Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hedgehog Bakes A Cake

Oh I do love a good storybook chock full of life-lessons and a fabulous cake recipe to boot.  In “Hedgehog Bakes a Cake” by Maryann Macdonald, not only is there a to-die-for cake recipe but also a wonderful story about how friends take over projects and ruin everything.


Indeed.  Poor Hedgehog must lock the door and banish his meddlesome, control-freak friends from interfering in order to properly bake his delicious cake.  And in the end, Hedgehog, in a most superlative act of humility, lets his friends think they had something to do with it.

Ahhh.  Good solid life-lessons all.

Well, my kids and I enjoyed the story (and the cake) at any rate.  And the cake is sublimely simple, dense and delicious and I’m sure my fabulous gluten-free C.P. Helen will try it with almond flour.

Sigh.  If you must.

Perfect for a summer afternoon nosh.

Hedgehog’s Cake:

¾ c sugar

½ c butter

3 eggs

1 ¼ c flour

1 tsp vanilla


Butter 9” round

Mix soft butter and sugar

Add eggs and vanilla

Mix in flour

(I used a blender for a quick two minutes.)

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes

Serve warm plain or with fresh whipped cream and blueberries for an extra treat!

Easy Peasy!

This week I
1.) Rested on my laurels from two submissions and the blog interview I posted last week.
2.) Am developing aversion (somewhat like going to the dentist) towards editing my manuscript.
      I have decided to officially call it "Taking a break and getting some space) before I attempt to edit again.  Perhaps I should set a date?  Okay.  Thursday, Aug 1.
3.)  Am supposed to enter a contest with it this week, but since I'm avoiding it like an old boy-friend. We'll see how that goes.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"Below" Review and Interview with Author Meg McKinlay

Meg McKinlay’s book “Below” is very much like a good dip in a clear cold lake: Refreshing, fun, a good stretch for mind and body and lastly, shrouded in mystery--when one slips below the surface to discover what lies beneath.
Here is the Goodreads Blurb:
On the day Cassie was born, they drowned her town. The mayor flipped a lever and everyone cheered as Old Lower Grange was submerged beneath five thousand swimming pools’ worth of water. Now, twelve years later, Cassie feels drawn to the manmade lake and the mysteries it hides — and she’s not the only one. Her classmate Liam, who wears oversized swim trunks to cover the scars on his legs, joins Cassie in her daily swims across the off-limits side of the lake. As the summer heats up, the water drops lower and lower, offering them glimpses of the ghostly town and uncovering secrets one prominent town figure seems anxious to keep submerged. But like a swimmer who ventures too far from shore, Cassie realizes she can’t turn back. Can she bring their suspicions to light before it’s too late — and does she dare?

McKinlay’s superb crafting keeps readers guessing as to the mystery hidden under the peaceful blue waters of that manmade lake, but we know there’s something down there.  As I read I wondered what it might be:  Mermaids? A doppleganger society of gilled folk? A dead body?  But while the roots of the mystery are firmly planted in the soil of this earth, their location--being submerged under water--lends an Otherworldly quality to it.  Who hasn’t been creeped out (at least a little) whilst swimming across a vast expanse of open water?  It’s prime territory for fears of all kinds.

Karl Jung thought that to dream of swimming underwater suggested the need to take control of one's life, and to dream of an underwater city represents the subconscious, and through a deeper understanding of oneself, one finds commonality and shared experiences with others. 

The book’s main character Cassie echoes this experience.  She is immediately likeable as a young girl who feels out of place with her family and is separated from her town’s shared history of living in Old Lower Grange.  She yearns to be a part of this collective and somehow be a part of this place she has only heard about it in stories.  Inexorably drawn to the lake and spurred on by her unquenchable desire to belong, she begins her cathartic quest though limited by weak lungs and an even weaker swim-stroke.  Her persistence pays off though as she discovers a secret about Old Lower Grange and must somehow find a way to bring the mystery to light—disparaging as it may be. 
(I love a hero who is a righteous whistle-blower!)
As protagonist, Cassie has all the right qualifications for hero without seeming pat or predictable.  She grows and changes over the story, a requirement for all heroes in my humble opinion.  Her cohort and friend, Liam is also heroic in his own right, with his own struggles and secrets.  And together, they must rewrite history.

