Power of Touch


Some time ago, a friend and fellow author, Amanda Bretz (https://amandabretz.wordpress.com), described a tender moment between herself and her father. No words were uttered. A simple squeeze of the hand spoke as loud as a pastor from the pulpit. The power of touch amazes and encourages me, especially when words are not enough.

As a writer, I draw upon an infinite source of words to fill the pages of a book, yet there are times when words are not enough to convey the intensity of the moment. A gentle kiss, a stroke of a hand on one’s cheek, a strong embrace conveys emotions unreached by mere speech.

Perhaps that was why I wrote the following poem some years ago as my mother suffered the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Although she could not verbalize her thoughts, we spent many hours just holding hands and sharing gentle squeezes, along with heartfelt smiles. I think if she could have expressed her thoughts, she would have said these words.

      Timeless Treasure

The memories of yesterday
Will become distorted over time
The written word will lose its strength
A verse will lose its rhyme

The laughs we shared will pass by me
My words will make no sense
Such simple things we once enjoyed
Will now seem rather dense

Old photographs will fade away
Your face may lose its name
You’ll think I’ve traveled far away
But my heart will know you came

No need for words, no bouquets bright
No trinkets made of gold
No promise for a miracle
Just your hand for me to hold

Your love’s the only treasure
It will endure through all the pain
Just speak to me in silence
You’ll be my sunshine in all the rain

Have you been struggling to find the right words? Could the answer be in the power of touch?

Tell me your story. I’d love to hear it.

Finding Inspiration


Writing often is a solitary calling, especially in winter months. You’d think I’d flourish when confined indoors with plenty of free time to devote to my passion. Instead, my mind hibernates, shuts down, and refuses to unveil any hint of creativity. Even the ink in my pen coagulates when cold winds blow.

During the other seasons, I have a fantastic (monthly) writing club, Saturday Writers, (saturdaywriters.org) to encourage me with contests, open mic nights, and amazing guest speakers, but they cease meeting for a couple of months, just when I need them the most.

Unfortunately, weather, health issues, and holiday commitments tend to cancel many of the biweekly critique group meetings, leaving a void in my face-to-face writing support system. Thank goodness for email and Facebook, but it’s not the same. I want and need to see the person’s face light up when a particular phrase I’ve written hits the mark or pay attention when a frown appears letting me know I need to rework a story.

My husband and daughter tend to tolerate my obsession for storytelling, and on rare occasions they provide a nod of approval after being urged to read something I’ve scripted. I get it. Writing doesn’t excite everyone. I try not to take it personally, but it would be refreshing to have one of them ask “What are you working on?” or even better, “I’d like to read that when you’re ready.”

Of course, showing interests goes both ways. Hubby likes sports, especially wrestling, and the weather and gardening. He spends many hours on-line reading about upcoming matches, baseball trades, and the daily forecast. I try not to half-listen when he shares his recent finds, but there are times when my attention fades.

My daughter loves cooking, basket weaving and shopping on-line, especially for shoes and purses. My purse selection is limited to two at any given time, one that’s worn and tattered and the one I bought to replace it. We do share the hobby of basket weaving. She’s an experienced weaver with a basement full of reeds, handles and patterns. She made this amazing basket one Saturday while I piddled with two simple ones.


I’m still an advance beginner. All of my supplies fit in a duffle bag.

My daughter’s also a speed reader and while she will read whatever I send her, her comments are normally limited to pointing out my mistakes.

I’ve found a rather simple, possibly sneaky, way of gaining their attention and giving them a reason to care. We do share some common interests such as nature, humor and a loveable dog named Hammie.

Personal anecdotes and yarns often become part of my short stories. Before I publish anything that involves my family, I make them read it and give their approval. Sometimes they provide a different version based on their memory of the event or they might remind me of another humorous tale.

Now that spring has arrived, my inspiration blossoms like the lovely ornamental cherry tree in my side yard.

 I’ve still not identified its exact variety, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s twisted, gnarled trunk and snowy white canopy bring me joy and signal a fresh start. The ink in my pen flows again.

Connecting with the Lighter Side


I start each morning with an essential cup of coffee and the daily newspaper. I feel the need to keep current on issues of importance, but all the crime and political craziness that fill the dozen pages I read do nothing to put me in a positive mood for the rest of the day.

I believe writing is a reflection of who we are and how we process the experiences we’ve had. Being an insufferable optomist is hard. I need a positive kick in the rear to balance out the negative effect of the disheatening news and keep things in perspective.

