Friday, September 30, 2011

"Forbidden" #FridayFlash, #FridayFictioneers, #100words

Every Thursday, I look forward to seeing what photo Madison Woods will post on her blog as our prompt for Flash Fiction Friday. And every Friday, I look forward to reading the variety of stories the Friday Fictioneers have created. Visit Madison's blog and have a peek!

Here's my story for the week, based on Madison's photo above:


He departed in the Spring, leaving only a feather behind.

“Pick it up and think of me,” he said. “I will return to take you to my world.”

But how can I leave my world for his? And he surely cannot stay on this earth with me. Still, I do not doubt our love as I come to this creek each morning; stare at his feather; long to pick it up; imagine his wings enfolding me.

In the summer, the creek, like my tears, will  dry, and the wind will carry away what is left of him. My dark angel.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

First Love

This morning, a Facebook friend asked the question, "If you could choose your ring tone, what song would it be?" Funny, my first thought was the song, "I Could Have Danced All Night."

I found it curious that this song came to mind, and I'll admit, I was a little embarrassed at my "old-fashioned," even corny, choice. Why that song, of the thousands and thousands I might have chosen?

The film version of My Fair Lady came out in 1964. I was only six years old, and I suppose when I first watched, it was no more than an adult version of a fairy tale, Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast, perhaps. But as I watched it through the years, particularly in my young teenage years, it came to define what it would be like to be fall in love, to feel a happiness so full, one must dance.

I suppose it's a good thing, old-fashioned or not, that even today, it's the first song that comes to mind when defining myself by a ring tone.

What song would you pick?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Word of the Day - "Tchotchke"

Today's word is tchotchke

\CHOCH-kuh\, noun:
1) A trinket; a knickknack

Tchotchke. I've never heard the word before, but it brought all kinds of memories of favorite trinkets to mind. My earliest recollection is of a charm bracelet I had as a child. It had silver charms from places I had visited-- Disneyland, the San Francisco Aquarium, the Grand Canyon--as well as places around the world that my father had visited as a pilot. Sadly, that charm bracelet was lost in one of many moves we made as a family while my father was in the Air Force.

One of my very favorite knickknacks was a simple little present my sister, Tami, gave me when for my 16th birthday. She took a little pebble and wrapped it in a piece of toilet paper, and called it "Rock Hudson." It still remember how impressed I was at her cleverness, and I still have that little knickknack today.

When my children were young, my shelves were full of favorite trinkets--like this turtle dish that Adam made in second grade:

Or this flower ornament that Andrea made when she was in her hungry years in college:

One of my favorites is the first thing Stephen ever gave to me:

It's funny, the things we treasure. For me, it's usually something associated with a memory. A piece of jewelry, a framed photo, or something as simple as a sentimental note written on the back of a business card. Whether I still have these tchotchkes or not, I will always have the memories associated with them.

Do you have a favorite tchotchke?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How Far Is Too Far?

Is there such a thing as thinking TOO far outside of the box?

At the August Ozarks Writers League meeting, Deborah LeBlanc spoke about "Thinking Outside of The Box." She spoke of the necessity for writers to think of new ways to market themselves and their stories. Being one to stay inside the box--my comfort zone--I listened with hesitant interest to her philosophy: if hundreds of thousands of writers all stay within the same box, the chances of ever getting published, noticed, known, appreciated--whatever form of recognition desired--are close to nil.

Even with my apprehension to venture outside of my safe zone, Ms. LeBlanc planted a seed, and my mind has been abuzz with ideas. After all, part of what makes a comfort zone comfortable is the fact that it's predictable. Well, the "box" of a writer's world is far from predictable, so why stay inside it?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Right? So, last night, I ventured a pretty good distance outside of the box. Did I stray too far? Only time will tell.

All I know is, I won't have to ask myself, "What if?"

Friday, September 23, 2011

"That Time of Day" #FridayFlash, #FridayFictioneers, #100words

Once again, Madison Woods has posted a beautiful photograph as a prompt for Flash Fiction Friday. I feel a little strange writing a dark, sad flash fiction for such a warm and bright photo. But I am in that kind of place with my work-in-progress, Broken Dreams.

I often feel sad for those times in our history and even today, when people are judged, bullied, even killed because of skin color, religious belief, sexual orientation. When we will know their hearts?

That Time of Day

Sunset used to be my favorite time of day, when I waited for my boy to run to me, to sit in my branches and listen to me whisper as we watched the sun go down together.