The superbly constructed ending wraps up quite quickly, with the discovery of the mystery and the solving of it all rushing together in one final, flowing surge of a metaphor.  But I didn’t feel cheated.  I felt…refreshed.  Satisfied with the completion of a bang-up good story I shall remember every time I swim across open water.  I will forever be sweetly haunted and delighted by the idea of what is "Below". 

My interview with the fabulously sparkly Meg McKinlay:

  Could you tell us what inspired you to write "Below"?

This is a story which had its very beginnings a long time ago, well before I had thoughts of ever becoming a writer.

I was about 13 when I went on school camp to a place called Tallangatta, a lovely little town in northeastern Victoria, Australia. An earlier version of the town was flooded in the 1950s to make way for the expansion of a nearby dam complex and in certain areas you can see the tops of trees and so on protruding from the lake surface. When we were there, the water was particularly low, after some years of drought, and as I stood with my friends on the edge of the lake, I realised that what I had thought were just stones beneath my feet were actually the remnants of an old road.

I was completely taken by the idea of setting off along the road and following it underwater into the town and although I didn't do that, the image lodged in the back of my mind. When I started writing, I returned to it at some point, and over many years found a story slowly beginning to form around it.

I really enjoyed the build-up of suspense in the novel’s first half, especially pertaining to that “certain something” Cassie and Liam find beneath the water’s surface. Was it your intention to keep the mystery submerged, just out of reach for the reader, much like Old Lower Grange?

I love how you put that, and on reflection, I think you're right. I say 'on reflection'  because I often don't realise that I've done something until I've done it (and so the question as to why I might have done it that way comes later still).

Looking back, I think it worked something like this:

When I realised I was writing a mystery, I wanted the revelations to be gradual, analogous to the dropping of the water level in a certain sense. I didn't want a big 'aha!' moment too early; I felt like that process of a more gradual movement towards suspicion and then awareness was more authentic for the context, in which I have relatively young children who have grown up believing certain 'facts' about their world. I wanted that dismantled slowly rather than abruptly.

I do think that works for the sort of  book this is, but I'm also aware that I have a natural tendency to write like that in a more general sense, revealing things very slowly in a kind of roundabout way, even when the context doesn't really call for it. It's a habit of mine I have to consciously work against from time to time, as it can become quite laborious for readers. Even though I think it works here, and many readers love it, there are others who have felt that it takes too long to get to the 'action'. But I can't write for those readers, and wouldn't try to. Personally, I feel that there's plenty of action early on; it's just of an interior kind rather than outwardly dramatic events, but for me, that is equally important – particularly in the early stages of a story when character and context are being established – and just as compelling. I guess I'm writing for readers who feel that way too, and thankfully there seem to be enough of them out there!
Since you are a self-proclaimed “pantser”, how did all the juicy details of  the novel's  mystery surface for you? 

With great difficulty and over multiple rewrites! Hearing the voice of the characters is more important to me than knowing what direction the plot might take, and for me, this became a story worth telling the moment I heard Cassie's voice saying The day that I was born they drowned my town, even though I had no idea what her story was going to be.
From that point, there was a very messy and prolonged brainstorming process that took place in the cracks of other projects. The image of the drowned town and the voice of Cassie were in my head and every now and then I would get snippets of ideas or sentences that seemed to belong to that story, and jot them down in a file, waiting for some kind of shape to emerge.

[*possible spoilers ahead*]

Somewhere along the way, I realised I was thinking about secrets and that perhaps there was a mysterious figure in the town who had left something behind in the old one, something he wanted to retrieve. But of course it wasn't possible to do that and the council was always telling people to look forward and so on. And then I started thinking about the slippage between official discourse and personal narrative and the council/mayor as symbols of authority and so on. And I came up with Mayor Finkle as an embodiment of that.

From that point, it was a matter of trying to find a way of pitting him against Cassie in some sense and that was when I came up with the character of Liam, who didn't exist until quite late in my thinking. The roles of those characters evolved during the writing process and that's something I find very hard to explain, even to myself.

