Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Adventures

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I like a nice orderly existence. Recently someone even used the word "regimented" when describing my weekly schedule. It's sort of like the chore schedule from long ago. You know--wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday, clean on Wednesday, bake on Thursday. You get the idea. On certain evenings I usually do certain things. Like eating dinner with Dr. Good Sense on Monday, working late at school on Tuesday, going to church on Wednesday,dining out with my friends in Jasper on Thursday, and now football on Fridays. I like order. I like a surprise free, drama free life.

I am not so much of an adventurer. For one thing, most adventures happen outside, where there are bugs, dirt and all of that outside air. Another problem with adventures is there is almost always some element of risk. What if I fail? What if I look like an idiot? What if I am so clumsy that I kill myself or worse, harm someone else?

The Oxford Dictionary defines adventure as "incident, event or occurrence; exploit, escapade, danger, peril, risk." Yeah, that sounds about right to me. Scary words. When you hear, "There was a incident." You are going to think that it wasn't something good happening, right?

Well, last weekend I went on an adventure. I traveled to Florida and went snorkeling in the ocean. You read right... I had an adventure and it was an outdoor, physical activity. If you have recovered from that massive surprise, I will give you another one-I LOVED it!

Of course, I was nervous in the beginning. It was scary to put my head under the water and yet not feel like I was breathing because I am not usually a mouth breather. But this time I wasn't using my nose at all. There is just something fundamental about wanting to get your head out of the water to take a breath. So I practiced a breathing outside of the water through the snorkel and that seemed to help calm my anxiety. On to trying to breath and swim at the same time.

Pretty quickly, I was able to swim around in the shallow water of the cove and see some pretty cool things. Let me also say that just seeing underwater was a very new thing to me. Without my glasses, I am too blind to see beneath the water and with contacts, I never want to open my eyes underwater because I am afraid the contacts would wash out. So I saw little fish, very brightly colored fish, a beautiful translucent blue jelly fish, a small sting ray, and a big crab in some rocks. I even dug up a clam and collected some shells off of the bottom of the ocean floor. It was odd that there a school of fish swam around me. The entire time I had been seeing groups of fish that swam away from me as soon as they sensed me, but this one time whatever was on the other side of the fish must have been more scary than me because they swam all around me. I could feel the water moving as they swam by but not one single fish actually touched me. It was a truly incredibly, breath taking experience.

I was thinking on the drive back home about how far outside my normal box the snorkeling adventure was and yet how amazing the experience was. It made me wonder about what sort of adventures other people have had and how they had turned out. Maybe a little adventuring in a safe environment might not always be such a bad thing after all.

What is the most adventurous experience you have ever had?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Step Away From The Magnolia Tree!!!

Let’s have some fun! Read the following beginning of a story and get your thinking cap on….

“Step away from the tree, Miss Billings!” The tall police chief standing below her looked stern and not very pleased about having to peer up through the waxy leaves.

Arizona Billings shook her head and clutched the tree. Given the chance any other day, she would have been more than happy to step away from the tree - right into Chief Tony Clark’s arms. She slipped on the bark and tightened her hold. Damn it! She had no idea about how to climb a tree but she bet she would know how to fall out of one, easily.

“I am not getting down until someone in authority comes to speak to me.” Arizona shouted at him.

Chief Clark snarled. “I’m the only authority you’re going to get. Now get out of that tree!”

“You don’t have any authority to stop this desecration! I am not budging from this tree until you get someone here who can halt this road!”

Arizona knew she was fighting a losing battle but she had to try. The city council had already approved the extension of Elm Street in Blackstone, Alabama. The lengthening of the street was being done to connect Highway 757 to Main Street, rerouting traffic and potential customers. The city fathers thought it would bring some much needed trade to the floundering businesses located downtown. Hmph! She felt indignant all over again. Nothing was going to increase business until those stupid store owners joined the twenty-first century! A marketing and accounting major, Arizona, as head of the Chamber of Commerce, had tried to help them but noooo the idiots liked things just as they were. Except, she hugged the Japanese Magnolia’s bark, this beautiful tree and it stood in the way of the store owners' so-called progress. Stupid idiots! She swore and slipped again.

“Arizona, honestly. Get down before you fall!” Tony looked exasperated.

“Nope. You are not cutting down this tree!” She shook her head vigorously. A little too vigorously and nearly fell off the limb she was sitting on.

“Aw geez girl. Am I gonna have to come up there and get you?” Now Tony looked seriously pissed.

And just when you thought you were finally getting somewhere with him, she thought sadly. Before the tree incident, he had actually been friendly when they had passed on the street. Arizona, harboring an old crush, had held high hopes for more. But now, well now, things weren’t looking so good for the home team.

Arizona produced a pair of handcuffs from her jeans pocket and waved them at him. “You aren’t getting me out of this tree until I get heard on this matter!” Before he could even swing one leg up onto the lowest limb, she snapped the handcuffs to her wrist and then to the tree.

“Damn!” Tony said through gritted teeth as he started up toward her.

Okay readers, now it’s your turn to write. Give me at least a couple of sentences to add to this story. Why did the tree matter? Tell us about Arizona’s crush on Tony. How was he going to get down from the tree? What happened once he did? Was she under arrest? How did Tony feel about Arizona? Where did she get that name? What about the town fathers, did anyone show up? What happens to the tree? Remember the time line and fill in Arizona and Tony’s story. Keep it in sync with the commentator before you and help us weave a wonderful story for our magnolia tree. Make it fun and romantic!!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder

While reading the news about the jet landing at JFK without one of its rear landing gears, I began remembering why I hate flying. Oh, it’s not the way you’re herded onto the plane like cattle nor is it the incessant delays which always make you miss your next flight - it’s a real fear of flying that has me always hesitant to get on an airplane. I know, flying is a lot safer than getting into my car and driving but I still get sweaty palms and a white-hot fear coursing down my spine when I get inside a plane.

I used to fly quite a bit when I was working and a lot younger. I had no fear of death, like crashing in some Nebraska wheat field while the farmers stood by and watched. My fear began when I was eight months pregnant flying back from New York. I was in an L-1011, a huge jet with three rows of seats, a real aeronautical marvel. I happen to look up and see smoke coming out of the lavatory. Strange, I thought, then the shouting began as the stewardess was trying to drag the person out of the small cubbyhole. It seems the woman had gone in there to smoke, heard the alarm and had gotten scared. So what did the brain trust do? She threw the lit cigarette into the paper wastebasket, catching the plane on fire. The fire was extinguished but it seemed there had been some damage to the wiring that connected to the rear landing gear and they were having trouble. The lady next to me, her first flight, asked me if we were in trouble. I gave her a look and said not to interrupt me while I was praying. We had a shaky landing and I wobbled off the plane. This was my first incident but I continued to fly.

