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Coffee, and Currents

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For National Coffee Day, I’d like to share a poem I read yesterday from my devotional, “Coffee With God,” by Sarah Arthur.

She talks of how people run around like crazy, reminding her of a gerbil running on a wheel, or even an electric current zipping about.

Like Sarah, sometimes I feel I keep busy with stuff – some important writing goals and assignments, but sometimes time fillers…

Often times we don’t really recognize what God calls us to do. Help each other. Donate our time. Volunteer. Drive granny to the doctor. Rescue those poor dogs from the shelter. Walk for Freedom.

When you plan your day, or your weekend, will it include serving others or helping someone along the way?

Here’s that poem Sarah Arthur penned. Let me know what you think.

The current in me

is strong enough

to power a small life.

See: I zip around

my daily loops

with potential to shock

to make fingers tingle

and hair stand on end.

But if you were to

shut off

my circuit

unscrew the box,

take both ends

of my wires

and scrutinize

you would find

I only follow

 

the path of least resistance.

 

 

 

 

Troy Buchanan Writer’s Week – 7 days of inspiration

On March 16, hubby and I had the great pleasure of presenting two talks to students at Troy Buchanan High School Writer’s Week.

Writer’s Week is an annual event where authors come from all around to talk about their books, their journey, and the craft of writing – a full week of back-to-back sessions for the students.

As my husband, Russell and I stepped into the library, we noticed a photo of our book propped on an easel. Upon closer inspection, it was actually a ceiling tile painting, and realistic depiction of our book cover, Folly Beach Dances. So excited, I asked April Elliott, the Art teacher who painted the tile, to pose for a photo next to her creative masterpiece.

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Book covers from visiting authors hung as ceiling tiles in the space overhead, such as The Hate List by bestselling author Jennifer Brown.

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The session commenced as a few students read their works to fellow students before our presentation. One young writer from our church, Tyler Tippett, shared a poignant and touching essay about a family member.

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DSC_0874 Russell copyrAfterwards, Russell and I proceeded to tell the story of Folly Beach Dances in words and pictures. We hoped the students took away with them the purpose and mission of our ‘healing’ coffee table book.

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Georganna Krumlinde, Library Media Specialist, (yellow t-shirt) graciously provided us with lunch and a surprise basket of gifts from the school once our session ended.

In the process, I discovered Annie England Noblin, NYT bestselling author of Sit! Stay! Speak! was a presenter at Troy Buchanan. Later in the week, writer friend Pat Wahler and I, attended her session. During Annie’s break, we chatted about writing, our fur babies, and life in Missouri.

 

The People We Meet – And their stories

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A little over 4 years ago I visited Tybee Island, Georgia.

One of my favorite spots to hang out with hubby was Backwater Beach, a little known secret where the locals often went to relax, and view sunsets of Little Tybee Island in the distance. The quiet calm of the area was serene; perfect for people watching.

Strolling down to Backwater Beach one afternoon from our B&B, I met Marsha Henson of Sea Kayak Paddleboard (above right) who was instructing a young woman’s developmental course on stand-up paddling. We struck up a casual conversation about her passion – the paddleboard and training. She mentioned how the discipline of the paddling and the training helped some of the girls deal with issues in their own life.

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Her Southern strength and hospitality stuck with me. Marsha had a mission and a purpose. I was glad I met this woman; able to hear her story.

At my Lifegroup meeting this week, some of us talked about our stories.

How did your life begin? What happened in your life that made it broken? How were you rescued? And what is happening in your life right now?

Since my lymphoma diagnosis in 2012, I just feel like whatever is thrown in my path, I can handle it. Bring it on!

I am often reminded of a Kelly Clarkson song, “What Doesn’t Kill us Makes Us Stronger”.

So the next time you’re at a coffeehouse, the gym, or walking the dog at the park, and you come across someone that wants to strike up a conversation for whatever reason – take the time to listen to their story. There’s a reason God placed you there at that moment in time.

And maybe, just maybe, they’ll want to hear your story.

Isaiah 40:29-31

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A World’s Fair Home – Karen Kalish Clayton mansion showcases her art collection – pub’d Missouri Life

Good afternoon everyone,

I had the opportunity to step inside a real piece of history – a World’s Fair Home patterned after the Missouri Building from the World’s Fair in 1904, when a query I submitted to Missouri Life that came to fruition.

Entrepreneur, Karen Kalish owns the magnificent home in the historic Old Town Clayton district, and has filled it to the brim with her personal charm and eclectic style, all the while showcasing her extensive collection of art work.

Here’s my feature article and photographs that appeared in the August 2015 issue of Missouri Life. I especially fell in love with her pets while doing the story.

Maybe, she’ll invite me back just to hangout?

Peace out and love,

Sheree

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Author Spotlight – Meet C. Hope Clark

I first heard Hope speak at the Missouri Writer’s Guild conference a few years ago. I loved the fact that she always smiled, and consistently wove positivity in her talks.

When I discovered Hope and I were featured authors at a booksigning at Columbia, South Carolina’s Irmo Branch Library in March, I suggested our husbands meet over dinner the evening prior to the event.

After three hours of lively conversation on writing, vacations, dogs, and various topics, we almost  closed down the restaurant. Looking around at nearby tables, we didn’t recognize any of the original patrons when first seated. We decided to leave the waitress a NICE tip.

Hope graciously accepted my invitation to do “An Author Spotlight” Q&A. So without, further ado, I give you C. Hope Clark!

Q: When did you realize you wanted to write for a living? And do you prefer speaking engagements to writing?

