Tag Archives: creative writing

Thoughts About 21 Grams, and I Don’t Mean the Movie.

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My dear border collie’s body had been cold less than 30 hours when a friend and I went to an art exhibit by faculty members of Virginia Wesleyan College. My friend, a specialist in digital photography manipulation, was one of these artists.

On display were photographic images etched into stainless steel; large glass animal figurines, both whimsical and dark; small houses made of a medium unknown to me but washed with color and adorned with strips of what appeared to be bamboo or wood; photographic mélanges narrative in nature; and more.

What really grabbed my attention were objects on three rectangular tables that ran down the center of the gallery. They held an array of various shaped pieces, arranged in groups or alone, all, made of clear glass. Several reminded me of bacteria I’ve seen under a high-powered microscope. Another suggested gray matter, but my favorite series looked like artfully arranged bottoms of hand-blown bottles spit out by the sea. All of these pieces contained what looked to be sand.

But it wasn’t. It was the ashes of the artist’s dead dog.

I learned this from my friend who read aloud the statement by glass artist, Charlotte Potter. I would have read it myself if I had not been caught up in the ethereal beauty of the objects that lay before me. Or if I had know that I would fall asleep later that night and wake the next morning thinking of this exhibit titled, “Cellular Reliquary,” wanting to write about it. Why didn’t I pull out my cell and snap a photo or two? Why did it take me so long to understand the glass shapes symbolized parts of a cell and a dog’s body?

Gracie

Gracie

Maybe I should have been freaked out or feeling guilty that for the first time in my adult life I did not save my pet’s body or ashes and lay them somewhere special. When my Australian shepherd died three years or so ago, I kept her remains in a tin on top of the microwave because she loved food. I moved them when we renovated out kitchen, Now, I have no idea where they are. Because of that, I did not ask for the return of dear Gracie’s ashes, which would have required me to find a large dead fish on the beach on which to sprinkle them.

The artist’s dog weighed just over 84 pounds, which provides a good amount of ash and bone chips with which to work. With that in mind, the total weight of her exhibit equals the weight of her dog less the weight of the soul, a human one, which in 1907 was determined to be 21 grams or .74 ounces. Since then a number of scientists and physicians have debunked this, citing there were too many variables regarding the weight and quibbling about whether a soul is energy or mass or hocus-pocus.

I will not confuse you with all I’ve read about dark plasma, electron accelerators, how energy can become mass and subject to the laws of gravity, the science of Noetics, etc.

Just know that like any good art will do, this exhibit by Charlotte Potter send me searching for more information. Even though most of it has been contradictory, the possibility that a soul has weight comforts me, and the artist’s creative way of memorializing her dog continues to awe me.

And I hate to admit it, but I’ve taken to looking at my remaining two dogs and one cat as potential works of art.

Potter’s work and others’ will be on display in the Hofheimer Library at VWC until Oct. 5, 2013. If you would like to see her work online, go to http://www.charlottepotter.com/Artist.asp?ArtistID=29721&Akey=Y44GHA99.

Cooley & Rose update: The Goodreads.com giveaway has ended. Three copies of Cooley & Rose are on their way to readers in Connecticut, Florida and Colorado.

Nine books clubs that I know of have chosen to read Cooley & Rose. One of these is a couples reading club. That should be an interesting conversation.

Michelle Obama came to me. . .

Maybe it was the fish tacos and too much pinot gris at dinner. Or the craving for dark chocolate and crushed peanuts that followed. Who know why I, or anyone else, spent Tuesday night tossing and turning between fits of waking and sleeping

That was the night I found myself in the living room of an old two-story house with a stoop, its exterior shingled in navy 448px-Michelle_Obama_official_portrait_headshotsquares of asbestos. Inside was a group of people who were dressed as though they were going to church, one that required dresses for women and suits for men. A woman in a royal purple wrap and black patent leather pumps, sat on an olive green couch. She looked familiar, much like someone whose face I knew from Goodreads.com but had never met in real life.

I didn’t know what I was doing in this place more than an hour from my house and feared it was a start-up church, the kind that focused on the Old Testament, perhaps used the New Testament in ways Jesus would not have liked. I’d been done with bad news churches for decades and had no interest in squirming through a sermon that would leave me snippy.

