Monday, June 13, 2011

Death I am not Afraid

We met when I was three.
Then again at twenty-five,
Death I am not afraid.

When my time comes I'll face
Again your warm embrace
Another world I'll find
Behind that final door.

For when you come for me
With this life I'll be done
Just like a worn out dress
That has seen better days.

Until that time I'll live,
With vim and vigor too
See beauty all around
Live and love unfettered.

Of death I am not afraid.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

World War II

September 1, 1939 was a day that changed history at least for my mother, her family and many of those in Europe. It was the day that World War II began for most of the world.

The United States didn’t enter the war officially until December 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Yet for my mother Pat her world changed forever in September of 1939. She was just fifteen years old. Her first boyfriend Henry’s parents had been traveling in Europe and went missing in Hitler’s Poland.

Shortly after this Henry committee suicide and my mother lost not just her first love but her world. Her guilt was enormous, you see he had called her that night begging her to see him and she couldn’t go, she had to babysit.

Her father was in the Army, her cousin Don in the Navy and Pat volunteered to read to the American Soldiers, who had gone to England to enlist with the British Army. Each day she put a smile on her face, even when her heart was breaking and went to the Red Cross. Each day a little more of her soul was wounded but she fought on, because she knew that the wounded soldiers needed her.

Between 1939 when Henry committed suicide and 1945 when the war finally ended Pat lost every single boy she knew growing up except for her cousin Don. Don’s first ship was lost in Pearl Harbor, he was not on deck, later he again came close to losing his life due to a kamikaze pilot, and he was however on deck that day and thus survived.

Yet every other boy she knew had died in World War II. Many of us once a year honor those fallen heroes of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, Iraq, and the list goes on to infinity and we should honor them. They served our country bravely. They gave us the freedom we enjoy, lives were lost and boys & men maimed, blinded, and forever changed.

We should also remember those women who bravely sold war bonds, nursed the soldiers or like my mother spent her teenage years reading to the boys in the hospital. Those who might otherwise have been forgotten, my mother did not forget. She carried the memory of each and every one of them with her throughout her life.

It forever changed her world and all she knew into a strange new world, one that she was ill equipped to deal with in many ways.

So today I remember my stepson Kenny Bishop who served five tours in Iraq, my Grandfather Alfred Moran who serve in the Army in both World War I and World War II and was in charge of the reconstruction of Berlin after the war. My mother’s cousin Don who served us faithfully in World War II in the South Seas and each of the men and women that served our country. I will also remember those like my mother Pat who kept the home fires burning, nursed the soldiers and read to them, for they suffered too.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A WONDERFUL INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR OF BEYOND MY CONTROL STUART ROSS MCCALLUM

I am honored to have Stuart as my very first guest spot on my new page “FROM MY THE WISDOM AND MIND OF AN AUTHOR.” Stuart shared with us some very private and personal thoughts and feelings on living with epilepsy, seizures, brain surgery and the writing of his very special book “BEYOND MY CONTROL.”


In your book “BEYOND MY CONTROL,” you write about a variety of issues you dealt with, first as a young man and then through your adult years. But you describe so clearly your epilepsy, seizures, and finally your brain surgery, by doing so you leave us all in a place of joyful love and hope in our own ability to weather hard times and help others to do the same. Thank you for joining me.

Hello Stuart I am so happy that you agreed to honor me and spend a few minutes discussing your book.

Thank you for inviting me today Marta, I am delighted to be here chatting with you.Stuart what was harder to deal with the seizure or the aftermath of the seizure?

In my case, the aftermath of the seizure itself, became (by far) the most difficult and worrisome facet of my particular form of epilepsy. Over time the character of my seizures changed and intensified dramatically. The previous after-effects of experiencing a tolerable headache were over. I began to experience a very ugly, sinister aftermath, medically known as entering (postictal psychosis) and losing touch with reality immediately after the seizure passed. During these occasions, I was often prone to violent outbursts that threatened my safety as well as anyone unfortunate enough to be close by at the time. I would recall none of this afterwards and be profusely apologetic about hearing my disgraceful behavior.

The book is a beautifully written and heartwarming story of strength, courage, love and support of family and friends.

Stuart what do you consider to have been the greatest asset to you during this time?Thank you Marta, I strongly believe maintaining my sense of humor helped me immensely. When I was made aware of my ludicrous actions, I would always attempt to see the funny side. During this time, I owned and operated a stained glass business. On one occasion while in my (postictal state) I stomped around my own shop glaring at our display of fragile glass and lighting. After a few minutes, I clenched my hand into a fist and randomly lashed out, striking the glass panels. Once I returned to normality I asked a co-worker, “What have I done this time?” When I saw the broken glass I said, “With the wisdom of hindsight, perhaps I should have opened a bedding or soft furnishings shop.”
Do you think your attitude made it easier for your friends, workers, clients and family to keep their support of you going?Absolutely, as people we all bounce off one another. If I happened to be a brooding type of guy filled with unpleasant thoughts, I am sure the amazing support from people closest to me would have lessened over time.Your book helps so many to not only understand epilepsy but any form of disorder and the ability to find hope, courage, empathy and understanding of these issues.

