Monday, August 30, 2010

A Visit to New Orleans after Katrina

I visited New Orleans for a conference two years after Katrina. When I arrived in the city, I felt a little star-struck at first. My friends and I shared a room at the Monteleone hotel, an old stately hotel in the French Quarter with a carousel bar that turns round and round. There is a smell and feel and energy to New Orleans that you have to experience, it can’t quite be explained, even by the most brilliant of writers who have tried—writers can only hint of it, tease you on.

When evening came and my friend and I walked the Quarter, including Bourbon Street, I then experienced the seedy loud drunken debauched side of New Orleans. From living in So Louisiana many years, and visiting New Orleans often in my adult years, I know there is much more to N.O. than the French Quarter, but that is what most people think of the City – Mardi Gras, French Quarter, Debauchery.

And there it all was, coming at me in a locomotion roar of people, lights, sound, smells. You haven’t lived until you have smelled Bourbon street—an odor that repels and fascinates—parts horse or mule excrement, parts human piss and sweat and vomit, parts old city mold, parts spicy food wafting, parts spilled beer fermenting on the heated streets, parts body odor, rotting garbage. The noise is In Your Face—drunken calls, men shouting lewd comments, scantily-clad women (or men who look like women) enticing tourists inside their lair, clip-clop of horse/mule-drawn carriages and the carriage masters' tales, music that is jazz blues rock stripper-sleaze country. The sights—half-dressed women and men, faces slack with drunken stupors and lust and greed for the City’s offerings, neon lights buzzing, restaurant waiters standing in the doorways hoping to lure you in, derelicts wandering with vacant eyes or hungry eyes or desperate eyes, people with no good in their irises who stare with malcontented ill intention, and the huge-eyed tourists who can’t snap it all up in one eye-bulging gulp. This energy, this feel, this New Orleans, how can I tell you in such a short post that is ever-growing? I can’t! I need more time and space! For it will ever remain a mystery, unless you go there yourself.

And know this: if you do go, the New Orleanians will be appreciative. I’ve never seen a peoples so damned happy to have you eat at their restaurants, drink coffee in their cafes, buy trinkets at their shops, stay in their hotels—more than any time I’ve been in the Great Madam City of New Orleans, I felt that energy, that want, that hope on that visit: they want You to come, or to come back.

With any tourist city, and I know this from living in the Smokies, there is a Love-Hate relationship with tourists—we need your money; we hate how you change our towns into something anamorphically weird and monstrous. But New Orleans had a taste of what it felt like to lose the tourists, the people who make New Orleans bulge like that crawfish sack. The Love-Hate now has turned to Love—visit visit and spend your money…the appreciation is in their eyes, their smiles, the way they say, “Thank you for coming, thank you,” and you know they mean it. Folks, respect this Grand City, for though, like her people, she is strong and capable and prideful, she is also wary and a little weakened, but make no mistake, she will never give up.

Yet, there is a New Orleans in the early morning. The New Orleans before tourists and hawkers and traffic and horse/mule carriages are about. When the street sweepers are sweeping, when the owners of establishments have washed the tourists vomit and urine and spills away, when the morning sun is peeking over the city’s history…that is when I loved New Orleans the best. That is the New Orleans that stays nestled in my memory, quiet and lovely.

(this post was written right after the trip and posted to my former blog)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bellebooks & Literary Fiction

Sometimes just taking a chance works. Sometimes luck is in your favor. Of course, I recognize that with "luck" there has to be other factors, like, writing a good book!, but, timing plays such a role in this novel to publishing business.

The evening I was sitting around wondering what I wanted to do with my manuscript, I fiddled with google, typed in "Southern Publishers" and that's when Bellebooks "Southern Fried Publishers" popped up. I thought, "Hmmm . . ." I had queried a couple of agents, but I really didn’t know what I wanted or how my dreams would be realized, or where I’d go or do or be as regards to my work. In other words: I was pretty open to where the universe would lead me as an author whether that be by agent or by me finding an independent/small press. The only thing I didn’t want to do was self-publish—and not because I think self-published books are “bad,” but I, personally, just didn’t want to deal with all the ins and outs of publication—I wanted an advance, even if tiny or token, and I wanted at least industry standard royalties, and I wanted a traditional publisher.

