This is my new blog where I will be sharing my current writing projects primarily about strong female characters that persevere and thrive. Look for more news about Carly, a police recruit in Mobile, Alabama, Myra, a midwife living in the Boston Mountains of Arkansas in the1800s, Clara, a Roma grifter stranded in Atlanta, and Helen, a country gal that’s got herself in another fine mess trying to help a sister Pick’n Pay employee.-Lynn
Highs and Lows of Creativity
Published by National League of American Pen Women, Atlanta Chapter, Pen Graphs, May 2022
One moment I’m in the Chattahoochee River dancing with dogs and the next day I’m in a cave with my character, Myra, pregnant and alone.
The collaboration with other dancers in the river for National Water Dance Day was profound for me. I had anticipated a spiritual experience, a oneness with the flow of the water, the environment, and the meditative satisfaction of moving with other dancers. My takeaway was that risking it all in performance as the freezing water’s current and the unlevel riverbed prevented sure footedness wasn’t supposed to produce flawlessness. I stumbled twice. Laughing at myself now, I see an interesting raw connection with the dancers throughout the USA symbolizing the necessity for us to work together to conserve and share water.
I can’t help but feel the National League of American Pen Women, Atlanta Chapter’s upcoming May speaker, Dr. Mariana Mcdonald, will bring artistic synchronicity to the subject of climate control and what we can do to protect our planet for the generations to come.
A note about mental health and selfcare:
After my Off-The-Shelf author interview sponsored by Sisters-in-Crime and then participating in the water dance on the same day, I was depressed. After the performance endorphins faded, my energy was low for a few days. This is normal for me but inconvenient when the next rehearsal or writing project needs my concentration and commitment. Too often I try to forge ahead when I know dancing is the only activity that scientists have found works every part of your brain. I forget to honor myself with what Joyce Carol Oates relayed in her author’s interview, years ago at Emory University, that the thinking and synthesizing process of creativity is vital. The actual pen to paper activity or choreography development is the seed growing from the soil.
Finally, I rested and vegetated.
I was a Nashville Killer Blog Guest
A Blessing Quilt for a Writer
My sister makes exquisite quilts.
At my pre-launch—I signed a contract for my first book party—she asked my supporters to write words of encouragement for me on pieces of material that she incorporated into a blessing quilt.
I’m holding the quilt in my banner photo. When I think about giving up, I reread the thoughts of my friends and colleagues and preservere. I am thankful for the free webinars, countless hours spent in other writer’s company, and the libraries filled with authors’ books I love to read.
It comes back to why I write. I write to create and express who I am, to be seen, to pass along what I know to be true, to share whatever wisdom I have attained, and to empower others.
The light in me acknowledges the light within you.
Owl symbols are everywhere I look this holiday season in bathroom plaques, ornaments, and gift ideas for book lovers.
Many ancient people such as the Mayans thought of these animals as harbingers of death or illness. The Early Christians believed they were symbols of wisdom.
The mighty bird can transverse the darkness of night through increased powers of sight and hearing.
Do you seek wisdom or gold this Christmas season? Whatever you choose be aware. Looking beyond illusion and deceit has its consequences.
These photos were copied from the-biblical-meaning-of-owls site. I couldn’t get the link to copy and paste.
Tis The Season
Photo by Dean Hesse
It’s the season to give based on Saint Nicholas of Myra, an early Christian bishop, who gave secretly to people in need. According to the era, he would’ve worn simple robes of grey or brown, not the flamboyant bright red suit with white fur. The Santa Claus myth evolved and became popular in the late 1800s based on the Saint Nicholas’s good works. Not surprising, the saint looks different in different cultures. He is not always a white male.
One of the books I’m reading is Stillpoint, second edition, by Sheila K.Collins, PHD and Christine Gautreaux, MSW. This book reminds me all of this giving requires saying “yes,” but it is important to say “no” and regain some sanity and joy. Finding stillness in the mist of shopping and preparing for family festivities can be elusive and exhaustion sets in.
When my mother was alive I wanted to please her. She always over did every project, and the holidays were no exceptions. She expected her family members to get onboard, and Christmas was no exception. Besides endless shopping to fill the huge stocking for every child in the Tharp family and your turn to host, there was the live nativity production and Santa Claus’s early visit to the Tharps on the night of their party. A wooden backdrop, lighting, costumes, and music had to transported to the hostess’s house. Santa Claus needed to be chosen and invitations sent out with a list of who would bring what dish to the celebration.
With Tharp children grown and responsible for the celebrations the parties are smaller. The excitement of the extravaganzas are missed, but I don’t miss working shift work at the police department and dealing with holiday upswing in suicides and vehicular deaths, and then racing home to wrap hundreds of gifts to please others who already had plenty.
May you have a happy Christmas and holidays of your own making.
Mindfulness at Thanksgiving
I can’t believe I bought that expensive bread in Avondale, Georgia. I am mindful as I pay over eight dollars a loaf for gluten free-bread at a bakery that I am in the minority of folks that have that option. It is for my health because I don’t want to take antibiotics.
