Sunday, December 5, 2010

Special Memories at Holiday Time


During this interim period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we often straddle the banks of the river between reflection and frenzy to accomplish all items on the TO DO list. I'm feeling thankful that we spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with Mom here in SC and enjoyed some memorable times. She really enjoyed Sunday service at Beach Church and brunch afterwards at Wachesaw Plantation Club. We missed having her with us today when we repeated the same schedule!

One thought about this season of getting together with family members whom you might not see very often would be to take full advantage of the time and institute a new tradition. Allow each family member, from the youngest to the most mature in years, to share a special memory from the past--something that they will always remember as a life-altering moment, or simply something that is very meaningful to them. I'd take it one step further and make sure you have an audio recorder handy. I would say that you should video each individual as they speak, but sometimes video inhibits older folks and they might be intimidated, speaking less freely. It's fine to let them know that you are recording for posterity, but don't stick the recorder under their noses. Even the tiniest recorders on the market today are powerful, so placing it in a less obvious location can be helpful in allowing the memories to flow.

Let it be a tradition that is carried on and on. Have someone transcribe the notes from each gathering, and you'll have a great little book of memories some day!


Speaking of wonderful memories, four of my Cape May girlfriends, Candy, Dee Dee, Cheryl, and Mary Ann, were here in early November for a few days. Prior to their arrival, the weather was sunny and quite warm. The day after they drove into my driveway, it was rainy and dismal guessed it.....the day they were leaving, when the clouds flew away out into the ocean and the sun was brilliantly shining. The same thing happened two years ago when they came to visit. Undaunted by dreary weather, we managed to shop and see some sights, just enjoying the company of one another.

I also planned a little get together--a Mary Kay party--so they could meet some of my other friends here in SC. I invited a special guest, and he was the hit of the Mary Kay party. The only problem was that he arrived the moment all of the women had removed their makeup for a skin care session! Hmmm....I should have considered sequence of timing just a little differently...But a huge thank you to Carol Austin of Mary Kay Cosmetics and her assistant, Jane, who navigated the session beautifully in spite of all of the distractions I provided!
Yes, Elvis was in the neighborhood and stopped by to say hello to the girls! Imagine their surprise when he walked through the front door at the moment not one of them was wearing a speck of makeup. And so many were under the impression that he was no longer living......Amazing!! A special thank you to Elvis for stopping by and creating an unrepeatable memory for all of us....

I promised to let everyone know about the progress of my second novel. The manuscript is finished, and a query letter, synopsis, and the first fifty pages have been sent to the number one agent on my list. I'll keep you posted as this publishing story unfolds. My intention is to make every attempt to attract an agent and publisher this time. If I exhaust all efforts without success, as I do realize that the publishing business has become tougher than ever, you may be certain that I'll publish it, as was done with Eyelash.

I believe that I learned a great deal from the experience of publishing Eyelash--sort of what to do and what not to do. The main obstacle with self-publishing is distribution. Yes, it can be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and it is easier than ever to publish an e-book for Kindle or Nook, but to have that book present in brick and mortar book stores across the country...naturally, that is the dream of most authors. With the growing popularity of Kindle and Nook, however, those dreams could begin to shift...making it easier and easier for authors to publish without a substantial monetary investment.

I have to admit that I LOVE my Nook. I never imagined that I would feel that way, but I remembered the titles of a couple of books that were on my wish list the other night and sat here in the comfort of my office, downloaded them in minutes, and voila! There they were for me to instantly begin to read. There are many positives about this technology. It may be the fact that it's such a time saver, and we all know about the desire for instant gratification.

Back to the dilemma of authors: There is still the issue of book marketing, whether the only source of availability of your book is on-line or you if have a garage that contains boxes of your treasured creation. One must still find logical, effective methods of getting the word out to the world so they are aware that your wonderful book exists. Fortunately, I write because I absolutely love writing, creating characters and situations, and I get to determine exactly what happens to these people. It's fun being in control of the outcome! Hopefully, someone will invent the magic formula for book marketing that will benefit all authors......Until then, I'll let you know what's happening with Never Say Perfect. Stay tuned!


In today's sermon, the minister said something that really resonated with me: "When you choose to forgive someone, you are releasing yourself from responsibility of their choices." We can't make people do what we want them to do, and we can't stop people from doing what they are going to do. But if they happen to hurt us along the way, forgiving them will free us from the bondage of bitterness and anger. Let it you can have a peaceful soul. See you soon....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Catching Up...

