Saturday, April 4, 2020
Virtual is not something I do
You never outgrow fear of failure. I just got an invitation from the Columbia II Writers for a virtual workshop Monday.
KasieWhitener, who will host the meeting, is a savvy techy who is undaunted by anything. I, on the other hand, am unsavvy about computers and daunted by lots of things. In fact, my computer brings out my best efforts at bad language.
Anyway, in the back of my mind is a voice saying, “You won’t be able to connect for the meeting. Or you’ll click the wrong button and trash the meeting.” It may be even worse. I’ll join the meeting, put my nostrils on view, interrupt everybody, black-out, bawl out, blink out, and otherwise show my ignorance.
There are a thousand and one online how-tos for Zoom (the video conferencing app). What’s wrong with my computer? On Google, the Zoom homepages don’t look like mine. And the advice makes no sense. “Turn on mute when you’re not talking; Test screen sharing.” Huh?
This is one of those occasions when I will be going outside my “comfort zone.” A good idea, they say. Will expand my world view. But at what cost? Making a fool of myself?
Monday, March 30, 2020
Staying home for me is not the crisis it is for some people. I usually spend my time at my computer, even when there’s no corona virus. I can still take my dog Ginger for a daily walk, my usual way of getting fresh air and exercise.
It’s disappointing but understandable that the festivals I had planned to be attending this spring have been cancelled. And I bought a pink sparkly top just for the Cherry Blossom Festival in Conyers, Georgia. I don't especially like pink, but the organizers played on that color for promotional purposes.
NO VISITS DURING SPRING BREAK
Doug and I had planned to have the grandkids here during their spring break, but our two sons thought it was too much of a risk. Davis and his family live in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Matt and his family in Rome, Georgia. We don’t get to see them as often as we’d like. We have two granddaughters living in London, England, but their school breaks don’t coincide with ours in the States and the cost of their coming here is a pot of money. Their schools have also suspended classes.
LASTING SIDE EFFECT OF VIRUS
We’re focused on the impact this crisis is having on the economy and business, but the closing of schools may have the longest lasting effect. Kids who have computers will naturally gravitate to the screen and mindless games. Let’s face it, there’s not much else for them to do. Youth is a critical time for getting a foundation in facts and thinking that a person uses for the rest of their life. Even if everybody went to home schooling, it doesn’t have the systematic discipline to replace public schools, nor the academic depth.
AT-HOME PROJECTS FOR KIDS
I would hope that parents who are out of work are teaching kids things to do with their time. Some ideas:
1) Sewing: Buy a cheap sewing machine. Assignment: make a shirt
2) Woodwork. Buy a jigsaw. Project: make a footstool or birdhouse
3) Cooking: Download recipes. Project: make a dish at supper
4) Reading & writing: Buy a kid's novel: write a movie script made from the book
5) Music: Buy a harmonica or ukulele. Project: learn one song
These involve small investments of money but will pay off in better spent time for the kids.
Saturday, March 14, 2020
OVERWHELMED BY A MEDIA VIRUS?
I have never admired C.S. Lewis more. I hope you’ll read the following essay he wrote in 1948.
Replace “atomic bomb” with “coronavirus.” This is not to say that COVID-19 isn’t a threat nor to suggest that we shouldn’t take reasonable precautions. However...read ahead.
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
— “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Couldn't Blame the Weather
The sun was shining and it was in the 60s Saturday for Authors for Literacy at the Lexington Main Library. However, the event drew little traffic. I wasn’t the only writer who sold very few books. Too bad. It was for a worthy cause. Donations from the event were given to Turning Pages, a Columbia based organization that offers free instruction to adults in reading and math. South Carolina barely misses being in the list of top ten highest illiteracy rates in the USA.
We authors visited one another and talked the talk of writing and publishing. I sat beside Johnny Bloodworth, a friend who writes Southern fiction. His novel Gift is set in a small town in Georgia in 1946.
Thanks to the Lexington Library, which provided the venue where we writers might meet readers.
Thursday, December 5, 2019
Authors for Literacy
A book is a Christmas gift that keeps on giving, especially if it’s one that speaks to you. I’ve changed my mind about life in general after reading some books. Shop at the library Saturday. Maybe you’ll see a story that must be read.
Authors for Literacy Christmas
Saturday, December 7
11 AM – 2 PM
Lexington County Main Library
I’ll be there with several of my novels and my children’s book Cat’s Fur, which is about a witch who discovers she’s allergic to cats. How can a witch be a witch without cats? I had to solve that problem. The sequel to Cat’s Fur is nearing completion and should be out in January. Lizard Brew brings the cats back into the house.
