Monthly Archives: February 2015

Reading Is!

I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing some Twitter writers’ works.  As I read others’ books, my ideas keep flowing as I note their writing styles, techniques and subject matter.  Reading and writing truly go hand in hand and one cannot be effectively done without the other.  Francis Bacon writes, Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.”

Though, I basically write fiction, some of our personal selves shine through as we develop our characters.  And for those non-fiction writers, they unapologetically tell their stories, accounts and experiences by taking the brave chance of baring their souls before all of their readers. That takes true courage because they do not have the fictional characters to mask their own private pains nor vulnerabilities.

I can safely attest to the fact that every book has changed me in some way.   Each book alters my views and opens up new ways of looking at life.  They give me insight into new locations and settings and a peek into other cultures and their mindsets. Some writers describe scenes so fully that I feel as if I was there or in some instances, I feel that I need to get there.  So, I might add that locale to my ‘must see’ list.

Books enhance us in every way as they sharpen our intellect. Avid readers usually have a whole different perspective and take on things.  Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, If we encounter a man with rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.  We should read, read, read.  Reading keeps us living in a more expansive world.

With a book handy, we are less likely to get caught up in the pettiness of everyday situations.  And, as writers, the more we read, the more we have to write about when it is time to pick up that trusty pen or tap out some ideas on the computer or iPad.  Those higher thoughts can lift us up out of ourselves and widen our vistas.  One Chinese proverb says,A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”

Books can guide us and serve as lamp posts.  They can act as road maps or wayshowers.  They can be foreboding and foreshadowing.  They can point the way.  Perhaps, a character has had an experience that we are now facing.  We recognize the danger and readily make wiser choices because we are more aware from that former reading.  When you read a good book, somewhere in the world, a door opens to allow in more light,” said Vera Nazarian.

Authors are always teaching and discussing universal truths.  Overcoming some life challenge is usually the basis for any good story.  Somewhere down the line, the main character has to work through some problem or dilemma.  The readers are usually rooting for that character if the author successfully made them feel compassion for that character. Thomas Helm wrote,My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter.”

I can safely say, that every book that I have read has richly added to my wholeness and well-being.   We cannot have all of life’s experiences and we certainly don’t want to, but observing, listening and reading can direct our paths.  We can find a friend like no other in the pages of a book.  A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend.”  Author Unknown

What book are you currently reading?

Lynn                                                                                                 February 8, 2015

Naked by Guest Author, Julie Freed

Naked cover

Today, I have the honor of posting a short interview with Author Julie Freed on her book Naked.  She shares her account of survival during Hurricane Katrina while living on the Mississippi coast.  It is both descriptive and riveting!  Enjoy!

Crises often seem to come in layered forms. You were dealing with the wrath of Hurricane Katrina and the dissolution of a marriage. Please tell us how the title is symbolic.

NAKED – Being authentic, being vulnerable, being alive!  Both the title and cover image capture being naked in several ways. My own body’s naked outline is merged with a photo of my house after Hurricane Katrina.  My body represents the raw candor of the text that I hope makes the reader feel as if she is beside me on my journey. It also symbolizes the nakedness I felt in and for my community, as my surroundings were destroyed.  And naked also refers to the freedom from material possessions and a dying marriage I ultimately experienced. Color inside the figure expresses the light and love I found within, despite all that dissolved into black and white around me.

Many people have to endure serious challenges without the support of a strong family. Can you tell us what a strong, close-knit family unit meant to you during these devastating circumstances?

It’s almost indescribable.  After the storm, knowing I would be able to collapse into my mother’s arms physically and emotionally was a gift like no other. And my dad was a rock of strength. I was so fortunate.  I cannot imagine those weeks or months post Katrina without their love. Having a tribe of family and friends to depend on can buoy us through anything, but we must be willing to ask and willing to accept help.

What parts of your upbringing helped you become a resilient and buoyant person?

My parents were strict and always challenged me to do more. But, they let me fail, they let me fall.  They were not helicopter parents, making sure I didn’t scrape a knee.  They provided all I truly needed and allowed me to explore and learn on my own.  I think this helped develop a decent level of grit and confidence.  And this was across the board in sports, in musical performance, academics.

As a family we also had to deal with cancer in our world when my sisters and I were all still quite young.  My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at 42.  This changes the world for children and for a family.  Mom was a fighter, a survivor – a role model.  I learned early, life throws hurdles.  We must keep jumping or we become frozen with fear.

Could you describe the drive from the Mississippi coast to the Atlanta airport for us after the house on Bridal Lane was no longer there?

Weather following a hurricane is usually pristine. A storm sweeps with it the rain, clouds, and humidity.  Days in its wake are breezy, sunny, and fresh, almost like the earth has been cleansed.  Late August and early September 2005 after Hurricane Katrina were no different.  What was different is that the interstate was empty, miles and miles of emptiness as I drove north.  But even after losing my house and my spouse, I was not empty.  My daughter and dog slept and Annie Lennox and Jo Dee Messina kept me company. I sang backup much of the drive. I banged a hard beat on my steering wheel singing sometimes with tears, others with smiles. I was energized. Empowered as I drove, finally in control, I knew I was driving to a better day – a better life for my daughter and for me.

What do you think you personally learned after witnessing nature’s force and fury?