ANNIVERSARY TRIP TO CALIFORNIA: In September, Fred and I took a little trip to Northern California and visited the Napa Valley wine country. This year marked the occasion of our thirtieth anniversary, and when Fred asked me where I wanted to go to celebrate this milestone, I said, "Italy." His response was that as long as he is still in the working world, which means he travels constantly, he wanted to postpone the trip to Italy until such time as he is retired so he could thoroughly enjoy it and not have to turn right around from an international trip and immediately hop on another plane for work. Being the agreeable soul that I am, I totally understood and chose the next best thing: The Napa Valley.
Our weather was fabulous, and we toured several vineyards including Mondavi, Staglin, Miner, Gargiulo, and Castello di Amorosa. Each vineyard was distinctive in some way, and I learned a great deal about the process of wine making. I now know why some wines are far more pricey than others, something I never quite understood before walking through the actual details of the process. Several people said that the Napa Valley reminds them of Tuscany, but I'll have to wait a little bit longer to decide that for myself. I was especially impressed with Staglin Vineyards and their charitable contributions to mental health via their Salus wine collection and extensive fund raising efforts.
We enjoyed three rounds of golf with friends at Eagle Vines, Wente, and Poppy Hills. At the first two, the fairways weave in and out of the vineyards, which is rather interesting. Wente is an intriguing layout with lovely grounds, and Poppy Hills is very close to Pebble Beach. We had to stop in to absorb the breathtaking views of Pebble Beach.
We ventured south to Monterey for a brief overnight stay and then moved onward along the Coast Highway (where there must have been 500 people participating in a bike event) to tour Hearst Castle in San Simeon before we stayed in Ventura Beach. Moving on the following day, our final destination was the Ritz Carlton at Laguna Niguel, which was beyond amazing. It was an anniversary trip to forever remember--good friends and great times in northern and southern CA.
BACK IN SOUTH CAROLINA AGAIN: The truth is, however, that wherever I go, I love coming back to our home in SC, where the beaches are beautiful, the climate is generally pleasant, and people are friendly, warm and happy to be here. I'm teaching workshops in November through Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Coastal Carolina University-Litchfield location, and look forward to meeting the people who will attend. I hear the most fascinating stories, and LOVE helping people write their life stories to pass along to future generations. This truly is my passion. Details are on my web site at
2011 MEMOIR PRESERVATION CRUISE: Don't forget to call Kate to choose your cabin for the Bermuda cruise to be held in October, 2011. Deposits are required by 12/7/10, so contact Kate at (843) 294-9904 to secure your spot. We'll have a fabulous time!!! You will learn how to get started on a memoir preservation project, or if you've already taken my workshops, we'll have a workshop for those who have the tools to complete the project, but seem to be stuck in the mud without a shovel. Visit for additional information.
INSPIRATION: I have to say that God continues to bring the most incredible people into my path. I don't believe for a moment that we coincidentally run across these people. I do believe that He orchestrates circumstances that bring us into contact with certain individuals for a particular reason. We can't fool Him, you know. Sometimes people do things for others, and on the surface it would appear that they are ultra-generous and helpful. On occasion, it turns out that they actually have selfish motives for what they do, but God knows our hearts. We can't hide our secret motives from Him, and my point is that when you do something for someone else, let it be for unselfish reasons. Let it be because they need a hand, or an emotional lift, or a meal, or a ride to a medical appointment, or just an ear to listen. Don't make a mental note that they now owe you something in return. .....Lord, you know everyone's heart. Acts 1:24 (NIV) ....A happy heart makes the face cheerful...Proverbs 15:13 (NIV) You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)
Until next time, put a smile on the face of someone just because you want to do something special for them....and it will bring a smile to your own face as well.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Just a Bunch of Stuff

As promised, I am featuring another favorite place for a nice, long walk. Today's selection is Market Common off Farrow Parkway in Myrtle Beach. This is a lovely, upscale area with many stores and unique shops. Some offices have now taken up residence here as well. It is a mixed use neighborhood with commercial and residential harmoniously coexisting, and it is extremely well maintained. The sidewalks are lined with palm trees, maple trees, seasonal flowers, and charming double head street lighting. Wooden tables, chairs, benches and rockers are plentiful just in case you need to rest those aching feet during your walk.
During my Sept. 10, 2010 walk, I noticed that it is particularly pleasant to navigate the sidewalks now that the family tourist season has shifted into the golf tourist season. This venue includes a small play area, where the little ones can climb and slide, as well as an area where chess aficionados can participate in a quick game with oversize chess pieces. Some of the restaurants offer outdoor dining, which can be a fascinating activity for avid people watchers on a beautiful, blue sky day.
Many people choose to walk their treasured pets at Market Common, and several of the stores welcome pet owners along with their pooches. Strolling along to the sound of outdoor music that is definitely from the baby boomer era, I listened to songs that I hadn't heard in years!
Market Common is a perfect place to take in a movie, purchase a new book, shop for gifts or clothing, and enjoy a pleasant dining experience.....or just take that long walk for daily exercise. Visit for a list of fabulous shops and restaurants....but that's not all. During your walk, don't forget to continue on Howard Avenue and visit some stores that are not listed in the complex directory because they are just a little bit further down the street from the main area. One gem is Regan's Irish Cottage at 2834B Howard Avenue. You'll love all of the authentic Irish items from which to choose, and say hi to Theresa when you stop in. She will help you find the perfect Irish gift.

Having made the decision to take the plunge and buy an Ereader, I just spent hours researching the differences between Amazon's Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook. I swore when we moved from New York to South Carolina that I was never going to accumulate the collection of books that I had to dispose of when we moved. Although I kept many favorites, including any books that were signed by authors whom I have had the pleasure of meeting, I was not going to turn this home into a library. We have lived here for three years, and I am shocked to see the number of new books I have collected.
I resisted purchasing an Ereader for a long time, waiting for the prices to slowly decline, the technology to be perfected, and the bugs to be squashed through trial and error. I also love to hold an actual book in my hand, turning the pages with anticipation; however, I believe that now is the time. I have no more bookshelf space, and when I travel I don't want to load my luggage with heavy books because of the airline weight restrictions and I can't possibly carry all of my reading material plus projects on which I'm working on board, so the obvious solution is a wireless reading device. Now for the big question!!! Kindle or Nook, both of which have a variety of wonderful features, as well as minor issues that could sway me either way. As of this moment, I can go to Barnes and Noble and immediately purchase a Nook, enjoying the benefit of conferring with a real person who will help me begin this journey. There are some advantages with Kindle, but the demand for the newest versions are so enormous, they are actually out of stock at Amazon. I also read some interesting information about battery replacement issues that have me leaning toward the Nook. I'll let you know what I finally decide, and I promise to take you along on this Ereader journey in future blog posts.