What I tend to do is just write, almost laying out words like bait until an idea comes along and grabs the hook and I think, Oh! Maybe Liam has an injury that Finkle caused and what's under the water is proof of that? And then I write some more and eventually I get another nibble … And Liam's Dad has a brain injury, a jumbled 'memory' that offers clues?Yes! And so on again. And every idea presents possibilities but also problems: But what could be down there? And why would it be there? Why not just hide it somewhere else? How can it be revealed? Would it still be identifiable? How could they make connections between what happened and what's in the lake? Would that even be plausible? Arghhh.

And so on, endlessly. It really does feel a bit like playing out a fishing line, waiting for something to latch on, and then seeing how far I can run with that little nibble until it either breaks the line and I have to try again, or I somehow manage to land it and can see a way clear to an ending. With this book, there were many false starts, and I spent a lot of time sitting despondently on the shore wondering why I bother fishing in the first place when I clearly have no idea what I'm doing.


I once swam over the tops of dead trees in a man-made lake and the pale, slimy arms reaching up from the darkness completely freaked me out.  Suffice it to say the idea of the fire-tree in your story was loaded with imagery and emotion for me. Hence my Swimming Related Questions: 

1) Have you ever swum across the tops of trees? 

Actually, I haven’t, though I’ve imagined doing so. Something as simple as swimming over lakeweed makes me think about what it would be like to swim over an underwater forest. I have a fairly vivid imagination, which comes in handy.

2) Are you the type who tries to touch the bottom, no matter how deep you are? 

Yes, always.

3) What’s your favorite swim-stroke? 

I’m going to say freestyle. I grew up swimming competitively (and worked for several years as a swimming teacher) so I have a decent style and I love that feeling when it all comes together and I’m powering through the water.
On your website it says you were awarded a grant to write "Below" from The Department of Culture and the Arts, Western Australia.  Can you tell us how that came about, and did it place undue pressure on you to produce while you were writing the book?

I would say that it did place a certain kind of pressure on me, but I wouldn't necessarily describe it as 'undue'. Writing this book was quite challenging for me and it collapsed completely on a couple of occasions. If I hadn't felt the additional responsibility of having received the grant, there's a good chance I might have abandoned it completely. I'm very grateful that didn't happen, so the pressure was useful to me, really. It was quite a good lesson in many ways, as I feel very proud of this book now, despite it having seemed utterly unsalvageable at times.

Below was originally released as "Surface Tension" through Walker Books in Australia.  Could you tell us a little about your book’s journey from Walker Books to its release on Candlewick?  How did the opportunity come about and how did you feel about the changes in title and cover?
Walker Books Australia and Candlewick Press are actually 'sister' companies (with their 'parent' being Walker Books UK), so most titles published by Walker here are considered by Candlewick for US publication. I've published eight books with Walker and three have been accepted by Candlewick; there are all kinds of factors that affect whether or not a book is considered able to 'cross over' into the US market. I'm very glad that Surface Tension/Below was one of them.

As for the changes in the title and cover, I was quite nervous about this, simply because I was very fond of both those aspects of the Australian edition.

However, as things have worked out, I absolutely love the US cover; if I'm honest, as much as I couldn't have imagined liking any cover more than the original, I've warmed to the new one so much that I think I do prefer it. I think the depth of colour is really striking and I love the way the town beneath the water becomes apparent only as you look closer, which really reflects the story itself, the way the mystery is slowly revealed and explored. Something else that's important to me on the US cover is that both Liam and Cassie are depicted. I never considered this as an omission on the Australian cover, but as soon as I saw the new one, I thought, “Oh, of course!”. Their relationship is so important to the book and I'm really glad to have it represented on the cover.
In terms of the title, I think I do prefer Surface Tension somewhat. I was concerned that Below was a little dull, but as soon as I saw it on the cover, I felt reassured. I feel like they work well as a package and I'm really thrilled with the way the book has turned out.

I should add that I was involved in all these changes; there was a lengthy consultation process and lots of time taken over the decisions.

How does being a poet affect your prose?
It slows me down a lot, for one thing! I’m always thinking about cadence and whether a sentence has the rhythm that I want and that can be very time consuming over a long novel. As a poet who's turned to writing for children, I find that I naturally use poetic techniques from time to time, and I think this sort of play with language can be of real value to readers of any age. Editors will sometimes seek to 'smooth out' my prose, suggesting removal of a word here or there, and while I'm completely open to editing and my work has benefited enormously from that process, I do sometimes dig my heels in for what might seem like incomprehensible reasons simply because I feel like a sentence needs an extra beat, or falling rather than rising cadence or something like that.

