Thursday, June 12, 2014

Shifting over to My Author Website (possibly permanently)

Hi, folks, Just wanted to let y'all know that I'm shifting content from here over to my author website: This is temporary, but may be a permanent move. Blogger has been giving me headaches and I can't seem to fix the format. To see all my recent posts, including today's newspaper column--which is about a childhood, Southern summers, and regaining some of that summer magic, go">here. I've been blogging solely at my author site since April, so please feel free to catch up!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Column for Thursday, Mar. 28th - Spring Cleaning & Book Sharing

For a peak at today’s newspaper column, “Spring cleaning means sharing books,” go here. Anybody else have a book problem? Or dreams of a fantasy library? Or, for that matter, a spouse who makes you give away your books? * Photo by Paula Player Photography.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Newspaper Column for March 20: "To ma'am or not to ma'am?"

Hi, all! Here’s the link to my newest column in The Greenville News, “To ma’am or not to ma’am.” I’m interested in how y’all were raised. Did you say “ma’am” and “sir” growing up? Did or do you teach your kids to? Is this a cultural thing? Oh, the trials of teaching manners to preschoolers…. Hope you enjoy, and if you do, please share!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

"Well done, Sister Suffragette!"
My newest newspaper column is up at The Greenville News!

I'm particularly proud of this one, which celebrates Women's History Month, Mary Poppins, and the suffragettes.

I hope you enjoy it. And if you do, I hope you'll share!

Have a wonderful weekend, all.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What I'm Giving Up for Lent
For Lent this year, I've decided to give up three things. They are as follows:

1. Cheddar cheese

This is a true test of my discipline. I am a cheese-aholic. Just ask my husband. But I am weak, and didn't think I could give up cheese entirely for 40 days. So it's the cheddar that's getting the ax.

2. Zulily

Have you checked out this discount site for moms, babies and kids? I hesitate to even mention it, it's so addicting. It's got clothes for you and the little (and not so little) ones, shoes (my major fashion weakness), home goods, playground equipment, kitchenware, and so much more. Too many Zulily packages have been arriving at my door lately. And so it's no shopping--window or otherwise--for me until after Easter.

3. Facebook

I'm actually not on Facebook that much. However, a good friend gave me the idea of giving it up for Lent. So, I'm setting it aside for the duration. One caveat: I will post every Thursday, and only on Thursday, when my newest newspaper column comes out. Girl's got to put food on the table.

But today is Fat Tuesday, so I hope you all eat, drink, and are very merry! Catch you on the flip side.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday Newspaper Column - Feb. 27, 2014

Hi, all!

Here's the link to my newest column at The Greenville News. Hope you enjoy!

Also: The Greenville News is asking folks to tag them on Twitter (@GreenvilleNews) and Facebook and Instagram with your own memories and photos of The Big Snow of 1988.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I've Been Whupped

Folks, I’ve been whupped: by two wonderful but needy children, by a week of no preschool due to snow–during which my 4 year-old and I both had the flu–by a job I love but is a lot of work (yes, husband: I hear you. I know I shouldn’t assign so many papers, ’cause then I wouldn’t have to grade them).

Whupped by my final semester of graduate school (where I want and hope and try to stay engaged and productive), by this wonderful new weekly writing deadline (i.e. my new newspaper column), by a house in which the mess multiples like Hydra’s heads, by writing the next novel in any spare (ha!) moment I have, and by always–always–wanting to be in every single place at once, so my family won’t miss anything.

But I am missing things. So I’m not signing off here, but just stepping back a little until the summer. My posting will be sporadic, but I’ll be sure to link to my weekly newspaper columns when and if they’re available online, and I’ll keep y’all posted with any other writing updates. As always, I’ll drop in if I see something too great not to share. I will also try to update my author Facebook page with news and maybe share a little on my Pinterest boards (I’ve recently posted new stuff there).  

I hope you’ll forgive me and stick with me! And please don’t be a stranger: I want to know what you’re reading and doing outside in the great big world!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

First Newspaper Column is Out!

Headshot for The Greenville News
by Paula Player Photography
Hi, all!

I'm thrilled to announce that my new parenting/outdoor/general life column is now up and running in The Greenville News! Makes me very happy to have a byline in my hometown newspaper again.

To check it out, go here.

And be prepared to read about Shakespeare and refrigerator magnets.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Winter Storm Pax & How I Got the Blues

Winter Storm Pax has officially settled in over our mountains here in Western North Carolina. Snowfall totals, NOAA tells us, could reach up to 14 inches.

Normally, this kind of news would have me pausing only to leap for joy before suiting up and heading outside with my entire family and a sled. But I've got the blues.

Earlier this week, my 4 year-old caught the flu. While she is now bouncing on the leather couch in between showings of Mary Poppins (a family favorite) and "Peg Plus Cat" (thank you, God bless you, heaven will repay you with cities of gold, PBSKids), I am now quarantined to the bedroom.