2011 Memoir Preservation Cruise to Bermuda:
This is going to be such an incredibly exciting time. Please join us, and tell friends and family all about it! Visit for details! Memoir writing workshops along with loads of fun, and the opportunity to benefit a worthy organization, CASA (Citizens Against Spouse Abuse). Join us for the time of your life!

Never Say Perfect:
In between speaking to groups, teaching workshops, working with clients, traveling, researching, marketing, and accounting, I am still finalizing the editing process for this novel. I don't want to rush any part of it, as I want it to be a page turner that you simply can't stop reading. I'll let you know when the manuscript is ready to go and I am seeking an agent. Stay tuned.

What does prayer give you? It offers hope, peace, acknowledgment that the situation is beyond your control and in Higher Hands. We don't always understand why things happen, but we are comforted that we are not alone in handling whatever may arise.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. I John 5:14 NIV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Until next time, don't forget to be working on your memoir writing! Don't take your stories to the grave!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Mom, The Boat Captain

My Amazing Mom:

While recently visiting with Mom, she had arranged for us to go to dinner with some family friends. After our dinner, they announced that they'd like for us to take a ride on their boat on Lake Hickory, NC. Mom was very enthusiastic about this adventure, but little did I know that she would end up being the boat captain! She was so excited to enjoy the experience of driving a boat for the first time at age 83! God bless her. She is the most caring, loving, and inspiring person that one could ever have the privilege of knowing. I can't wait to see what she has on the agenda for my next visit!!

Huntington Beach State Park:

I know that in prior blog posts, I have promised to offer information on various wonderful places in the Grand Strand to take long walks for the exercise that we need, and I had referenced Garden City Beach in one post. This time, I am featuring Huntington Beach State Park. As you leave Murrells Inlet on Highway 17 South, the entrance is on the left before you reach Brookgreen Gardens. One really has to watch for the entrance sign, as traffic is swiftly moving along at 55 mph +. As we enter, we cross a popular bike path and then continue to a booth where fees for park use are collected. Passes for the parks can be purchased, and I discovered on a recent trip to the library that Horry County libraries are no longer selling the passes as they have in the past. It will now be necessary to purchase the pass for full price at the park. It's still a bargain, however. For the number of times I go there to walk, or even for use at Myrtle Beach State Park, where I'll pull into the parking lot in the middle of winter on a chilly day just to sit for a few minutes and observe the waves rolling into shore and the birds in flight, it is well worth the price. I definitely get my money's worth a zillion times over.

Anyway, once we have passed the booth, we drive very slowly across the causeway. On the right side is a sand bar where alligators frequently gather. Some days, there are no sightings during the causeway drive, and one day I counted seven gators! At the end of the causeway, one has a choice--turn to the right or turn to the left. A turn to the right takes you to a parking lot that is perfect unless it is a summer weekend afternoon, which can be crowded. This location offers a gift shop and indoor restrooms, which is a HUGE plus. It also is the home of the remains of Atalaya, the Moorish-style winter home of Hyatt and Archer Huntington. You can't miss it, and guided tours are frequently offered, and there is a minimal charge.

This is a 2,500 acre park with unspoiled, non-commerical beaches. If you walk from the jetty on one end to the first house you encounter at the other end (North Litchfield), you have walked three miles. They also offer coastal kayaking, a 2 hour guided tour of the salt marsh. Walking this beach, especially during the off season, makes you feel like you have landed on a special island without a building in sight--until you reach the first beach house in North Litchfield. It is truly one of my favorite walks, even in the heat of summer. I walk along the edge of the water, which is refreshing in spite of the temperatures. I highly recommend this walk, and you can discover more about this location at or by calling (843) 237-4440.

Never Say Perfect:
I have finished the editing process of reading a chapter of my new novel to Fred each night, but in doing so, thought of a few more incidents I would like to add, and need to smooth out a few areas. It's something that you just can't rush. You have to work with it, set it aside for a few days, and return to the project with fresh eyes and perspective. I look forward to the day when I can hit SAVE and know that I am truly finished with this particular book and can move forward with all of the other projects that are in various stages of completion. You will be the first to know when I am ready to make my first attempt at seeking an agent. I plan to take you through every step of this process, as you'll be able to follow along the path of Never Say Perfect right here in this blog. So you'll want to stay tuned!

2011 Memoir Preservation Cruise to Bermuda:
Plans are being finalized! The cruise will be from Baltimore to Bermuda on October 1, 2011 through October 6, 2011 on Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas. You'll sail with me and have your choice of workshops to enjoy during days "at sea." It will be an opportunity to meet others who are either writing their life stories or are just there to kick up their heels and tour scenic Bermuda. Call Kate Jensen, CruiseOne-Myrtle Beach with cruise questions at (843) 294-9904 and feel free to call me at (843) 215-4676 with workshop questions! A $100 deposit will be due 12/7/10 and final payment on 7/23/11. Prices vary with choice of cabin, so call Kate today. Don't take your stories to the grave--preserve them! Learn how to easily do this while you cruise the Atlantic!


Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die.....

In memory of Peggy Jones, who passed away Monday, August 2, 2010, following a long battle with cancer. She's at peace and singing praises with the angels, arms lifted high! She's home.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hanging Out With Mary Anne Benedetto

Vacation & Never Say Perfect:
Okay, I think that there are people who believe that my entire life is a permanent vacation. Granted, I live where I can be at the beach in ten minutes and play golf 12 months a year, but they don't see the extensive list of my writing projects that are in various stages of completion PLUS another list of project ideas that I haven't even started yet. I don't want to begin another project until some of my works-in-progress are finalized!
I did, however, enjoy a wonderful break in the action by once again participating in our annual Cape May Girls Getaway Week. Some of us have been trekking with beach chairs, sunscreen, bathing suits, and beach towels to Victorian Cape May, NJ for over 20 years. Candy, Mary Ann, and I are originals, with Lori & Dee Dee joining, and then Robin, Calf & Cheryl for the past few years. The beauty is that each individual can do whatever suits them at any given moment without the others being concerned that someone is being moody or not participating. Everyone does their own thing all day long. We all know exactly where to congregate at the beach, so it's very easy to locate our group.
Personally, I love taking long, long walks around Cape May, and I don't usually hit the beach until sometime in the afternoon. On this trip, I took some time to soak in the local color of research for Never Say Perfect, the novel on which I am currently working. Just as in Eyelash, Laina Strickland and her husband, Dan, own a bed & breakfast in charming Cape May. I gathered information on various b & b's, talked to some guests, and also interviewed a woman who had owned a b & b in this location for 30 years. I sat in one b & b and made observations about the decor, furnishings, and atmosphere.
To me, half of the fun of writing a novel is the aspect of research. When we write about a real locale, as opposed to a totally fictitious setting, we want to be as accurate as possible. For instance, in my manuscript draft, Laina has to make a stop at the post office. I knew from several years of walking by that building that there is a sizable parking lot directly behind it, and I had written that was Laina parking there. On closer inspection, I noticed a sign that clearly states that this lot is for employees and official post office vehicles; however, there are a limited number of parking spaces in front of the post office, designated as 15 minute parking. So I've made the adjustment in the scene to have Laina parking out front. You may think that these are immaterial details, but in my own mind, I feel far more comfortable providing accurate information. Anyone familiar with that particular area of Cape May might actually recognize an erroneous reference.
I've always been drawn to research and details and am geared that way, so this is not tedious to me, but very satisfying. One of my favorite college courses was LEGAL RESEARCH! Need I say more?
The editing process for Never Say Perfect continues, including reading a couple of chapters to my husband, Fred, a few times each week. He's great at telling me that a scene needs elaboration or clarification or if something simply doesn't sound logical. My first reaction to his suggestions is usually one that is defensive and I attempt to argue my point, justifying why I wrote it a particular way; however, I digest what he offers and often realize that he does have a valid point, though it is extremely painful to admit such a thing. I actually like the way he challenges me to more closely evaluate what I am writing, rather than just compiling a collection of words and situations, twists and turns.
Never Say Perfect contains a great deal of mystery, and I LOVE to generate surprises in my writing. A huge thank you to my husband of 30 years on 7/19/10 for assisting me with this project!

2011 Memoir Preservation Cruise:
Plans are formulating as we speak for the 2011 Memoir Preservation Cruise!!! Tentatively, we are zeroing in on a departure of 10/1/11 from Baltimore on Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas for a 5 night cruise to Bermuda. There will be choices of memoir workshops, plus loads of free time. This will be great for people just beginning a memoir project, as well as those who have already started. Plus it will be so much fun to gather everyone together to network and talk about their own projects and experiences. Every time I hold a workshop, I dispense a great deal of information and invariably learn something new from my students! If we don't capture our stories, we take them to the grave........just food for thought. I'll keep posting as additional information is available regarding the cruise and pricing. Plan ahead--it will be a memorable experience.

In the midst of my crazy, busy existence I want to say that even when I am out of control, God is in control. He is my Source, my Protector, my Guide. Nothing happens in my time and through my wheel spinning efforts, but everything happens in His time and through His faithfulness to us. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 ....Yet another Divine promise.....

See you again soon!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Memoir Writing and Even More Exercise

On The Road Again:
I just returned from a visit to Albany, NY, where I experienced yet another whirlwind trip. It always seems that we hit the ground running when we arrive, and we run short on time before we connect with everyone we would like to see. Unfortunately this time, Fred's Aunt Bridget fell and broke her hip just before we were due to arrive to visit with her on Memorial Day. We felt so badly for her, but she looked much better just before we left. She had gone through hip replacement surgery and is hopefully on the mend. She is such a character. She's the tiniest little Italian lady with an amazing sense of humor. She reminds
me so much of the elderly mom on The Golden Girls. Our prayers for a speedy recovery are with her every day!

Memoir Writing:
The next two session series is scheduled for June 14 and 2
1 at Tupelo Bay in Garden City, SC, and plans are still being formulated for a 2011 Memoir Writing Boot Camp Cruise if there is sufficient interest. Information will be forthcoming.