Now, I dread sundown, when I hear voices gathered beneath my branches, ugly words spewing from their mouths. A man cries as a noose is wrapped around his neck.  I rattle my leaves in protest. But they do not hear my whispers.

I will shed my leaves like tears. I do not want to be the hanging tree.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What a Relief!

I've been wondering why, in the last few weeks, I seem to have lost my philosophy of it-is-what-it-is, and what-will-be-will-be. Usually, I'm a fairly patient person and have no problem waiting for something to happen, whether it is waiting for a story idea to come to me, waiting for a reply to a question, waiting for a red light to turn green . . . waiting, waiting, waiting. But lately, my brain is pacing back and forth with impatience, so much so I've found it hard to focus.

So after asking myself what's going on, I decided it must have to do with the fact there's a satellite plunging to Earth. According to statistics, there's a 1-in-3200 chance a chunk of it will hit a human being. A 1-in-3200 chance? I'd say those are pretty good odds! I've entered writing contests with worse odds than that, yet still felt hopeful. And I'd consider a lottery ticket with those odds as pretty good. So, even though it was shoved way down in my subliminal black hole, that must be the reason for my odd behavior. I could be hit by a 200 lb. piece of space debris at any time.

Then, this morning, I read an article on, "Doomed Satellite Approaching Earth, But You Probably Needn't Worry."  It stated:

The 1-in-3,200 probability has been interpreted by some as being ‘per person,’ rather than ‘per 7 billion people.’ That makes the chance of any one person having to worry about it to be less than 1 in 10 trillion,” Kessler told

Ah, relief: less than 1 in 10 trillion. That's much better. I can be patient again.

Now, if only I could focus . . .

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Magical Moments and Point of View

point of view:
1. A particular attitude or way of considering a matter.
2. (in fictional writing) The narrator's position in relation to the story being told.

I have only slightly embellished the following story that my friend, Russell, sent me this morning. Not only did it make me laugh, I thought it an excellent example of point of view:

Magical Moments

Harry met Sally at the Singles' Club and discovered over time that he enjoyed her company. After several weeks of meeting for coffee, he asked her out for dinner. Much to his delight, she accepted.

What a lovely evening they had, dining at the most romantic restaurant in town and dancing into the wee hours to the sounds of Big Band.

Despite Harry's age, they ended up at his place for a drink. One thing led to another, and age being no inhibitor, Harry invited Sally into his bed, where they had a most enjoyable roll in the hay.

As they basked in the glow of the magical moments they shared, each was lost in deep thought:

Harry stared at the ceiling, thinking, "If I'd known she was a virgin, I'd have been gentler."

Sally turned to her side, snuggled against Harry and pondered. “If I'd known he could still do it, I'd have taken my tights off."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Purple Pleonasm

I love the "Word of the Day." Very often, the word is new to me, and I like to try to put it to use in a thought or a sentence.

Today's word is pleonasm:

\PLEE-uh-naz-uhm\, noun;
1) The use of more words than are necessary to express an idea.
2) A superfluous word or expression.

Synonyms: copiousness, garrulity, loquaciousness, verbosity

I've been accused of purple prose before, but after today's word, I've decided purple pleonasm is so much more descriptive of the writing style into which I sometimes drift.

Allow me to "expose" myself. Here's an excerpt of a story I wrote several years ago:

The rising sun bade goodbye to the night’s moon glow with a kiss of violet, pink, orange and finally golden yellow.  Earth accepted Sun’s kiss and blushed with color.

And here is the critique given to me by a prominent college professor/editor:

"Oh. . . my . . . God."

I smiled. I knew she'd love it. Then, I saw her pulling her hair out.

"No. No. No!!" she continued. "This is so purple. Purple, I say. Purple!"

As you might imagine, I went pale and queasy all at once. She'd torn it to pieces. My masterpiece! My child!

I think. . . I hope . . . my writing has come a long way. At least when I read that passage now, I feel the same kind of yucky sickness one might feel after eating eight servings of tiramisu.

So, I've grown as a writer, and though a critique can often feel like standing by and watching someone beat your child, it has helped - a lot. I've come a long way in dropping the purple. Now, if I can let go of the pleonasm.

Still, it does have a distinctive ring to it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

#Flash Fiction Friday: Captain Josie and The Whale

Here's my flash fiction for Madison Woods' weekly Flash Fiction Friday. Thanks again, Madison, for a great photo prompt. You should try it, readers. You'll be hooked!

