October Events

I can’t believe October is almost here, but I’m loving this fall weather. If I can just pretend winter snows and cold aren’t right behind autumn, I can be a happy camper. I’m also happy about a couple of events I’m doing in October, three actually, though two of them are on the same day but in different places. Check these out.

Saturday, October 3
Oswego Literary Festival, 9:00 – 1:00
32 West Jefferson, Oswego, IL

The Village of Oswego Cultural Arts Commission along with the Oswego Public Library District will be hosting the 4th annual Oswego Literary Festival.  They will offer sessions, displays, and vendors, including me there selling some books.  I’ll be bringing the new Deb Donahue novel with me, too, so if you’re in the neighborhood and want one, come on by.  They are also raffling off all three books in my Street Stories series (Painted Black, Bend Me, Shape Me, and Box of Rain) and lots of other cool prizes. The library’s Oswego Campus features a beautiful, new addition. This will be the first major event in the new annex.

WOA2Word of Art 2/Fall Art Scene, 5:00 – 9:00
Celebration Gallery at the Emmanuel Lutheran Church
902 Third Ave, Rockford, IL

This is an extended showing of the Word of Art selections being shown in their gallery, and will include 5 minute readings during the first 30 minutes of each hour by In Print members.  My reading will be at the beginning of the 6:00 hour and I haven’t decided yet if I will read my award winning story Spare Change, or if I should read a scene from one of my novels, like Box of Rain.  What do you think?

Saturday, October 24

PPLPrinceton Public Library Author Fair, 10:00 – 2:00
698 E Peru St., Princeton IL

I am especially excited about this event, since this is the library where I work and I am involved with the planning, in addition to being one of the authors who will participate. We have over 30 authors lined up to bring their books for a chance to sell and sign them for readers. We hope to make this an annual event, and may add a few extras to the day like speakers and giveaways.  I’ll be sure to keep you updated if we do.

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Word of Art 2 – I’m in!

woa2ipblogLast year’s Word of Art project was so successful that In Print Professional Writers have done it again.  Word of Art 2 started a few weeks ago with a call to writers to submit essays, poems or stories that are 200 words or less. Artists then select the ones they want to interpret visually on a 16×20 canvas in whatever medium they choose. Stories and art are then put on exhibit and published in a book.

Writers submitted up to three pieces and could have as many as two of them selected.  Since my entry last year, An Autumn Afternoon, was one of the finalists at the end of project judging, I actually submitted three pieces this time hoping to double my luck. I just found out TWO of them have been selected. I can’t wait to see what the artists do with them.

Here are the beginnings of the two that were chosen.  Click continue if you want to read the whole thing:

Dixie

The artist who selected Dixie is Janet Werntz

Her toothless grin
Her pink, pink skin
Her wild, dust-magnet hair
She’d snuggle close beneath your chin
To let you know she cared.
Continue—>

Spare Change

Denise DeKing Stredde selected Spare Change

I watch as you walk by.  I hear what you’re not saying.

You want clean, swept sidewalks and easy access to the path of your intention.  Impediments in your way are merely obstacles to be removed or ignored.
Continue—>

Guest Post at Kathryn’s Inbox: Birthing a Book

It looks to me like I forgot to post this excerpt from a guest post I did over at Kathryn’s Inbox in January.  If this is a repeat post, I apologize.  I’m only showing a bit of it here, but click through to read the whole article if you are interested in hearing about the labor pains involved in Birthing a Book.

Today, I am bringing you a guest post by the wonderful Debra R. Borys whose most recent novel Box of Rain was released in December 2014. Debra is talking with us about the process of birthing a book. I found this post to be quite inspirational and hope that you do, too.

 

If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know how much work you do beforehand to prepare for the new arrival. You take Lamaze classes, read books, plan decor for the nursery. You pack your suitcase, take the multi-vitamins your doctor prescribes, and faithfully attend scheduled wellness checkups.

When you are anticipating the creation of a new book, there are several stages all writers go through. Methods may vary, but the general framework remains the same: conception, research, development, labor, and the final reward, holding your newly birthed book in your eager little hands.

via Kathryn’s Inbox: Guest Post: Author Debra R. Borys on Birthing a Book.