The next incident was when my husband and I were flying into Beckley, West Virginia, on a puddle jumper. You know the one – they wind the rubber band just before take off. Any way, Beckley’s airport is in between two mountains, a tricky landing. We made our approach and about five feet from the ground a cross wind hit us, rolling the plane. Thank God for the pilot! He shot that little plane straight up and avoided a crash. When we finally landed, the pilot walked through the plane and jokingly said, “That scared me. How about you folks?” I muttered “No s#*^ Sherlock.” I wobbled off the plane. That was my second incident.

Then, my husband, my son and I were flying back from San Francisco. I was sitting at the back of the plane while my son and husband were at the front. It always amazes me that they can’t put a family together on a plane. I was just over the wing, crammed into the middle seat between two men, when the guy by the window mumbled that he had never seen that before. With no compunction, I crawled into his lap to stare in the direction he was looking – the wing. It had about a six-inch hole in it. I frantically began hitting the flight attendant button. The woman came sauntering up, probably sure that I just needed a blanket. I kept my voice low and told her to look at the wing. She did, simply nodded and went to the front of the plane. The co-pilot then came back and looked. He said nothing and went back to the front of the plane. The man in front of me started saying in a loud voice that we were going to crash. I promptly picked up the in-flight magazine, rolled it up and hit him in the back of his head. I informed him not to create a panic. Our airspeed dropped and we started our approach into Atlanta. No waiting around, we went straight down. After a safe landing, I walked to the front of the plane where my husband and son were waiting. Hubby commented that was sure a quick landing. I told him I needed a drink and wobbled off the plane.

For years after that I flew intermittently with the help of my doctor but I continued flying. Last spring, my son and I decided to visit relatives in New York so we hopped on a plane headed to White Plains (the same airport the jet was headed to this weekend). We were flying into the worst tropical storm force winds that the East Coast had seen in years. The pilot made his approach to White Plains but had to pull up at the last minute. People around me were throwing up and crying. My son, the rock, was reading and listening to his I-Pod. No problem there. We finally landed in Hartford, Connecticut, miles from our destination. Delta said thanks for flying with us and dumped us out there. I again wobbled off the plane.

So you see, after all these years of wobbling off a plane, I developed a healthy fear of flying. Every noise and every bump has me clutching the armrest in a death grip. Each incident ended without a problem but I remain fearful. And yes, I know, no one wants to fly with me – why take the chance?

Do you have any flight stories to share? What do you like or dislike the most about flying?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sympathy Pain

I am seldom sick. Oh, sure, I have the occasional bout with allergies but even that isn't very bad.
I haven't had a antibiotic since 2007 and before that, 1995. How do I do it? Lucky, I guess but I also believe in mind over matter.

I simply refuse to be sick. I fight it with every bit of willfulness I possess and, believe me, that's no small amount. Ask The Guy. This does not mean that I think people who are sick want to be--far from it. It does not mean that the times I am, that I want to be. I just think that when I do get sick, it's because it sneaked up on me before I had a chance to will it away.

Well. There is a scene for our new WIP that I have been playing in my head for a week. (This will be news to Stephanie. She has been getting ready for her comps for her Master's Degree so I haven't discussed it with her--nor have I set anything down on paper.) In this scene, the hero has a cold. ("Rotten with a cold", as my grandmother would have said.) I've played the scene from his point of view, so I know how miserable he feels. I've played it from the heroine's point of view, so I know how sick he looks, how feverish he feels to the touch, and how he's pretending not to feel bad.

And now, I have a cold.

What do you make of this?

Friday, September 24, 2010


Jean is still reading Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig.

Cheryl is reading Frankenstein - Lost Souls by Dean Koontz.

What are you reading?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Deadlines: Love 'em or Hate 'em?

I am working like a fiend this week to prepare for the biggest test of my life.
I am taking the comprehensive final on Friday for my Master's Degree in Education. Here's the kicker; they can test me on any of the course work that I have studied in the last two years while pursuing this degree. I am TERRIFIED!!!!!

As Jean mentioned on Monday, we got our requested materials all submitted plus I actually had a weekend at home to get some 4th grade work caught up. I even had a chance to straighten up my nest so that my world would be orderly for my week of study.

Then Monday night the panic hit! I have a three page paper using five references due Saturday by 8:00 p.m. In order to feel like I have prepared for the exam I need to read about 500 pages of text before Friday, PLUS create answers to all twelve of the study guide questions. Questions, I might add, that require both enormous and gigantic answers. Number 4 alone is 3 pages of notes--not sentences, just notes and there are eleven more that are just as scary. To say that I am OUT of my mind is putting it mildly.

Monday night as I lay wide awake in bed, I thought to myself that really this is all about a deadline. Often I use the adrenaline brought on by working at the last minute to push myself to higher achievement. Writing the paper this week is an example of that. I am using that deadline to motivate me into getting some other things done so I can focus on making sure that I finish in time. The deadline of being ready for the final, on the other hand, feels totally different and much more panicky. So I have to ask myself, "What makes the two deadlines so different?" I don't really have an answer other than it probably has something to do with control. I control the work for the paper and have very specific perimeters in which to create it. On the other hand, the comprehensive exam feels more like a crap shoot and I hate to gamble. Really. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that the only game I play at the fair is "Pick Up Ducks" because every duck is a winner.

How do you deal with deadlines? Do you love them because they push you to accomplish more or hate them because they force you to complete things that you don't feel ready for? Or is it a mixture of the two?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fate or Pre-Destination?

I’m in a pondering mood. As my oldest son travels home from the Persian Gulf and I prepare to watch my youngest son graduate from Basic Training, I’m awash with memories of their childhoods and the road my life has taken while paralleling all four of my children’s lives.

Fate is a fascinating mystery, one that stupefies me. Do you believe in pre-destination? Do you believe that our lives are mapped out in the book of life as we are formed in our mother’s wombs (Psalms) and that a higher being knows who we are and what we’ll do before we ever inhale our first breath?

• Had I been born to any other parents, I would never have lived in the places I’ve lived, met people of different cultures or grown to understand that our earth is a very small place, that we all seek some sort of enlightenment and speak the same language, even though we can’t understand what’s being said. (This is where empathy is important; time taken to listen should be our focus and the term ‘putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes’ deserves our utmost attention.)

• If I’d never gone to a disco on a specific night with a particular friend, I might never have met the man who swept me off my feet. (Does almost going on a blind date six months before verify that fate is ever-present?)

• Should I have married a different man and planted roots in one place right away, my children would not have been born in two different countries and two different states and they would not have been given the education they received. Would that have changed their outlook on life? Would it have changed mine?

• If I had refused to volunteer my time to sponsor field trips, benefit local fundraisers, act as a liaison for various organizations or offer my time and talents to my church, I would also have missed out on the relationships I’ve developed through the ministry of helping my fellow man, no matter what the need.