Fortunately, many blogs have a foot up ready to give me a push. One of them, Stories by Shivangi, reminds me to maintain a balance of realism and positivity. The writer focuses on a wide range of topics, yet she leaves me with a peaceful sense that influences my keyboard. Take a look at the joyful face of the baby on this post https://adivir.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/just-a-thought-humor/.

My spirits lift when I see that giggling bundle of innocence and it sets my sails in a better direction. Even when I’m attacking difficult rewrites, a simple glance at that photo brings a smile to my face . So does my granddog Hammie

How about you? Is there a blogger that brightens your day?

What do you do to find balance and perspective in your day?

Interview by Tammy Lough, Word Nerds Unite



I had the exciting opportunity to be interviewed by Tammy Lough – Word Nerds Unite. Welcome to my world!

What inspired you to write your first book?

While taking a few creative writing classes, I wrote what I knew, short stories based on life experiences. After taking a memoir class, I thought about the stories I’d written. Most were reflective of how I deal with challenges, looking for the lesson learned, adding a dash of humor and finding a positive outcome.

I realized that I’d avoided writing anything that drew upon my deeper emotions. So I spent months spilling my guts on paper and drying my tears. The therapeutic process brought me peace and healing of wounds long buried beneath the surface.

My first book (and only one published to date), Peaks and Valley, became a reality with the help of my dear friends and authors, Amanda Bretz and the late, Jerome L. Pionk.

How did you come up with the title? 

Life is a series of rollercoaster rides. While trying to decide on an appropriate cover, I found a picture I’d taken that represented the beauty of nature, uncontrolled and unsymmetrical, much like my life. Peaks and Valleys represented the memories that made me laugh and those that brought me tears.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

There have been many writers who have influenced my writing. To pick just one is difficult, I could name a dozen. In reality, Jeanne Felfe, a devoted writing and critique partner, has taught me the most. Her ability to show me how to add depth to my characters and stories with examples, references and explanations puts her at the top of my long list.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Saturday Writers, a chapter of Missouri Writers Guild, has been the foundation of my support since I joined some years ago. The Round Table Writers Novel Critique Group, formed within that organization, provides me with a daily support team.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? 

Currently, I have three novels in progress. Burning Embers is a romantic suspense for which I am seeking a agent/publisher. Brittany Harbor never anticipated her childhood retreat, a primitive Colorado cabin, could become a death trap. Orphaned by death and deception, she flees New York paparazzi in an attempt to heal her broken heart.

Misjudged is another contemporary romantic suspense that continues in Colorado with many of the same characters as Burning Embers. Detective Bernard Kratz thought no one could penetrate the wall he built around his heart, yet. Brittany Harbor did. With a crack in the foundation, he faces his painful past and ventures into unchartered territories.

The Gold Miner Ring is a woman’s fiction about the journey of three elderly sisters and the negative effects of keeping secrets.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I believe every writer needs to be actively involved with a critique group. The benefits of having more than one perspective is essential. As a writer who want to be her best, I must be open to change and occasional harsh feedback. I learn from everyone who writes, accepting what fits and leaving what doesn’t. Most importantly, I try to be honest with the process, even when it hurts.

What is the first book that made you cry?

I’m sure I’ve cried over many books, but the one that sticks in my mind is The Bridges of Madison County by Robert J. Waller. It makes me cry every time I read it, which I’ve done year after year. The raw passion tugs at my heart. If you’ve only seen the movie, you’ve done Mr. Waller and yourself a disservice.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotion strongly?

There are millions of books written and published. I’m sure many are void of emotions. However, for books that draw my attention, emotions are essential. I want to experience laughing, crying, fear and anger. It helps me relate to the characters.

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?

Write. Write anything, every day, and keep it. I’ve found pieces of stories that I started and didn’t finish until years later. I wish I had kept everything I’ve written. Much of it wasn’t my best, but seeing how I could improve it with what I’ve learned would be fun. If it’s important, back it up on the cloud.

Read. Get some books that show you how to be better. Writing with Stardust by Laim O’Flynn is great for beginners. The Thesaurus books by Angela Ackerman are amazing. When I need a new way of expressing an emotion, I pull out her book and find exactly what I need. Put it on your Birthday or Christmas wish list or treat yourself to them now.

Read more of what you enjoy and make yourself read something you’d usually avoid. Pay attention to what keeps you interested and what makes you want to close the book and toss it in a pile.

Not everything I write will be my best, but it could be with a little more work. I’ve learned to enjoy the journey and celebrate my small successes.

Ready, Set, Whoa!