Jerry Bellune of the Lexington Chronicle has assembled a number of local writers for the event. All books are either $10 or $20. The library is located on US 1 a mile from I-20.
Come by and say “hello” and meet a group of dedicated writers.
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
INMAN and AYNOR
Two back-to-back weekends of harvest festivals. Last weekend was the Inman Harvest Festival. I met readers and book buyers. Over a hundred vendors selling novelties, such as cameras turned into lamps, perfumed oils, watch art, and elderberry syrup. There were even orange, paw-print door wreaths for Clemson fans (I had to wonder who would buy them). The bandstand drew crowds all day as various entertainers performed.
|It's gratifying to meet young readers.|
Several aspiring writers stopped by, and we chatted about life as a writer. I was especially pleased to talk to a couple of high school students. Also teachers were interested in me and my work. Old and young visitors to my booth...gave Doug a chance to tell his jokes.
Aynor's Harvest Festival, held September 21, was another story. Plenty of vendors and traffic, very few readers. The parade of people quickly walked by. Hardly anybody stopped to look at my books or talk with me.
I should have taken a hint in the morning when a woman’s dog pooped in front of my booth. She picked most of it up (somebody gave her a plastic bag) after I growled at her.
|Sidewalk scene, Inman|
Photos thanks to Douglas Stanard.
Monday, September 2, 2019
"she’s bad another Saturday"
My poem “The Payoff” is published by The Moon magazine in its current issue on addiction. I'm not an addict but my imagination was.
There’s another poem in the same issue that will lift your spirits. It makes language the butt of a comedy routine. It’s “Lars the Cereal Killer” by Jim George. So clever!
I hope you’ll take a look.
Sunday, September 1, 2019
Local Author Book Fair
Wednesday (Sept. 4)
Cat’s Fur is a Halloween book with a story and pictures kids ages 4-7 will love. Get your copy at the Local Author Book Fair on Wednesday at the Jewish Community Center of Columbia (JCC). From 10 AM till 6 PM I’ll be there with Cat’s Fur as well as my historical fiction novels.
Numerous other local writers representing a variety of genres (Southern fiction, westerns, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, travel) will be there. We'll chat with you, sign books, give you personal information about writing and publishing.
The JCC is open to persons of all religious faiths or ethnic background. It’s a modern facility with heated pool, health and fitness center, and programs like yoga and dance.
Located at 306 Flora Drive, Columbia, SC 29223. PH: 803-787-2023.
I hope to see you there.
Tuesday, July 2, 2019
HOW SWEET IT IS! Three Poems accepted for publication.
DOWN IN THE DIRT
The magazine Down in the Dirt accepted two of my poems, “Computer Hacker and the Common Brain” and “Fairview Farmhouse,” for publication. The former is a cautionary approach to advances in technology. The latter is an emotional visit to not just one empty farmhouse, but a generation of them.
The two poems are currently published on the Scars Publications website on the “writing from scars publications” page. My name is listed with other authors in a column on the left of the page. Scroll down the list and choose my name. It will appear at the top of the column with titles of the poems. Select the title you’d like to read and the link will open to the page with the poem. The two poems will also appear in their March 2020 issue (v169). The link to the website takes you in confusing directions but this is what the authors' writings page looks like:
My poem “The Payoff” has been accepted for publication by editor Leslee Goodman of the MOON magazine. It will appear in the September issue, which focuses on addiction. I’m not sure how this poem came to me. The narrator is an addict. Addiction is so much a part of our culture, I suppose I absorbed drugs without actually taking them. The current issue of MOON magazine is online at http://moonmagazine.org. Check back in September for my poem, "The Payoff."
Monday, June 17, 2019
FESTIVAL was PEACHY
Saturday at Trenton, SC. Sunny, breezy, mild temps. Lots of people, lots of booths with arts and crafts. Best peach cobbler ever (so said Doug). Also lemonade, corn dogs, BBQ, etc. It was a fun festival, good for sales too.
Saturday, June 8, 2019
JUNE 15 FESTIVAL
Next Saturday (June 15) I’ll sell/sign my novels at the Ridge Peach Festival in Trenton, SC, a town in Edgefield County. Events in addition to Arts and Crafts include:
• Parade (10:30 am)
• Food Festival
• Antique Tractors and Autos
• Softball Tournament
• Live Entertainment
• And edible peach creations
Ebenezer Cemetery in Trenton is the gravesite of SC politician Benjamin Tillman, a flaming racist who murdered numerous black people. He once said that blacks must submit to either white domination or extermination. Unfortunately that made him popular in his time, and he served as governor and was SC’s senator in Washington, DC, when he died in 1918. After the Civil War, the slaves in my antebellum novels who looked forward to freedom would have encountered lynch mobs such as those Tillman inspired, had they remained in SC.
