Monday, August 28, 2017

Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Release Date:   August 29, 2017

I have, most of my life, had a list of authors I've considered my "auto-buy" authors. 

Slowly, over the years, the list has changed, and it has dwindled. 

There is now a very small group of outstanding writers remaining on that list. Louise Penny has been there, at the top, since I happened upon Still Life. 

Honestly, I do not think there's anyone writing today who is writing as well as she. 

She has taken pen to page and created a group of people her readers have grown to love. Some have stories we're still waiting to learn. Some have broken our hearts. Ms. Penny takes the pieces of broken hearts, puts them back together and raises them high - to the light. And she does it fearlessly. 

She's able to write about tough topics, as she does in Glass Houses, with a deft and sure hand. Helps us remember that even when we're doubting the world we live in, there is goodness. 

Glass Houses kept me on my toes. It had some surprises that made me think. And, as always, there was the irreverence and subtle humor that have become a Louise Penny signature. 

I loved Glass Houses. 

I want to stumble into Three Pines and never leave.

Note:  I received an advance reading copy from the publisher with no discussion regarding whether or not I would review the book.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

On Writing

I love to write.

But, I hate to write while telling myself I need to be doing it.

So, I guess, like Dorothy Parker, " . . .  I love having written."

Here's the thing.

I am proud of "Whimsey: A Novel."  

SO proud

I recently picked it up to re-read.  Something I thought I'd never do because I was tired of Whimsey by the time I finished writing (and rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting) it.

And then, after the writing . . .

Well, then came all the ups and downs that come with putting out a book - especially a debut novel.

First of all, I had no idea what I was doing.

Secondly, I was "self-publishing," which brings its own set of words whispered behind a raised hand.

Although not as bad as it once was, and even much more "accepted" now than it was in 2013 when Whimsey was published, there was that stigma of "self-published." 

More ups and downs that came with all this were on a more personal level, and truth be told - I'm not sure I'm really tough enough to go through all that again.

Writers say you cannot be thin skinned if you want to be a writer.  Boy Howdy, that is the damned truth.


After re-reading my Whimsey, I'm going to say this.

I like it.

I like it well enough that I would recommend it to friends if I hadn't written it.

I like that it made me smile, and I liked that it made me cry.

It's the book I wanted, for a long time, to write.

I'm proud of the book, I'm proud I'm the author who wrote it.

Then, after reading it, I did something I haven't done in awhile.

I went to Amazon to look at reviews.

There are 71 reviews, which is, I think, a pretty darn fair amount of reviews for a debut novel, self-published.  One with the only promotion coming from me, along with a hearty group of bloggers who were willing to give Whimsey a read and some print.

The reviews I got from well-respected on-line reviewers were very good to pretty good - and I was happy with that.

The reviews on Amazon range from one-star to five stars.  Not unusual.  And, of course, those five star reviews are way more fun to read.

The over-all ranking is 4.1 out of 5 stars - not bad, not bad at all.

What's really fun is knowing that most of the people leaving reviews are people I don't know, never met, never heard of and yet they somehow found my book.  Isn't that amazing?  

I'm truly astonished by this until I remember that I'm a reader who has picked up books by authors I've never heard of and, like many, have loved some of them, while others - not so much.

It just never occurs to me to go to Amazon and leave a negative review, while I can't wait to go and leave a happy little comment for a book I enjoyed.  You won't find the comments I leave under my real name.  Not being a reviewer, I feel silly thinking anyone might give two figs what Kaye Barley might think about a book.  Mainly, I'm just hoping the author will appreciate that there's a reader out there who enjoyed his/her work.

'Course, to the woman who spent $2.00 for a box of 25 books at a yard sale and read 10 pages of Whimsey and hated it - really, really hated it.  Bless your heart.  I hope your $2.00 brought you some joy in the other 24 books.  

What prompted this blog today is the fact that Whimsey is going to be on the shelves of WHSmith Books in Paris.