This is an excerpt from my short story, "Captain Josie and the Whale." The short story is available on Smashwords. To purchase, go to my Smashwords page on this blog.

When twilight next comes, watch.  Where the edge of the earth touches the sky, look carefully. There you'll see Captain Josie and her whale, William, swimming together.
As the light of day dims, they dive into the sea.  Though the orange-red glow of their love prevents anyone from looking too closely, if you could look, you’d see Josie hold tight to William as they dip below the horizon, and kiss the earth goodnight.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Color of a Voice

Can an author write a point of view voice that is not hers? I used to think so, but the more I write and the more think about it, I wonder.

If a point of view cannot be written with the introspection and intonation of a different culture, does that mean the character should not be written at all by someone outside of that culture? Is there nothing to be gained by the thoughts expressed, even if they fall short?

Broken Dolls and Broken Dreams are both multicultural historical novels. The main characters are Japanese-American and African-American. So I first asked myself these questions when my critique group told me that my Black character did not sound Black. I struggled mightily with Terrence, a Black teenager in 1940's California. Not only did I need to develop a Black voice, I also needed to sound like a teenage boy. How does one outside of a culture develop a voice that is realistic, yet not offensive to those within the culture? It was a challenge, and only time will tell if I met that challenge.

I pondered the question further after the release of the movie, The Help, when I read that many in the Black community were not satisfied with how a White woman, Kathryn Stockett, wrote the Black maids. When I posted my blog, The Help-A Multicultural Perspective, and read the posts of my Black guests, I saw several different perspectives of that era and of what it is like to be Black--perspectives that had never entered my mind before.

That made me think about how a Caucasian author would write the point of view of a Japanese-American. I thought about philosophies of the Japanese--gaman, shikata ga nai--philosophies that a Caucasian may not know or understand. Still, Arthur Golden, a Caucasian male, was successful with Memoirs of a Geisha.

Writing outside of one's culture is the best way to learn about other cultures, if done thoughtfully and with research. But does that mean the character can be written effectively? Though a writer in all likelihood cannot perfectly create a character outside of her culture, is that reason enough not to write the story? Personally, I believe it is better to learn and understand even a little, than not to try at all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Real World

Oh, the things we authors do to promote ourselves. This weekend, a photographer friend offered to take a series of photos -- you know, for publicity purposes.

We decided to combine a "girls'" weekend with a writers' board meeting, and what fun to have a Glamour Girl Pajama Party. I won't deny I've stared at magazine covers and wished to have the makeup artists and photographers to make me look "like that":
So, my friend packed up all of her bright lights, cameras, backdrops, duct tape, safety pins, makeup -- everything one might need to be alluring. Bewitching. Spectacular. Let me tell you, Glamour Shots are not nearly as glamorous as the final product makes them seem!

For instance, here's our "studio":

Always careful not to trip over the multiple lights and electrical cords strewn across the room, my friend also became my director, and suggested poses and expressions while showering me with compliments. Awesome fun! How could a girl not feel glamorous?

Here's how:
Dang breeze!
As you can see, my friend had a real challenge. But, after several hours and hundreds of shots, she did manage to get a few good ones. Now, all I have to do is hope that one day I'll actually need some publicity shots.

If that time ever comes, I'll still choose my real world over the glamour world. It sure is a lot more fun.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Help: A Multicultural Perspective

"Be curious, not judgemental."

I open this blog with the above quote from Walt Whitman, because it was out of my curiosity that this post was born.

Several days ago, I happened upon a discussion of The Help on Facebook. The status of my friend was simple: The Help: I'm pissed. That began an enlightening conversation between several people on Facebook.

At first, I'll admit I was very hesitant to add my own comments, because I did not want to offend anyone with the fact that I enjoyed the movie and felt it had some benefit to showing viewers a piece of history. But I decided to add my comment, and I am happy I did, as I have made some new friends, but more importantly, have seen their perspectives.

I was intrigued because in various discussions on television and radio, I'd heard that some in the Black community were not happy about The Help, and I wanted to know why that was.

Also, Broken Dolls, deals with the theme of prejudice during the Japanese-American internment. In my book, prejudice threatens to destroy Nobu (Japanese-American) and his friend, Terrence (African-American). Yet, it is friendship that changes the lives of Sachi (Japanese-American) and her friend, Jubie (African-American).

