House at the Edge of a Wooded Path


This gallery contains 4 photos.

When I pass by wooded paths, Or see old farm equipment covered in kudzu and brambles, I think of my father. I remember him on tractors or in old cars, Lincolns mostly, classics he collected from the forties. Or Suburbans, … Continue reading

This Makes Me Uncomfortable

The following is a preview of a guest post which will appear on a book bloggers blog  next week during my book tour.

As I began writing in earnest two years ago, the inspiration to tell a story about an older woman who discovered her beloved husband’s infidelity after he died came from out of nowhere.  Pam of Babylon simply appeared in my consciousness and I wrote it as I thought of it.  Later, a quote by E.L. Doctorow would confirm my writing style was not unusual.  He said, “Writing is like driving a car in the dark.  You only see as far as the headlights go, but you can make the whole trip that way.”  Those words validated me. An encounter with an editor who did not like my story line made me doubt the wisdom of spending another second writing.  She asked me to do an outline before I began to write, which I found nearly impossible to do because of the way the book was coming to me as I went along. She referred to the story as triple-x rated because it contained a depiction of child abuse.  Child abuse transcends the rating system.

Later, I learned from a fellow author that sometimes a writer/editor relationship may not be a good fit and it is acceptable to move elsewhere. Once I found the courage to move on, I found a new editor.  She was a barracuda who demanded revisions and rewrites, but she also loved the story and wanted it to be the best I could make it. I felt totally comfortable deferring to all of her suggestions and to this day wish I had used her from the onset.  However, once the story was published, I would encounter readers who felt the same way my former editor did.  My books are not for everyone. I can’t say I enjoy writing about topics that many people find repugnant and some that are downright disgusting like the child abuse and marital infidelity.  But it’s something that I find compelling for whatever reason and the stories wind through the tragedy and horror that normal people sometimes encounter.

After a book is finished, I suffer from insomnia for months.  I’m in that mode right now. The Greeks of Beaubien Street will be released this summer, and although I love the story, there is a portion of the book that worries me because it depicts the seamier side of life in a most grotesque way. Even the perpetrator is disgusted with the crime. I know there will be those readers who will buy the book and will be offended by it in spite of a warning. [At the suggestion of the people who oversee Goodreads and Amazon, I have plastered warning and caution signs at the beginning of every book description.]  I almost didn’t write the book until my son, a filmmaker and writer told me not to censor myself. I have tried censoring in the past and once I began, I found I was putting up so many parameters I could no longer write.  The question I had to ask myself over and over confirmed that the story line was important.  What is my purpose in writing about this topic? It isn’t to titillate, or to be sensational.  In The Greeks, the horror story is in contrast to the gentle Greek father who prepares his homicide detective daughter’s breakfast every morning.

Regarding Pam of Babylon’s adult content, I tried to write so that it would be the least offensive as possible.  If a writer is going to have child abuse as a topic, there is little that can be done to clean it up. It’s deplorable, and the consequences are usually tragic. The Kirkus Review said about the third book in the series, Dream Lover; “A gritty, realistic portrait of the aftermath of deceit.”  In order for the resolutions to take place, I must first describe the conflict.

My friend Dan Georgakas, author of My Detroit, Growing up Greek and American in Motor City (Pella Publishing Company, NY, NY, 2006) wrote when I confided my concerns, “….people are embarrassed by this [content] and want to project a perfect family image: a stereotype no one is going to believe anyway. I have always believed in showing warts whenever possible.”  Some of the character’s warts are painful to look at, but they exist in real life.
The final book in the series may be finished this fall and has some of the characters achieving positive resolutions. Fans of Pam will be relieved that she is triumphant in the end.

Passion Baby, Passion

Today I am up to my eyeballs in alligators.  We are leaving Wednesday for Philadelphia, where I am hosting Jennifer’s baby shower.  That is all I should have to think about.  The baby coming  is the most important chapter of our lives.  But being so far away is a true disadvantage. Jim and I haven’t seen our daughter pregnant yet, which seems so wrong.  I have wanted to go there several times, but she works, and maybe the idea of having me there, waiting for her to come home every evening might  be too much for her.

