Sunday, May 25, 2014

Blog Touring Via Venture Galleries

Recently, I was invited to join a touring group. No, we’re not singing and playing music.  But we are sharing a bit about ourselves as writers and then shamelessly promoting our writing. Our answering the four questions below will give you some idea who we are as writers and why we pound these silly keys over and over again. Hang on. Here we go.

What am I working on?
            Currently, I have just published Book One: Where It Began, of the Accidents of Birth trilogy and am now putting the finishing touches on Book Two: Where It Went and Book Three, Where It Ended.  The trilogy deals with the conundrum that though our biological lives take shape in the womb, the major influence determining our fate is the happenstance of where and to whom we’re born. It follows the relationship of Imogene Ware, an unschooled, quirky black housekeeper from a freed slave enclave called Small Town, and Katie Gayle Sutton, a child prodigy in Mrs. Imogene’s charge who lives in an abusive household, white and well-to-do, in the rural Mississippi town of Ellensburg amid the politically and racially charged last half of the 20th century.  It was my first experience of writing in dialectic and across racial lines.

How does my work differ from others in my genre?
         Placing my work in a genre has always been a challenge for me. Since one’s choices are limited to what are provided by the publisher, you have to fit into their view of the world. Where I finally placed myself is in Literary fiction, not because of my skill as a writer but because that genre allows for a greater variation of themes and stories. Thus since this group represents a rather electric range of topics and approaches, difference from each other is more by degree of ability and cleverness of theme.  Where I might stand apart is in preferring first person point of view rather than the more popular third person and wrapping my stories specifically around some aspect of the human condition. My first novel, Suffer the Little Children, examined the question: What is it we do that drives our children from us? My second, Dying to Know, attempts a new answer to the question: Is there another way to understand health and well-being? And what I explored in the trilogy is what unconditional love looks and acts like.

Why do I write what I write?
         I have spent my entire adult life exploring the human condition. As a young person, I saw something strange going on, which I just couldn't leave alone. What I saw was that we live our lives saying one thing and acting out the exact opposite with no awareness that is what we are doing. Thus began a lifelong interest in the human condition and the “big questions:” who are we, what are we and why are we here. So naturally my novels reflect, through the characters and stories, some aspect of the human condition I want to explore further. I would like my work to hold the reader in the story by what they can come to understand about themselves through the struggles and triumphs of the characters.

How does my writing process work?
            It differs based on what I am writing. The historical novel I’m I've been working on  takes a more organized outline because of having to stay true to dates, times and what was going on then. But in most of my books, I have a sense of the story arc, where the character starts out and where they need to end up. I have a title that catches the essence of the work. Then I just let it flow the way the story would naturally unfold were the character a real live person living out this set of circumstances. I can’t stand outlines.

Thanks for touring along with me. Now you will have the opportunity to see how other writers I know create the works they do:

David Atkinson was born in Sunderland UK and now lives in Yorkshire with a love for the Japanese culture and especially haiku. He has six self-published novels and one volume of poetry, and also cooks delicious sounding recipes. If you visit him ever, make sure it’s around supper time!

Bert Carson is an Alabama boy whom I love to pieces. And bless him, he offered to be one of my “tags” for this tour. He has five published novels across several genres but all with the underlying theme of doing the right thing. Thus his characters become people the reader would love to emulate. A Vietnam vet, his stories are usually touched by that experience directly or flavored by it indirectly. He has much wisdom to share on war and life which his novels reflect.

Jim Ainsworth  is a Texan through and through. He’s contemplative about life and thoroughly enamored of the land and history of Texas. An award-winning author, he’s written non-fiction, a memoir, and six works of fiction.  In his words, “I try to figure out where we are going by connecting the past to the present and future through writing novels.”

All are fine writers and interesting people. Check them out.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Importance of Forgetting

by Christina Carson

It’s the edge of summer and it always reminds me of that glorious last day of school, when you awoke the next morning knowing you could walk out that door into a world that asked nothing of you but to be back by lunch and later supper. And in the months that followed, you could forget the feel of walls, shouts of “don’t run” in the halls and rooms without window, as the rest of your senses opened to their own beautiful memories of bird song, brook babble and flower scent. You could remember the wind not as a breeze from an air vent but a friend that brought you messages of the world around you. And best of all, you could forget a world made rigid with man’s construction—times tables, drawing between the lines, and sitting still— to return to a world throbbing and real at every turn. I think the forgetting was the most healing part.

Strangely, as adults we find ourselves in the same conundrum as when we were school age kids. You’d think we’d learn. Instead, we confine ourselves now not only by a different set of walls but also a sense of unending duty. Years ago, while sitting with a native about my same age, we talked of his fears, how he wanted, nay, needed to be able to return to his people’s original way of life if he was ever going to be able to rekindle within him a sense of peace and harmony. If he could not live in that manner, free from the modern world’s rigidity of form and regulations, he felt it would be lost to him forever. As he spoke, I could feel the panic arising in me, for I’d told myself that I could find my way back to awareness of our true nature no matter what. To imagine otherwise felt like some cruel trick the universe had played on us. I remember saying to him at the time how that just couldn’t be so, but doubt was now nibbling at my trust.

Years later I understood what he was trying to tell me, however. One must have something in their lives that’s real, thus renewing
— a realm where truth lives and washes you clear of the fabrications you experience inside the walls. Our childhood time spent racing barefoot across the fields, wading in the brooks, looking for what lived in every crack and cranny and making friends with it had a unique value. For only there did we consistently find life without puffery, deception or meanness; only there did we see harmony along with playfulness, simplicity amidst the luxurious beauty. As Mary Oliver remembers in her poem, “Just as the Calendar Began to Say Summer:

…By fall I had healed somewhat, but was summoned back
to the chalky rooms and the desks, to sit and remember
the way the river kept rolling its pebbles,
the way the wild wrens sang though they hadn’t a penny in the bank,
and the way the flowers were dressed in nothing but light.

She too knew how we could carry those memories a long way and an even longer time and how they keep us clear about what matters. 

Find a pocket of quiet. Slip your shoes and socks off and walk through grass somewhere. Then plop down and sit just listening and watching until your breathing slows and your shoulders drop. What matters then? Forget the rest.

New novel now available on Amazon.
Accidents of Birth Trilogy Summary
The greatest influence in setting the course of anyone’s destiny is the family into which they’re born. What we’re taught to believe, what is asked of us, the burdens we’re given, the lies we share all start there. Through the eyes of an illiterate, Black housekeeper, Imogene Ware, born in 1928 in the post-Civil War enclave of Small Town in rural Mississippi, we get to view the last half of the racially charged, politically divisive 20th century through her eyes. Quirky, gritty and acutely discerning, Miss Imogene fights to save her own children and the white Sutton children in her charge from the happenstance of their births, all the while honoring her mother’s deathbed behest, a mandate to love the world.

Book One: Where It Began
from the Accidents of Birth Trilogy
Book One of the Accidents of Birth Trilogy introduces the protagonist, Imogene Ware, an illiterate Black housekeeper, whose insightful yet quirky nature has her carry on conversations as fluidly with her cart horse, Polly, as she does with God. Having accompanied her mother to the Sutton household since Imogene was 10 years old, she thinks she has learned the job sufficient to carry on when her mother is taken ill and dies. What she didn’t notice in those years of training, however, was that not only must she keep house, but also withstand the tides of the emotional storms that wash through the Sutton family. This first book covers ten years (1956-1966) of Miss Imogene’s initiation into life without her mother and into domestic circumstances she never imagined, all the while watching the world outside the Sutton household being rocked by racial unrest that is now touching even her isolated corner of rural Mississippi.

Great story with a loving and moral heart – Author Patricia Zick


Friday, May 9, 2014

Cancer – New Thoughts

By Christina Carson

Would you call it lying, sloppy science or grabbing at straws? I’m talking about all those various dietary suggestions of the last two decades which medical research promised would help us prevent cancer, echoed in most every medical practitioner’s office   ad infinitum. Yet here is where we stand now, described by New York Times’ journalist, George Johnson: “During the last two decades, the connection between the foods we eat and the cellular anarchy called cancer has been unraveling string by string.” Johnson drew this conclusion from an eminent Harvard epidemiologist, Dr. Walter C. Willett who has spent years studying cancer and nutrition. Speaking to the 2014 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, Dr. Willett said, “Whatever is true for other diseases, when it comes to cancer there is little evidence that fruits and vegetables are protective and fatty foods are bad.”

Over the short haul, it probably hasn't mattered, since the alarming increase in obesity in this nation suggests no one was listening much anyway. But on the longer term, what this points to is no proven ideas about cancer prevention and only the “let’s try this drug” approach as a cure.

So enter a new book on the market, Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against the Odds by Kelly A. Turner, which looks in another direction. She started from the idea: if we’re trying to win the war on cancer, we should learn from those who have already won. Then she collected stories of those who have. There are many such stories out there. I know, I've been collecting them for years too. The question that arose from her study was: Was it spontaneous or something they did? I would suggest it is both. To think those two are not interconnected is a strange notion to me. In my experience, a way to describe how anecdotal healing comes about is that something must strike you such that you become willing to entertain a window of possibility, however small, that you can be cured. That opens the way for healing whether through radiation or chemo or carrot juice or psychic healers or herbs or whatever. For all those so-called means are simply a way to keep your mind focused on surviving, while the real dynamo behind it all -  our state of consciousness - carries on.

It has been known for millennia that our consciousness is a powerful influencer on whatever it is directed toward. Sages
throughout history, Jesus included, knew that healing could take place instantaneously. Anyone has the potentiality to heal 
themselves. Our problem is we’re not doing what we’re here to do – become aware of our true nature. So healing looks like an impossible dream from where we sit now. 

If we don’t assume responsibility for becoming more conscious beings, we are left with the consequences of unconscious selection. This means, in effect, that whatever grabs our attention the most is what our consciousness focuses on and influences. Fearful thoughts are the most titillating so our attention, with its continual exposure to media laden with disease and dying, is offered a palette of mean and fearful choices unlike any other time in history. Thus to me, cancer increasing in our population is not the product of eating habits, pollution, stress and all the other causes we've been given. Rather it is our daily exposure to disease in general and cancer specifically through the myriad ways now possible with modern technology— endless attention grabbers. 

Consider this. I was in my forties before I knew a single person with cancer and that was not uncommon. Then it started to “show up” more and more. Today it is almost impossible to be in a group of people where someone hasn't been personally confronted by cancer. Thoughts about it are now permanent party in our intellect making it easy for our attention to focus there.

Quantum science opened the door to the realization that consciousness is a player. We can continue to pretend that door isn't open and try every new health fad that comes down the pike to assuage our fears. Or perhaps we can ask more astute questions of those who have healed themselves, so we can help them get in touch with that amazing moment when they realized they would heal or die trying. That level of intent captures our consciousness, and like a knight errant, it rides out to save us. Believe it or not, that is how it was meant to be.


Dying to Know is a story about a woman totally unprepared to hear she has cancer or ever imagine she could heal herself. If you are interested in what the transition could look like as Callie Morrow decides to find a new way to health and well-being come what may, Dying to Know is just such a story.