Thursday, October 30, 2008

Back from the Smokies

Got home from our trip to the Smokies with the Gabhart side of the family - the brothers and sisters. We had a beautiful cabin up on the side of a mountain and a great time talking and catching up on all our family news. When Darrell's mom died a few years ago, we decided to make a special effort to keep our family close. We didn't want to neglect getting together until the only time we were seeing one another was at Christmas or even worse, a funeral home. That sounds like an awful thing to write, but it's sometimes too true that we don't take time to visit with those we love and have grown up with and those who share our personal history until we gather for a family funeral.

So this week we all took time out of our busy schedules and spent a few days together, playing cards and enjoying some great meals and even better talk. We always tell stories about what happened in the past and even when we've heard them a dozen times, we keep laughing. And it's good to remember Darrell's mom and dad who have passed on and his grandparents, too. His granddad on his mother's side of the family was part Cherokee and also a natural storyteller. He passed some of that talent down to Darrell and his brothers.

The weather in the mountains was chilly but the sun was shining and we had great views of the trees. We went over to Cades Cove and saw lots of wildlife including three bears and a coyote. We also saw lots of traffic, but I suppose that's to be expected this time of the year when everybody is wanting to see some fall colors.

On the way home we stopped at a few book stores where I talked with the clerks and store managers. Debbie at the Family Christian Bookstore in Seiverville was very welcoming and let me sign copies of The Outsider for her customers. Maybe next time I'm down that way we can work out a booksigning date. It's a great store with books and more books. I finally had to just close my eyes and leave before I loaded the van down. I love buying books. Then we stopped at the Sonshine Bookstore in Corbin. They didn't have my book, but when I introduced myself, the guy at the counter, Dwayne, was actually ordering new fiction books out of the Baker Books catalogue. What a coincidence! There was my book listed right in front of him. So he ordered some copies of The Outsider, Summer of Joy,and Orchard of Hope.

No wise sayings tonight. I think we stayed up playing Canasta and Rook too late every night for me to think of anything wise. Except to say hope you enjoy your family as much as I enjoy mine. They may all be family by marriage, but they are definitely family.

Talk to you this weekend. I'll let you know who won my website book give-away. And tell you about where I'll be having my next booksignings in South Carolina.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Two states down - Two to go!

I made my trip to New Albany, Indiana. The Heaven Help Us Bookstore was a beautiful place owned by a couple of beautiful people, Nyla and Mary Lou. They were mother and daughter team, and both had a love of books. Their store overflowed with lots of other lovely Christian items as well. I did a little Christmas shopping while I was there and got the twins a couple of cute plush hammers that make a breaking noise when you whop them on something. My husband, who was sweet enough to drive up there with me, kept popping them against his head and laughing when it sounded like his head was shattering. It must have been a man thing. But then again, I was the one who bought them.

You can bet if I lived in the area, I'd be in Nyla's great store shopping all the time. I kept seeing things I would like to buy. And the book section was well stocked and had lots of great titles. Not only that, Nyla was an avid reader who stood ready to point out the best books to her customers. That's service.

Oh yeah, one more sort of amusing note about the trip. Nyla had told me her story was right next door to the nice restaurant when she sent me directions. I thought that was good, to have a nice restautant right next door. But it turned out the restaurant was actually named The Nice Restaurant. Great thinking. What do people sometimes say when you ask where they want to go out to eat? Right. Somewhere nice or a nice restaurant. So if you're in the New Albany area you can go to the Nice Restaurant and slip on next door to an even nicer bookstore, Heaven Help Us. And believe it or not, just up the street is The Flower Shop. No joke.

Three other inspirational fiction writers were there as well. Jamie Carie had her book, Snow Angel; Shelley Shepard Gray was signing her popular Hidden; and Ramona K. Cecil had a couple of her Heartsong Presents novels there. One of her titles was Sweet Forever. So of course, I ended up buying all their books. They looked so good and writers should support other writers, shouldn't they? A couple of them were sweet enough to return the favor. I decided their books would make great give-aways on my website in the next few months. So check that out after I draw for the "trick or treat" winner on the thirty-first. You've still got time to send me an e-mail in get your name entered into that drawing. Just go to my website, http://www.annhgabhart.com/ and click on contact Ann.

