07.11.2014

Excerpt From Henry’s Sisters

I grabbed my lighter with the red handle from the kitchen, lighter fluid, a water bottle, my lacy bra and thong, and opened the French doors to my balcony.  The wind and rain hit like a mini hurricane, my braids whipping around my cheeks.

One part of my balcony is covered, so it was still dry. I put the bra and thong in the usual corner on top of a few straggly, burned pieces of material from another forgettable night on a wooden plan and flicked the lighter on. The bra and thong smoked and blackened and wiggled and fizzled and flamed.

When they were cremated, I doused them with water from the water bottle. No sense burning down the apartment building.  That would be bad.

I settled into a metal chair in the uncovered section of my balcony, the rain sluicing off my naked body, and gazed at the sky scrapers, wondering how many of those busy, brain – fried, robotic people were staring at me.

Working in a skyscraper was another way of dying early, my younger sister, Janie, would say. “It’s like the elevators are taking you up to hell.”

Right out of college she got a job as a copywriter for a big company on the twenty ninth floor of a skyscraper in Los Angeles and lasted two months before her weasely, squirmy boss found the first chapter of her first thriller on her desk.

The murderer is a copywriter for a big company on the twenty ninth floor of a skyscraper in Los Angeles. In the opening paragraphs she graphically describes murdering her supercilious, condescending, snobby boss who makes her feel about the size of a slug and how his body ends up in a trash compactor, his legs spread like a pickled chicken, one shoe off, one red high heel squished on the other foot.

That was the murderer’s calling card.

No one reports his extended absence, including his wife, because people hate him as they would hate a gang of worms in their coffee.

Janie was fired that day, even though she protested her innocence. That afternoon she sat down and wrote the rest of the story, nonstop, for three months. When she emerged from her apartment, she’d lost twenty pounds, was pale white, and muttering. At four months she had her first book contract. When the book was published, she sent it to her ex boss and wrote, “Thanks, dickhead!  With love, Janie Bommarito,” on the inside cover.

It became a best seller.

She became a recluse because she is obsessive and compulsive and needs to indulge all her odd habits privately.

The recluse had received a flowery lemon – smelling pink letter, too. So had Cecilia, whose brain connects with mine.

The rain splattered down on me, the wind twirly whirled, and I raised the Kahlua bottle to my lips again. “I love Kahlua,” I said out loud as I watched the water river down my body, creating a little pool in the area of my crotch where my legs crossed. I flicked the rain away with my hand, watched it pool again, flicked it.

This entertained me for a while.  Off in the distance I saw a streak of lightning, bright and dangerous.

It reminded me of the time when my sisters and I ran through a lightning storm to find Henry in a tree.

I laughed, even though that night had not been funny. It had been hideous. It had started with a pole dance and ended with squishy white walls.

I laughed again, head thrown back, until I cried, my hot tears running down my face off my chin, onto my boobs, and down my stomach. They landed in the pool between my legs and I flicked the rain and tear mixture away again. The tears kept coming and I could feel the darkness, darkness so familiar to me, edging its way back in like a liquid nightmare.

I did not want to deal with the pink letter that smelled of her flowery, lemony perfume.

 

07.01.2014

What’s On Your Bucket List?

I asked my Facebook friends: What are three things on your Bucket List? 

Mine: One, travel extensively, but not to the usual places in the world, and talk to people. Honest talk. Interesting talk. Two, spend more time on our drift boat on different rivers watching Innocent Husband tease the fish while I eat chocolate chip cookies. Three, write in a different genre, or two.

You?

  • Elaine Donoughe Allen I have to think on this, Cathy! lol I am pretty satisfied right now. I use to have a job and didn’t have much time for doing things I love, like reading, so now I read every chance I get, and that’s a lot!
  • Sherie Nash I really don’t have one…just let it all unfold…
  • Geneva Prince I don’t want to give myself aTime .
  • Joan Croxton Carder I’ll have to think on it too. Recently I read in a book “abandon perfection, welcome reflection, nurture connection
  • Janet Castillo 1. Go the Hawaii and swim with the dolphins. 2. Go to Alaska and see the aurora borealis – or however you spell it. 3. Win the lottery so I can retire early.
  • Joan Croxton Carder Good choices Janet!
  • Dusti Douglass 1. Eat *real* Italian food in Italy. 2. Go back to CA and put my feet in the Pacific so that I will have touched all of the waters surrounding the US. 3. See either the Mayan ruins, the pyramids in Egypt, or both.
  • Barb Dowdell MacKenzie Ireland to kiss the Blarney Stone (wanted to do that since I was 9), go to Boston to see a ball game, ride a horse on a beach.
  • Iris Harrison 1.Write my wild radio memoir. 2.Finish my paintings. 3.Travel and visit places and friends that I love and miss.
  • Elyse Sorkin Visit England and tour all those places that I read about in books. Drive through the country side in Italy. Eat all the carbs that I want to in Italy.
  • Cynthia Dix One, finish the next draft/edit on *that* novel! Two, visit Australia and my Down-Under cousins. Three, oh dear, right now Three would be attending Worldcon 2015 in Spokane.
  • Lauren McNeal Zorn 1.) Go to the Kentucky Derby. 2.) Go to the The Price is Right in L.A. & at least be in the studio audience if I can’t get on stage & 3.) go the Isle of Barra in Scotland because that’s the seat of the MacNeil’s & I’m a member of that clan….maiden name McNeal…different spelling but still….& I want to see the Clan castle if at all possible. :o)
  • De Hansbrough Move somewhere amazing, such as Provence. One man art shows.. Publish my book of fairy tales.
  • Tale Thomp Write and publish a series. Go on a vacation with no time limit of when I’m coming back… Just come home when I’m ready. Establish a boarding school for young mothers.
  • Jaime Pommerening 1) Adopt a golden retriever. 2) Get my own home. 3) Find a real/true friend.
  • Jessica Morrell Love your list. Must ponder a bit.
  • Gillian Dorrance Fish not sure if these are possible but am hoping….1) watch the Canada flag raise at the olympics with my daughter on the podium; i would settle for just being at the olympics if she doesn’t achieve her dreams….2) take a year off work and write, 3) learn to paint to see if i can actually channel some of the talent my other family members have
  • Cathy Lamb Wow. So many thoughtful responses. I may have to revise my list….I’m going to do something daring in a minute: I’m going to Zumba class with my daughter. Just to be clear: It is not on my bucket list. I look like an electrified octopus with bad rhythm in Zumba, but I’m going anyhow.
  • Gillian Dorrance Fish zumba was my try something new project last fall. so humbling and truly embarassing but i survived and actually liked it, unless i looked in the mirror. this girl has no rhythm.
  • Andrea Schlegel Kershaw Adopt a dog………..inherit a cottage beach house (ok……I read too many books like that)…………I’ll revise that and stay at the beach for a summer…….and I like what Jaime said, find a true / real friend. Some have become fake and users. Tired of that.
  • Rose Lynn Beyke 1) Move to the country in a tiny house, go solar and become self sufficient 2) Just jump in the car and drive for a month on back roads, the best things and people are found on the side of the road 3) Visit Goblecki Tepe
  • Terri Johnsen Dive the great barrier reef, take a cruise with the women in my family, have another event that you said you come to if I had!
  • Amy Downer 1. Travel to Poland 2. Visit Stonehedge 3. Play the tambourine or cowbell on stage with a blues band.
  • Barb Dowdell MacKenzie OKAY! Should not have read this list–I really want to add France to see the lavender fields, and Eat my way through Italy, shop for Italian leather shoes in my size-or heck, have them made for me!
  • Jaime Pommerening Cathy Lamb:  your post about going to Zumba with your daughter! Hmm, maybe use the octopus and Zumba in an upcoming book?! Lol!
  • Joan Licker Carsten Ride on a motorcycle! Teach spinning classes at the gym! Travel with my family to Europe!
  • Maria Ulery 1. Move to the Beach
    2. Travel – someday a cruise, travel more in Italy see France too
    3. See my son become successful and way later on have a family I hear grand kids r awesome
  • Michelle Maxwell Lisenbee Take an entire summer off and drive cross country in an RV with my husband and kids, take an Alaskan cruise to see the aurora borealis and whales, live on acreage in the mountains and have lots of animals, (I know this is four, but…vacation somewhere tropical and swim with dolphins…I could probably keep going. There’s lots of stuff I still want to do!)
  • Misty Pickering-Eliopoulos Watch the final game of the World Series in a sky box when the Chicago Cubs finally win it……I think I’ll have better luck taking a ride in a hot air baloon which is also on my list
    • Cathy Lamb Sheesh. After reading all of these, I’m definitely going to have to add things to my bucket list. Especially a cruise in Alaska, seeing the aurora borealis, (sp?), and, of COURSE, hangin’ with the grandkids when they come. (But not yet, kids!! Not yet! That’s not an invitation from mom! No grandkids at the moment, please.)
    • Amy Yeager 1. Become a Mom. 2. Travel to Italy and London (Ireland gets crossed of this year :)) 3. Write the book that I’ve been playing with for years and close friends keep encouraging snd pushing me to just do it already
    • Marleen Hoogendam I’m from Holland and went to Italy in May, with the citrustrees blooming and scents of rosemary everywhere, and the paintings of Botticelli and DaVinci inFlorence, oo, and the fabolous leaning tower of Pisa, good choice ladies ( and the teenagers in …See More
    • Jennifer Cramer-Hughes Be happy
      Feel love
      live without fear
    • Rachel Journey Marry the love of my life and have his children. Travel to Egypt and see the pyramids.

06.16.2014

A Humorous Blog Roll For Authors….

montana October 2013 012The term “blog roll” is a new term for me.

Apparently it’s like the game “Telephone” we all played when we were younger where we sat knee to knee in a circle and one person whispered something to another person, then another person and at the end it came out as some crazy – ass garbled sentence.

Only with a blog roll, it’s author to author, asking each writer to answer the same set of questions, then send them on, and there is, hopefully, no crazy ass sentences at the end.

Oh, wait.  That’s what authors are known for.

Some are known for just being plain plum crazy, too.

In fact, I feel semi crazy today.  I have recently started writing another book. I am sure it will come together at one point before I become a raving hermit and move to the backwoods of Montana with a herd of cats. At this moment, I can’t see it and am wondering which cats I should take with me.

I digress.

montana October 2013 013I was asked to be a part of a blog roll by my new friend and fellow author, Lesley Kagen, who wrote, among other books, the wonderful, Whistling in the Dark.

Here’s her website. http://www.lesleykagen.com/

Thank you, Lesley!

At the end of this blog roll I’ll recommend the writer that I am handing off this Blog Roll to next…

 

1. WHAT I AM WORKING ON

Cathy Lamb: I am working on staying sane.  Yep. Summer. Kids home. Lots going on.

And I’m trying to write another novel.  Here are a few hints: It’s set in Scotland.  Men in kilts, flowing gardens, The Lochness Monster, bagpipes, cobblestone streets, all that.  My main character is … well, a bit like me.

The story is about best friends with one best friend not being honest about what is going on, and has gone on, in her life. So is the friendship still true and real?  Do the lies lessen the quality of the relationship? How do you define friendship? How important are girlfriends and best friends?

Can I eat chocolate EVERY day?

montana October 2013 0042. HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

Oh, I don’t know. I know lots of excellent fiction writers who write for women audiences, and about women, like me. On a side note, if I were to list the fiction writers who I think are better than me I would have to go hide in my closet with a nice, fuzzy pink blanket over my head and rock back and forth in a pathetic fashion. Let’s do move on here.

3. WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

I write what I do because I have a wild imagination and stories in my head.  I like writing about issues, problems, and challenges that women face. I like writing about real life, with a whole ton of humor and funny antics thrown in.  I like developing quirky characters and giving them friends and family and men that you want to hug/strangle/kick/cook with/laugh with/tie up and send to Pluto. I like giving my characters full lives and watching those lives go up in smoke and then settle down into something lovely.

4. HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?

Well, currently my writing process isn’t working. I have, for the first time in my life, written the ending FIRST of this next novel. I have then worked backwards from the end.  Last night I started to fill in the middle – end.  I suppose I will write the beginning one of these days, after I cut and paste the book until I feel like I’m putting together a brain numbing and stupid puzzle.

I do write 2,000 words a day, 10,000 a week when I’m writing a first draft, which is what I’m doing now. I am up very late.  I edit every book at least eight times before it goes to my editor. I edit each book twelve times total.  Why? Because that’s how long it takes.

By the time it’s done, well, it’s done. I don’t want to read it again. Not in this lifetime and not in the next one, either.

5. AND THE OTHER PART OF THIS QUESTION, HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS NOT WORK?

Oh gee. I think I just answered this. My advice: Do not write the ending first.  Ever. It’s ridiculous. I am ridiculous.

PASSING THE TORCH of this blog roll.

Please. Read Cassie Selleck Dandridge’s The Pecan Man.  I loved it. She is a smart and depthfull  (did I just make up a word?) writer and she self published the book on Amazon, that literary daredevil. Only $4.99. Trust me on this one.

Cassie Selleck Dandridge

http://thepecanman.wordpress.com/

 

Happy reading to one and all.

PS The horses are my sister’s. I put them in this blog because I think they’re smiling.

06.01.2014

For Writers: How NOT To Write A Novel

1. Write only the scenes that you “feel like” writing, as if you are some zen loving hippie and will do what the wind calls you to do, what the rainbow requests, what the chirping birds inspire you to write.  You will then have a giant mess, in non – chronological, senseless order, that you will have to cut and paste and cut and paste until you want to bash your head through a wall, like me.

2. Spend all your time daydreaming about other things that are pleasant and delightful and not writing your book, and then tell yourself that you were doing “research.” When your deadline is looming like a sharp toothed pterodactyl, you will be working sixteen hours a day, chugging coffee and ice cream. It’s ugly.  Avoid it.

3. Convince yourself that you should hang out with fun girlfriends instead of work so you can get more ideas for your book. Soon you will have gained ten pounds because your fun friends like to eat fun food at fun places and you go along with all this fun – ness because you are a sap who is dragging her ass instead of writing.

(DO REMEMBER, friends, this is an article on what writers SHOULD NOT do!)

4. Change your mind about your main character mid way through so you have to go back to the start and “fix” her.

How Not To Write 0175. Decide in the sixth edit that you are sick of one of your other characters for an inane reason and delete him or her out along with 20,000 words. Now you have to go through the whole blasted novel, yet again, and make sure not one single hint of that character is in the book, always a brain splitting job.

6. Become addicted to the New York Times. Pretty soon you’re composing letters to leaders of far off, primitive countries of the world detailing exactly what they need to do to advance into the 19th century, what are they, stupid? and you’re actively engaged in debating with YOURSELF OUT LOUD what YOU would do if you were president. It’s ridiculous. I’m ridiculous.

7. Spend an inordinate amount of time debating, with your Invisible Friends, what book you should read next, then after that, and what should be read after that? Download more books than you can ever read. Cackle crazily while you do it.

How Not To Write 0158. Write an enormous 152,000 word book, knowing you’ll have to edit that sucker twelve times, and ask yourself if you want to be sane at the end of it, or not.  If not, then go ahead and write it. If you treasure sanity, don’t do it. Become a florist. Roses are calming.

9. Decide that everything in your life has to be settled and done before you start writing. It is a good way to start writing by midnight EVERY SINGLE *(&%&U*(& NIGHT.

10. Take time off like I did. I took weeks off recently. Weeks. I have never taken weeks off work in my entire life and I am 47 years old and started working when I was fifteen. Usually I wait four days between finishing a novel and starting another one.  I grew up Catholic, with an “idle hands are the devil’s play things” mentality, so laziness didn’t go over well in our house. In fact it was forbidden, so work is second nature to me.

But, oh no. I had to go and take a Cathy Sabbatical. Now I know what retirement is going to feel like. I currently want to retire immediately and watch my hydrangeas and rhododendrons grow, but I can’t. Woe is poor me and my twisted imagination.

Back to work, dear friends! Cheerio! Bon chance, tra la la, adios and all that.  Good luck to you, you crazy people, I’m going to have a melt down.

05.30.2014

Maya Angelou, Brilliant Writer, Brilliant Person

We will miss you.

 

‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

 

 

Beach June 2013 146

05.29.2014

Author to Author Interview: Cassie Dandridge Selleck

Pecan_Man_Book_CoverCathy Lamb:  Cassie, I just loved The Pecan Man. It was one of the most  honest, heartbreaking -yet – hopeful books I’ve read. You captured the time period, with the rampant racism and discrimination, so well. I felt like I was there, in Florida, living with Ora Lee Beckworth.

(Friends, it’s only $4.99 on Kindle and please, take it from me who reads like a fiend, it’s worth it.)

Please tell everyone here what The Pecan Man is about.

Cassie Dandridge Selleck: The Pecan Man is about a woman, Ora Lee Beckworth, who sets out to clear her conscience by clearing a man’s name. In doing so, she learns much more about herself than she thought she knew about everything and everyone else. It is also about Ora’s relationship with her maid, Blanche, and how Ora’s life changes when she starts making decisions based on love rather than tradition.

One thing I loved is how Ora, a white woman, steeped deeply in her societal traditions, changed in her feelings towards Blanche, her African American maid, and how she realized the error of her own thinking, and of her own behavior towards, Blanche. She was able to look at her past, her present, and change her future based on her new, more compassionate, intellectual, and open minded insights. She even gained a whole new family.

What do you see, Cassie, as the overriding themes?

Cassie_Headshot_2013I would say the overriding theme of The Pecan Man is redemption and restoration. Sometimes we all do things that we wish we could take back. We make choices with painful consequences, for ourselves and for others. What defines our character is what we do to atone for our sins, what sacrifices we will make, and how we go about setting things right if given the opportunity.

As Ora finally, finally did. (One more note, readers…If your book group needs a story that will provide interesting discussions, this would be it. Ora’s choices can easily be debated.)

What sparked the story?

In 2001, on the 45 minute trip from the grocery store to my home on the Suwannee River, an old black man rode his rumpled old bicycle out of the woods just in front of me. Two blocks away, another old man was picking up pecans in his front yard. I have always been intrigued by real characters in life, so these two men sort of morphed into one character I called The Pecan Man. By the time I got home, I had three characters, Ora, Blanche and Eddie and I knew only that Ora would sit down on her porch to tell, in traditional storytelling fashion, the story of why The Pecan Man died in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Like I said in my opening…heart breaking.

Your book is selling incredibly well. How has the success of the Pecan Man changed your life?

Wow, in so many ways. I have been working for others, raising children, mentoring students and volunteering since I was seventeen years old. For the first time in my life, I am completely self-sufficient and able to do whatever I want to do. The funny thing is, the first two things on my bucket list were: Get a college degree and publish a novel – in that order. The second now makes the first possible and I am working on a BFA in Creative Writing through Goddard College’s low residency program.

Good for you. I always thought a degree in Creative Writing would be so much fun to earn. Going back to school, writing, reading…I’ll have to live vicariously through you now. 

But back to the book!  The Pecan Man is about 50,000 words, correct? How long did it take you to write it?

Honestly…almost ten years. But that was off and on, while working full-time, raising children, building a house (literally and personally), suffering from undiagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome and a host of other “I’m too busy to write” excuses. I’m working on another novel now. I pray that it does not take another ten years!

It better not. You will be in big trouble with me if it does. I want to read the next one right away.

Did you self publish it? Traditionally publish? Was it published only as an E – book?

log_benchI was not in a position to devote real time to seeking a traditional publisher, so I was just sitting on this mostly finished work. I decided to publish through Amazon’s Kindle program, just as an e-book, thinking that the worst that could happen was that it didn’t sell or got widely panned and I could pull it. What’s that new insurance commercial? “Like it never even happened.” Well, that didn’t last long. Too many people were complaining that they wanted a “real” book, so I put it out in paperback as well.

I was getting tired of being asked when I was going to publish my novel, so when I read an article about a woman who successfully self-published through Amazon, I figured it was a good way to shut my family and friends up! In all seriousness, though, I felt like I had nothing to lose, but I honestly did not expect it to be as successful as it is. I can’t even tell you how many book clubs have contacted me saying, “This is the first self-published book we’ve chosen.” I am humbled and grateful and overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for my characters from readers all over the world.

I understand you now have an agent. Why did you decide to hire an agent after such a successful debut?

Well, I wasn’t looking for an agent, but a couple of them came looking for me, and I chose one who is really excited about The Pecan Man and future work as well. There are a lot of things an agent can do, including securing foreign rights, getting a movie deal (crossing fingers), and possibly selling it to a major publisher. My jury is still out on that, but I think every author wants the legitimacy of a big publishing house. She did sell the audio rights, however, and The Pecan Man will be available as an audio recording in August. I was allowed to help choose the narrator and I have to say that I am thrilled with our selection. She absolutely brings Ora Lee to life.

What are the jobs you have had in your life? Do you have a day job now and what is it?

I’ve been working since I was 19, so the list is long: drug store clerk, bank receptionist, photo lab technician, Emergency Medical Technician, payroll/accounting clerk at what is now The Villages, Florida, Operations Controller at Merrill Lynch, Library Outreach Coordinator (my favorite), Sales and Marketing Manager for bridge access company. The Pecan Man has allowed me the financial freedom to go back to school and work as a writer.

That is just thrilling to hear.  I love being a full time writer.  Trying to work a job outside the home, raise kids, and write at night is just exhausting.  Even my bones felt tired when I did that. So much easier to be able to focus on one job only. Plus I’m a lot less cranky.

Besides writing, what are your interests and hobbies? (The photo of the carved log, above, is one of Cassie’s and her husband’s projects. They have many! The hawk is in her front yard.)

Reading, scrapbooking, mixed media art, painting, quilting and sewing, music, photography, and grandbabies! My grandbabies call me YaYa (my choice), and my son-in-law dubbed me the Yayarazzi because I am constantly chasing them around with a camera in my hand. I don’t have much time to do most of those things these days, but I still love doing them.

Ya Ya, if you were given two weeks of vacation, all expenses paid, where would you go, who would you invite to come with you, and what would you do?

Hands down…Ireland. I’d take my husband and we’d probably be typical tourists, roaming the countryside and hanging out in the pubs. In the meantime, we are working towards retirement so we can travel the U.S. in an RV.

Thank you for the interview. Let us know when your new book is out because I will be first up to buy it. The Pecan Man was a literary gift, Cassie.

 

www.thepecanman.wordpress.com

Facebook: The Pecan Man

 

05.16.2014

20 Things I’ve Done Since Finishing My Latest Novel

New What I Remember Most1. I read a ton of books. Only one was awful. I put it down. Now it’s stuck in my head. I hate that.

2. I learned to love gardening. My late mother would be delighted. She had 23 fruit trees, a geometric patio, and a burgundy clematis that now climbs up my trellis.

3. I cleaned off a wood bird house my late father owned. He used to watch a daring squirrel trying to eat the bird seed out of it when he was resting from chemotherapy. He always laughed at the squirrel. That man knew how to appreciate the smallest things in life, even when his life was ending.

4. I spent many hours running (slowly) in the woods. I had a lot to think about.

5. I walked on the beach.  Why does the beach make me cry sometimes? I just don’t know. It’s like the waves release the emotions.

6. I loved and laughed with my kids. That’s the most important. Laughing and loving.

7. I hugged my husband more.  After 23 years, he’s still huggable.

8. I solved problems. Some big, some small. Some quite  painful, some irritating.

9. I continued to build my relationship with my cat, KC, by meowing back at her. She is strange. Or maybe it’s me.

Josh H KC Cat 01110. I had lunch with my girlfriends. I do not hang out with groups of women, they make me nervous. But I do have really close girlfriends and one or two of them and I will go to lunch or a play together. I think God gave us girlfriends because he knew that our men would sometimes drive us out of our minds, as would life itself.

11. I had long cups of coffee. You know what I mean.

12. I threw stuff out. I can’t stand clutter. Clutter in the house, clutter in the head. My characters take up enough space in my head, ain’t no more room in there for anything else.

13. I decided that I will be a really good retired person.

14. I encouraged my sister to name her new horse Cathy and the new baby horse Marie. I don’t think she’s going to do that. Darn it.  What I have learned from the horse loving sister: A life spent giving to others – even the ‘others’ with fur and feathers – is a life worth living.

OCtober 2014 06615. I skied. I ingloriously fell multiple times. I didn’t break anything.  I am a terrible skier.

16. I daydreamed.

17. I dealt with a couple of not so nice people. Surely there’s an island where not so nice people can go and live together and be not so nice together and leave the rest of us alone?

18. I decided I really do need to work on being more patient. I’ve got about ten seconds of patience. That is not good.

19. I saw a couple of Van Goghs. You can see his troubled mind so clearly in his paintings. I relate to him.

20. I scribbled in a journal. Finally an idea for a story came to me. Now I have to begin the torture of writing it.

*** What I Remember Most is out in September, 2014.

04.25.2014

New And Glorious Quilts

I am not domesticated at all. I can’t cook, sew, embroider, nothing.  No talent. No patience. No skills in that area, despite that my mother made homemade bread that was the best ever AND homemade jam.

However, I love hand made items. Love ‘em. Especially quilts.

So, this Christmas I paid a friend of mine, Barbara Wright, to make our kids, and my husband, a quilt.  I gave her a whole bunch of favorite, old (worn out) clothes from me, my husband, our kids, our cousins, uncles and aunts, etc.  I also included clothes from my late parents.

For example…My red and black flowered robe that I bought before I even met my husband…a red and white striped apron given to me at my bridal shower 21 years ago from the wonderful and fun teachers I used to work with….my daughter’s purple and pink checked bedspread…my husband’s blue and white striped work shirt…my mother’s cloth napkins with the swirly, organic designs…my twins’ blue and white overalls from when they were babies…my daughters’ favorite jeans when they were little girls with the butterflies and roses…my mother’s beige flowered shirt…a pocket from one of my husband’s fishing vests….a pocket from one of my son’s army pants from when he was five…

Barbara cut all these clothes out and worked her magic.

One of our daughters now has a quilt with books and tea cups, as she loves tea and, like her mother, books.

Another daughter loves her guitar and music, so there are violins, guitars, and musical notes on her quilt.

My son and husband loooovve to fish, so they have fishing quilts. The fish are from my late uncle’s shirt.

 

Thought you might like to see some of the photos….

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04.17.2014

A Month Alone. What Would You Do?

I recently asked this question on facebook….

 

 

Weekly Question Number 1: If you had one month off, and you had to be BY YOURSELF, and could do anything you wanted, money was not a concern, what would you do, where would you go, who would you want to meet, what would you want to experience and learn about yourself?

 

 

These are the answers I received from a whole bunch of interesting, reflective, fun, adventurous dreamers….

  • Claudia Wenk I would go to the sea and have walks on the beach every day. I would sit and look at the water and breathe. I would have a good book with me. That is perfect to me.
  • Lisa Baron Miller I would go from tropical island to island starting with Tahiti & going from there –experience food, culture, the ocean, everything!
  • Aron Carleson Great question. You lifted me out and away of a depressing week for just a few seconds.  Italy. Hop on/Hop off train pass.
  • Cathy Lamb I’ll answer my own question. I would travel. I’d use my phone to take photos, I’d set up a Writing and March 10 2014 019Traveling Blog, I’d make sure my kindle was stacked, and I’d take off. I think I would head to Budapest and Prague/Eastern Europe, then India, then Cambodia/Laos. I’d want to talk to anyone willing to chat with me, learn about their lives, their cities, their villages. I would go for a new perspective on life, the world, and myself.
    22 hours ago · Like · 5
  • Dana Velvet Pixie Bokelman I live at the beach so I don’t want that..I would want to go to Rome and just go thru every nook and cranny of the Vatican! Imagine all the secrets there
  • Barb Dowdell MacKenzie I would go to Ireland to just drink in the country, its people and food. Meet with Van Morrison in a pub and have him sing me a tune and kiss the blarney stone (wanted to since I was 9) Also find where my ancestors came from.
    22 hours ago · Like · 3
  • Cathy Lamb Oh yes, Dana Velvet Pixie Bokelman Can you imagine the secrets that the pope and cardinals are hiding, the treasures and paintings and artifacts they have that they have not shown the world? Boggles the mind.
    22 hours ago · Like · 3
  • Cathy Lamb Barb Dowdell MacKenzie LOVE Van Morrison. Used one of his songs for our wedding song, 21 years ago…I’m from Ireland, too. Ancestors came during the potato famine, poor people.
    22 hours ago · Like · 3
  • Barb Dowdell MacKenzie was the song “Have I Told You Lately”? My absolute favorite song ever. I was born on Orangeman’s Day and I know my ancestors were protestant.
  • Silverton Tulips 215Cathy Lamb Aron CarlesonOh, you would love that. You could EASILY spend a month in Italy, MONTHS in Italy, doing just that. Lisa Baron Miller Island hopping has HUGE appeal. Lovely views, relax, great food, time to slow down and READ.
    22 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Lisa Baron Miller van the man!! Ours was Tupelo Honey!
  • Barb Dowdell MacKenzie Cleaning Windows is a fave- watched my son singing along when he was about 3 and still warms my heart as a result now.
  • Tina Hengen I would head to the woods for an extended camping and hiking trip, would grab my Nikon camera and lots of books, as well as a journal! Absolutely no computers, phones, etc.!
  • Joan Beldin Geisbrecht Me too, Ireland is on my bucket list. Would love to meet and go to the pub with common folk.
  • Terri Johnsen I’d go to Australia, spend the month diving the Great Barrier Reef, and I’d like to meet God, without dying of course. I’d like to relearn who I really am.
  • Silverton Tulips 208 Kelly J. Phillips San Juan Islands. I live in NC and it is my dream to live there.But I would totaly miss my family. So yea…., after a month of relaxing I’d need the chaos that is my husband, 2 teen boys and my 5 yr old daughter who thinks she’s 15.
  • Elaine Donoughe Allen I would go to Tahiti, find me a hut, take my books and just relax!
  • Cathy Lamb Ireland is definitely on my List, too. Terri Johnsen That’s an interesting statement you made, “I’d like to meet God, without dying, of course.” Me, too. Dinner with God…Kelly Ambrose Hays I have been to Orcas Island on the San Juans, 15 – 20 times, and i love it. It’s total peace. Just beautiful….but I bet you already know that!
    21 hours ago · Like · 5
  • Terri Johnsen I’m pretty sure my thoughts and brain would make a good study!
  • Valerie Haddox Russell Some beach, somewhere…with stack of books, a journal, and drawing supplies. While there, I would find out the life stories of everyone else there. And eat at a bunch of restaurants and visit a spa.
  • Silverton Tulips 205Katy Shandil I would travel the world, help people that needed food, see All I could see, share ALL I could and learn as much as I could about other cultures. Then write a book about what I learned.
  • Joleen Wheeler i would go to Seaside, OR and sit at the bed and breakfast reading my books, sipping diet cokes, eating good seafood, and letting the ocean breeze take away my troubles.
  • Joleen Wheeler i would go to Seaside, OR and sit at the bed and breakfast reading my books, sipping diet cokes, eating good seafood, and letting the ocean breeze take away my troubles.
    21 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Julie Davies Miller A beach, some books, a big bath tub and a big fluffy bed….I wouldn’t be anyones wife, mother, employee for a whole month…good for the soul…
  • Joni Cape-Everson Hawaii with a pile of books & take a sewing class on Hawaiian quilts !
  • Silverton Tulips 203Teresa Biewen Marker Wow, you folks are way more ambitious than I am! I would go to Greece or perhaps Italy. Some place where the ocean is blue and clear, I wouldn’t want a “touristy” location. Somewhere where I could walk the beach at sunrise and sunset. Someplace where I could take comfortable clothes and wouldn’t have to pack more than bathing suits, shorts and a few sundresses. I would have my kindle loaded, my phone/camera in my hand and a comfortable beach chair where I could sit at the ocean edge and have the water wash up over me feet and legs. Reading and relaxing…that’s it. I would need a nice sized town close enough that I could spend a few days shopping! Oh yes, enough Lush bath bombs that I could take long relaxing baths every night (I would have to have a fabulous tub as part of my suite)! Thank you Cathy…wonderful little daydream!!
  • Tiffani Long I would wander through Yosemite, then Yellowstone..This southern girl loves all things mountains/forests, and I long to lay my eyes and heart on the mighty sequoias and redwoods…then across the globe to the Alps. I wouldn’t want to meet anyone…Just spending quiet time with my Creator and soaking up all the sounds of nature. I would want to see what I could discover about myself without constant noise and conversations with hubs and kiddos–although I adore them the talking is non-stop!
  • Anne Marie Anderson Well, if I have to be by myself, I would want to go somewhere where people speak English. I would go to England to tour London, ride on a double-decker bus and all the Londony things to do. Then, I would go to explore the little village near Bideford where my ancestors came from. After that, I would go to Ireland – just because it’s close – and then I would go to Scottland to explore Paisley (where my step-dad’s family is from) and of course, I would have to go to Loch Ness. Maybe Nessie will come check me out if I’m there by myself. 
    And as far as Van Morrison? Brown Eyed Girl has always been my song to my daughter.
  • Silverton Tulips 192Lillian Aman Nedeau A month backpacking through Italy and France. B&B’s, churches, castles and museums. Mingle with locals. Eat. Slow down. Blog every day.
  • Sherry Gorman A house right on the beach in Hanalei Bay. I would kayak and hike the Napali coast, standup paddle board in the bay, and eat my body weight in local kine grinds. I don’t know what I’d learn about myself, but hopefully it wouldn’t be that local kine grinds add ten pounds to the hips
  • Lisa Sizemore Poss I would go to Italy and rent a villa by the ocean. I would rent a car. Every day I would go to different places cafes, whatever maybe some wineries. But they would be off the beaten path. At night I would go back to my villa and watch the ocean. Then I w would never come back!
  • Allis Reppert 1. Books, books, and more books! 2. Sea side 3. Big claw foot bath tub 4. Big fluffy bed 5. And throw in Steven Tyler!!