When you began writing it did you believe that this would be an offshoot of your story?
No, when I began writing, ‘Beyond my Control', I had no pre-conceived expectations. To have helped people broaden their knowledge and find strength in their own lives is to me, my greatest achievement.Where did you find the ability to maintain a sense of calmness and humor while dealing with such a debilitating situation?Many situations as I describe in detail, would undoubtedly be more than justifiable to be consumed with self-pity and feel like crawling into a corner. However, I believe a person’s attitude towards life’s adversities comes from within. I am naturally a happy guy which helped me greatly to get through some very difficult circumstances.After your surgery when you were going through recovery, learning a new sense of self what helped you most?During the many months of recovery was a difficult and unsettling time. I encountered many ultimately bizarre and worrisome happenings, which had a negative impact on my self-worth. To improve my mind-set and overall being, I put my heart and soul into my family. And tried to become the best father, husband, son, and brother I could humanely be. By doing so, I found it profoundly rewarding and beneficial for the family which in turn improved my outlook on life.If you had one thing that you would believe would be the biggest help to others who are either dealing with epilepsy, seizures, depression or the prospect of brain surgery what advice would you give them?It is vital when faced with many of life’s hurdles to reach inside and gain a positive outlook towards your particular situation. And ultimately, never give up hope; a cure for your individual condition could very well be developed today.What was the hardest thing to share when telling your story?Being a highly personal story, the many embarrassing circumstances written in detail were definitely difficult to share. However, the hardest division of my book (by far) was the recovery chapter. The experiences I encountered during this passage of time exposed the people I love to some incredibly weird and extremely distressing occurrences.

What types of things did you do as an individual that helped those around you to understand your disability and thereby making them able to be more understanding?Share my feelings and discuss epilepsy openly. For centuries epilepsy has been shrouded by myths and misunderstanding. By freely opening up and including people in my inner-circle to the often bizarre forms that present themselves, removes the isolation that a sufferer or someone who cares about the person may feel. I strongly believe an open line of communication without secrets is paramount for a greater understanding of the world’s most misunderstood serious brain condition.
Is there anything you can suggest that can help people become more tolerant and understanding of others going through an illness or disability?Think before pre-judging and stay quiet until you know the facts. There are countless people in our world who live and cope exceptionally well with a disability. We will never be able to eliminate cruelty and ignorance totally. However, by writing, talking and sharing, we will create awareness for many.Thank you Stuart for sharing your insights into this so often misjudged, misdiagnosed and misunderstood disease, you are an inspiration to many of us, me included. Your book “Beyond My Control” is something that I truly believe everyone should read even if they do not have any medical issues. It brings so much light into dark places. Thank you for agreeing to be the first on my new page “From the Wisdom and Mind of an Author.”

You can find Stuart's book on Amazon.com and on his web page http://www.beyondmycontrol.net By Stuart Ross McCallum

FROM THE MIND AND WISDOM OF ROBERT WALKER

I am privileged to share a guest blog with you from my friend Robert Walker. I first met Robert on Facebook a little over a year ago. Since then I have read and enjoyed his wisdom, insights, humor and books. He is a warm and delightful man as well as a talented author. He shares freely his wisdom, kindness and knowledge with all who wish to partake of his words.
His books are a delight to read full of twists, turns and suspense. Bravo to my friend and thank you for taking the time to join me.


Great FICTION Can Be Stranger & Stronger Than FACT…
or:  Can a Story be More Useful than the Truth?