I sent them a note that I was going to be there next month, would be in their bookstore the evening of their Cara Black event and asked if they would consider stocking a copy or two.

I sent them the "sell sheet" Luan Stauss, owner of Laurel Book Store in Oakland, CA helped me work up when Whimsey was published. Luan was there for me every step of the way - first reader, supporter, a wealth of information on how to do the millions of things that needed to be done - ISBN, distributors, etc.  She ordered and stocked copies.  Every author needs a Luan, especially a first time author.

SIBA was also indispensable.  Through them I was able to send that sell sheet to hundreds of booksellers.  Many of whom agreed to stock my book by either ordering through Ingram, or on consignment.  And practically all of them list it in their on-line ordering inventory.  


Back to WHSmith.

They wrote back within just a couple of hours that they had ordered copies of Whimsey, and were happy to do so.  More than just a couple of copies.

It was a big boost to my ego, and it's what prompted me to pick Whimsey up for a re-read.

A few people have become friends through Facebook because they read and enjoyed Whimsey.  

Samantha Baldwin and Vicki Smith Mitchell, in particular.

They ask, often, how Whimsey #2 is coming.

Well, it's in manuscript form about, I think, maybe at the half way point to being written in its first draft (did I mention I am not a fast writer??!).  


I don't like it. 

And I have re-worked and re-written the damned thing so many times I have to just put it away. 


But it always finds its way back out.  I write a few words, get sick of it and put it away again.  And so it goes.

It's not working out like I thought, and often sounds like Whimsey #1 all over again.  Or, in some places sounds like words just tossed out in a stew of nothing much to brag about.  Ugh.  


WILL there be a Whimsey #2?  No idea.


I do have an idea that means a totally different point of view which means combing through page by page (again), sentence by sentence (again) and reworking what I've already written (again).  But, I like this idea, and you know, it may be worth it.  Maybe.  I won't know until I try.

And there's a second manuscript in the works.  This one I like.  It takes place in the mountains rather than on the coast.  It's a little darker.  A little sexier.  I need to get back to work on it.

What's keeping me from working on the novels?

Well, truth be told - I like writing "creative non-fiction" better.

Thank you Jungle Red for inviting me to write about anything I want once a month!

I like little memoir type pieces.

I like writing "rants."  (It's good to have your own blog to rant at!).

I like writing about my feelings.  Especially right now when I'm feeling so much.

The feelings are not happy feelings at this stage - they're anger, hurt, fear, and astonishment at our government and where this new guy in our White House is taking us.

Truth of the matter is, if I didn't write out those feelings, I'm not sure I'd be able to get out of bed in the mornings.  

So, maybe I'm not meant to write fiction.  Or maybe I should stick to the short stories I've had some luck finding homes for.  Who knows?

But I do know I will continue writing.  

It's one of the things I do.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

National Dog Day


Today is National Dog Day.

I know this because I read it on Facebook.  Which is just one more reason I love Facebook.  I learn new things every day!  

And a friend of mine, David Magayna (Marcie's dad), posted this poem -

Special Word

There's a special word
We dogs have
To express our great pleasure
Upon seeing our favorite person
It's "bark"
But be careful
For "bark"
Also means 742,000 other things
So it's all really about the context

From "I Could Chew on This, and Other Poems by Dogs
By Francesco Marciuliano

Hats off to all the great dogs that grace our lives, and to the great dogs who graced them in the past.  We never forget them, and love them till forever.

Annabelle Barley

Harley Barley

Pax Wilkinson

This was a dog who graced my life for almost 15 years. His name was Pax. He went through some of the tough times with me, and was always by my side. Pax and I took a lot of long car trips together and ate a lot of MacDonald's burgers together. Here's a little story about him. I went through a divorce when Pax was a couple years old, and "the guy," while we were separated, decided some of therecord albums I had belonged to him (see the things we fight over?!) So he came over one evening and while sitting in the floor deciding which albums were his, Pax walked over to him, cocked his little leg and peed on him. I have never loved anyone or anything any more than I did Pax at that moment. Here's to Pax. One of the greats.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Who are you bothered by?