I remember the first time I attended a meeting with Saturday Writers, a charter member of the Missouri Writer’s Guild. Most people smiled or greeted me upon arrival and I sensed a contagious energy in the room. General introductions and door prizes were given out, generous amounts of food filled a few tables and coffee, an essential for any good meeting, was available at no cost.

When the President handed out certificates to the winners of a writing contest, the crowd exploded in applause. How fun. Immediately, I knew that giving up a Saturday, once a month, was going to be worth it. At last I’d found a group with whom I could connect, maybe even share my poetry and prose efforts, something I seldom did for fear of being rejected.

When they announced the theme for an upcoming contest, it struck a chord. By the end of the meeting, I couldn’t wait to get home and write. And I did. The next few weeks, I wrote, edited and printed out my story. Pleased with my efforts, I tucked it in my notebook, knowing the chance of my sharing it with anyone was minimal. I lacked confidence, but I was pleased that I made the effort.

At the next meeting, as I waited in line to check in, I watched dozens of people submit their paperwork at the registration table. Excitement and naivety surpassed my shyness. When I got to the table, I pulled out the story, paid my small fee and turned in my entry. Shocked and embarrassed by my impulsiveness, I hurried to find a seat, already regretting my foolishness.

And foolish I was. I skipped an essential part of any contest: Research the rules and guidelines before submitting. I’m pretty sure my entry went straight to the trash can. If it didn’t, it should have.

Who knows what font I used. It wasn’t double-spaced. Didn’t have a cover sheet or bio. Probably had my name typed at the top of my story. I sabotaged myself, but it was a helpful lesson, one I remember each time I enter any kind of contest.

As I attended more meetings, I became familiar with the requirements. They are clearly identified on the SW website https://www.saturdaywriters.org. I didn’t find the courage to submit again until a year later, but when I did, I received an honorable mention. With the help of two critique groups and persistent effort, I’ve entered and won seventeen more contests.

Bottom line, the opportunities are out there for all writers to be recognized for their talents. Just be sure to do your homework and read the rules and guidelines (and the fine print) for whatever contest you enter.

Back to Basics


I have a love/hate relationship with computers. It took me years to transition from pen and paper to pc and laptop. The number of hours and bottles of wine needed to write my first blog post would make one laugh out loud.

It’s not the computers fault. It’s my need to complete the entire experiential learning cycle (ELC) when learning something new. For those unfamiliar with the concept, I’ll try to explain.

Most people have a preferred way of learning. Some are visual, some are auditory and others like to jump in and get their hands dirty – also known as kinesthetic. Me? I need it all.

I must have the written directions in front of me. Every single step or keystroke. Then I want someone showing me and talking me through each step. Finally, I want to do it myself, make a few mistakes and have someone there telling me how to fix it in language I will understand.

So today, I’m going back to square one and trying to build a blog that others might want to visit. At least, that’s what the instructions in the tutorial say they can teach me. Wish me luck.


When the Bough Breaks


It breaks my heart everytime I watch or listen to the news and hear of another young person arrested and jailed because of poor decisions influenced by drugs and alcohol. What life experience took them down the path they are walk? Who owns the problem?What is the solution?

So many questions. So few answers.

I welcome your thoughts.

When the Bough Breaks

 

From the boughs of a cradle, much like you and me,

so dependent on others, so innocent and free.

He grinned with a smile that would capture your heart,

no clue that his world would soon fall apart.

 

Left alone once too often; forced to grow up too fast.

The pleasures that warmed him were soon part of his past.

The drugs and the booze became his whole life,

such a sense of abandon, such continuous strife

 

From street gangs to prison, he followed the path.

Consumed by his anger, his hatred, his wrath.

Now death by injection, the sentence he waits.

So hopeless and helpless behind steel gates

 

The cradle is empty, the smile worn away.

No family or friends to protect him today.

He was still just a child when he sealed his fate.

Can a difference be made or is it too late?

 

Is killing the answer for the decisions he made?

Is one life for another a meaningful trade?

Does the slaughter discourage repeat of the act?

Is revenge more important than facing the fact?

 

What lesson’s excluded when just learning to crawl

that leads one man to stumble and one to stand tall?

Is it instilling belief in one’s own self-worth?

Is it learning to love from the day of our birth?

 

What’s missing from life that leads children astray?

When brown bottles and needles can lure them away?

Are they lacking the skills essential to cope?

Have they sunken so low there’s no sense of hope?

 

To own our own actions, to build on mistakes

To take pride in achievements – is that what it takes?

How much is genetics and how much is fate?

Can a difference be made or is it too late?