Only a few more days before Palmetto Oasis Middle Eastern Dance Troupe performs in the North Charleston Performing Arts Festival. Some of the women have marinated and subsequently created dances beginning after the 2015 show. We spend hours on the internet researching costumes and YouTubes. After my son moved out, I converted his bedroom into a small dance room. My husband thinks nothing of several parked cars and entering the house hearing jingling and exotic music. My dog, Chaz, was eager to greet dancers and hang out until he got underfoot. My cat, Hollywood, loves to get under skirts or plop into the center of the room expecting everyone to dance around him. Continue reading
Some of you know, some of you don’t—I’m working on another story. A story inspired from my book coach (Shari Stauch of Where Writers Win) as I plowed through my first novel, Ameera Unveiled. She suggested I consider writing a modern Little Women tale on growing up as baby boomer Navy dependent.
One of the underlying issues for my main character in Ameera Unveiled, is feeling like she is never in control. She resolves to face childhood forbidden zones as she enters an empty-nester zone, but this isn’t always easy. Trying something new is never easy, especially when we haven’t been raised to embrace the unknown.
Some readers have resonated with Ameera’s internalization and self doubts. Others tip their heads and say, “What’s the big deal?”
In that I grew up with many social and gender stigmas as a baby boomer, it is a big deal. As the author, I chose to use a belly dancing class as a catalyst to raise her comfort zone bar. Combined with the instructor who would not take ‘no’ from her students, this produced a lot of internal, wide-eyed panic moments for Ameera. Continue reading
As much as I thought I had prepared myself for January 22, 2014, becoming a grandmother pushed me back in time. Thirty-five years ago, my daughter would have been three months old. I was only twenty years old.
Yes, I not only juggled a new marriage and taking care of a household– I added being a Mommy in a nine month period. As they placed her on my stomach in the labor room, she lifted her head and stared at me with big brown eyes– then peed on me! Within twenty-four hours, I was home with an 8.5-1/2 ounce baby girl with no instruction manual.
I took raising my daughter to be a strong and independent woman very seriously. I watched and journaled much of her childhood. What excited her, frustrated her (there were many of those!) and helped her through social and spiritual issues. She learned gymnastics, and hung out on a plantation riding a pony named Cinnamon. In eighth grade, she wanted to learn to play the flute. Her eyes twinkled when I handed her the first one from the pawn shop.
I tailored her education by homeschooling for many years before releasing her to attend Middleton High School. She merged well with her peers and teachers. I loved pretending that I had no idea she was being inducted in The National Honor Society. Her surprise during induction is one of our favorite memories. By graduation, she met with an Air Force recruiter but set her sights on a career of nursing.
After my divorce, there was line dancing at a western club called Desperado. I had taken up line dancing two years earlier. The eighteen-year-olds loved to go and dance with the young military guys. I loved her lack of embarrassment that Mom was across the dance floor. She often came over and said everyone was boring and she wanted to hang with the fun people.
Eventually, she met her husband. He was stationed at the Charleston AFB and in 2001, I was given a new role– mother-in-law. One year later, I was also a newlywed.
We supported each other through many happy times filled with laughter as well as loss. I probably aggravated my daughter when I tried to still stand in my mommy shoes. I never pushed an unknown role of grandmother on her or her husband.
So, to our delight, last summer we were informed that there would be twins in our future. Thinking back on the journey of raising Chana Spring, I watch the new parents synchronized in the hospital nursery. Her nursing career had given her experience with labor and delivery and preemie nursery care. In spite of her pre-delivery concern that she wouldn’t quit feeling like a nurse- I assured her that would fall off and she’d fall in love. Post delivery I asked how she felt. She gave me a shy smile and said, “like a mom.”
Two little undiscovered personalities that have chosen the best parents. Parents that will instill a well balanced and disciplined upbringing. A childhood inspired with imagination, love of nature and many loving relatives. Welcome, Izzy and Ellie!
Hubby Steve and I with our new grand-babies…
Another serendipity moment. I’m cutting my teeth for a book appearance revealing Ameera Unveiled at an iconic bookstore in San Francisco, CA —– Green Apple Bookstore. I hope when it the clock strikes midnight, I lose my glass slipper and my coach turns back into a pumpkin!
Recently, I was honored to be on Southern Writers Magazine’s must reads list. Gary Fearon graciously alerted me and I hit his link. Penning and marketing a book is still an unexplored territory for me. Seeing my cover beside a blog by Patricia Sands regarding her message in The Bridge Club, put a lump in my throat.
Three years ago, when I approached my writing coach/editor, Shari Stauch, with my story idea— without hesitation she pushed me to my laptop to learn my character’s voice. Continue reading
Although this is a work of fiction, I admit it was driven by my own desire to dance—but was told I couldn’t, shouldn’t, or was forbidden. As I pull my main character into facing a long neglected dance zone, I’d ask the reader to be patient with her. Her story focuses on the impact of chasing a glittery dance dream and lack of experience in a spotlight. In spite of many off the page life experiences, she’s suffered and victoriously overcome many obstacles—especially as a woman. But, Ameera’s pioneer spirit blazes a trail through the unknown land of Dance.
Palmetto Oasis Middle Eastern Dance Troupe is real. I was given permission to use many of the actual troupe members’ names. They’ve been patient and supportive as I labored to unveil Ameera. I’ve embraced their generosity to take creative license with the unbelievable glittery story. I hope to show the bonding power of resilience, humor, and passion among friends and strangers. The therapy of dance is real—not fiction.
I would not have accomplished this tale if I hadn’t been introduced to Shari Stauch. Her publishing experience and . . . let’s say it like is . . . puts your balls to the walls honesty required me to get mad and tell how unfair life can be. BQB Publishing enthusiastically polished the project with many talented artists. Terri Leidich, Heidi Grauel, and Julie Breedlove offered prompt answers and resources. My editor, Sharon Hecht, untangled my grammar and cut story interruptions without ripping off the band-aid. Even the book cover embodies many of the messages in the story. Kendra Haskins did an amazing job with my website—capturing the ‘pretty’ that makes women and little girls say “wow!” And, thanks to Leroy Mazyck (Pixel Studios) for always easing the stage fright in front of his camera. He did a fabulous job with my author’s headshot. When I doubted my ability to finish the project, it was my family, friends, and community that urged me on.
If you are reading this, I want to thank the readers! I hope you enjoy Ameera’s glittery release from her forbidden zone. From my own experience, once you’ve been bitten by the dance bug, it infects all the senses and perceptions. It reveals old tapes and fears and rewards you with unique memories and bonds.
But, most of all, I thank my soul mate, Steve. He made me his queen and supported my search for the little ballerina that got left behind in my childhood. It takes a special man to stand with his belly dancing wife. They can’t be afraid of a little glitter!