All three of the other authors were coming out with new books in December or the first of the year. So they're ahead of me a few months there. My new book, The Believer, is a summer 2009 release. I got the changes finished on the new book and sent in and approved, so it's a wrap. Of course there will be copy editing and proofing down the road, but the story is ready. I'm hoping my readers will be ready for another Shaker story. I think you'll like Ethan and Elizabeth, the two main characters. Now I need to get started on researching the next book. I thought I had decided on a Civil War book, but I'm wavering on that historical time frame now. I'm thinking that might be better in another story and not a Shaker story. But we'll see. That's one of the good things about research. It seeds your mind with a lot of different ideas and then you have to sort of wait to see which ones are going to sprout and grow best.

Then today was the trip to West Virginia to see Matt and John's baby dedication at their church there. It's always fun to see the new babies and the loving parents and families at a baby dedication service. My son's family took up quite a bit of room with his three girls and the twins. The two year old wasn't too patient with the preacher's dedication talk, but the twins never made a peep. They are both very laid back and happy babies.

We didn't get to stay to play long since Darrell and his group were singing tonight and we had to get back in time for that. That was the third night in a row the guys had sung. Their Homecoming on Friday and Saturday went well. Thanks to all who came and thanks, Faye, for coming by to speak to me. Then Sherry stopped to talk to me tonight. It's great to meet you guys wherever I am. Also hope you're feeling much better by now, Bonnie.

Tomorrow we'll head out for some R & R with Darrell's brothers and sister and spouses in Tennessee. I won't be going to South Carolina until the next week, but I'm really looking forward to the trip down there to see my daughter and maybe gain some new readers for The Outsider and Summer of Joy at the Spartanburg Barnes and Noble Store (Nov 7)and the Greenville Barnes and Noble (Nov 6). I love bookstores. Especially these new bookstores that are so reader friendly. My biggest problem is trying to keep from buying a carload of books everytime I go. I love to buy books for my grandkids and for everybody on my Christmas list. At least this close to Christmas I'll have an excuse.

Guess that's all my news. But I did have one more thing. Do you guys have a magic mirror? Maybe not exactly like the witch in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but a mirror that you look in and you see yourself as looking not all that bad. Then you get out somewhere, perhaps go in a public restroom and all of the sudden spot yourself in that big bright mirror and you don't feel so flattered. Your hair looks messier or grayer or duller and your skin looks a little splotchy or not as smooth as it did back in that magic mirror in your own bathroom.

Is it because we're holding our mouths right and lifting our chin to a flattering pose? Or is the light dim and we just can't see? I don't know. What I do know is that most of us have people in our lives who look at us and see us prettier and better than we are. That's because they're looking at us with "magic mirror" eyes of love. I'm wishing you lots of "magic mirror" eyes looking at you this week and making you feel beautiful and loved.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Writer Needs to Feed Her Imagination

I talked to a fun bookclub on Monday night by phone. I'm not great at hearing on speaker phones, but I could tell those ladies of the South Zumbra Church Book Club were having a good time. And not just because they were talking to me although I'm sure that put a little extra zing in the meeting - getting to quiz the author of the book they'd read. Actually they picked my book to read because the mother of the beautiful model on the cover is a member of the club and she picked the book. I told her one thing for sure - they couldn't knock the cover. It's perfect for the story. I asked them how they picked their books and they had a dozen different ways. They'd just read Gone with the Wind not long ago and I thought that sounded like a great idea. To revisit some old favorite books. I read Gone with the Wind in one long Thanksgiving weekend when I was 13 or 14.

Is there any better way to read a book than to just lie down on your bed or sit in your favorite reading chair and wallow in the words until you've read every last one? I can't do that very often these days. Too many chores and responsibilities and books of my own I want to write. But I do think it's vital for a writer to read. That's the advice I always give young people, but you know it's good advice for any writer. I've been reading Stephen King's book On Writing. He says nobody can be a good writer without being a voracious reader. He carries a book everywhere he goes and reads in minutes snatched out of a busy schedule. I need to do that. Steal a moment here and there to read more books. A writer needs to feed her imagination and what better way than to read and read some more. Reading brings new ideas your way, and King made the point that all the books don't have to be great. That reading a bad book can bolster your confidence. That nearly every aspiring writer has at one time or another read a book and said "I can write a better book than that." And then he adds that reading a really great book can inspire us to think I want to write a book that good. So it's a no lose situation.