There are people who are reluctant to write their life stories because they are under the impression that they have to include every single detail. Honestly, this is not at all the case!! We all have a right to privacy, and I don't know an
yone who has gotten through life without ever making at least one decision that turned out to be not in their best interest. You don't have to divulge details that you are too uncomfortable to share. Writing about them can be a healing experience, and then you can leave those sordid stories on the cutting room floor if you choose. The extent to which you remove the mask and reveal the wrinkles is up to you! The important thing is to capture your memories before it becomes impossible. Start today.......You'll be surprised at the details you will recall.

In a previous post, I promised to begin writing about Great W
alks in the Myrtle Beach area. I have compiled a long list, but I started with Garden City Beach. I discovered that if I drive north on Business 17, turn left on Atlantic Ave (Garden City Pancake House is on one corner, Wings/Dunkin' Donuts is on another corner), follow Atlantic all the way to the end, turn left at the traffic light, drive a short distance on N. Waccamaw Drive, and park in the small parking lot directly across the road from Calhoun Drive, I will enjoy immediate access to the beach without having to trudge any major distance, which is helpful if you are loaded down with beach chairs, coolers, umbrellas, and reading material. If you aren't planning to sit and watch the waves roll in, you can wear your beach walking shoes and set out in the direction of the Garden City Pier.

It is a twenty minute walk to the pier, and well worth it. At the pier, there is an arcade, a tackle shop, a cafe, and next door is Painter's Ice Cream, where you can treat yourself to an ice cream, well aware of the fact that you'll be walking another twenty minutes to return to your car. The web site
indicates that they feature live music during the summer evenings, something I plan to check out. The walk is very pleasant, with the ocean on one side and a variety of condos and beach homes on the other. I never know what I will encounter next at Garden City Beach. One day during the winter, there were horses on the beach. Recently, I saw a woman who carried her beach chair and belongings to her desired location and set up her camp in the sand. I found myself staring at what I thought was a brightly colored hat, but at closer inspection it was a large parrot, adorned with brilliant shades of turquoise, blue
and yellow. Until the bird's owner was settled into her beach chair, this bird sat directly on top of her head--even when she returned to her car to retrieve a stand for it to perch on. The sight of this beautiful bird proudly sitting on the stand attracted droves of young children, who were fascinated by the creature. I guess it's never dull at Garden City Beach!

While in the Albany area this past weekend, I had the privilege of attending Grace Fellowship Church in Latham, NY. Pastor Rex Keener had just started a three part series on Esther, and one of his comments, although he hadn't been able to determine where the quote originated, was "God opens big doors with little hinges." I really loved that, and made sure I wrote it down so I wouldn't forget it. It's true that
so often we don't even realize what's transpiring behind the scenes on our behalf. Pastor Rex said, "Sometimes when it looks like God is nowhere to be found, He is still providentially working." What a blessing to know that He has our backs.......

Until next time, which I hope will be sooner than the monthly pattern I seem to have established, keep laughing, loving, and praying for those in need!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Honoring Moms

Mom working on her Mini-Memoir

Happy Mother's Day

I'd like to wish everyone a wonderful Mother's Day in this beautiful month of May. I, personally, don't expect a great deal of fanfare for Mother's Day, but I do want to brag a little bit about my Mom. She's amazing, independent, loving, caring, resourceful, spiritual, and an inspiration to me. To know that every day I have a Mom who prays for me and for our entire family is a blessing that I can't even describe in words. It literally brings me to tears. I can tell her anything, and she's a willing listener. I can be silly, and she will laugh. If I'm sad, she'll cry right along with me. Every time I visit with her, we have a time of prayer together before I leave, and this has cemented a bond between us that no distance will ever separate. So this is a special tribute to my Mom, Clara. So much love to you, Mumsy.

Upcoming Workshop Announcement
On two Mondays, June 14 and 21, 2010, I'll be teaching another "Writing Your Treasured Memories" workshop series from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at The Sand Trap Room, located at Tupelo Bay Golf Center in Garden City, SC. Learn how to easily write your life stories to share with future generations. Or if you have older parents/relatives, learn how to capture their stories while they are still obtainable. Call me at 843-215-4676 for additional information or to register. Don't lose your family history! Please spread the word to others who may be interested!!

Memoir Writing
I am working on a publication relative to the process of working with parents and loved ones to preserve their stories. In my research, I heard from Carol Berman, President of City Girl Media, She talks about her experience in working on her Grandmother's memoirs, a process that has spanned the past eight years. She says, "Grandma was cooperative. She loves to tell stories. And I made sure there was the absolutely lowest-tech option for her to record them: a cassette player and a load of blank tapes. I told her not to worry about chronology, just talk into the tape recorder when she remembered a good story. Then I had a family member transcribe the tapes and I tried to put it all in order. I had Grandma review the stories and she had corrections. When she "re-remembered" the stories seeing them in print, some details needed to be changed. I guess I'll never know in some cases which was actually correct!"

What a treasure it will be for Carol's relatives to forever enjoy those stories! It is so worth the effort.....A special thank you to Carol for sharing her experience.