It slays me every time on the news or talk shows some bozo uses a trite phrase, but in particular this one – "Aww…that's just fiction." or "We're talking fiction here" and always with disdain for fiction and story and storytellers, when in fact there are few things on the planet as powerful as a story example to prove a truth. The same attitude is three-fold in academic circles when your colleagues learn that you not only write fiction but OMG – genre fiction. If it isn’t what they consider to be “literature” (which is in the eye of the beholder) then your colleagues and even your bosses diminish your fiction titles with such phrases as, “Oh, yeah, he’s published a novel, but it’s just genre fiction—one of Rob’s types of books, likely just a fluff-piece mystery.”
I have gotten this sort of response at every college or school I’ve ever worked at rather than gaining support in such circles, and sadly, in a teaching career spanning over 30+ years, I have heard this kind of put-down of my fiction for a long, long time now. Honestly, this attitude toward genre fiction in particular is not unusual. There is an unspoken belief on the part of academics that if they wished to waste their time any one of them could do what I do in terms of writing a horror or suspense novel.
A professor across the corridor from me writes a novel based on the life of Jane Austen and it is given high praise among our peers, and instantly stamped “literature”; I write a fast-paced historical thriller set in Chicago in 1893 and it is just another novel to throw on the stack. Admittedly, I have a large stack, some fifty published works to the single title about Jane Austen, so I am surely looking like the ‘hack’ writer of the department, but I will tell you this: it takes an enormous amount of research, writing, editing, proofing, rewriting, more research, more editing, more writing to craft any novel, and we who write genre fiction, we work like dogs. We work as hard if not harder than the person who labors for ten years over a so-called “literary work of genius” conceived first as a thesis.
In our own way, we successful genre authors are also creating works of genius in the sense that we know our tools and use them with skill unmatched by so many “classics” that are in fact chockfull of boredom, books with what I call a straight line to nowhere like the straight line you find on the monitor hooked to a dead patient. We genre authors know our field, we know what moves people, what prompts a reader to turn pages and even finish the book, no matter its length. We know how to create a real seismograph of action, no straight line dead chapter after chapter of inner monologue or passive descriptions that lose sight of actors and action on the page or ‘stage’ if you will.
I cannot tell you how many so-called “literary classics” are read via Clift Notes and the book itself remains unfinished. This is certainly the case with Moby Dick, most of the works of Dickens, especially Bleak House (what a bleak book). Even my hero and spiritual mentor and guru, Mark Twain’s most famous novel failed to have a proper ending, classic that it is. But then Twain in his day was closer to a ‘genre’ author than he is today in hindsight. Academics love him now but they hated him during his lifetime, and Huckleberry Finn was banned from the outset of its publication not for the word nigger but for the fact his heroes were the uneducated orphan and the runaway slave—the vulgarity of the whole of it, just SHOCKING to the sentiments of the day. Twain, Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Alexander Dumas, Shakespeare,Victor Hugo even wrote the ‘genre’ fiction of their day. Simple as that. These writers wrote for the masses in their own time and not for academics or newscasters who may not have a clue as to what the world of fiction really, truly conveys; people who actually do not know what the word even means.
Getting back to the TV pundits and their flippant use of the word “fiction”. How can they use it as if it was interchangeable with the word LIE. Let me tell you that every honest TRUTH about the human condition and our bondage of the flesh, as well as our mental state is found in Shakespeare’s plays—his “fiction”.  Fiction that predates Sigmund Freud yet is chockfull of psychoanalysis in Hamlet alone. All that we know of the human condition is found in FICTION – which is by many defined as ‘a pack of lies to prove a truth’. It comes from the Spanish word ficciones. Look it up some time.
What do you think?  For me, fiction is art, and good fiction, entertaining fiction is a work of art that has taken perfect shape whether a gem of a short story, a novella, a novel, a film script, or a play. A shapely work of art which the careful author takes pains shaping—many pains over a long-suffering time period but not ten years long-suffering, I would hope! I have taken four months to create a simple, straightforward horror novel, and on and off, I have taken years to complete other novels. Every project dictates its own time, it seems to me.
My most recent ‘horrible’ genre novel is a sequel to my Dr. Abraham Stroud, archeology meets the supernatural trilogy which I penned back in the 90s with a character I enjoy spending time with. Here in what others often consider a “schlocky” horror series, I do my utmost to make it shapely and artistic in its delivery to the reader, which is all we can hope from an author. Below is an excerpt with annotations on what I am thinking/doing at each point of the 300 word excerpt, opening pages of Bayou Wulf. The annotated opening I feel could be eye-opening and instructive of how this art of the novel works in my mind but certainly not everyone else’s.

Excerpted opening of  BAYOU  WULF  by  Robert W. Walker
O N E
Oasis Bayou, Oasis County, Louisiana 3:10 AM, March 14,2011 *
*establish setting, place, time, date immediately or as soon as possible
There came a strange sound to Dr. Abraham Stroud’s ear, but then Stroud’s ear was always to the ground—two grounds in fact.  Where he slept atop the Louisiana bayou earth made one ground. The second came of that pesky steel plate in his head, which ‘grounded’ him in two worlds. It kept him alive in the reality other humans enjoyed, the so-called normal world, yes, but it also kept him attuned and in touch. It acted as his private, built-in, high-frequency radio to the paranormal world.**
** start in the middle of things going on NOW…establish crisis moment of drama as opening; if you can string along a metaphor (groundings in this case), do so.

FROM THE WISDOM AND MIND OF RAY ALAN

I am pleased and honored to have my friend Raymond Alan Klesc, a real estate developer and a science fiction author share his wisdom about the "importance of a press release," with us. Thank you Ray

The Importance of the Press Release


Media exposure is the most effective method for authors to promote their work. However, how do you go about bribing, coercing and cajoling the media into giving you free publicity? There is no need to take a baseball bat in hand and threaten your neighborhood editor. A far simpler means is at everyone’s disposal – the tried and true press release.

All media outlets - newspapers, magazines, television and radio - rely on a steady stream of press releases to locate and follow up on news and stories they feel their readers and listeners might find interesting. They measure the value of a press release against its human-interest appeal to its broader audience.

In order to grab the attention of an editor or producer it must be newsworthy. It should be brief, preferably one page or two at the most, and must grab the reader’s attention in the first sentence or two. Not unlike writing a great story, the opening must stimulate and provoke questions.

