Laying the Keel

I launched my debut novel, Ameera Unveiled, on July 25, 2013. Subsequently, I’ve been pushing her into the internet waters. What an endless sea of opportunity to navigate! As the captain of this ship, I am blessed to have the support of BQB Publishing and their managers. Shari Stauch of Where Writers Win keeps me on task and sets my course for the next portal of call. Being new to marketing and social media, sometimes it is a slow and tedious assignment.

But since the launch, I’ve been researching a new idea using my childhood experiences as a Navy dependent. I am laying the keel for my next project. keel1

My writing room is littered with my father’s military record, the shadowbox with brass plates of ship assignments, and personal possessions that would have been on his desk or dresser. His dress blues hang on a doorknob proudly displaying five gold hashmarks. I’ve been privileged to make new friends with veterans through the VFW and American Legions. I loved attending Liberty Call with the Goose Creek Tin Can Sailors. They’ve embraced my request for stories of their glory days. I’ve climbed and descended into the bowels of the USS Laffey at Patriots Point. The smell of grey paint and fuel refreshes my childhood memories of visiting my dad’s floating office.

My new Orders? Start writing it. In my mind, I stand across the word-processing shipyard and watch as the keel is laid. I’ve set my compass and now I have to follow my heart on where the story will take me…research floor

Finding Personal Independence: Under the Sea!

I look over my shoulder and six months of 2014 are riddled with footprints in the tides of my life. Without being a Debbie Downer, it’s been a personal roller coaster for my family and friends. But, in the greater scheme of things, I’m a big lover of interpreting life through the eyes of sociology, philosophical standards and gender roles.

With that in mind, when I took on the challenge of telling my protagonist’s story in Ameera Unveiled, I decided to share the challenge of facing forbidden zones, of growing up at the end of the Baby Boomer Era, and of approaching empty nesting. In spite of so many broken social barriers before 1958, there were still prejudices, expectations or even complacent pools directed at various communities. sponge bath

In that light, I explored my character’s desire to recognize and release herself from the shackles of generally accepted standards as a female through no fault of any one message. Ameera faced many unknowns which included risk and vulnerability, conquering single parenting, dance and fear of spotlights. She wanted to find freedom… Continue reading

Over 50? How did that happen?

DSCN0382Until I entered my 40’s, I had 20/20 vision and shared my clothing with my young adult daughter. I line danced at a local country dance club, Desperado’s, until 2:00 a.m. and went to Pappy’s for $1.99 breakfast– then went to work on less than four hours of sleep.

I suppose due to my late bloomer genetics, my abdomen was in decent shape, allowing me to get away with a two piece bathing suit. I could eat anything I wanted. I benefited from the oasis of youth. Continue reading

Blazing Trails

stained glass knight
Recently, as I drive, walk, research or just people watch on a daily matter… it dawns on me that we are all an evangelist of or to something. Trails in life are blazed, whether subtle or deep impressions, as a result of stations and callings in life. I appreciate those who have forged ahead benefiting my life’s destiny. I enjoy new open territories cleared of thorny barbs protecting stone walls surrounding secret gardens. Kudos to the crusaders against forbidden zones created by cultural influences, gender labels or social status. Continue reading

Listening to Elvis “I Can’t Help Falling in Love….”

Chapel 3As 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…

Grandma KatPop Pop

 

 

There are angels….

angel wing2I have always tried to listen to an inside nudge to be aware of those I meet along my life’s path. Be patient, resilient, kind and aware that someone’s day may have been a struggle in spite of the smile. My faith encourages me to treat strangers as if they were angels unaware. This is a personal goal before and after the holidays. My point?  Continue reading

Spotlight…. please!

My family has always joked that of the four girls in the family, the spotlight was always on Kerry, Kerry, Kerry. (Yes, she is the topless one in the picture) However, while researching dated photos for my next writing project, I ran into this photo taken by my father as he finished his degree at Purdue University. My sister, Kerry, had even tried to trump me by being born exactly one month before from my FIRST year oldest daughter birthday!  Obviously, I hadn’t got the memo that my time in the spotlight was over!spotlight with Kerry

As I struggled to get a story within the cover of Ameera Unveiled based on my own childhood angst without the instruction of formal dance training, I assumed I had always been shy and fearful. Officially be advised… the posing diva is Mu-ah. Continue reading

Green Apple Bookstore appearance

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!

I feel like Cinderella

I feel like Cinderella

“It was never just about the cards… Patricia Sands”

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.

It was never just about the cards... Patricia Sands

It was never just about the cards… Patricia Sands

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

Introducing my own Queen…. Ameera

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. hedo 054Her 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!