I am bothered, quite a lot, by the fact that we have a president with a vocabulary of approximately 45 words and who cannot speak in complete sentences. 

Now, however, I'm more bothered by the fact that he gets off on hatred and inciting riots. 

And, oh yeah, there's the fact too that he'd rather tell you a lie than . . .  well, just about anything you can name.

Counting on Mr. Mueller to get rid of this dumb sumbitch - there now, my southern's showing, idn't it?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

National Photography Day

Did you know today is National Photography Day?

As it happens, I captured - on this auspicious day - photographs of Annabelle snatching one of my bears.

As if she doesn't have enough toys of her own? !


And when confronted?

This . . . 

"it wasn't me, Mama . . . "


She is such a little con artist!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

tears and a Hymn

I've always been a person easily moved to tears. 

I'm the girl who cried during an Eric Clapton acapella encore just from the sheer beauty of it all.

I find myself shedding more tears than usual these days - they began the evening of November 8, 2016.

Donald and Harley and I were settled down in a little beach house at Topsail Island watching the returns.

Plans were made to walk down a quiet beach that we love, step into the ocean that soothes my heart and soul and say a silent "Thank You" once we heard the news I was sure we would hear.

When Hillary Clinton would step up on a stage as the President Elect of the United States of America and say her "thank you's" to a country that was smart enough, strong enough, to turn their backs on the likes of Donald Trump.

Instead, we turned off the TV and sat in dumb silence and went to bed.

I didn't cry that night.

I woke up the next morning thinking the story would have somehow changed during the night.

Well, we know that didn't happen.

And I cried.

And I feel like I've been crying ever since.

And the reasons vary from day to day - sometimes from hour to hour.

Sometimes they come because I am so SO angry.

Or I'm unbearably sad.

Or frustrated by the ignorance.

Or, once again, I'm moved to tears by the beauty of someone's words.

Or the strength they possess in order to write them.