I looked at Bellebooks’s submissions guidelines and thought, “I don’t think my book fits that.” But, since I was right on the edges of fitting; since there was a question of whether maybe perhaps I fit, and since they were looking for newer works on their imprint Bell Bridge Books, I thought, “What the heck; I’ll send a query.” I did; they responded and asked for the entire manuscript. I sent it; sat on pins and needles, and not long after that, I had a contract. Boom Bam! It happened fast. I was elated. I have a great respect for these women of Bellebooks - - strong southern women. My editor/publicist Deb Smith is a dream to work with, and the President, Deb Dixon, is as well. It's truly been a positive and wonderful experience.

What I didn’t know was how I was kind of an experiment, or you may say “a big risk.” Up to that point, Bellebooks wasn’t publishing my kind of fiction—literary fiction, or "women's literary" whatever title you want to place upon it (for men have loved TG, too!). But as over the last year and a half Tender Graces has shown strong, and continues to do well, and then the response to Secret Graces also has been strong, Bellebooks decided to open their doors to more literary fiction. (I wasn’t alone in this experiment—there were at least two other authors with literary fiction, or women's lit, that Bellebooks/Bell Bridge Books took on, and their books are doing well, too!)

Here’s the twitter feed from @bellebooks: Bellebooks Bell Bridge will accept proposals for literary fiction starting Nov. 1. See books of Kat Magendie for example

I felt ‘proud’ to see my books as examples of what Bellebooks is looking for! *big arse grin*

So, beginning November 1, they will open their doors to literary fiction. I can tell you that they’ve been wonderful to work with. I feel incredibly lucky, and very happy that whatever Universe Hands pushed me that evening, they did so at the right time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Moment Frozen in Time . . . Snapshots

Me, Kayla, Jake (Kayla is no longer with us)
(maybe this photo will cool off you all who are still sweltering!)

Nothing remains static. The world turns with all our energies both expelled and absorbed from pre-beginning to after-end; we become a part of a greater energy. Everything is pulsating, a part of each other. So how could something so dynamic not change and morph? Even require it. There is The Good Change, and there is The Bad Change, and there are the changes that no one notices until one day they say, “Hey . . . wait . . . whatever happened to . . .” And there is that moment of bemusement, or maybe of loss for what wasn’t even missed until some fluke in the atmosphere caused a flick of the memory-wrist. And then there are the snapshots filed away in drawers, albums, and the parts of the brain made just for remembrance.

Jake & Maggie Girl our rescue dog

I have this snapshot shouting loud. It comes uncalled and unbidden, but it comes. It is winter, and the snow is falling, blanketing an already white-washed world. The backdrop is sepia-toned, shades of black and white with that tinge of old-timey photograph brown. I am dressed warm, and by my side are GMR and my two dogs, Jake and Kayla. We’re on the Muse Trail, Level Two. I have my camera and I’ve set it to video and as I turn 360 degrees, I say, “Isn’t this lovely? Isn’t this the best life ever? Don’t you wish you were me?” My dogs, off their leashes, run in the snow, their paws kicking up sprays of snow and arcs of ice that hover for just a moment before falling back down to earth; some catch prisms—I know; I saw. The branches are laden with snow and some hang heavy, ready to smack a head and sent showers of cold upon them—I know; I was showered. We walk in the most perfect silence ever: you know the silence? The one that muffles footsteps, but makes bird calls ring so clear through the air that you hear it in perfect pitch. I have that snapshot because there have been changes come since that Perfect Day.

Changes that make the memory one I am grateful for, even as I wish for all of it back, Human that I am. Yet, would the memory stand in such sharp gorgeous relief if the changes had not altered it beyond repair? No. I’d have taken it for granted, knowing I could have that feeling over and over again. That Perfect Day has become one I feel the most profound sense of gratitude for—I know; I was there before the changes. And I also know I am making those snapshots every moment of every day and only time will tell which ones will stand out sharp against the others.