• Never let it be said that volunteering leads nowhere. There is great satisfaction in giving your time to a worthy cause. And time spent giving to others often returns to the giver ten-fold. Who knew that all this volunteering served to pad my resume and help me get a great part-time job? Never discount your time.

• Jacob’s ladder was long, ever-reaching toward heaven. Each rung I step upon on the ladder of life leads me to closer to my fate. But without physically putting my foot in the first rung, then the next, and the next, I cannot climb, nor will I reach my destination.

We are formed by our surroundings, molded by our families. Sculpted like potter’s clay, we are formed in the likeness first imagined by the sculptor of our lives, one who plotted the book, knows the protagonists, villains, every single bit player/secondary character we have met, will meet and will ever meet. There is a cultural soundtrack for each of us, a lyrical composition to guide us on our path, if we take the time to listen in the stillness. Even Michelangelo is known to have said that with each piece of marble, each statue encouraged him to chisel out its brilliant form. Listen...

Have you ever wondered why someone you’ve never met suddenly blesses you with a compliment? Does a smile from a stranger or someone you know raise you up from the doldrums instantaneously? That is fate. The miracle of life plotted in the book, created/written before we were born.

I have a recurring dream. Through a nightmarish process too boring to mention, I end up on a cruise ship. I’m ordered to put on my best evening dress and am escorted to stand next to the ship’s captain. There on the deck, my captor speaks to me about life. Then, without fully understanding, I follow a pointed finger where I'm lead to gaze upon a mountain where every single person I’ve ever known, have met, and will meet (family member, childhood schoolmate, deceased relative, future acquaintances, you name it) wave at me, greeting me with the passion befitting a queen.

Strange, isn’t it? Or is it? Wednesdays are great days to ponder the week you’ve already lived and the rest of the week to come. As writers we are given a challenge with each book to write from the heart and stroke the heartstrings of readers.

Do you believe that everything you do or have done has been guided by fate? If you are a writer, as you sit and craft a book, plotting the outcome of your characters, have you ever wondered if someone was doing that for you, via you?

Take time to sit in the stillness. Listen to the melodious soundtrack playing in your chest and let your heart reveal its passion. Destiny is for the believer, the one confident enough to accept the plotted road by the author who wishes us every success.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Boobies" - Is It Porn?

Freedom of Speech is a part of the first ten amendments to the Constitution. I learned about the importance of those ten amendments in law school. When the drafters of the Constitution looked back at their document, they discovered that there were some rights which they wished to specifically preserve for the people BECAUSE THEY WERE IMPORTANT! Over the years since the Constitution was ratified by the states, the judicial branch of the our federal government has construed these rights according to the views prevalent for the times – calling the Constitution a “living breathing document” which could adjust to the mores of the day. So, depending on the social heartbeat of the nation, those amendments have been construed in various ways, some strict and some lax. I have always considered myself a strict constructionist - the words mean just what they say, not what the public at the time thinks they should say. So, there are two camps of opinions about how our Constitution should be interpreted. With that little legal lesson on Constitutional Law (as in “Paper Chase”), I wanted to put something out there for all of you writers – a point to ponder.

I was recently reading news articles on the Internet and one caught my attention “I [Heart] Boobies Bracelets Cause Stir in High Schools.” The bracelets are sponsored by the Keep a Breast Foundation which promotes breast cancer awareness. It seems that high schools have banned the bracelets as being too explicit and degrading to women. Now, I understand rules at schools but to ban those bracelets because of what they say is, to me, a violation of Free Speech. Besides, it promotes a good cause.

As writers of the romance genre, “boobies” is a rather innocuous term. Extrapolating this ban, which is supported by a lot of local high schools, what if this were extended to our writing? What if there is a government censor who takes a red pen to our work and tells us that we have to clean up our act? I worry that when people start curbing our rights to say something, whether on paper or orally or on a bracelet, the intrusion will spread. People will begin dictating what we write. Just a thought.

There is a very tenuous balance between the rights of people – my rights vs. your rights. When mine start to intrude on yours where is the line? Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, a premier Supreme Court Justice, tried to delineate that line. He said that to yell “Fire!” is all right until…you yell “Fire” in a crowded theatre and cause a riot resulting in injury. In other words, you have the right to say something until it results in harm to someone else. Then you get into the argument, what are the degrees of harm? Do you accept a little harm or must it be to the point that it causes physical harm? Then you get into the quagmire of who does it harm? Where is that line?

I know this is not the usual light blog that I write but I feel strongly about curbing our rights to satisfy a few, less open-minded views. What worries me is the threat to our genre. You might say that won’t happen - you don’t have to buy the books. But that doesn’t matter – it’s the thought that there could be a censor who simply says you can’t write this any more. A local government can take the stand that using words like breast or penis within a love scene is against the local social customs and is therefore banned. (Banned in Boston ring a bell?)

How do you feel about the current state of literature? Are we heading toward a more restrictive atmosphere or do you think it’s just a phase that won’t affect our writing? Or do you even think that restrictions exist? Give me your opinion about the atmosphere of the country toward romance novels.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I recently saw a teapot that depicted Santa Claus riding a chicken. Considering how much it cost, I am sure it must have been art but I did not understand it. I've spent a lot of energy wondering about this chicken-turned-steed and its jolly old rider. Is Santa a teeny tiny man on scale with a chicken? If so, how does he carry all the Ultimate Buzz Lightyears and Halo games? Or is Santa normal sized (bell ringing beside the Salvation Army pot variety) and is the chicken super sized to accommodate him? If so, I do not want to meet it. Some of you may remember my blog about how creepy I think giant insects are, so you can just imagine my opinion of a giant chicken. If Santa has got to ride something other than a sleigh, what's wrong with a reindeer? I know reindeer are not really for riding but it's not like chickens are either. And the most important question of all: Did some teapot designer just get up one morning and say, "I'm gonna whip me up a chicken with Santa on its back. It will do wonders for the Earl Grey."?

It's a mystery. Much in life is. I'm going to segue now. Stick with me, here. It will make sense—or at least as much sense as Santa Claus riding a chicken.

I am happy to report that Stephanie and I have all our requested submissions signed, sealed, and delivered. That means we can work on the story that is whipping around in our heads. While the story is not a football story, the hero is a football coach so some football terminology comes into play. I have begun to wonder if non-football fans will understand the terminology. I think it's possible they will. I don't dance ballet but up know the meaning of barre, plie, and pointe—more or less, at least enough that I could read a book about dancers and not be lost. But I am worried that a reader might not understand our story, much like I cannot understand that blasted taxicab chicken and Mr. Claus.

So I'm going to ask for a little help here. Below is a list of football terms. If you don't follow football, tell us if you have a nodding acquaintance with them. You don't have to tell what they mean. It isn't a test. (If you do follow football, tell us the weirdest thing you've seen lately. Try to top that teapot.) There will be a prize.

