Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving: Cornbread or Bread?

I have so much to be grateful for - this Thanksgiving will having deeper meaning for me. I hope as well for you all.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving - it rather sneaked up on me despite the annoying Christmas commercials and even Christmas movies that have been on since Holloween *sigh* . . . But, who cares? Today GMR and I get cookin' and tomorrow is all that bounty. I can remember hungry
times . . .

Once, when I first left home as a teenager, I only had a head of lettuce, a loaf of bread, and a jar of peanut butter. That was it. And it had to last me for longer than it was meant to. I can also remember a time when we were kids and the church brought us a "care package" - it was a box of food, and one of those items was a cake mix. Do you know the heaven of a cake when you can't afford to have "luxuries" such as that? So much is taken for granted. When I was in my first marriage, those first years, I once made hamburger helper without meat . . . well, my then husband caught some crawfish and we used those for the meat. One time I was so hungry, but my pride was great, and when my then mother in law came for a visit, she brought a sandwich from Jay's BBQ. I pretended I wasn't hungry. I didn't want her to know the pantry was bare. I smelled that sandwich, my stomach grumbling, my mouth watering. I let it sit there. I said to her, "Oh, thank you for the sandwich. I've had lunch, but I'll save it for supper." She was no sooner backing out of the driveway, than I was stuffing that sandwich down my hungry mouth, barely chewing. Pride. Hunger. Those two things together are strange things.
But now? Well, now I have food in the pantry. Plenty. I never go hungry. This is something to be incredibly thankful for. I am healthy. I have a new granddaughter. So much more to be thankful for. Yes.

I hope you and yours, who celebrates Thanksgiving, has a wonderful delicious warm and lovely holiday with your family and/or friends. GMR and I are having our Hart Theater Regulars over for thanksgiving dinner. We wish our family, and some friends from South Louisiana (Angie-*sob*), could be here, but . . . alas, no.

I'll not be posting tomorrow, and I may unplug for Friday and Saturday - make this a Real Holiday! I should do that, shouldn't I folks? Should unplug this laptop and take a break from it all. I could watch movies and maybe even work on that 'scrapbook' I've been meaning to do - I have a stack of things I want to put in some kind of order in a big folder thing with plastic you put your photos and writings, etc, in. We're finally going to have some chilly weather, instead of this spring-like weather we've had, so it'll be a wonderful time to sit in front of a fire, drink hot chocolate, and step away from the world wide web.

Today I'm baking the cornbread for my cornbread dressing. So, I have to ask you: Cornbread dessing or Bread stuffing? Growing up in my house (those early lean years of my childhood forgotten as we plunged into our Thanksgiving), it was always cornbread dressing . . . there was NEVER Bread stuffing. And we never stuffed it inside the turkey, but always in a casserole dish. GMR makes Oyster stuffing - with bread - humph. I make the REAL thing - Cornbread Dressing. What about you? And, do you do canned cranberry sauce or make your own --I did the canned for years and years, but now I make my own with fresh cranberries and spice and other ingrediants . . . it's always a hit!

Tell me what you eat - what your traditions are! And everyone: thank you; thank you for your support and love and well-wishes and for everything and everyone you are. *Muwah!* Happy Thanksgiving.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Monster at the Window

This cartoon has me thinking about our fears. How much those fears can hold us back. Fear can take the disguise of other emotions—it can come out as anger, or depression, or timidity, or it hides itself as other maladies that make us feel less than we are, or even physically ill as we seep into negativity or panic.

Sometimes the monster tapping on the window is our imagination, and sometimes it really is what it seems to be—a snarly monster. There’s no way in life to get around Monsters, unless you hide in bed, live in a glass bubble, never take chances, or lead a very charmed (and unnatural?) life.

I think about my fears, and how those fears have held me back from things in the past. How I let my writing languish for years and years—it wasn’t until my forties that I began writing seriously again; my first novel wasn’t published until I was 52. I’m less likely to hide from the monster tapping at my window now, and I don’t know if that’s come with my age, or things that have happened (or not happened) in my life, or all of those things.

That fear-monster can tap tap tap at my window, and I can cower under my bedcovers, or I can rise, open the window, and face it head on—sometimes in facing the monster it runs away, a big silly bully. Other times, the fear-monster roars at me, its sour breath rushing up against me, repelling me. And then there are the times I open that window and what seemed huge and scary was nothing more than a branch against the window after all.

