Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book review updates

Since I’m in Toledo this week sitting hospital vigil for my mother’s hip replacement surgery, I’m not up to a regular, thoughtful blog post. Spending all my energy on being the good daughter!

So to give you something to read since you were kind enough to stop by, here are the latest book reviews I’ve written for MetaPsychology, a great review site. Very different topics, but both highly recommended:

The Psychology of Spirituality: An Introduction. Larry Culliford. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London. 2011.

The Quarter-Acre Farm: How I Kept the Patio, Lost the Lawn, and Fed My Family for a Year. Spring Warren. Seal Press/Perseus Books Group, Berkley, CA. 2011.

Let me know if you enjoy them as much as I did!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Banned Books Week

In honor of this year's Banned Books Week, a replay of my post from last year:

Will things ever change?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Celebrating success

I have a new publication! My essay “Powerful Eyes of Love” is in the second Reflection from Women series anthology titled The Moment I Knew: Reflections from Women on Life’s Defining Moments. Editor Terri Spahr Nelson selected thirty essays and poems from women in six countries for this amazing collection. Copies will be available at Amazon.com in a few weeks, at independent bookstores (not sure where – ask your local bookseller) or online at http://www.sugatipublications.com 

This whole process has been an incredible learning experience, from the writing through publication. The essay started as a challenge exercise with fellow writer Tami Absi, whose work is also in the anthology, and I thought it would be light-hearted look at one of hubby’s goofy hobbies (doing doughnuts in the mall parking lot after the first snow). Instead, as the words hit the page, they dredged up emotions I thought were long healed and morphed into a paean to his love and patience over the years as I’ve struggled to overcome what he calls my “ghosts.” Maybe I’ve not moved on as much as I thought, but the new awareness I gained from writing this essay is helping the process. The eighteen months since I wrote the piece have been a time of amazing growth, and I’m thankful to Terri for finding value in my words and choosing the essay for this collection. 

Sugati Publications says, “There are some moments in our lives that are so significant they become etched in our memories and they leave behind indelible imprints. These moments often change us in ways we never expected. We asked women around the world: Tell us about the moment you knew. The top thirty most intriguing, captivating and touching responses are featured in this women’s anthology.” They are donating a significant portion of the profits from the sale of this book to three charities that assist women: Women's Microfinance Initiative, the Nurse-Family Partnership Program, and Women Writing for (a) Change. If you purchase a copy online from Sugati, a greater percentage goes to these worthy organizations. 

And if you join the Reflections from Women group on Facebook during the month of September, you earn a chance to win a free gift book signed by the editor. Drop me an email and I’ll send you a signed bookplate, if you’re into that sort of thing. 

Thank you for celebrating this success with me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to have to paint it. ~ Steven Wright

Kevin Bacon’s six degrees of separation is a misnomer; after these past few weeks, I’m down to maybe three. Widely divergent parts of my life are colliding in the oddest ways:

Our daughter is dating a young man who once was engaged to the daughter of a woman I went to high school with, and with whom I’ve recently reconnected because of our thirty-fifth (!) reunion that woman’s older sister went to school with my mother.

That young man’s mother is friends with another friend of mine, a woman I worked with back in Toledo for six years whom I haven’t seen for almost that long.

At a Labor Day open house in the Dayton area, we met a barbershop quartet (we travel in the most fascinating circles!) who knows the choir director from the high school our children attended in a suburb of Toledo because he also sings barbershop.

One member of the quartet is dating the ex of a lawyer I worked with while at federal court (again in Toledo…hmmm) over fifteen years ago.

Another reconnect from high school recently “friended” a man on Facebook (related somehow to a teacher our children had in school) who shares a mutual friendship with yet another man I worked with for several years, none of whom are in the same field.

I’ll stop before it gets any more convoluted, and without even mentioning other bizarre connections that appear on Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis.

Is it really a small world, or has social networking simply drawn our circles closer and made us more aware of tenuous connections? Employers and professors, colleagues and family, writers and friends – it’s more and more difficult to remember who fits where, and shares what pieces of my life. Anyone who thinks they can operate in complete anonymity if they have any sort of online presence is sadly mistaken. At another recent gathering (I’m really not a social butterfly, but it events happens), the host was nonplussed when several guests mentioned using Google to find her street address. We all connect in the ether but often have trouble locating each other in real life, and she didn’t think about providing that information with the emailed invitation. It can be disconcerting to realize just how much data about us is available with only the most cursory Internet search.

But that’s life in the technology world, small or not.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Extra post this week, with my entry in Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge. Revenge is the topic. How’d I do?

Sure I tapped the boss’s account; I’m a hacker. This time it was at Sylvia’s request. Above board, she said. Vital to the company, she said. Right before she fired me for violating security protocols I helped write.

But Sylvia’s an IT illiterate, got her job because of looks. She’ll pop the flash drive I gave her into her laptop to retrieve the incriminating lovesick emails she sent him. She’s never heard of thumb sucking. By tonight, the business data will be wiped, and I’ll hold all the cards. And the bank accounts. Not that anyone will ever know.

BTW – Chuck’s blog is well worth following, as long as you’re not opposed to great information surrounded by crass, vulgar humor and obscenities. He’s a hoot!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

My mood has been thrown completely off-kilter by the abrupt change from 90+ and sunny on Saturday to 65 and breezy on Monday followed by two days of chilly rain (with more forecast for the rest of the week). I can’t seem to force my way through the gloom. It’s turning the white page before me to gray, making it harder than usual to fill the blankness with words…the letters melt into the shadows. It’s much too early in the year for SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

I’ve read several pieces recently scoffing at writer’s block, espousing butt-in-chair discipline along with helpful tips on breaking through, even urging writer’s to produce from a sense of desperation at the possibility of starving. I wish I could say they were inspirational; instead, while showing me I’m not alone in my struggles, they’ve reinforced my despair. I’ve heard it all before, even shared some of it with fellow writers when they floundered. Now those words come back to haunt me with their ineffectiveness when a shroud blankets my mental functions. It’s similar to telling someone who is depressed to cheer up (been there, too). Yeah, right. If it were that easy, there wouldn’t be a problem, now would there?

I found a haiku I wrote several years ago that helps put things in perspective:

Light dispels shadows
Offering freshness and hope
In a dark, dark world

 Light – that’s it. Preferably sunlight, but even a lightening of mood by focusing on the positive, reinforcing those neural pathways instead of strengthening the negative ones. Dig out a warm sweater, bake the bread I proofed yesterday, make a pot of comfort-food soup. And as a good friend just reminded me, persist! The words will come. These did.