The terms:




First and ten



In the pocket





Friday, September 17, 2010


Cheryl is reading: Having Patience by Debra Glass

Kathy is reading: Jane Slayre by Charlotte Bronte and Sherri Browning Erwinby and is on the hunt for Mansfield Park and Mummies by Jane Austen and Vera Nazarian

Jean is reading Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig

Stephanie is reading: Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle

What are you reading?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How Hot Do You Like It?

Saturday Jean and I talked with some of our friends about writing sex scenes. Some folks have a difficult time writing spicy sex scenes. I am sure there are as many different reasons for being uncomfortable about this as there are writers. Early on Jean and I had to come to agreement about how "hot" the scenes we were going to include in our books would be.

I read everything from sex-free inspirational books to erotica so hot it actually has a warning on the outside cover. Jean has a fairly wide reading range as well but says she usually just skims those sections. That said, when it came to writing sex scenes we found that we wanted to have it spice sometimes and sweet others. We also decided that we wanted the most important element of the sexy scenes we write to be the emotions involved.

When we first started writing Jean sent me some pages with a sex scene in it and I called her and said, "It isn't enough. Turn the heat up on it and send it back to me." So in a day or so I got another one. Still not steamy enough so I called again and said, "Turn it up a notch. It needs more heat." So in a couple of days I got another revision and read it. After I took the ice off of my eyeballs, I called her back and said, "Whoa!!! Dial it back." Then we finally got it just spicy enough to suit us. Ok, to suit me.

I find myself reading spice scenes differently now that we write them. I try to analyze what makes them work or fall flat. I believe that they are some of the most difficult scenes that we write.

How hot do you like your sex/love scenes to be? Is it different when you read them from when you write them?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Slayre or Savior of Literature

I’m intrigued by history, enraptured by classical music, fed and entertained by romantic literature and movies. My psyche has been nurtured by Mozart, Beethoven, Michael Jackson, New Wave and Rap. In college, I was forced to listen to Bob Dylan during drawing class and to this day I can’t stand to hear his music, though I do a mean impression. In art school, during a printmaking class, a kid from Oklahoma City swept in disrupting everything I knew about the wonderful land of Rapper's Delight. At first, I thought he was odd, cute but a little off. Then as the days wore on and I saw the caliber of art he produced, I soon grew to respect him and the music he played while creating his phenomenal art pieces. You see, this kid touched me in a new and vibrant way. He brought a miraculous wonder into my life, music by the B-52’s and The Police. This New Wave swept in from Europe and took America, this kid, and me, by storm. The effects of my new appreciation for music soon reflected in my art.

Today we face another kind of invasion, an invasion of literature. Jane Eyre, Little Women, Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility are beloved by young and old alike. In these books, a woman/or women struggle to find love and fulfillment. The reader knows ahead of time that love will be found and a happily ever after achieved. Believed to be the first romance books of their time, these books examined women who had little control over their lives or destinies. The storylines reflected a woman’s mind-set and proved to demonstrate a woman’s intelligence and the kind of devotion that outweighed the pressures of society and a man’s expectations. With characters and places artfully woven into these unforgettable stories, these ‘romance’ books broker no question as to longevity on bookstore shelves or in libraries throughout the world. Can anything shake these literary foundations?

Romance genres have shifted over the years from the 'old bodice rippers' to erotica. Readers thought they'd seen it all until… horror and literary passion combined like chocolate and peanut butter. Thanks to Twilight, the four book series by Stephanie Meyer, and our love for the strange and macabre, the door has opened for a caliber of books otherwise shunned, the rewritten classic. Today, there is a surprising transference of genres, reminding the literary world that Edgar Allan Poe had a great idea brewing back in the late 1800’s with The Pit and the Pendulum and The Fall of the House of Usher.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith started it all.

Soon it was joined by Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H.Winters

Mr. Darcy Vampyre by Amanda Grange hit the shelves

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer

Jane Slayre by Charlotte Bronte and Sherri Browning Erwin

Little Vampire Women by Louisa May Alcott and Lynn Messina

Queen Victoria, Demon Hunter by A E Morat

Arriving in October: Jane of the Damned by Janet Mullany

Now millions of people can enjoy classics like Emma and the Werewolves, Mansfield Park and Mummies, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim, Robin Hood and Friar Tuck Zombie Killers, Android Karenina and The Undead World of Oz. These literary works aren’t for the slight of heart. In each book, your favorite character not only has to overcome prejudice, passion, society or injustice, but he/she has a destiny to fulfill, saving the world and ridding it of the undead. What more can you ask for? ;)

Do you enjoy this new literary craze? If so, which books would you like to see turned into a Zombie/Vampire/Werewolf novel? If you could make a literary work into a book of the undead, which book would you chose and why? And which undead breed do you prefer?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Commercials - Are We Stupid? Someone Thinks We Are.

I got up yesterday morning, bleary-eyed from too much sleep (for once in my life) and flipped on the television to watch the early morning news. I grabbed my coffee and sat down at the kitchen table to simply zone out until I became human. The local news was on and I paid some attention to it as I drank my coffee. Then came the commercials….

The first one was for a local podiatrist. Ick! She had a picture of all sorts of foot ailments right there in front of my eyes at 4:30 in the morning! The advertisement ended with some person’s face on the bottom of a pair of feet thanking the doctor. I nearly lost my coffee! Then I was subjected to a round of car commercials SCREAMING at me to buy their car. I have never heard such horrible Southern accents! Do these guys all go to a school to learn how to talk like that?

I started thinking of all the commercials that really irritate me and the number is great, growing at an exponential rate. There are those for male problems with a couple sitting in bathtubs in the middle of nowhere (Now why would they do that? And where are their clothes?) Or the ones about medicine which list so many side effects you wonder why they are advertising at all – hey if you take this drug for a minor skin ailment you can end up with organ failure! Gee, that makes me want to take that drug! And then, there are the political ads…need I say more? All of them are alike – the guys are hunters, with guns, and a great family – how do we choose? Are they clones? How about the sandwich shop ads with those little kittens? Creeps me out! Or the stupid guy on the roof holding a golf club while eating a hamburger in the middle of a thunderstorm? Why would that make me buy their hamburger? Because they say it’s the smart thing to do? (I don’t get their logic) I could go on but Jean would stop me.

There are some ads that are funny and some that are serious. I like the little gecko because he’s smart and has a dry wit. Or the one where the guys have been to a bachelor party and have a killer whale in the back – I laugh every time because it never gets old. Why can’t advertisers use some intellect when they write their commercials? I realize that I have an off button on my remote but I simply wanted to watch the news! I also know that advertisements are how the stations pay for their airtime. But I also know that after a while those very ads insult me and make me wonder why I got up in the first place. Seriously, do these people really think most of us are that stupid?

So, what do you think of advertisements on television? Are there any that you particularly dislike or even like?

Monday, September 13, 2010


There's no question about it—I function better when my house is tidy and clean. Not only do I have a better mental attitude, life just plain works more efficiently when I know where the Scotch tape is and my cds are put away in alphabetical order. Before I quit my day job, I hired the cleaning done, but I can't justify it now. Besides, I do a better job—that is, when I do it. Since I've started writing, I do not run the tight ship I used to run, though I know good and well I write better and am happier when my nest is in order.

And believe me, The Guy does not care. If there were dust bunnies knee deep and newspapers stacked to the ceiling, he would not be concerned so long as he could get to the television. He only wants a few domestic things out of me: an ironed shirt, milk, and a dinner plan. He doesn't even care if dinner is home cooked. We can go out, order in, drive through, microwave leftovers, or heat up Mrs. Paul's fish fillets. He just doesn't want to have to think of the plan. And that's not a lot to ask considering I never pump gas, clean the litter box, or pay a bill. Sometimes I wish he did care; it might be a little extra incentive.

Right now, I feel great because my surroundings are in order. In the last week I've had people in to watch a ball game and hosted my book club. Since our TV room is upstairs and I have book club downstairs, I was forced to bring order to both stories. I even washed the knickknacks and crystal. This weekend, because I knew I was going home to a pleasant clean home, I had a better time at Precious Angel's football game, the Heart of Dixie meeting, and at Mrs. Classy's house where I went to watch the Crimson Tide cream Penn State. I even worshiped better at church Sunday morning.

I am going to try very hard to maintain the status quo. I know if I will just take a few hours on Monday mornings for housekeeping, the house will be in good shape for the rest of the week because we just aren’t that messy. When a character calls to me, I am going to try and say, "Hold that thought; I can serve you better if I can just do these few things."

We’ll see how it works out. But this whole experience begs the question: Why do I not consistently do this one easy thing that makes my life work so much better?

How about you? Do you do the things that make your life work better? Does the order of your surroundings affect your work and attitude?

Friday, September 10, 2010


Kathy is reading: The Smuggler and the Society Bride by Julia Justiss.

Cheryl is reading: Shattered by Joan Johnston.

Stephanie is reading: Hard to Handle by Lori Foster and the SEC Preview Sports Illustrated

Jean is reading: Hedge Fund Wives by Tatiana Boncompagni.

What are you reading?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Attraction Advice

So today at school some girls in my class were writing advice about dating on Post-it notes to share with their friends. Now you need to understand that in my class, writing is always good. I allow my students to pass notes as long as we aren’t testing and I am not at the front of the room teaching. I think that learning to express thoughts on paper is a good thing and note writing motivates them to write more-the Post-it notes makes it more fun. I look at any notes I see so they know not to use any swear words or mean language. I have already had some better writing this year as a result of this and I look forward to even more improvement.

So back to today…Jean and I are talking with some other writers about writing love scenes this weekend so love advice was sorta perking around in my brain already. Imagine my surprise when my students came up to my table to ask how to spell a word and I saw their notes. They were proud of them and happy to share them with me. One girl even told me that she had helped her 3rd grade teacher out when she was having a little trouble with her husband and that she would be happy to give me “man help” if I ever needed it.

Here are some of the ideas that my 4th graders thought would be good ideas of how to behave on a date:
1. Twirl your hair to the side of your head.
2. Laugh at some of the things he says.
3. Tell him you like his shirt.
4. When he asks you where you want to go, tell him it is his choice
(this is the word they needed-choice).
5. Ask him how his day was.
6. Be polite.
7. Don’t chew with your mouth open.
And my personal favorite 8. Let him pick up the check. It will make him feel good.

I was happy to see that romance is alive and well in the youth of America. This made me think long and hard about body language and the things I have read over the years that characters do to attract each other. There have been some doozies!!

What was the silliest action you ever read (or wrote) that was done to attract someone’s eye?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wax On, Wax Off, or How To Build A Book Out Of Paper

The Crane, Rabbit, Pinwheel, Kabuto/Samurai/Yakko, Balloon, Organ and Fish.

I’m not talking about Yoga, nor am I talking about things the Karate Kid can do, though I like to pull the Crane out of my box of tricks every now and again. What southern girl wouldn’t? ;)

This morning, as I approached the Tulip Tree, I took in the magnificent flowers blooming overhead. The magnificent pink blooms reminded me of Cherry Blossoms found in Japan. I have fond memories of Japan, playing with Japanese children, scurrying over beautiful bridges and rambling creeks, and dancing among the discarded blooms that littered the ground. At any time of year, my family and I could see snow-capped Mount Fuji in the distance. And, when winter came, fireman sprayed water over an area behind our military housing, specifically carved out of the ground for ice skating. My dad also built tunnels in the 40” deep snow and, as I look back on it now, I was kind of like Lara Croft wandering in and out of the tunnels looking for adventure. (Pirate!)

One of the many things I remember are my earthquake experiences, especially the earthquake of ’68, which wasn’t matched until Kobe was hit a few short years ago, listening to the Beatles on the radio, my mom playing a beloved clown on television, and her teaching ballet to area girls in our home. But, one thing I remember and cherish is learning to do Origami. Origami was taught in grade school and soon my brother and I were making airplanes, cranes, birds, flowers, and all sorts of other shapes out of colored paper. The craft followed us into our teenage years as well.

Origami means “ori”, to fold, and “gami”, means paper. Thought to have started during the Han Dynasty, its foundations date back to Buddhist Monks who learned the art and passed it along quickly throughout Japan. A pastime of royalty, the average citizen learned how to fold colored paper when the cost of paper declined. The first how-to book, How to Fold 1,000 Cranes, in 1797, brought Origami to the masses. The common draw of this book featured a legend that a wish would be granted to the person who crafted 1,000 Cranes. Cranes have always been mythical creatures to the Japanese, thereby helping this philosophy expand throughout the empire.

The process of crafting an Origami masterpiece involves these bases:

The Crane Base
The Rabbit
The Pinwheel
The Balloon Base
The Organ Base
The Fish Base

*As with any craft project, the base is the starting point.
*Most flowers begin with the Crane Base.
*Practice makes perfect.
*To quote, “Origami is an exact folding art— it takes time to master it.”
*Satisfaction with the finished product outweighs the time and effort expended to create this delicate piece of art.

Now, why am I musing about this under the tree today? It’s almost Autumn and Japan is so far away from the south. Well, it occurred to me that Origami was just like writing a book. (Why does everything always revolve around books? Go figure.)

From Origami to writing: Plot and characterization is a book’s foundation: The Crane Base. Plots have a way of running off from us: The Rabbit. Conflict has a way of spinning out of control: The Pinwheel. Gutting/cutting scenes from a manuscript involves the Kabuto/Samurai/Yakko techniques (Hee-yah!). Thinking the world will at last acknowledge your freaking genius: The Balloon Base. Wishing you wrote like so and so, because her voice or technique would improve your book: The Organ Base. Fearing you’ve taken on a bigger book than you can finish: The Fish Base. But when creating your Origami masterpiece, always remember the sea is and always has been a metaphor in Japanese culture and cultures all over the world. Don’t go down with Ahab or the Titanic. Rise above your inhibitions and doubts like the Flying Dutchman. What you find when fishing can be the biggest adventure yet! (Pirate!)