Carlos and friends of theirs have posted pictures of her.  It takes my breath away.  All I can do is say ‘Thank you! Jeni’ for not wanting me to be in the delivery room.  Oh my Lord, there is no way.  My Greek would really come out. I can see myself wailing, fainting, rolling on the floor. I repeat, No way!  She is going to call us when the doctor says ‘it’s time!’ and we will get in the RV and drive twelve hours to see her.

During this trip for the shower, my cousin Jim and his wife Cindy are staying at the house to keep watch over the sheep.  Our sheep sitter is getting married on Saturday; congratulations, Sarah!  She’ll be here when we go east for the birth.  Jen is due at the end of August, beginning of September; our plan is to stay there for as long as she needs us to stay.  I can always go back and forth to Philly, too.

Blue Coast Studio Tour is the first weekend in October, and I will have to bow out of participating in it this year.  It was a really wonderful experience being part of the tour.  It forced me to set up my studio and to have a routine of producing goods for sale as soon as we moved here.  Finding out that I no longer wanted to weave was the most intense outcome of joining the group.  I felt totally cleansed selling my weaving equipment.  Of course, I have replaced the volume of it with knitting machines that are laying dormant right now while I write my books.

What are you passionate about?  I love hearing what it takes to make my friends happy, what drives them to move forward.  Passion comes from within, I am convinced.  There is something inside each of us that blossoms when it is exposed to just the right element.  Many years ago, when Jennifer was an infant in the stroller, Jim and I went to a craft show in Howell, Michigan.   Sitting under an umbrella was a young woman, spinning on a Country Craftsman spinning wheel.  She had a big peg board display where her many lovely skeins of naturally dyed handspun were hanging.  Both Jim and I were drawn to the colorful presentation.  Ever since then, the one constant in my life has been spinning and dyeing.  I haven’t had a pair of knitting needles in my hand, or thrown a shuttle for months, but I made time to sit with friends and spin twice this week.

Passion also possibly comes from satisfaction.  If you feel you have done something worthwhile, and the outcome was positive, passion may grown from those things as well.  Anticipation may also breed passion.  Everything I have wanted to do, having children, going to nursing school, opening a knitting shop, writing a book, were all things that evoked passion in me.  Not all of them resulted in passion; I hated nursing, loathed running a knitting shop!  But getting there was so wonderful, thinking about it, planning it, hoping for it, that was worth the disappointment. I felt cheated when I realized that nursing was so much more than standing in the third position of ballet with a clipboard.  I don’t think I fully understood that people’s lives would be in my hands, that I would see doctors make horrible mistakes that would result in maiming a human being, or worse, taking their life.  And I saw nurses doing that, too.  I finally was able to take a sigh of relief this year; it has been seven years since I left nursing and I haven’t received a summons regarding testifying, or because of my own negligence.  No one sets out to hurt someone intentionally.  But the result is the same.  Oh God, I am so glad I don’t have to be a nurse anymore!  My heart definitely couldn’t take it.

So what is it that drives me now? I am excited about the baby.  He is a shadow still, but soon he will be flesh and blood.  Jim can’t even imagine him.  When he holds the baby, hears him cry, then it will be real.  What if the kid doesn’t like us? No one talks about that!  Babies have that sense, don’t they?  Please, let the baby like us.

Queen Anne’s Lace and Mullein is in bloom around here, and that always makes me want to get the dye pots out. I will do it as soon as we get back from the baby shower.  I have a couple of Kilos of silk roving and silk and cashmere blend yarn that I got from China that is calling out to me.

And my books.  They take a lot of time.  Pam of Babylon is going to be reprinted soon without the twenty or so punctuation mistakes and one misspelling.  Only one person complained about it, but I love Pam so much, I want her to have a perfect book if that is even possible.  The two sequels are in progress; Don’t You Forget About Me and Dream Lover.   I am passionate about writing, and I think it shows.