What an amazing planet we have been gifted!  Our environment, our waters, the air we breathe are all precious and we must protect and defend them.  No matter how brilliant the diamond, how fast the car, how big the flat screen – Mother Nature wins.  She can blow it all away.  Material obsessions, in the end are immaterial.  Love, family, friends, travel, ideas, creativity, inspiration, and time, time, time – These are my commodities.  … And a really good hot cup of coffee!

Julie Freed, PhD
NAKED: Stripped by a Man and Hurricane Katrina

Neither Hurricane Katrina nor an absent, cheating husband could defeat this brave lady.  A heart-wrenching true story told with dignity.‘   Victoria Twead – NYT Bestselling Author
Lynn                                                                                                      February 5, 2015

Rumor Has It!

We have all heard Adele’s song, Rumor Has it.”  Of course, anything that this sultry and soulful singer belts out gets our attention.  Then, we slow down later and really listen to her lyrics and get the true message of her song.

Rumors.  Rumors.  Rumors.  Rumors spread like wild fire and for some reason, people seem to come out of the woodwork when the rumor mill is in motion.  Perhaps, it is because they are bored or that their lives don’t have any real levels of substance.  Or, maybe, they see this as a form of ‘free’ entertainment.  They do not have to spend any money nor gas.  They simply have to pick up the phone and let the wheel of preconceived conceptions spin.

Mark Twain is quoted as saying, A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  I think of my character Phoenix in A Golden Leaf in Time Revised At the beginning of the novel, she gets a phone call from the young security guard’s wife telling her, in essence, to leave her husband alone.  She then shows up at the public library and further adds to Phoenix’s humiliation after a personal confrontation.

“Shortly after the phone call, a pregnant woman appeared at the door to the library. She had a bandanna tied around her head, and she had two small children with her. She took one look at Phoenix and shouted in front of the morning senior-citizen patrons, “Stay out of bed with my husband, or I’ll hurt you!”

     Phoenix stood there in a pink two-piece cotton suit with her mouth agape. She felt the blood rush to her head and felt a light dizziness, not knowing what to do. The branch manager hurried out of his office. He took one look at Phoenix and quickly suggested that Phoenix, the security guard -husband, and the wife and children come into his office to deter further outbursts and embarrassment. As they moved into the small office, it felt airless.

     There was only room for two persons to be seated. The branch manager sat behind his desk, and Phoenix sat on a high stool. The security guard and the wife stood along the wall. The children cried out of confusion. The wife accused. The branch manager attempted to mediate. The security guard stood and studied the rug. Phoenix studied the city map on the wall, never realizing that the city had so many streets. The wife talked on and on. The air thickened in the unventilated office, and what was all of twenty minutes seemed like an eternity.

It was a pretty horrific scene and Phoenix’s co-workers are watching and privately enjoying this troubling situation.  They have misled the young wife and led her to believe that something was amiss. Their professional envy has caused them to devise this scheme.  Perhaps, Phoenix’s seemingly self- assurance bothers them.  Or, it could be that she is often seen reading, which they rarely do. Again, Mark Twain said, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” 

Phoenix’s honorable character allowed her to withstand the onslaught of accusations because she was innocent.  Again, Twain states, “Get your facts first; then you can distort them as you please.”  She did not have to squirm nor shuffle though her inner spirit was being tested.  She simply stood and endured the untruths because she knew that in a matter of time, she would be on higher ground and ‘it would be well with her.’  And the truth shall make you free!

Golden Leaf thumbnail

Lynn                                                                                                                        February 4,  2015

The Love Month- February

It is February and that is the month of love.  This month includes Valentine’s Day where we share heartfelt feelings with our partners.  But we know that there are many types of love that we give and receive from our fellow beings.

I was listening to a sermon the other day and I thought about the commission to bind up the broken-hearted.’  Often we brush pass others who from all appearances are doing well; but they could be wearing a mask to hide a deep, throbbing inner pain.  That is why it would behoove us to be gentle, thoughtful and kind to others.  The Golden Rule still works.

One abrasive or unkind word could cause the dam of tears to break and unravel that person from within.  I am often amazed at how crude, rude and mean-spirited we can be to other human beings.  When I witness offensive and harsh behavior, I first step back and take a deep breath as I decide how I will respond to the affront.  As I further mature and observe human nature, I realize that as the saying goes,only hurting people hurt people.’

However, in this age where we are surrounded by oodles of self-help books, talk shows with guest psychologists, and downloadable online resources, there is little excuse for extremely negative behavior.  If something went wrong in our households as children, there is a plethora of information out there for us to take ownership of our pain.

It is not the world’s fault and most people do not interact with us long enough to care why we behave poorly.  They simply respond with an, “Ouch,” and keep moving away from the source of discomfort.  Maya Angelou said, I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  People remember which persons exacted which emotions whether it was joy or pain.

When I see people on television getting out of their cars and verbally or physically attacking other drivers during a fit of ‘road rage,’ I sigh, “Really?  Grown-ups?”  When I see people who are trained to help others act in a contrary manner, I know that they do not know themselves and are not in touch with their own spiritual centers. We should ask ourselves, “Would I want this treatment to be thrust upon my loved ones?  If the answer is, “No way,” then we need to pull back and check our attitudes and actions.

Mary Baker Eddy writes, The rich in spirit help the poor in spirit in one grand brotherhood…”  We should lift, encourage, praise, soothe, embrace, comfort and listen to one another.  Now, that is love.

Love

Lynn                                                                                                                                       February 1, 2015