Friday, December 31, 2010

Fat Years, Lean Years

I got up this morning to the news that the price of everything is going up. Isn't that a heck of a note for the last day of the year? I would like to know why we can't have a little good news once in a while! What could be wrong with that?

The truth is that I have lived a poverty level most of my life and there has not been a lot of difference between the fat years and the lean no matter how hard I tried to better my lot in life. Are there really supposed to be seven of each in a never-ending cycle? When I was a kid, there didn't seem to be much difference, and there isn't now. Life is pretty much a struggle one way or the other. The news says that big lottery winners also win their share of misery from the folks who want to share the wealth.

It may depend on how we look at the year that was. As a nation, our new African American president seemed to lose ground as he struggled like Atlas to push the boulder of American debt uphill to the promised land. I can't figure out why any sane person would want his job, and it is a true wonder that he is still standing after all his hard work and the hard words much of it generated. After all, he inherited generations of mis-management and folks are upset that he couldn't fix the downhill slide in only two years! I don't know if Mr. Obama is a good president or a bad one, but at least he is trying! Give him a break people.

On a more local note, it is sad to ride past a marina and see all the workboats stored on dry land. Generations of watermen are looking at their kids and shaking their heads and wondering how the young people will fare if they can't work on the water.

It is sad to ride down Race Street and see the homeless people sitting by the new mural commemorating the good old days in Cambridge.

It is sad to know people have lost their homes.

It is sadder still to see everyone with a cell phone, so familiar with the devices they forget the thrill of a call from a loved one far away.

I published three books last year, which on the face of it seems like a huge accomplishment - the only trouble is that there are millions of other literate and talented writers out there who also published new books last year.

The trick of the whole deal these days is to get noticed and to rise above all of the other hopeful authors who also want to have their work become best sellers.

I saw a Kindle the other day and the owner had loaded one of my Chesapeake Heritage books so that our friends in the art group could see what the device is like. Heck yes! I would love to own one - and for every person who ever had a Drama Queen in his or her life to purchase a download for their Kindle or Nook or other reading device! I would love to have a best seller!

So, that is my wish for the New Year. If I sell enough books, then maybe I will survive the past few lean years and see what a fat year looks like for a change. I can think of some things I would like to do if I had plenty of money - like teaching children trades, and providing food for the elderly - stuff like that...

In the meantime, I think I had better keep working at my writing and other crafts.

As for the new year, I hope you have faith in the future and stay on the sunny side! Love, Terry

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Myth to Me: Songs From The Inner Light

Wow! The Christmas holiday was so busy that I didn't get to post an announcement that my newest book - the 17th! - was published in December. Myth to Me: Songs From the Inner Light is a book of verse inspired by just about everything!

Some of the poems in this new book have been hanging around in notebooks for some time. Others were written during the summer and autumn of 2010. While it is true I have published a volume of poetry before, Myth to Me was a different sort of work.

Runaway Hearts is my first book of verse and it is centered on the history of the area in which I live and includes stories about a pirate, a waterman and the history of Harriet Tubman, who wove a legend so large it cast its shadows across the years and shines as an example of selfless courage to the young people everywhere.

Myth to Me is a collection of shorter verse, with much more personal focus. Some of the verses take on the world and my take on current events. Some are from my personal history and a few are more classically formed. So far, my readers have had good things to say about the collection, I don't know.

I never really thought of myself as a poet, and certainly never aimed at that designation. The thing is, when I have an idea, I don't always have much control over the form that idea must take in its final form.

A great deal of my interests and theories appear in my novels, and sometimes in the country songs I make. Poetry is more rare, so it took years to put Myth to Me together. I am not sure I will write another, but like my good friend Dawn Tarr always says, "It's all good."

I hope that everything you do is goo and that you keep on the sunny side!

Love, Terry

PS: If you love poetry, Myth to Me is available at Amazon, Kindle, etc. Happy

PPS: The photo for this edition is Fire Island Walk by my great friend Claudia Conlon.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Postcard Snow

The snow came with perfect timing this year - the day after Christmas and a Sunday, which allowed everyone to enjoy the white stuff a bit before having to deal with slippery roads and time clocks. It was perfect.

I remember winters of my childhood when we had to mush through a foot of snow to get to the little three-room school down in LeRoy, a town in Pennsylvania where French royalty were to come and hide during their revolution. It didn't happen, but the snow fell deep back in the 50s and it wasn't unusual to have to walk through a considerable amount of the white stuff to get to school. School never closed in those days. As long as your feet worked, you had to go.

When I grew up and moved to upstate New York, it seemed like the winters got even worse, a gift of the jet stream, which often saw two-foot drops that meant moving tons of the white stuff before going to work as a waitress or chambermaid - jobs that never shut down for a little bit of snow. At one point I drove a '47 Willys that could go through anything - but you had to plug in the block heater or it wouldn't start. Heck, when I went to college, they even offered ice fishing as a PE class. You couldn't miss any of those days either.

After a while, my life changed and I moved to Maryland, where snow is rare and winters are mild. Someone even told me they had roses in December, a concept I couldn't quit fathom, but they do - at least in the beginning of the month.

Winter here starts late and ends early. You hardly need boots, and often can go about in a sweater and call it good. I still don't care for snow, and last winter I lost a big portion of a huge hedge due to the weight of a huge snowfall. The broken branches had to be hauled to the dump and emptied my piggy bank paying for a man to come cut and haul away my beautiful, beloved yews and boxwoods.