Funny, but I can recall making the mental shift from working for a living to the concept of writing for one when I had lunch with a co-worker and he asked why I did not write for me. My work was routinely craved by management when I worked for the Federal government, and I entered my boss’s office many a time to ask “how do you want to spin this?” Should’ve known I wrote fiction all the way back then. But after three years of playing at it part-time, I realized that writing was what I wanted to do, with a passion I’d never had for anything else, so I took an early retirement at age 46 and never looked back. I’m a strong advocate of moving forward and never looking back.

I prefer writing, without a doubt. However, it’s the speaking that gives me that medicinal vitamin shot in the arm, making me see clearly why I write. I adore speaking to fans, audience and students alike, and their thrill and passion seep into me all over again such that I go home rejuvenated to write again. We have to go out and touch the world to understand how it all works.

Q: What compels you to write about the rural Carolinas, mystery, and weaving an agricultural bent into your books?

My degree is in agriculture. My grandfather was a cotton farmer, and I adored my summers on the farm. I love to garden and can’t stand urban for very long. Nature nurtures me. That and I wanted the world to see more of SC than Charleston, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach. We are strong people with deep roots and a desire to preserve what is ours, the good and the bad. We don’t write off history, we learn  from it, and I want Carolina Slade to be a representative of this state. And of course, what better way to do that than via a mystery that draws a reader into the setting, into the characters’ lives, to make them guess and solve a puzzle, and ultimately realize that the setting was as much as part of the story as the protagonist and the clues. These books are my way of expressing love for where I live, and for its people.

Q: What do you want readers take away from your books?

A strong sense of place. A wish to be like the protagonist, or at least have enjoyed walking in her shoes. An appreciation for people and understanding that some people are worth fighting for regardless what rules have to be broken. Honor is everything.

Q: What advice do you have for new writers?

Write daily. Read daily. I know it sounds oversimplified, but it’s a practice few new writers are willing to follow, and without this ingrained habit, the writing doesn’t happen.

Q: And finally, I’ve asked this question before of authors – 

As Anne Lamott once said in “bird by bird’, it is important to have a moral position no matter what you do in life. What is your moral position?

Honesty. I believe in people until they prove me wrong.

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C. Hope Clark expresses her love of her South through her Carolina Slade Mysteries and The Edisto Island Mysteries. Her next Edisto book, Edisto Jinx, is due out fall 2015, with the sequel Echoes of Edisto due out summer 2016. Hope speaks nationally to book clubs, conferences and writers groups, and also serves as editor of the writer’s resource FundsforWriters.com, selected on Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 15 years. She lives on the bank of Lake Murray in central SC when she isn’t strolling secluded Edisto Beach. www.chopeclark.com

For Mother’s Day…..Reminiscing about Uncle Willie’s Farm

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Growing up, my best memories were the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of South St. Louis.

The corner confectionary sold rainbow-colored candy buttons and chunk chocolate. Housed in a shiny glass case, the candy was the main act, on show for all to see.

The brick five-and-dime store on Meramec Street, about three blocks from my house, sold everything imaginable. The same store where my cousin Carol, pounded her fists and kicked her feet in a full-out temper tantrum, because my Aunt Katie refused to buy her what she wanted.

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard on Grand Avenue, still standing to this day, made superb lemon floats. I remember many reflective walks to the custard stand with my friend and neighbor Cindy Winschel.

As an adult, I loved hearing Mom’s childhood stories. She frequented Uncle Willie’s Illinois farm as a young girl, and spent lazy weekends exploring with sisters Georgia Lee and Isabella, often getting into trouble with her cousins, the Wagner kids.

What I remember most about Mom is that she was tough. Tough as nails. And funny.

So here’s a tribute to my Mom ‘Gladys’, and to all moms everywhere.

It’s a story that was published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on October 13, 2010 titled Visiting Uncle Willie’s Farm. I hope you like it.

Visiting Uncle Willie's Farm - STL Post 2010001Happy Mother’s Day…no matter what kind of mom you are….even moms of animal children.

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Shifts – Women’s Growth Through Change

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00066]I received a package over the Christmas holidays – my two contributor copies of the women’s anthology, SHIFTS – An Anthology of Women’s Growth Through Change.

The book’s editors, Trina Sotira and Michelle Duster, asked me to submit photographs for the front and back cover.

I selected scenes that reminded me of shifts in my life – the raw beauty of the ocean, flora, fauna or any other photography that came to mind. Then I narrowed it down to my favorites. One of which was the The Glass Window Bridge – an unforgettable natural phenom I will not forget.

The Glass Window Bridge situated along Queen’s Highway near Gregorytown, is Eleuthera’s thinnest stretch of land – a mere 30 feet across. The man-made bridge replaced the naturally formed bridge of rock destroyed by a hurricane. Vistas of the rock formations are breathtaking, as well as the contrast between the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean and the indigo blue color of the Atlantic Ocean.

Over the weekend, I started reading SHIFTS, and was prompted to send an email to Trina. Bits and pieces too personal were left out. Here’s the edited email.
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Trina,

Just wanted to tell you how much your book has touched me.

This morning I woke up with my heart in my throat. My first thought was to reach for my bible, which usually calms me down.

For whatever reason, I didn’t reach for my bible. I opened up Shifts, and read three essays from the Self-Worth section – yours, The Slope, and the Last Christmas.

Just reading these essays, calmed me down and took away the anxiety. A couple of women came to mind that probably would love the book, too.

I guess as women we all go through trying times in our life. I just love the book. I know I promised to blog about it, but haven’t been really motivated these weeks to accomplish writerly things.

Sheree
———-

And just like the contrast of the color of water near The Glass Window Bridge, and the ever changing tides, this books reminds me of the challenges and choices women through on their journey doing ‘life’.

I urge you, if you haven’t picked up SHIFTS, buy it.