Now, the good news in this story is that these people, all middle-aged and white, had gathered in the middle of nowhere in a starkly furnished house to play a kind of charades that involved no alcohol or shouting. Even the silent gestural clues were modest. Such civility intimated me into silence. I had no idea a party game could be so dull. When there was a break, I plotted my getaway and stood to leave, but something amazing happened before I acted on it. As I opened to door to leave, President Obama and the First Lady came through up to the door and entered. I decided to stay a while longer.

Rather than shake hands or politicize, the Obamas, too, came to play charades. They were crazy about the game. Before taking a seat, Michelle said to me, “I heard about your novel, Cooley & Rose. I want to read it.”

Thrilled – how did she know me? – I excused myself to go to my car to grab a copy, even though, until that moment, I had no idea how I’d driven there. Dreams are like that. Details come when you truly need them. All the way to the car and back, I reminded myself to take a photo of Michelle holding my book, to ask someone to take a picture of the two of us. Once I was inside, however, I was so awed by the power of word-of-mouth, especially the mouth that knew a First Lady, that I forgot my intentions. I left with no recorded memory of the moment, and nothing to help sell my modest indie undertaking. The disappointment was crushing.

And it was the next morning, too, when I woke from my dream. I still wanted those photos.

cover final 3-2-13Note: Cooley & Rose is available as a paperback and ebook EVERYWHERE. If it’s not on the shelf of your favorite store, ask the customer service rep to order it for you.

Goodread’s All Author Blog Blitz – Meet Lisa Day

June 15 is Goodread’s All Author Blog Blitz which means Lisa Day, an author with whom I was paired a few days ago, is posting on this page, and my post is appearing on the blog of sci-fi/fantasy/ horror writer David Nicol. Lisa lives in North Carolina. David is in Wales. I’ll be back here in two weeks.

My name is Lisa Day. I’m fairly new to the writing game. Some great people helped me along the way. They saved me not only time in learning what a new writer needs to know in this relationship between the writer and social media, but they helped me not to fall victim to the many scams out there.
The first thing I learned, after setting up your Facebook Page or pages is to begin blogging and grow an audience. But when I began my blog, I discovered I am not a blogger in the normal sense of the word. This knowledge left me with a dilemma. Now what?
As you move through the pages of my blog you of course will see my books. You will also notice there are pages showcasing other writer’s works. These are the pages that give me more pleasure than I realized they would. Each new writer who lets me share his work validates me, not as a writer, but as a person. I find pleasure helping others. Today’s social media is now one of the fastest ways to spread the word about anything, especially books.
***
I hail from New Jersey before ‘Jersey Girls’ became famous. Having lived in the south for so many years, I now think of myself as a retired southern belle, just born in the wrong century. So, what else am I to do but write those pesky stories that live my head?
Please take a few minutes and explore the pages of my blog. You will find my latest book. Wolfkeeper’s Woman there. Below is the blurb from the back cover of my book.
“Cassie was now alone with her husband dead and son abducted. She stood before the one she hated. Her only goal: Her child must live.
The instant Wolfkeeper took the child all three of their lives were forever changed. To save them all, Cassie had to make the ultimate sacrifice.
As a warrior without a heart Wolfkeeper took from her everything she loved. As a man he discovered she filled his heart. How will he ever be able to make amends?”

Website: http://lisaday.weebly.com/
You can also find me here and there:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisa.day.718
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/LisaDayAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LisaDay12
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/lisaday123/
Blog: http://lisaday12.blogspot.com/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1998.Lisa_Day
To purchase Wolfkeeper’s Woman
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A31PMO0
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/303570
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lisaday12
b&n http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wolfkeepers-woman-lisa-day/1115113080?ean=2940044429536

Words of Cautions and Words of Thanks

First, a PSA

Last Friday I was handed a message to call someone named J—– W—–. Neither the name nor the phone number was familiar to me. My HOBL said it was a business call, but he could not remember the company’s name. I usually would toss such a message into the trash, but on that day, I was expecting information from a book distributor, so I called.

When the phone was answered, there was chaos on the other end – several voices talking, things being dropped. It sounded like a small group of young people sitting at a long table, eating lunch and shouting to each other. At least ten seconds passed before someone actually spoke to me, and , even then, I could not make out the words because of the noise in the background.

