Monday, February 27, 2012

A Book?

A Book Is

A book is a journey of ten thousand words –
Or something of that sort.

A good writer knows less is more
And so uses words the common man can understand.

A good reader can see the message
That comes from somewhere beyond the pen.

I love a good book, one with a sound plot
And lots of problems to solve.

What clever souls those writers are
Who explore the dim, dark corners of our fears.

What clever souls those writers are
Who shape the thoughts that carry far beyond the day.

A book is a fortune bound in paper –
And now electric hieroglyphs are

Waiting to waken a sleeping mind
And kindle a common flame.

Have a great day and look for the sunny side! Love, Terry

Friday, February 24, 2012

What Next?

I have been a writer for as long as I can remember and in addition to the many reports, hundreds of articles, a few dozen songs, some government grants, a flock of short stories, and a covey of letters to the editor; I have produced about 20 volumes with the help of my publisher and friend Arline Chase. Oh, the chapbooks. Some are still available. The others lurk on the Internet, hoping to be discovered one day.

For the past thirty years or so it seemed like I always had something literary cooking on the back burner, and despite the need to support myself, and for the last decade, an older home in a gorgeous colonial city. Cambridge is the background for my books and the place that claimed me when I was finding myself. It is a good place to write.

In fact much of my work here was related to writing. I spent five years writing for The Daily Banner, and I carried a camera to report and record the local news. I had a ball, and found that a deadline is a powerful presence to make one write on time. I worked for the arts center and helped with their newsletter and special programs. You had to write. Then I was hired to be the activities director at an adult day care center. You wouldn't believe how much writing that took.

And in the meantime, I was usually working on a book. But not so much lately. I seem to be stuck.

In fact, I seem to be bookless for the first time in years. I am not all that comfortable, but it may be OK eventually. Lately I have been spending time cleaning house and hanging with friends - important activities in any life, right? I am trying to get used to it, but I agree with Stephen King. A writer's block is no darned fun.

To make matters worse, it is raining out there, so it doesn't look I'll get a walk on the sunny side either. Wish me luck! Sending my love, Terry PS: Blogspot won't allow me to put in paragraphs. So sorry.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

In Passing

I lost a dear friend recently. We met nearly 20 years ago when some friends at the newspaper I wrote for descended on me and connected my first computer to the Internet. We talked on a chat called ICQ, a social network out of Israel and talked through a long Eastern Shore winter. About the time the strawberries were ripe in May, Sue came south from New Jersey to pay me a visit.

People who write about soul mates tell of the lightning bolt of recognition that happens when members of the same soul group meet and I guess you could say it is true. We fell into each other's arms and were fast friends ever after.

But we could not have been more different. Sue was super energetic and loved shopping above all other occupations. She especially liked to collect owls and lighthouses. The fact I was between jobs and with a part-time gig to pay the rent, I found myself scouring the local yard sales and flea markets for things to sell on ebay, which made for that much more fun since we got to go shopping together - and furnished my apartment in the process.

As time moved on Sue married the nicest man, but while her search for love had been long, her sweetheart passed within a couple of years and again she began to spend many weekends in Cambridge or I traveled and joined her in Delaware.

And we called one another daily for years. It wasn't what we said so much as the regard that colored our communications.

Then cancer reared its ugly head and we both pretty much figured our time was numbered. We said I love you every time we spoke and that lasted until her final visit to the hospital. I knew she had gone when she did not answer my call and the next day I called her sister. Fran put the phone beside Sue's head on the pillow so I could say I loved her one more time.

About fifteen minutes later Fran called to say Sue had passed. I was so grateful I answered the urge to call and had the opportunity to say goodby. The hard part is that I am going to miss her - every evening when we might have called, on the road to the salvage store, overnights at one home or the other, and the encouragement she offered for my writing and crafts that kept my energy up when I wondered how to make ends meet.