Words such as these, written by Sherman Alexie -

Why do we measure people's capacity
To love by how well they love their progeny?
That kind of love is easy. Encoded.
Any lion can be devoted
To its cubs. Any insect, be it prey
Or predator, worships its own DNA.
Like the wolf, elephant, bear, and bees,
We humans are programmed to love what we conceive.
That's why it's so shocking when a neighbor
Drives his car into a pond and slaughter–
Drowns his children. And that's why we curse
The mother who leaves her kids—her hearth—
And never returns. That kind of betrayal
Rattles our souls. That shit is biblical.
So, yes, we should grieve an ocean
When we encounter a caretaker so broken.
But I'm not going to send you a card
For being a decent parent. It ain't that hard
To love somebody who resembles you.
If you want an ode then join the endless queue
Of people who are good to their next of kin—
Who somehow love people with the same chin
And skin and religion and accent and eyes.
So you love your sibling? Big fucking surprise.
But how much do you love the strange and stranger?
Hey, Caveman, do you see only danger
When you peer into the night? Are you afraid
Of the country that exists outside of your cave?
Hey, Caveman, when are you going to evolve?
Are you still baffled by the way the earth revolves
Around the sun and not the other way around?
Are you terrified by the ever-shifting ground?
Hey, Trump, I know you weren't loved enough
By your sandpaper father, who roughed and roughed
And roughed the world. I have some empathy
For the boy you were. But, damn, your incivility,
Your volcanic hostility, your lists
Of enemies, your moral apocalypse—
All of it makes you dumb and dangerous.
You are the Antichrist we need to antitrust.
Or maybe you're only a minor league
Dictator—temporary, small, and weak.
You've wounded our country. It might heal.
And yet, I think of what you've revealed
About the millions and millions of people
Who worship beneath your tarnished steeple.
Those folks admire your lack of compassion.
They think it's honest and wonderfully old-fashioned.
They call you traditional and Christian.
LOL! You've given them permission
To be callous. They have been rewarded
For being heavily armed and heavily guarded.
You've convinced them that their deadly sins
(Envy, wrath, greed) have transformed into wins.
Of course, I'm also fragile and finite and flawed.
I have yet to fully atone for the pain I've caused.
I'm an atheist who believes in grace if not in God.
I'm a humanist who thinks that we’re all not
Humane enough. I think of someone who loves me—
A friend I love back—and how he didn't believe
How much I grieved the death of Prince and his paisley.
My friend doubted that anyone could grieve so deeply
The death of any stranger, especially a star.
"It doesn't feel real," he said. If I could play guitar
And sing, I would have turned purple and roared
One hundred Prince songs—every lick and chord—
But I think my friend would have still doubted me.
And now, in the context of this poem, I can see
That my friend’s love was the kind that only burns
In expectation of a fire in return.
He’s no longer my friend. I mourn that loss.
But, in the Trump aftermath, I've measured the costs
And benefits of loving those who don't love
Strangers. After all, I'm often the odd one—
The strangest stranger—in any field or room.
"He was weird" will be carved into my tomb.
But it’s wrong to measure my family and friends
By where their love for me begins or ends.
It’s too easy to keep a domestic score.
This world demands more love than that. More.
So let me ask demanding questions: Will you be
Eyes for the blind? Will you become the feet
For the wounded? Will you protect the poor?
Will you welcome the lost to your shore?
Will you battle the blood-thieves
And rescue the powerless from their teeth?
Who will you be? Who will I become
As we gather in this terrible kingdom?
My friends, I'm not quite sure what I should do.
I'm as angry and afraid and disillusioned as you.
But I do know this: I will resist hate. I will resist.
I will stand and sing my love. I will use my fist
To drum and drum my love. I will write and read poems
That offer the warmth and shelter of any good home.
I will sing for people who might not sing for me.
I will sing for people who are not my family.
I will sing honor songs for the unfamilar and new.
I will visit a different church and pray in a different pew.
I will silently sit and carefully listen to new stories
About other people’s tragedies and glories.
I will not assume my pain and joy are better.
I will not claim my people invented gravity or weather.
And, oh, I know I will still feel my rage and rage and rage
But I won’t act like I’m the only person onstage.
I am one more citizen marching against hatred.
Alone, we are defenseless. Collected, we are sacred.
We will march by the millions. We will tremble and grieve.
We will praise and weep and laugh. We will believe.
We will be courageous with our love. We will risk danger
As we sing and sing and sing to welcome strangers.
©2017, Sherman Alexie

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Those statues

I'll be honest. 

I rarely ever look at war memorial statues when I'm playing tourist in the south (where I also live), so they have never, up until recently, meant anything to me one way or another. 

I'm betting I'm not the only one.

That does not, however, mean the history behind them and why they're there holds no meaning to me. 

But the're just there, for me - kinda like the big canons scattered all around southern parks. They sometimes make a cool prop for a photo. 

Again - I "get" it, I just don't dwell on it all. 

We're surrounded by it. 

Sorta like Christmas music in October - I try to tune it out. 

I guess it's shameful to some that unless they appeal to me aesthetically, I pretty much don't notice. 

I don't think it's because I'm totally disinterested, I suppose I just feel as though if you've seen one small town statue of a confederate "hero" or "anti-hero" you've pretty much seen 'em all. 

I live in the south. 

I live in a part of the country where there are people who make their lives completely about "The South." 

Some who embrace the whole Southern Belle thing. 

Some who embrace stereotypes and keep them growing and flourishing. Some which should have been allowed to die, IMO, a painless death many years ago. 

There are a lot of things about the south I deeply, deeply love. 