  • Jennifer Boettler-Barker Go to France, spend days and days touring the Louver, eating pastries and visiting wineries. I love traveling by myself..no pressures to be anywhere or do anything I don’t want to do.
  • Silverton Tulips 105Patty Carlson Pachta A month in Napa/Sonoma. Wouldn’t be enough time though.
  • ILene Kat Hamende A hut on the water in Bora Bora with good books and relaxing music. I would want solitude. The world is becoming sensory overload in my old age.
  • Stephanie Coffey exploring Ireland!
  • De Hansbrough I would go to the Luberon in France.
  • Logan Lazo I would get a personal trainer and personal chef to follow me everywhere. I’d travel to some foreign countries, see as much as I could while staying in the nicest of hotels getting spa treatment. Totally pampering myself!
  • Silverton Tulips 145Tara White Robinett I would go to Oregon and hang out with my favorite author Cathy Lamb!! We could go to the coast and collect driftwood and rocks and then go hiking in the cascades and maybe find a river to sit next to.
  • Dusti Douglass I would go anywhere that I could immerse myself in the arts. Maybe NYC? Theater, museums, lectures, concerts, galleries – from the known to the up and coming artists. I think I would feed my soul until I felt bloated and drunk on life and culture and then maybe the inane wouldn’t feel like such a chore for a while.
  • Cathy Lamb Tara White Robinett That sounds fun!! You would love the coast here..Dusti DouglassYes, NYC would be great!! Symphony, museums of all sorts, plays and Broadway!
  • Cathie Hedrick Armstrong Just one thing??? If not, I’d want to visit the highlands of Scotland, then Ireland and England – making sure to catch all of the wonderful historical locations. With what I’d have left, I’d like to find a deserted island somewhere nice and sunny, but not too hot/humid to just sit in the beach and read my books while enjoying the beautiful weather and solitude.
    16 hours ago · Edited · Unlike · 2
  • Simone Gonzales If I had a month to do anything I wanted, I’d tour the Hawaiian islands. Lanai for a week, Maui for a week, Kauai for a week, and Molokai for a week. I’d sleep in a hammock under the stars, I’d walk everywhere I went, and I would only wear a swimsuit and maybe a pair of flip-flops. I’d talk to all the locals and drink wine under the stars with my toes in the water.
  • Cathy Lamb Simone Gonzales Then you MUST read Molokai by Alan Brennert and Honolulu before you go….
    15 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Silverton Tulips 012Debbi Paolillo I would tour Europe for a month, especially England……..
  • Debbie Rhodes I would sit by the sea and drink sweet tea as the sound of crashing waves washed my soul clean from all woes. A book alone would be my companion other than seagulls sneaking closer for a potato chip. Audrey Hepburn would be a choice to chat with over meals. Harriet Tubman would be another one. Sigh…
  • Peggy Aube Strout I would travel, to Scotland, Ireland, Paris…..and take tons of pictures…..
  • Dana Kennedy Criger I would spend it at a beach house in Maine, with a white cozy chair on the wrap around porch. I would read and scrapbook and walk the beach. I’d pick wildflowers and decorate the table with them. I’d watch people and I would pray for guidance to be a better me. I’d sleep in until I wanted to and wear pajamas all day. I’d eat pancakes for dinner and write in a journal. It would be my perfect escape.
  • Hannah Grace I’d explore Ireland, and go horse back riding along the coast.
  • Michelle Kasper Hagerty Time travel has great appeal. I would be in the crowd for the fish and loaves, be Amish for a day, be a visiting cousin to Laura, Mary and Carrie and stay in the loft of the cabin on the Banks of Plum Creek. I would learn how to bead and make moccasins from Native Americans in a teepee. I would take music lessons from Mozart, watch Leo paint the Mona Lisa and ask her what the secret smile about. I would watch the sunrise from a castle, take a stroll in my fancy gown and bonnet in Hyde Park and watch them build the Eiffel Tower. I would dance on the moon with Neil Armstrong, eat a fancy meal on the titanic, and shop with Marilyn Monroe. And on the last day… I would meet my husband sooner so I could love him longer.
  • Silverton Tulips 066Ruthie DeLancy Talbott Travel to Austria and meet relatives I have never met., see how they live.
  • Terry Diemer previous comments hold things I want too. Otherwise, I would travel, mebbe a walking tour of europe, or a cooking class. Perhaps a volunteer at a disaster. I would want to meet REAL people that LOVE life and others and give and get tons of hugs. I would love to hook up with Elton John. I would want to learn more about being kind and strong. I would probably want to be a ride along with Anthony Bourdain, since he seems to have the clue about learning more about the world and food. The best would be using that time and money in order to make ME a better person, and make other peoples lives better. Ultimate would be a result, like finding friends and a profession that makes the rest of my life worth living.
  • Michelle Ray Mash I would rent the Screaming Mimi at Corolla Beach and take a bunch of pictures and read and collect sea shells.
  • Cathy Lamb Michelle Kasper Hagerty You’re right. time travel does have appeal. I’ll have to use that in another question, another week. Loved where you would travel to. Ruthie DeLancy Talbott How fun. Off you go. Terry Diemer Now that is a very thoughtful and interesting answer.
    10 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Gillian Dorrance Fish I honestly don’t know…I cannot even imagine having a month to be alone. definitely travel…somewhere by the sea. maybe learn yoga. read. do all the projects that I have wanted to do around the house but never have had the time (and that drive me crazy on a regular basis). and write, I would just sit and be still and write about all the things that are bouncing around in my brain.
    5 hours ago · Unlike · 1
  • Silverton Tulips 057Jessica Morrell I would spend it traveling alone in either Scotland and Ireland or France and Italy. I would travel by train and wear scarves and beautiful fabrics. I would visit art and eat food I could never eat at home. I would drink champagne daily and try new wines. I’d talk with strangers and browse in shops full of expensive and exquisite goods. I’d practice other languages and admire architecture. I’d sit and contemplate the joys of living amid the grace of cathedrals, watch sunsets, and make new friends. I’d meet authors I’ve admired from afar and find storytellers wherever I went. Thanks for the morning dream….
    2 hours ago · Unlike · 1
  • Raejean Mast Mattison So many beautiful places I have been, so many more I have not…I would need an ocean, quiet , sand, sun and warm breezes. A yoga mat, a bike, a fire pit or fireplace and firewood. A small town or village within walking or biking distance. if I feel the need for conversation I can visit with anyone, a fact which causes my children great horror! Although I enjoy a great meal prepared by someone else , I am content making my own. If I had my above wishes, with books and music of my choosing, I would be thrilled with anything from a quiet place in Hawaii, to Italy, Greece, Mexico, Thailand? I would miss my husband, but can I take my dog?
    2 hours ago · Unlike · 1
  • Raejean Mast Mattison And I would use the time praying and resting. Searching for the next step in life. Career change? Second degree? Cut back? Volunteer?
    2 hours ago · Unlike · 1
  • Jessica Morrell Rajean I love the addition of the fire pit and prayers. And thanks all for your visions. They’re so nourishing….
    2 hours ago · Unlike · 1
  • Silverton Tulips 047Cathy Lamb Raejean Mast Mattison Yes, of course you can take your dog. I would not take the dog away from you….enjoy the yoga mat WITH Fido. Jessica Morrell That is a lovely vision and you should write a book about it. I’m not kidding.