Yes, my gentile southern friends. Origami is like writing a book. The base/plot is the foundation, which cannot stand without a sturdy limb.

Practice. Yes, sitting our dainty southern derrieres into our chairs, in front of our computers, and actually typing words onto the page will help perfect our skills.

It takes time to master art, and master it we shall so we can glory in the beautiful bloom revealed by our imaginations.

And, as we bask in the glory of our genius, we will know that art is made by gentile, productive, committed hands, sensitive to the slightest fold/plot twist.

Have you ever tried your hand at Origami? If you're a writer, what kind of animal or flower would your book most resemble? And, if you aren’t a writer, what kind of animal or flower would you like your life to most resemble?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Too Much Knowledge - GASP- May Not Be A Good Thing.

I have recently been conducting a surreptitious and totally unscientific survey among writers. Unbeknownst to them, I have been picking their well-oiled brains for their opinions on writing. You see, I have been having a dry-spell lately, unable to finish something for fear I shall get it wrong. Internal versus External conflict. Point of view. Quotations. Split infinitives. You name it and I have looked at it with fear. Have I done it wrong? Should I change this point of view right now or would it be construed as head-hopping? There are so many rules and regulations about writing that I have completely lost sight of the main theme – writing.

So, I began sneaking amidst my friends and confidants, asking innocuous questions about their styles and how they write. They answer me truthfully and their opinions have, remarkably, coincided with mine. The more we learn the more fear we have of putting the words to paper.

When I was just writing for myself, I had no clue about conflict and head hopping or characterization. I just wrote what made me happy. I had a story to tell and I simply wrote it. Albeit, now, when I look back at those stories, I cringe at some of the things I did. Because, you see, I am now educated in the formula of writing. Yes, the Formula.

I have attended conferences, gone to lectures, read books on writing romances – all in an effort to better my ability and to achieve the Holy Grail of writing: PUBLICATION. I have taken scrupulous notes on conflict and the dos and don’ts of how your character should behave, filing the information away for future editing on my work. What I didn’t realize when I was doing this was that I was hamstringing myself. As is my fellow blogger, Stephanie, I am a rule person. If there is a rule, it is there for a reason and one should never break the rule! I cannot consciously disregard a rule or I will fall apart; the order of the Universe will crumble and I will be left with Chaos.

The rules of writing romance dictate a formula. Every one of us has picked up books of well-known authors, only to be dismayed that, even though this is a brand-new book, the formula of the hero and the heroine are the same as his/her last fifteen books! I am not just saying this is true of the romance genre because I have seen it in others genres as well – horror, suspense, paranormals. Every one of them seems to have attended the same conferences on writing. They have found a formula that works and then have merrily gone about writing it, again and again.

Now, you may say that this is the green-eyed monster talking. She hasn’t been published and these writers have. I agree. But, as a reader, I would like for these very good writers to go back to what they did originally, before they began speaking at lectures and telling us about the proper way to write – write from your heart and quit trying to pigeon-hole your characters and plots to fit the Formula!

I digress. My problem is the same as every one I have spoken to – I have been second-guessing myself. Should I do this; should I do that; or should I just quit and go back to crocheting? No, I cannot quit because I have a lot of stories rolling around in my head and I want to share them, even if no one else wants me to (see I have ended a sentence with a preposition – a definite rule breaking – shudder). Every one of you writers with whom I have spoken, and this is my very unscientific survey, has admitted to me that the more you learn, the harder it is to write. So what is the answer?

I don’t know. What I do know is that there are reasons for those rules – editors and publishers want to sell their books. WE want to sell our books. The rules are there because they give a parameter for what books will sell and what books should be in a dumpster. The rules give us a starting point and from there we should adjust our writing accordingly. Yes, follow the rules or you won’t get published. No one wants to read a harum-scarum book that jumps all over the place. The rules will fix that. And I agree, I like a well-ordered book, just not the same one, over and over. I think sometimes you have to bend the rules, a bit. Step out of the traces and write something a little different or maybe a lot different.

So, what is the point of all this? I still could not write, frozen with fear over doing the wrong thing. I kept asking people about it. Was I rebelling (as I have been known to do) over what I considered arbitrary rules or was I just stuck? Then…I was talking to one of my writer-friends about the problem of too-much knowledge and she agreed, as I have previously stated everyone does, we worry too much about the rules. BUT, she had an answer, given to her by one of our premier writers, Linda Winstead Jones. Linda said, which I found remarkably insightful and painfully obvious once I heard it: Just sit down and write a short story; forget the rules; and forget everything, simply write it. Then look it over and see – you can write without thinking about the Rules. The Rules are there to help you, not hurt you to the point of writer’s block. Wonderful and true!

I did just that. I wrote a short story, not in the romance genre, but in another (how traitorous of me!) and entered it in a contest. The winners will not be named for months and I do not hold out any hope of winning. However, I have already won – I wrote something without thinking! I wrote for pleasure and, if I do say so myself, it turned out pretty good. The dam, I hope, has burst and maybe now I can get back to writing an actual book!

Pfftt… English?
Who needs that?
I’m never going to England.

-Homer Simpson

To continue my survey: What do you think about the Rules? Does trying to follow every little rule prevent you from writing or does it give you comfort and a blueprint to adhere to? Tell me your stories of writer’s block and how you overcame it. Or, if you are not a writer, tell me your thoughts about all the formulaic books out there on the market – Do you read the blurb on the back cover, realize it’s the same story in a different setting and put the book down? Or do you buy the book because you just simply love the author?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pictures From RWA Conference

Happy Labor Day! We wanted to share some pictures from RWA Conference

Stephanie, Jean and Kathy go a little madcap!

Kathy is a pirate. Don't let her deny it.

Heart of Dixie chapter mate Lesia Flynn.

Stephanie and Tanya Michaels at the Harlequin book signing.

Lynn Raye Harris at the literacy signing.

Debbie Giusti and Jean at the literacy signing.

Beverly Barton and Stephanie at literacy signing.

Jean, Kathy, and Stephanie at Hearts Through History Cocktail party. Kathy's book, Pirate By Night, placed third! We were so proud.

All dolled up for the Rita/Golden Hearts Awards Ceremony. Heart of Dixie chapter mate Sherry Werth was a fabulous roommate.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Stephanie is reading The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins.

Jean is reading If I don't Six by Elrwood Reid

Cheryl is reading Don't Cry by Beverly Barton.

Kathy will be reading The Healer's Apprentice by our good friend Melanie Dickerson because it comes out today.