I'll admit, I originally read The Help to try to get "the voice" of a Black person, after being told by some in my writing critique group that my Black character didn't sound Black. But I became engrossed in the book beyond the "sound" of the voices - I was drawn into each character.

I watched the movie and felt even more sorrow for that era, when Black people were treated with such disrespect. That women could trust their children to the care of women they couldn't even share their bathrooms with--so sad.

Yet, it wasn't until I read the Facebook posts that I realized I had no real concept of just how sad that history is. Honestly, I have never really had an open discussion with anyone in the Black community about what kinds of prejudice they or their families have experienced. I've only read about it in history books. To hear what prejudice is like from people I know was a real eye-opener.

In The Help, I also watched the destructive power of peer pressure in the actions of Hilly and her friends. At the end of the movie, I saw in the eyes of Elizabeth Leefolt that she knew what she had done was wrong, yet she couldn't bring herself to stand up against her friends. In many ways, we've come a long way, but in the way that peer pressure makes us to do things we know are wrong, we still have a long way to go.

So, though this is a long blog entry, I believe it is an important one. I hope you will read each person's perspective, and I hope you will feel free to leave your comments.

Thank you, Donna, Cyndie, GPhillipD, Edward and Michele for your open and honest discussions of your perspective.

Donna grew up a military dependent. She lived the majority of her formative years on or around military installations from Texas to New Hampshire, and in Spain and Italy where two younger sisters were born. Her family relocated to California where she attended high school and received a BA in Business at St. Mary's College, Moraga Campus. Currently, Donna is pursuing a Masters in Legal Studies from Kaplan University. She is the mother of a 23 year old son who attends South Carolina State University's Masters in Engineering program, is married and resides in Charleston, SC.

Donna's Perspective:
Before viewing the movie, I was full of anticipation fueled by my sisters and niece who raved so much about the book. When the opportunity arose to see the movie, I initially watched with no "real" feelings one way or another. As a matter of fact I was more amused by the script than anything. I guess subconsciously, I was picking up on subtleties, but primarily, I just thought, yes, they probably did ignore a lot of what was being said until they got together and laughed at their employers behind their back.

It wasn't until the bus scene where a weary Aibileen and friend were told to get off the bus because “some nigger" had gotten killed that I suddenly became emotionally upset. That nigger turned out to be Medgar Evers. A respected figure from the 1960's Civil Rights Movement, not just ole Bubba from down the street. It hurt me to think that all Black people were and are cast into the same pot, indistinguishable from a slave to an educated War Veteran who had fought valiantly for the United States, only to be executed by a White Supremist.

I cried.

I cried, not because I was sad, rather because I was mad…Pissed is the better word. I’m pissed off because of all the hate filled attacks on churches, homes and businesses and on people who through no fault of their own look, or think, or worship differently but who know and accept that life is not ours to take or hinder, rather understand vengeance belongs to God. I cried for all the mothers whose sons and husbands were murdered, children and wives raped, for the verbal and physical abuses Black people have had to endure for the sake of having a job, being able to go to school, shop in a store, or simply walk on a street.

I remain upset enough to cry because sometime after seeing the movie, I remembered a scene from my own life. I often say I have not been exposed to such overt racism during my lifetime, but I remembered being in second grade living in Amarillo, Texas where my father was stationed in the United States Air Force. I had befriended a little white girl who had come to my all black Parochial School to act in a Play. Our friendship was instant and she asked if I could come over one Saturday to play in her Doll House. A real Doll House. Are you kidding? I begged my mother who agreed and the little girl’s mother picked me up. We had played for several hours and were only interrupted by her Maid who came to gather her for lunch. As I tried to follow behind, I was told, “Oh, not you honey, you have to eat out here”. I was confused…but I ate my lunch and waited for my “friend” to come back to play. I don’t recall if I ever mentioned this to my mother back then but I do know it wasn’t until I was an adult those memories came back and I asked my mother how she could have subjected me to such treatment. I don’t know if she truly didn’t recall the incident, thought it privilege that I had been invited to a rich white person’s home, or was embarrassed that the event took place at all.

At present I am trying to read the book. Good as everyone says it is I am struggling to pick it back up after having read just a few chapters. I’ll get through it I’m sure, but the history is getting in my way. I can’t take it as fiction, embellished or not.

Cyndie has over 18 years of experience in the NGO sector in the United States, Australia, Thailand, and now India. Her expertise lies in program development and marketing, communications, public relations and graphic design. This toward helping NGO’s find their voice and expression in a challenging and ever-changing socio-political and economic climate for nonprofits, both large and small. Visit Cyndie at her blogs:

Cyndie's Perspective:
I recently saw the film 'The Help' at the suggestion of a friend who read the book, which I did not. On the surface, I thought it was a thoroughly enjoyable film, perfectly cast, and in whose subject matter I have taken a keen interest throughout most of my adult life in my pursuit to somehow, in my own small way, influence the collective consciousness on issues of social justice and human rights.

Aside from the authenticity of the characters and the (IMHO) superb acting, the film affected me on two levels. First, I was reminded of my one and only experience of having 'hired help' in our young family during our father's service at Hamilton Air Force Base in Bermuda in '61, '62, and '63. For some reason, I remember more about my life during this brief period than almost any other time in my childhood and I can honestly say I attribute this to the joy brought to our lives by our maid Cinda. I didn't know much about her life outside of her time spent at our home, but remember her to be such a source of lovingkindness and laughter in what was an otherwise unstable home life, with my mother left to her own devices to raise her four young daughters, my father gone much of the time hunting hurricanes and conducting other weather reconnaissance missions for the U.S. Air Force. I remember looking forward to the days she came to our house, knowing that for those hours she was with us, we would be showered with her attention and affection, and I still recall being left with a feeling of loss at her leaving us at the end of her work day.

There was a purity to Cinda that even at my young age I could sense - she was bound by her duty to all of us, seemingly completely accepting of and fulfilled by her simple lot in life. She showed up to work always with a smile on her face and a willingness to dispense with unconditional love for me and my sisters. Her smile and laughter were contagious and I recall being drawn to that life-giving energy that was absent from our household when she was not there. I saw this as an innate characteristic in all of the 'maids' in the film - their pure love for the children seemed not a mask they wore to fulfill their job description, rather a truly felt emotion for the children as though they were their own. Throughout the film, the joy and presence in these women's faces toward the children brought home the visceral feeling of that same love I felt from Cinda.

Second, the film made me reflect on my recent and ongoing experience of life in India, with the remnants of the caste system there still leaving its ugly mark on many aspects of society, for both locals and foreigners. While the caste system was formerly outlawed just after the time of Partition and liberation from the British in 1947, and its demise adopted by the Constitution of India in 1950, there are still many aspects of Indian life that have not shed the affects of this long-held belief system. This social phenomenon touched me profoundly vis-a-vis my relationship with our driver and his family. Initially an employee of my husband's company, Sitaram originally hails from the low-caste Hindu Konkani region in Southern Maharashtra. He has spent the better part of his career working in simple jobs as a driver or office clerk, subjected to the wrath of high-caste businessmen. I was appalled on countless occasions at the way the lower caste people are treated by their bosses. Sparing you the distasteful details, suffice it to say that despite caste having been outlawed over fifty years ago, a much harsher version of Jim Crow is still very much alive and well in India.

My husband and I were invited to spend the evening with Sitaram and his family on the eve of Diwali, one of India's most celebrated festivals. When our employer found out we had gone to his house, sat on his floor and ate his food, he asked 'How could you stoop so low as to share a meal with these people'. I will share here a post from the journal I kept during my first year in India:

I am still trying to come to grips with why this experience (dinner at Sitaram's for Diwali) has so profoundly touched me. Upon seeing more of their very simple (and speaking only materialistically, poverty-stricken) lives, I am awestruck by Sitaram, who shows up every morning, on time, with clean pressed clothes, a smile on his face, and in whom I have complete faith and trust and absolutely no doubt in my mind he would do anything and everything to take care of and protect us. He takes a total of three buses over an hour and a half to get to our house in the morning, then proceeds to do his job dutifully and with a smile on his face, never expressing any anger or impatience toward the IMPOSSIBLE Mumbai traffic. At the end of the day, he drops us off then takes another three buses and often 2 hours to get home – working sometimes an over 14-hour day, six days a week – for a mere Rs. 8,000 per month paid by Hayden’s employer. That’s less than $175.

P.S. Much like Cinda in Bermuda as a child, Sitaram and his family provided me with a sense of peace, comfort and belonging which is rare within my own family. I am happy to say that he is no longer 'my driver' rather he and his family have become my friends and in a way, my family in India.

So, Sitaram and Cinda are two people in my life whose character, honesty and sense of duty have validated my belief that human decency and worth is not defined by one's color, financial standing, education, job ranking or amassed fortune. Just as these two individuals have inspired me in my life, I believe the characters in the book/film 'The Help' in their own small way have altered history. In their courage to step forward and speak their (anecdotal) truth, they joined the ranks of my heroes Gandhi, Evers, Edelman, King and others who have fearlessly and unceasingly championed the causes of social justice and human rights. Fearing the repercussions of their actions, and believing it impossible that their efforts alone could possibly affect any sort of change, these brave women took the risk to share their story and in doing so opened our eyes and thus ever-so-slightly shifted the collective consciousness.


GPhillipD is from Fairfield, CA and currently resides in Austin, TX with his wife, Cheryl.  He attended San Francisco State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and the National Technological University in Colorado, graduating with a Master of Science in Computer and Electrical Engineering.  He has enjoyed a 25 year career as a microprocessor designer in the semiconductor industry and has been a part of design teams for everything from anti-locking brake systems, desktop and laptop computers, mp3 players and cells phones. Reading and blogging on various topics is a welcome reprieve from his profession as an engineer. Visit GPhillipD's blog at

GPhillipD's Perspective:
The Help: A Reenactment of Black and White Stereotypes

I spent many summers from 1965 through 1970 in Biloxi, MS and I witnessed and experienced Jim Crow racism in its rawest form. Mississippi during the ‘60s consisted of two entirely different social realities and the movie brought back memories of my childhood.  My father’s family lived across the railroad tracks which, in Mississippi during the ‘60s was a common reference to the black community.  Funny thing was that my cousins and I had the opposite perspective. Crossing the tracks meant we were going to the white part of town and we were not allowed to meander across the tracks without adult supervision.  I understand now, without having to watch a movie, that in Mississippi during the ‘60s it was an accident of birth that a person was destined by social decree anyway, to be “The Help” or destined to be a socialite and employer of “The Help”.   A scene in the movie that makes mention of Mississippi’s determinate social structure was when Cicely Tyson’s character said to Emma Stone’s character; about her mother… “She didn’t choose her life, her life chose her”.  For me that one scene summed up life’s circumstance in Mississippi during the ‘60s.

In my view the movie itself is not about “The Help” as much as it is about the superficial relationships and goings on of the so called white social elite and specifically white women in the Jim Crow south. There was some degree of lamentation provided that gave us a sample of the callousness in which “The Help” was treated and  if one watched carefully it was quite obvious that “The Help” was depicted as described in Ralph Ellison’s novel The Invisible Man. The movie supported the reality that the employers treated “The Help” like ornaments in the back drop and similar to pets they expected them to fetch and serve quietly.  In the end, the movie provides a rather myopic perspective on the social invisibility of “The Help” and instead gives a macro view on the frivolous endeavors of a few socially elite white women. The movie seems to feign that “The Help” would have no substantive meaning to their life if they were not somehow being caretakers of white households.   The movie should make one consider the illogic of someone that can despise an individual while at the same time entrusting them with the care of their children. But then again, the racist mentality has never been rooted in logic.

I can’t emphatically say that the movie is a flop. The actresses executed their roles with compelling prose and stereotypes are on full display for black and white characters.  I believe the movie missed in a rather major way by not having a single significant black male character other than the invisible and assumed black male whose presence was associated with abuse, abandonment, and profanity. It’s a stretch to consider that the absence of a significant black male character in the movie was meant to further the notion of the social invisibility of black folk in Mississippi during the ’60s…but I suppose it’s conceivable.

On a 4 star scale, I give the movie 3 stars for its entertainment value and 2 stars for its inaccurate depiction of the social realties in Mississippi during the ‘60s. It’s not a total waste of two hours but far from an accurate depiction of the ugliness of the Jim Crow era.  Overall “The Help” serves up a few slices of humble pie.

At age twelve, impressed by the work of A. Conan Doyle, Edward decided to write stories. He knew this undertaking would require preparation, but underestimated the fifty years before he realized his ambition. Meanwhile, he supported himself by other endeavors. Among the side excursions was a stint at the University of Arkansas, where he began his association with the Ozarks. He left with a master's degree in psychology to work on radios for NASA, then to Georgia, where he taught psychology for two years before completeing a Ph.D. Now, he considers himself at "happily ever after," and is glad to be writing stories at last.

