT

“Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.” 
 Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

GEORGE WILL

Semicolons . . . signal, rather than shout, a relationship. . . . A semicolon is a compliment from the writer to the reader. It says: “I don’t have to draw you a picture; a hint will do.”
— George Will

KATHY WALLER

I love semicolons.

My master’s thesis was rife with them.

But my critique group says I mustn’t use them any more. They say I should follow Kurt Vonnegut’s rule.

Mr. Vonnegut is wrong. The semicolon is not a transvestite hermaphrodite, representing absolutely nothing.

It is a compliment from the writer to the reader.

It is a wooden bench, where you can sit for a moment, catching your breath.

It’s a useful little chap.

When Mr. Vonnegut called the semicolon a transvestite hermaphrodite–well, bless his heart, he must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed.

*

This post originally appeared at Telling the Truth, Mainly, under the title “Abraham Lincoln, Lewis Thomas, George Will, & Me: Great Minds Think Alike; or, Kurt Vonnegut, Go Fly a Kite.”

*

M. K. Waller’s stories appear in Austin Mystery Writers’ crime fiction anthologies, MURDER ON WHEELS and LONE STAR LAWLESS, in DAY OF THE DARK: STORIES OF ECLIPSE, and at Mysterical-E

She blogs at Telling the Truth, Mainly [http://kathywaller1.com]

 

                                          Do Your Characters Talk to You?

 

Writers sometimes get intimately involved with their characters. We will be addressing the topic of author-character communication.  The “experts” tell you that you must know your characters when writing. That’s true, but how do you interact with them and do you talk to them? (There are doctors that treat people like us). There are a number of character trait forms to help you in most writing books, and there is also the back of an envelope. To be successful with your story you need interesting characters the reader can relate to and get behind. The characters must be believable, do things that are “in-character”, and right for that particular character, even if outlandish. It is a very good idea to really know your characters, especially the hero or protagonist. You need to “get into that characters head and live and see things through his / her eyes. Next, your characters need to talk to you as well. Have a dialog with your main characters to help drive your story. (I wouldn’t mention this conversation to too many people—they might outfit you with a new white padded jacket).

Below is a series of questions for consideration when working with your characters. I hope they make you think and consider how well you know your characters before you try and write them into situations they have to get out of.

When you write your characters, do you have a character profile and use it?

 

Do you talk to your characters when writing?

 

How well do you know your characters before and when you write?

 

Do your characters talk to you and if so, how?

 

Do your characters lead you in the story or do you have the story pretty well established and they follow suit?

 

If you talk to your characters, do you talk to them out loud or just in your mind?

 

During the writing process, stories sometimes change, do your characters drive this or do you just get other ideas?

 

Do your characters change during the story or just solve the mystery?

 

How do you develop your characters? Do they evolve or do you have a plan for them?

 

Does setting play a part of your characters personality?

 

Are your characters real people to you when you write?

 

We want the reader to like our characters, at least the good guys, how do you do that?

 

Do you think about your story and the characters when doing other things and not writing?

 

Have you ever been out in public and looking at a place or see something you could use in your story and start to discuss it with your leading character? Do people look at you strangely if you do this?

 

If your characters talk to you, what do you talk about?

 

Have you ever had an argument with one of your characters?

 

Do you take medication for this?

 

Remember, your characters work for you and they don’t cost much in pay and benefits, so treat them nice.

 

Remember: There are meds for this condition and doctors who treat people like us.

 

 

Research the Business, Baby!

K.P. Gresham Cropped Color Portrait Written by K. P. Gresham

Who Are You Writing For? If it’s for yourself, and you have no intention of selling your book, go for it!  There’s a story in your head you have to get on paper, and you don’t care if anyone buys it. You can write anything you want, (and stop reading the rest of this blog). Just go do your thing and enjoy!

2018-08-01 kp gresham www pixabay cc0 books-3253834_640However, if you have aspirations to get this book on the market, a writer must take off the fictional hat and get down to business.  Literally.

I recently attended the Writer’s League of Texas Agents and Editors Conference in Austin, Texas. Thank you, WLT!!  Here are some magical tidbits that I heard that most assuredly involve research.