As a writer, I struggle with putting myself out there for all of you to see. When you read my novel(s) or stories or essays, or even my blog posts, you are allowed a glimpse into something deep inside me, even in my fiction there are hidden truths that reveal who I am, my experiences, my guts on a plate. How vulnerable it is to be a writer and have your words out into the winds, scattered here there and yonder, to have people judge them and thus judge you. But despite all that, I do it again, and again, and again. I send out my words and hope for the best. I open the window and face the monster every time I write something and then send it out into the big wide old world. I can and I will be rejected--it's all a part of it and I have to accept that or else the altnative is to hide myself and my words away.

If we write (or do anything else) in a vacuum, we are not Living, we are only Being. We are not Experiencing life, but letting it pass us by as we watch, peeking out from beneath our covers. Sometimes taking risks or chances or facing our fears leads to bad things; well, I’m up for taking the chance anyway, because sometimes it does not, or the “bad thing” leads me on another “good thing.”

I know with each novel or story I write I set myself up for someone somewhere to dislike my words or hate who I am or scoff at my writing or think I could do better or wish I’d have written something else or it's not for them or fill in the negative blanks; however, I am who I am; I am who I write, I write who I am—and, in the midst of it all, there are the letters, emails, phone calls, comments that make me blink with surprise and delight—to touch another human being with your words is, simply said, one of the greatest feelings ever, a joy, a measure of success, a beautiful light of trust. I write for You, I write for Me, I write for no one and everyone, and every day I open the window and face the monster scratching at my window—I never know which monster will face me, or if it is only that little twig that sways in the wind, but I hold my breath, lift the window, lean forward, and wait for what will come.

Are you facing your fears? or letting them hold you back?



Ashley from Metairie, Louisiana won the Community Coffee Give Away . . . Congrats, Ashley! Community Coffee will speed your gift on to you.

Jay from Bite & Booze was so so very close, that I told him I'd send him something myself, so, Jay - I'll have you something (coffee and something from my mountain cove) soon.

Thank you everyone - this was fun!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Community Coffee Gift Give Away!

Growing up, we had a percolator pot, and each morning Mother would plug it in and the coffee would begin its dance up the glass at the top. Once we moved to South Louisiana, my parents began to drink Community Coffee and the entire house would fill with that good strong coffee aroma—it wasn’t like any coffee we’d experienced before. It was high school before I was allowed to pour myself a cup of that brew I’d been smelling every morning. I drank it with lots of cream and sugar back then, although I drink my morning coffee black now. That coffee was dark and strong and I was hooked on my big ole mug of Community, dark roast, in the red bag.

This was before coffee shops dotted street corners, and before coffee became something Cool and Hip. Coffee was the brew to get you started in the mornings, to drink with pie, or with a neighbor, or to solve problems over, and you either drank it black or you put some cream and sugar in it (or if you were Katie Ivene or Frederick, you added bourbon), and that was that. We gulped it down on school or work mornings, but we savored it on weekend mornings. When I married GMR, he made coffee even stronger than my mother’s coffee. The coffee oils swim atop, my tongue coats with rich ground coffee bean.

I drank Community Coffee for all my coffee drinking years spent in South Louisiana, until I moved to the mountains of western North Carolina five years ago. When our Community Coffee ran out, we switched to a local brand here in WNC. Oh, but friends feel sorry for us. When Louisiana friends visit, they look at us sadly, as if we are lacking in the very fundamentals of life—what? You don’t have Community Coffee in your little log house? Oh Dear. Oh My. Shaking of head, sighing of sighs, and next visit, Louisiana friends come with their own personal bags of Community Coffee. Or, they'll peruse the grocers around here to find Their Brand, CC's being the Only Brand in their opinion. . . *laughing*

I one day wrote about South Louisiana rituals, Community Coffee being one of them, and how CC shows up in my Virginia Kate novels—because it must! One can’t write about So Louisiana without Community being a part of it. You all know I always brag about my Deep Creek Blend—oh, I have defected! Oh Dear, my Louisiana friends say, Oh My. One day Community Coffee contacted me—would I like a gift set of Community Coffee and a travel mug? Yes folks, even Community Coffee wants to re-convert me back to my early coffee years when Community Coffee was The Coffee, the one and only brew to get me going every morning, *Big Grin*

What arrived was much more than I expected. There were four big bags of Louisiana Holiday Blends and a cute travel mug—the coffee included: 12-oz coffees of Holiday Jazz®, Bread Pudding, Breakfast Blend, and Cinnamon Roll. I’ve tasted all but the Bread Pudding, which I’m saving for our Thanksgiving Feast on Thursday.