That's on the micro level, I guess, on the level of language itself. But a broader issue relates to my own priorities as a writer. And that has to do with my tendency to privilege things like image and idea over plot. I've heard some writers describe themselves as 'storytellers first' but that's not how I see myself. The ideas that have the most resonance for me generally begin with a single, compelling image, and the story becomes in a sense a scaffolding to hang that on. The story comes to matter, of course, but I don't really think in those terms to begin with; I'm always writing out of the central image, and I struggle mightily with plot and structure.

In many ways, at heart, I see myself less as a storyteller and more as a random scribbler, a collector of fragments, of bits and pieces of observation; that’s how my path toward becoming a writer began – in the way of a magpie, gathering shiny bits and pieces of the world, jotting them down into notebooks here and there – and I think that's where I still feel most at home.

Would you indulge us in a few hints about what you are working on now?
I'm in the home stretch of what I think is a Young Adult novel but might perhaps be upper Middle Grade. It's set in an alternative society in which girls are kept small from birth in order to tunnel through mountains to harvest something which is necessary for the survival of that society. My working title is Set in Stone and in many ways the story is about belief – about the basis for the ideas we choose to embrace, and what happens when those entrenched ideas become divorced from their original context.

I hope that makes sense! It probably sounds a bit dry but I think there's a good story in there as well as some interesting ideas, and I guess that's a combination I tend to strive for.

Many thanks Meg, for your time and for sharing your thoughtful comments with us.  It has been a delight to meet you and hear a little about the crafting of this wonderful book. Thanks for the great read!
~Just Jill

If you would like visit Meg's website you can do so here: Meg's website

 P.S.  ROW80,
 Long Story Short: Submitted homeschooling article to online magazine, website server problems, then article posted with substandard formatting!   No graphics!?  Aaargh!
I also submitted a story to "Chicken Soup for the multi-tasking Mother" or some such rot.  Seriously!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Guest Blogging, ROW80 and my Dorothy Gale Moment

Yup.  That’s me up there.  I am feeling rather sheepish in regards to my last over-the-top-drama-queen blog from Monday. I mean, here I am blathering on and on about statistics-- meaningless droves of faceless numbers, and here you all are, commenting, supporting my silly needs, being the funny, eloquent writerly individuals you are day in day out and putting up with my greedy whiney need to be popular.

Sigh.  Thank you.  From the bottom of my wannabe prom-queen heart:  Thank you.

So, I promised beguiling tales of my foray into guest blogging.  At the behest of another blogger’s good intentions, I checked out two links for guest blogging with a somewhat moderate return on my investment of time. In retrospect, I guess I was drawn into the whole idea of guest blogging with the intention of “growing my ego”—I mean “blog readership”. I set some goals for ROW80 and thought I'd follow through.  I’m not sure if it was the right avenue for exploration, but sometimes, getting lost is exactly what one needs to find out where the real destination is. (Watch "The Wizard of Oz" for further clarification.)

The first site is BloggerLinkUp. This site is free and hosted by Cathy Stuck, a.k.a. "The Idea Lady".  This site offers opportunities for writing guest blogs for  other sites or hosting a guest blogger of your own.  There are listings for contests, informational articles and the chance to network in the greater blogosphere at large. A rather dry site visually, but to its credit, it does have an easily accessible list of blogging gigs.  I liked that the list of opportunities is readily available for easy perusal by topic.  If one wanted to “get out there” and write an article for publication, or publish an already written piece, this might be one way to begin. 

The next site is MyBlogGuest. This site is huge, with thousands of members clamoring for guest bloggers and writers jostling for gigs.  The daily emails allow me to check out relevant posts from like-minded individuals seeking guest-bloggers and bloggers looking for places to post.  While the site is free, the premium membership, which allows you to peddle specific articles does have a fee. 