Besides the obvious release of a new book into the market, the author has many other opportunities to bring his book and “brand” to the public’s attention. Each opportunity permits the author to promote his or her brand and latest book. The following are a few suggestions that have worked for authors in the past:

1. Book signings are an excellent opportunity to capture local media attention, as it is an event happening within the community.
2. Other special events such as appearances, speaking engagements, seminars, lectures and demonstrations of something in your book, such as a cooking demonstration provide an excellent opportunity to get your message out to your target market.
3. Contests and special offers always make for a newsworthy press release.
4. Tie-ins with charities and fund raising associated with you personally as a brand or with your book. For instance, if your book were about dogs, associating with the NSPCA would make for a newsworthy event.
5. Tie-ins with a particular industry and its trends or crisis could work effectively for a newsworthy event as well. If you have written about the merits of electric cars, then industry news about the increasing cost of oil could make for an interesting ‘hook’ in the press release.
6. Following on the above two examples, you could leverage survey results about the electric car industry or dog owner trends to promote your book.

Before dashing off a few words and sending it to your local newspaper, consider the following points:

1. The press release should not sound like a sales brochure. After all, media outlets are looking for human-interest stories and not blatant advertising.
2. Read several press releases online and see what the pros say and how they present their product or service. Check with services such as PRLog.com, BusinessWire.com and PRNewswire.com under the categories for books and authors. These PR services are also a great way to get your news out to the media as well.
3. Follow the examples of the professionals making sure you provide your complete contact details, including email address and telephone number, in the top, left corner of the page.
4. Make sure you give your press release a captivating title. Imagine this as the opening line to your novel. Treat the title as lovingly.
5. Press releases should be prepared double-spaced for ease of review by editors and producers if you are sending them directly. If you are using the online services, the material is single space for ease of online reading.
6. The body of your press release should have a strong opening sentence to draw reader’s attention. Then cover the basics, who, what, when, where and why. Remember, you are not writing for the editor, you are writing to your target market.
7. You would be surprised how many press releases I have read from authors and publishers that do not provide basic information about the book, such as ISBN number, publisher, date of publication or suggested retail price. In fact, I have seen press releases where I have to hunt for the title of the book buried deep within the text.
8. Provide snippets of book reviews or quotes from industry leaders giving your press release authority and credibility. Writing in the third person, you can quote yourself.
9. Ensure you close with a call to action before providing a three or four line author biography.
10. Most importantly, watch the spelling and grammar. You do not want to have the niggles to creep into your words.

Besides the online services mentioned above, you should distribute to your local and regional media outlets directly. Compile a list of media outlets and gather contact details for the proper departments and individuals responsible for reviewing and vetting human-interest stories.

Generally, all media outlets accept press releases via snail-mail, email and facsimiles. However, check their websites for their preferences and adhere to their submission guidelines.

Don’t send it late. Give them at least two weeks notice, preferably three or four weeks, in advance of any planned event dates. Leave them time to work it into their schedule.

The last point, and hopefully this will come to pass because of your hard work, be prepared to address interview questions. Your sterling press release may grab the attention of an editor or producer and they might pick up the phone and call. Prepare before hand with a few talking points you want to convey. Work these into the interview if possible.

In the end, the press release can be a strong ally in your quest to get the news out concerning your work. If you tackle it with the same effort you put into writing your novel, you will reap the rewards over time.



I host author and publisher press releases on my website for new book releases, book signings, awards, events and special announcements. Submit via the large, blue “Contact Me” button on the left side of the screen. http://www.NewBookJournal.com

Thank you Ray and visit him on Facebook, http://www.NewBookJournal.com.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A DAY AT THE WILLOWS


The day dawned bright and chilly with the promise of a beautiful warm day before me. for my reading of Wee Three, a bit of storytelling and then the sharing of memories with the residents at The Willows.
It was a beautiful day and with any presentation sometimes all the planning falls by the wayside as you need to tailor your program to the particular crowd. This was no exception; I arrived a bit early to set up, to a room full of about 25 men and women between the ages of 70 and 85. I was greeted with a big hug from the director of activities. Apparently the woman who arranged the event had it planned at 2pm and had told me 2:30pm.
A good start to what could have been a difficult beginning with many smiling faces waiting to see if I could entertain them and bring something different into their day. It was a heartwarming afternoon as I read to them and told the stories behind the verses of Wee Three. In between we discussed different things that they had done as children, that brought them joy growing up.
Armand described how he and his friends had built their own skating rink up in a small farming community in Canada. Taking boards and building a circle, then filling it with water. In the cold Canadian air in the middle of winter the water quickly froze into a smooth skating rink that they used all winter. He told me of building a huge ball of snow about 5’ round to use to move various things around the farm that couldn’t be moved through the snow. Almost like making wheels out of snow, they would tie a rope around it and roll it pulling a sled filled with feed for the animals behind it.
He taught me that in the old days the reason for bells on the horse sleighs was to warn others coming from the opposite direction so someone could move over as the roads were too narrow for two sleighs to travel together.
Mary Jane told me of how she knew every nook and cranny of the woods, how she would find every type of flower, bringing home huge bouquets. She also told me she never shared where her secret places were. She taught me that if you took a lady’s slipper apart it would float like a duck. This was something that had never occurred to me, especially since lady slippers are very rare now and considered an endangered flower.
Deb the activities director told me they were a quiet group and it wasn’t till the end that many of them spoke though all laughed at many of the verses in Wee Three and the joy and happiness was evident on their faces.
At the end of the day, when they began clapping I felt like I should curtsy or bow and said so. Instead I made my way around the room to thank each and every one of the wonderful group of people I had been blessed to meet, read to, share Wee Three with.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

