Catching Up With The King

One of the greatest requirements of being a writer is also to be a reader. I’ve always been a huge reader. My earliest hard-core reading memories involved Nancy Drew Mysteries. I was ravenous for books by Shirley Jackson, Richard Matheson, Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, Wilkie Collins, Dickens, Peter Straub, Ellery Queen, Ray Bradbury, and then there was the King; The King of Horror, Stephen King.

In middle and high school I devoured one Stephen King book after another. Every year for Christmas or my birthday I’d be gifted the latest King novel. My god, how that man took me away into his worlds of bizarre and divine darkness. Very few understood my passion for King. “Don’t those things give you nightmares?” was a common opening line when someone found me curled up somewhere with my nose buried in the likes of “Pet Semetery” or “The Stand”. Never, ever, did reading King give me nightmares. His words were fuel to my writer’s soul. I wanted to be the next Stephen King. Hell, if I could write even half as good as him, I’d be one happy camper.

Then something odd happened. Once I was out of high school and trying to make my way in the world, I read less and less, King included. Maybe it was because I was now a working stiff. Maybe I was too busy being a wife and mother. Dr. Seuss and Winnie The Pooh took over and before I knew it a good twenty years had passed. The new and wonderful worlds of Stephen King became lost to me. Where had I left off?

Late in 2013 and into 2015 I started to play catch-up with King. I met Gerald and witnessed his horrific game. “Delores Claiborne” stepped in to say hello. I entered “Black House” and learned “Lisey’s Story”.

Reading became a passion again. I needed to read as much as I had always needed to write. Every book, King or not, became inspiration. Between bouts of visiting the King-dom there was Tanith Lee, Hunter Shea, and Scott Westerfeld to fill the gaps, but King was always the goal.

In August 2015 I started King’s Dark Tower Series. I remember knowing when the first book came out back in the 1970s. I’m not sure why I never picked a single one of them up! Now, I’ve worked my way through the first four books of the seven part series, having only just started the 5th last week, “Wolves of the Calla” and even picked up a copy of “The Wind Through The Keyhole” yesterday. It seems to be some sort of side book to the original seven books. It’s a good start, I’ll grant you, but even with having read four Dark Towers and “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” in 2015 alone, I’m still not even half way through King’s bibliography that I lost in the world of my own life.

Time to read, time to write, time to live my everyday life; Time to raise my children and enjoy the company of friends, time to be with family as often as I can.

I may never catch up with the King. It’s taken me fifty years to get as far as I have. I doubt I have another fifty in me to complete the task, but I’m going to try my damnedest.

Take Time To Enjoy Your Time

Death stalked me and my family this year. In most cases those that passed were people we’d not seen in a good many years. I guess that sort of softened the blows that were dealt. The family dog of 15 years went peacefully in her sleep in April. That was, and still is, tough for us. My dad’s brother passed at the end of August from complications of Parkinson’s Disease. In September two dear people from the Wild West group I was once in were killed in a motorcycle accident. Come November, a cousin’s husband died of Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 31. A couple weeks later a cousin was killed in car accident. He was 41. The week after that, another uncle died. I was really hoping that we’d make it through the rest of the year without seeing any more deaths in the family, but this morning I found out yet one more cousin had died at age 51. On top of that I saw the death of English author, Tanith Lee, who was a HUGE inspiration to me on many levels. Christopher Lee died at age 93 this year. Oh, the many hours I watched and pined over that man as Dracula.

This isn’t the most cheerful way to start out an end of year blog post, is it? No, but maybe it will help put things into perspective. We can’t stop death, at least not permanently. It’s going to happen to us all. In the meantime, it’s important we do as much living as we can. I did a lot of living in 2015, a whole lot!

In January I got my long-awaited second tattoo; a very pretty rainbow monarch with my kids’ names around it, done by my daughter, on my right calf.

I’m a planner. It may have seemed way too early to some people, but in February I made hotel reservations for our planned trip the first week of September to White Sands and Las Cruces, New Mexico.

March & April brought the urge to purge my life of those material things that no longer bring me joy. I went through three closets, a big dresser, and got rid of more books than I ever dreamed I’d be able to part with.

May saw Jim and I taking our first, and thus far only, group ride together down in the Athens-Wysox area of Pennsylvania with our friend Amy and a friend I went to school with, Kathy, her husband Tim, and about 200+ other bad-ass looking bikers to raise money for breast cancer awareness. The first draft of “No Rest For The Wicked” was completed and the long, yet to be finished series of edits, began.