The fact that many in the rest of the country think we're the capital of ignorance and racism is not one of them. 

Put the ugly damn statues in a museum if you feel they harbor that much history. 

But for God's sake - there are plenty of 'em, can't we choose one or two instead of forming a cult of love for ugly confederate statues? 

For those who feel differently - I would really appreciate not catching any grief over this today. I've put up with more than my share already, okay? 

In the meantime, I love this quote regarding these now (in)famous statues. (thank you, Joyce Yarrow): "Equal parts myth and deception, they were the ‘alternative facts’ of their time — a false narrative etched in stone and bronze more than 100 years ago — not only to lionize the architects and defenders of slavery, but to perpetuate the tyranny and terror of Jim Crow and reassert a new era of white supremacy,” the Mayor of Richmond, a 35-year-old African-American who previously worked for Governor Terry McAuliffe, said in June.

I do believe that says it all.  Thank you, Mayor Stoney.

Truth be told, the statues may not be what some of you think they are. 

IF you'd care to educate yourselves, I would recommend this article:

"A statue of Lee in uniform, mounted on a horse in a southern town square has only ever had one meaning: white supremacy. These statues didn’t come to be associated with racism and Jim Crow only after the Civil War had receded into memory. They were created, from the start, to mark and celebrate the foundations of Jim Crow, uncontested white rule. More mythically, but to the same end, they were built to glorify a vision of the South in which her black citizens had no place."

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Where will it end? How will it end? When??

just when I think i'm as angry as I can possibly be.

just when I think my heart has been broken as many times as it's possible to break.

then this.

I don't see how this can possibly ever come to an end, let alone a peaceful end.


An ending? 

What do you see as an ending to all this?

Does my generation die at war with racists and Nazis?

Do we leave it to our children to work it out? 

CAN they?

Our grandchildren?

For sure it's not going to be resolved by our government.

They're not even willing to speak up against a raving illiterate racist lunatic that we allowed to walk into our White House, and is now defiling by his very presence.

“I'm sorta glad that them people got hit and I'm glad that girl died,” Moore said in a voicemail to WBTV. 

“They were a bunch of Communists out there protesting against somebody’s freedom of speech, so it doesn't bother me that they got hurt at all.”

“I think we're going to see more stuff like this happening at white nationalist events,” Moore warned.

Monday, August 14, 2017


by Elisa Chavez

"Since you mention it, I think I will start that race war.
I could’ve swung either way? But now I’m definitely spending
the next 4 years converting your daughters to lesbianism;
I’m gonna eat all your guns. Swallow them lock stock and barrel
and spit bullet casings onto the dinner table;
I’ll give birth to an army of mixed-race babies.
With fathers from every continent and genders to outnumber the stars,
my legion of multiracial babies will be intersectional as fuck
and your swastikas will not be enough to save you,
because real talk, you didn’t stop the future from coming.
You just delayed our coronation.
We have the same deviant haircuts we had yesterday;
we are still getting gay-married like nobody’s business
because it’s still nobody’s business;
there’s a Muslim kid in Kansas who has already written the schematic
for the robot that will steal your job in manufacturing,
and that robot? Will also be gay, so get used to it:
we didn’t manifest the mountain by speaking its name,
the buildings here are not on your side just because
you make them spray-painted accomplices.
These walls do not have genders and they all think you suck.
Even the earth found common cause with us
the way you trample us both,
oh yeah: there will be signs, and rainbow-colored drum circles,
and folks arguing ideology until even I want to punch them
but I won’t, because they’re my family,
in that blood-of-the-covenant sense.
If you’ve never loved someone like that
you cannot outwaltz us, we have all the good dancers anyway.
I’ll confess I don’t know if I’m alive right now;
I haven’t heard my heart beat in days,
I keep holding my breath for the moment the plane goes down
and I have to save enough oxygen to get my friends through.
But I finally found the argument against suicide and it’s us.
We’re the effigies that haunt America’s nights harder
the longer they spend burning us,
we are scaring the shit out of people by spreading,
by refusing to die: what are we but a fire?
We know everything we do is so the kids after us
will be able to follow something towards safety;
what can I call us but lighthouse,
of course I’m terrified. Of course I’m a shroud.
And of course it’s not fair but rest assured,
anxious America, you brought your fists to a glitter fight.
This is a taco truck rally and all you have is cole slaw.
You cannot deport our minds; we won’t
hold funerals for our potential. We have always been
what makes America great."

