Tag Archive | writing

The Storms in our Life

(This is are repost from last summer.)

Sometimes even though you may have best interests at heart for a loved one or a pet, situations may still be stressful in your household.

These episodes of conflict, or ‘storms’ were described by our pastor, Tim, at O’Fallon Christian Church. These times often seem hopeless, neverending, physically and mentally draining.

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I am currently going through a ‘storm’.

For the past three months our home has been divided – structurally and DSC_0956 Adeline and her babies copyremotionally.

It all started with a female stray cat visiting our back deck in March. We rescued and adopted her before knowing she was pregnant.

Momma Adeline delivered six precious kitten babies, and we witnessed the miracle of birth. It was simply amazing!

Our sixteen year old cat Midnight doesn’t care for Adeline and makes it know by vocalizing in the form of hisses and pig snorts. Adeline, being protective of her babies (even though Midnight doesn’t come in contact with them) takes Midnight’s vocalization as a threat — a brewing storm. This makes life stressful. I’m always trying to make peace between the two– trying to get them to see things the same way.

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Out of the six kittens, four have gone to lovely homes. Two are left – Elvis, a beautiful boy with long body, tall legs, big paws, black with striped head and haunches (manx and black cat mix); and Ireland, a feisty little striped girl (manx) that makes me laugh, loves to play, and gives kisses.

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Adeline is separated from the kittens now, so they can thrive on their own without momma’s milk. At nine weeks, they are eating dry food (which they love), drinking water, and being silly little felines. The kittens enjoy running, leaping, and playing in the master bathroom and master bedroom.

At nighttime, Adeline has the run of the basement, and Midnight is on the main floor. During the day, they live together with the dogs, sometimes peacefully, sometimes not so peacefully. A house often divided indeed – by rooms and by emotions.

No sure how much longer I can live like this. Hubby says it will all work out in the end.

On top of all this commotion, I’m trying to work on my writing. There are good days, and there are unproductive days. On the unproductive ‘writing’ days, I usually clean the house, run errands, fix things that need to be fixed. You get the idea.

Add to that, the trouble my husband has with cat dander. Lately, he has been retreating to the solice of the guest bedroom with Red Dog – typically a cat-free zone.

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Our Australian Shepherd, unsure where to sleep, usually follows me to the bedroom, after I tuck the kittens in at night on their favorite cozy bench in the bathroom.

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“The Culprit”

Dogs are such gentle souls. With the storms brewing in our household, comes frustration, lost tempers, and sobbing. Let me just say, the dogs have adapted the best. Things change at a minute’s notice. The goofy pooches are always eager to lick away your tears.

Why can’t humans be like dogs with their “Oh, well attitude”? Nothing seems to bother them. Seems like dogs just go with the flow, don’t they?

I’ve experienced a pretty significant storm in my life – Tropical Storm Jerry – back in the early 1990’s. During a Blackbeard’s cruise off the coast of Bimini, Bahamas, Jerry struck, with twenty foot wind swells pummeling our sailboat of 20 scuba divers. The torrential downpour forced us to don our raingear purchased on Bimini. After 90 minutes on deck in the midst of bitterly cold rain and unforgiving ocean, we attempted singing show tunes. When that didn’t work, we retreated to the warmth of the galley and salon, conversing, smiling, laughing, and trying to remain positive until the storm subsided, all the while the boat was taking on water.

I wish I could tackle all of ‘life storms’ in the same way. Sometimes I forget my favorite Bible verse Philippians 4:6 which says, “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything”.

As I write this today, I’ve decided to forego my usual morning breakfast ritual of raspberries, oatmeal, and toast accompanied by a dose of Gayle King, Charlie Rose and Nora O’Donnell from CBS This Morning. Instead, I’ve spent my time reflecting on life, and reading Coffee with God by Sarah Arthur – 365 Devotions to Perk Up Your Day.

Because sometimes…. many times, you just need a dose of God and a good cup of coffee to start your day, to get you through those ‘storms’ in life.

And the prayers of friends, family, and even strangers doesn’t hurt either…

I hope the ‘storms’ in your life subside.

Peace out and love,

Xoxoxox

 

Sheree

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A book deal! “Midnight, The One-Eyed Cat”

For two years, I stared at a particular phrase on the cork bulletin board in my office that my husband conceived as a book title about our 16 year old black cat, Midnight thinking, “I need to write a book about this…”

Midnight loved to prance throughout the house, her tail held high, the end sometimes waving or curling like a soft feather.

Last fall, on a gorgeous crisp morning, I awoke and penned Midnight’s tale to paper. But it wasn’t quite finished, and I couldn’t quite finish it without the creative words of fellow animal lover and friend, Pat Wahler.

I said to her, “You see, there’s this cat, and she has disabilities….”

Thus began a beautiful friendship where “Midnight, The One-Eyed Cat” blossomed on paper, and in both of our hearts.

Over coffee, tea, and chocolate at a favorite hangout in Cottleville, we edited, wrote, and re-edited. Months later, we sent off queries. A well-respected local publisher responded, touched by Midnight’s story, and offered words of encouragement, positive feedback, even suggestions for revisions.