Now, my heart jumps when I see an owl or lighthouse, but I know my friend has not gone far away. She's waiting at the curb for the next shopping expedition and enjoying the day. I hope you do as well. Look for the sunny side, it is waiting for you on the sidewalk with a new discovery or loved memory. Love, Terry

Saturday, February 4, 2012

300 Posts

A couple of years ago a friend suggested I start a blog to drive more traffic to my work. During that time I posted daily - and sometimes skipped days and weeks. I wrote about my work, current events, and sometimes things that were going on in my world.

In a way, all of those 300 posts are the journal I never managed to keep up. Something always got in the way of those private books where one puts all of his or her ideas, prayers, thoughts and dreams. Someone read my journal once. Once was enough.

So while I write personal things in my blog, at this point in my life there is nothing much to hide. It seems to me 300 posts contain a lot about me and the world in which I live. I know that posting has sustained me when I hit the dire writer's block and felt alone in the world - even though no one might read what was written there.

My blog allows me to speculate on the future, and that is a good thing as we create our own reality. If we look at possible endings for a situation, writing down the bones of us allow us to look for that silver lining and happy endings. Or not. It is up to each of us whether we decide to buy into the bad news or to walk on the sunny side. You choose.


Sometimes I wonder what is the real news
And what the reporters, trying to keep their jobs,
Have cooked up to go with our morning coffee.
It is all so disturbing – the threats and talk of war,
The disease we bred by hand, irradidated now.
If we don’t watch out, all those old monster
Movies will come to pass and twenty foot lizards
Will lurk in the grass near the birdbath out back
Waiting to eat your cat and take off your head.
Sometimes I wonder what people think is all right
When the sky is red with volcano dust and the seas
Spit up strange species upon the strand for us to taste –
And the spoiled mouse with two heads is the last one –
And the cow’s milk has gone bad and the meat spoiled.
How can all that come to pass when God promised
That there would always be enough to feed each Mother’s child,
But now we watch the surge of wildest sea and ask
If our children will have a world to run after all.
Sometimes I wonder what happened to our birthright
That now we find each evening, dark with fear and
Dreams plagued with mud and fire on hill and marsh
Destroying Eden in their miserable march to the leaden sky
When what we crave is a good night’s sleep spooned
With love and trust while the stars waltz about the sky
And the Northern lights track friendly fire from desert bands
Bent on their particular translation of holy word,
And wonder why the Creator allows it all to go on.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

On Being Poor

Yesterday presidential candidate Mit Romney said that he is not concerned with the poor because the government already has programs to see to their needs. Please!

I wonder if this man understands America at all. A good many of our citizens came to the continent to exercise one freedom or another and most of them arrived pennyless. As soon as things got organized, the more affluent guys in the new community hired the folks with fewer assets to work at starvation wages.

Admitedly, things have improved over time and employers must hire people at what our legislors select as 'a living wage.' Children no longer work 12-hour days in factories. Company stores no longer charge their customers more than they earn all week in The Man's mines and canneries just to buy food for their children. These are good things.

But there are poor folks - and poor folks. Basically, it seems to me that earning less than one's necessities cost could indicate poverty on some level. Often, however, the people I know in this category consider debt a shame and work at some side hustle to pay the light bill. Some of them eventually break down and ask for heating or other assistance, but they absolutely don't care to think of themselves as 'poor' - although they do without a whole lot and work far into their old age.

There are poor folks who are sick, and the government sees to their care, although I experienced a period of disability for a couple of years - so I know whereof I speak. It is not easy to get disability and it is not easy to take. I had to be certifiablely sick to collect, but I am getting over that and working on a way to provide for myself. I don't like being sick in the first place, so I set about improving my health and otherwise doing things that could provide an income for my future. Like my favorite boss once said, "Terry, you have to learn to work with your head."

My goal is to earn enough money so that the government doesn't have to continue to subsidize my old age. I don't care if I am still poor, as long as I can pay my way.