Edward's Perspective:
I put off going to see "The Help" for some time because I thought it might be painful to watch, and indeed it was. I expect many of us who grew up white in the south in that era have regrets they didn't speak out against the injustices. Holocaust scholars talk about the "banality of evil." If it's going on all around us, it
seems normal, just the way things are.

I thought it was a good movie, but fell somewhat short of being a great movie. Seemed like the film was sold (or bought) to be more than it actually was. The latter part touched upon civil rights, the murder of Medgar Evers, etc., but more as a peripheral issue than a central theme. The film was apparently intended to be light and funny, but was too grim to quite bring that off. However, that the movie generated such interest suggests there's an audience for serious treatments of race matters.

Michele began writing professionally in 2005. She's a health writer contributing articles to and  She’s also the Atlanta Alternative Health Examiner for She has hosted and written for her talk show, Frankly Speaking and contributed to blogs and websites such as Entrepreneurial Woman Network.  She was also featured in "USA Today." A former nurse, Michele holds a B.A. in health services administration from Saint Mary's College of California and an MBA from University of Phoenix. She also studied nutrition and Oriental medicine. Currently, she is pursuing a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. For more info, visit her website at

Michele's Perspective:
Interestingly, I experienced a similar situation to Donna's when I was a kid. I was in the first grade and our school at the time was very integrated -- mostly emigrants (India, Brazil, Russia, Asia, etc.). My friend at the time was Sophia. She was white (Russian). We were best friends (as best of friends 1st graders can be). I sometimes walked her home since she lived so close to the school. I lived a little further away and caught public transportation home. Anyway, for the first time, she invited me in her house and we had a really great time until her parents came home. When her mother saw me in her house, she went berserk. She began yelling at me to get out of her house. Now, I thought she was yelling at me to get out because Sophia didn't get permission to have company -- until... she turned to Sophia and yelled, "I told you no niggers are allowed in my house." Her mother grabbed me by the arm and physically put me out the house. At 6 years old, I shrugged it off. I didn't understand what had happened. I felt bad. My feelings were hurt. But it wasn't until I was a little older (at 13) that I understood Sophia's mother's behavior and why Sophia subsequently severed our friendship (stopped speaking to me and sitting next to me). By 13, I had experienced other similar incidents. However, when I was 13, I was in the 9th grade and at an all white school in Georgia. It was hell for me but there was one white girl who befriended me. Then one day, we couldn't be friends anymore. I always wondered why she never invited me into her home but then my father finally explained it to me. Then I understood. Then I became angry. Then I began to question everything.

People make it seem like Black people are just whining or overreacting. But until our critics have walked in our shoes, they will never know what we've had to endure as a race. My mother and father had to sit in the back of the bus, eat in separate restaurants, get educated in separate schools, use separate restrooms and water fountains. Did you hear that? My Parents. I am the first generation to be protected by the civil rights laws of 1964. The first. And still, I had the experiences I just shared. My grandparent had it worst than my parents, and my parents had it much worse that I, and my son will certainly have it better than I did. With each generation, I am hopeful that we will find equal footing as a race -- the human race.

So, I finally watched the movie yesterday. I found it to be an enjoyable movie. Lighthearted and funny at points. It certainly doesn't depict the true hardships of blacks, but it gives an entertaining story about a few lively characters.

I re-read what I wrote and realized that I brushed over my perspective about the movie. Sometimes, some emotions are just too difficult to translate into words. For example, when I watched Schindler's List, Roots, Mississippi Burning and other similar movies -- I'd walk away too angry for words because of the inhumanity and violence against a race or group of people. I recently watched the movie The Hurricane, about the boxer -- and I was infuriated by the injustice he suffered.

There were points in The Help where I became quite angry -- when Abileen's son was killed, when Evers was murdered, when Hilly was blocking opportunities for each of her maids and those of her minions. The unfairness can be fought but the inbred ignorance about an entire race of people, i.e., can't use the same toilet because blacks have more pervasive diseases, is a bit harder to ameliorate. That kind of indoctrination perpetuated from generation to generation. The legal rights of blacks were nonexistent. One only had to be accused to be arrested -- no proof was necessary. These were the "realities" that the movie lightly touched which caused me to become upset -- not at the movie but about the realities for my parents, grandparents and their parents and their ancestors. For a black person, just lightly touching the subject can reopen the wound -- because the wound has never truly been healed. Sure, we've poured a little peroxide in it and patched it with bandaids; we've even tried to staple and stitch the wound at times, but the wound just keeps getting infected generation after generation.