Trenton isn’t a long drive from North Augusta, Aiken, or Wagener. If you’re in the area, come by my tent.
Thursday, May 2, 2019
|I'm with Nila in front of a Lake City wall of art.|
My sister Nila and I spent a couple of days touring art venues at ArtFields in Lake City, SC. The town is literally innundated with works of art, paintings, sculptures, installation art, photography, illustrations. Art is on display in the barbershop, the mattress sales shop, restaurants, boutiques. I was in heaven!
|Nila and one of her favorites.|
To make the visit even more exciting, visitors can vote on their favorites. This year, I had 33 favorites. My sister had 37. I’m glad that ArtFields allows ordinary people to participate in choosing the art we like. Contemporary art as chosen by professionals (gallery owners and museum cureators) has put art a step removed from my sentiments, or at least I have no emotional investment in some prominent art that I see.
|I'm with textile art here|
Sunday, April 28, 2019
COLLETON COUNTY RICE FESTIVAL
|My tent was located between a booth with birdhouses and another with Mexican goods.|
At the Colleton County Rice Festival, there was constant traffic throughout Friday and Saturday. I’m not good at judging attendance at events, but it may have reached the 30,000 estimated on Festival Net. From my seat under a tent, it was like watching a side show of people passing by.
Lots of strollers and kids. People who stopped at my tent were from Walterboro as well as the surrounding area, some from Charleston and Edisto. The locals had good things to say about the town.
The food vendors were circled in a nearby town square, but Doug didn't find the food to his taste. I preferred the festival's attraction—Lowcountry rice, good and spicy with sausage.
|You may not recognize the Festival mascot, a kernel of rice, |
or at least I think that's what it's supposed to be
Walterboro's Main Street has the vacant look of so many small towns. Despite shady trees, well tended buildings, and awnings, too many empty storefronts stare into the street. There is a well-stocked antiques market, which I managed to visit a couple of times. Bought a painting that’s hanging on the wall of my office.
|My new painting from Walterboro Antiques is at the upper right.|
The photos are thanks to Doug Stanard (my husband and assistant).
Monday, April 22, 2019
|Good location for my booth, open to traffic on two sides.|
Saturday at the Pickens Azalea Festival I learned that in some cases you need more than a tent. It was a promising venue—well organized, various arts represented, continuous traffic. But I left at noon.
|Even with a coat, I went to the corner coffee shop to warm up.|
The temperature didn’t get out of the 50s and as soon as clouds blew out they blew in. Almost constant drizzle if not rain. The worst of it was that the wind blew the rain into our tent. If you’re selling jewelry or wood art, it’s not so bad. But rain ruins books. Pickens was great. The weather was awful.
|A day for coats and umbrellas|
Thursday, April 18, 2019
PICKENS, SC—WHERE I'LL BE SATURDAY
Join me this Saturday, April 20, for an adventure— a visit to Pickens, SC for the Azalea Festival. Booths with wares by artisans and artists (including writers like me) will line both sides of Main Street, which will be closed to traffic. Other entertainments throughout the day include a pet pageant (12 PM), magician (1 PM), bands and music. Also amusement rides for the kids.
If you’re a history buff, these nearby historic sites are up your alley:
* Hagood Mill, an 1845 gristmill at 138 Hagood Mill Rd., 10 AM – 4 PM, Parking $5
* Hagood-Mauldin House, antebellum, at 104 N. Lewis St., 10 AM – 4 PM, $5
* Pickens County Museum at 307 Johnson St., 9 AM – 4:30 PM
I’m happy to be going to Pickens for the first time. It is one of many small towns in SC that preserve our heritage while adjusting to the 21st Century.
|Pink, red, and white azaleas are in bloom throughout SC, a celebration in itself|
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
WORDS & WINE
Back-to-back literary events in Columbia this week. At the Lourie Center Tuesday evening mystery-writer Raegan Teller discussed “Top 10 Things I’ve Learned about Being a Writer.”
|With Raegan Teller. I won a copy of her novel in a drawing for a door prize.|
Raegan started the countdown at 10 and described each one. Examples:
— learn to say “no”— storytelling is in our genes— find your own way
Number two on the list was “UBU.” In other words, take advice but find your own voice, be the authentic "you." This sounds easy. But “voice” is no easier to spot than the wind. Which is perhaps a good analogy. What you see of the wind is not the wind, but its effect on trees and other things.