Along came June and a Father’s Day breakfast spent with my dad on Hiawatha Island. He passed on some words of wisdom that I’d forgotten about until now. He said, “Take time to enjoy your time.” It’s not about things or money; it’s about the moment, the time spent with others, and enjoying whatever it is in life that brings you joy. Words to live by indeed; take time to enjoy your time

July saw the United States pass the Marriage Equality Act giving same-sex couples the right to marry. I really don’t want to start a political or religious debate here about that, but I do need to express that I truly believe that Love is Love. If the Bible is right and we are all created in God’s image, male and female, then it stands to reason that we all have male and female aspects within in us. Some people lean more strongly in one direction or another and there’s nothing wrong with that. Those that are expressing so much hatred, clearly see the teaching of Christ very differently than I do. Christ did not teach hatred. Stop doing things in His name that are so hateful. I do not profess to be a Christian any more than I am Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or any other of the plethora of religions out there. I don’t believe any of them hold the Be-all, End-all answers to anything. What I do believe in is Love and the power of Love in all its forms. I think it’s wrong to tell one group of people that they their love is wrong or an abomination. “There is no greater power in all the world than that of Love.”

In early August I got a call from a member of the Berkshire Reading Club asking if I’d like to be the guest speaker for their annual dinner in May 2016. My brain balked at first, but I’m glad I told my brain to be quiet and accepted it. It made getting something new published more urgent. It spurred me to swallow some of my pride and move in a direction I have forever before resisted going in.

September found Jim and I out west once more. I was finally able to make my own memories of White Sands and Las Cruces, New Mexico. Once we got home, the adventure still wasn’t over for it was then that Jim proposed and I said yes and I finally got to wear the ring we’d picked out together in Mesilla. If for no other reason, that little ‘village” will forever hold a special place in my heart.

October meant writing, submitting, and being rejected by one publisher after another. I lost track how many queries I sent out. Despite the continued disappointments, I kept on writing new things. By then “No Rest For The Wicked” was out with my proofreader and I was deep into work on “Dark Hollow Road’. This month also saw Jim hitting his first New York State deer.

Along came November and the decision to not only self-publish “That’s What Shadows Are Made Of”, but to do a re-write and re-release of “Blood Of The Scarecrow”, too. We’ve worked hard, Jim and I. I re-read and edited both books again and again. Jim worked on the cover art and set to work re-creating my website. Proofs were obtained. More corrections followed. Apart from the updates to “…Scarecrow” and it being re-titled to “Secrets Of The Scarecrow Moon”, no new writing really took place.

On December 11th, the new book finally made its debut into the big bad world. Granted, the timing of the release may not have been a priority or at all well thought out. Folks were already in the midst of their Christmas shopping and delivery before Christmas was slim unless people ordered almost as soon as the word was out. The important part was to get something we could both be proud of out there.

In conclusion, 2015 has been insane and mostly wonderful! Apart from the numerous deaths, everything has been taking a slow and steady upward trend. Far too many times in the past I’ve looked back at the year that was and felt dismayed, disappointed, and frustrated. This has not been the case in the past few years. There’s clear progress now even if not in the way I thought or hoped it would be in some cases.

2016 promises to be just as interesting and, I hope, even more good and productive things come our way.

New goals are already setting themselves up, not the least of which is a wedding in August.

To read and comment more of the blogs I am subscribed to and improve on my own blogging habits.

To see another new novel unleashed on the world.

To be able to meet some friends I thus far only know via Facebook and Second Life.

Travel always ranks pretty high on my list of things to do. I love seeing new places and doing new things.

We can’t always avoid the negative, like death, but we can control how we deal with it and so my biggest goal of 2016 is to follow my dad’s advice and take time to enjoy my time, wherever, however, and with whomever I get to spend it with.

Of Ravens, Poe, & Dickens

I found out something very cool this morning, but we’ll get back to that in a minute.

