Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Shell Keeper/Quote Outtakes: Chapter Nine

The signs that presage growth, so similar, it seems to me, to those in early adolescence: discontent, restlessness, doubt, despair, longing, are interpreted falsely as signs of decay.
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

This chapter starts with Claire dealing with, Madison, her client's mischievous child. After a long day of showing homes to buyers who can't make up their minds, they've finally decided on a house. That evening Claire is processing paperwork and polishing off the late night coffee and snack she snagged on the way home at Gwen's bakery. 

The reader is starting to see the toll that Claire's life choices have made on her heart, mind and body. We experience Claire's inner struggle between protecting herself from the bad and ugly of life and the temptation to open up to the good. 

Claire has lived a successful life by the world's standards, but by the standards set forth in Ms. Lindbergh's quote, she's clearly on the cusp of growth...if she can only get over her past...

(Yep...I took the picture and that's Penny snuggled up in the chair, peeking over the top of the page!)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sneak Peek at Sequel to The Shell Keeper!

Hi to all! Yes, I'm hard at work on the sequel to my first book, The Shell Keeper! Sorry, no title yet-these things are harder than you'd think! But the story picks up a few months after the end of the first book, and my gals, though they are no longer all in one place, are still great friends and helping each other through some sometime daunting, sometimes humorous challenges!

I know I'm always anxious to read the next book in any series, and even more so when I know it's still in production! But I wanted to give everyone a little sneak without further ado, here's the very first scene....

If she closed her eyes, just let go, and didn’t over-think it, Claire could almost imagine she was lying beside a tropical waterfall, its warm waters splashing nearby. In the distance unknown birds called from the tops of what she imagined were palm trees swaying in the gentle trade winds. She could even smell the hyacinth. Yes, if she closed her eyes, she could almost imagine....

“Breathe deep, ladies,” a woman’s voice whispered, “feel prana flow through you, cleansing tension and bringing clarity.”

Clarity? Claire thought to herself. Jesus, she could use clarity. In fact, wasn’t that why the hell she was here, she wondered? Hadn’t she been working on deep-sixing the tension and finding friggin’ clarity for the last four months?

“Breathe out negative chi. Release all cares, all thoughts,” the woman continued, in a calm, soothing voice.

Maybe she’d get an iced chai tea afterward, she thought, and then realized she wasn’t supposed to be thinking. “Shut-Up,” she said to herself.

“Claire?” the woman’s voice asked.

“Sorry, talking to myself.”

“Good to know,” she said softly. “Well, ladies, I think we’ve come to the end of today’s class.”

The tropical forest and all its delights suddenly ended. Gone was the waterfall, the birds, the breeze in the palms. