Friday, December 28, 2012


Hello, and happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Carol at Carol's Corner for Roundup.

So what's up in my corner?

Well. I've been thinking about my one little word and the part it played in my 2012.

I mentioned earlier in the year how I'd felt I'd been something of a failure in the fierce department. With your help, I've re-framed that thought: I haven't been a failure at all. I just attached too many grand expectations to my word.

It's a good reminder as I work to select my word for 2013. And I'm thinking perhaps it's the fact of an adjective that threw me off this year?? As if I should BE fierce in new and different ways.

I think maybe I've been fierce in all the SAME ways, which is not a bad thing... and the word "fierce" popped out at me EVERYWHERE. I found it in all sorts of books and poems, often when I was least expecting it. I've certainly been hyper-aware of the word itself. Which is how I found the following poem -- and why I think it's a perfect way to end my "fierce" year.

See for yourself:


by Dr. Ian McCallum from his book Wild Gifts
I like the word, fierce –
the way it aligns itself with
nakedness and solitude:
a fierce nakedness …
a fierce solitude …
And I like the way it holds
the word, fire.

I like the word, fire –
the way it ignites
the cutting edge of poetry
refusing to be nothing less than
a fiery edge …
a fiery tongue …
And I like the way it is linked
to the word, wildness.

I like the word, wild –
how it weaves its way
between yes and no,
how it announces itself as
a wild anger …
a wild joy …
And I like the way it nurtures
the word, fierce.

I like the word, fierce -

Monday, December 24, 2012


Our older cat Maggie couldn't care less about the Christmas tree, but Bobby... oh, it's a magical new world with baubles to bat and garland to grab!

But it's our dog Ruby who gets the prize: yesterday I noticed her sniffing around the coat I'd left draped over my desk chair. I picked up the coat to investigate, and discovered Ruby had chewed through the lining and the pocket to score a piece of Dove dark chocolate I had stashed there the day before. All that was left was the chocolate smudges and the damp, destroyed fabric. Now I'll never know my Dove promise. Maybe I should ask Ruby...

Of course I commended Ruby for her hard work and right away stitched up the torn places. It's my favorite coat - old and soft fine-wale purple corduroy I bought here in Birmingham at Rich's, a store that no longer exists. It was an impulse buy, and I've never regretted it. When it's right, it's right! 

And I suppose that's exactly what Bobby would say about the ornaments he keeps stealing from the tree.

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2012


First Day of Winter
“All secrets are witnessed.”- Barbara Kingsolver

Somewhere glaciers that haven’t
moved for hundreds of years
shift ever so slightly, give
birth to currents only lantern fish see.
Somewhere the last leaf drops
unnoticed from the limbs of a dogwood,
lands square on the back of a beetle
who stills at the sudden shade.
At the same time a tropical storm
rises anonymously in the Gulf of Mexico,
geese fly through sheets of ice pellets
that never make it to the ground,
rain floods island lowlands,
mud crawls down a mountainside
swallowing a house whole,
the only witness a lost llama,
teats swollen and weeping milk.

Here the rusty chimes wake me
from dreams of sailing
together across glassy water,
I warm my hands on a coffee mug,
watch thunderclouds roll
across the sky in a pattern I’ve never seen
while your unborn daughter
sends tidal waves up her mother’s spine,
still deciding if conditions are right for travel,
and when you call to tell me,
your voice crackles on the line--
I know there must be lightning
but the clouds are so thick I can’t see it.

- Irene Latham

How 'bout that illustration? A wonderful artist Jeff Faulk (who goes by Monk for his illustrations) penned this one, and both poem and illustrations appear in my book WHAT CAME BEFORE.

I did, in fact, write this poem on an actual first day of winter. It's one of those pieces I'm not sure I completely understand myself, so I am especially interested in how others interpret it.

I do know that I often write poems inspired by science, and this includes the butterfly effect which is about how one tiny happening in one place can cause larger things to happen in other places.

Sometimes a little mystery is the best thing that can happen to a poem.

For more winter solstice poetry guaranteed to light the darkest day, visit Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


1. Finished THE CASUAL VACANCY by J.K. Rowling. I'm on the road so much, I opted for the audio version. It's excellent. And so many lessons there for writers! More on this later.

2. Saw THE HOBBIT. I liked it, but not as much as the old animated version that has the whole journey in one place. My siblings and I must have watched that movie a billion times! My sons were pretty darn happy with it -- which makes me happy.

3. Hit 30 thousand words on the wip. I hope to wrap things up on this first draft by the end of the year.

4. Gingerbread-house party tonight! I'm bringing hot chocolate to share and some of those teeny tiny M&Ms to decorate my house with. Can't wait to see you, girls!

5. Thanks to DoraineErik and Linda for posting reviews of DON'T FEED THE BOY! *mwah*

Thursday, December 13, 2012

DEAR LIFE by Alice Munro

When I am actively writing, it's often hard for me to sustain the attention a full-length novel requires -- so I break out the poetry and short stories.

This week that's meant DEAR LIFE, the newest collection of short stories by Alice Munro.

Here's a passage from a story titled "Gravel":

"The thing is to be happy," he said. "No matter what. Just try that. You can. It gets easier and easier. It's nothing to do with circumstances. You wouldn't believe how good it is. Accept everything and tragedy disappears. Or tragedy lightens, anyway, and you're just there, going along easy with the world."

Monday, December 10, 2012


A while ago I promised to post on Mondays about noteworthy movies I've had the pleasure of viewing. And I have posted occasionally. But not nearly as much as you'd expect from someone who has a standing Saturday night date with her husband, which very often includes a movie.

We've seen a few lately, some of them I even really enjoyed, like LIFE OF PI and THE TWILIGHT SAGA:BREAKING DAWN PART 2. But none of them made me want to rush home and write about it here -- until Saturday night's ANNA KARENINA.

Confession: I've never read ANNA KARENINA. I've known the basic storyline, but I've never actually read the pages all the way through.

I will now.

The movie is gorgeous, delightful. It' so creative and just magical. All the parts come together in a sensory feast. It's an experience, as movies should be. And yeah, I've seen some reviews that pick it apart.

I don't care.

I love it. And love requires no explanation. In fact: one of my favorite lines from the movie:

Count Vronsky: "I love you!"
Anna Karenina: "Why?"
Count Vronsky: "You can't ask why about love!"

Ha. I just realized those smart marketers also used that as the tagline on the posters. :)

This is one I will happily watch again. Let me know what you think!

Friday, December 7, 2012


I was looking through all my cookbooks for a breakfast casserole recipe when I found this entry at the very back of a homemade cookbook that was assembled by Deb Dykes:

Recipe for Happiness

2 heaping cups of patience
1 heart, full of love
2 handfuls of generosity
plenty of faith
1 handful of understanding
dash of laughter
generous sprinkle of kindness

Combine patience, love and generosity with understanding. Add a dash of laughter and sprinkle generously with kindness. Add plenty of faith and mix well. Spread over a period of a lifetime. Serve everyone you meet.

Don't you love that last sentence?! Here's another recipe for happiness: visit poetry-goddess Robyn Hood Black for Poetry Friday Roundup!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I have never been shy about my love of Mississippi. I mean, how can you not love a state with all those hump-backs and crooked letters right in its name?

Mississippi is home to lovely people and beautiful land and such a great art and literary heritage. I'm always super-excited when my travels take me there. And now I have a few new reasons to love Mississippi:

1. LEAVING GEE'S BEND has been named a 2013 Magnolia Choice Award nominee! I'll be Skyping with some young Mississippi reader later this month. Thank you, Mississippi!

2. I will be presenting along with Robyn Hood Black and April Halprin Wayland (and a slew of Southern Breeze SCBWI members) at Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival in Hattiesburg this spring! This could be my favorite festival of the whole year. Yes, it's that good!

3. I recently had a poem accepted for publication entitled "Early Morning Drive Along the Mississippi Sound." (More on this later.)

Oh, and if you haven't had a chance, there's still time to enter the Fandango gift card giveaway over at Smack Dab in the Middle... that's right: $25 for some lucky commenter! Good luck. xo

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On Writing for Fun... and Playing Golf

I guess when I say, "writing for fun," what I mean is, writing not necessarily for publication.

It doesn't make the job any easier -- it's still a job.

It does help me loosen up a bit and take more risks. When I tag the work as "just for fun," I can be brave and experimental. I can be bad.

And it helps me better accept the nature of writing for publication, which, I think, is very much like playing professional golf:

“Golf’s hard. Good gold is damn hard, and championship golf is so hard only a select few ever comprehend it. It’s a cruel game. Think about it. A hundred and forty-four people play in the tournament, and a hundred and forty-three of them are going to lose. That’s tough. The game chews you up, spits you out, and steps on you. It’s those who get up and dust themselves off that make it. But that’s how it should be. If it were easy, everybody would do it.”

- Claude "Butch" Harmon, Jr., THE PRO

Oh, and maybe - just maybe - there's a professional golfer in my wip. :)