THE SEARCH FOR AN IDENTITY

Often when we write a story, verse, or tale we are at a loss for the meaning behind it. What is the thing that will grab our readers, young or old? What can we do or say about ourselves or the book?

Poetry it is said is a hard sell. Yet is that only because there isn't a exact story line to grab onto when talking about it? After all we cannot write a synopis of the story, talk about the main characters or what they go through. It is however a valid means of communication and in many ways can impart more than a story/novel can.

Lately I have spent much time looking for what WEE THREE means to me, aside from the connection between my grandmothers, mothers, and my childhood memories. What I found was surprising.I found that in each of us is the seeds to relearn the art of innocence and youthful joy.

By sharing a memory we are connecting ourself with all those generations behind us and all those yet to come.

Taking a walk, reading to a loved one, a child or an elder reconnects us all in surprising and delightful ways. We teach each other, find new joy in both them and in our

self.

What is Wee Three? It is a delightful tale of children's memories. It helps you relearn those lost arts and shows us how to connect with the world on the level that a child does, with all the beauty, joy and lesson's a child learns.

In these pages you remember, you connect with the memories of all the generations before you. You find the joy of sharing your life with others and learning about their life.

When I was doing the reading at the Clinton Senior Center a few weeks ago, I listened to the memories of those around me during the event. One 60 year old woman (a young woman by todays standards) told me that she had a fun but unremarkable childhood and had never considered that anyone would be interested in hearing about it.

A bit later she told us of her grandmother bringing out the jewelry box for her and her four sisters to play dress up. During this memory she mentioned the pop together pearls that were all the rage at the time and even through much of my childhood still around. All of a sudden everyone in the group was talking about those pop pearls and to the delight of Doris she found that she did have memories worth sharing.

Granted not all memories are good and in the childhood of each of us there is the hurtful, sad and lonely memories. Some of us have lived through horrible abuse. Yet in most there is something good to remember if we look.

For if we don't look for the hope, the good, the beauty in us and in each other then we are truly lost.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

WEE THREE

Wee Three contains in its pages seventy years of memories as seen through the eyes of a child. In Upside-Down Land you can read how a child will take the newly learned knowledge that the world is round and people live on the other side and turn it into wondering if they walk on their hands.

During my readings of Wee Three I have had stories told to me by both children and Elders of what went through their minds when they learned the world was round. One that sticks most firmly in my mind was told to me by Ana, who said her and her brother would go into the back yard every day and dig a bit deeper expecting sooner or later to reach China.

Others show how a child deals with light punishment or watching nature.

They say you can't go home. In Wee Threeyou can relive your childhood memories. Share your own with your children and grandchildren and return to the joy and innocence you knew as a child. Anger breeds more anger and violence more violence, yet you do not need to continue this pattern. You can let go if only for a few minutes and reawaken that inner child and its ability to find happiness within the pages of Wee Three in the simple pleasures of life.

It can be found at:

http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/WeeThree.html

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Wee-Three/Marta-Moran-Bishop/e/9781612040844/?itm=1&USRI=wee+three%3a+a+mother%27s+love+in+verse

http://www.amazon.com/Wee-Three-Mothers-Love-Verse/dp/1612040845/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1293187664&sr=1-2

WEE THREE IS HONORED BY BETH HOFFMAN

I am honored and touched by the generousity and beauty of spirit that is Beth Hoffman. Her book "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt" is not only going to become an American classic but she is also one of the biggest hearted women that I have ever known.

Yesterday she honored me and WEE THREE on the Brava section of her blog and I am including the link for everyone.

I also highly recommend that you check out the rest of her blog it is informative, beautifully written and truly delightful.

My grandmother, my mother and I say thank you Beth for the gift of your words and the honor you did us all. WEE THREE is blessed.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

first draft of "THE MEMORY KEEPER"

FIRST DRAFT FROM “THE MEMORY KEEPER”
Before she had reached puberty she had been picked to learn the history of all the generations before her by the old mother. She could now tell the precise moment when her people should pack up and move on to warmer land. She could smell it in the air and see it in the fast movement of the birds as they flew south.

If she was wrong then the entire tribe would suffer from what could be a disastrous move. She stood watching the faint light coming up over the horizon the black shawl pulled tightly over her shoulders. Mondoani watched her breath in the early morning haze, the cold was coming. She believed they had been here too long. Yet it was important to complete the week long mourning ceremonies for the old woman. To dishonor her memory and life would have lead to further disaster by the Universe. Now the burden of the tribe’s future was her responsibility, she was the new “Memory Keeper,” it was up to her to direct the tribe.