  1. What’s your market? When you pitch your book, design your cover, etc., what will stand out on the shelves? For that matter, where will your book appear on the shelf in bookstores? Are you writing a mystery? Science Fiction? Gardening? Genre matters.
  2. Who’s your audience? A romance writer has a very good idea what his or her audience is expecting. I’m confident that if your female/male protagonists is killed off at the end of the book, some people will throw your book at the wall when (and if) they finish it. Word of mouth probably won’t do you any favors.
  3. How does your audience receive information? If they are under thirty, consider Instagram to promote your book. Maybe the book isn’t finished or even half-way written but you can still build the outreach platform. Knowing your market/audience should provide good idea on how to connect with your readers so that you can keep your name and brand in front of them.
  4. If your intended audience is an agent or an editor, who should you pitch to? I’m talking specifics here. Go to the acknowledgement page at the back of your favorite authors’ books (or at least ones to whom you liken your manuscript) and check out the names of the agents and editors that they thank. This is a great source of knowing the NAMES of the folks who like to handle the kind of book you are writing. Once you get these names, go to their websites. Does the extended info you now have on this agent/editor look like a match for your needs? What are their submission requirements? Do they want just a query letter, or a synopsis, or the first five pages of your manuscript? Do they want it sent snail mail or email? Don’t waste your time or their’s by not complying with information that is readily available to you.

These are only four examples of items you need to know about from the business end of writing. A lot to keep track of? You don’t even know what questions to ask? Who can you turn to for help?

The answer is simple. Your writing community. Fellow authors, teachers, folks that you meet at conferences. Chances are you have a state or regional organization that can give you guidance—here in Texas, we are blessed to have the incredibly active and nurturing Writers League of Texas.  Within your own genre there will be folks to help you as well.  I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, the Heart of Texas Chapter. A lot of my fellow members have gone through what I’m going through. Writing is enough of a solitary experience. I need to surround myself with others who have the same questions, problems, etc. as me.

If you want to make money selling your books, hopes and misguided self-confidence will do you no favors. Research the business, baby.

***

K.P. Gresham, author of the Pastor Matt Hayden Mystery series and Three Days at Wrigley Field, moved to Texas as quick as she could. Born Chicagoan, K.P. and her husband moved to Texas, fell in love with not shoveling snow and are 30+ year Lone Star State residents. She finds that her dual country citizenship, the Midwest and Texas, provide deep fodder for her award-winning novels. Her varied careers as a media librarian and technical director, middle school literature teacher and theatre playwright and director add humor and truth to her stories. A graduate of Houston’s Rice University Novels Writing Colloquium, K.P. now resides in Austin, Texas, where life with her tolerant but supportive husband and narcissistic Chihuahua is acceptably weird.

3 Ways to Get More Comfortable with Self-Promotion

You know you need to self-promote, but it feels so icky! Try these quick tips for getting comfortable with getting your work OUT there.

 

 

 

Cole Smith

 

by Cole Smith

 

Why does self-promotion feel so icky?

 

We’re much more likely to promote our friends and favorite authors than we are to promote our own work. So look at yourself from a distance. Treat yourself like someone you care about and promote the work you believe in.

 

 

Social Media

I get it. There are so many sales pitches in your news feed already: cosmetics, health products, monogrammed totes, kitchen supplies, etc. You don’t want to spam your followers with a constant stream of advertising. So post something about your work once a week. The rest of the time, be focused on others. Remember to give, give, give, ask. People are always interested in a behind-the-scenes glimpse at others’ jobs, so occasionally pull back the curtain on your own creative process, too.

 

 

Local Media

Calling up the newspaper or tv station can be terrifying. What really helped me phone up our newspaper last spring was an emotion that’s, in my opinion, undervalued: anger. I’ve wanted to publish a book since I was eleven years old. I got really angry I hadn’t done it yet, and so it was much easier to coast on the fumes of that motivation. During launch week, I had just enough sassiness left to fire off an email to the paper. It went something like, “Hey, I’m having a launch party for my novel, thought you guys might want to come.” Note: there was no wheedling or begging or apologizing. My tone was a little cheeky, but still respectful and (mostly) professional. In other words, I’m doing this because I love it and it’s what I do. Come be a part of it.

 

 

Your Own Website

You definitely need to flood your website with your products, appearances, and other opportunities for your fans to connect with you. Put share buttons in your footers and along the sidebar. Remind readers to share and to review. Put a call to action in every post, newsletter and menu. And use the Golden Rule. How would you, as a reader, want to be treated? You don’t mind polite reminders when you truly love someone’s content. But if an online marketer is pushy, and you can’t get to their content without jumping through six hoops each time you want to access it, you’ll eventually abandon them, right? Don’t be that guy. Instead, offer great value and clear, considerate calls-to-action.

 

 

Though many writers are introverts, and the thought of public promotion is daunting, we have to get over it. Self-promotion is like so many other skills—with practice, we improve and feel more confident. Don’t just hope others spread the word about your work. Get out there and promote it, too.

 

For you, what’s the most difficult aspect of self-promotion? What do you need to work on?