I think that goes for all of us.

What are you reading?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Okay Listen Here Welcomes Melanie Dickerson

Okay Listen Here is pleased as punch to have Melanie Dickerson with us today! She is one of our Heart of Dixie sisters and we are so very, very proud of her. Join her on the bench under the magnolia with us as she tells about her path to the publication of her first novel - The Healer's Apprentice.!

I’m so honored to be here today! Thank you, Heart of Dixie sisters, for inviting me!

Cheryl said, “I would love to hear about the whole process of you getting published - like writing the book, submitting it …” That’s when I thought, Oh, she doesn’t really want to hear that sad story! Except, it does have a happy ending!

Here’s a “writer quote” I just love. Dorothy Parker once wrote, “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second-greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of ‘The Elements of Style.’ The first-greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

When I was still unpublished, that made me laugh. Out loud. Hysterically.

Okay, Cheryl, here’s my (long) story. I wrote two novels in high school and even submitted to an agent, but I quit writing when I started college. And since I’m such an all-or-nothing kind of person, I quit writing and even READING fiction for the next 15 years or so.

When I started writing again I had a baby and a toddler and I mostly wrote while they were napping. I was taking a correspondence course and actually sold a few stories and articles that I was writing for my class. But I really wanted to write novels, like I had in high school. So I focused my time and energy on learning all I could about writing novels.

One day, while I was still revising my first novel and gradually coming to the realization that I probably wasn’t going to be able to sell it, I was watching Sleeping Beauty with my daughters. The prince's reaction to the beautiful peasant girl seemed far-fetched to me. This prince is responsible for his people's safety and welfare and is already betrothed. Would he simply throw off his duty to his betrothed and forget about her? What if he falls in love with a poor girl but is torn? Duty and the respect of his people are just as important to him as love.

The story took off from there as I added characters and plot twists and voila! I titled it The Woodcutter’s Daughter.

I wrote the first draft in about five months, with three critique partners reading it as I wrote it. I finished it just in time to pitch it at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference in 2006. It was my second ACFW conference, and I was thinking, I really need to sell this book, because I wasn’t sure how many more conferences we could afford for me to go to, and my husband was wanting results! (He’s a finance man, and he wanted to see a return on his investment. Poor guy.)

Unfortunately for both of us, I found out that the last thing any Christian publisher wanted to take a chance on was a medieval YA romance. Everyone told me, Medievals don’t sell. Oh boy. I’d done it again. Written something nobody wanted.

To make a long story not quite so long, after two years I found an agent brave enough to take on my book. She sent it out to a LOT of publishers but they all eventually turned it down. We discussed how the book would work as a Young Adult book. Up to this point we had been submitting it as an adult romance. Months went by and I asked her to send it to the YA editor at Zondervan. By this time I’d been trying to sell this book for three years and I was thinking it was time to move on. I didn’t really have much hope that Zondervan would publish it as a YA. They’d already turned it down as an adult book. That’s why I was shocked when I found out they were interested in it. Frankly, I tried not to get my hopes up. The previous year, exactly a year before, an editor at Thomas Nelson told me she loved it and was taking it to committee. It got rejected. So it was very much like déjà vu, and I didn’t want to be crushed again!

In November I was alone in the house and I was actually in bed doing my Beth Moore lesson, reading the Bible and praying. I remember saying, God, please let Zondervan publish my book, but if they don’t, please let me not get too depressed. (I was crying at the time. Writing is not for the faint of heart.) Then I fell asleep. The phone rang, waking me up, and it was my agent telling me that Zondervan had said yes to my book. I just calmly asked her, What does that mean? Is there anything that can go wrong at this point? (I’m such an optimist.)

My agent thought I was crazy, I’m sure. She kept asking me, Aren’t you excited? All I could say was, I think I’m in shock.

This story is so long! And I didn’t even tell you that I wrote a book, in the meantime, that I thought would be much more likely to sell, and it still hasn’t sold! Or how I got a scholarship to the conference last year at the last minute, practically, all because Cecil Murphey, who co-wrote 90 Minutes in Heaven, decided to give money to ACFW for two scholarships and they gave one to me. How I tried three times to cancel my appointment with my editor because I figured she had probably already rejected my book and my agent just hadn’t told me yet, but I couldn’t swap that appointment out for love or pizza! How I went to that appointment feeling completely hopeless and she shocked me by telling me she loved my book and had been meaning to email us for a week, and that she hoped Zondervan was going to publish it.

Of course, since I’m a woman of faith, I believe it was all God! The scholarship, me asking my agent to send the book to Zonderkidz—the only YA publisher/editor we sent it to—not being able to cancel my appointment with that editor. God was orchestrating everything to work out at the right time. I’d had to wait until a CBA publisher was actually looking for Young Adult romances. The market was suddenly right for my book.

With the book coming out on Friday, I’m still basking in the glow of having my dream come true, and it’s truly everything I’d dreamed it would be and then some. I didn’t give up on my dream, and you shouldn’t give up either, even if your dream is to get published! (Although, expect a few tears!) What about you? Have you had a dream come true? What was it? Was it everything you thought it would be? Do tell! And I will give a copy of The Healer’s Apprentice to one commenter.

I will leave you with two encouraging writer quotes that I love.

“The one accomplishment that matters is achieving those moments, in the course of telling a story, when I feel that I am in contact with a higher power, when the very act of creating a story feels like communion with the ultimate Creator. Those moments are exhilarating, full of a quiet joy that alone makes the hours at the keyboard worthwhile, which is why I kept my hands on the keys during all those early years when success seemed unlikely and when a life of genteel poverty seemed all but assured.”
~ Dean Koontz

"Your success as a writer will probably not depend on how well you write, so
much as in how you handle rejection."
~ Gilbert Morris

Please join Melanie at her very first book signing on Saturday, Sept. 4, from 12 noon to 2 p.m. at the LifeWay store in Huntsville. The store is located on University Drive in front of Target, just near the Atlanta Bread Company. Please join all of us at HOD for her big event!

And visit YouTube and view the trailer for her new novel! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2m9-Ap4IZE

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It I Could Talk To The Animals

If you talk to the animals
they will talk with you
and you will know each other
If you do not talk to them,
you will not know them,
And what you do not know
you will fear.
What one fears one destroys.
—Chief Dan George

For the Native American in America, animals possess spirits which lead the human soul on a path to greatness and well being. Animals have influenced every major religion in the world throughout history. According to Animal Speaks, The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small, written by Ted Andrews, Bushman in Africa mimicked animal motion and gestures just as Native Americans danced in rituals to channel the spirit realm. Egyptians worshiped the feline. The Chinese named their calendar year after animals, bringing good luck and prosperity. Can an animal totem benefit us in this day and age? Was this the message Cheryl received when her dog chanced upon a skunk the other night?