I don’t have much interest in any other birds, but my fascination with crows and ravens goes back decades. I don’t know when it started or why. It’s just one of those things that has always been a part of me. I can sit and watch them for hours. I love the sounds they make. I hesitate to call those sounds songs, but when they get to talking amongst themselves it’s a very cool listen. I’ve learned the difference between the two and it always annoys me to no end when they are featured in scary books and movies as nocturnal creatures. They aren’t. In fact, Corvids are one of the first birds to head to their roosts at night. Don’t even get me started on the ignorant idiots who go on crow hunts believing these birds are attacking and killing their farm animals. What a crock of bird shit! Crows and ravens ARE NOT raptors, people! They aren’t birds of prey. They don’t attack lambs, or chickens, or new born calves for Pete’s sake. Do some research!!! But, I digress.

As part of my final for a public speaking class I took in high school, I read Poe’s The Raven, as you would expect. I’ve featured the crow and raven in my first published paranormal murder-mystery, Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon (formerly known as Blood of the Scarecrow) and though the birds DO appear at night, it’s for very abnormal reasons. I’m told one of my uncles had a pet crow, of a sort. It wasn’t caged or anything, but apparently he’d rescued it at a young age and for quite some time it hung out with the family and would allow them to hand feed it. I really need to get a raven tattoo!

As a fan of horror, I am also a fan of Edgar Allen Poe. When I did the whole U.S. Civil War reenacting thing I had several small books I would sit and read appropriate to the time period. A selection of Poe’s short stories was the most popular one for me to pick up. I’ve yet to get to Baltimore to check things out, but it’s on my Bucket List.

I’ve read a fair amount of Dickens, too. Although, truth be told, Wilkie Collins is by far my favorite Victorian-era novelist. If you haven’t read anything by Collins, I strongly suggest you do. Not only were Collins and Dickens each others contemporaries, they were also friends and worked on several theatrical pieces together. We can’t forget about good old Bram Stoker either, can we? And the first novel of that period I ever read, Dracula, at a mere ten-eleven years of age. I’ve read that bad boy a good ten times and am way overdue for another go through. They wrote differently back then. It’s a style I greatly admire.

So, what does all this have to do with what I found out this morning? It seems that Charles Dickens acquired a pet raven in the name of research (yeah, we authors go to interesting length in the name of research). This bird in turn inspired Edgar Allen Poe to write The Raven. I thought it was cool anyway and worthy of sharing. Check out History Buff’s article HERE to learn the whole story!

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go get more caw-fee.

The Shadows Are Revealed

In 2013 my first paranormal mystery, “Blood of the Scarecrow”, was released. Due to circumstances beyond my control, it went out of print a mere six months later. Since then, I have been working on not just finding a new publisher for “…Scarecrow”, but writing and completing two other novels.

Although it’s a stand alone novel, the first of those, “That’s What Shadows Are Made Of” also continues a subplot, introduces new characters, keeps a lot of the old ones, and of course, brings us face to face with more dark, murderous, and paranormal nastiness. I like to call it “…Scarecrow”‘s companion book for want of better terminology.

With that, I am pleased to announce that “That’s What Shadows Are Made Of” is now AVAILABLE! through Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon Europe, as well as the Create Space eStore. Due to some formatting snags, it’s not yet available on Kindle, but hopefully those are soon remedied. MAY even be remedied as I type this.

BUY “THAT’S WHAT SHADOWS ARE MADE OF” HERE!

Additionally, that which WAS “Blood Of The Scarecrow” is undergoing edits, rewrites, new content, cover changes, and will be re-released within the next six months under the new title of “Secrets Of The Scarecrow Moon”

Thank you all for your patience and continued support in my efforts to write and share my stories with you.

 

Hope In A Bowl Of Chicken Alfredo

We had company last night, my boyfriend’s Uncle Lloyd and his uncle’s wife, Betty. It was a very casual affair with a simple, homemade meal. Up for discussion were mainly travel adventures and life in the gated senior community they now call home in South Carolina. They were both dismayed that neither of them were able to make the senior citizen’s baseball team. Their attempts to do so were quite comical though.

Of course, considering the crowd, the topic of writing came up. Jim mentioned he’d just finished reading one of my books. I’m very modest about my writing efforts because I guess I just don’t feel my ‘successes’ are worth mentioning. They don’t live up to my expectations of where I’d hoped to be at this point in my life. I’m published, but pfft, I don’t even bring in $200 a year on what I have out there.