 

********

Cole Smith is a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia. She enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at her blog, Cole Smith Writes. Her cozy mystery set in smallish-town West Virginia, Waiting for Jacob, is available here.

 

Let’s get social! Find me on Facebook and Pinterest .

 

 

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Why Blog?

Why Blog?

By Doris McCraw

Angela Raines FB photo
July is almost over. For most of us, we are more than half-way through the year. I like to take the time to take stock of where I am in my plans and goals.

Perhaps you’ve asked yourselves these same questions. Am I on target in our writing? How about that ‘blessed’ thing called marketing? How does blogging, and the time it takes, fit into all that? Why blog if no one reads or comments on what I’ve taken the time to think, research and write about? I rethink this every year, asking myself the same thing, why blog?

For me the answer is a bit complex. I’ll break it down into three sections. 1. Marketing 2. Research and 3. Name recognition, (the one that’s a bit tricky for me.)

1. Marketing:

If we write stories, be they short, flash or full length, we want people to read them. Even with non-fiction we want the information to get to those who might enjoy what we’ve researched and written.

For someone like me, who writes slow, there can be a long time between the various stories. Added to that, I write in two historical genres: Western and Medieval. I love both equally. You add to that the poetry I occasionally write, along with non-fiction work, and it gets busy. Facebook can only do so much, as well as emails. Plus, how do you expand your readership. To me, blogging is one of those ways.

I realize not everyone will like what I write, despite my desire that they do. At the same time, finding those readers who will like my work, is a challenge. It helps to use all the options at my disposal, and blogging is one of those for me.

6-4-2012 cc 097
Photo (c) by author

2. Research:

This is probably the primary reason I blog. I want to share the research I have done with others. History and the people who made it are a compulsion with me. To tell the stories of the people and places from history is something I want to do. I don’t want those pieces from the past to be lost. The nice thing about blogs, especially with the tags, your posts are available via searches almost forever.

For close to ten years I’ve been researching the story of a Colorado criminal. I haven’t written much about him, for he has been hiding the rest of his story. Since the Pikes Peak Library History Symposium presentation on June 9 of this year, I’ve started telling his story via the written word. In fact, I recently submitted the paper based on the presentation for possible publication in the book the library will publish on the topic, Remarkable Rascals, Despicable Dudes and Hidden Heroes.

The other research that’s important for me to share is the story of the early women doctors in Colorado. While ‘Doc Susie’ is a part of that story, it has been slanted her way for far to long. There were so many others who did as much if not more than she. If the book of their lives never gets written by me, at least I’ve shared enough that others have a place to start and find out more based on the blogs I’ve written, and will continue to write.

The stories of the doctors and so many others need to be preserved for future generations. When you feel like you can’t do something, just take a look at what those who preceded you did. It sometimes helps when put into that perspective.

Doris_McGraw_Angela_Raines_L&L_Chasing_a_Chance_EBOOK

3  Name Recognition:

Since I write fiction under a pen name: Angela Raines, it is important I share that information on my posts. When you add my online name, Renawomyn, it gets a bit tricky.

At the same time, my non-fiction work is important. I simply do not want readers of romance to pick up a book with my real name expecting a sweet story and they are reading about juvenile delinquents, early criminals or lynchings. By using pen names I hope to avoid that problem. Of course the reverse could also be true. Can you imagine buying one of my books about the trials and tribulations of early women doctors, and find your reading a story about a medieval woman and the man she loves?

In the end, whether anyone reads or comments on my blog posts, I have things I want to say. Yes, it hurts when no one seems to care, but in the long run, it’s the future I write for. So, here’s to the future and to the readers who just have to know what I have to share.

And on a lighter note, the book birthday for my first story is this July. It will be four years old. How time does fly.

Home_For_His_Heart_McCraw_cover
Purchase Here

Doris Gardner-McCraw –

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

Member of National League of American Pen Women,

Women Writing the West,

Pikes Peak Posse of the Westerners


Angela Raines – author: Where Love & History Meet

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here

Photo and Poem: Click Here

Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Running Through the Sprinkler, a Poem by Abbie Johnson Taylor

 

The following poem was recently published in The Weekly Avocet. This is a haibun, a poetry form that combines a paragraph of prose with a stanza of haiku. You can click the link below to hear me read it.

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Running through the sprinkler.mp3

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RUNNING THROUGH THE SPRINKLER

I stand on the sidewalk, a jet of cold water in front of me, my impaired eyes unable to find a way around it, as cars whoosh by on the busy street. The ninety-degree sun beats down. A tepid breeze caresses my face. I remember how fun it was to run through the sprinkler as a kid. Why not, I think. With a hearty “Yahoo!” I dash into the water’s inviting coolness.

a hot summer day
cold water sweeps over me
I’m a child again

***

What did you do to cool off in the summer when you were a kid?

