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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Today I'm thankful for....

Obviously I've given up on my "something I'm thankful for every day" blogging effort. Even weekly fell by the wayside. But, this morning I received a lovely email message from my Aunt Mary (92). Aunt Mary and Auncle Tony (96) are my mother's aunt and uncle and my great-aunt and great-uncle. Uncle Tony is my grandmother's brother.

Aunt Mary and Uncle Tony lived on the next street from my family when I was growing up. They were always there for us. My brother and I could walk to visit whenever the mood struck, even from a very young age. It's that sort of neighborhood. They were our Sunday School teachers when we were in high school. Our class forged lifetime bonds through the church, and even more so through their Sunday School class. We'd go on field trips, have adventures, and explore life and growing up together in that class. Aunt Mary and Uncle Tony always thought of fun and different things to do. We didn't just have a bake sale, we had a donut sale. And we made the donuts ourselves. We went camping and hiking, took leadership roles in the church, and became better Christians with their guidance. Aunt Mary and Uncle Tony knew the meaning of that word, too. Care for others, don't judge them, those who are blessed with much have a moral responsibility to help others.

Today, Aunt Mary sent the sweetest, most encouraging message to me. She just re-read Marina Melee and wrote, "Today I decided reread your first book. I am more in awe than the first time I read it. You definitely have talent as a writer - don't let anyone discourage you. I am so proud of you."

Letting Aunt Mary--a very devout woman whose reading taste tends to Christian fiction and nonfiction--read my novel caused me a bit of angst. What would she think about sex scenes, swear words, a lot of drinking, and a little bit of drug use? She did mention it was a bit risque and not her usual reading matter. The second time she read it, she told me she was fascinated by the words as she read--the thought of me stringing those specific words together to tell that specific story intrigued her. And this time, her third read, well...I'm honored, touched, and moved that my aunt would read my book three times, and take the time to tell me she thinks I have talent as a writer, and to encourage me.

More than just thankful and pleased by Aunt Mary reading my story and encouraging me, I'm thankful and amazed at her timing in sending that message. I just started the query process for my next novel, Chupacabra. Querying is an exciting and nerve-wracking exercise. I've scoured my list of potential agents and narrowed it down based on who I think might really be interested in my funny, paranormal mystery. Over the weekend, I sent my first 4 queries out. I've already received two rejections. Aunt Mary's message was the perfect antidote to the self-doubt that creeps in with each rejection. I'll take her advice and not let anyone, even the agents who reject my story, discourage me.

The rest of Aunt Mary's email message told about her receiving a book called God Winks, and her own experience with God winking at her and Uncle Tony today, through the loss and recovery of a hearing aide. Little does Aunt Mary know, her message was God's wink to me, through her.

This month, I am very, very thankful for my Aunt Mary and Uncle Tony, who have always been there, supporting and encouraging both me and my brother, and offering us unconditional love. I love them both so very much, and am very luck and blessed to have them in my life.

Monday, February 6, 2012

SEMINAR on B'Way with Alan Rickman

Let me first say THANK YOU, Chuck Sambuchino for holding the blog contest for tickets to see SEMINAR on Broadway. Thank you, especially because I won. And thanks to Ian Weiss who took care of all the ticket arrangements.

I went to New York this week with my dear friend Cindy to enjoy the fruits of my victory. What a fabulous trip. We knew it'd be magical right from the start, when Bill Murray (yes, Caddyshack, Groundhog's Day, Stripes, Ghost Busters Bill Murray) sat in the seat behind me on the flight from Charleston to LaGuardia. Then it just kept getting better!

For anyone who has never been, is intimidated by, or doesn't know they even want to go to NYC, let me tell you--GO! New York City has the reputation as the city that never sleeps for a reason and it isn't insomnia. I gave it my best shot to not sleep. There's too much to see and do, too much energy to stop, too much life. Sleep can wait. And for anyone holding the grave misconception that New Yorkers are rude and nasty, I can tell you, I've rarely found nicer people anywhere in the world, or in the US. (No, I haven't traveled everywhere, yet, but I've done my fair share.)

The highlight of the week was, of course, seeing Alan Rickman (AND GETTING HIS AUTOGRAPH AND STANDING 2' AWAY FROM HIM, AND HAVING HIM SMILE AT ME or at least sort of in my direction).

SEMINAR is a hilarious play on one level, but for writers, the deeper levels are...deep. Lots of very pointed attacks on writers and the publishing industry: you need to know someone to get it; if you can't stand criticism in a small, isolated group of your peers, get out now because once it's in the world, everyone will be criticizing it; if you don't share it, you aren't really a writer; sometimes, you need a good, mean slap in the face so you can let go of that "masterpiece" you've been writing and rewriting for 6 years and move on to write something new--and better. But, overall, a tone of awe and admiration for those who do forge ahead, in whatever capacity they can, because, as all writers know, we don't do it because we can. We do it because we have to.

It really was brilliant. Clearly Theresa Rebeck has spent some time in the publishing world! And it starred Alan Rickman - they could have given him a cereal box to read and he'd be amazing.

The rest of the trip was fabulous, too--the Empire State Building at night, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, the NY Public Library. Spectacular. The 9-11 Memorial: gut-wrenching, heart-breakingly moving. Everyone should go.

And then our two days were at an end and we raced back to Charleston, where my head remained in an NY cloud, clearly rejecting the reality around me to revel in the city for the rest of the week. I couldn't stop singing "New York, New York." Probably because for the first time in my life, I really get it. The allure and appeal certainly drew in my vagabond shoes, and the vibrant city beat mixed with warm, friendly people did melt away my little town blues for those 2 days. I (heart) NY!.