Box of Rain E-Book Launch Celebration Dec. 16

Read all about it at my Box of Rain website.

 

Author Interview Seventy-Six – Deb Borys – Suspense

Library of Erana interviews quite a few interesting authors. You should click through and read the rest of mine, then find out who else they talked with.

Library of Erana

Welcome to Deb Borys

Where are you from and where do you live now? – I’m from small town Midwest U.S. and after about fifteen years of living in the big cities of Chicago and Seattle, I’ve come back to my roots and my hometown.

Please tell us a little about your writing – My current focus is my Street Stories suspense novel series. The first book, Painted Black, was released in 2012, then Bend Me, Shape Me in 2013, and the third, Box of Rain just became pre-orderable on Amazon.  The ebook will be released December 15 but the print version won’t be out until the spring of 2015. You can basically say I’ve been able to get a book a year out now.  I’m hoping I keep up that pace.

Each book in the series tells the story of a kid living on the streets of Chicago who…

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Deb Borys Will Be on In Print Radio

I’ve been watching and waiting to hear this interview when they post it so I can see if I sound like a bumbling idiot or not. Want to help me keep an eye out for it?

In Print Writers

Lolita Ditzler and Deb Borys Lolita Ditzler and Deb Borys

Award winning interviewer and In Print member Lolita Ditzler spoke with suspense writer Deb Borys about her “Street Stories” set of novels that take place in Chicago.  Deb also read an excerpt from her upcoming book in the series, Box of Rain.  The reading and the interview will be featured in future episodes of In Print Radio.

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The Literary Chain Letter – aka ‘My Writing Process’

Chain letters don’t scare me.  My soul has been damned dozens of times if you count how often I have deleted or ignored an email, Facebook post, or tweet that has warned me to repost or forward a “blessing” in order to avoid certain dire consequences.

Except, when Jill Nojack tagged me in a literary chain I’d never heard of before, it pushed a button that I cannot, apparently resist–my vanity.  You see, Jill is from @indieheart and did a great review of Bend Me, Shape Me last year when it first came out, so her calling me out along with Catherine Lea and Peter Maughan tells me she thinks enough of my work to want to call it to the attention of her readers. Or at least that’s what I choose to believe.

Most of the writers I’ve looked at who participated in this chain have answered four basic questions. The only one I’m really interested in, though, is the last one: How does your writing process work?  I’ve been using a new program called Scrivener and I am fascinated by the tools it has available to enhance and complement my writing process. The combination of Scrivener and Microsoft’s OneNote seems to me the perfect combination right now.

For research and to keep track of names, locations, and research for the series, I’ve been using OneNote for quite a while and will probably continue to do so. The program works on both MAC and Windows but has more bells and whistles on the PC. Scrivener, on the other hand, has more perks in Mac mode (at least for now—they are bringing the Windows version up to par in the near future). So what I sometimes do when I’m home is have both my desktop and laptop on and running the program that gets me the max for my money.

OneNote

In One Note I do character sketches and brainstorming about the plot. Once I have an overview of the main story, however, I switch to Scrivener and start imagining scenes to go with it. Each index card is a scene, although with this book each scene is likely to end up as its own chapter, too. For some reason I always need to get the first scene figured out in detail, and sometimes even written, before I can start coming up with ideas for the rest of them.

Once I get that out there, I just start thinking: What is the natural progression of actions? Since I know my characters well, I know how the events in the first scene are going to affect them and thus start the chain reaction: action, reaction; stepping forward, and being forced back. Each action gets its own note card, sometimes with quite a bit of detail included in the summary and sometimes just with a single idea. I write down every possible scenario, even some I’m not sure I want to use. The more questionable ones, I keep toward the end, but when I’m writing and get stuck, I look through all of them to see if maybe they will work.

Fullscreen

One way to view Scrivener projects

Once I know the sequence of events, I go through and decide whose point of view would work best. The Street Stories books are always told through the eyes of three characters, my main protagonist Jo Sullivan, the main street kid, and one other character. I choose to color code by POV so I can tell at a glance if I’ve got too much of one character in a row. I slip white note cards into place to show the timeline of when each scene takes place that day.