***

I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir. I’m currently working on another novel. My work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. For more information, please visit my website and blog.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

 

My Most Precious Possession by Abbie Johnson Taylor

During a memoir writing workshop at the Wyoming Writers conference I attended a couple of weeks ago, one of many story ideas we were given was this. If your house was on fire, and all the people and animals were safe, what would you take with you? This reminded me of a conversation I had with my sister-in-law years ago after they evacuated their home in Los Alamos, New Mexico, as a result of a forest fire that threatened the small town. Thankfully, their house remained in tact, but something my sister-in-law said made me want to strangle her.

She explained that since she and my brother didn’t know if their house would survive the fire, they’d crammed as many of their earthly possessions as they could into their mini-van including two small children and two cats. She’d insisted on taking their photo album, although there was little room. I wanted to tell her that more memories can be made and more pictures taken, but you can’t replace yourself or a loved one. Being a mother, she should have focused more on making sure she and her children were safe.

If my house were on fire, I suppose I might try to rescue my tablet and SD card containing some of my writing. Then again, call me vain, and maybe it’s my fear of fire and death that are talking, but my most precious possession is me. Photographs can be re-taken. Computers can be replaced. Writing can be rewritten. You can bake a cake again, even if you don’t have the recipe. Life, on the other hand, is the most precious possession of all.

What about you? If your house caught fire, and all the people and animals were safe, what would you take with you? I hope I’ve convinced you that this is a no-brainer, but if I haven’t, I’d be interested in reading about any treasured items you might try to rescue and the stories behind them. That’s the point of this exercise, anyway. You can share your stories on your own blog with a link here or in the comment field below. In any case, I hope to hear from you.

***

I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir. I’m currently working on another novel. My work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. For more information, please visit my website and blog.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

We Need You!

Keri De DeoPost written by Keri De Deo

suicides

The United States seems to be in crisis. According to the CDC, suicide rates have increased 30% since 1999. There were 45,000 suicides in 2016 alone! Naturally, we hear mostly about celebrities and public figures. There also seems to be a snowball effect. According to CNN, “suicide contagion” is a real phenomenon: when there’s one suicide, more follow. We put our celebrities on a pedestal, thinking they have it all. When they fall, we’re devastated. My mother said it best, “If you have money, fame, and love, but you’re still depressed, what hope do the rest of us have?”

But celebrities are just people. Like the rest of us, they have hopes and dreams. They have good days and bad, and they fail. We just don’t always see those failures, except if it’s a huge failure, then we see it on overdrive on the 24-hour news stations. But we haven’t seen their struggles to get to their height of fame. We don’t see the hours of acting classes they took—the number of roles they failed to get. The jobs they took just to pay rent. We only see the finished product.

Greatest ShowmanRecently, I fell in love with the movie The Greatest Showman. Have you seen it? It stars Hugh Jackman, who sings many of the songs himself. My favorite song from the movie is “This is Me” sung by Keala Settle. (She plays the bearded lady in the movie.) I love that song, and it makes me cry every time I hear it. I wish I had her voice. I heard an interview with Keala, and she talked about the practice she put into the song before she could sing it without crying. That made me feel better.

Anyway, my point is that everyone stumbles and falls while they’re climbing to success. The same holds true for writing: how many drafts did it take for George R.R. Martin to write Game of Thrones? How many hours did he spend writing the backstory and developing Westeros for his books? We can only guess because he doesn’t talk about that in any of the interviews I’ve read. What we do know is that he began writing Game of Thrones in 1991, and it was released in 1996. That timeline demonstrates how long it takes from creation to publication. He didn’t start discussing the HBO show until 2007—16 years later!

My point is that success takes time, and it may not look like anything you expected. Mostly, you just have to hang on and take each day one by one. I remind myself of this every day. Like Anthony Bourdain, I suffer from depression. I also suffer from anxiety, which cripples me several days a week. But every day, I find a reason to get out of bed, and I find a way to get work done. Some days, I struggle to just feed the dogs, but on other days, I get through my entire to-do list. I work hard to make it through each day: I take my meds, I get out of bed, I look forward to the future, and take each day as it comes. And that’s what it takes.

If you find it hard to make it through each day, get help. Get in touch with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. Or talk to your doctor. Get help because we need you, and we want you to be happy.

 

~ Keri De Deo is author of the novel Nothing but a Song and owner of Witty Owl Consulting.