Must Read for Writers

April 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

Robin Black: Crash Course: Essays on Where Writing and Life Collide. This is a must read for writers. Beautifully written. Powerful in her ability to take the personal from her own experience and make it feel like our own.


Buyer Beware!

January 30, 2016 § Leave a comment

A friend and I recently discussed the proliferation of ugly skin tags sprouting on our baby-boomer skin. It seems a new crop grows every day. But as we are on limited budgets, having ALL these uglies removed by the dermatologist is not financially beneficial to a comfortable retirement, and so those good ol’ home remedies beckon from magazines, books, and the internet.
I mentioned to my friend that I had just begun the vinegar treatments. For one week, I had applied vinegar twice a day to my skin tags. “Oh, but vinegar evaporates so quickly,” she said. So, that got me to worrying. Could it really work in a few seconds to remove those hated growths? Probably not….just like so many other home remedies I had tried…nice to dream about, but either barely or not at all productive. And so with my doubts growing, I decided, instead, to purchase a product GUARANTEED to eradicate every single tag. A special, natural, tree oil, unique in its healing properties. Hundreds of satisfied customers. Almost instant results. Just $26.99….uh, well, okay, cancel a couple of lunches out, and I’d be tag free. It was worth it. I tucked the bottle of vinegar into the vanity cabinet and clicked on the “Easy Order” button for the product.
A week later, my miracle tree oil arrived.
The box is recycled paper…GREAT!!!!! The harvesting of the oil does not harm the trees…SUPER!!!! The oil is all natural…FANTASTIC!!!
I opened the box, then the dark bottle, colored so as to protect the precious oil from exposure to sun and incandescent light. It smelled …well, funky, pungent, and familiar. Where had I smelled that odor before? My brain sorts information a bit more slowly these days, so when I couldn’t quite remember the source of the smell, I shrugged and grabbed a cotton ball, doused it with the miracle treatment and immediately applied to my skin-tags: on my neck, at the base of my hair line, on my shoulders, on my chest, everywhere my clothes had rubbed and made a home for the ugly little boogers.
Ummm….the odor was, well… STRONG. Surely, I thought, it will dissipate in a few minutes. I closed the bottle, stored it in the cool darkness of the cabinet and proceeded to dress for the day. There was shopping to do, a lunch date, and a visit to a friend in the hospital…..But within minutes, the smell had filled not only the bathroom, but the bedroom beyond, my closet, and the hallway. I had to get out of there for a minute.
“Phewww! What is that odor?” my smell-sensitive husband asked as I strolled through the den. He got up from the sofa and opened a window. Then the back door. (It’s 40 degrees outside today, y’all.)
“What is that smell?” he asked, sniffing like some hound dog trailing a fox. Then he began to cough. His eyes watered. He almost GAGGED.
I hurried back to the bathroom. The fumes nearly knocked me out in that small space. I opened the windows, took a huge gulp of fresh air, held it, and rushed back to the hall. But the odor followed me. Through the kitchen, out the back door, onto the screened porch, down the steps, into the yard…but it was still with me.
The odor was coming from ME. The more I moved, the stronger the odor grew. It was the great, super, fantastic, all natural remedy for skin tags I had doused on my body. It was….it was….. it was TURPENTINE!!!!
OH MY WORD! TURPENTINE. That was the name of the vaguely familiar odor I had recognized. TURPENTINE. For sure, my grandmothers had used the oil for many home treatments, but in more recent decades, the noxious ointment had been relegated to cleaning paint brushes, or so I thought.
I went back inside and retrieved the box from the recycling bin. Tree oil. $26.99 plus shipping for tree oil, which was basically just another name for turpentine. The packaging, the advertisement clearly stated the product was tree oil. But I knew what tree oil was. I knew about turpentine. Why had I not remembered it BEFORE I hit that EASY ORDER button? Turpentine? I paid that good money for a few ounces of TURPENTINE.
After another long shower, including a good hair scrubbing, I washed all the clothes I had put on after my baptism in turpentine, removed the trash bag with the saturated cotton ball to the outside trash caddy, and after much spraying of room deodorize, and the lighting of candles, the odor was more bearable. My husband closed the windows and door.
I returned to the bathroom to finish putting things in order and caught sight of the bottle of vinegar I had stored earlier…..hmmmm….. I turned my head first to the left, then to the right examining the tags on my neck. My friend’s words returned to me: “It evaporates so fast.”
Out came another cotton ball and the dousing began again. A few minutes later, a shout from the den: “Are you making a salad?”
I carefully placed the vinegar back in the cabinet, opened the bathroom windows and proceeded to wait. “It evaporates fast,” my friend said. And I could wait. Besides, I’d rather smell like a salad dressing for a few minutes, than like turpentine for even one second…oh, and a few days later, one skin tag fell off. YES!!!!!!!!
All this to remind you as writers to beware any fast, guaranteed process of writing a saleable book. There are lots of offers out there. Lots of courses. Lots of people trying to make a living by offering miracle cures for what ails your writing.
Be careful. Be aware.
You can’t return those for a full refund, as I intend to do for my miracle tree oil.

***I can recommend two great writing programs: Margie Lawson and James Patterson. Both available on line. Both worth the time and investment. AND they don’t smell bad.
Happy writing!