Viewing only the timeline cards

Viewing only the timeline cards

Now I’m ready to begin actual writing. Each index card opens into a separate document. I could easily work on any scene I want to as inspiration strikes, but usually it works best for me to start with scene one and continue on so I can test if the action/reaction makes sense.

You can format the view font any way you want to.

You can format the view font any way you want to.

As I’m writing, if I have any side thoughts or To Do items specifically related to that particular scene, I jot them in the Document Notes section on the lower right. If the thought isn’t tied to the scene but the whole story itself, that same area can be switched to Project Notes. When I complete the first draft and go into edit mode, I will go through these notes one by one and resolve them.

If I need to make a note about a specific word or section of text, I will select it and add a comment. Comments here work much like they do in Word and I usually don’t worry about them until edit mode happens. If the note is simpler–say I don’t want to take the time to decide a minor character’s last name right now because I’m on a roll–I will make the note as an Inline Notation which show up in the body of the text. These often get fixed later during the same writing session, once the running heat of the muse has been satisfied.

Scrivener has lots of other tools that I suspect I will probably find ways to use to my advantage, like keywords, document references, and the ability to create my own meta data. During this initial courtship, however, the only other one I really rely on is the Project Target statistics. In addition to setting a word count goal for each scene, if I tell the program how long I want the book to be and when I want to complete the first draft, it will calculate a daily writing goal for me. If I get more words done one day (or less, which is most often the case) it adjusts the count for the next session. This is a tremendous carrot that keeps me moving forward because it makes me feel that yes, I can get this book done on deadline.

I better get cracking!

I better get cracking!

Now it’s time to tell you who I’m tagging as the next victims–er, writers–in this literary chain letter.  Fellow New Libri Author Judith Kirscht recently released her third novel, Home Fries which is a finalist in PNWA’s Nancy Pearl award. Shari Rood just released her second novel, Blood Brothers, and moved to South Africa so she should have lots that is interesting to say. And Annie Walls is not only the author of the popular Famished trilogy, but a great artist as well.  She designed the banner for my Facebook page.

Oh wait, you wanted to know what the first three questions are?  Here you go:

  1. What are you working on now? Box of Rain the third novel in my Street Stories series
  2. How does your work differ from others in its genre? I wrote it
  3. Why do you write what you do?  To educate through entertainment

 

 

Interview at Mysteristas Blog

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Just in time to help spread the word about my attendance at the Dekalb Library Author Fair tomorrow, Mysterias Blog posted an interview of me today.  Here’s one of the answers I gave, but I hope you will click through to read the whole interview.

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.

The volunteers and staff at The Night Ministry in Chicago were influential in helping me see the importance of reaching out and how much of an impact compassion and acceptance can make in someone else’s life. If I have to name three people in particular, I think it would be three homeless young men I met while I volunteered with TNM. Eric was my first lesson in how to give unconditional love. He was messed up, involved in male prostitution to feed his drug habit, yet so kind and vulnerable that I couldn’t fault him for that. I could see there was more to him than the struggles he was going through. Then there was Chris, who was bi-polar but so smart. He was always the first to be there for his friends and anyone he felt was being treated unfairly. He and I studied for his GED and he finally got back on his feet and I’m sure is out there still standing up for those less fortunate. Then there was Anthony. He had some sort of learning disability and had had an abusive childhood, but he was always the happiest young man you could ever hope for. His positive outlook on life never wavered for long, and his smile always cheered me up when I was feeling down.

via Mysteristas | Interview: Debra Borys.

It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks

I’m excited to be starting out the summer with a bang.  First off, on Memorial Day weekend, I gave a party to celebrate my Mom’s 80th birthday and the engagement of my son to a wonderful woman.  Then, before I could even catch my breath, I started preparing for my first author event of the season, The Writer’s Yarn Author Fair at the Dekalb library.  I will be there all day Saturday May 31 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

printersrowThat will be a great venue to practice my social skills so I am ready to attend the 30th annual Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago.  The festival with be going on all day Saturday June 7 and Sunday, June 8, but if you want to catch me there, shoot for 2-6 p.m. on Saturday.  The Chicago Writer’s Association will have its own tent (Tent F).  Over 46 authors will be attending that weekend from the CWA alone, so you will have lots of opportunities to buy books and meet authors.