The Holiday Jazz was milder than I expected, so even with the Holiday Jazz name, this is a mild coffee that would pair well with breakfast, or as a starter coffee for those just trying out CC. The Breakfast Blend is also perfect for breakfast or the first cup of the morning brew—it and the Dark Roast in the Red Bag is what I personally think about as “traditional Louisiana coffee,” and what GMR and I drank most often when we lived in Louisiana. The Breakfast Blend is milder than the “traditional red bag-dark roast," so I think it would suit more palates—Community Coffee can be quite bold and if you aren’t used to strong dark coffee, this gift set is a good place to start. The Cinnamon Roll was great for Sunday morning, and when I added cream and sugar, it was like a Bed and Breakfast coffee! The cinnamon wasn’t overwhelming and the bit of sweet I added to blend with the cinnamon gave it a festive holiday feel. I’d drink the Cinnamon Roll as a “with dessert” coffee with dinner guests. I’m betting the bread pudding will fit perfectly with our Thanksgiving dessert and I can’t wait to try it and see what my friends think (I’ll be sure to let y’all know).

Because Community Coffee is cool, they have been kind enough to offer someone their choice of one of these gifts: holiday tumbler, taste of the holidays sampler gift set, hot chocolate for two, or red French press—you can peruse the site to see which one you like if you are the winner.

So! If you want to win a gift: All you need to do is go to the Community Coffee website. Once there, click around and you’ll find where they have a coffee frequently asked questions page. The first person to tell me what CC’s exact answer is to the question: How is flavor added to the flavored coffees? and one of those gifts is yours, courtesy of Community Coffee—just leave your answer in the comments section. Good Luck!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Youngest Reader of TG, Forehead Butt Society, Signings & Plays . . .

The youngest reader of TG! *laugh* this is Terry Rollins's grandson - Terry was one of the authors at the signing yesterday (author of Married to the Military - and she has told me that anyone who wants a copy of her book, please be the first to leave a note in the comments telling me you want a copy and Terry will get it in the mail). So, he reads, gets a little treat, has an angel come by and touch her light, then puts down the book with a contented sigh of happiness, teeheehee.

Today my respectful Forehead Butt Society shout out goes to Frank McCourt, who recently left behind this old world, at least in body. He is a double forehead butter, and just look at that face . . . look at those eyes, tell me they don't speak of warmth. I like that face. Welcome, Mr. McCourt into my down with Botox society of Forehead Butters.

I was gone all day yesterday to Greenville, South Carolina for the group author book signing and a fun time was had by all. There was a two-page spread about the event in the Greenville Journal that we appreciated. The booksellers of As The Page Turns and The Book Gallery were wonderful - very nice accommodating women who made our stay in their stores quite lovely. I met some fabulous readers, and laughed, grinned, talked about Tender Graces and life and family, and I know that TG is in the hands of beautiful readers - It's a special feeling imagining people holding my words and reading...I hope they enjoy!

I have much to catch up on today, including coming 'round to visit you all, so you should see me later today knocking at your blog doors.

I've had my mountain walk, ate biscuits with coffee, watched Sunday Morning, and read the paper GMR fetched from down the valley.

By the way, speaking of GMR, I so enjoyed the Hallelujah Girls at Asheville Community Theater on Friday night, opening night -- what a halarious play! GMR played a momma's boy who was a bit of a goofball -*laugh* - Brava to the cast!

I am hoping to have my Community Coffee talk tomorrow.

So, biscuits eaten, coffee drank, paper read, Sunday Morning watched. Ahhhhh. What are your Sunday rituals?

Friday, November 20, 2009

I'm back - my laptop is healed

I'm back! My sick laptop is healed and my faith in Dell Computers is restored! yayyy! They did everything possible to make sure I was happy with them and I appreciate that.

So, now that I've been laptopless for two days, I have to catch up (GMR's desktop is too slow for me, so didn't do much on it at all). I still need to get my Community Coffee Talk here, and the contest, and, since I didn't work on Secret Graces for two days - lawd be! Nor did I work on Rose & Thorn work - lawdy!

I tell you what, though, it was kind of nice to be unhooked from the laptop. I had coffee on the couch (as I told y'all below), and I cleaned out my closet(!); I went through a stack of papers I'd been promising to go through for weeks(months); and et cetera. It was rather relaxing - and that leads me to the belief I need to unhook more often.

So, what are your plans for the weekend?

I will be in Greenville, South Carolina -seven authors/poets will be at two bookstores tomorrow, Saturday 11/21 - As The Page Turns & The Book Gallery. We'll be talking, signing books, meeting readers. The Greenville Journal put a notice in their paper, so I'm hoping we have a good turn out. Here are the authors/poets involved:

• Dawn Cusick's wonderful children's science books are fun,
colorful, and chockful of fascinating facts.
• Angela Dove's riveting account of a 'real-life' homicide and its aftermath is keeping readers mesmerized all over the country.
• Jayne Jaudon Ferrer's charming gift books about family life will touch your heart and make you laugh out loud.
• Emily Sue Harvey's inspiring story of a family divided, then reunited, is perfect for the holidays.
Kathryn Magendie's powerful debut novel about family secrets, ghosts, lost innocence, and love will leave you breathless and begging for more.
• Terry Rollins' tales take you into the lives of military wives
as they deal with everything from protocol and pregnancy to self-esteem and separation.
• Mark Washburn's guide to finding the love of your life will improve your relationship whether you're dating, engaged, or long married.