What kind of memory comes unbidden and sudden to you as you read this, or perhaps at another time?

can't see ghost dog, but ghost dog is there, can't see the Muse Trail Level One destroyed, but it's beyond this photo

Monday, August 23, 2010

Spiffing up the blog/changing the name . . . Then Going to Work

I updated the photo above with the view from my porch as I (pretend to) relax. The previous photo of my feetsies was taken at Caesar's Palace in Vegas, when my brother and I went there last summer. Boy, was that a strange and loud and colorful and exciting and "it's too too much of everything" trip--that's where some man mistook me for a . . . um . . . Call Girl! er . . . huhn, teehee. Lawd!

Wow. The evidence is shown in the pictures: I am a novelist. Definition of a novelist is "a person who writes novels" or "a writer of novels." Come to think of it, the definition doesn't read: "a person who writes novels and they are then published," so those of you who have written or are writing novels and haven't yet been published - what do you call yourself? And if you call yourself nothing, then why aren't you calling yourself something? Writing takes discipline and work - the publishing part is a separate issue - so give yourself a break and call it like you work it.

Its too late to change the blog URL (as far as I know), however I did change the "Name" of my blog to Writing from my Mountain  . . . that's certainly generic enough to encompass the whatevers of my writing and editing life.

Now, my friends, I have to glue my arse to the chair and become completely immersed in Virginia Kate. I have to have more time with this third Graces book than I did for the second Graces (Secret Graces) novel, for while writing SG there were family emergencies, illnesses of dear-ones, traveling to and fro, and my writing time was cut near-abouts in half! I made my deadline, but there are always worries the book suffers when you have to write your arse off in a smaller amount of time. This is how it is. This is what being a "novelist" means--sometimes stuff and life happens, but deadlines are deadlines. I understand this now, and, I am more inclined to give authors/novelists a break when I read their work.

I think there's also a weird thing that happens with a trilogy, or a series. The first book is exciting and wonderful and full of golden; the third book in a trilogy takes things to some fruition, a silvery ending that wraps the new with the old and there is the poignancy of coming full circle. Alas and alack, that middle book in a "series" is somehow sort of wedged in there - feeling like a stepping stone between the two. I've seen this phenom with books and movies-the middle child is sometimes outshined or outshouted by the oldest and the youngest . . . oh dear.

So, my friends, social networking will slow, my connection to reality will be even more tenuous (laugh) and my poor GMR will surely feel neglected as I listen to Virginia Kate storytell through me as she storytells through Grandma Faith and all the rest.

misty view on Kat's porch at Killian Knob
This writing of a new book, the creating of a new work large or small, is the most wonderful, exciting, fabulous, terrifying, hardest, beautiful thing I do . . . the only thing more important and more beautiful and wonderful that I've ever "created" is my son and from that comes his family -Sarah and my "Lil Boop" Norah Kathryn.

Now you all tell me: What are you up to with this winding down of summer? What projects or activities will fall bring?

Lil Norah Kathryn in the dress Granny Kat bought her

Friday, August 20, 2010

Living with me is not easy . . . Marriage is such a strange land.

Living with me is not easy. There, I said it. GMR will read this and aloud he will say, “Aww, that’s not true at all!” But, I bet in his inside thoughts there are times he says, “Whew! You said it!” GMR is too polite to me. I mean, maybe sometimes he needs to say, “When you fall in love with your male characters, it hurts my feelings—especially if they are nothing like me . . .” But, he does not. Oh. Wait. He doesn’t know I sometimes fall in love with my male characters . . . . heehee, well, I guess he does now. Heehee.

I go so deep inside my own thoughts and my own world and the world of my characters that I forget he is there. Suddenly, there is this man looking at me. I say, “Huh? Wha?” and he says, “I just asked if you’d like some seared scallops with cream sauce, a side of risotto, and a nice pinot noir?” I answer, “Oh. Um. Huh? Yeah . . . okay, that sounds . . .” and then I trail off, what was I writing? For surely the character’s world is more important than Real Life. Or not. But it doesn’t matter; it is what it is. To his retreating back, which looks slightly slumped inward, I call out, apologetically and excitedly all at once, “Yes! OH! That sounds good! I’d LOOOOOVEE sea scallops and risotto and pinot noir and all that. I Can’t Wait! Thank you! You are Great! Wow!” Overkilling it, but dang, you know?