For this event, I will be donating $10 per every hard copy sold of my Street Stories novels to The Night Ministry as a show of appreciation for the work they are doing and the way they inspired me to highlight homeless characters and their lives in the series.

So what’s going on for your summer?  Got  time to come and share some of mine?  I’d love to see you, both old friends and new.  Whatever the months have in store for you, I hope you enjoy them as much as I am going to enjoy mine.

My Words in Art Form: An Autumn Afternoon

In Print Professional Writers is a group based in the Rockford area that is affiliated with the Chicago Writers Association, of which I am now a member. They have come up with an interesting idea called Word of Art.  Writers submit short stories, poems or non-fiction that is 200 words or less and then artists can look through them and select one to be the inspiration for a work of art.

On September 5 there will be a reception to showcase the art, the stories, and their creators. Art and story/poem will also be compiled in a book which will be sold at the reception.

I am excited to announce that even though the stories just went live a couple of days ago, my story, An Autumn Afternoon, has already been chosen by an artist named Kathy Baker. Kathy has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in photography.

I’ll keep you informed as the event gets closer in the hope that some of you can attend and participate.  I know I plan to be there to sign copies and meet and greet. (PLEASE NOTE:  The image posted above is NOT the image created for the story.  That won’t happen until later this summer.)

Here’s the story that will be transformed into art:

AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON

The orchard smells of apples. I stretch out to grab a red globe that dangles within reach. The stem snaps; leaves float down around me. More apples tempt me just out of range, begging to be picked. Each so smooth and perfect, I wish I were two feet taller.

I shine the fruit to a deep maroon on the thigh of my jeans. Not a flaw in it. My teeth crunch through the red-skinned, white flesh. The juice, sweet and tart, puckers my cheeks. The framework of branches above me stretches like a stairway waiting for an adventurous child. But there is no child to climb today.

Or is there? I step into the crotch of the tree and hoist myself up. Left foot, right foot, then—I stop. What is it about adulthood that makes us so cautious?

I sit on a likely looking limb and take another bite. The aroma of ripening fruit mingles with a whiff of burning leaves. Through the tracing of branches, I glimpse my neighbor in a red and black checked shirt. He leans on his rake, flames rising from a pile of brown and gold and red, looking my way.

via In Print: An Autumn Afternoon

 

What’s in a Dream? Or Can I Eat Pie and Sleep at the Same Time?

pieSometimes the smallest most insignificant dreams can make you ask some pretty big questions when you wake up in the morning. Like this one:

I’m in a kitchen and everyone else is eating lemon meringue pie, or other pies and cakes, food that they’d all gone out and bought together, without me.  I wanted some, too, but how could I ask for some when what was there was theirs, not mine? I even contemplate eating the leftovers on the saucers they put by the sink, crusts and half eaten pieces.  But then on second look, I see they aren’t pie scraps at all but watermelon rinds with all the good fruit parts already eaten.

So what kind of symbolism can I see in this small, almost boring dream? They are eating. Do I use eating as a substitute for love?  I was there and accepted by them, but not part of them.  Did I want to eat lemon meringue pie or did I want to be part of them?  Well, I think I know the answer to that. How do I get to be part of them?  What should I do or not do? Who are they anyway?

Or…the dream could simply mean that I was hungry for lemon meringue pie.

The Night Ministry Bus: One of the Pivotal Experiences in My Life

NightministryI found this excerpt in an old journal, written when I used to volunteer in Chicago with the Night Ministry.  One of their programs is a large recreational bus that has a medical station set up in the back room.  It travels to two or three neighborhoods each night and serves coffee and juice and hot chocolate to anyone who drops by.  Sometimes they just line up outside to receive their treats; sometimes they come in and sit down on the couches and seats within, especially on the cold winter nights.

It was a life altering few years that changed my perspective on how I live my life.