Incredible Books
A few years ago, I attended a conference in NYC, sponsored by the International Women's Writing Guild. I met some fascinating ladies, all at various stages of completion in their writing projects. That is where I connected with Judy Abrams, who was working on a book that would compile the stories of Holocaust survivors. Her book was published in 2009, and it is truly a book of inspiring stories that I'll always remember. Written from the recollections of a frightening time that these people experienced as children, it is such a gripping perspective. The name of the book is Remember Us: A Collection of Memories from Hungarian Hidden Children of the Holocaust. God bless Judy Abrams and Evi Blaikie, along with all of the Hidden Children Contributors to the book, for publishing this history.

I heard recently from Jeanette Friedman, who co-authored a book with David Gold, entitled Why Should I Care? Lessons from the Holocaust. She also interviews Holocaust survivors to obtain their memories, a challenging--yet rewarding experience. I applaud Jeanette for seeking to preserve the stories of folks who have undergone such tragedy and pain. It is so important to capture history through the eyes and hearts of those who have actually experienced it.

Memoir Writing Boot Camp Cruise
I am investigating the possibility of formulating plans for a 2011 Memoir Writing Boot Camp Cruise. This will be for beginners, as well as those who are in different stages of their memoir writing projects. There will be loads of free time, in addition to seminars and writing time. I'll keep you posted as the details emerge. If you think you might have an interest, depending upon the plans which are finalized, please let me know so we can be certain to keep you apprised! This would be a fabulous time!!

Stay tuned......

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Promoting Memoir Writing and Exercise!

General Info:
Here I go again--beginning a blog post with an apology for having been absent for a long stretch of time. The month of March flew by like a windy day in the Palm Springs desert! I blinked my eyes, and here we are in the month of April. March was so busy with holding memoir writing workshops, working on the manuscript for my new novel, Never Say Perfect, transcribing stories recorded by a special client who is writing his memoirs, and enjoying time with house guests. I did manage to squeeze in a couple of rounds of golf also, which was so enjoyable when I'm able to keep my brain focused on the game instead of running through a mental business "to do" list while I'm trying to putt.

Memoir Writing:
One of my fervent goals is to find ways to influence younger people about the importance of adapting a pro-active role in obtaining the stories of their parents, grandparents, and other loved ones and preserving them for future generations. Many times I am told by older folks that they would like to write their stories, but they simply don't have the energy or they feel that the project is too burdensome, or they question their writing abilities. With a little bit of help from a loved one, their stories can be captured before they are forever lost.
I recently heard from Nancy Wurtzel of Westlake Village, CA, who said, "Last year, my daughter (Katie, age 16) and I conducted interviews with my mom about her childhood and up until the time she was married. Mom is almost 90 and is the last living family member of her generation. She is still fairly sharp and we realized that we needed to ask her our questions now. There were boxes and boxes of old pictures and items from when she was young, but we really didn't know who was in the pictures or the significance of the other items."
Nancy continued by saying that the idea was actually Katie's, as she is very interested in family history and genealogy. She wrote out a list of questions and brought a tape recorder when they visited Nancy's mom in Minnesota. Their investment of time and energy produced eight single-spaced typed pages of the memories of Nancy's mother and afforded both Katie and Nancy the opportunity to learn about an aunt and uncle who had died at ages 21 and 20 of typhoid fever, stories of growing up on a farm in Iowa, attending country school, family scandals, and working as a young adult during World War II, etc.
As a birthday present, they gave Nancy's mom a scrapbook of her childhood. Her mom said that it was the best gift she had ever received.
Although I don't know Katie personally, I am so proud of her for her instinctive awareness of the importance of undertaking this project. She will never regret having spent this time gaining a better understanding and perspective of her grandmother through obtaining her stories. If you have living parents or grandparents, won't you resolve to do exactly what Katie and Nancy have done? Being prepared with a list of questions and a small tape recorder are invaluable tools in succeeding in a memoir project. The results are truly priceless!

I'll readily admit it. I'm so hung up on finding easy ways to keep from gaining weight because I find that with each birthday that I celebrate, the task becomes more difficult. Last week, the big news flash on television, radio, and newspaper was that it takes one hour of exercise EVERY DAY to maintain our current weight. This wasn't recommended for LOSING weight--one hour of daily exercise required to avoid GAINING weight. My heart sunk when I heard this. How would I ever squeeze a solid hour of exercise into my daily routine? I co-chair the production of our neighborhood electronic newsletter, and there are five families who do not have computer access so we print a copy for each of these residents and deliver them to their homes. When the news broke last week about the daily one hour recommendation for exercise, I was in the process of printing the newsletter for the computerless families. I made the decision to walk to their homes for the purpose of delivery. I didn't stop to consider that I would be winding through various sections of our community and not just walking the main road. I was walking for an hour and a half before I gave up and trudged back home to hop into my car to deliver the last two copies. I'll have to gradually work up to what could be a two or more hour walk!
Speaking of walks, beginning with my next blog post (hopefully very soon) my plan is to feature one of 20 Great Walks in the Grand Strand. Each post will describe one walk--including the location, length of the walk, pertinent information, and a photo. Stay tuned for this new presentation!

For anyone who is struggling with difficult economic or general stress of life situations right now, take comfort in Jeremiah 29:11, which says "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." God bless you and keep you safe until next time!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Memoir Writing Workshops

New class forming:

On the next two Mondays, March 1 and March 8, 2010, I'll be holding another two session series to help people jump-start their memoir writing projects. This series will be held at The Sand Trap Room at Tupelo Bay in Garden City, SC from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, and I always eagerly look forward to meeting the new group of writers and giving them the tools to get them started. Call me at 843-215-4676 if you'd like to attend.

