The Wonder of New Found Friends

Friday night I was welcomed into a meeting of the “Neighborhood Book Club” by Susan Clarke and a group of her friends who’ve been gathering together discussing books  for several years. Other than Sue, I knew no one. And, truthfully, I’d just met Sue for coffee a few weeks earlier. Essentially, I walked into a room of strangers.

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And,  I guarantee no one had more fun than I did.

First, they asked me to tell them about my life in South Africa. And then they asked direct questions, inquiring about how I handled certain situations while writing my book MIDNIGHT IN MALAMULELE and while living in South Africa.

One question I particularly enjoyed was when was I most fearful while living in South Africa.

And now that I’ve mentioned the question, do you readers want to know the scariest thing I encountered as well?

Oddly enough, it was not getting used to a foreign place with young children, Philip, 8; Stacy turning 6 and Chris turning 4.  No, it had nothing to do with introducing the new culture to my children or finding new doctors and schools and learning my way around in a country absolutely foreign to me in 1972.

It was not the morning my husband and I found Martha, the woman who worked for us, shivering in her bed, convinced she was dying and attributing it to her brother who had a witch doctor cast a spell on her …

It was not the day I was nearly swept into a racial riot in Alexander Township where I volunteered …

It was not the day a tall, African in a three-piece suit walked up, playfully shaking his knob carry at my baby daughter Anne-Marie, 3 months, on the very day that black South Africans had organized a protest vowing to kill white children …

No, it was something different …

And next time, I will go into detail about “Night of the Dogs” and how terrified I was. Check here later this week for the second part of this blog.

Thanks again, girls, for a wonderful night!

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Left to right: Back row Sharon Miller, Peggy Winn, Sharon Hill, Lyn Chambers, Pam Grove

Front row: Sandy Anas, Susan Clarke, Marsha Mallory-Bennett, Linda Fisher, Linda Ayers, Lauren Allwein.

I NEED A HERO …. !

Finding a hero in the midst of becoming a better writer is gold.

David Morrell, a top best-selling New York Times author, took the audience into his hands, as he described his personal journey in writing, how he wrote for years, sought people to show him how to become a better writer, then finally righted his rudder and sailed into publishing. He is the father of “Rambo.”

I wish I could reiterate his complete spiel at Genre Fest in Westminster, Colorado at the Front Range Community College where he took the microphone and literally mesmerized the audience with how to continue learning about our craft, how to deal with personal tragedy and the importance of caring about our work.

Morrell’s commitment over his lifetime was the most impressive of all. He held the audience in his grip, left us laughing and clamoring for more. It was the second time I’d had a chance to shake his hand and express my gratitude for his assisting me in my journey. The first time was at the Hillerman Conference in Santa Fe this past November.

Here are a few jewels he gave us, but of course, this does not do the man justice. He was incredible and if any of you ever get a chance to hear him – make sure you don’t miss that opportunity!

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Morrell alerted the attendees to not follow the market. Not follow the trends. “Don’t chase the market – you’ll always see the backside…” Simply because the trend by the time you get your book out, will probably have changed. So stick to what you want to write.

“Every plot I ever had came from a daydream.” Morrell said that daydreams are spontaneous and personality specific, adding that most people dismiss daydreams. Some people never have them.

He reminded the crowd that you should pay attention to you, not mimic anyone. “You,” he told the audience, “are miracles of uniqueness.”

Before he begins each book, he writes a letter to himself. “Why is this book important enough to take a year or two or three to write?”

“Reading my books in order, you are reading the autobiography of my soul.” Check out his website at http://davidmorrell.net.

Thanks to the Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Colorado Authors League for sponsoring Genre Fest.

Lois Lane? Really?

Today I blog about my relationship with Lois Lane over at rebecca-grace.blogspot.com.

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Guest blogging is fun. It’s like visiting someone. So drop on by and check out my blog there and peruse the site. It’s the first time I’ve ever written anything so personal about how I got into this writing business. Leave questions. Also, if you’re a new writer, you can find great stuff on that site.

But today what’s really on my mind is the weather.

Yesterday a young woman asked, ” Why are you wearing all black. It’s summer!” She had on shorts. But I was the clever one because Colorado does not have summer until it’s officially June. It teases you and sends a few warm days. People rush to their closets and do the reorg thing. Not me.

Growing up in Texas, I always heard, “Wait five minutes and the weather will change.” Yesterday Colorado was at 88 and today snow is in the forecast.

This morning, I hear not one chattering bird but a choir outside as the dark is about to give it up to dawn. Lovely beyond words. Those precious little darlings are ready for spring. They’re in for a great disappointment. I do enjoy spring, but the first couple of years  in Colorado we had a blizzard … in late May. Now I’m snow shy. And skeptical. I’ll believe it when …

Enjoy today. And by that I mean look at the person you love. Grab that face and look into those eyes. Say “I love you.” Don’t do it only to their backs as they walk out the door. Live in the moment. And have a Happy Easter.