Then all went quiet, as though the group had been shushed or the speaker function had been disabled. On the line was a young man whose accent was one that we all recognize from call centers, but one I’d rather associate with champion spellers or good doctors rather than what I later concluded was a scam artist. I asked to speak J—– W——- and gave his the extension. The man asked me to hold, but he did not put the phone on hold or mute. There were none of the clicks associated with a call being transferred. Then the same young man said, “This is J—–W—–.”

Right off, he asked my name, and I told him. Then he wanted to know if I was at my computer.

“Excuse me, “ I said, “what company is this?” He gave me a high-tech sounding name, which I will not divulge here because there might be a legit company out in the world that shares the same one. Besides, I imagine this guy changes company names, his own name and phone numbers on a near daily basis.

Again, he asked if I was at my computer and told me to turn it on immediately. I did not do a thing. He told me my computer had a virus. When I asked how he knew that, he said information on his monitor told him, and he was going to help me fix the bug. Funny, nobody has ever called and offered such help before. Even before virus programs were developed, I would go into my registry and do the tedious work of cleaning it up.

“Whom do you work for?” I asked. (And, yes, I dangle my prepositions on a regular basis when I talk.) He named his company. “No,” I said, “Who pays your company to do this?” He would not say. Instead, he insisted that I start up my computer. “We detected the virus last week. We need to fix this.”

Throughout this conversation, I was sitting at my Mac, which is almost virus-proof. I had seen no evidence of any problems. “Which computer are you talking about?”

“It’s a Microsoft problem.”

“And you detected it last week?”

“Yes,” he said.

And that’s when I knew for sure I was being scammed, because my other computer, a PC laptop that seldom goes online, had been unplugged for more than two weeks.

“I can’t do this now, “ I said. “I’m waiting for a call. I’ll be back in touch next week.”

The guy on the other end did not thank me for my time or offer any pleasantry. Instead, he cut me off.

I went to the PC, plugged it in and powered it up. After checking my virus program for updates, of which there were none, I ran a full scan. All was fine.

Early in my marriage, my HOBL and I spent two years dealing with Identity Theft. This was just after President Clinton signed a bill making it a crime but before the law was enacted. The local police had no idea how to track such things. As a former reporter, however, I knew some handy investigative techniques and how to apply them online. Because of cross-referenced information gathered from banks and businesses that had been targeted, I was able to get the Secret Service involved.

So, Friday, even though J——– W——— gained nothing from me, or at least I have seen no evidence that he did, I filed an online complaint with the federal government, outlining our conversation, providing the telephone numbers and call times involved. Who knows if that’s enough for those investigators to do anything, but I do hope this post might help someone.

If you receive such a call, please take a name and number and the reason for the call from the “tech,” and then call your computer company, concierge service, and maker of your virus protection software to see if the call is legit. And if it isn’t, report it. The federal government has an online internet complaint page.

Now, Something Lighter

As a supportive gesture, a dear friend who is overworked and has no time to read, bought my novel, Cooley & Rose, in e-book form and sent it to his father.

“Why did you do that?” said his wife, who’d already read the novel in an early form and is the person who told me this story. She asked because her father-in-law is an 83-year-old retired CIA employee who reads thrillers, — not quirky, road stories about two flawed characters whose marriage is on the rocks. Although I was grateful and touched by the support from her husband, I was a bit sad that the book would probably go unread,

Almost three weeks passed. The wife called me to say her father-in-law not only read Cooley & Rose but loved it so much that he had been talking about it for two weeks.

Everyday I’m hearing from more and more men who are taking time to sit down with Cooley & Rose.
I’ve also heard from several women who confessed that reading the novel has made them kinder to their spouses.

Isn’t that something? Cooley & Rose is spreading the love.cover final 3-2-13

Feel free to comment on this site about your experience with the story, or go to the online store from where you bought your book to comment and review.

By the way, the novel is available in a trade paperback from Amazon.com and as an e-book from online reader stores. You can read the first chapter for free.

Writing and Talking With a Lyme Brain is Hard Work. Ask Amy Tan & Rebecca Wells.