The bus is gross.  How could it not be? Sure, the volunteers and staff are supposed to clean it up after every shift, but some nights, when you’ve been serving cookies and condoms from 6:30 p.m. till 1:30 a.m., and maybe had some lonely guy or hyper gal talking at you, or even someone venting hostility, your shift leaves you drained.

Listening is hard work.  Sometimes it’s the hardest part about volunteering.  Even harder than serving gallons of hot chocolate and tons of cookies to a hundred kids pushing and shouting and demanding and loud. There have been times when stuff was thrown at the bus, like eggs or trash. I’ve even been hit with a plastic bag filled with the crumbled cookies I handed to the kid myself.

Mostly, though, the people who come are happy to see you.  They welcome your presence into their dark and isolated world, so they make the most of your short visit by soaking up as much companionship as they can.  Storing it up against the long dark moments until the next person looks at them with their heart and eyes and really sees them again.

Listening, standing there and letting someone talk at you no matter whether it’s because the person is lonely, drunk, angry or  just manic, can exhaust you in ten minutes flat, fifteen tops.

On the other hand, the opportunity to just listen has presented me with some of the most meaningful minutes of my volunteering experience.

Wake up. Get Up. Write.

workingOne of the things I worry will happen as a result of having moved back home to small town Illinois is that I will lose sight of who I’ve grown to be in the years since I last lived here.  I think that is evident from the many posts I’ve written on the subject here in this blog.

Specifically, I don’t want to lose sight of the identity that classifies me as a writer.  I’ve moved from a city where serious, published, and talented writers abound.  Finding a writer’s group with the same aspirations as you, and at relatively the same skill level, is not that difficult if you just look. The friends and acquaintances I knew there first knew me as an adult, as a writer, which affirms your own sense of self and helps you to maintain that image.

Living in the town I grew up in surrounds me with people who knew me in my “before” state. Many read some of the juvenile attempts at writing I produced then and most remember the immaturities and stupid things I did when I was younger.  Few people here take my writing seriously and even fewer enjoy reading the type of writing I enjoy producing.

So how do I maintain my sense of self, my sense of “I am a writer?” The article I found today at Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds gives me a blueprint to my future.  Wake up.  Get up.  And write, damn it.

Writer means writing. Even if it’s just a moment in the narrative, even if it’s just one thought orchestrated and set gently on the page. An avalanche is snowflakes. An ocean is all droplets. Our life is measured in seconds, our work measured in words, and so you have to put the words down….

The words you write right now are words you can fix later.

The words you don’t write today are a curse, a hex, a black hole painted white.

You think that forcing it is counterproductive, that it means nothing, that you’ll just spit mud and blood onto the paper — and you might be right, but you might be wrong. Might be gold in them thar hills, might be a cure for what ails you in those droplets of blood. You don’t know. You can’t know. You’re you — your own worst judge, your own enemy, your greatest hater.

If you’re dying in the snow, no matter how much it hurts, you’ve gotta get up and walk.

If you’re drowning in the deep, no matter how hard it is, you’ve gotta hold the air in your lungs until your chest feels like it’s on fire and you’ve gotta swim hard for the surface.

Writing is the act of doing. Surviving. Living. Being.

From nothing into something. The word of the gods spoken aloud and made real, signal in noise, order in chaos, Let There Be Words and then there were Words.

On the days it’s hard to write are the days it’s most important to write.

That’s how you know who you really are.

That’s how you know this is what you’re meant to do.

Wake up.

Get up.

Write.

via The Days When You Don’t Feel Like Writing « terribleminds: chuck wendig.

Inside the Mind of a Writer

When you get inside the mind of a writer, you may find yourself inside the mind of one of their characters instead.  Yes, there are voices in my head.  Here’s one of them, Booker T. Brooks, the main street kid in my next Street Stories suspense novel.

BookerTMy mama named me after Booker T. Washington, some famous black dude who used to be a slave but grew up to be an adviser to the President of the United States. She learned about him in grade school, I think. Couldn’t be high school, I don’t believe, because she always say she never went if she could help it and dropped out, pregnant, at 16. I read a book about him at the library once, Booker T that is, just to see why she picked the name and the only reason I could figure out is his picture looks an awful lot like what I remember of my daddy.