If she chose wrong then they could run into terrible snow storms, beasts of the night that prowled on edges of the winter barren land. They could lose the young and the old in the process. If they left too early they might lose the last hunt that could make their survival on the trip easier.

The tribe wasn’t big enough to survive losing too many. They couldn’t afford to lose those women heavy with babies or the young who would learn, to fight, to hunt and finally to grow the tribe. Each life was dear to the tribe and it was her responsibility to keep them safe. Mondoani found joy in her ability to teach the next generations and to tell the stories of their past at the celebrations.

It was a heavy burden yet she had been trained well by the old mother. She stood quietly smelling the air, watching the light come over the horizon and watching carefully for any traces that would give her the signs she had learned to help her to make the decision. She saw the early morning geese in fast flight south and she knew. She was right they should have started their journey a week ago. They had to move fast now and be on the trail today, within a few hours if possible. Taking a deep breath she pounded the drum to wake the tribe from slumber they had little time and must hurry now.

Setting her shawl more firmly around her shoulders she set to work to pack up her things. Quickly she packed the precious tools of her trade and the herbs that would heal the rot from the cold or the wounds of battle, even the small things that would give comfort to the new baby who was getting its first tooth.

She lifted her bundle on her shoulders, joining the tribe as it began its trek to the south. As they walked she thought of all the knowledge from all the many generations that filled her mind. Knowledge that went back so many generations that even the old mother didn’t know when they began. She thought of the joyful stories and the lessons that must be taught to the children. She loved the children and loved to watch them at play. She remembered some of her own memories of childhood play and she pondered who would remember the children’s stories? Who would remember their play in future?

Maybe she should add the children’s stories to the history that would be passed down to the next “Memory Keeper.”
Copyright Marta Moran Bishop 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Day at Christopher Heights


As I wrote in my last blog, I chose Christopher Heights Assisted Living facility to be the first place I would hold a reading of WEE THREE, because that is where my mother Pat spend a year and a half of her final days. Many of the residents have moved on now. Yet I did get a chance during the reading to meet once again a couple of women who were her friends during her stay there.

I read from Wee Three about 1/2 dozen of the short stories/verses and we chatted about their memories of their own childhoods. We had a long discussion after I read UPSIDE-DOWN LAND about the first thoughts and memories they had, when as children learned that the world was round and China was on the otherside of it. Most of them remembered thinking if they dug deep enough they would get there. All of them remembered their mother's telling them (when they didn't want to eat something) that there were starving children in China and having the wish to send their dinner to them, via the post. Ana told of her and her brother daily going out to the same spot in the yard to continue with thier tunnel. She also told stories of being a tomboy and preferring to climb trees and play with her brother who was near her in age. He would play dolls with her and she would climb trees with him. As in much of the Europeen community it isn't frowned on for girls to play boys games and boys to play girls games.

John talked much about growing up in America from an Italian immigrants viewpoint and the difficulty he had both in school and at play because he didn't speak or read English. Yet I believe these were fairly happy memories for him. He was the "head of his own gang" and they were quite a handful.

My mother's friend Helen didn't speak much, just listened, she is and has always been quite shy. But Noori who is from Iraq spoke of growing up in Iraq and told me he had made his own "animal garden" as he called it. Complete with cows and chickens.

Two women one named Helen the other Bernadette, told me it was one of the best days they had in years. The women spoke about playing with dolls, making dolls out of bits of wood, pipe cleaners and material and growing up learning to how to be a lady.

Bernie had many stories of her own childhood. Making cloud pictures and fishing with her brothers.

Most like Wanda and Helen just sat and listened with smiles on their faces to both my reading of WEE THREE and the stories circulating the room. Afterwards they all insisted that I join them in the pub where every afternoon they have a glass of wine, cup of coffee and socialize together. It is a warm welcoming room, where we all got to know each other a bit better.
There was much insistance on me coming back from all quarters and if time and opportunity presents itself I would be very happy to do so. It was a lovely day. Full of many wonderful people and memories.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Mother, Christopher Heights and Wee Three