Of course I have to admit I don't stick it out through a book I think is really bad. I close it up and find another one. There are just too many books out there to wade through a book I'm not enjoying. Unless of course it's a research book, then I wade on in. So just a thought or two on reading. What do you think? Do you think you have to read to become a better writer? Do you ever give up on a book and start another one?

Okay here are the quotes I promised last Wednesday.

"You know you're old when you've lost all your marvels." --Merry Browne (Could she have any better first name for that quote? And I don't want to ever lose all my marvels.)

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going." --Beverly Sills

I hope you are going to lots of places worth going and that even if you can't take any shortcuts that you will enjoy the road and discover plenty of marvels along the way.

One last note - I'll be up in New Albany, Indiana for a booksigning at the Heaven Help Us Bookstore on Saturday between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. If you're in the area, come on over and say hi. They're celebrating five years of serving the Christian community in that area.

Oh yeah - another really last note - If you want a chance to win my book, The Outsider, go visit Rose McCauley's blog, http://www.rosemccauley.blogspot.com. She does a book give-away every month and this month it's mine. What better way to get a book than free!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Joys of the Electronic Age and Booksignings

Hi, everybody. Thanks for stopping by. But this post is late since my phone lost its dial tone all weekend. The repairman just called a few minutes ago to say our phone was working again. Somebody dug a fencepost hole and cut the cable. I don't know who was fencing, but it wasn't us. Anyway, out here in the sticks where those of the slower electronic age reside, a person can’t reach out to talk to people on the other side of the country without that nice little hum in your ear when you pick up the phone or that melodious growl in your modem when you hit the connect button on your computer. Now and again we talk about checking into satellite internet, but I’m the one dragging my feet, thinking it’s just too much trouble to switch over. I’m the kind of person telephone companies, etc. love because I just don’t want to go through the hassle of changing it all over to a new company. I’m loyal as a puppy dog or maybe I should say as an old dog that doesn’t want to bother learning new tricks.

Of course land lines don’t seem quite as vital to most people as they used to be because we all have cell phones these days or so it seems from the way everybody at the grocery store has a phone chatting away as he or she picks up some groceries. Or how half the people who come through a stoplight have telephones pressed against their ears. We are a nation connected. And some can connect to the web on their cell phones, but not me. I figure I’ll hang back on that modern advance a bit longer. Besides I don’t have anything earth-shaking to say. Certainly nothing that you can’t wait a few more hours to read. I put all those kind of words (the kind you have to read right away) into my books. At least I’d like to have those kinds of words in my books.

Virginia Smith and I had our booksigning at JosephBeth Booksellers in Lexington on Thursday night. Thank you to all my friends who came by. And Ginny’s friends too. We didn’t do a reading as we had planned because somehow the contact at the store thought we weren’t speaking and so we ended up just talking to everybody one on one. Ginny kept telling folks I was going to entertain by dancing the two-step or soft shoe or something. That would have had people laughing, but I’m not sure about entertained.

I missed out on the dancing gene, although I used to have a dog that would dance when he came to greet me whenever I’d come home. I have done a few doggie dance steps with him just to encourage him. Tate’s passed on to dance in doggie heaven now. He’d also smile, but the dancing was what everybody liked to see him do the most. Or maybe they just liked to see me doing those dog steps. Anyway, there weren’t any dogs dancing at JosephBeth’s so neither did I. Laughing – that we did do. Even signed a few copies of The Outsider, Orchard of Hope, and Summer of Joy too. Ginny’s book, The Taste of Murder, is hot off the press, just released last week. To her delight, she’s already spotted it in Wal-Mart. She set the book in Owensboro, KY where they have the great barbecue. At least I think that’s what I overheard her telling people. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. But she does have a newly designed website, http://www.virginiasmith.org/ where you can check out all her books. She says she posted a picture of us on there too, but I haven’t had the nerve to go look at it yet.

Also several local papers in Kentucky picked up the article Don White, who used to be the editor of our local paper, wrote about me. Don's writing human interest pieces now about people he meets who have some kind of Kentucky connection. Believe me, he's written about a lot more interesting people than me. You can check his stories out at www.thekytraveler.com. I saw the article about me that was in the Danville Advocate, but he says maybe twelve or thirteen papers across the state picked it up. Not the local paper here in Anderson County. I think they’re tired of printing articles about me. They did a piece on me back in February when Summer of Joy came out.