My daddy left us when I was seven maybe. Eight at the most. Left all us kids, there was five of us by then, with me the oldest. He just up and disappeared. We never did learn if he went cause he wanted to or if something happened to him. Could be dead for all I know. He was mixed up in some bad shit, mama said, gang stuff, you know. Lots of that happening in Englewood, the Chicago neighborhood I was born in.

Mama left there shortly after. Moved to Uptown with her sister. They was ten of us living there then, (Aunt Suni had three little ones, including Shorty, my cousin). Then Mama got pregnant again ( I think maybe she was whoring it to make some money), twice even, and they just couldn’t keep up with all us kids. We ran wild. I’m not sure who exactly called DCFS on us, probably one of the neighbors complaining about them pesky kids down the hall, but them people didn’t like what they saw when they got there. It was only a one bedroom apartment, and not too big at that. Us big kids got the bedroom. There was a couple mattresses throwed down for us. Mama and Auntie slept with the babies in the front room, except when one of ‘em brought up a beau. Then the other would drag the playpen into our room and make a couple of us sleep on the floor so she could have a spot on the mattress.

Looking back, I can see the place wasn’t too clean—toilet didn’t flush half the time, dishes didn’t get washed till you ate on em two, three times, hell,we even had a cat for a while used to use an old blanket in the closet for a litter box. It didn’t seem too bad to us at the time, though, we always had somebody to play with, or fight with. The worst is I can remember being hungry all the time. And the yelling. Mama and Auntie couldn’t really control the pack of us, but that didn’t stop em from screaming at us to behave. Lucky for us, they usually let it end with the yelling. Swatting our rear ends musta took too much energy. I know they were tired. Both of ‘em. They did the best they could.

It probably didn’t look that way, though, when the DCFS came. I heard words like “shocking” and “filthy” and this one woman had the most disgusted look on her face. Long story short, they took most of us away that day—only left the youngest—and put us in foster care. I always think maybe they got that backwards. If they’d taken the babies and let us big kids stay, I coulda helped somehow. If somebody woulda showed me how, I coulda cleaned the place up a bit, couldn’t I? Taken care of Mama at least.

Lucky for me and Shorty, we got placed together that first time. Shorty was almost my age, but he was always skinny and sick. Caught a cold just by looking outside. That didn’t stop him from being fierce. He got into more fights. If I wasn’t around to step in for him, he’d get beat so bad, but he never give in. Hell, I seen him drag hisself up from the ground when he couldn’t see straight, let alone stand and fight. If the other guy hadn’t knocked him unconscious, I think Shorty woulda kept going till he died. Mrs. C always said he was a corker. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, still don’t really. But the way she said it told she was proud of him.

Oh yeah, Mrs. C. She was our first foster mama. The best and the only one we kept in touch with.  She’ll help me get me out of this jam I’m in, if she can.

An Author Spotlight

Me-smilingM.J. Joachim, who did a thoughtful review of Bend Me, Shape Me recently, invited me to do a guest post about who I am, a theme you may have seen a few times here in this blog.

I wouldn’t be the woman who can now look at the darkness and deal with it if I hadn’t first been the woman who believed there is love and laughter and grace in the world.

I feel blessed to have “double vision” like this. While I still don’t see the whole elephant, knowing that there is more to life than just the trunk I am blindly clinging to has made me a more curious, more accepting person than I feel I would be otherwise. At least I know the truth of how we all see “but a poor reflection as in a mirror” and I fully look forward to seeing “face to face.” “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Read more on M.J. Joachim’s Writing Tips

And Love Remains

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I found the following poem in a pile of old journals and materials that I had in storage. I don’t exactly know when it was written, but I do know to whom. I wrote it as a present for my husband when we were still married, probably mid-way or toward the end of our thirteen year marriage.

Reading this reminds me of those times when my heart was “hit with a painful light” and what it is like to love someone so much it “burns away the doubts and fears.”  I miss loving that way, so completely.  Are “grownups” ever able to trust enough to love the way we did when we were young and reckless? We grow cynical and cautious when we see too much of life and know what people are capable of doing to each other.