Sometimes I wander about the house touching things. Is this real? Yes. Is this real? Yes. Is this real? Yes. Is this real? Yes. I touch GMR. Is this real? And he says, “You’re touching me! Wow! ohhhh!” and I roll my eyes and say, “Stop it. I touch and hug you. Geez. You are soooooo (NOT) deprived.” He laughs, but I wonder: when was the last time I went over and gave him a big ole hug. Hmmm. So I do it, right then and there, but it feels forced, so I stand up quickly. Then I touch the top of his head, and then kiss his cheek. He looks so grateful I am guilty and pissed off and confused. Crap.

I’m moody. Although the older I get, the more my moods even out. But I can think dark thoughts. I can be silly for no reason at all. I can be sardonic. I can be negative. I can see things in ways that he says “I never thought of it like that! Hey!” I can tell him, “That person isn’t as they present themselves,” and then later he asks, “How did you know?” I am otherworldly to his practical.

I sometimes stare at GMR when he’s reading the paper or doing a crossword. I’ll stare, my face immobile and expressionless. I wait for it…wait for it…he looks over at me and says, “STOP IT! Stop doingggg thhattt!” Then I burst out laughing. Why do I do that? I dunno.

But for all of that, GMR seems to love me. He seems to be proud of me. When he introduces me to people, he seems to do it with pleasure and love. He seems to really want to be around me—a lot. He seems to think I’m cute, and sometimes maybe beautiful, and always he thinks I’m sexy. He seems to think if something ever happened to me he’d be devastated. He seems to think I am Something Special. He seems to think I am even brilliant. Huhn.

Maybe I have something that keeps GMR content—or at least . . . something. Maybe the weirdness of me keeps him off balance in a way that is exciting or fun or jittery mad mad mad! Maybe it’s rarely boring here in this little log house (except when I’m writing and writing and writing and then . . . well . . . then the house is quiet and the lights are dim and everything is hushed, except for the tip tapping of keys – ).

We pick each other for a reason. Sometimes there are random pickings—maybe. But even then we seek out what we look for. So, what did GMR look for that he found in me? And what does he miss that I am lacking? And what about me? What did I look for? Ah, the mystery of marriage and relationships.

And what about you?

Marriage. Such a strange strange strange land, isn’t it?

Now: an announcement: Head over to GUMBO WRITER- she's having a contest called The Snark Bite Contest and one of the prizes is a copy of TENDER GRACES! Thank you Angie!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When is it Selling Out?, or, the Eye Roll Effect

Yesterday I saw where a certain Food Network personality (I just can’t call them “Stars,” for it sounds so silly and pretentious) not only has several shows on FN, but as well is on a network game show, and now has made a commercial for insurance. This Food Network personality isn’t the only one who has saturated the airwaves with their face and products to where every time I turn around, there they are, grinning at me.

I compare that with a FN personality such as Ina Garten—the ever gracious, classy, and beautiful Ina Garten has one FN show and in that show I know what to expect, I feel comforted by her and the way she is The Same even as I am learning something new--her food and recipes are accessible and delicious. She does have a few products out there for those of us who need a little extra help, but I’ve never seen her do a commercial for Her Product or anything else. And I continue to adore watching Ina Garten.

I used to watch quite a bit of Food Network, but I find I’m switching channels more and more often. Somehow it’s become more about selling Product—whether that Product is food or kitchen related, or the Product is the “personalities” themselves. Over the last couple of years, things have shifted. I am quickly becoming annoyed. Everywhere I look certain “personalities” are there, grinning in the camera, their eyes gleaming with their good fortune and their growing bank accounts. I believe in success, but when is it excess?