A Mark of Resistance

Stone by stone I pile
this cairn of my intention
with the noon's weight on my back,
exposed and vulnerable
across the slanting fields
which I love but cannot save
from floods that are to come;
can only fasten down
with this work of my hands,
these painfully assembled
stones, in the shape of nothing
that has ever existed before.
A pile of stones: an assertion
that this piece of country matters
for large and simple reasons.
A mark of resistance, a sign.

 Photo by Ethan Welty

Saturday, August 12, 2017

White Nationalist Assholes

I do wish the news people would stop using the term "White Nationalists." 

It seems to validate, somehow, a group of ignorant racist attention whores. 

Call 'em what they are. 

Nazi wannabes. 


Trump tools. 

You know . . . Assholes.

Large Adult Goat (@JuliusGoat) on Twitter - - 
Imagine if these people ever faced actual oppression.
Nobody is trying to legislate away their right to marry.
Nobody is trying to make them buy insurance to pay for 'male health care.'
The law never Enslaved their great-grandparents
Robbed their grandparents
Imprisoned their parents
Shot them when unarmed
There is no massive effort at the state and local level to disenfranchise them of the vote.
There is no history of centuries of bad science devoted to 'proving' their intellectual inferiority.
There is no travel ban on them because of their religion.
There is no danger for them when they carry dangerous weaponry publicly.
Their churches were never burned.
Their lawns never decorated with burning crosses
Their ancestors never hung from trees
Their mothers aren't being torn away by ICE troopers and sent away forever.
They won't be forced to leave the only country they ever knew.
The president has not set up a hotline to report crime committed at their hands
They are chanting 'we will not be replaced.' Replaced as ... what?
I'll tell you.
Replaced as the only voice in public discussions.
Replaced as the only bodies in the public arena.
Replaced as the only life that matters.
THIS is 'white people' oppression: We used to be the only voice.
Now we hold the only microphone.
THIS is 'white man' oppression. We face criticism now.
We were free from it, because others feared the consequences.
THIS is 'oppression' of white Christians in this country.
Christmas used to be the only holiday acknowledged, now it's not.
I would so love to see these people get all the oppression they insist they receive, just for a year.
Just to see.
Give them a world where you ACTUALLY can't say Christmas.
A world where the name "Geoff" on a resume puts it in the trash.
Give them a world where they suddenly get a 20% pay cut, and then 70 women every day tell them to smile more.
Give them a world where their polo shirt makes people nervous, so they're kicked off the flight from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis.
Give them a world where they inherited nothing but a very real understanding of what oppression really fucking is.
Give them a world where if they pulled up on a campus with torches lit and started throwing hands, the cops would punch their eyes out.

Trump's Amerika
and Jesus weeps for who we've become

Don't look away.  Look.  Look hard.  THIS is called terrorism when it happens in another country.

When it happens here, the leader of our country says "all sides are to blame."

Bull  Shit.

An ignorant racist did this.

If our president can't say it - I can - AN IGNORANT RACIST DID THIS

David Duke (remember him?) -  tweeted to Donald Trump “I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

And if you're one of those people who think some of are over-playing the level of Nazism?  think again, Snowflake.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Annabelle Poses


Did you just take a picture of my bottom?!

I could die

Well.  What's done is done. 
But you should expect payback . . . 

All done.
Time to go