It seemed significant somehow that the word Love is smudged on the parchment paper by what looks like it may have been a tear drop. I was sure when I wrote this poem that the last line was true, that “always, always, the love remains.” It didn’t feel that way to either of us at the end. Yet I don’t think it really went away, either.  Not for me, at least.  I still feel it when I look back, like an ache in my throat.  Maybe not missing him exactly, but missing loving him.

And Love Remains

When stress persists, it levels low
The years behind us, the future’s glow
Daily toil becomes mundane
The days all seem to proceed the same
Like a blind man groping in the darkest night
Dulled emotions are hidden from sight
Though faith exists, it’s often weak
And sometimes hope is afraid to speak
Then amidst confusion, anger and strife
My heart is hit with a painful light
A love so strong it burns away
The doubts and fears that mark my days.
My love seems empty, a source of pain
But always, always, the love remains.

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Get Behind Me, Now Stay There

My edited podcast interview with Get Behind Me, Now Stay There is up on iTunes to listen to! Oh and they also talk with musician Joseph Strider and author Jim Harrison, and play some cool music. There is a host of other media news that is also very interesting so I hope you’ll listen to the whole podcast, but if you can’t my section starts about 53:50 (the whole podcast is an hour long).

If you listen from their iTunes page, the episode I’m in is #40 – Dec. 31. Or you can just click the play bar below to listen here.

http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/getbehindmepodcast.com/media/2013-12-31_get_behind_me_-_episode_40_-_itunes.mp3

Just Imagine It Ink’s Facebook Page

Just Imagine It Ink’s webpage

Family

Greg-me-Chris
I’ve never been much of a photographer. Not that I can’t take a great snapshot if conditions are right, but I don’t feel the need to commemorate life’s events with a ton of photos. Usually that’s not a problem. I’d rather be invested in enjoying the moment than concerned about recording it for posterity.

This Thanksgiving, however, I wish I’d been more camera-aware than usual. If I have this right, it’s been 12 years since I have had both my sons at my side at the same time. And since they live so far away, it may be be quite a while before it happens again.

The picture above was taken in my mother’s house in 2001, I think (the date is missing from the print, I can only read ’01). I wish I had a comparative montage to show the three of us this year. Since I don’t, and I don’t have Photoshop either, I will have to be content with the triptych I pasted together below, including my Mom this time.
T-giving2013-theboys and meEnjoy your family, everyone, while they are with you. Not just during the holidays, but every day.

Who Was I?

evolution of meI know who I am now. I even think I know who I was during my teen years when I identified with the “Make Love, Not War” hippies of the day.  But I found a letter written somewhere in between the two that makes me think perhaps some stranger possessed me and took over my thoughts, actions and personality.

Oh wait, I know what possessed me.  Love.

Fear the love bug, people.  Some of them bite.  And if you are allergic and don’t know it, you may turn into someone completely different than the person you were meant to be.  I have proof.  I found it in a box of papers from my storage unit that had journal entries and stories going back to high school days and continuing through the late eighties.

Earlier story starts and ramblings reveal an idealistic kid who wanted to be independent and throw off the shackles of a Vietnam War-ridden society.  An account of a dream I had reveals a secret desire to journey in a hippie van full of flower children to a community farm.

Well, the farm part came true.  But the van took a wrong turn somewhere. Instead of ending up growing marijuana with a long-haired sensitive dude who writes poetry and wears a tie-dyed shirt, my farm looked more like a survivalist’s compound, with well-stacked bins of toilet paper and canned goods, a large garden, and animals we raised and butchered ourselves.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I enjoyed being self-sustaining and the meat and home-grown goods were the best I’ve ever tasted.  If it wasn’t so much work, I’d love to do that now as well.  The real detour I took in my life was turning from a pacifistic liberal-leaning individual to a gun-toting, conservative, Paul Harvey-loving reflection of my husband.

Yes, that’s right, I said Paul Harvey-loving.  This from the woman who, last year, couldn’t stand the sound of the man’s voice even when she couldn’t make out the words he was spewing.  The proof is plain in a letter I wrote to him dated June 1975.

Dear Mr. Paul Harvey,

This is not a fan letter, though I do enjoy your editorials.

