Saturday, May 30, 2020

May 30: Endings and Beginnings

So many days have passed
in quarantine, staying at home,
seeing loved ones well past arms length,
unable to hug, to console, to comfort.
Each 24-hour span brings more death,
more frustration, more willingness for some
to simply let go of wearing masks,
not caring for the risks to others.
My eyes do not want to remember
those crowds bullying their way into a courthouse,
swastikas and guns and MAGA hats,
a protest of a sort that marks only endings,
that doesn't mean anything at all to me.

If I ever grew restive about the singular repetitious
recounting of coronavirus cases and deaths,
I never wished for this:
the death of a man, George Floyd,
at the hands, or I should say knee
of a police officer, honor bound to serve and protect.

Still home, still quarantined, now I watch flames
and crowds of protesters, heartfelt voices raised
against this cruelty, maybe manipulated by some
to violence, now an appalling nightmare
spread across our country that doesn't stop.
This was not the legacy I wished for,
this domestic war between worlds.
How will we create new beginnings,
hope for tomorrow, and trust in those young people
with visions for change.

"Hands" by Jackson David (Pixabay)

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Wednesday Update: Covers and Projects, Oh My!

This last week (and the week before), all the news about pandemic has made me feel a little wobbly, like so many others. Luckily, the daily walk up to a nearby pond comforts me. The weather finally is warmer, the birds are out in force, and  red-headed blackbirds and yellow-head blackbirds squabble for space.

This staying-at-home is not for the faint of heart. Some days are more challenging than others, especially as each day brings more distressing news, but we have enough to eat, the hot and cold water works, and so do our computers.

Now that The Seventh Tapestry (an art crimes mystery) and Poetry in a Time of Pandemic are relatively complete, I have a new project. Whenever I feel a little claustrophobic, I can dive into researching Egyptian artifacts, museums, and crime as I follow Sandra and Neil on their next honeymoon-inspired adventure.

Just for fun, I made two covers, even though the final story is most likely two years off. So, which one do YOU like?

A friend suggested that an Egyptian setting might be a setting other writers have already done. Maybe I should consider art crime closer to home, right here in the Pacific Northwest. That's a bit intriguing, and I've already found evidence of amazing thefts where I least expected. I spent some time on Bainbridge Island just west of Seattle when I was a kid, and I still remember digging in the sand there for buried treasures.

Tonight, my daughter said, "Mom, the pandemic isn't over! Where's your poem-a-day?" So, just maybe, I'll find a poem in that morning hour before everyone else is awake.

What about you? What are you doing to keep yourself reasonably happy during these stressful times?

I hope you are well, safe, and able to nourish yourself and those around you. Even if restrictions are easing, consider wearing a mask, please! And cherish each day that brings something that gladdens your heart.  --Beth

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Something beautiful happened this morning.

On its landing page, Google celebrated what would have been Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole's 61st birthday with a snippet to his rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

I burst into tears at the beauty of his voice. Part of this may be related to the pandemic. After all, today marks Day 72 for our family, and aren't we all missing so much? And concerned in so many ways for loved ones and those at risk.

But part of my reaction may be that over the last few weeks, I've been struggling with my writing, hampered by too many directions to go, and, additionally, issues with publishing that seem beyond my ability to correct.

Google explains that some of the illustrations used in the video honoring Kamakawiwo╩╗ole are actually kapa, complicated designs that carry meaning far beyond what those of us outside Hawaiian culture can understand. One stood out to me:  "The eye with no fear."

Isn't that what we need to live through these days? To face our own challenges and persevere? And so, I shall dive back into my writing, nurtured by the creativity and beauty that always surrounds us.

Rainbow on Maui, Hawaii (Staxy1 on Pixabay)

Google's video is here:

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

May IWSG: Writing Ritual or Routine?

Living in this time of pandemic is hard. I keep thinking of all the people I know who have been affected. We know this litany: lost jobs/income. Serious health issues and sometimes the loss of loved ones. Hellacious conditions for those on the line, health workers and first responders. And some affected more than others.