The banter turned to things like, “Some people who write never get ANYTHING published,” and “Sometimes luck plays just as big a role as talent.” Betty commented that sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the RIGHT reader, the person who loves your work and knows who’s who and what’s what in the business. I haven’t found that person. Sometimes I wonder if I ever will. When Jim and I last saw his cousin nearly a year ago, he said he wasn’t the best writer in the writing classes he took. To paraphrase part of the conversation, “There were a lot of people in those classes who were far better writers than I am. I, however, was the most persistent [in getting published].”

Persistence, as the saying goes, paid off for Jim’s cousin. I am doing my best to be persistent. I try to have queries out there at all times, always hoping that eventually one will come back with something other than the generic, “We’re sorry, but this isn’t what we’re looking for right now,” rejection form letter. If Queries are the Job Applications of the writing world then I am not finding any gainful employment here. If you’ve ever been desperately looking for a job and either never hear back or go to one interview after another only to be told, “Sorry, you’re not quite what we’re looking for,” you know the feeling well. It sucks, doesn’t it?

You can’t give up though, can you? No, not if you really care about getting a job. You’re driven to keep on filling out the forms, submitting the letters, and tweaking this or that to adjust the resume to fit the job you are applying for. What does it take to land that job? The right person to see it and realize, “Hey, this person’s got some potential. Let’s give him a shot and see.” That’s really all I’m asking for, a chance beyond the erotica.

To add insult to injury, over the past few years I’ve read a number of novels by quite famous female writers and I just shake my head wondering. They were alright, but as modest as I am, I write just as well, if not better, than they do. The plot to one was over the top predictable. Another told me the story instead of showing me. That was even more annoying. A third contained some of the most two-dimensional characters I’ve ever encountered. Yet, there they are, out there, known, loved, embraced, accepted and appreciated for their skills.

A few weeks back I finished writing my ninth novel. I have at least three more in me patiently waiting for their stories to be told. Where will these go? I’m not sure I want to know. If I knew they’d never be shared with anyone but a handful of family and friends, would I make the effort to write them? If I knew they’d bring me millions, would I put more effort into getting them done? Will that elusive Right Reader that Betty mentioned EVER enter my life? Is it any wonder so many writers are slightly insane? How do I up the odds of making it? What about my queries is not getting through to the right person?

The doubts creep in and tear me apart all too often. All the encouraging words sometimes don’t do much to lift the spirits of the jobless man standing in the soup line. He needs the job. He wants the job. He KNOWS he can do that job. His wife, family and friends are encouraging and supportive. They tell him to keep trying. In his mind, he remains an unrecognized and unwanted failure.

That’s the place I am standing now, bowl in hand. I’ve not given up. I’ll persist a while longer. I’ll write. I’ll edit, rewrite and submit again and again. I’ll try and look at Lloyd and Betty’s visit as another nudge in the right direction – that little glimmer of hope offered to me over a honking big serving bowl of Chicken Alfredo with broccoli and sweet red peppers on a hot and humid Tuesday night in July.

You’ve Got Fan Mail

I got some fan mail the other day in the form of a handwritten note that was sent to my mom, who, in turn, forwarded it to me. It’s from a woman who works as a library assistant at the public library in the small town where I grew up. She was also one of my babysitter’s some 40+ years ago.

11 June 2015

Dear J—— & B—,

I just finished reading Pamela’s book, “Blood of the Scarecrow”. It was great and a lot of other library patrons agree. Since we put it on the shelf, it has gone out a lot and got rave reviews. Please tell her how very proud of her I am. And tell her to keep up the good work.

Peace,

Lena S.

Yeah, it chokes me up a little bit. It’s the third piece of “fan mail” I’ve gotten. The first was from my godfather after I’d had a few article published for our local county paper, saying how much he enjoyed the articles and how well written they were. The second was from a distant cousin in regards to the same articles.

These are humbling.

First and foremost, I write because I have to, because I can’t not do it. Second, I write in the deepest hopes that others will read my words and be happily entertained, creepily frightened, and maybe even inspired a little bit. Sharing what I write has not come easy to me. For years I was too self-conscious and deprecating to let others see my stories or poems. If someone found a mistake or typo I took it as deeply personal, instead of them simply pointing out a way to make what I’d done better. Thank God I’ve since gotten over THAT! bit of editing nonsense. Last, I guess I write for the notion of “fame and fortune”. The odds are deeply against me, but I keep playing Submission Lottery and hoping that one of these days another publisher will find me worthy to bear their stamp of approval. Even then, it’s more to make the stories available to all the people who have asked me when the next book is coming out or who have wondered about my current project than the money.