I never could get them to do the article about my Hollyhill books that I pitched to them. Since I based so much of Hollyhill on my local town, Lawrenceburg, I thought it would be fun to really zero in on that as a hook, but the newspaper reporter wasn’t a long time Lawrenceburg resident and he just didn’t see the appeal to that. I still think it would be a fun article. “Lawrenceburg Stars in Author’s Hollyhill Stories.” Or something along those lines. Oh well. Maybe they were afraid I'd made everybody in Lawrenceburg sound like they were from Jupiter like Wes. If you haven't read my Hollyhill books you won't know what in the world (or Jupiter) I'm talking about. Sorry, you'll just have to read the books to find out.

And now the Shakers are the stars in my new books. I’m knee deep in making a few changes to keep my editor happy with my new Shaker book, The Believer. Nothing major, thank goodness. Just a tweak here and there. And I got the proof of the final cover last week. It’s sort of like the last one with the girl and guy in the front with some Shaker buildings in behind. I like it. I’ll post it on my website as soon as I know a publication date. I’m thinking next summer, but I don’t know that for sure yet. Guess I should ask. Sometimes I just expect to get all the info without ever asking.

The next week is a busy one. Aren’t they all anymore? And can you believe it’s almost November? You realize what month comes after November. I’d better be marking off some time on my calendar to go shopping for all those grandbabies. But this week the Patriots are having their Homecoming on Friday and Saturday nights. That’s always fun. If you’re in the area, check out their website, http://www.patriotquartet.com for more details. And then I’ve been telling people I’m going to be in Indiana on Saturday (a booksigning at Heaven Help Us Bookstore in New Albany at 11:30 a.m.), West Virginia on Sunday (the baby dedication day for the twins at my son’s church), and Tennessee on Monday (a trip to the mountains with Darrell’s brothers and sister and spouses – we’ll have a blast.) Actually I’m not usually so busy. But this all sounds like fun. Hope all your busiest days are fun. And if they are tell us about them. I enjoy reading your comments and I like getting e-mails from you readers. You can contact me privately from my web page if you want.

Oh yeah, and I’ll be drawing for the winner of my Hollyhill books on Halloween day. Guess it’ll be a trick or treat time. So if you haven’t signed up for the drawing, send me an e-mail in the next couple of weeks. I have a dial tone now so I'll get your messages. Thank goodness. I was worried I was going to have to call that machine woman at the telephone company again. You know, the one with the soft voice that says please say yes or no in answer to all my questions. Of course, she does usually ask easy questions. Yes? Or no?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Country Church Revival

We just got home from the last night of our revival at Goshen. How many of your churches still have revivals? I'll guess they aren't like the revivals of old. I've been told of two week revivals, but since I've been faithfully attending Goshen, revivals started on Monday with the evangelist and went through the next Sunday. And we never skipped Saturday night. But then things started to change. People got busy with five hundred and six things and revival meetings ended up ranking about five hundred and seven. So churches around here started having three or four day revivals. Some churches have a different speaker every night. Some churches tried mid-day meetings and offered to feed the comers lunch. We tried having supper before services a few years back. We had ice cream and cookies tonight because we're an "eating meeting" church.

But you know what? It's better when people call us a "praying" church. Or a "spirit led" church. That's what Br. Fred, our pastor, wanted for us this revival. He wanted it to be a spiritual renewal time, and it may have been for most of us. There were no decisions at the altar, but surely there were many decisions of the heart. If any of us step closer to the purpose the Lord has for our lives, then we can claim a spiritual revival.

But a revival such as they had of old? I don't think we had that. Nobody suggested keeping the meetings going another night. I've heard of revival meetings that continued on for weeks and months. People didn't want to stop meeting. They weren't tired of hearing the gospel. Do you think we're tired of hearing the gospel now? Or are we just concerned about getting back to those other five hundred and six things we need to do?

I came across a quote a few years ago that I often repeat to myself. As usual, I had to go out on the net to get it exactly right. I remember things in general terms and I'm not too good at word for word quotes. But I found it. I remembered it was Thoreau which helped in my search. So here it is.

"It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?" ...Henry David Thoreau

That's a question I ask myself often when I seem to be spinning in place, so busy I don't have time to think or get half what I think I need to get done finished. I have to remind myself to be busy about the right things when I'm writing or when it comes to my family. A church can be the same. Busy with a thousand activities, but we need to be busy about what the Lord wants us to be busy about. And realizing that can be hard.