Frankly, I’ve had a hard time navigating this mega-maze of a site and that’s AFTER a five day tutorial.  It’s also a bit of a sensory Sahara and a little overwhelming when in comes to choices.  It is also rife with a lot of (gasp) non-writer-types, so typos, bad grammar and dead-end links abound.  However, I did follow up on one lead which has proved to be all right so far.  I am writing an article (for free) for a new online magazine about mothering and will be submitting it this week.  (Guess what: I'll keep you posted.)

So, after all the time and energy that has gone into this, will I be read by scads of people?  Will they care about what I write more than you, my loyal visitors and friends? Will people flock to my site in droves?  Um… what was I looking for anyway?  The feel-good-fuzzies I have received from YOU have been both heart-warming and thought provoking.  It has made me realize more of who I am and what I’m even seeking though this whole blogging thing.  I keep thinking of that scene in “Wizard of Oz”.  You know the one.  Where Glinda asks Dorothy what she’s learned, and Dorothy says,
“I know that if I ever to looking for my heart’s desire, I’ll never go any further than my own back-yard.”
I truly have learned to value this community we’re creating together.  I love hearing your colorful thoughts and opinions, and reading your interesting, funny and informative blogs.  It’s the realest (yes that's a word) thing I’ve got going.  Maybe I should’ve started with you first.  So, if you will allow me:  If you want a guest blogger for your site, you know who to call.  And conversely, if anyone is interested in doing an interview about your so-called writerly life, I'd be honored if you would be my guest.

There’s no place like home.
~Just Jill

A huge P.S.
Apparently, my blog address has been hacked by a Bible study site?!  What?  THAT'S not in the Bible.  The bible site only pops up sometimes and usually at the worst of times, like when I signed up my linky for ROW80 and now everyone thinks I’m a spammer, or worse.  Has anyone else experienced this?    I feel like changing my blog URL would unleash a backlash of unforeseen internet crap!  Any advice my People?

The karmic internet Gods are laughing at me!  LAUGHING! 
"Trying to increase blog traffic, eh?  Take that!"



Sunday, July 14, 2013

Does this post make my blog look bigger? My fling with Google Analytics.


(This is the first of a two-part installment about growing my blog-readership platform.  I have been informed by those in the know that I will lose readers if my blogs are too long.  So now you have to come back again on Wednesday.  My apologies in advance.)

I have a confession. 

I’ve been trying to (ahem) expand my blog readership.

Before you say anything, let me explain!  It’s not you—it’s me!  You do everything right.  I’m the awful one here.  Every week I blather on about some nonsense or the other, and you show up and you read it fer chrissakes.  And you (sob) even comment.  You all make me feel so special.  It should be enough.

But then I started getting these emails about building my social media platform.  I know. I know.  I shouldn’t have fallen for it.  But I’m weak!  Weak--I tell you!  I was swept away by the promise of more followers, and more readers!  Reading!  All the writerly websites say building your social media platform is essential on the path to becoming a writer.  So I started up Facebook, again.  I Tweet my posts like the best of birds.  I visit, read and comment on others blogs, and they always DO come back to return the favor.  But I’ve always wondered, how do Bloggers manage when they have a huge following?  Do they still visit their visitor's sites in reciprocation?  How do they get anything else done?

And then along came Google Analytics.  I’ve always felt my Google Blogger Stats to be unreliable, and being the curious type, I experimented a little on the side. (But I didn’t inhale.) Google Analytics is supposed to tell me how many readers really DO visit my website, aside from my faithful dozen who consistently comment.  Google Analytics show my readers demographics and behavior, something horrible called a “drop-off rate” and a bunch of other crazy statistics about the actions of these blog-readers I have never met.  It lured me in with promises of success.  It told me what I wanted to hear.  I became somewhat of an addict.  One day, after reading I had 87 visits to my blog over the course of a day, I noticed a button called “Engagement”, and when I clicked on it, I found the average duration of over HALF of the visits was… under ten seconds!  Seriously? 

What was that sound? 

Oh—nothing.  Just my gynormous ego hitting the floor and shattering into a thousand bits and pieces.

Surely I’m not pouring my life’s blood into this realtionship for a mere ten seconds! I considered stopping this blogging nonsense altogether.  But I ain’t Irish for nothing.   Someone tells me “No” and I do my Grandma Josephine O’Donovan proud and come out fighting!