Topping off the list at number one was “It takes a village.” Most of us writers work in our offices alone, but getting to the end product, the novel, requires many people.
Tonight (Wednesday) I attended the last presentation of the 2019 Open Book series at the University of South Carolina’s Capstone building on campus. Professor Elise Blackwell introduced author Margaret Sexton, who talked about writing her novel A Kind of Freedom.
On the day she was sworn in as a lawyer, her cousin was going to jail. The disparity of their situations haunted her and inspired her to write. After an unavailing year of working in the Dominican Republic, she labored on a manuscript, which met with no success. Other writing that was "too easy to be worthwhile" turned out to be the first draft of her novel. Another novel is forthcoming, about a family of former slaves living in the 1920s.
The Open Book series will return in the spring of 2020 with more authors and books to talk about. Professor Elise Blackwell of USC makes this program available to the public, and at no cost.
Sunday, April 7, 2019
PURPLE MARTIN FESTIVAL
St. Matthews, SC
|The traveling Purple Martin visited my booth.|
|My husband Doug helped with my tent and set-up. Photos thanks to Doug.|
|I was situated on a corner spot. I'm not ignoring people, just looking at traffic in the other direction.|
Sunday, March 31, 2019
APRIL 6, FESTIVAL
I’ve borrowed a tent and have talked Doug into staying with me for five hours Saturday (April 6) while visitors trawl the Purple Martin Festival in St. Matthews, SC.
My tent, along with other festival tents, vendors, and food trucks will be parked on the Calhoun County Courthouse Grounds from 11 AM until 4 PM.
According to the Festival’s Facebook page, there will be a parade, street dance, live bands, raffles, antique cars, and crafts.
St. Matthews is a country town located south of Columbia and northeast of Orangeburg. A short drive for those of us in the Midlands.
I’LL BE AT UPCOMING UP FESTIVALS
April 30: Azalea Festival, Pickens, SC
April 27: Cayce Festival of Arts, Cayce, SC (Doug standing in)
April 26-27: Rice Festival, Walterboro, SC
Saturday, March 9, 2019
This morning at the White Mule in Five Points I attended a panel discussion held to celebrate writer James Dickey. It’s subject was “The James Dickey Influence On SC Writers.” The panelists, for the most part, were former Dickey students who recounted anecdotes. Roger Pickney told of a poetry reading in which Dickey growled, roared, and sweated, ending by saying that his audience had seen his last reading. It was too hard for him. He couldn’t do it again. At some later venue, Pickney told of seeing the same performance, with Dickey saying it was his last poetry reading, too hard.
|(LR) Ellen Malphrus, Roger Pickney, Ray McManus, Jane Zenger|
Dr. Jane Zenger gave the most insight into Dickey, quoting comments he had said in the English class she took from him. She said Dickey’s view was that there were two ways in which poems were written: 1) one-shot and it’s done; or 2) a labor of years. She engaged the panel in an aside to Dickey’s philandering. Ray McManus, though he hadn’t been a student, told of how his work has been influenced by Dickey.
This first panel was followed by two readings, one of them poetry. What I get from authors reading their work is impatience. I would like to have seen later panels but didn’t want to wait two hours.
The name of the event, “The Starry Place Between The Antlers” is taken from Dickey’s description of Columbia. I’m glad to see our city celebrating its literary heritage. Wish there were more of these.
Monday, February 25, 2019
We had several friends over last night to watch the Oscars on TV. We chipped in an ante and awarded a pot of $$ to the person who accurately guessed the most winners. Doug won the pot.
We didn’t necessarily vote for our favorites. The point was to try to guess what winner Hollywood would pick. Though I haven’t seen all the nominees, I was happy to see Green Book win Best Picture (though A Star Is Born is almost as good).
It’s inspiring to see that five books were made into Oscar winning movies. Five more books were made into movies that received nominations. Meg Wolitzer wrote the novel that became The Wife, one of my favorite movies of the year. I was conflicted about how to understand it. Seemingly the wife had been wronged, but had she?
Inspired by the Oscars, I’m going to see Vice with a couple of friends this week. Christian Bale, who plays Dick Chaney, looks nothing like himself in the previews. The actor, when a young boy, starred in a movie I’ve watched numerous times and still love, Empire of the Sun.