This week I’ve been spending my time making changes to the e-book version of Cooley & Rose and working on a format for a paperback version.images

While doing this, I struggled with my Lyme brain where years ago babesia bacteria took up residence, wreaking neurological havoc in so many ways, especially on my ability to recall words. This is a challenge for a writer. Amy Tan and Rebecca Wells have written about their experiences. When Wells created Ya-Ya in Bloom, the sequel to The Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, she had already developed advance neurological damage. 1103_rd_tick

My brain was already frazzled by the time I started working on the novel-version of Cooley and Rose. Still, I pushed on and finished that, then wrote The Wyatt Sisters Songs of Sorrow, a story that is even more complex than the one that I’m hawking these days.

People say, “Oh, everyone forget words now and then.” True, but I will give you two brief examples of what happens with a Lyme brain.

Yesterday I was telling my husband about my new cell phone and all the tricks it could do and how I carried the instruction book around to read whenever I had to wait somewhere, like the drive-thru at the bank or a doctor’s office. He cocked his head and squinted his eyes and said, “You have a clock that does all that?” Years ago, I would have accused him of losing his hearing, but now I know better. Even though my brain thinks one word, often another comes out. This happens everyday. Unless I can’t find any semblance to the word I want. Then I just shut up. And sometimes he’s grateful for that.

A couple of days ago I came across “squawling babies” in Cooley & Rose and decided to look up the word “squawling” but could not find it. Then my mind told me to look up “squalling,” hoping it had a secondary or tertiary definition that would fit my meaning. I had no luck there with that either. Then I started going through the alphabet, and when I came to “B”, I stopped. “Brawling babies,” I said and imagined two little diapered fatties, lying on their backs, flinging their arms and kicking their legs. I was wrong again, but the strain of thinking was exhausting me. And then the word came. “Bawling.” It was the right word although a bit bland. I had to jot it down, because my brain kept insisting on returning to “brawling.” DSCN0143

With this path of thought written down on paper, it came to me that somewhere in my mind, the words “squealing” and “bawling” had merged to become “squawling.” Now, after having taken care of my corrections, I wished I’d stayed with the original because even though it’s not a legit word, it seems more expressive than “bawling.”

What do you think?

Oh, The Places This Novel is Taking Me!

cover final 3-2-13My novel, Cooley & Rose, is now available as a paperback from Amazon.com and as an e-book from Amazon, ITunes, Sony, Kobo and seven other online sites, including one specific to the United Kingdom. Both reader and mobile formats are available.

Included at the end of Cooley & Rose is a book club guide. For those groups on the southside of Hampton Roads who decide to read this novel and would like me to attend their meetings, I’ll be glad to do so. By the way, the novel begins and ends in South Norfolk, Virginia, and, with the help of historian Raymond Harper and my aunt, Ruby Ene, I tried to capture the essence of that area as it was in 1948. I’ve also tried to do the same with the other settings — Clinton, OK; Los Angeles; and Palm Spring, CA.

As I write this blog, I feel almost too calm, especially since I wrote the first pages of this book almost 20 years ago. I should be punctuating this entry with a lot of exclamation points !!! But a lot has happened during that time. More than enough for a book or two. But none of that matters now.

After the death of my second agent, I decided to take on publishing Cooley & Rose by myself, and I don’t regret it for a moment. That decision pushed me to start this blog, something I had thought about but had lacked the energy or motivation to do. In the few months that it has been online, more than 2,500 people from at least 49 countries have visited this site, accidentally or not. Still the idea, that as an electronic community we are one, awes me.

I’ve also received several dozen comments on my blog and many more emails from friends and strangers with kind words and, sometimes, their own stories, which I greatly appreciate.

So far this is one wondrous ride.

Now, before I end this buy-my-book blog and return to story telling next week, I ask those of you who read and like Cooley & Rose to post reviews or ratings on the site from which you purchased your e-book and on Goodreads.com. It’s not easy for an indie to market her work, but your words could help a lot.

Thank you.

Alethia, Berkley 1940

Eyes wired red
from searching for nits
on the heads of eight kids,
my grandmother sits alone
in the kitchen
on a new cane chair
bought used with money from
Navy boarders.

Her head cocked,
an ear toward heaven,
she listens
for cries from babies
too grown to suckle
breasts long dry,
so tired they rest
atop her belly.

In her lap
her hands are clasped,
red and swollen,
from packing pickles,
washing the linens
of strangers,
fingers too rough for
rings, tender touch.

With knees pressed.
ankles crossed and
ten toes touching
linoleum,
perhaps she dreams
as she sits
the way she told me
a lady should.

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