Gee, guys, I didn't aim to preach at you, but looks like I might have. I promise to find something funny for next Wednesday. Talk to you Saturday or Sunday. I'll tell you how things go at the Joseph-Beth Bookstore's booksigning with Virginia Smith. We had been planning to do some speaking about our books, but J-Beth's people thought we weren't. So now I don't know if we are or we aren't. If you come to hear talking, we'll do the talking one on one. How about that? Hope to see some of you there.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wild and Wonderful West Virginia Book Festival

Well, it's Sunday night, and I'm trying to wind down from a way too busy week. But it promises to be that way all this month. I knew October was going to be extra busy. We're having revival at church through Wednesday and then my booksigning at Joseph-Beth's Booksellers in Lexington with Virginia Smith is this Thursday night. I hope I see some of you there.

That's just what's going on this week. I won't even think about the rest of the month. Anyway, that's why I was so happy to get my new book, The Believer, finished and off a month before deadline. But alas, while my editor did like the story and gave it thumbs up, she also wants a few changes. (Heavy sigh!) Actually her suggested changes aren't all that bad. The really bad part is that I had a couple of questions about the same things she's questioning now and I let it slide right on past me. That's not working the way I want to work. I was just so happy to be finished that I didn't want to see those little minor problems that I could have fixed to make the story better before I sent it in to the editor. Of course, who knows? Maybe then she would have found something else to need fixing. I've heard of some people - not necessarily writers, but anyone who has to write a proposal or draft for someone else's approval - leaving something they know is wrong in the proposal, etc. just so the boss or whoever has to approve it has something to fix. That's not me. I want my stuff fixed as good as I can fix it before anybody else reads it.

Unfortunately nobody is perfect. Certainly not me and that's why there are editors. To help us make our work better. Still I want to be perfect. In my writing at any rate. I know I have no chance of being perfect in my everyday life. I'm always flubbing up something or saying the wrong thing or not getting something that needed to be done finished on time. Praise the Lord for forgiveness. And second and sometimes third chances.

Guess that's what I have with my new book. A second chance to make it more near to perfect. I really don't mind editing - when it's my idea. It's harder when it's the editor's idea, because then I have to shift my thinking over to his or her perspective. Sometimes that's brain strain.

But back to my topic. Wild and wonderful West Virginia. That's the motto on their license plates up there in WV. There is a lot of beautiful country in WV. Mountainous areas, rivers that lend themselves to whitewater rafting, secluded valleys, and lonesome stretches where if you're traveling through on the interstate, you're glad you filled up with gas before you started down the road. And there are some cities. It was the city part I was in Saturday at the West Virginia Book Festival in Charleston, WV. My son's an attorney in Charleston and so I contacted the WV Book Festival committee to beg for a place on the program. Well, I didn't really beg. I asked politely, and they were kind enough to invite me.

My talk was "Writing about Shakers...and Other Odd Characters," and wonder of wonders, some people showed up to listen. I was worried about that. I mean I got up at 4:15 in the morning to drive three hours up there and I was really worried I'd get up there and nobody would come listen. I couldn't see why they would. I mean I'm not exactly famous or any thing. Then my program was at 10 a.m. That's sort of early on Saturday morning. And the sun was shining on a beautiful fall day plus WVU was playing football at noon. On t.v. I was lucky my son showed up to introduce me, seeing as how my granddaughter was playing volleyball at noon as well. But he did show up and did a great job introducing me to the nice group of people who decided to gift me with an hour and half of their time. Most of them seemed to enjoy the talk.

There was one daddy and his eleven-year-old son. The son was the writer. I admired the father supporting him enough to bring him to book events to try to help him learn the ropes. I'm not sure what I said about character development was helpful to him as I had planned my talk with adults in mind. But he made me think of myself at that age. Except I was a closet writer. I would have never had the courage to go out in public and admit to the world that I was a writer. I was, but I wouldn't have been able to say so at age eleven. Not to everybody. So he's ahead of me that way. Plus he said he had a lot of writing opportunities at his school. Not so for me. I used to wish the English teacher would assign themes for homework. I guess I had to come up with my own practice assignments. And as I'm always telling wanna be writers, the best way to learn to write is to read. That's doubly true for young people. It's something I certainly did as a kid. I always had a book in my hand.