I don't know about you, but the constant and impassioned nattering of news announcers gets to me. In fact, I mostly read my news now, because I can't handle that emotional overload when I'm already worried about the ones I love and our wider community as we struggle along. Plus, for people in a vulnerable group (that's me, older than dirt), we have to stay home. Yep. Day 56 for me. I've almost mastered ordering groceries online -- and having to wait 8 days before picking them up!

So IWSG's challenge question this month seemed to fit right in. The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) asks: Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

At first, this self-enforced staying at home (which began for me on February 6), was unsettling. Two somewhat connected strategies help me now write nearly every day.

1. Writing Challenges and resources. Who doesn't love a challenge? April brought National Poetry Month, and Robert Lee Brewer's daily poetry prompts. Just that process of falling into a poem centered me. Add Pixabay's library of visual images, and I was transported far beyond my view of the garages just outside my office window. 

After a morning of writing, I try to hit the e-mails, deleting as fast as I can. But, there are always gems -- those newsletters from writers teaching other writers; their generosity and helpfulness inspire me -- most recently Kate Weiland's discussion of theme and how it shapes all else. Current favorites include: Kate Weiland's Helping Writers Become Authors, Joel Friedlander's The Book Designer, and Anne R. Allen's blog with Ruth Harris. So this kind of reading feeds back into my writing and gets me ready for the next day.

2. Commitment to a writing routine. Just now, NaNoWriMo sends out an occasional e-mail, maybe once a week with a cute graphic offering tips to help writers on their social, physical, and mental well-being -- and writing. Early on in this pandemic, their advice was simply to create a routine. And this led me to make a commitment to what I really want to do -- and to make that goal visible and achievable by breaking it into smaller steps.  

As Kristin Lamb says, 
“Wash, rinse, repeat for writing success. 
Just write those 500 words every day!”

Part of my ritual in getting ready to write is to open up my file called May Daily Work which sets goals for the month (easily modified). Here, I track and update my musings about and progress each day in about three categories (writing projects, marketing, and other). Each category lists between 3-7 specific tasks. I may not finish them all each day, but they're present and ready for tomorrow. And so am I.

Maybe IWSG was looking for something a bit more quirky? Like that 18th Century poet who was inspired by the smell of rotting apples kept in his writing desk?  Let's be inspired, by routine and/or ritual!

Image by John Hain, Pixabay

Why not visit IWSG's HOME PAGE at to see what others have written — and to thank this month’s hosts: Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken!  And make it a good week ahead. Stay home. Stay safe. Cherish yourself and those you care about.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Seventh Tapestry Cover Reveal!

In the midst of pandemic, we can celebrate some things, yes?

Just finished The Seventh Tapestry, after a mountain of formatting and nudging into final format. And it's now live -- and wide!

This romantic suspense novel was fun to write as I followed Sandra's efforts to find a 16th Century tapestry from Edinburgh to Paris. Did she find the tapestry and a sweetheart along the way?

Didn't Angie Zambrano do a great job on the cover?

There's a bit of the story behind the cover.

Back in 2004, Allen and I spent about a month in Paris. One of our favorite places to visit was the Cluny Museum, or the National Museum of the Middle Ages, home of the very famous 'the lady and the unicorn' tapestries. I was so intrigued by the story behind these tapestries, woven sometime in the early 1500's. They were lost and not discovered until 1841. Not until two years ago, did I begin my own story of a seventh tapestry.

At first, I wanted a picture of one of those very famous tapestries on the cover of my new story, but the Museum has imposed commercial restrictions.

What did I have for my cover? A beautiful pillow we found at Stirling Castle, once the home of James V, a ruler who loved tapestries and unicorns.

Why not go and take a look on Amazon (paperback) or (ebook). And let me know what you think!

Meanwhile, the sun is shining outside, and the temperature's getting a little warmer. Maybe it's time for a walk? Stay well, keep your mask handy, and cherish each day.