Many people have paid me compliments in the form of Amazon reviews, Facebook posts, emails, or on a more personal level, spoken to me in person to say how much they enjoyed “Blood of the Scarecrow”. I let the compliments pump me up for the next big thing. I need that little charge to realize that what I am doing does matter to others besides myself. It inspires me to plug on with the dream. It makes me realize that I really am blessed as a writer, even if just a tiny bit. Some are never able to finish their novels. Some never get published at all.

I’m always working on it. Even if it looks like I’m staring off into space, chances are my brain is somewhere in the next novel plotting the next scene. Thank you to everyone who has ever complimented or encouraged me with my writing. Thanks to those who have pointed out mistakes to help me improve on my craft. Thank you for being more patient while I try and knock sense into one publisher after another to get that next book out to you. Thank you for being ‘my fans’. You all really mean more to me than words can ever say.

Secret Agent Man.

As some of you may know, I’ve been actively seeking the services of a reputable literary agent since November mainly because of the advice of one Scott Westerfeld of YA fame. Before that, I was sending solely out query letters to publishers. I wasn’t having any luck with the publisher route so, hey, what harm could it do by listening to someone who actually has a clue!? Nada.

Almost immediately, the rejections started coming back. What a big ole ego boost that was, but those recent rejection letters got me to thinking, well, one of them in particular. In the reply was this remark, “It’s just not something I am comfortable representing.” Hm? An odd thing to say when the person in question clearly states they are interested in the horror/thriller genre on their website. It then dawned on me, maybe he was referring to the mention I made of having had some erotica published. It never occurred to me until that moment, but I’m glad it was mentioned.

Erotica, especially the sort I’ve done, is certainly not for everyone. That’s fine. Sci-Fi isn’t for everyone. Horror isn’t for everyone. Fantasy isn’t for everyone. Westerns aren’t for everyone. That’s why there are so many different writing genres to begin with. I don’t go around bragging about the erotica, but it’s part of my history as a writer. It’s where I started to see my dream become reality. Truth be told, it was never my first choice nor something I gave ANY thought to creating until it actually happened. But, I’m not going to hide it from an agent or publisher I think would be suitable for the paranormal thrillers I am far, far more interested in writing and seeing published.

I don’t want to work with an agent who isn’t okay with my past writing history. I’m not asking them to promote it in any way. It’s there. It is what it is. We move on and expand our horizons. Anne Rice did it for God’s sake and what’s good enough for Anne is certainly good enough for me.

So, I thank you, secret agent man (whose privacy I will respect) for the rejection and your comment. Even if you weren’t even talking about the erotica, it did open my eyes about it being included in my query letters. I will continue to include it because I refuse to hide it. I’m not ashamed of it and I certainly don’t want to work with anyone who would want me to keep it hidden.

I sent out another agent query letter yesterday.

Yes, I included a very brief mention of the erotica.

I Blame Holly Hobby

It began with a little blue and white checkered book with a picture of Holly Hobby on the front. It was January 1977 and I had just turned eleven years old the previous December. I have no idea who bought me that diary, I suspect my Nana Jean, but, regardless, whoever it was, they started me down the long road to journaling, and maybe even lit the spark of my dreams of being a writer.

Holly Hobby saw me through a lot that year. Oh, sure, a lot of the pages are blank, but that little 4 X 5 inch book brought me a lot of joy and helped me share with my future by holding on to the past in my sometimes less than legible handwriting. My grandfather died that year. With a newly sharpened pencil in hand, I cried on those pages that night as I would later cry at Papa Milo’s funeral. His very sudden death was the first beloved human one that I knew. I remember hating every minute of that day, sitting at the back of the room with my cousins and brother, looking at the open casket and thinking how the man inside it had only weeks ago been mowing hayfields, smoking from his cherry tobacco-filled pipe, or trying to teach me how to count in Italian. I remember my parents trying to get me to go to the front of that dreaded, horrible room and say ‘Good bye’ and the way I threw a fit, refusing to do so. My long, hot, summer days on Nana and Papa’s farm were over, gone, done, forever.