On the news last night, I listened to the newscaster speak of an author whose book about “a spiritual quest” went viral and was made into a movie and now has gone further with its success and decided to make trinkets and candles and other doodle dee dahs. When asked about “selling out her original idea of the book” the author said, in defense, something to the effect that if a person couldn’t take the journey as she did, why, then they could buy a candle. I burst out laughing. I couldn’t help it—it seemed such a funny thing to say. I guess I expected her to be slightly embarrassed and maybe just admit it all got away from her, became this huge monster, and shrug her shoulders in a bit of an overwhelmed "Dang!" But, I wondered at the backlash that is happening because of, in the words of the newscaster, potential “Selling Out.” Is it selling out? We don’t always think this, or do we?, when a writer makes it big and the STUFF machine cranks out STUFF. Still . . .

It has me thinking: how much is too much? When does it become about Greed and not about the original purpose? Does it matter? Is it really all about making as much money as we can when we can do it? When does a personality become too big for their own britches—so big that they topple over from their own success/excess/access?

One may point out that Oprah is Too Big—but I don't know: somehow she climbed up without “selling out,” didn’t she? She did her show, and later, her magazine—do you see Oprah perfume, or Oprah clothing, Oprah Spatulas, or Oprah this and that and the other please buy me buy me buy me and anything I attach my name to even if it has nothing to do with Me? Other than the one Superbowl commercial, do you see her touting insurance or butter spreads or cheese or spatulas or restaurants or fast food places? Is she on another show other than her own that has nothing to do with her original show? Unless I’m missing something (and feel free to correct me!), the answer to those questions is No. Oprah knows what she is good at and she concentrated her efforts in those areas. She became a name, a force, but she never sold out, right?

We as consumers of whatever is being sold to us—whether it is a product, a show, an idea, a book, a Pesonality, et cetera—have the power to Turn the Channel, or Not Buy, or Say Enough is Enough. So are these people who saturate the airwaves and the shelves and put their fingers in every little pie both sweet and savory doing themselves a favor, or are they placing themselves at risk of the old “I AM SO SICK OF (fill in blank). . ." *eye roll*

Most everyone can understand we want to make a good living for ourselves and our families; most everyone can understand “hitting it while it’s hot;” most everyone can understand the need to be noticed and heard and loved—but, again, when does it become Too Too Too much. I know I will be turning the channel, or Not Buying the product, when I feel someone or something is shoved down my throat, because it all comes down to the Eye Roll Effect. Once I have the Eye Roll Effect, my respect is gone and it’s all down hill for that product or personality until they, or someone, pulls back the reins on that runaway horse. Only I know when the Eye Roll Effect comes and why and for whom. A few have recovered from my Eye Roll Effect and some never have. It's the single most telling way I know when I Am Done.

What do you think?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pain and Me

In nights of physical pain, I lift from my body, hover above, and watch my weakness with disdain. I dream without sleeping, float in a sea of nerve endings glowing red. I write beautiful words in the dark; they are slender threads of silver and gold, pulsing with meaning and truth. Pain purifies thoughts, sharpens the senses. In the night hours, I pity the part of me that demands attention to the fiery current racing down my spine and legs. I toss, turn, and wish it would stop. I argue my case, and pain argues back its own. One night, Pain opened up to me and said, "At times, I’d rather be called something else, like beauty, or hope, or joy. Do you think it's easy being hated and feared? I do my job and that is what I do. Who told you life is lived without pain?" I answered, "Do your worst! I am strong!” And I lay there, and I felt Pain, and thought, who would I be without Pain? It’s become a part of me, attached to me as if an extra body part. It's mine. And I can take it. I am strong.

In the quiet dark, I think how one day I will be a very old woman. I’ll walk crooked to the coffee pot, pour a cup, and holding the cup with trembled hands, I’ll shuffle to the porch, carefully sit in my rocker, pull a throw over my knees, and rock rock and think about pain and me and how we had a long good life together. I’ll wonder, did pain take away or did pain give insight, and empathy? I will drink every bit of my strong black coffee and I'll be grateful for its taste and heat, and I'll say, "Come on pain, today we will write, and then we will rock some more, and then we will read, and then we will rock some more. Life is good." And it won't seem but a minute that I am on Earth, just a minute. Just a minute. A minute. Minute.