I decided to delve even further into building my blog platform, broadening my horizons and checking out some guest blogging opportunities.  I thought it would be a sort of experiment, nothing too far-fetched, you know.  And conveniently, one of the bloggers I follow had posted on several of these guest blogging opportunities.  I decided to take the plunge!  My findings?

You will have to wait until Wednesday to find out. I’m hope the suspense won’t kill you.  After all—you are my faithful twelve disciples.  Besides, if I go long you won’t be able to read this blog in three minutes, which is the average rate of visits for most of my readership. 

But in the meantime, do tell:   Are you concerned about building your blog-readership or do you just say “To hell with it!” How do you approach gaining readership?  Is it just time in the trenches, hosting contests, commenting, and building relationships?  I would love to hear how you all have done it, and as always, thanks for reading.

~Just Jill

ROW80 Check in:

I have followed through and submitted an article to an online magazine, and have my “Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul” article in the final edit.  My plan of enter “Dreamwalker” in a contest to light a fire under my editing butt has fallen flat since I did not make it into the contest.  I did however get an honorable mention.  (Always a bridesmaid…) I shall continue editing without the lure of readership for now.

As Helen (one of my fabulous CPs) says, “Onward and upward into the fog!”


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

On the road to Quitsville: How do you read books?

Greetings Everyone!
I have a question for you regarding “The Reading of Books”.

It happened last night.  The lovely book I am reading has become… formulaic.  I found my reading speed increasing as I started scanning the pages, looking for action rather than description.  Sigh.  Once that happens, it usually is only a matter of time before I completely lose interest.  My daughter and I have a ranking system for books.  The standard 1-10.  10 being the best read ever, of course.  This particular book was an eight, whose definition is “A good, solid read”.  Nothing fancy, but engaging.  Last night I felt the erosion to my "Eight" begin, and I started slipping down to Sevenville, which is right down the road from Quitsville.

Do you stay with books, even if you feel you attention slipping?  When do you say “Enough!” and put the book aside?  Some people are far more patient than I.  (Or perhaps just more stubborn.)  They will endure a boring book like a car-ride to Grandma’s house.  It is simply unavoidable, and must be done.  And getting there won’t be fun either.  It’s just a matter of DUTY! 

But I just don’t have time for that nonsense.  I get very little reading time, and my precious hour after I go to bed must maintain an eight rating or above…or else!  What do you do?  Do you ever review books you don’t like, or do you stick with putting your energy behind the ones you love?
Goodreads has an official opinion (complete with polls!) on the matter.
Also, on a similar note.  Um…. Does anyone ever read the ending first?

GASP!  Now I’ve done it.  I’ve let the cat out of the bag! 
Sometimes I do. especially if I see the road-sign for Quitsville looming up ahead. And sometimes, it encourages me to keep reading.  New studies by very important psychologists say knowing the ending of a book actually helps the reader enjoy the process of reading.  So there.  Is you don’t believe me ask your mother, and then go here.

So, do you do it?

Fess up here.


P.S. ROW 80  I am still working on my article, and have started another. I am in the process of another edit for the MS and I’ve entered it in Xmas in July, so if it gets get picked as one of the thirty, I need to have it done.  Thanks for keeping in touch!


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tag-along Mom and ROW 80

Hello Everyone!

First, a big thanks to all of those who have stopped by to read and leave comments.  I sometimes wonder why I blog, since it can oftentimes appear to be a futile effort, so I truly do appreciate your time and feedback. It really does make it worthwhile.

In life and other matters, my twelve year old daughter had a sleep-over this week.  Typical twelve-year old stuff:  Nail polish, hanging out at the park, bad movie, ghost-stories, home-made Ouija board, etc.  My daughter and her friend asked to walk down the trail by our house to ransack a Mulberry tree and I agreed.  It really wasn’t that far, and they are twelve and together.  And, my daughter assured me, her friend had her phone.

As I watched their pony-tails swinging down the block and disappear around the corner, I sighed the parental sigh of Mommies everywhere:  My pre-teen is growing up so fast; well on the path to leaving me, as all children are since Day One.  I was having all these type of thoughts when the phone rang.  I picked it up and heard, “I’ve got’cha where I want’cha.  Now I’m gonna eat’cha.”

