Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou - You will be sorely missed

Though I often read poetry, it is not often I remember the poet so vividly. I DO remember Maya Angelou. Her poetry always spoke to me. She spoke of reality--of being poor, of standing on your own two feet, of moving forward through adversity, of survival and sometimes of triump--but mostly survival.

Perhaps it was because she was born Marguerite. My given name, Marguerita, was also based on on a Marguerite--my father's sister who died when he was young. Like a number of women, she changed her name later in life to reflect who she was and who she wanted to be. IN many ways authors do that when they take a pen name. Performers do that when they take on a professional name. Maya Angelou did the same.

Though she was black, and a civil rights activist, Maya Angelou often crossed the black-white boundaries in her life. I believe her poetry and her autobiographies often strive to show that we are more alike than different. I am fortunate that I grew up in an integrated neighborhood. I didn't realize there was prejudice in the world until we moved from that neighborhood into one where my high school had only one black family. It is amazing to me that someone who has survived the experiences of being poor and black, assaults, single motherhood, and prejudice could still have optimism and hope. Yet, when I read much of her poetry I think she did and made it her mission to let people know things could be different if they would try.

I distinctly remember her reading her poem “On the Pulse of Morning,” at the swearing-in of President Bill Clinton. Though she was black and he was white, they had both grown up poor in Arkansas. There was an affinity--an understanding--in how that shapes a person.

Please read the entire poem. It is still today a call for leadership, a call for understanding, a call for knowing where each of us fits in the wider web of life. 

My favorite stanza, however is this:

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.

"But seek no haven in my shadow." What a line. An offer to lift one up but recognize the next step--the flight--to choose what to do and how to do it is theirs to take.

As each of us steps forward and faces our destiny, tries to make the world a better place, rejects prejudice and champions diversity we give thanks to Maya Angelou and others like her.

Godspeed. I will miss you.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Anniversary Joys

This past weekend, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary at The Oregon Garden. The 80 acre garden is truly beautiful and we had a perfect day to walk, enjoy the blooms, and later have dinner in Silverton overlooking a peaceful, meandering creek.

I can truly say that the day we met was a blessing. Though we are not much alike in the way we approach our daily lives, we are very much alike in our overall philosophy of living and what is most important to us. It is that tension that keeps life interesting. :)

We Are Not Alike

He is a perfectionist and, in my opinion, a bit on the OCD side. Every picture hung in our house--and there are a lot--is perfectly aligned. When I dust, he comes back and makes sure all the tsotchkes are in their assigned place which means balanced (e.g., one in each corner of a square table). My style is more free form. Also I like things a bit off-balance. I think it's more interesting. For the most part, he gets his way because it drives him crazy to see things off-balance. I'm happy to let that happen, there are lots of things he gives in on for me too.

My husband is a cynic at best and a pessimist on his worst days. He would say he is a realist. I'm definitely an optimist and some would say even a Pollyanna type optimist. I do know that horrible things happen the world, and I even write about them sometimes, but I still believe that most people are good and that if we give people the chance they will do good things, right things, be helpful to each other. It's that belief that often keeps me going when it seems all is against me. Again, this is a good balance between us. He keeps me grounded when I need it, and I rely on him to be that way. For him, I insert determined hope into our relationship when things around us seem to be too crazy or difficult or overwhelming.

We Are Alike

Though we have differences of taste in movies and book choices, we have a good crossover of similarities as well. We can usually find a movie we both want to see. The same goes for vacation planning, entertaining, and choosing friends. We truly have great fun together when we go out or have people in.

We are very aligned on religion, politics, the place of family in our lives, and ultimately the power of love to make each of us the best person we can be both as separate people and as a couple. These elements are very important because we are both passionate about our beliefs in these areas and I don't think we would have a long marriage if there was substantial disagreement. It is the power of love that keeps us going in the hard times and makes the good times even better.

The beauty of the natural world reminds us that both diversity and similarities are important to keep the world in balance. Embracing differences is just as important as feeling comfortable with someone who likes and does all the same things. For me, embracing our differences provides new experiences and a way of looking at the world. As long as we can respect each other's opinions and not feel less than the other or better than the other, it works really well.

My books often explore that role of balance in our lives. It is an age-old journey that each person must make for herself and, if you plan to share your life with a partner, to also determine how the two of you together sustain and nurture that balance in each other and as partners.


Monday, May 12, 2014

New Series Reveal - Shadow Finders

Some of you may remember my Romantic Suspense novel, Expendable, released in 2011.  Recently I had the rights reverted to me by the publisher, and it is being republished under Windtree Press and will be the first of a new series about the former Marine buddies. Based on what happened in Expendable, the buddies decided to set up an agency to find those who are disappeared, forgotten, or presumed dead.  The first three books are: Expendable, Vanished, and Silenced. All three will be out this year. If all goes well, many more will follow.

With two macho sons--one a former Marine and the other a cop--and a husband with a specialty in military history and warfare, it seemed destined that I would do this series.  I first wrote Expendable when our oldest son was in Iraq on his second tour of duty, so all my angst and worries were worked out in that novel. Even though my protagonists are older than our son, they are retired military (early 40's), the experience and knowledge and fears and passions are all captured here.

If you didn't read Expendable the first time around, I hope you pick it up this time. I've made some minor changes and added some things to the ending to set up the series.  But here's the best part, the covers coming form the magnificent Christy Carlyle at Gilded Heart Design are to die for.  She does covers for several publishers, and I'm very pleased to be working with her. So, let me whet your appetite on the first two books.

Here's the blurb for Expendable, which will be available in ebook at the end of this month and in print by mid-June.  Still working on the final blurb for Vanished, but I'll share it soon.

Children with no birth records and a soldier with PTSD together must define the value of human life.

Jenna Mosier is on a mission to save her murdered sister’s child. Estranged for ten years after a bitter fight, the trail is as cold as her dead sibling. The only glimmer of hope is the place her sister’s body and a ten-year old boy were abandoned…the backyard of Reed Adler, retired Marine Special Ops.

Working together, Jenna and Reed piece together a mystery involving missing children and biogenetics research..and find they have more than justice and revenge in common. But the closer they get to answers, and each other, the more deadly the game becomes. With their hearts and lives on the line, they must decide what they are willing to risk to save one young boy.