Good things happened in 1977, too. I’d made a new best friend the previous fall when I started the fourth grade at Nathan T. Hall School in Newark Valley, NY. In fact, I made a couple new friends that year, friends that would not only see me through 1977, but would remain friends through middle school and senior high, all the way to graduation and to this day! And, in the fall of 1977, when we all started Fifth Grade, I was able to get back together with the boyfriend I’d had in Third Grade. All this, and more, as sketchy and poorly written as it may be, is all documented and kept safe by little Holly Hobby to this day.

Holly has a lot of Diary Friends in that big cardboard box, mind you. I’ve saved them all. I’ve kept them intact, neatly together, waiting for someday when my kids will pull the boxes from their hiding place and find out more about their mother than they will probably ever want to really know.

1978, 1979, 1980… one by one documented in long hand. Each year my journal-keeping habit grew more, well, habitual, more detailed, more part of my identity. My parents caught on pretty quick that I was taking this diary thing pretty seriously. For years they would order a journal for me, matching dark brown covers with the year stamped in gold on the spine and front, all in a row. My life was becoming a library all its own. Every night, almost without fail, I’d take up my pen and write down the thoughts and events of the day.

Through those high school years, through my first trip abroad, the first time I made love at a bed and breakfast in Southampton, England in 1985, through falling in love with the man who I would marry in September 1989, the diaries would continue. They would see me through. They would see my laughter and my tears. The details of the births of my son and daughter and the day we all moved to the big house in Spencer in 1995. My handwriting would record it all, the good, the bad, the ugly. The heart soaring and the heart breaking. As I struggled to make my marriage work through any means necessary, to accepting that fateful moment when the divorce papers were signed, sealed and delivered on July 26th 2011.

It’s all there, unedited and directly from the heart, tear stains and all. Not a single lie or imagining, just the truth, my dreams, my disappointments, my fears, my pain, my joy, my love, and my hopes even now for the future. Nothing is hidden for even as much as I can be myself, I think everyone has parts they want to be kept quiet, not so much secret but personal, there are still parts, thoughts, feelings, I like to keep special, almost to a sacred degree.

At some point I realized I was no longer able to write on a nightly basis. I could check, of course, but I’m going to have to guess it was when I entered my early 20s. Life got busy. Working full time, getting married, having kids, and keeping house left me too tired to write every night. I began writing weekly, Sunday nights, to be exact. It was my hour or so of quiet time. This is the time I still write in my journal. I do forget now and then and end up writing a few days later or at most, the following week, but I always do it. I always get my readers caught up on this grand autobiography eventually.

And now, I blog, well, I try to anyway. I don’t think I’m very successful at it. Honestly, I don’t think my day-to-day shenanigans are all that interesting to much of anyone but me or the very few people I may be having said shenanigans with. I read the blogs of others and always wonder, how are they making this seem so interesting and fun, and sometimes downright funny? I consider it a good day when I can manage to be clever on my Facebook update, let alone a Blogsworth of writing. I like that word. Blogsworth. A quick Google reveals I did not just invent it. Oh well.

So, don’t look here for any great revelations about my personal life. It isn’t going to happen. I’ll continue to not only post randomly, but on random topics that likely will have nothing to do with each other beyond the fact I wrote them. Little me, who will always feel that our inner thoughts and feelings, our little chats with the Divine within us, should not be seen or read by the public eye, but instead should be kept like that little Holly Hobby book, quietly, secretly tucked under the mattress of an eleven-year-old girl such as I was, who, even then, dreamed of being a writer.

At least now my handwriting is more legible, most of the time.

Cursive, Hieroglyphics of the Future

Recently there has been a lot of debate over the teaching of cursive handwriting in American schools. Maybe it has something to do with my love, not just of writing, but of history that makes me Pro-Cursive.

Every now and then I sift through the few old letters I have managed to save written by my grandmother’s. I am struck each time with the notion that the person who wrote those words took time out of their busy day to stop, sit down and write to me because I was important in their lives. It made me feel special. Every now and then we read in the news how new, historic documents have surfaced after many long, forgotten years. Quite often these are letters from war veterans to their families and in most cases these snippets of history are written in cursive. As a lover of history, I am filled with dread that one day these documents and their importance will lose all meaning.  Only those that hold degrees in cursive writing will be able to translate the obscure swirls, loops and humps of this cryptic form of writing. So much will be lost then.

