Sunday, August 28, 2011

Listen to the Mockingbird

“It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird,” Attics Finch told his daughter, Scout.   
This sentence revolved around in my head the other day when I was at lunch.  I often sit in my car at noon (when it isn’t 110 in the shade) to read and take to a break from the 8-5 insanity that my financial circumstances demand I put up with, at least for the time being.
On this particular day the sun was shining, a light breeze blew the wonderful scent of freshly cut grass through my open car window, and a mockingbird was going ape in the tree behind me.

This official bird of Arkansas sang, and sang, and sang. At times his voice trilled up and down the scale only to dip into a musical tune whistled with such richness and vigor it was a wonder his little throat didn’t burst.   
When he got tired of singing, he’d launch into imitations of “here kitty, kitty.” (I swear it sounded just like that.) And, he’d whistle for the horses the way I did when I called my million dollar horse to me.   
Mockingbirds are very territorial especially if they have a nest near by. My brother got attacked one summer by an overprotective mama mockingbird. I thought it quite funny when she pecked him on the head, but Jim failed to see the humor in it. And you’re dead meat if you’re a cat taking 40 winks under the bushes where there is a nest. Mama and Daddy mockingbird will take turns diving bombing Morris until he gives up and finds another spot for his catnap.
But for the most part Mockingbirds are content to sit on a guide wire, a telephone pole, or a tree branch and sing their little hearts out because they are happy.   
I’ve never heard an unhappy bird. Have you?
When lunch hour was over, I stood at my car door, looked up at the little songbird that had given me an hour long concert free of charge, and said out loud, “Thank you.”
As I walked across the lot to the side door, I gave thanks for many things:   Thank you God for creating birds and their songs, thank you for giving me ears to hear them with and eyes to see them. Thank you for the trees they sit and live in.
When five o’clock finally rolled around and I was free at last, I walked to my car and laughed.  Mr. Mockingbird was still at it: singing his merry tunes and calling the kitty-cats. I wondered how long he could sing without going hoarse.
Do birds loose their voices?
Something on my windshield caught my attention—a feather—a gray and white feather. A gift of gratitude from a bird whose only purpose in life is to bring sweet music into the world.   
The feather is in my office—a reminder to stop and smell the roses, feel the wind on my face, listen to the simple song of the birds—to chill out.  

Thank you God for the Mockingbird.     

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


As a writer I am often asked how I come up with ideas for a story. 
Ideas can spring from anywhere:  the grocery story, Wal-Mart, work, school, but my idea for The Rook and the Raven came from a dream.
When I decided that I wanted to write a paranormal romance for The Wild Rose Press, I first went to their website ( and looked at the guidelines for their Faery Rose line. The hero “should be sensual, who knows what he wants and goes after the leading lady.”  Okay.  I can handle that.  But what kind of hero should I have?
I didn’t want the usual cast of characters: vampires, werewolves, or ghosts. Ho-hum.  Boring. My supernatural hero had to be brand new.   But who or what?
Then I remembered a dream I had years ago.
On my quest to become more spiritual I went to many meetings that offered guided meditations to find your spirit guide.  I desperately wanted to know my guide’s name and what he looked like.  While I sat ramrod straight, feet on the floor, eyes closed, and listened to the speaker walk us through grassy meadows, crystal clear lakes, into caves and to infinity and beyond, I waited for my guardian to appear. 
He never did.
After months of these meetings and failed meditations, I quit searching for my guides.  I knew I had them. They were always there when I needed them.  Humans put too much importance on a name and shape anyway.  Don’t get me wrong.  A lot of people find their guides in this way.  It just didn’t work for me.  I think I was trying too hard.
A few years later, my guide came to me in a dream. 
He was worth the wait.
He wore a black trench coat with a high collar.  His entourage followed a few steps behind him.  I didn’t know guides had a staff of assistants.  It quickly dawned on me that this guide was El Supremo.   
He looked like Orlando Bloom in Pirates of the Caribbean.
Now, while I liked Orlando in Pirates, Johnny Depp was the bad boy that made my heart race.  Elizabeth could have Will.  Give me Jack Sparrow.  With that being said, I wouldn’t kick Will out of bed for eating crackers.  So having a guide that looked like Orlando Bloom was pretty cool.
I won’t bore you with all the details of the dream, but the thing I remember so vividly was how it ended. 
Orlando Bloom Guide wrapped his trench coat around his wide shoulders, and with a look of intense remorse he told me he must go.   He was needed in a different time and space.
            I felt his sadness and loneness when he disappeared into the mist. 
                                              I’ve never dreamed of him sense.
                                              He would be my hero. (Picture Hugh Jackman in Van Heilsing with silver eyes and wings and you got The Rook.)
And because my guide protects not only me, but tons of others in this vast universe, I wanted to come up with a name never heard before. My fingers typed, The Rook.
A rook is also called a castle.  A castle protects.  Perfect.
I’ve always liked the name Raven so my leading lady became, Raven.   
And that is how I came up with the idea for The Rook and the Raven.
The Rook is the highest Sentinel; created for the sole purpose of protecting all life in the universe.  He is immortal.  Invisible.  And because I like bad boys, he’s a rebel.
“Disobeying the ancient law that forbids The Rook from interfering with destiny, Roark rescues young Raven from certain death, forever tying her mortal soul to his.”
Love is a power unto itself and will not be denied. But is the love The Rook has for Raven strong enough to transcend dimensions or will it be forever lost between the shadows of time and space?”