(this was first posted on the yog blog a couple years ago)

Friday, August 13, 2010

SWEETIE's cover

Here is the SWEETIE cover draft image - if you click on it and enlarge it, you may can see how she is made of leaves and branches, but this image isn't very clear - I'll get a better one once I receive the final cover image. There's an excerpt on Sweetie on my website SWEETIE EXCERPT - it's actually a portion of the first chapter. Y'all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Power of Social Networking on our Brains . . . The Herbert Mesa Twitter Follow Phenom

Our brains and thought process thereof are strange things. How synapses fire and things connect and rearrange.

This morning, I am particularly thinking of the power of social networking, and in this example, Twitter.

I’ve been kind of mindlessly and listlessly watching Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star,” not really getting into it all that much this season and not really caring who won and sort of reacting a bit negatively to the “I’m a STAR!” thing some of the FN cooks/chefs have really aggressively attached to their names more here lately it seems. But, it’s something to do, television is, when I just want to Not Think.

So, the other day, I go into my email and see that I have new twitter followers. I always check them out, and I follow an eclectic group of people, not just writers and book people, but foodies and artists and people who just make me laugh or think. I'm .

In my new followers list was Herbert Mesa. The name sounded familiar and when I clicked on it, I saw that it is the Herb Mesa who is a finalist on Food Network Star—the account seemed real enough (sometimes people put up fake accounts), so I thought, why not? And I followed him back. His twitter account is: by the way .

He posted a few tweets about “Hey Guys! Help me out by voting . . .” and et cetera.

Now, something curious and completely unexpected and unplanned happened next. When I next watched FNS, I suddenly “Saw” Herb as a person that I related to in a way that was connected somehow solely by my brain—he wasn’t just some two-dimensional image on the TV screen. He’d followed me; I’d followed back; he’d asked for help; suddenly I wanted to help him. Mind you, again, before this I was mostly ambivalent.

Next I know, I’m rooting for Herb to do well. Next I know, I’m going on the vote site on Food Network (something I’d not done at all before this) and clicking on his name and the word: “Vote.” Suddenly, I am rooting for this guy because he seemed—what? Approachable? A nice guy? He followed me and that endeared him to me? He simply asked? Whatever my brain synapses decided, they did it on their own and I reacted to that.

Brain whirring and deciding whatever it decided, all from that “Herbert Mesa is following you on Twitter” email I received.

We should never underestimate the power of Social Networking, but beyond that, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of just reaching out and “Following” or “Friending” someone or making a comment on their blog, et cetera—making that personal connection that says “I’m here; I’m a real person; I need your support. Hey, here I am! It’s me!”

Granted, I’ve never gone on any social networking site and asked anyone to buy my books, because, well, that’s a bit different –there’s money involved and it just seems “not right” for me to do that, and books are so personal, you know? However, it makes me very happy when social networking finds me new readers—what if social networking sent my books into Best Seller status (I've been on a couple of "best seller" lists-regionally and on kindle, however!)? I do know that through my blog I have reached many new readers all over the world—something I’d never have done without social networking. And through Facebook, readers have “friended” me and I’ve come to know them (I'm on FB with my name: Kathryn Magendie). Through twitter I’ve ‘met’ some truly wonderful people, too. I’ve found new authors on soc networking myself, and have bought their books--authors I'd never have known otherwise.

So, meanwhile, my brain has flickered and rearranged and somehow decided that I should root for Herb Mesa on Food Network Star, just because he followed me, just because my brain worked out that this was what it wanted me to do. So, well,—go Herb!

brain image

Monday, August 9, 2010

Maintaining Internal Silence, Antar mouna: Yoga; How do you deal with stress?

Life's been a little hectic--a good hectic, but that doesn't stop the way my brain goes all frenetic and my body at times will complain, particularly my back. I was a personal trainer for 5-6 years, before I moved here to Western North Carolina, and exercise to keep strength and flexibility are important to me still. I’ve taken up running lately and since April have worked up from about five minutes of “ughnnn uhhhngnnnhhgghh” running (laughing) to a little over five miles as my best, so far. It helps me to zone out, to keep myself from becoming too crazy. I do some strength training, too, mostly on my upper body, to keep myself strong. There are walks at Lake Junaluska, or around my mountain cove. But . . . it’s the yoga at the end of it all that rounds everything out.