So, go DO the Day and have a great weekend... I leave you with sweet Norah Kathryn --if this isn't the sweetest photo, I don't know what is! All together now: AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW


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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A strange morning, all in all .. .

It was the strangest of mornings. What kind of alternative universe was this? Somehow familiar, yet weird.

I sat upon my couch, coffee cup in hand, and GMR sat upon his chair -- and we actually -- we actually - Talked . . . IN THE MORNING! Or, he talked while I sat there glazed-eyed and slack-jawed. He talked about the Thanksgiving menu and something else that is a blur.

I thought back to mornings, long back, months back, years back - - before twitter, before facebook, before blogs - before I was on email for longer than a few minutes a day. Long back I thought to the day I used to sit and drink my coffee without staring at a screen, and/or keys tapping under my fingers.

Oh how strange it was. But, a bit pleasant all the same.

How long has it been since you've not gone straight to your computer in the mornings, or perhaps that is what you do now? How long since one of the first things you thought of was turning on your computer and checking mail, blog(s), twitter, facebook--any or all combinations of those and/or any other networking sites? How long since you had a cup of coffee while talking to someone, or just sitting there, in the still and quiet, coffee or tea or juice or breakfast in hand and actually looked someone in the face as they talk to you (or tried to focus on their face if it was before you finished your first cup).

Here's the weird thing--when GMR first began talking as I held that first cup, I couldn't concentrate on him and didn't actually realize he was a human being talking to me . . . it was a bit surreal and dream-like. It felt so alien, I had to actually FOCUS my attention on him, turn my head, turn on my brain, awaken that part of me that usually is focused on my computer screen. Yes. So true. So sad really. A bit funny, too.

What about you and your family routine? Or if you live alone? Do you run to your computer first thing?

I am right now typing away on GMR's desktop. My laptop is in surgery - laid open with its guts hanging out. The Dell guy couldn't finish its surgery (he called my laptop "she" -teehee) so he will have to return with the other required part(s) later. So, last night, I did not use my computer! and this morning I held off using it because this desktop is older and doesn't have the memory and other doodly doo my laptop has. And so, there was a morning of coffee, and couch, and GMR, and . . . twas strange, but kind of nice, but kind of weird, and then there was that surreal feeling . . . huhn . . . which life is real? The Real One or the Other Real One.

Oh, but I know exactly what will happen. When my laptop is repaired, when its new brain is in and other whatevers, I'll be running back to it just as before . . . oh yes I will, won't I?
Now, on to my morning - which involves my mouth. I have a dental appoitment. And I've asked him if he can not deaden me, if we can try to do the dental work without the deadening in my gums. Oh we will see. For, I hate that deadening worse than I hate discomfort. I suppose if it's really horrid, if it's really painful, I can always chicken out and be numbed. But, maybe it won't be so bad, and I can leave the dentist's office without that drooling numbness...yeah. I'll let you all know.

What a strange morning this will be all in all . . .

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This photo I took from the Parkway - it just makes me laugh.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Go stomp up a hissy fit and then Get Back to Work!

Do you ever become bored with your manuscript? I'm here to tell you that sometimes you will feel bored with it. Sometimes you will feel as if you want to ditch it and go work on something else, or to sit upon your couch and drink vodka tonics and eat chocolate and forget that you ever called yourself a writer in the first danged place . . . yeah!

If you are writing your novel/story and lose interest, or are not motivated to keep writing, then take a break. Work on something else, then go back to it with fresh perspective. If you are still bored and unmotivated, maybe it's time to consider why. If you become bored by reading your work, and are not excited about working on it, your readers may feel that boredom as well. We should be the first champions, the first lovers of, the first excited readers of our work. We should be excited and motivated and happy as little happy clams--except for those times when we are going "ARGHHHH!"

I’m working on the continuing story of Virginia Kate, Secret Graces. This time, I have a deadline. There is not a lot of time to put away my manuscript and work on something else, or else I miss that deadline. With what would become Tender Graces, I had “all the time in the world,” for I had no one waiting on me to deliver—I only had my own motivations, and my love of Virginia Kate and the other characters, the setting, the landscape, the language and words. Still, I had my days. Too many of "those days" spent doubting and angsting--what a waste, or maybe instead of "waste" I was feeling my way around, learning, processing. Yeah, that's it!