I love white potatoes, bread, tomatoes, pasta, and humus etc. All the foods that are acidic. Rice bread versus wheat bread is alkaline. Beets, yucca, kale, purple-skinned vegetables like eggplant are alkaline. I am doing better about eating the right stuff and drinking cold water instead of my almost caffeine-free sweet iced tea and coffee, but it’s difficult. I feel deprived. In answer to my whining, I can hear my ancestors say, “How would you like to have only a potato to share between you and your Scottish brothers and sisters?”
Second Option: Does anybody have an easy recipe for gluten-free bread that actually has a palatable taste and texture?
Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit by Amy Stewart
This historical novel was a freebie given to me by the author at the 2018 Bouchercon Literary Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida. The protagonist is based on New Jersey’s first female deputy sheriff in the early ninetieth century. The Kopp sisters, Constance, Norma, and Fleurette, were real people. Constance developed a probationary system for women and fought for equal justice for women in a time when men could put their wives in a mental institutions on a whim. Sheriff Heath was a brave man who valued fairness above public sentiment and championed Constance’s causes.
Rarely, do I read a book where the author gets it right about what it like to be a female officer. No matter what the century, women are still breaking down barriers and providing vital law enforcement services to their communities. Please read more about the amazing strides women in law enforcement are making at International Association of Women Police. https://iawppublic.wildapricot.org.
For more information about the Kopp Sister Series go to amystewart.com.
The Vampire Effect Applies
The narrator in Sacred Fount by Henry James, published in 1901, applies the theory that as one party to a relationship gains, either physically or intellectually, the other loses, is drained by the “sacrificer” until depleted; thus, the vampire effect. The characters in any story about obsession would fit into this framework. Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is an extreme example where a painting takes on the ugliness of the evil doer.
My character, J.C. Gray, in Well of Rage, was in part named after Wilde’s character to symbolize the deterioration of his soul throughout the novel.
The literary term “The Vampire Effect” is new to me. In my attempts to research I run into marketing studies using this principle. Did you know a celebrity could distract from a product unless the consumer makes a connection between the personality and the object? Angelina Jolie might distract if the product is a guitar. Elvis might benefit the ad in the initial noticing phase, but might not stamp it in the consumer’s mind.
How does this apply to learning and memory? I’m listening to an audio book about learning Basic Russian by Simon & Schuster’s Pimsleur. My character, Roman, in my Stranded In Atlanta manuscript is Russian, and I want to listen to the cadence. Maybe pick up a few words for the manuscript.
The introductory remarks before the lessons start stress the need to repeat the words out loud–no writing down the words–and to use the audio cd classes in sequence as I, the student, gradually gains approximately an 80% retention rate before continuing another lesson. The reinforcement in each lesson along with how often, where, and when I’m reinforced is crucial. Too soon or too late and retention is lost. It makes me feel a bit like a laboratory rat.
With mind control and mind altering drugs, the vampire effect lives on in the military complex and pharmaceutical companies and in the hands of the men and women who control them. With that happy remark I leave you to ponder if fiction is real…another academic question posed by Henry James.
Hometown Spook Light
Recently, I revisited my research on the spook light phenomenon in southwestern Missouri because I wanted to share a scary story based on some truth and folklore at a book signing. My mother told a story about seeing a headless miner in the area with a lantern walking down the road toward her and Erma, her BFF, when they were teenagers. According to other legends, people have contributed the headless man to a confederate soldier, or an Osage chief who were away at war and decapitated. When their spirit returned home, they found their wife and children murdered and lost to them. Therefore, the headless man continued to search for his head and/or his loved ones.
Another story recounted young First Nation lovers who were forbidden to marry and to avoid capture and separation, they jumped off a cliff into Spring River to their deaths. In oral tradition the bouncing lights appeared in 1836 after the lovers killed themselves. In 1881 the story was documented in a publication, The Ozark Spook Light. Scientists have studied the orbs as they bounced and changed colors and size, and disappeared and reappeared on the road known by locals as the devil’s promenade, a four-mile gravel road between Quapaw, Oklahoma and the hamlet of Hornet, Missouri, or the nearby and better know town of Joplin, Missouri.
After many years of investigation, scientists and the Army Corp. of Engineers still can’t explain the lights that fluctuate in size from a baseball to a basketball. Especially, as Halloween approaches, I prefer to believe the truths woven within the local lore. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
– Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio
Who Drew SunBonnet Sue?
Primers and quilts go together to me. The SunBonnet Sue drawings have quite a history, and quilts are on my mind as the air grows cooler in the mornings. I’m thankful to the women who made the quilts in collaboration with other women and passed them on to me. I am reminded a formal art education and making a living in the nineteen century wasn’t acceptable for women.
Poet Catherine (Kate) Greenway published illustrations in newspapers of children that influenced Bertha Louis Corbett’s SunBonnet Babies–Molly and May–in her 1900, self-published book. The Overall Boys–Jack and Joe–were created in collaboration with Eulalie Osgood Grover who wrote the stories in the primers. Whether Bertha’s mother suggested covering the faces of children with hats, or Bertha came up with the idea to hide her deficiency in drawing faces, we will never know. The absence of a face spoke to me of the way a Victorian woman may have felt in an era of restrictions.
Besides the collectible school primers written with Long Ess and antique quilts, the Royal Bayreuth set of china figures depicts Molly and May in a different activity for each day of the week.
The photo below shows a quilt square from my great-grandmother’s handmade SunBonnet Sue quilt. Each woman in my family has a repaired framed square. This object I treasure.