I have written 20 books, have a line of unique jewelry and composed a couple of CDs. I appreciate the disablility funds that gave me time to develop these other talents -any one of which could free me from the need to draw government funds to pay my way.)Also: I have a friend who is 93 percent disabled and she works for her living. I think there is a lesson about poverty right there.

It is plain to see are just about as poor (and as sick) as we want to be. There are folks on government programs that never work at all their entire life. The paradox is plain to see and begs the question: If all one's needs are met, is he or she still "poor?"

But then there are poor folks who lost their living when the fisheries died and who are learning to be carpenters and lawyers. There are poor moms who leave the kids with Gramma while they go get a degree in business management. There are poor dads who lifted package of hamburger to feed their kids and ended up in a prison where they teach the prisoners a trade. Again the question: once educated, is this individual then rendered no longer poor? I think you may assume this, but poverty is not a country easily left behind.

Poverty is one of American's biggest challenges and it seems to me that we each need to look at our individual responsibility to pay our own way. Perhaps we need to look at the problem and see our place in its resolution. Perhaps we need to think of ourselves in other ways? Perhaps we must stop thinking 'poor.' The rain is done and I am going for a walk to help keep me healthy while I enjoy the view on the sunny side.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Honor Mother and Father

As many of my friends know, I recently published my 20th book and the sixth in what I like to call the Chesapeake Heritage series. The story of a soldier who came to the Eastern Shore to guard German prisoners of war during WW2 picks up where my novel Vienna Pride left off. Each of the tales puts the spotlight on her-story, an area sometimes neglected by the historians who did their best to tell the story as they saw it!

When I wrote Chesapeake Harvest, the first in the series, I thought it was going to be a stand-alone book, but the yarn took over and five books later I seem to have come to the end of my journey.

I have to thank my publisher and Snow Hill artist Dawn Tarr for the great covers that spotlight the first five stories surrounding the lives of one family of women through the maze of his-story, but when I came to the last cover, I went astray and chose a photo of my mother and father for the cover of First Waltz. I am getting some good feedback on the cover image - proving perhaps that a book can be judged by its cover.

My mother died when I was very young, but my father was always pretty proud of his daughter the writer, so I am fairly sure they are together up there in heaven looking down on the book and the cover image of Bob and Hazel White when they were young. I can't think of a better way to honor them.

You can find my historical novels on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and online vendors who sell e-book files. Check them out if you would like to know a little more about the her-story of the Eastern Shore, and keep on the sunny side. Love, Terry

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thinking Ahead and the Golden Years

As I wander through what is sometimes termed my golden years, I wonder how I am going to face my old age with dignity.

I have always been what some people term "poor" and always worked hard to earn a living and pay my bills even though there was never any extra for things like health insurance,reliable cars or trips to the beauty shop. I did not, however, count on health problems or the need to greatly augment what Social Security can afford to dole out to old folks who will certainly have any number of health issues as time goes by. I for one was so busy in the present problems that I didn't have time or energy to give much thought to my old age.

While I understood the importance of work and being responsible for myself, both in finances and good health, I also spent some time writing, which turned out to be the one true love in my life. People say they like my books, but the trick seems to be selling the output when royalty checks come in single digits.

Last week I received the first copies of my 20th book. I always hoped that the extra work I did over the years would help me take care of my bills in my old age. It has not so far, but my life isn't over yet. Which isn't to say I don't get frustrated. It is hard on the ego to realize one's work is not desirable.

Nor does it help when the printer gets half the sale price and the publisher gets half of what's left, and the writer is stuck with the smallest piece of a pie that wouldn't even be there if the writer didn't trust them with his or her work.

One think I know: If my work, all those 20 books, would support me then I would no longer look to the government to help pay my bills. I just wish I could figure out the combination so I can spend the rest of my days on the sunny side. If you know the secret, please let me know. Terry