But, no matter how I feel or do not feel with Secret Graces, I had a point to start, and I have a definite point to get the manuscript to Bellebooks. Period. For every day I step away from the work and whine or gripe or piddle de doo means extra time I need to find to catch up. Writing for deadline is a different feel than writing for the sake of writing (as you Nanowrimo-ers may be feeling!).

After setting down all the words comes the “edits and re-writes.” This is where many writers get the "YAWWNNNs." This means reading your ms over and over and over and over. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read the entire manuscript of SG. Do I wish it to be Done and in the hands of my publishers? Yes. For I want to move on. I have more to write. I have the Sweetie novel I want to start re-writes/edits on. I have short stories I’d like to take a look at again. But, with each reading of SG, of Virginia Kate’s story, I find a way to fall in love with her again. And even when I don't, doesn't matter -- the work must be done and I must do the work.

It’s okay to be bored with your work at times. It’s okay to feel frustrated. It’s okay to put it away in frustration. It’s okay to hate being a writer sometimes. It’s okay to stomp your feet and raise a fist to the sky and ask, “WHY DO I DO THIS? WHY WHY WHY DO I TORTURE MYSELF IN THIS WAY? I SUCK; MY WORK SUCKS; BEING A WRITER SUCKS! NO ONE LOVES ME!” Yes, it’s perfectly normal and fine to rant, as long as you get back to work. Scream and stomp and angst and feel depressed and feel defeated and feel horrid and yucky and icky and poodly doo doo and sob and rant. . . And Then Get Back To Work.

Now, go stomp up a hissy fit and then take a deep breath and fall in love with your characters and their stories all over again.

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I have tried all but one of the Community Coffee gift set coffees --the Bread Pudding. Since Thanksgiving is next Thursday, I thought that flavor of coffee would be perfect to serve to our Theater guests coming for Thanksgiving--the theater friends we call The Regulars--and to get their reactions. I will write about these coffees - and as I said, I will have a contest so you can win coffee and a travel mug.

This is the gift set I have...thank you Community Coffee! *smiling*

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Forehead Butt Society: Robert De Niro . . .

Today's Inductoroonee into the Forehead Butt Society was suggested by Susan at A Walk in My Shoes. Thank you, Susan!

Down with Botox! Let's love the face we're in. You gonna ask De Niro to get rid of his Forehead Butt? Go head, try it . . .

Yes, the ever-intense, ever-talented Robert De Niro has a Forehead Butt. Which means he can be a member of the most wonderful on high, The List of creative, intelligent, gifted, talented Forehead Butters, of which of course, I am President and all Powerful Appointeererer.

You lookin' at him? You lookin' at Him? You lookin' at HIM? Well, yes, we are lookin' at him--but don't stare too long, lest you go blind in his intensity. Look at those eyes - behind them lies a man to be reckoned with! A man with thoughts and ideas and characters and emotions and memories and experiences stomping and running and jumping and playing and flying all about that wonderful brain of his.

Now, have a wonderful Sunday. I'll be posting soon about my Community Coffee experience, and as well, will post about the contest to win some coffee and a travel mug.

I leave you with sweet Norah Kathryn. . .

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Mystery of the Apple Tree . . .

I am a woman who loves science, but I see science in ways both concrete, logical, and mysterious. There are simply things that cannot be explained here on Earth and in the Beyond. Science tries to explain the why’s and where’s and what’s and who’s and when’s—but sometimes Science acknowledges there is no answer, even if they'll continue to search for it. And that is the area, the black hole area, the distant galaxy unfound area, the far and away unknown area, the infinity that can’t be imagined area—those things—are what grab our attention and allow us to dream and imagine.

Last summer when my old girl Kayla (Fat Dog) died, I grieved mightily. It was unexpected, even though she was getting old, she'd been so healthy. Still, the cancer inside her hid from us, and by time it was detected, it was too late. She went down fast. But, don’t want to talk about that, what I want to talk about is the strange thing that happened that GMR and I can’t figure out the why’s.

Kayla was an apple-loving fool! She adored her apples. I could not pick up an apple without her running up to me, ooooooing out a “Mine! All MINE! GIVE THAT APPLE TO ME –MINE!” If I wanted to eat an apple, I best have one for her or there was doggy sadness abounding and lots of huffing and "dog harumphing." Jake, (Not Quite Fat Dog) learned to love apples, too. So, each night, for their treat, they’d get apple. Also note that Kayla had a favorite “first stopping place” when we’d take her and Jake for their mountain cove walk—it was at the end of the driveway, in a certain spot, where she’d sniff and pee and general dog doodly doo.