It was my daughter and her friend, discussing the lame ghost story I had told them at dinner that night.  I quickly realized the phone had speed-dialed our house on accident, and now I was somehow a voyeur, secret passenger on their walk down the path.  I listened as they giggled, screamed, gushed and talkedsofast I could hardly understand a word, but the poignancy of the moment caught me:  Here I was, suspended in my daughter’s world.  One apart from me, but one I helped create.

I wouldn’t tell her, but I will tell you.  I put the phone on speaker and listened for a few moments as I did the dishes.  They were so fresh and full of life.  I didn’t feel like I was invading her privacy, just admiring their world from my place.  The writer in me thought, “If this was a book, something terrible would happen to one of the girls, and then the phone would go dead!” Yuck.  Not a book I’d want to read, so I pushed the thought away and reveled in the beauty of my daughter’s world for the moment.

That is—until my four year old came in the door and said, “Geez Mom!  Are you still wistening to dat?” 

I sighed again, the sigh of parents everywhere, and hung up the phone.  On to the next moment.


As for ROW 80,

Private Just Jill reporting for duty!  Article done for submission to “Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul” (I know…) and I am entering a contest to help get the lead out as far as re-editing my MS “Dreamwalker”. 

Over and Out!


Lastly, I wanted to tell you all about a must-read blog.  Most of you are probably familiar with lovely  Rosi over at "The Write Stuff", but if you are not, this blog should really be a regular on your blog-list.  Packed full of fabulous links for writers and great reviews and give-aways, Rosi never disappoints.  It's like your usual dish you always order from your favorite restaurant!  (And her blog template is simply FABULOUS!)
~Just Jill



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Facing the Past: IWSG for July

Greetings IWSG folks and nut-tree enthusiasts!

Last week I had the pleasure of being “found” by two old friends.  Previously, I would have bridled at being discovered.  (I’m an insecure fugitive at heart.) I am not one to attend high-school reunions and have left my past behind me in many ways.  Several moves out of state and changes in perspective have left many of my old relationships –well, without basis for continuation and despite my penchant for writing, I’m really quite a lousy pen-pal.  At any rate, this reunion with my two friends has been delightful, our social-web has reconnected, and now life continues… on Facebook, of course. 

When we move, we always leave behind friends and acquaintances.  One “friend” I left behind in my move from California to Wisconsin was my chiropractor, Phyllis.  Phyllis came late in life to her practice, becoming a chiropractor at the age of sixty.  She was a wise, funky, left-coast soul, and a bit of a psychic.  While she worked out my kinks and knots, she would subtly mention these things about me and my life, things that only I would know, and I became acutely aware that my inner being was inextricably tied to my outer state.  I always left Phyllis’ office feeling fresh and perfectly aligned.

I thought a lot about Phyllis after my move to Wisconsin, and remembered well her serious look and parting comment at our last meeting.  “Keep in touch! You hear?”  But I didn’t.  I wanted to write to her and say “Thank you,” and “You made an impact on my life," but I didn’t do it for the longest time.

It took a year for me to write.  A long rambling missive in my fifth-grader’s loopy handwriting and then I proceeded to let it rest on my desk for weeks, until it got moved to my perpetual stack of paper-dross, and then finally, months later, feeling that all the news in my letter was old and my confidences silly, I did what I often do to letters I write:  I tore it up. 

Shortly afterwards, a friend called to tell me Phyllis had died of cancer.  I had not even known she was ill and now I had missed my chance.   I still honor her life and death every Dias de los Muertos, though I do regret not sending that letter, though the memory of her smiling face always assures me not to worry.  We connect in other ways now.

 I thought of Phyllis when  my two friends contacted my mother, looking for me.  And with Phyllis in mind, I opened myself up to reconnect with my past.  After all—if someone wants to find me, who am I to object?  It’s not like people are lining up around the block to talk to me! Frankly, it’s nice to be wanted.

So lovely IWSG bloggers and dearest readers, I am curious to hear about your own experiences.   Has social media allowed your past to catch up to you?  Have you felt wanted or just plain stalked?  Has your online presence rewoven loose threads or opened an old can of worms? Are you secure enough to face your past?
Do tell!
~Just Jill

P.S.  That picture was taken of me by my long-lost friend David.  The things you do on a long winter's night in South Dakota!
P.S.S.  It was the eighties.