Arms Stretched Wide

December 12, 2015 § 1 Comment

Arms Stretched Wide
I have a small clay figure on my study window sill, a gift from a dear friend. The figure stands tall, head held high,arms stretched wide, open to the world. Three blue birds perch on her shoulders. My friend said it reminded her of me. I laughed on the outside, but wept on the inside. No, that’s not me. This girl, this woman, most often crosses her arms across her body, and while my head might not be down, it is rarely tilted up toward the sky. More likely, my gaze is focused straight ahead, on the very next two steps that are necessary. Necessary and safe.
I was reminded of this when I read a post this morning by a former student. Some years ago, he lost a younger brother. My student wrote he hadn’t allowed himself to dwell on those memories. He pushed them deep, deep inside. He didn’t talk about his brother. He didn’t say his brother’s name. The best plan, he decided, was to “act” as if everything was okay. And so he walked carefully, wrapped up in his sorrow, afraid that one misstep on his part might bring about more pain. “I remember feeling so scared I would lose even more, that I lived life like I was walking on eggshells,” he wrote.
Yeah, I know that way of living. But with time and work and lots of prayer, most often our arms can unfold, our heads rise, and the pain eases. The thing is, though, that until we stretch our arms wide and open ourselves fully, we are not really living. We, like my student, are acting as if everything is okay.
And so often, we approach our writing in exactly the same way. We feel the need to write. We want to write. But it’s hard. It hurts. So we keep some part of us protected, wrapped within our core, locked up, pushed back. And that is not really writing. To be real, to really write, we must be able to lift our heads and spread wide our arms. We must be willing to dredge up those memories, call them by name, admit everything was and is not always okay. We must be brave enough to crush those eggshells.
And if we do this, one day, perhaps, those blue birds will light on our shoulders.
(I am proud of you, Caleb.)

Coming Spring 2016: His Mother! Women Write About Their Mothers-in-Law with Humor, Frustration, and Love

September 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

To be released Spring 2016: Anthology of essays, poems, and letters by women from across all boundaries of age, race, and culture. Compiled and edited by Sandy Richardson. Stay tuned for more info!

Check out the September issue of Wake Magazine at Great new poetry by Noa Daniels, Joanna Crowell, Sandy Richardson, and many others, plus awesome articles on spirituality and the arts. If you’d like to contribute your writing to wake,please email Thanks.

September 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

great read!

October 31, 2014 § 1 Comment

Check out The Handyman trailer below. This is a great read, set in our beloved Charleston, SC. And the main character is more “hunk” than “redneck” (at least I think….the kind of man women love and men like!) Get it today~!~~~~~ I can’t wait to read the sequel.
“The Handyman” Book Trailer

“The Handyman” — a new murder mystery by Christopher Watson — Meet the redneck who speaks for the dead. — A year…

Before A/C

July 23, 2014 § 1 Comment

I grew up in the days before everyone in the South had air conditioning, but until this summer, I don’t remember ever being so weighted down by the South Carolina heat. “Maybe it’s age,” my husband said, but I will not grace that comment with a reply—not today or six months from now. (:\
I have decided that South Carolinians must be at least 40% aquatic because we almost literally swim through days like today when the temperature is 95 degrees and relative humidity hovers around 97% with no breeze to stir even a blade of grass. How else could we breathe? Maybe we have developed some invisible gills to assist us. Or maybe our lungs have evolved to tolerate the high levels of moisture. Who knows?
At any rate, today I had to be outside for a while, and I was miserable. Charlie, my cat, is almost totally blind, but he still loves to go outside and make his daily rounds. We usually start the day at sunrise with a walk when the air is cool and the sun’s rays slant through the oaks and pines. Both of us enjoy the time. He meditates on the shifting light and shadows as the sun rises and feels absolutely independent and in charge of himself (important for a cat!), and I make my daily fifteen laps=one mile from the mailbox to the end of the street. Charlie supervises and counts from his chosen spot on the cul-de-sac.
But in the afternoons, our time outside is not quite so enjoyable. He loves to roll in a patch of sand and soak up the heat, while I wait impatiently in the shade of a tree, or sometimes if he doesn’t wander too far, I can sit on the porch. Today was a porch day. I paced and sighed and prayed he would get his “fill for the day,” and we could hurry back to the a/c inside. But Charlie lingered, climbing the lattice in search of lizards, mounting the bird bath for a quick lap of water. And while he attended to his curiosity, I suddenly thought back to my childhood summer afternoons. Surely it was as hot and humid then, as now. But we often passed them hours on end on my grandmother’s open porch. When the air grew thick and heavy distant thunder rumbled raising our hopes for an early evening shower, my grandmother guided me to the front porch where we took seats in a rocker or the porch swing. Then she’d hand me a large metal bowl and a brown grocery sack of field peas or butter beans. A small table held a pitcher of lemonade or sweet tea and usually cookies or brownies or slices of pound cake. We endured many sultry afternoons, rocking, swinging, and shelling while sharing local gossip or old family stories. Yet I don’t remember every breaking a sweat or wanting to strip down to my undies in attempt to get cool. I just remember the stories and the time we spent together. And of course, later, there was always a delicious supper to eat (fresh from the garden) while we listened to the rain making music on the roof.

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