Once I step onto my yoga matt, I leave everything else behind but the moment. There are no racing thoughts, no worries about what I have to do next, for I must concentrate on breath, on maintaining internal silence, Antar mouna. I am careful not to overextend, such as in forward and backwards bends, or to take my body too far into the pose in those areas where I am not as flexible; I must respect my body’s abilities and its limitations. My eyes look inward as I concentrate on a spot or object, Bahiranga tratakanot. I stand in Mountain Pose, Tadasana,—feet together, hands at my sides. I bring my hands to prayer position, then raise my arms up to the sky, feeling a gentle stretch, my balance, my focus, and from there, I fold and move into the sun salutation, Surya-namaskar.

If my back is bad, I will let yoga take me only to where I feel safe, as in a gentle cat and dog stretch, or perhaps hold downward facing dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana, a bit longer. It is just me and my matt and my heart; there is no one to tell me how much or how little I must do. I like that. I feel the freedom of making the yoga my own. Perhaps that is what is intended, but if not, I can only ask forgiveness for my ignorance.

No matter which yoga poses I do, I always include child’s pose at the end. It is hard to feel anything but peace and serenity when folded into a facing-down fetal position. My face is hidden from the world, my body tucked tight, yet my spine is vulnerable to the sky and anyone who may come near me. It is at once both a trusting pose, while a very private and protective one. I breathe in and out, slowly and evenly. I stay that way until I can face the world again. Then I curl up and sit into half-lotus pose, ardha padma-asana, bring my hands to prayer position, then lower my head, close my eyes, and whisper, Namaste, which is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another, or when alone, my own acknowledgement of my heart. How can I feel anything but contentment and peace when in this beautiful pose? I cannot. Namaste.

What about you? How do you control stress in your life?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

SWEETIE's cover - almost ready to show off I hope!

Angie(l) & Me(r)
SWEETIE has a cover! Oh, y'all, it's a beautiful cover and so appropriate to the story, but, as well, it is appropriate to who I am as a person and a writer—how I feel about nature. So much of my writing is nature-inspired, even when I am not aware of it, nature is threaded and weaved and seeped into my work. Anyone who knows me, or listens to me as I talk about this cove, knows how like a Mama Bear I become when I talk about this cove, the natural elements here, the beauty that needs our help to preserve it.
the cove & valley misted

Before I go off on that tangent(!), the cover art for SWEETIE – yes, that’s what I was talking about *laugh* -- When I first glanced at the image, I immediately was drawn to it—it wasn’t only the partial face (you can see the lower face and mouth of a woman and that image is compelling), the hands stretched out holding onto an object, the “crinkled” look that made it seem as if it was from something ancient, but, when I looked at it more closely, I saw where it is as if “Sweetie” is MADE of the leaves, or as if she is transparent and the leaves are showing through her. This nature element sold me on the cover right away.

There is an image of a Deep Blood Red Rose. At first, the rose threw me. I thought, hmm, a rose? Not sure. But then it took hold of me—the dress Sweetie wore to school with the roses that had turned old blood color. The symbol of love (and not romantic love, but the love between friends). The beauty. The Blood. The Burning Fire. The delicate petals that also hold the thorns. So many things popped into my head with that rose, I knew it was perfect—and as I write this, I am hoping the cover does stay as I saw it. And, as soon as all is approved and completed, I’ll post the image for y'all to see.

This just may be my favorite cover. I can’t wait to see it on the printed book, for only then can I, you, see the full impact of it.

I want to mention quickly here that the Book Club I Skyped with on Thursday afternoon went so very well. I was delighted to meet these women—they made me feel comfortable, made me laugh, and made me think. Always, always, readers make me think deeper about my books. I want to thank the Minnesota Book Club (and if you all have an official name-let me know!) for the opportunity to speak with them. If you have a book club that’s too far for me to travel to, Skyping is a wonderful way to connect!