But I had a good time in West Virginia and I thank everybody who came. Your kind comments made my day. And then I got to go to my son's house and see the grandbabies - all five of them. The twins are doing great, growing and growing. The two-year-old is having a little trouble adjusting to not being the baby. That's because she's still a baby too. But her mommy and daddy will help her through this adjustment time. That's the thing about a good mama's and daddy's love. It doesn't thin out to cover more children. It just gets thicker all the time until it wraps a warm blanket of love around each and every child.

Hope you have a blanket of love around your shoulders this week. And if you're having great weather the way we are that you'll breath in the great autumn air and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Finishing the Race

Hi, everybody. Another Wednesday, but this one not the ordinary mid-week hump Wednesday. My daughter and her husband are visiting this week after a weekend in Texas where Gary, my son-in-law, entered and finished an Ironman race. That's impressive. It took him five hours and forty-three minutes to swim a mile plus, bike fifty some miles and run thirteen miles. The question he's heard most from us is "Why?" I don't think any of us could imagine doing one of those things. I might walk thirteen miles, but not run them. So we are admiring his endurance and perseverance in finishing the race. And shaking our heads as we ask "Why would you want to do that to your body?"

So since they're visiting we went to see the babies in WV today. And the rest of the family there too. The twins have almost doubled in size since I last saw them and I have no trouble telling them apart. Now if I could just get the right name to roll off my tongue. I do that trick of calling every name but the right one. They say that's a grandma age thing. Oh well. The grandma benefits are well worth a little aging.

But back to the perserverance of finishing the race. I've always thought perserverance was the greatest attribute a writer can have. It takes perseverance to finish a book length piece of fiction. It takes perseverance to finish any length piece of fiction and then go back and rewrite it until it's right. It takes perseverance to keep on trying when rejections come knocking on your door and editors aren't loving the work you're doing. Perseverance is what keeps you going when you entertain thoughts of quitting. It's perseverance that tells you the next book, the next story might be the one. So here's a quote or two about stiffening your writer's backbone and continuing to write what you know you must.

"The whole duty of a writer is to please and satisfy himself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one." ...William Strunk

"Men fail much oftener from want of perseverance than from want of talent." ...William Cobbett

"Even the woodpecker owes his success to the fact that he uses his head and keeps pecking away until he finishes the job he starts." Coleman Cox

I'll be in West Virginia at the Book Fest on Saturday, October 11 at 10 a.m. Hope if any of you are in the area you'll come on over and say hi. I just found out my oldest WV granddaughter has a volleyball match at noon, so there goes my one sure attendee. The rest of the grandkids are a little young to care about hearing grandma talk about developing characters. They're too busy developing their own characters. So wish me luck and a few interested participants in my workshop. I'll be sure to catch you up on the good and the bad (hope there's not much of that) of it all on Sunday.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Homecoming Day

Tomorrow Goshen, my little country church, will celebrate 196 years of keeping the doors open at our annual Homecoming Day. Visitors and former members will come "home" and remember growing up in the church. They'll talk about going to Bible School and Sunday School there A few of them will even remember when the church was heated by a stove on each side of the sanctuary and when the men sat on one side of the church and the women and children on the other side. Nearly all of us will remember the great "eating" to be found at a Homecoming dinner on the grounds. While now a lot of us busy members let Kroger do the cooking, back then the ladies had country cooking down to an art. On Homecoming Day, they cooked everything they could find and a lot of it was straight out of their gardens or off their pantry shelves. I don't know that it's ever been a competition, but I've known preachers who had to load down their plates to keep from favoring one lady's food over another's.

Banana croquettes are my favorite church dinner food. Don't know what that is? Then you must not be southern although I met a preacher's wife from Alabama once who had never seen bananas coated with salad dressing and then rolled in crushed peanuts. Yum! Yum! As Granpa used to say on Hee-Haw. So I'm hoping somebody will make them for tomorrow. It's never me. It's just too messy and I can dump a jar or two of my homegrown greenbeans in a pan a lot easier. But I'll be sure to brag on anybody who does put in the work to make the banana croquettes. And don't ask me where the name comes from. I might not even have the name right, but that's what I heard when I was a kid growing up. Nobody, but nobody had a holiday dinner without banana croquettes, mashed potatoes, and some kind of gelatin salad. Pink cloud salad was popular for a while, and do you remember watergate salad? Was that after the Watergate mess? And did it have any connection? I just remember it was green jello and whipped topping and marshmallows. I don't know how it was made. I never fixed it and at the dinners I just headed straight for the bananas and peanuts.

