Friday, September 28, 2012

Follow Your Dreams...and Carry Bandages

People say, "Follow your dreams" all the time.  They say it with regret, as if speaking of something they wish they had done themselves.  Sometimes they say it hopefully, speaking of something they intend to do.

What they generally don't tell you is that this pursuit is not a joyous romp through Candyland.  They leave out the part about a desperate chase through nettle patches and bog-water, when your dream speeds by you so quickly that you're lucky if you're able to catch it by the tail and hold on for dear life.  They leave out the part about the road rash, the torn fingernails, the aching hunger for the thing that is always just out of your reach.

So here you go:

Follow your dreams.  It will be hard and painful.  You'll end up bruised, scarred, and exhausted.  But you have to trust that the chase is worth it.  You have to do it for love, so that when you're getting battered and bruised you can laugh through the pain because you'd rather be there in that place battling away than sitting on a cotton candy cloud somewhere eating Danish.  But do sometimes keep chocolate in your pocket.  It helps.

Take it from someone who's in the midst of the bruising process.

On a side note, Violet Shadows is free today on Kindle.  Whee...and also Ouch!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

MatadorU Chapter 1 Assignment -- Chewelah: A Walk to the Post Office

The crisp September air greets me as I step outside and shut the door behind me, slipping the letters to be mailed into my messenger bag.  I walk across the deck and down the steps to the sidewalk, enjoying the slight cool breeze after months of heat.  Crossing Washington Street, I head into town, passing the neighbor's junk heap, the largest and most spectacular of many about town, which contains everything from a broken-down golf cart to a mountain of black garbage sacks full of ancient aluminum cans.  From somewhere among the debris I can hear someone loudly expelling their morning phlegm.  Several houses down is a pristine turn-of-the-century almost-mansion towering over a lilac hedge.  A wrought iron lamppost overlooks a perfectly-kept lawn.  That's Chewelah.

I meander down tree-lined Webster, enjoying the way the huge roots of the maples have caused little eruptions in the sidewalk, as if Nature feels the need to remind civilization of its ultimate futility, as if the trees are saying, "We were here long before you came, and we'll remain long after you're gone."  Perhaps that shouldn't be comforting, but it is.

I cross the railroad bridge over Chewelah Creek, shaded by the surrounding willows.  Now I'm on Main Street, approaching the town's one stoplight.  In a couple of months there will be traffic heading up to 49 Degrees North, the local ski resort, but for now it's nearly as quiet as a ghost town.  One car wheezes by, an entire panel missing off its side.  The exposed frame looks like old bones.  I step into the crosswalk without waiting for the light, and continue down Main Street.

Beyond the drugstore on the corner, I find the new ballet studio.  It represents a triumph for the arts in Chewelah.  Ballet teacher Ann Marie Benedict has now taught in Chewelah for over twenty-five years, until recently giving her classes in a run-down gymnasium.

Why did she come to this tiny rural community?  Why did any of us come here?

A semi with a full load of fresh-cut pine logs roars by.  The driver grins, waves, and spews a brown fountain of tobacco juice out the open window.

Several streets down is the Flowery Trail Coffeehouse, where you can get your coffee specially roasted to your preference.  A little way beyond that is the park, where the local farmers' market sets up on Fridays.  We're proud of our farmers' market.  It's won the award for Best Small Farmers' Market in the State several years running.

We come for all different reasons.  Junk-heaps and phlegm aside, we stay for love.

I reach the post office and drop my letters in the outgoing box.  Then I turn for home.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fashion and the Overactive Imagination

News first!  I'll be brief.

Thrilling development #1:  I've just enrolled in a travel writing course through MatadorU.  The course material looks amazing and I've already met some exciting new people!  I've been obsessed with good travel writing since the day I picked up a copy of Norman Lewis's book, Voices of the Old Sea, and fell in love.  My brother-in-law is also enrolled in Matador's travel photography program.

Thrilling development #2:  My latest project has been to produce a fresh new edition of the alphabet book which my mother and I collaborated on so many years ago.  It's coming together.  Look for it soon!

Finally, Stephanie, from the blog Layered Pages, was so kind as to interview me this week.  Thanks Stephanie!

...and now for the real post.


I recently stumbled over an article describing how one should dress in the case of a zombie apocalypse. Though the zombie motif is somewhat (translate: really) overdone, I am pleased to see someone taking a practical and imaginative view of fashion.  Said article also led me to examine my reasons for dressing the way I do.

I am of the opinion that clothes should always be comfortable, serviceable, and attractive.  I like to look nice, I like to be comfortable, and I like useful things.  I love pockets.  I also have an overactive imagination, the gift of a firefighting dad who is always analyzing possible emergency scenarios, and a mom who regularly met my remarks about guys I liked with, "He sounds nice, but you know they say Ted Bundy was a really charming man".  (This is not a complaint.  My mom has my eternal gratitude.  She probably saved me from getting into vans with serial killers.)  My parents are also advocates of always having walking shoes handy, the obvious result of driving old cars which had a habit of breaking down in inconvenient locations.  Thanks to their teaching and my own nature, I like to be prepared.  I also freely admit to watching too much Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  This leads to an inordinate amount of thinking, "There could be something supernatural and sinister down there."  Below are the three most important factors I tend to think of when I'm picking out clothes.

1. Flexibility is the most important feature.  Perhaps my ballet training is to blame for this one, but I don't feel comfortable unless I can heave my leg at least past waist level.  Thus, if I wear jeans they are loose-fitting or stretchy, and I'm a huge fan of flared skirts with tights or leggings.  Pencil skirts are the bane of my existence.  In the same way, I don't like shirts or jackets that restrict the movement of my arms.

2. Versatility is key.  Heels are your friends.  They double as weapons.  However, comfort is also important, as you might have to run in them.  Compromise is necessary.  I once saw a movie version of The Three Musketeers where two women pulled long, sharp hairpins out of their hair and dueled with them.  I remember nothing else about the movie, but that touch was genius.

3. If you get slightly tangled in it getting into a car, you'll tie yourself in knots fighting for your life in a dark alley.  Certain fashion fads confuse me, especially those involving lots of hanging things, be it fringe or what have you.  I don't want to struggle with my own clothing.  I'm clumsy enough without making it worse.

To clarify, I don't make a habit out of getting into fights in dark alleys, but I take comfort in the idea that if I ever did, I'd be prepared...and you know, if the Zombie Apocalypse does happen, my husband did get me a machete.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Greetings, lovely people!

Just a quick post to announce that Laurie Jenkins has been so kind as to interview me on her blog.  There's also a giveaway!

I've been working to set up an actual website, with a blog attached, as well as finishing up details for the audiobook of Ashford, and sundry other things.  Details on all that coming soon!