Now, with a Black President, some claim we have "arrived" and the first-aid kit has been put away. No more salve or bandaids or disinfectants -- it is expected that the wound has healed. Yet, I still read of our elected President being referred to as Tar Baby and photoshopped to look like a monkey. So, while I enjoyed the movie, The Help, for it's much deserved entertainment value, it only scratches the surface of Blacks' true reality during that era -- and that's okay. The author wanted a story about "maids" not about the wider social injustices and the civil rights movement. So in that vain, I found the movie quite entertaining.

Thank you again, Donna, Cyndie, GPhillipD, Edward and Michele!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blogger Has A New App!

This is my first post using the brand new iPhone App for Blogger! Yay!

Hope it works. :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Confessions of a Hoarder

Something "inspired" me to clean out my closets today - all four of them. Not sure what it was, but it could have been Stephen's hint last night that pack rats drive him crazy. Maybe it was directed at me, maybe not. But apparently it hit close enough to home to motivate me to take on the goliath project for the first time in oh . . . eight years?

That's right. I probably haven't sorted through my "hanging memories" since Stephen and I married and I moved from my house in Tulsa. Even then, I'll admit I didn't get rid of what I should have. Instead, I hauled most of those "memories" with me to my married household.

Why is it so hard for me to get rid of old clothes? After all, most of what I've separated hasn't been worn for at least the last two years, some even longer. Shouldn't it be enough to know that someone else will make much better use of some still very-wearable items?

But even today, as I held up each hanger for consideration, I found myself thinking:

1) Oh, I'll fit into that again someday. (Yeah, right.)
2) I might need that suit when I become a famous author. (When it happens, I'll buy new suits!)
3) Maybe this will come back in style again sometime. (If it hasn't yet, it never will.)
4) All this needs is hemming. (It's only been waiting to be hemmed for five years now.)

And let's not talk about the shoes!

Anyway, what better time to clean out my closets than on Labor Day weekend, when everybody else is out on the lake, seeing a movie, traveling or eating out? None. Besides, it's only Saturday. Now that I have more room in my closets, there's still plenty of time to take advantage of the Labor Day Sales!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Flash Fiction

My friend, Madison Woods has a great flash fiction series going on her blog -- write a story in 100 words or less!

This week, I decided to give it a try. She usually posts a picture to use as a prompt, but this week used a mental image instead. Some of the stories that resulted are chilling, so that's also what I've attempted with mine.

I'll warn you - it's not my usual fare. In fact, it prompted my husband to ask, "Where did that come from?" I think I scared him. :)

At any rate, the photo I found will scare you:

     Is becoming a Delta Rat worth searching the morgue in the middle of the night? At least the other initiate, Todd, is here searching for clues too.
     The drawer’s icy handle nips my hand.
     A dead body!
     Next drawer. Whew! It’s empty. A note flutters in the cool draft.

     Lie on the slab. You’ll know when your time’s up.

     I lie down. Close my eyes. Wait.
     Todd whispers, “Time’s up.”
     I start to sit up, then . . .
     He slams it shut!
     I scream. “What the—”
     Cold. Pitch black.
     He taps the drawer. “Sorry. You lose.”

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thursday Already?

My friend posted a blog ( today about the progress she's made on several projects. Feeling rather frazzled this past week, it inspired me to think about what I've accomplished.

1) Completed a new short story.
2) Sent a total of 13 short stories and poems to two contests.
3) Submitted two short stories to a literary journal.
4) Submitted a short story to an anthology.
5) Appeared on Madison Woods' blog. (Well, okay, actually she interviewed about a week ago, but it appears this week, so I'm counting it anyway!) And thanks, Madison, for some excellent and thought-provoking questions!
6) Lined up a blog series that I'm REALLY excited about. (To be announced soon!)
7) Added three pages to my work-in-process, Broken Dreams.
8) Posted a blog entry on Character Body Language.

I think it's important sometimes--especially when frazzled--to sit down, take a deep breath, and think about all that you've accomplished.

So all in all, I'd say this was not a bad week, at least in terms of my writing. But, outside of my writerly world? Well, take a look at my desk and guess what I'll be doing tomorrow.