On Writing With Passion

My latest column on writing in Ms. Career Girl…


There is a very boring piece of advice for not-yet published writers that floats around the writing community and it is this: Write what you know.

To that I ask: Why?

If you want to write about what you know, do so. If you don’t, don’t.

Do not limit yourself. Do not fence your ideas for your book into you and your life.

Do not clip your own literary imagination.

Do not require of yourself all knowledge before embarking upon writing a book you are desperate to write. That’s what research is for. That’s what interviewing people is for. That’s what reading is for. That’s what letting your imagination go stark wild and crazy is for.


On Writing With Passion

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Using Scissors On My New Novel

Just another Monday, cutting up a new novel…

Is it strange to cackle while wielding scissors?

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Pearl Was The Miracle My Mother Needed

Pearl was a miracle.

The miracle arrived in 1983 with a smile and a wave when she was desperately needed. I am convinced she was a gift from the angels to my mother.

My grandpa, Thomas Cecil, who had a hole in his nose from cancer, was dying.

The man who was born a poor Arkansas farm boy with ten siblings who ended up building homes all over Los Angeles with his brothers, was refusing to go to the doctors. He didn’t like, or trust, doctors and their newfangled medicines.

He was also refusing to allow my mother to put him in a care home because he didn’t trust that, either, and he was refusing to leave his condo to live with us.

Thomas Cecil was a stubborn, hard-charging man who had soft spots for his wife, his daughter, and his grandchildren, but he was dying and he would do it the way he wanted to do it, at home, dang it all to hell, stop bothering me, leave me alone.

But my grandpa’s stubbornness took a toll on my mother, his devoted daughter. Bette Jean could not be his full time care giver, in his home, and that’s what he needed – full time care.

My mother’s challenges in life at that time were huge.

She was not only a full time English teacher, she had four teenagers, in various states of rebellion, and a father who was critically ill whom she saw many times a week in his condo – making that 40 minute drive both ways.

My mother told me that before she went to teach school at my junior high, she would often cry in the shower for her dying father. As soon as she walked into school, though, that bright smile went on because her students needed her.

She was doing right by everyone as a mother, wife, and daughter, and as a teacher, and she was utterly exhausted.

(You may well relate to my mother’s exhaustion.)

But things deteriorated rapidly for my grandpa. He was forced into the hospital, the doctors told him and my mother there was nothing they could do, the cancer was all over, and it was about palliative care only.

He could not go home to his condo, that was now an impossibility, and he had to have full time care. My mother and father started looking for places for him to go, but none was right, none was caring enough, all were too far.

And then Pearl came into our lives.

She moved in right next door to us with that smile and a wave.
Pearl was about sixty five. White hair, built a little like a Mack truck, full make up, a steel magnolia from the south with a huge heart.

And, here’s the miracle: She ran a private care home for the elderly.

Exactly when my mother was exhausted and drained, Pearl and her clean, safe care home arrived. You could almost hear those angels’ wings swooshing through the air between our houses.

My mother immediately moved my protesting grandpa from the hospital into the private care home twenty feet from our front door.

We visited that first day, my sister and me, and my Grandpa was rather rude to Pearl, if I do say so myself. It was way out of character. I had never heard him speak rudely to a woman, that just wasn’t done in his Southern gentleman side of the world. But he was terminally ill and in a ton of pain from the cancer that was eating him.

The next day, well, all I can say is that Pearl The Steel Magnolia had shaped my Grandpa up. Pearl took no lip from anyone, including older men who were dying, and she let Thomas Cecil know that.

I think she drugged him up pretty good, too, bless her southern heart, so he was feeling no pain, and therefore his better nature came back.

She took charge of that stubborn man, told him what was what, and from then on out they got along like bees and honey.

My grandpa, a widower, later asked Pearl to marry him. I don’t know if he meant it or if it was the pain killers talking. She did cheerfully decline.

My grandpa wasn’t in the care home for very long. Weeks maybe? A few months? But for my mother, Pearl was a gift. Instead of teaching all day, handling four teenagers, then driving to see her ill father in a care home he would have hated, and complained about extensively, or the dreaded hospital he avoided all his life, she walked next door.

I could feel my Grandpa dying as I sat in my bedroom late one night. I walked over to Pearl’s and joined my tearful mother, and he was gone. We all cried. We loved our Grandpa.

What was interesting, yet again, was that it wasn’t long after my grandpa died that Pearl disappeared. She just moved out. The angel flew off.

Pearl was there when my Grandpa and mother desperately needed her, and then she was gone.

Yes, I do believe in miracles. They come in different forms, I think. Sometimes it’s a miraculous event. Sometimes it’s a cure. Sometimes it’s a person.

It is always a mystery.

Wishing you all the beauty of miracles when you need them.

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Mrs. Insomnia and I

This is what Mrs. Insomnia does to me.

I quit writing at two in the morning last night and couldn’t sleep until 7:30. My mind is a fuzzy, clanging, grumpy mess when I finally drag myself back to my computer.