My mother Pat had MS and for twenty years I was her caretaker, until one Christmas Day she had a seizure. During her seizure we sat on her bed, I held her in my arms to keep her from being flung to the floor. All I could think while holding her was if I let go it would bring more harmful consequences to her frail body that had already been beaten down by the MS. I called my sister and 911 to come get her and take her to the hospital.
At the hospital Pat went into dementia and as the doctors tried to find out the cause, my sister and I watched our beautiful and brilliant mother staring at the wall saying over and over again, “dot com,” for the next three days. It was a truly awful experience and made worse by the fact that after she became herself again she had full memory of the experience.
We were both frightened it would happen again and maybe the next time I would not be there to hold her but at work. For the next few months during her rehab we spent much time talking about her future and how we could manage. It wasn’t possible to afford home health care. Nor for me to stay home with her, financially this would have put us both on the street.
One day late in her rehab she told me she had decided that she needed to go into assisted living. So my sister and I began researching places that we could easily get to, so we could visit often, but they had to be really nice. It had to be a place that she could have friends, her cat Peter and her own little apartment where she could have her own things about her and call it home. We found all of this at Christopher Heights in Worcester, MA. I was of two minds about the entire thing. Guilt ridden by the need to break my promise that she would always be with me and never have to go into any assisted living or nursing facility and the knowledge that it was a beautiful place and the best thing for her.
Though we missed each other and being able to share our days and evenings she was happy there. For this I will always remember Christopher Heights with joy.
I am telling you this entire story as today is to be the first of my events/readings for my book Wee Three: A Mother’s Love in Verse. Wee Three began as a few finished verses and bits of others which I extended and changed that my grandmother Helen Springer Moran wrote for my mother and her brother and sister. It is also a compilation of both my mother’s memories and my own of growing up. And it is only fitting that the very first reading/event will be held at Christopher Heights.
Yes Wee Three is considered a children’s book, yet it is more than that, it is a generational compilation, as seen through the eyes of a child. It brings back to each adult and elder a remembering of their own youth and innocence. So today I will take my grandmother’s, mother’s and my memories on the road for the first time sharing them and hopefully have the opportunity to have the residents of Christopher Heights share some of their memories with me.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Dellani Oakes Interviews Marta Moran-Bishop

Friday, January 28, 2011

Interview with Marta Moran-Bishop
I recently was asked by my friend, Marta Moran-Bishop, author of "Wee Three", to talk about myself on her blog. I was very pleased to have her do that for me. I decided to return the favor. Marta is a marvelously talented woman and I'm proud to call her my friend.

Dellani Oakes: When did you start writing?

Marta Moran-Bishop: I began writing when I was six. I wrote, what was probably the worst stage play ever written. It was so bad that about 10 minutes into it my mother called a halt to the performance.

D: What gave you the idea for your first book?

M: Well my first book is still sitting waiting to finish the rewrite it is called “Keeping the Upper Paw: A Cat’s Guide to Training Your Human.”

Wee Three; began after my mother had passed. I felt compelled to put everything else down, take out the verses that my grandmother had written for her children. A few of these are in Wee Three without change. I took these verses, the stories my mother had shared with me of her childhood, added my own memories and Wee Three was born.

D: What do you do to keep yourself focused?

M: When I am writing it is difficult to stop, my husband says I am like a dog with a bone. I go somewhere inside the book/story and totally lose myself till what I need to put on paper is down. Later I can go back and edit it. Usually my problem isn’t staying focused it is letting it go.

D: Do you stay with one project until it's finished? Or do you work on multiple projects?

M: This depends on whether I have a deadline or not. If I do not have a deadline then I am usually working on multiple projects. One of them will be my main focus and the other’s are more of when the words need to come out I write those for a while.

D: What is your writing process?

M: My brain is always writing. I have been known to pull over when driving to jot down an idea or a stanza for a poem. However mainly I sit with my feet up computer on my lap and just go into the zone.

D: Do you hear from your readers and what do they say?

M: I have had a lot of feedback from both Wee Three and the two current tales I am working on. Usually when someone reads Wee Three, it sparks a story they remember from their own childhood. I am lucky so far I haven’t had anyone tell me that they didn’t love Wee Three.

D: How does the internet boost your career and writing?

M: The internet and Facebook have given me a sense of community in the world of the Arts that has been lacking in my life since childhood. It also helps give feedback on story lines and on sales/marketing tactics.

D: Do you have a mentor or mentoring group or community of writers or authors to support you and your writing?

M: Facebook has given me a sense of community and support that I never knew before. Most of my FB friends especially those I communicate with on a regular basis are full of support and have brought so much enrichment to my life that I feel truly blessed knowing them. Whether it be on personal, spiritual, political, or in the Arts I find that I grow continually from contact with them. I could list so many people that I have met that have been supportive of me and my writing that I could fill a page. I consider myself extremely lucky to know them.

D: Has your upbringing or environment influence your writing? How?

M: Absolutely growing up in a small mining town with nature, books, music and your imagination being the key to your entertainment it would have been extremely difficult not to have it influence one. My upbringing was one of music of all generations from the big bands and classical to the Backstreet Boys because of growing up in a family of nine.

The local Drama Teacher was an ex-Broadway director and would show up at 2 in the morning after having seen the latest play on his trip to NY. Nothing for it but we would all get up to listen to each and every scene he would describe and if a musical, sing. Our house was full of books on every subject known to man probably at any point at least 2000 books. We read to each other and by ourselves.
Posted by Dellani Oakes at 8:16 PM

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 25, 2011

Today I am celebrating my birthday with the help of my husband, horses, cats and friends. I cannot thank you all enough for the joy and love you have shown me today. Tomorrow starts a new day and I going to begin my first event for Wee Three.