Enough about food. I might get us all hungry. And probably half of you are trying to diet. That seems to be the American past time. Putting on the weight and then trying to take it off.

I finally got pictures of my new twin babies up on my website along with plenty of other photos. Even some of me when I was a little girl. So go check it out if you get a chance. The babies are so cute as well as the rest of my grandbabies.

Entries are still coming in for my new book give-away. I'll be drawing the winner the end of October, so if you haven't entered the contest yet, you still have time. Just send me a message saying you'd like to be entered into the drawing.

The Patriots were at Renfro Valley today. It was a beautiful day weatherwise and the guys did a great job singing, too. I enjoyed meeting Bev from New York and Sharon from Chicago and their husbands. They were both sweet enough to say they enjoyed reading my books and even brought their books along with them for me to sign. It's always fun for an author to meet a reader. Thanks for checking my website schedule and coming by to talk to me, Bev. I've got some other signings and such coming up. Hope if you are in the area wherever I am, you'll come out and say hi.

I'm sort of in the doldrums writing. I sent off my book, The Believer, for the editor to look over, and it's time to think about the next book. But I need a little time to let the characters of the last book fade out a little. Plus I'm supposed to be doing some other kinds of writing work. I'm scheduled to speak in WV next Saturday. It's good to have something in mind when you step to the podium. Rambling is okay for a blog, but not so okay for a presentation. I'm going to be talking about "Writing about Shakers... and Other Odd Characters." I'm excited about meeting new reading friends in West Virginia. And then Virginia Smith and I are having the signing at Joseph-Beth's bookstore the week after that and I need to get some postcards sent. Maybe if you're in the central Kentucky area you'll get a card. Or just come on down to hear us talking and reading. It's going to be fun sharing the floor with Ginny.

Still, even though I'm busy as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, I miss writing a story. Address labels and speeches aren't the same. So it won't be long until I lift my sails so I can try to catch a little breeze of creativity and get back into a new story.

Maybe I'll talk more about the doldrums of writing next time. Hope you all have a wonderful week and that you stay out of the doldrums.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why Do You Write?

Why do you write? That's a question that has popped up in my life from time to time. What makes one person want to write everything down and another hate to write a two line thank you letter? I suppose it's because we're all wired differently. Some for writing. Some for dancing. Some for singing. Some for a thousand other talents. My son-in-law is flying to Texas this weekend to take part in an Iron Man race where the participants swim and bike and run. Now that's a real "why" question. But he likes challenging himself, seeing what he can do. He knows he's not going to win. The thrill for him is in finishing the race and doing the best that he can do.

But writing? How do you do it? Why do you do it? Are you still doing it? That's the most frequent question I hear in the grocery store or wherever when I'm out about town. Are you still writing? As if I could quit. Even on the days when the words come hard or not at all, I'm still drawn to the blank page. I still want to fill it with words. I still want to tell a story.

So I came across a quote from Irwin Shaw that I shared with a writing class for Community Ed several years ago.

"Why do kids play football? They can get hurt on any play, can't they? Yet they can't wait until Saturday comes around so they can play on the high-school team, or the college team, and get smashed around. Writing is like that. You can get hurt, but you enjoy it." -- Irwin Shaw

And here's another quoted passage from a lecture delivered to journalism graduates at Columbia by Roger Rosenblatt.

"Why write?
Because we have to. Because the thing is in us. It's like a biological fact. We are the stories ourselves, telling one another to one another about one another.
There are good, sound reasons for writing. We learn what we think when we write. It's an odd process, a mysterious process. The sheer play of language, the sheer sound of language.
We also write to undertake a journey, to create an adventure from the past into the future. We move around the bend in the river. Anticipation is all. The vehicle of that journey is the sentence. The single sentence." --Roger Rosenblatt

And so Mr. Rosenblatt has put my answer to the question "why write" into words. Because I have to. Because the thing is in me. A biological fact. It's just what I do. And you know what? I'm glad. I want to fill up that empty page or computer screen with a story that I hope a reader somewhere is going to enjoy so much that they can't put the book down until they read every word.

Hope all your stories are good ones and that you write and read many great sentences.