In 1975 I had been married two years and was two years away from having my first child. The body of the letter is to let Mr. Harvey know that one of his sponsors, Kerr (who makes canning lids and jars) appeared to be deliberately withholding packages of canning lids as part of a conspiracy to force people to pay more money by having to buy jars AND lids even if they didn’t need jars.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I had turned into a conspiracy theorist also. How could I not be when the proof was so plainly before my eyes.

There are five major grocery stores in my area and only one of them has received a shipment of lids.  That’s one shipment, mind you.  Yet all of these stores have jars still sitting on the shelves.

I seem to be saying that Mr. Harvey should be made aware of these nefarious and unfair practices because he himself was such an upholder of justice and the American way.  “Perhaps if enough of the silent majority gets angry,” I wrote, “some things might change.”

Some things did change, thank God.  I did.  I grew and changed and opened my mind.  I found the path through the woods to the person I used to be and I built on that.  I made a mess sometimes along the way and didn’t always travel in a straight line, but overall I’m happy with the track my life is on these days.

Now I sign my letters with “Debra R. Borys, author of the Street Stories suspense novels” instead of “Debra Borys, farmer” and I will never again tell Paul Harvey or anyone like him “P.S. Keep up the good words on the air.”  Instead I will end with:

P.S. Keep true to the person you are at the core, whether that person is conservative, liberal, or doesn’t give a damn for either. And if you lose sight of that for a time, know that it is never too late to find yourself again.

All In the Family

“Having mental illnesses doesn’t mean a person can’t be highly intelligent and extremely successful professionally”

via Coming Out Bipolar, Round 1 « Disorderly Chickadee.

Einstein

You probably know, if you’ve been following this blog, that the main character in my second Street Stories suspense novel, Bend Me, Shape Me, has a main character who is diagnosed as bi-polar.

What most people probably don’t know, is that my dad was bi-polar also.  This didn’t get diagnosed until later in life.  I was already married and out of the house by then, so not as aware of the toll this took on my mother and younger siblings.  Looking back, I guess I can see signs of it before then. He was quick-tempered sometimes and prone to bouts of extravagance, though quite frankly that seemed more like his passionate Italian heritage showing.  I never remember seeing him depressed as I was growing up, which I’ve always thought had to be present to qualify someone as a manic-depressive.  In fact, he was almost always over-the-top outgoing and had a great sense of humor.  Everyone who met my dad, I think, liked him instantly.

He was on medication for heart problems when the bi-polar red flag first waved its undeniable banner.  Sometimes I wonder if there was some combination of drugs that produced the illness, or at least maybe aggravated what had only been an “inclination” to bi-polarism.  There is a lot I don’t know about the subject, despite the research I did for the novel.  In fact, I believe there’s a lot doctors don’t know about the subject either.  Slapping labels on patients that don’t entirely fit seems to happen too often these days.  But that’s a whole other issue I don’t have time to talk about today.

My point today is that mental illness (whether correctly diagnosed or not) is a fact of life in many families today.  In fact, it may be that EVERY family has someone dealing with a disorder even if not everyone knows about it.  It may not be your immediate family, but I bet you have at least one relative somewhere down the line who has one of the 188 mental disorders defined by the DSM and ICD.   The Wikipedia list covers everything from Stuttering (stuttering?) to Schizophrenia, and includes commonly recognized conditions like ADD as well as a few that seem like an odd fit, such as Child Neglect.

If someone you loved found out they were sick, would you turn your back on them and walk away?  Would your fear turn to anger and disgust?  Would you cringe if they asked you for something and tell them to get a job? If you’re the kind of person who would not, I hope you will keep that in mind when you meet strangers suffering from an illness they didn’t ask for or do anything to deserve. Whether that person is homeless or a successful entrepreneur carefully monitored by a team of highly paid doctors, they are doing their best to deal with what life dealt them.

My dad didn’t have to deal with his disorder for long.  A few years later, his heart problems ended his life.  My mother spent that time treating him with a grace, love and understanding that is an inspiration to me.  I think maybe her positive example influenced my own desire to reach out and accept and love despite how difficult or scary or even ugly things can sometimes get. If more people were like her, the world would be an entirely different place.