Of course, this called for more coffee, tea and chocolate as we edited away.

When Pat and I felt we were ready, we resubmitted and sent off the revised story to the publisher.

About a month ago, we signed a contract with Amphorae Publishing for “Midnight, The One-Eyed Cat” – a picture book about overcoming disabilities, building confidence, and realizing it’s okay to be you, just the way you are.

We’re so excited to embark on this journey and can’t wait to bring Midnight’s story of courage to children near and far!

Here’s a pic of our pretty girl….(In real life, she is not disabled)

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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

Thoughts on Being a Travel Writer

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frangipani – Sandals Cay

In case you missed my thoughts “On Being A Travel Writer for AAA” in the Funds for Writer’s online newsletter, click on the link below to read tips for those wishing to break into travel writing.

Thanks to C. Hope Clark for allowing me to do a guest blog on this topic. And thanks to my editor at AAA, Debbie Reinhardt, for listening to my queries, and giving me the opportunity to travel and write for AAA Midwest Traveler and AAA Southern Traveler.

http://www.fundsforwriters.com/on-being-a-travel-writer-for-aaa/

Private cabana on Sandals Cay

Private cabana on Sandals Cay

Proud to Be in Proud to Be: Volume 3

Last week I received my contributor’s copy of PROUD TO BE: Writing by American Warriors, Volume 3. 20141202_110742 cover volume 3

I am so proud to be included in this volume, edited by Susan Swartwout of Southeast Missouri State University Press in collaboration with the Missouri Humanities Council and Warrior Arts Alliance.

Proud to Be is a way for veterans, and families of veterans to share their personal experiences through essays, warrior interviews, fiction, and even photographs.

Apparently, this year there were a record number of submissions for the Warrior Arts Anthology.

The anthology is dedicated to the writing veterans, military-service personnel and family members.

My First Place win for Photography graces pages 66 and is titled “jimmie (pier). My photo was judged by Bradley Phillips, professor of photography, Southeast Missouri State University. A second photo and an interview with Jimmie was accepted for inclusion into the anthology, as well. I was extremely blessed to win this award, for the second year in a row.

jimmie (pier)

jimmie (pier)

But more than that, all the contributions in this book touch on raw accounts of life, war, warriors, emotions, and more. And deserve to be read, and noticed.

So if you get the chance, pick up a copy of Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, volume 3 for a veteran, a family member, or a friend for Christmas. It’s a great gift.

~~~~~~~~

 

Updates on FOLLY BEACH DANCES, our ‘healing’ coffee table book

Good morning everyone,

Pop on over to the FOLLY BEACH DANCES official book website at http://www.beachdances.com to see “What’s Happening’ with our’healing’ coffee table book.

While there, feel free to leave a comment, or follow us at Folly Beach Dances on facebook or twitter.

Here’s the link to the latest updates (and giveaways)

http://www.beachdances.com/uncategorized/a-folly-beach-dances-booksigning-giveaways-the-south-carolina-aquarium/

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Things I’ve Seen Before, but Never Noticed

Since returning home from our South Carolina book tour, I’ve felt less than inspired to write. Blame it on the hectic schedule, blame it on ‘beach’ withdrawals, blame it on being tired and rundown. I’ve used countless excuses for the last 2 weeks.

I needed a jolt of energy to jump start my creative inner-self.

So rather than hop on social media, as I often do after breakfast, I slipped into my Sorrel boots, grabbed my trusty Olympic camera, a jacket, and the dogs for a pre-winter walk-about on our three acres.

Rural suburbia (an oxymoron, in itself) provides all kinds of photo ops in the Midwest and I set out to find them.

Normally, when I go for walks with our Aussie and Bernese Mountain Dog, we don’t take time to enjoy the little things — we’re just walking to walk.

Today was different. Dogs do what dogs like to do. Sniff. Scratch at the ground. Sniff. Explore.

Today was as much their day, as it was mine. They had free reign.

As I ambled, I observed.

I found…..

Knarled leafless trees, reaching skyward, like those in a Tim Burton movie

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A shiny, crisp brown maple leaf reflecting the sun’s rays

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Majestic pines and hickorys bathed in white light

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The cottony fuzz of a wild grass, against the warm sienna hue of dog’s fur

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A petrified permisson hanging on for dear life

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A forest clearing. Untreaded.

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Acorns in mulch, mud, and wood dust, scattered about by squirrels or other forragers

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Fungus sprouting on cut worn wood, reminding me of barnacles under the sea

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And as the three of us trudged through the red berry bushes hugging the property boundary, we found ourselves in a pasture of wet, tall grass.  In the distance, sat a century-old barn — white washed — the foundation of our neighbors farm.

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These things I’ve seen before, but never considered, and maybe took for granted.

Sometimes all it takes is a little visual stimulation and a walk in the woods to be inspired and to clear your head.

Live your passion. Whatever it may be.

LIFE IS PASSING YOU BY!