Now, you tell me: What are you up to? I am so trying to visit all of your blogs, and on Facebook & Twitter, etc, and know I am behind. But, I will be stopping by even if it takes me a little longer. Things have been moving so fast and furious lately! What are you doing as the summer moves into fall (already! LAWD!). Projects?(and it doesn’t have to be writing projects). Trips? New Things on the Horizon? What? Or you can tell me: “Go by my blog, Miz Kathryn, and find out for yourself! Huhn!” Laugh . . .

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Rose & Thorn Blog . . . and Crazy Life!

Hi Y'all! Just stopping in to direct you all to the Rose & Thorn blog, where Angie Gumbo Writer has an interview with with Ronlyn Domingue, author of The Mercy of Thin Air. Feel free to leave a comment, say hi, whatever! While there, stop by the R&T Journal and read the summer offerings.

Also, I am busy working on the line-edits for the SWEETIE novel to be released this fall. Beyond that, I've started VK III and as soon as I finish SWEETIE line-edits, I will get back to work on (Something) GRACES, the final book in the Graces Sagas trilogy (as far as I know, it's the final book).

I was pleased that my editor at BB publishers called Sweetie an "amazing kick-ass book" - I've been saying that phrase all morning *laughing* - to GMR, to Angie, to twitter, to facebook. How could I not do the Happy Dance? If your editor loves your book that much, then the excitment and energy for the book grows even greater. The time you wait to hear back from your editor to see if she/he likes the book, much less loves it, is stress-rendering. So, when you not only have the green-light, but the "kick-ass amazing" part--I can't describe the happiness, joy, and relief combined! WHOOP WHOOP!

my view as I work on Sweetie/Graces Saga, etc!
I know I'm behind on my visiting and all, but, this has been a really busy year for me, busier than ever -- with the release of SECRET GRACES while still keeping TENDER GRACES alive and going, and SWEETIE, then the surprise from BB asking me if I'd like to write a novella to go with two other author's novellas. That three-author work should come out this fall, as well. Pair that with the "non writing part of a writing life" and it makes for a crazy year! But - isn't this what I signed up for? Isn't this what I wanted? Isn't this my dream? . . . Yes. It is. *smiling*

Tomorrow I Skype with a book club - I am looking forward to that, but worry about Skype's problems they've had -- I was Skyping with my son and baby Lil' Boop and my computer crashed! First time that's ever happened.

What are you working on? Are you winding down with summer vacations and such? Can you believe it is already August?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cataloochee Elk, Tobacco Barn & Caldwell house

Angie, me, GMR, and Angie's hb went to Cataloochee to see the elk. Angie had about three heart-attacks, five jumping out of her skins, two AUUUGGGH's, and three We're gonna Dieeeee's, as we wound our way round and up and then round and down to get to the Cataloochee valley (teeheehee). While there, we also visited the old tobacco barn and the old Caldwell house. I snapped some photos of the old tabacco barn, the old homestead, and the elk- but not all of the photos are in the usual way. I liked how the light was that day, how it came through breaks between the barn wood, or through the windows and doors of the house.

I talked Angie into staying a little longer, so we can extend our visit. There's so much to see, but, as well, there's so much just to Not Do - relax, nap, write, be.

Today I'll get back to work on VK III a little while Angie works on her WIP. Sometimes it will strike me all of a sudden how I have two books out, Sweetie on the way in November, as well as a novella that will be published with two other author's novellas and released this fall, and, the VK III book to work on to be released summer 2011. I do feel like my dreams have come true - like a writer, an author, a novelist. But! Also! Chimney Rock Park calls, as does the Cherokee Museum, and Joey's Pancake House and Jelly Bellies in Maggie Valley, Main Street Waynesville, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Smoky Mountain State Park drive down 441, and et cetera. In between and among these things is the porch, where I am sitting, along with Angie, as we each type on our laptops. There's a nice cool breeze, though the heat's going to return to the valleys, at near 3400 feet we are lucky to feel the breeze from the ridgetops and from off the creek.

Life is good living in this cove at Killian Knob.

I leave you with some images of the tobacco barn, the old Caldwell house, and the Cataloochee elk. To see them bigger, should you want to, just click on the photos.