I will be doing a reading at the Berlin Library in Berlin, MA. I plan on making it as fun and joyful of an experience that I can for all of those I have the pleasure of meeting and reading to.

I look forward to the experience of sharing childhood experiences and the joy of writing with both the children and parents at the library.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Things my mother taught me part II

Once upon a time when I was very young I came in the door crying. "Mom no one wants to be friends with me." She turned around to me, pulled me on her lap, wiped my tears and said to me. " Marta if you want friends you must be a friend first."

To this day this has stuck in my head and has become a major part of my personality. Since that day many years ago I try to always consider what the other person that I am meeting or talking to might be going through. That they too may be a bit shy, an introvert or just as scared as I am of doing or saying the wrong thing.

As a result I try with all my ability to let my own ego go for at least that moment. Hopefully more than the moment and focus on that other person. I hope I succeed.

To all of you with whom I have had the pleasure of interacting with and getting to know. I am blessed today and always for the gift of your friendship, support and care. Please believe me when I tell you that I will try with every fiber of my being to be the friend you deserve too.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day Eight: Dellani Oakes

I first met Dellani when I was to be on Dellani's Tea Time on Red River Radio. The show airs every second Monday at 4pm EST. I was taken with her sense of humor, intelligence and witt. She is one of the warmest women that I have ever met and an inspiration to me as a result.

Dellani's along with Dellani's Tea Time also has another radio show the fourth Wednesday at 1pm EST called What's Write for Me. Along with doing 2 radio shows she is an accomplished author of "Indian Summer" an historical romance set in St. Augustine FL in 1739, just prior to a major siege by the British. It is published with Second Wind Publishing and available in both kindle and book formats.

She is also a mother, wife and undergoing radiation treatments. You would think that alone would be enough to keep anyone busy. Yet she always has time to share an antidote, help someone smile or laugh. While I was worrying about my two sisters who were undergoing cancer treatments, Dellani had time to give me some words of wisdom. Share her belief that laughter is the very best of medicine's. She gave me moral support in my hour of need. She brings us all so much inspiration and warmth with everything she does and says.

She has a new book coming out called "The Lone Wolf," which is set in 3032. One can ask how does she find the time for all of this? I think it is her nature to bring inspiration, kindness, Wit and laughter to us all.

Thank you Dellani for being there for me in my hour of worry. For your Wit, humor, and wonderful books. I truly recommend to everyone to also tune into her radio shows and you will see her warmth and wonderful sense of humor and intelligence shine through.

Blessing to you dear Dellani.

Two Things My Mother Taught me.

One thing that my mother Pat taught me was to always let people know how you feel about them. That one went along with if you don't have something nice to say don't say it.

I am lucky because I always see the best in people. This is a really good thing as what I think, feel and see usually comes straight out of me without filter.

I have also learned that life is too short and if you miss the chance to let people know how much you care, how much they mean to you, or that you appreciate who they are and what they do then you are left with "I wish I had."

This first became a subject of conversation on a drive from San Francisco to Massachusetts with my youngest brother. He asked me how I wished to die if I had a choice when the time came. I told him "quickly," that I didn't want anything long and drawn out. He got quite angry with me over this and told me in no uncertain terms that he thought this was a selfish wish. He thought that I should give people a chance to let them tell me how they felt about me and that he would prefer the old Native American way. A big party then go off in the woods with a bit of food and some water. Sit and contemplate his life and then lay down to die.

I told him that was a fine way if that was his wish. Me I wanted to let people know as I went along how I felt about them and not wait till the day they lay dying.

The moral to this little story is if you wonder why I tell you that you are wonderful, witty, intelligent, kind or anything else it is because life is too short. I want you to know that you brighten my day each and every day and to me that is the way I am feeling, thinking and seeing you at that moment.
Have a blessed day.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Day Seven: Robbie Kaye


It isn't even a year since I began FB yet, so many people have touched and enriched my life. One of them is Robbie Kaye. She is a brilliant Photographer and inspires me and every day. Her soul and spirit shine through each photograph she takes.
Because of her friendship and spirit we have been given the gift of beauty, joy and happiness. Her Beauty of Wisdom is inspiring and helps us each to see beyond what our culture has labeled our Elders.

Robbie has blessed me with her dedication to her work, her friendship that is dearer to me than most things in my life. She has inspired me further on my own quest to honor and bring stories of our Elders to life and share more deeply with them not just Wee Three, but time, energy and respect.

Robbie has helped me reinforce in myself that there is beauty in wisdom. Each line does tell it's own story and we should be proud to wear them. Learn to appreciate the knowledge and connection with both our own linage but the linage of those we meet.

Daily I get my inspirational message from Good Morning UniVerse and with it is one of her glorious photo's. The gift of her friendship, her work, her inspiration and her message is one that has made deep footprints on my heart and soul.

Bless you Robbie for the Great and Beautiful woman you are. For sharing all of this with me and the world. I will treasure it forever and forever it will be reflected in all I do.

Wee Three Book Trailer voice over Marta Moran Bishop