The stories that emerge from these workshops are beyond imagination. It takes immense courage to exhume the skeletons of the distant past, snippets of dark experiences long buried, and shine a probing light on them--even momentarily. I have tremendous admiration for those who have been able to do this because there is a healing that can bind those ancient wounds when you view the past trauma as a mature adult. Bitterness eats at your heart from the inside out, and if you are a survivor of any kind of childhood abuse, expelling that burden that can produce hatred and anger, allows you to forgive and move beyond it. As I learned from a recent student, those experiences, as unfair and unconscionable as they are, can make you a person who wants to avoid the same type of behavior. To your monumental credit, you want to be someone who treats people with love and respect. My heart goes out to those who have been victims of childhood abuse--there is no excuse for it and no child should ever have to endure it. God bless you in healing those scars.

Writing at the beach:

Sometimes on sunny, but chilly, winter days when the breeze from the ocean is a bit too brisk for setting up my writing camp on the sand--beach chair, small folding table, bottled water and a snack, mini-pillow for my back, and ample supply of sun screen, I drive to one of two or three special locations where I can park my car and enjoy an expansive view of the ocean or the inlet. I might bring my lunch to enjoy while gazing out at the massive body of water that stretches as far as the eye can see, and/or bring a writing or reading project or my womens' Bible study lessons to work on in this inspiring atmosphere.

For the past couple of afternoons, I've done exactly that, and I love every moment of this solitude. Although yesterday, I took a long beach walk, I also spent considerable time just sitting in my car, working on my projects. The interesting thing is that I'm not the only one. At one of my favorite locations, I often see the same people sitting in their cars--reading the newspaper or a magazine or a book. Some people drive in, park, and just sit there mesmerized by the crashing waves, puffy white clouds, people walking their adorable dogs, and the sheer serenity.

If you are an ocean lover, there is a magnetic force that pulls you toward the shore line just to capture a glimpse of the scenery that lowers your blood pressure and sends a wave of the peaceful, easy feeling through you as soon as the foaming water is in view. This is evidenced by the steady stream of cars, many sporting northern license plates, that I witnessed pulling into the parking lot during my automobile work time in the past two days. They drove in, maneuvered as close to the beach as cars are allowed to venture, drivers and passengers stared out at the rolling sea for a moment, and then exited the parking lot. Perhaps this is a daily routine for them during their Myrtle Beach area stay, or perhaps this was the last day of their vacation, and they just wanted one final peek at their beloved ocean. The fascinating aspect was that there was a steady stream of such vehicles, countless drivers in the quest for one last view. The parking lot was so busy with this activity that for a moment, it reminded me of the drive through at the bank or a fast food restaurant. I totally relate. That's why I'm sitting there working on my next novel....or making my "to do" list or my grocery list or my prayer list. It's where I feel closest to God--where He breathes down on me and says, "You are My child." So rather than being annoyed with the ocean gawkers driving past me, temporarily partially blocking my view, I say, "Enjoy, my friend. I totally understand."


Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am somewhat exercise obsessed. That's because if I don't stick with it almost daily, my clothing begins to strain at the seams. I know that it's a lifetime commitment--along with making the appropriate food choices. As a friend said a couple of days ago, "It's all about calories in vs. calories out." But I have to tell you that I made an amazing discovery the other day. How often do you pull on a pair of pants that suddenly seems to have reduced by one size while in the dryer? Then you say to yourself, it's me--it's not the dryer. I must be gaining weight. Well, I have some news for you. A couple of years ago, I found a particular pair of pants that I liked. So I bought them in two additional colors. I had black, brown and khaki. For some reason, I seemed to wear the black and brown pairs more frequently and, therefore, they experienced the force of the washer & dryer on a regular basis. Okay, same style, same designer, same size, but the khakis fit much more loosely. So, it really COULD be your drier and not your chubby body that makes your clothing feel too tight sometimes. I'll admit that this isn't always the case, but this semi-scientific study does prove the possibility. So I feel better just knowing that! It's time for me to close this post and hop on my jogging trampoline!

Until the next time.....may God richly bless and keep you!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Future Personal Historian