After Kayla died, Jake would not touch another apple and still won’t. It was immediate. He refuses. I suppose he links apples with his good friend Kayla, who he grieved over mightily as his owners did.

Now, here is the strange we can’t figure this thing. After the apple-loving Kayla died, maybe a few weeks or so, we took Jake down the driveway, and there, in that spot where Kayla loved to stop first, were bunches of apples. Apples everywhere, all over the ground, and when we looked up, there was a tree full of apples. So what? You may say, WNC has apples.

Yes. True. But the thing is, we’ve lived here for five years and never ever never saw not one apple—in fact, didn’t even know there was an apple tree up there. Kayla died one year ago this July, and we’ve also not seen an apple since. None. Nada. That apple tree that we didn’t know existed only produced one batch of apples in near-five years—and that was right after our apple-loving good old girl Kayla, Fat Dog, died.

Now. Why do you suppose that is? Is it tree that only shows its fruit once in a blue moon? Complete coincidence? What?

All I know is I was filled with wonder, and with a sad joy to see those apples. And also, with a feeling of the mysteries of our Universe.

Have a wonderful weekend. I’m off to Asheville to have lunch with author Joan Medlicott – we’ve been talking about this for months and have finally made time to meet.

Do you have any mysteries to tell?

Find your mysteries.

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Norah Kathryn after her bath *smiling*

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Clubs & Deadlines & Audio book thankyous & All kinda gratitudes . . .

I have a book club today I'll be visiting, here in our little mountain town, and I'm excited to meet with them. It's always a pleasure to be able to meet with book clubs in person; however finding creative ways to 'meet' with book clubs - any suggestions? Skype? phone? webcam? Teleportation?

Going to get to work this morning on the Secret Graces manuscript - have to get that off to the publishers soon. Thanks for asking that Tender Graces be placed on the list for audio books at (link below if you are going Huh?); I appreciate it and you. I have a couple of "traveling friends" who asked for it; my mom wrote and said she has had some of her quilting/sewing group ask her if Tender Graces was available on audio - there is the large-print out there, but some of them like audio, as well, so, I'm hoping it happens!

I appreciate all your support--your emails and thoughts and comments. I know I don't get by your places as much as I used to, but please know it's just the deadline for the next Virginia Kate novel, and my Rose & Thorn responsibilities. You all are the best! *muwah!*

I think I'll do the Community Coffee tasting starting Sunday (that's below too!)

[PS ....Is my blog loading slow for you? If so, could you let me know in the comments? GMR says my page loads slowly for him, but he has an old Dell desktop that needs more memory. Just want to be sure - I may have too many widgety things.]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A cup of Louisiana Community Coffee Anyone? A Taste Test...

Ah, my friends, look at what I received in the mail! A holiday gift set of Louisiana Community Coffee - straight from Community Coffee in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Now, all of you know how I always talk about my Smoky Mountain Roasters Deep Creek Blend. Deep Creek Blend has made it into at least one short story, one novel (the Sweetie novel that I hope to have published in the future), and et cetera.

However, I rarely write about Louisiana, particularly South Louisiana, without saying something about the Community Coffee--I mean, that's the state coffee far as most Louisianians are concerned! How could I not have some of my characters sipping the State Brew? Just like the po-boys, etoufee, gumbo, crawfish, and french bread, Community Coffee is a Louisiana staple in most homes.

My Louisiana friends say, "You ain't drinking Community Coffee up dere in dem mountains? Harumph . . ." and I answer, "No, I'm drinking mountain coffee, huhn." They say, "Didn't you fixin to used to drink Real Coffee when you lived down here dem years ago? AIYEEEEE!" And I answer, "I don't recall, so there." And then they get all huffity and stamp their white rubber boots in the swamp and tell a Boudreaux and Thibodeaux joke about yankees even though I'm not a yankee, they think anyone who lives northeast of them is a yankee and they of course say that CC is unforgettable and I am forgetting the good stuff and that's why my taste buds are all wonkified and . . . and on and on they go. We have a war of words about which coffee is the better, although they're pretty danged arrogant about their coffee, let me tell you!
So it's time to put it to the test!

I am going to have a taste test of these holiday coffees, and I'm going to post what I think about them. I thought I may even have some people over who have never had CC and see what they think, or take the coffees down to Osondu's Booksellers and see if she wants to brew some up and then we can get customers to taste it and tell us what they think! (I guess I should ask Osondu's that before I make those plans *laugh*).

Also, I want to have a coffee give away - but I haven't decided yet what I'll do. I'll figure that out soon.