04.15.2014

Author to Author Interview: Hugh Howey

WOOL COVERCathy Lamb: As soon as I am done writing these interview questions I’m going to grab my coffee, sit down, and finish book 5 of Wool. I can’t wait.

I have loved your four previous Wool books, and am halfway through five. I can’t wait to see how it ends. I am having a very hard time predicting the ending as, based on your writing before book five, I can’t see your trajectory here and what rather shocking surprises will come up, as have come up in the previous Wool books.

In fact, I was so surprised by what you did, as an author, in the first two books, my jaw dropped and I had to tap it back up so I wouldn’t look ridiculous.

Please tell everyone about the plot line of Wool as, obviously, you can tell it so much better than I can. AND PLEASE, it’s driving me crazy. What year does this story take place in?

Wool is about a group of people who are born, grow old, and die while living in an underground silo. They’ve lived there so long that there are only legends of people having lived elsewhere. Their world turns upside down when the sheriff leaves in search of his wife. A woman named Juliette, who works as a mechanic in the depths of the silo, is chosen as the new sheriff. And she soon begins to uncover the secret behind why they live underground.

 

Give us the details of the silo that people live in, underground. I am fascinated by the size and depth, the rooms and hallways, the farms and labs…

 

The silo is incredibly deep. There are 144 floors, and each floor is 40 feet tall. It’s an entire city stacked on top of itself. This is an idea that’s been toyed with in the past, and some people have even begun to convert old missile silos into self-sufficient worlds like this.

 

What sparked the idea for the series?

 

Watching 24-hour news. I have traveled quite a bit, and I know the world isn’t as bad as it’s presented to be. I wondered what this does to our hope for the future. The heroes of my story are those who dare to hope, even in the face of dire news about their world.

 

Hugh Howey Author PhotoI was very curious about your publishing history with this series. You self published Wool on Amazon. Why did you choose that route? What happened after you self published?

 

Wool was my 8th published work. I self-publish because I’m more interested in telling stories than fighting to get them through a series of gates. We now have the tools and technology to publish our stories direct to the readers, both digitally and in print. I spend less time publishing my work than most people spend writing letters to agents and dealing with rejection. Once the book is out there, I start writing the next one. To me, it was never about massive sales or having a career doing this, it was just about doing something I love.

 

I have that same passion for writing that you do. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

 

You now have a traditional publishing house who allowed you to keep the rights to the ebook sales, is that correct? Is this the best of both worlds, publishing wise, a publishing house to distribute the paper books to the US and the world and e-books distributed by the author through Amazon?

 

We signed a deal that had never been done before, not by a major New York publisher. But I don’t know that I would do it again. I enjoyed creating my own print books as well, and bookstores were starting to carry them. It was a novel experience, but I prefer to publish on my own here in the US. I’m happy to partner with publishers overseas. Wool has been picked up in over 30 territories worldwide, and I’ve had a blast traveling and supporting those releases.

 

What do you see are the benefits/challenges of self publishing vs. traditional publishing? I find the whole question, and people’s experiences with both, fascinating.

 

I think the path you take depends on what you want to put in and what you expect to get out. Self-publishing is like owning your own business. That can mean longer hours, but it means a lot more of the profits come to you. Traditional publishing is like taking a job at a large corporation. You work on someone else’s schedule. You write what they want you to write. Different personalities will find joy in one or the other of these paths. I recommend trying both to see which works best for you.

 

As an author with a NYC publishing house, I have wrestled with how valuable different social media outlets are, how much time I should spend blogging, marketing, etc. I have finally come to the conclusion that I should be on Facebook, blog now and then, maintain a website, put up photos on Pinterest when I have a new book come out, and feed my blog to Amazon and Goodreads.

 

Other than that, I feel like I can easily get wrapped up in too much marketing and then all energy and creativity is gone for the writing part, not to mention time.

 

Bella and ShirtWhat are your thoughts on that? What should an author do in terms of PR and marketing?

 

Whether you self-publish or go with a major house, you’ll need to do some mix of social media. Very few authors have the brand to “just write.” Publishers expect a lot of writers these days. My strategy was to spend very little time on these things until my works had traction. I concentrated on the writing. I told myself I could write for ten years before I cared if my works took off. It’s not like they grow old or stale. An undiscovered work is a brand new work.

 

When you do engage in social media, my advice is to just interact with existing readers. Begging for new readers is off-putting. Be entertaining or spread whatever wisdom you’ve accumulated. Useful people are better rewarded than salespeople.

 

You are so  right. Thank you for that advice. 

 

You have had a very interesting life. Makes mine seem so dull. You lived on a sailboat, survived two hurricanes, worked on boats in the Caribbean and the Bahamas, and now you’re a writer. Was it always The Plan to be a writer? If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

 

I always dreamed of being a writer. And before I wrote novels, I wrote letters, poetry, and short accounts of my adventures. But I never thought it would become a career. If I wasn’t writing, I’d be sailing around the world, dead-broke, doing odd jobs here and there.

 

The sailing around the world bit sounds lovely to me. The dead broke part, not so much. Been there years ago, done that, didn’t like it. But I think I would be good at reading books on the beach in the Bahamas.

 

Can you tell us about your day to day life in Jupiter, Florida? Do you write all day? Only late at night? Early in the morning?

 

I write in the mornings, take my dog for a walk around lunch time, and then do business stuff in the afternoon. Right now, I’m traveling quite a bit. My latest work, SAND, was written entirely on the road. I find hotels and airports keen places to write (I’m answering these questions in the Palm Beach airport on my way out of town again).

 

And when you are not traveling and writing, what are your hobbies and interests?

 

In this order: Reading, writing, my dog, photography. And pizza.

 

Well, of course. All Americans have a hobby in pizza. That’s a given.

 

What are you working on now?

 

A speech I have to give in two days. And some secret stuff. :)

 

Thank you so much for your time.

 

Hugh Howey’s website       http://www.hughhowey.com/

 

 


Cathy Lamb
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