Here's my bed. Note the laptop, tea, and trash bag. That's for the plethora of gunky tissues. Out of the camera view is my Kindle, some magazines, my cell phone, the thawing ice pack I had to keep on my head when I woke up with a migraine (joy!), and Albuterol inhaler I normally only have to use for emergencies. Nice, right?

Here's me. This is no way for a snow girl like myself to spend the biggest snow event the South has seen in over a decade.

If you are in the path of Winter Storm Pax, I hope you stay safe and warm. And play in it for me, will you?!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Go Team!

I've lately been comparing my role in this wild hootenanny we call life to a juggler. It's not an old analogy: people, especially mothers, are constantly talking about trying to juggle the demands of home and career. Some people make it look easy.

It ain't easy. And I honestly think it isn't easy for the perfect people either--perhaps they just look better in public.

These days--to stick with the juggler analogy--I look like a clown in mid-fall, all my juggling balls in the air. So far, I've been catching them on the way down. But surely this will not remain the case. Certainly, they will all come crashing down. My goal is not to let them all crash down at the same time.
In my brand new Team USA Sochi 2014 sweatshirt. I love a good sweatshirt.
In my brand new Team USA Sochi 2014 sweatshirt. I love a good sweatshirt.
Tonight is the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. I LOVE the Olympics, but I especially love the Winter Olympics. Chalk it up to being a Southerner who's dreamt of snow most her life, but winter sports have always appealed to me. Some day, I'm going to write a novel about a biathlete. Because imagine the body and brain power it takes to cross country ski your brains out--an exercise involving all the large muscles and quite a bit of adrenaline--and then to stop, focus like a laser and engage the small muscles and the intellect enough to shoot and hit a tiny target. Astounding.

The Olympics, of course, are all about teamwork. From the arenas and their building and upkeep, the food, the travel arrangements, the planning to the athletes from each individual country relying on each other in a myriad of ways we never see as spectators. And then, as the TV commercials remind us, of course, there are the athletes' families: those people who have been cheering them on since birth, driving them places and providing them with the upkeep of whatever their sport entails, supporting them in innumerable ways and making sacrifices to do so.

All of it: teamwork.

What I have to remember, as I juggle these many-colored balls in the air--husband, daughters, home, grad school, career, writing--is that I never have to go it alone. I am part of a team. My husband is my key team member, and I'm incredibly lucky to have him in my corner. His sacrifices--from handling the girls alone at least twice a week so I can go in early and stay late after my night classes to study and write, to putting up with the inevitable monthly breakdown that comes screaming out of me like a train off its tracks when my graduate packet is due--allow me to do all these things.

Let me stop you here, lest you think feeding, bathing, and getting a 4 year-old and a 9 month-old to bed is an easy job. A job that anyone could do. Well, perhaps so. But it's a whole different ballgame when you're playing man on man than when you're the only one covering. When it's you alone, it's like running the gauntlet. Except instead of medieval crazy people coming at you from both sides with swords and rocks and spikes, it's naked screaming children with honey in their hair and poo poo on their hands.

But back to teamwork.

It's my job to use my time wisely. If ever a phrase were so over-used ... and so daggum true. It's also my job to finally accept that I may not do all these things well, not all the time.
Here goes....

And Go USA!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Show & Tell: the Forgive Me Edition

Hi, folks.

I'm on a major deadline for Monday, and my 4 year-old's preschool was let out early one day this week and cancelled for three days due to snow and ice. Less than two inches of it (it's the South). I'm basically a basket case, because the time I needed to spend working on those deadlines was spent teaching and at home corralling my precious little scamps.

Okay, so I went sledding with my 4 year-old. And my dog.

And we walked downtown for bakery items and to make snow angels with friends.

And I watched DVRed reruns of The Newsroom. Which is going off the air after it's 3rd season. Sigh. Nobody writes for television better than Aaron Sorkin. Come on!

So this is partly my fault. But still: three and a half days of no preschool does make a couple of writing deadlines tough to meet. You try to get anything done with a 4 year-old and an 8 month-old in the house. I dare you.


I do actually have one thing to share, for those folks in Brevard, NC and nearby: Native Eyewear is hosting the Locals Only Project Award Party at The Lumberyard in Brevard on Saturday, Feb. 8th from 6 - 10 p.m. The new catalog, complete with shots from all around our fair town, will be handed out. I have heard that it's absolutely gorgeous, and I can't wait to celebrate my adopted hometown!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Day!

It finally snowed! All hail the snow!

heading out

cutie in the snow

snow dog

ready to go

snow girls 2

snow love

And a good time was had by all.

Wherever you are, I hope you're safe, warm and happy. And if you can, get outside and play!

P.S. Lest you think we forgot her, Baby Willa was warm, safe, and asleep inside. We'll get her out today.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Where I Write

So, if you've been following along you already know I live in a whirlwind of small children, husband, dog, graduate school, tiny house, and soon to be jobs, plural. I'm not very good at keeping it all straight. I'm not very good at telling the small children-husband-dog-jobs-grad school to take a hike so I can write for a while.