I think the first thing I'll do is brew up a small batch of each one and let GMR pour them into little cups and see if I can guess what they are just by tasting them, and include the DCB, too boot. At any rate, I plan to have fun with my experiment - and I'll let y'all know what I think about the coffees.


Also, for any of you out there who like to listen to audio books: I'd love to see Tender Graces published as an audio book (love to hear how they'd do the WVA voices and the Louisiana voices; how VK would sound, or Aunt Ruby! Momma, Micah, etc) . . . a friend of mine who travels a lot and listens to books went in and requested TG be added to the audio books line up at that may be what it takes, so, if you listen to audio books, and would like to listen to Tender Graces, please go by and request they add TG to the line up. It takes just a couple of seconds - all you do is type the following in the boxes:

Title: Tender Graces
Author: Kathyrn Magendie
ISBN: 978-1602855823

you can click on to find the page to do so. Thank you! Maybe we'll be able to listen to the TG characters one day!

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's Monday: What are you Reading?

From J. Kaye's Book Blog: If you decide to participate in It's Monday! What are you reading?, be sure to post a link to [J. Kaye's blog] on your blog. That way others can find their way [t]here and join in the fun.

So, What am I reading? I just completed "Long Story Short,"
Flash Fiction by Sixty-five of North Carolina’s Finest Writers. This was a wonderful collection of short shorts that I read in just a few gulps and thoroughly enjoyed -and it felt great supporting my North Carolina writers! The book was edited By Marianne Gingher . . .

. . . And now I am reading Blogger Patience Coale Renzulli's fun book "Mama Pajama Tells a Story ." I ordered this from her link provided from our "shop and support our Blogging Community" links that I'll be putting up again soon (or you can visit by clicking the above link). I want to do more shopping, but my first purchase had to be a book.

About "Mama Pajama . . . " How about a book FULL of short stories all about how much we love our dogs. Funny stories and a few that may bring a tear. SIGNED and PERSONALIZED! OH what a PERFECT GIFT!!!

Now, it's Monday . . . WHAT ARE YOU READING? . . .

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Forehead Butt Society: Harper Lee & Gregory Peck (and a bit of Norah Kathryn)

Yes, it is that time again for another inductorereener into the Forehead Butt Society!

It is my wonderful and honored pleasure to inductoredee Harper Lee - she of the double forehead butt, even thought I am the Single Forehead Butter. Yes, our beautiful Harper Lee has "The Sign" of all things creative and wonderful and beautiful! And, to have a two-fer forehead butter day, from the wonderful and lovely author (look at her face, that is a face I'd like to know the person behind, to have tea with and some crisp thin cookies and talk about just any old thing while rocking on the porch) -of To Kill A Mockingbird - Scout's daddy - Gregory Peck - also has a forehead butt! A single like me. This is a fine day for us Forehead Butters, those of us with The Sign of creative everything!

So, down with Botox! Let's tell the stories of our lives through our expressive faces, let's keep the signs of love and anger and grief and wonder and beauty and past and present and up and down and all around. . .Folks, if you don't think Harper Lee is beautiful and that her face tells stories of her life and of other's lives witnessed, then go ahead and get your danged botox, as for me, I hope I one day have a Harper Lee face. Here's to language, and books, and good good stories, and beautiful faces . . .

and also, below, a couple more braggy photos of the cute Norah Kathryn - Little Boop, who in the yawning photo seems to have a little teeny sort of kind of forehead butt ' laughing:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Is Nature Merciful?

Living on a mountain, we see wild critters and not so wild critters. And sometimes we see crippled or maimed critters. At Lake Junaluska, there are ducks, geese, swans, and other fowl, and every so often, there is the maimed or crippled waterfowl—one day I watched a duck with a deformed foot hobble its way towards the water; the right foot was nothing but a twisted stump. The duck struggled and I knew that its time was limited, for even at protected Lake Junaluska, there are predators that roam in residential areas. I haven’t seen that duck in a while, but it could have moved to the other side of the lake; yes, that’s what I choose to believe. A goose at Lake J has a broken wing, and its been around for quite some time now—surviving.

And there is now a swan who has suffered injury—his wing is broken and he looks pretty raggedy. He was near where all the other waterfowl hang out, but the other day, GMR and I saw him across the other side. The Lake J people put some swan food for him and roped off a little area where he can feed. We watched as he struggled, and struggled mightily, up to the bucket of swan food, but he made it and he fed. The next day he was in the water, where his injuries are less apparent, and he was surrounded by ducks—for some reason, that made me feel better, thinking he wasn’t completely alone. Today the raggedy swan rested under a tree, not far from his source of food the humans provided. I have named him Raggedy Swan, which is not so great a name, but it has stuck there.