At Thanksgiving, 2009, my eight year old niece, Lauren, (okay, Lauren, I know you're nine now, but you were eight then) was working on a school assignment that involved interviewing a relative to obtain portions of their history. I was beyond delighted to see her asking Mom the questions, as I've been working on Mother for ages to capture as many memories as she is ready and willing to share. Somehow, she seemed to be more cooperative with Lauren than she is with me! I'm only joking, Mom, as I know you'll be reading this!!
In my opinion, as a Personal Historian, who teaches workshops and works with individual clients to help them preserve their stories for future generations, it is never too early to begin interacting with relatives, asking questions, recording answers, and gaining a deeper understanding of the life experiences of these folks while the opportunities remain. The driving force behind my decision to participate in the Soleil Lifestory Network program to certify as a lifewriting instructor was relative to a tour of Pearl Harbor where I recalled that my own Dad had been in the Army, stationed at Schofield Barracks and was at Hickam Field when Pearl Harbor was bombed. I was stricken with emotion when I realized that now, after being right there on the memorial, hearing the historical details, and having a heightened sense of what had occurred there, I had tons of questions to ask my Dad about his experience, but it was too late. He had passed away about five years prior to my trip to Hawaii.
I realize that many Veterans will tell you that they really don't offer much dialog about their experiences, particularly if it was as traumatic as his story must have been. What saddened me is that I had never asked. If I had ever sat down with him, small tape recorder in hand, and asked him the appropriate questions in a gentle, loving manner, I'm certain that he would have told me everything that he could recall. Shame on me for never taking the initiative. So that is why I drive my Mom crazy about wanting to preserve her stories, and why I think it was fabulous that Lauren has a teacher who understands the importance of giving an assignment of this nature. Kudos to all teachers who require students to spend some time interviewing a relative!
Tomorrow morning, I have a telephone consultation scheduled with a gentleman whose daughter-in-law was stuck sitting next to me on a flight last fall. Anyone who has the misfortune of being my captive audience usually gets to hear exactly what I do and why. She loved the idea that helping people capture their stories is my business, and she ordered a gift certificate for her father-in-law's birthday. She had recently given birth to her first child, and after her conversation with me, she knew that she wanted her son to be blessed with his grandfather's history. I don't know why it always amazes me that God brings certain people into my path at His perfect timing, but He perpetually does. As I teach my upcoming memoir writing workshops in Litchfield, SC, I know that I'll be touching precisely the people who will benefit from the knowledge I'll be imparting. The best part is that what I teach them will also positively impact their future generations. It's a warm and cozy feeling.

God bless & see y'all again soon!

Monday, January 11, 2010

First Blog Post of the New Year

Delinquent Blogger:
Believe me when I tell you that I wish I could blog twice weekly, but given my current schedule, that's not going to happen. Some of you are probably saying, "Thank you, God!" and others are thinking, "Aw, that's too bad. I'd like to see more." I seem to be lucky to sit down and write once a month for this purpose, but will continue to issue new posts as often as I can get my act together.

Christmas Holidays, 2009:
We had a wonderful visit in the Albany, NY area with friends and family. Our advanced ages are beginning to get the best of us, however, as we sometimes become exhausted with the schedule. We simply want to cram as much into the visit as possible and love seeing everyone. We always enjoy a sleepover with adjoining rooms at our hotel with all three grandchildren. Now that they are 14, 11 and 8, I keep wondering how much longer they'll even think it's fun to hang out with Grandma and Grandpa! They grow up so quickly.

Most people who have read Eyelash ask me at one time or another, "When is your next book coming out?" One of my new year's resolutions is to finalize the manuscript for book #2 this year. So far, it has had a few different working titles, but right now I'm leaning toward Never Say Perfect. Once you read it, you'll surely know why.....I'll keep you posted on the progress, but I feel that the first draft is approximately 3/4 written at this point. Once complete, it will require review, editing and re-writing, but finishing this year is a distinct possibility. I maintain a list of projects that I would love to sink my teeth into, but I have to resist the urge to begin anything new until the present projects are "in the can".

Help 4 Kids:
Friend and neighbor, Sandi Blood, and I co-chair the electronic newsletter production for Blackmoor, our beautiful community here in Murrells Inlet. I usually interview a long term resident and a newer resident for each issue, and when I spoke with a resident this past week, they told me about an organization with which they are associated. It is called Help 4 Kids, and they volunteer in the program called "Backpack Buddies", which serves 10 Horry County schools and approximately 1,000 underprivileged children. Snacks are donated or purchased to send these children home with juice boxes, mac & cheese, oatmeal, cereal, crackers, pudding, applesauce, breakfast bars, etc.--anything that is small and reasonably nutritious and can be placed in these special backpacks for them to take home for consumption over the weekends. These children receive a free breakfast and lunch at school, but are in danger of going hungry on the weekends.
When school is not in session during the summer, outdoor camps are held and the children have fun doing projects, Bible schools, and other activities. They are given a hot lunch and plenty to drink during this time. Volunteers are especially needed at that time.
Once school resumes in the fall, new book bags are filled with supplies, new shoes and clothing. Help 4 Kids works with Toys for Tots to make certain that these children will not be forgotten at Christmas.
I visited their location in Murrells Inlet and met Barb Mains, the dedicated founder of this organization. Her goal is to provide the necessities for these children in a manner that will not embarrass them. She is energetic and amazing, and told me about a benefit that will be held on Friday, February 5, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Villa Romana Italian Restaurant, 707 South Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577 at $8.00 per person. Tickets will be available until February 2, 2010. If you would like more information, please call (843) 651-4310 or visit Barb's e-mail address is Monetary and snack item donations are always welcome at 12053 B Hwy 17 Bypass South, Garden City, SC behind Bedding World, next to the K-Mart parking lot of Inlet Square Mall. Their office is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please give some consideration to helping these children!

I am determined to get into the habit of making better food choices during 2010--more fruits, veggies, water, and fewer diet drinks, cookies, and chips--more walking, less sitting. Of course, I HAVE to eat popcorn at the movies, but that's a given.
Also, I would like to be more conscious of how I can be helpful to others this year. Even a kind word, understanding smile, listening ear, and an offer to pray for more folks would be a good start. It's always beneficial to have a goal.....

God bless you, and

Until the next time:
"Flatter me and I may not believe you; criticize me and I may not listen to you; but encourage me and I'll never forget you." Anonymous