What of the documents we already have carefully preserved in museums and library archives? What will become of them? They may be saved for posterity but what of their physical link to our nation’s past? When the vaults are opened and the common man is permitted a glimpse of these relics, will he be able to connect to that document merely by reading it in the very handwriting of the person who so carefully crafted it? What leaves a more lasting impression, reading the Gettysburg Address on a computer screen or standing before the very item knowing its history and reading its words for yourself? Will there be any sense of awe, purpose and pride gained when we have put ourselves at such a distance from those things that matter to our liberties? Or will these documents hold onto our hearts as much as an image in a book of Egyptian hieroglyphics we cannot begin to understand? 

To those school children of the distant future deprived of an understanding of cursive writing the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and original Bill of Rights may as well be in cuneiform and will feel just as distant to them as such. For the non-history buffs, imagine being given the opportunity to lay your eyes on the scientific formulas of Newton or Einstein not just in a book or on a cold monitor, but right there in front of you. What a thrill it would be to be permitted to hold the very quill of Archimedes or the ink pen which Beethoven used to write his 9th Symphony and not just look at these items but understand their meaning, to be able to read those special languages of scientific notation, mathematics and music.  Cursive holds that power over me, that love, that connection to those before me.

It is said that those who forget their past are doomed to repeat it. If the generations to come are intentionally allowed to forget a form of written communication, what affect will that have on the collective memory of our nation? How much will be forgotten simply because we were too busy to teach them the simple art of cursive and there is no one around anymore who can read it. Is this a risk we really want to take? I believe it’s not. Whenever that day may come that I am a grandmother, I will take it upon myself to teach my grandchildren and all their friends this craft. Too many people depend exclusively on the typed word, restricting their research and experience base to that leaves out so much of the world.

There are those that will argue cursive is out-dated, old-fashioned and simply too slow a method of communication. To which I reply, “What’s the rush?” We humans have rushed ourselves far too long. We seem to think we must constantly be ten steps ahead of the next guy and that somehow we are superior because our technology is more advanced than someone else’s. Sure, we can wipe out life on this planet in the blink of an eye if so inclined. That hardly makes us better, just more dangerous and maybe just a little bit more insane than the other living things we share this earth with. Faster is not always better.

I think we need to slow down, not speed up. We need to communicate better not faster. How about instead of stopping to smell the roses, we let ourselves stop and get a cup of tea or coffee, a pad of paper and a pen and write something down in the  slow, graceful, easy curves of cursive for the future generations to remember us by.

I’m gonna write on… write on.

I must confess I am at feeling overwhelmed. Maybe this is why my writing has suffered.

The passion to write has not gone away. If anything it has grown stronger and yet I find myself writing less and less despite my spoken and written statements that I will get more of it done. For the current novel I’d set my sights on having it done by the end of August. This doesn’t seem possible to me now. By the end of this month I’d hoped to have the submission papers ready for an agent. Although I’ve made headway on that, getting five of the six requirements done, my feet (fingers?) are dragging on the last one. I’m not sure why. This whole thing means the world to me. Writing is my world, my greatest passion and something I have longed to do but since I was nine.

I want to get ‘That’s What Shadows Are Made Of’ done.

I want to get the agent papers done.

I want to finish with the illustrations for “Bill, The Worm Who Ran Away”.

I want to work on the two ghost stories I have in mind.

I want to get “Speeding Chicken By Road” and “Cecil B. Snail” written down.

And with all this going on in my head, I can’t focus on the Top Two on the list. I gather my materials and I sit down at my desk then all the ‘oomph’ just kinda gets sucked out of me for some reason. It’s frustrating, at times to the point of tears. A perfect example is this very moment where I am blogging about not being able to work on the stuff I should be and blogging instead! Argh! Insanity!

I’m really liking how “…Shadows” is turning out so it’s not like I’ve lost interest in it. I wrote up some outline notes for future chapters. My constant thoughts of “Gotta get it done, gotta get it done…” have paralyzed me at the keyboard for anything beyond what I consider for myself to be fluff. Everyone else seems to have such interesting things to say in their Blogs. Mine feels more like a Blargh. Not sure what goes on in my life that anyone else would really be all that interested in knowing about.

And so.. I am overwhelmed. Everything feels like it’s on a deadline and if I don’t do it now, it won’t get done in time… in time for what? Mortality? Now, there’s a cheerful topic! NOT.