The crippled and maimed waterfowl at Lake Junaluska have a better chance of survival because of human intervention. We show our mercy many times through the animal world.

One day a few years back, I looked out of my window, here in my little log house in the mountain cove, and there was a little bird with a crippled leg. It had to hop about on one leg because the other one was crooked and bent back behind her. I watched that bird every day, until one day she wasn’t there any longer and I’ve never seen her since—did she die of natural causes? Did something get to her because of her weakness? Did she find another place to feed that isn’t as crowded by other birds at our bird feeder? I often wish she would come back because it was both painful and beautiful to watch her—I cannot explain that feeling of pity and respect and awe as she’d hop about on one foot, land on the feeder with one foot, perch on the tree limb with one foot.

There is a squirrel with most of its tail missing—in fact, there have been several squirrels with missing or stumpy tails. We call this big gray squirrel Stumpy, again--yes, we are not known for naming our wild critters with imagination. He used to run when we’d go outside, whereas most of the squirrels ignore us. But something changed. Now, when we meet him on the road while walking our dogs, Stumpy doesn’t run away, but stares at us while flicking that stump of a tail or once he ran up to me, as if laughing at me and our dogs who whined and barked.

I see these animals at Lake J and at our feeder and know that they may be surviving only because we are providing easy food. Take away that easy food and would they survive? Some people/naturalists may ask, “Should they survive?” They ask that because in the natural wild there is natural processes—the weak are weeded out and the strong survive. The weak do not breed or are not bred with because that weakness could be passed on, and if a wild critter is weak, it may not be able to feed itself, or feed its offspring, or get away from predators.

Nature isn’t merciful—or is it in its own way showing mercy? Of course, nature doesn’t allow for these thoughts, because it just is what it is. We humans interfere in nature because we can identify. We see a crippled or maimed animal and we empathize, we sympathize, we know how it feels, or know someone who knows how it feels or have a loved one who knows how it feels—we attach human qualities to nature; we anthropomorphize nature (look at what we do to our pets, particularly dogs--dressing them in clothing, etc. They become family members and have evolved their characteristics—through breeding or otherwise—to fit in with us. Or the commercials, cartoons, etc., where animals have human qualities).

Still, when I saw that beautiful proud Swan struggling to that bucket of swan food in its little protected area, I was grateful for Lake J’s intervention; I was filled with a joy that mixed with my pity and wonder. I might add that the swan, Stumpy the Squirrel, the lamed duck, the little crippled bird, all these creatures know nothing but the will to survive, they had/have no time to feel sorry for themselves, for it is in their nature to find a way to live until it is time for them to die, and then, nature will have its way, as it does with every living thing on this earth.

(Pardon me while I do a Testing one two three on the 'retweet' button )

Google images -gieco gecko &

Friday, November 6, 2009

Finding the center, the mystery, the child, the serene, in Yoga

Preparing to Yoga . . .

Before we are born, there is nothing but possibility. The entire world a mystery, and everything before us and after us a mystery, our lives stretching out into the unknown. Our mistakes not yet made. We have not touched or been touched, we have not experienced anything outside of that small world where we grew into what would be a little human being.

Little Norah Kathryn--you are now born. You are experiencing, tasting, touched and being touched. The whole world stretches out huge and wide and wonderous...of course, your world is still small, for now. You are the center of your universe and of your parents' universe, and of those who love and adore you.

Child's Pose . . .

It's hard to feel stress and worry when you are in child's pose, your back vulnerable and tender facing out to the world, your face hidden away where you can hide emotion if you so want, or you can release and let yourself be childlike again--an infant, an innocent and trusting being. Little Norah Kathryn lies innocent and trusting. Her parents and those who love her will cradle her, vulnerable and tender.

I bend and curl into child's pose, and let the stress and worry filter out from my toes, my fingertips, the top of my head, and I leave my back exposed and vulnerable--like my little Norah Kathryn, I know nothing but that moment pressed around me as atmosphere. I protect my organs, cradle my heart, liver, stomach, I lean my forehead to rest the heavy thoughts.

Rising up, I stretch my body - there is only the feel of my strength, my organs are soft but active as I rise, my face relaxed, my bones solid, my marrow holding secrets, my tendons stretching, my feet bare - toes spread, my arms and legs reaching reaching reaching.

And at last, I rest...finding a place, like Norah Kathryn does, where I feel safe. That calm and quiet place. The restive. The serene. The warm and tender place that feels like Home and Belonging. I rest . . .


google images:

(Please visit Friday Shoot Outs! I haven't had time to keep up with them, so I had to have my name taken off the list -but, it is such a wonderful idea and I still enjoy those who are continuing to do Friday Shoot Outs - give them a holler!)