Today I looked out my window and saw my cat - an all black, long haired critter - racing around the yard, climbing the one bush that survived the snow we got last night. He was definitely having a good time. Not me. I'm in for the duration and plan to stay in and just enjoy looking at our postcard snow. Hey, it's a Christmas gift. Gotta love it.

Keep warm and on the sunny side,

Love, Terry

Friday, December 24, 2010

Winter Songs

Christmas is just one day away and carols echo all through the land as frantic shoppers scrabble through nearly empty shelves looking for the perfect gift to give their loved ones. The carols, in case we don't understand, are playing to keep us in the mood to buy - and not so much to celebrate the birth of one of the world's greatest teachers.

People have always married songs to the way they worship - sometimes with complicated orchestration, sometimes to the pulse of a single drum. Music seems to make the magic and it certainly does when it comes to Christmas.

Some Christmas songs are reverent and beautiful, evocative (one supposes) of the peaceful night in Bethlehem when a baby was born in the stable of an overflowing inn. The carols mention the beautiful star, the pilgrimage made by wise men, and the stillness of a winter night when not even a baby's cry can be heard.

Other Christmas songs could not be sillier. Grandma got run over by a reindeer while a little kid looks for his (or her) two front teeth and Mama is seen kissing Santa under the mistletoe. Reindeer have bright red noses, and Santa slips down the chimney to leave lots of toys for little girls and boys. HO HO HO

Well, whatever your favorite holiday music, I hope it is playing in your heart and that you have the best Christmas ever! Love, Terry

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chesapeake Winds

Hello, some people have wondered why I chose to write fiction about the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The easy answer is that I live here. I moved here nearly 18 years ago and never found reason to leave. Oh yes, there are things I love and things I dislike about the place - but you could say that about any spot in the world. God didn't make mistakes, and every spot on earth surely has its own unique beauty and character.

Over the years I have heard many stories about the Eastern Shore and the characters who populated its marshy shores. There were Indians who were pushed aside in favor of white settlers who claimed every bit of arable land for their plantations. There were those who built towns and paid their taxes first in tobacco, and later in various sorts of produce that kept our sons and husbands fighting through a good number of wars.

There was the story of Harriet Tubman and Anna Ella Carroll, iconic figures in the story of slavery and emancipation - but there were also stories of quiet people whose names were never mentioned in the history books, which were all too often written by the political powers at the time. Missing, it seems, were the stories of the common farmer and the humble watermen, characters with rich and meaningful stories waiting to be shared.

My Chesapeake Heritage series and poetry in Runaway Hearts follows these unsung characters from colonization through the end of the civil war, and shortly there will be a new novel set in the same fictional town, about the same family and same farm - the threads of stories that weave their way to the present.

I hope I can continue with this work because it is easy to say that the North won the Civil War, but harder to tell the story of the woman who waited for her man to come home and found him changed.

Ask for my books at your public library, or purchase the books at,, my publisher, and any number of online booksellers. You are sure to find Chesapeake Country a fascinating place to visit.

Oh.. and keep on the sunny side! Love, Terry

PS: The photo is of Handsell, an early plantation in Dorchester County.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fascination - Something You Can't Teach

Last night I was at the Main Street Gallery helping with the Art-cessories reception. It was a very nice reception with fantastic exhibits, home made refreshments and an opportunity to meet the artists who exhibit their work this month. Among the offerings are imported textiles and clothing, fancy feathered accessories, pottery and jewelry. The show will continue until the end of the year during gallery hours.

One gentleman, upon buying a copy of my novel Ancient Memories, asked me how I set about writing a book, and I am here to say, I really don't know. Basically, I sit down and take dictation, but that is only part of the process.

The first thing that happens is that I am fascinated by a word, a sentence or maybe an idea. That trigger, for better words, percolates in my subconscious for days or months until the story is ready.

That done, I have to submit to and trust the process that results in a story - whether as a poem, a song or an entire book. It doesn't work if I try to force the product. I have to be willing to let the story come to and through me and to believe the story has a reason to exist.

Coming home after the reception, I was talking with a photographer friend who said she cannot possibly teach anyone how to become a photographer. The want-to is present but the skill develops as it will - but (as with me) she can't share the process, because it just happens!

It occurs to me that true art is an expression of spirit that comes to us without warning, and that we have to allow the book, the photo, the painting to come through us in order for it to be shared.

I have an idea the work is the gift and that we are blessed by the ability to put our books, images and other art out there in the world because those things are a measure of our trust in life and our place in the world. The products of our various arts show how we grow - and isn't it a miracle?

I would love to know what you think about being an artist... so drop me a line and keep on the sunny side! Love, Terry

Friday, December 3, 2010

How Do You Buy Books?

My big news this week is that my newest book Myth To Me: Songs From The Inner Light will be available soon.

Myth To Me is a book of poetry, most brand new, and while I do not fancy myself a poet, I am proud to have produced this newest volume to follow my best-selling (of all my books) Runaway Hearts - long poetry about the characters that once inhabited the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Myth to Me is more personal and explores not only my world, but also the events and situations that have presented during the past year. The volume went to the printer yesterday and I have placed an order for some copies for sale and for holiday giving.

I can't wait to put one in your hands and to share my inner light with all of you whether in a paper edition or an electronic transfer to read on your Kindle or Nook. Enjoy!!!

Keep on the sunny side Folks, I love you. Terry

PS: The cover photo (above) is one of the beach walks at Fire Island, taken by my dear friend Claudia Conlon, who gifted me with a week on the island a year ago. It was a trip to a different world and I thank her for sharing!