Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Second Childhood ?

I've had this little castle, the work of the late David Renfroe, a local potter, for about forty years. It stayed in the green house for a long time but a few years ago I took it outside and set it amidst the crepe myrtle trunks in out entryway garden. 

Recently I was moved to add stepping stones. And yesterday when I went to Reems Creek Valley Nursery for some mums to set out and a Japanese Anemone, I found myself shopping for something tiny to plant alongside the little walkway. That little fluffy green cushion to the right is the result.

Now I find myself contemplating the logistics of making a tiny twig bench . . .

And I'm reminded of a Mary Poppins story of a tiny park within a normal park. And of The Borrowers, another of my favorite children's books. I look forward to reading both to Josie someday. 

I'll let her discover the little castle on her own.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


The sun was emerging from the mist to light up the mountainside.

Spiders have been busy.

Morning glories hold the light.

A perfect spiral, web-embellished.

I've decided the passion flowers are somehow steam-punkish.
Don't as me why.

A passion flower fruit AKA a maypop. They are edible and I look forward to tasting it when it's ripe.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Your Novel Starts Here

Your Novel Starts Here is the name of the class I'll be teaching in Asheville beginning mid-September. This is basically the same class I teach every year at John C. Campbell -- the same class that has given rise to a number of completed and published novels.

The class is similar to the one I took back in 2000. Bill Brooks, our instructor, suggested we proceed as though we were writing a novel. He encouraged us to choose a main character, a setting, and to decide what sort of novel we wanted to write.

I chose to write a mystery and decided that my protagonist would be Elizabeth Goodweather, a middle-aged widow living on a farm not unlike ours. 

By the time the six classes were over, I had the opening of my novel, some good scenes, a sense of who Elizabeth was, and an idea of how to turn these bits and pieces into a novel. 

And I did.

You could too.

The class I offer will include instruction and practice (via writing prompts) in writing realistic dialogue and creating three-dimensional characters that move through and interact with a fully realized setting. We'll discuss varying approaches to plotting and I'll help you fill your writer's toolkit with useful tricks for building suspense, insuring continuity, avoiding info dumps, and, as they say, many, many more. 

We'll discuss forming or joining critique groups to keep you going and talk about the ins and outs of self-editing. Finally we'll talk about querying agents and discuss the many publishing alternatives available today.

If you've ever thought you might like to try your hand at a novel, this class is for you. Or if you've already made a beginning but haven't followed through, this class could help you sort things out and energize you for the long haul.

The class meets in Asheville on Tuesdays from 6 to 8:30. The first class is on September 11. Full information on registering 
HERE (under 10 Week Classes.)

All the words are there -- waiting for you to get them in the right order. So shove that cat off your laptop and let's get started!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Friday, August 10, 2018

Stirrings . . .

Yes, it's only early August. Fall is a long way off and we have weeks of hot weather ahead. There's still a bounty of summer fruit at the grocery -- peaches, cherries, blueberries, watermelon.  And our own tomatoes are finally ripening and there are tomato sandwiches to enjoy.


A rainstorm Wednesday night left cooler air behind as well as a spattering of early-turning maple leaves on the summer grass. The hay that will see our cows through the winter has been delivered and stored in whatever dry spaces John could find. Some of the garden is ready to plow under and sow in a cover crop. Inexorably, our thoughts turn to making ready for the cold months.

And I see a parallel to the stage of life in which I find myself. At seventy-five, I feel a sense of, not winding down, but winding up. It's not that I feel a diminishing but more that I'm aware that, sooner or later, an end is coming, and I'd like to be prepared.

Personally, John and I are in better health than we've been in a long time. But as we've both passed the age at which our parents died and as we've said goodbye to so many folks our age or younger, it's perhaps inevitable that these thoughts arise.

I don't find this depressing. On the contrary, it focuses the mind wonderfully on what's important, on living this  endgame time -- whether measured in days or months or years -- to the fullest.  

Being aware of and prepared for what's to come (as prepared as one can be for the unknown)  is almost a cozy feeling, like looking forward to a fire in the fireplace on the long winter nights, like knowing that there's plenty of food in the pantry and, rather than railing against winter, settling in to enjoy it.