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Being the deep philosophical thinker that I am, I often ponder the role Fate plays in our lives.  Case in point:
A year ago I attended the annual Ozark Creative Writers conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  OCW puts on a wonderful three day meeting that brings together agents, publishers, authors, and editors from around the country.  Last year the co-owner of The Wild Rose Press, Rhonda Penders, was a guest speaker.
The Wild Rose Press—“Where romance blooms,”—is a small electronic and print publisher of romance. I never considered writing romance even though it’s the biggest selling genre out there but Rhonda’s witty presentation and bubbly personality pulled me to her like a magnet.
Down-to-earth, humorous and very approachable, Rhonda encouraged all writers to speak and ask questions regardless of the genre they wrote.
“I’m here for three days.” She laughed. “Use me.”
Even though I didn’t have a novel, short story, poem, or even a sentence to pitch, I made an appointment to speak with her anyway. 
Fate stepped in.
 We briefly spoke about my writing when the topic of the Crescent Hotel came up.  The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs is nationally known for the ghosts that call it home.  I have experienced ghostly encounters there and I recounted them to Rhonda who listened to each word with chill bumps racing up and down her arms. By the time our ten minutes were over, a bond of friendship had developed between her and me.    
           Last May I had the pleasure of seeing Rhonda again at the Oklahoma Writers Federation conference in Oklahoma City.  While I listened to her presentation, I came to a decision.  
I wanted to be a member of the rose garden.   
Wild Rose Press has subtitles named after different types of roses that a short story or novel can be submitted to:  American, Black, Cactus, Champagne, and Faery to name just a few. (Go to their website: The Wild Rose for more info)  Faery Rose is for paranormal romance and a perfect fit for me.  
I left the conference with a story forming in my mind. Of course a romance wouldn’t be worth its salt unless it has a love scene between the pages.  Quite a challenge for me to write.  However, a case of coke and a fifth of Jack Daniels later, I had written not one, but two spicy encounters between my immortal hero The Rook and his mortal love interest, Raven.
I submitted the story.
 Last Monday, The Wild Rose Press offered me a contact.
I am proud to say that I am now an official rose.
Fate caused my path to cross with Rhonda’s.  Why? So I could become a romance writer? Perhaps, but . . .
I gained a friend that until that autumn day in the small town of Eureka Springs I never knew existed.  Where that friendship will lead us is unknown. Why the bond developed in the first place is unknown. Is there a bigger reason other than mere friendship looming out there in space somewhere? Who knows? 
But that's what I like about Fate.  
No reason is ever necessary.