Society has deviated from the rural-minded. Generations have forgotten the ways of animals, the hardships early settlers endured. People used to depend upon animals, their habits and breeding patterns, to learn about the earth. Now society depends upon technology. What if something catastrophic occurred preventing us from accessing energy? Where would we be? What happens to a society that bases its survival upon modern marvels? Today, when companies are trying to go ‘green’, it makes perfect sense that people once again feel the urge to reconnect with the earth. After all, it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!

Once again mankind attempts to grow organic food, to reconnect with the earth, study animals, listen to them, and follow their movements/habits, in order to understand life. This philosophy is the basic foundation for the animal totem. A totem, according to Animal Speak, ‘is any natural object, animal, or being to whose phenomena and energy you feel closely associated with during your life.’ Further, Ted Andrews goes on to describe that, ‘we can use animal totems and their images to learn about ourselves and the invisible world.’ And, ‘as you begin to identify and recognize your animal totems, you will begin to understand your life more effectively.

Beliefs associated with animal totems:

*Animals have powerful spirits.*
*Your animal totem may be mastered by animal origin or spirit origin.*
*Each animal is gifted with its own talent.*
*Animals choose who they guide.*
*In order to develop a relationship with your totem, study your animal guide.*
*Honor your totem for its power.*
*You are not limited to one animal totem.*
*Animal totems can access a doorway to the spiritual world.*
*Pay close attention when you encounter an animal rarely seen.*

Animal totems and their meanings:

An armadillo— Offers personal protection, discrimination & Empathy (All year)
Badger— Bold Self-expression & reliance— Keeper of stories
Bat— Transition & Initiation (Nightime)
Bear— Awakening the power of the unconscious (Spring/Summer)
Beaver— The building of dreams (Dusk & night)
Blackbird— Understanding energies of Mother Nature (Summer)
Bluebird— Modesty, unassuming confidence & happiness (Winter/Summer)
Bluejay— Proper use of power (All year)
Buffalo— Manifesting Abundance through right action & prayer (All year)
Bobcat— Silence & secrets (Winter/Spring)
Cat— Mystery, Magic & Independence (Nighttime)
Cougar— Coming into your own power (All year)
Coyote— Wisdom & folly (All year)
Crow— Secret magic of creation is calling (All Day/Year)
Deer— Gentleness, innocence, Gentle luring to new adventure (Autumn/Spring)
Dog— Faithfulness & protection (All year)
Dolphin— Power of breath & sound (All year)
Duck— Emotional comfort & protection (Spring/Summer)
Eagle— Illumination of spirit, healing & creation (All seasons/daylight)
Elk— Strength & nobility (Autumn)
Fox— Feminine magic of camouflage, shapeshifting & invisibility (Dawn/Dusk)
Goat— Surefootedness & seeking new heights (Fall/winter)
Goldfinch— Awakening to nature spirits (Summer Solstice/Summer)
Groundhog— Mystery of death without dying, trance, dreams (Winter)
Gulls (Herring/Sea)— Responsible behavior & communication (All year)
Hawk—Visionary power & guardianship (Equinoxes/New moon)
Horse— Travel, power & freedom (All year)
Hummingbird— Tireless joy and nectar of life (Daytime)
Lion— Assertion of the feminine & the power of the female sun (All year)
Mockingbird— Finding sacred song & recognition of innate abilities (All year/Day/Night)
Moose— Primal feminine energies & Magic of life/death (Fall/Winter)
Mouse— Attention to detail (5 Six week cycles)
Opossum— The use of appearances (Spring)
Otter— Joy, playfulness & sharing (Spring/Summer)
Owl— Mysterious of magic, omens, silent wisdom & vision in night (Nocturnal)
Panther— Reclaiming one’s true power (Dark moon/New moon/Winter)
Porcupine— Renewed sense of wonder (Autumn)
Prairie Dog— Community (Spring/Summer)
Rabbit—Fertility & new life (All year)
Raccoon— Dexterity & disguise (Spring/Summer-Nocturnal)
Ram— Seeking new beginnings (Fall/Winter)
Rat— Success, restlessness & shrewdness (All year)
Sea Lions/Seals— Active imagination, creativity & lucid dreaming (All year)
Skunk— Sensuality, respect, & self-esteem (All year)
Sparrow— Awakening & triumph of common nobility (All year)
Squirrel— Activity & preparedness (All year)
Tiger— Passion, power, devotion & sensuality (Full moon/new moon)
Vulture— Purification, death, rebirth, new vision (All year/Summer/Winter)
Weasel— Sly & secret circumvention/pursuit (Nocturnal)
Whale— Creation, power of song, awakening inner depths (All year)
Woodpecker— Power of rhythm & discrimination (Summer)
Wolf— Guardianship, ritual, loyalty & spirit (All year/Full moon/twilight)

As a child growing up, I loved the movie Doctor Doolittle with Rex Harrison. Was the snail his totem? He lived and sailed in one, drawing the respect of the entire animal kingdom, while accepting their guidance.

If we could talk to the animals, just imagine it
Chatting to a chimp in chimpanzee
Imagine talking to a tiger, chatting to a cheetah
What a neat achievement that would be.

If we could talk to the animals, learn their languages Maybe take an animal degree.
We'd study elephant and eagle, buffalo and beagle,
Alligator, guinea pig, and flea.

We would converse in polar bear and python,
And we could curse in fluent kangaroo.
If people asked us, can you speak in rhinoceros,
We'd say, 'Of courserous, can't you?'

If we could talk to the animals, learn their languages
Think of all the things we could discuss
If we could walk with the animals, talk with the animals,
Grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals,
And they could squeak and squawk and speak and talk to us.

I’ve had many experiences with Hawks and believe I have a hawk totem. I see them everywhere I go, usually in passing as I’m driving down the road. (I’m sure that means something.) Years ago, we had an American Kestrel infant in our backyard. It could turn its head around like an owl as Bluejays darted over and around it trying to scare it off. I don’t think it could fly very well or it would have flown away from us as we neared it. We saw the mother’s shadow flying overhead and knew she was nearby.

Recently, a hawk flew out in front of my vehicle from a tall hedge on the side of the road, hovered slightly just in front of my car, and then flew off. Its wingspan was expansive. Time seemed to stand still as I watched it, feeling as though it had something to say. I count myself very lucky to have seen it. Of all the cars passing along the road, it had picked mine to dart across, talons bared, wings flapping to keep it in one place, head pointed in my direction. A hawk totem offers visionary power and guardianship. Hawks are messengers, protectors, and airborne visionaries. A hawk’s ability to soar high in the heavens heightens psychic development and teaches balance. According to Animal Speak, by meditating on the 14th Tarot card, the hawk will lead me to manifest my creative energy and discover my soul’s purpose.

Have you been visited by a strange animal lately, one you’re unlikely to meet on a normal day? If you could choose a totem, which animal would you choose? Has an animal spirit already stepped forward to be your guide?