I say only one long, very bad word when I look at what I’ve written and believe it to be, currently, total trash.

I begin to contemplate a new career as an orchid grower in central America. This reminds me that I need to garden.

Surely I can find some peace near the pink rhododendrons and magnolia tree? At the very least I can procrastinate before throwing my computer through a window.

My feet feel a bit odd, but hey, there are weeds to be pulled! Then I realize what I’ve done.

I think I need to sleep.

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$2.99, on Kindle, What I Remember Most

$2.99 on kindle, on sale for a little bit of time.

This is a book about a woman named Grenadine Scotch Wild. She wished she knew why her parents gave her that name…


Chapter One

I hear his voice, then hers. I can’t find them in the darkness. I can’t see them through the trees. I don’t understand what’s going on, but their horror, their panic, reaches me, throttles me. They scream the same thing, “Run, Grenadine, run!”

It’s them.

Chapter Two

I needed to hide for awhile. To do that, I had to change my appearance.

I went to a cheap hair salon and had them cut six inches off, to the middle of my shoulder blades, then I had them cut a fringe of bangs. I went home and dyed my hair back to its original auburn color, from the blond it had been the last ten years. I washed it, then dried it with my back to the mirror.

I turned around and studied myself. Yep. That would work.

For the last year I had been Dina Hamilton, collage artist, painter, and blond wife of Covey Hamilton, successful investor. Before that, for almost twenty years, I was Dina Wild. Now I would be Grenady, short for Grenadine Scotch Wild, my real name, with auburn hair, thick and straight.

Yes, I was named after ingredients in drinks.

It has been a curse my whole life. There have been many curses. I am cursed now, and I am packing up and getting the hell out of town.

Central Oregon was a good place for me to disappear from my old life and start a new one. I drove south, then east, the fall leaves blowing off the trees, magenta, scarlet, gold, yellow, and orange. It would be winter soon. Too soon.

I stopped at the first small town. There were a few shops, restaurants, and bars. It had the feel of a Main Street that was barely holding on. There were several storefronts that had been papered over, there were not a lot of people, and it was too quiet.

Still, my goals were clear, at least to me. Eat first, then find a job. I had $520.46 total. It would not last long. My credit and debit cards, and my checking, savings, and retirement accounts for my business and personal use, had been frozen.

I had the $500 hidden in my jewelry box and $20 in my wallet. The change came from under the seat of my car. To say I was in a bad place would be true. Still. I have been in far, far worse places than this. At least I am not in a cage. Sometimes one must be grateful for what is not going wrong.

I tried not to make any pathetic self – pitying noises in my throat, because then I would have pissed my own self off. I went to a park to eat some of the non perishable food I’d brought with me. I ate a can of chili, then a can of pineapple.

When I was done, I brushed my hair. I pulled a few strands down to hide one of the scars on my hairline. I put on makeup so I didn’t look so ghastly. I put extra foundation on the purple and blue bruising over my left eye, brushed my teeth out the car door, and smoothed over my shirt. I was presentable.

I took a deep breath.

This would be the first job I had applied for in many years. I started selling collages and paintings when I was seventeen, and I had not required myself to fill out an application and resume.

I looked into the rearview mirror. My car was packed full of boxes, bedding, bags, and art supplies. My skin resembled dead oatmeal.

“You can do it, Grenady.” My green eyes, which I’ve always thought were abnormally and oddly bright, were sad, tired, and beat, as if they were sinking into themselves.

“Come on, Grenady,” I snapped at my own reflection. “You got a moose up your butt? Get it out and get moving.”

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The Glamour In My Life Continues


I just finished correcting the proofs for No Place I’d Rather Be, which is out in September.

That was my eleventh edit, hear me scream. I am now truly done with that book, hear me cackle in a crazy sort of way.

To celebrate I went outside to garden and whacked off a huge branch on a rose bush that was more like a tree.

The branch swung back and bashed me in the forehead and made me bleed all over the place. The glamour in my life continues unabated…

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/No-Place-Id-Rather-Be-ebook/dp/B01N2Q59G8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1494313399&sr=1-1&keywords=no+place+i%27d+rather+be+cathy+lamb


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Writing With The Wind

Hello everyone,

Click on the link, if you would like, to read my column in Ms. Career Girl on outlining novels vs. writing with the wind.

Yep. I’m a writing with the wind kind of gal.

I’m a writing and chocolate eating kind of gal, too, but that is another subject altogether…

Letting Your Imagination Go Crazy Or Outlining And Organizing

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My Very Best Friend is $2.99. My Book, Not My Real Best Friend….

My Very Best Friend is on sale for $2.99.

Now, that sounds rather strange.

My REAL best friend, my sister, Karen, is not on sale for $2.99, so to speak. She is priceless.

But my book is. Two hundred ninety nine pennies on kindle.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P53BX3K/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1


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Driving In The Country With Chicks

I hope you all had a lovely Easter!

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Need A Book From The Easter Bunny?

(No Place I’d Rather Be is out September 1, 2017.)

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Cathy Lamb
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