I think even the baby would laugh if I told her to take a hike so I could write. Besides, where would she go? It's 5 degrees outside.

I would not trade this life. Not for nuthin', honey. But still. It's a lovely little mess.

Would you like to see where I write in this mess?

Awesome. Here's my desk. It's in the corner of our living room, which along with the kitchen is one L-shaped room:


I'm in the process of New Year's cleaning. Pretty much everything that was on that white shelf to the left of the desk has now been dumped onto my desk and dumped on the floor to the right of the desk. I'm not sure why it's all still there, and such a pig sty. I told my cleaning lady and my life coach to take care of this already.
See the bright orange, Columbia Omni-heat jacket hanging on my desk chair? I can't zip it up (baby weight. argh) but it's saving my fanny this week, nonetheless.

Here's another shot of my writing corner:


Keep in mind that this is in the same room as the living room, the fireplace, and the kitchen.
I'd hem and haw and try to convince you that it's usually much, much tidier than this, but even without all the junk that had been taking over the shelf, it's usually pretty messy. See: I'm speaking my truth in 2014.

But I agree with Albert Einstein: "A neat desk is a sign of a sick mind."

Okay, so the quote's been mangled a bit over the years, but surely that's what Einstein meant.

Here's a shot of the desk itself. I don't understand why I'm behind on "thank you" notes and still sending Christmas cards out in late January. Really, it's a mystery.

Last but not least, my unofficial writing partner for the past 10+ years. Her bed is next to my desk. She's faithful, steady, true, and completely unbiased.

But I am in the process of an overhaul, so pictures of the (heaven help me) clean and organized and pretty-pretty writing area to come after the weekend. And if you have any ideas for how I can make this space work better, send them on!
Happy Weekend, all!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Review at Book-alicious Mama
Woke up this morning to find a new review of Keowee Valley over at Book-alicious Mama, a fantastic--and fantastically thorough, interesting, and smart--book blog written by Jennifer Smeth. I'm a follower, because Jennifer blogs daily about great books, answering all the questions I tend to have when I'm looking for a new read. I'm in awe of the amount of time and effort she spends posting: she truly delves deeply into each book, getting at its unique center. She must have stacks of books waiting to be read!

It really does make me happy to know that people are still reading and enjoying Keowee Valley. To read the review, go here. And if you're looking for new reads, I highly recommend following her blog!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Show & Tell Friday: the Facebook Edition

Hi, folks. Happy Friday!

It's been a while, hasn't it?

Today I'm sharing a few things my Facebook friends have shared with me:

1.) Magical photographs of life on a Russian farm

These are pictures a Russian photographer/mama took of her two young boys on their farm. They are ethereal and yet grounded in earthly things: the family dog, a pond, the texture of the boys' sweaters, snowfall, a rabbit. Incredibly beautiful, and proof of the sheer magic in our everyday lives. Check them out here.
2.) War on wolves

Idaho is planning a wolf slaughter, and they're using tax-payer money to do it. This is nothing new.

One of my favorite organizations, Defenders of Wildlife--which also rates as one of the top organizations to donate to, where most of the money works toward the organization's environmental and conservation mission--is fighting the massacre. I'm not being dramatic: it is a massacre, and the removal of grey wolves from the Endangered Species Act is one of my heart issues. If you get a yen to donate, or to check out what Defenders does, go here.
3.) Maya Angelou reading her poem "Phenomenal Woman"

Maya Angelou is an American treasure. She literally glows, showing us what it means to be truly beautiful. It doesn’t get much better than this. Thanks for sharing, Poets & Writers Magazine!

4.) And don’t forget, if you have any ideas about what I should call the new parenting/outdoor column I’ll be writing for The Greenville News in South Carolina, send them my way.

Happy weekend to all!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Writing a Newspaper Column & in Need of Advice
I’m happy to announce that soon I’ll be writing a weekly column for The Greenville News in Greenville, South Carolina. Greenville is where I grew up, and The Greenville News is the place where I earned my first paycheck as a writer.

The column will focus on parenting, the outdoor life, empowering girls (especially) and anything in-between, all with a personal and regional touch. It’ll appear every Thursday starting in late February.

If y’all have any ideas for what to call the column itself, I’d love to hear them! (I’ve never been any good at titles.)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Keowee Valley the Amazon Daily Deal - TODAY only $1.99

Hi, all!

Happiest of Fridays to you all! After 11 days in Vermont in sub-Artic temperatures, 3 plane trips and delayed luggage, I'm finally back home with my family. Happiness!

More on my time at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in the MFA in Writing program soon, but for now:

Keowee Valley is the Daily Deal today at Amazon, only $1.99!

I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd share with your friends and fans of historical adventure, on any social media sites you frequent. I'd love to introduce Quinn and Jack, and the Revolutionary-era Southern frontier, to new readers!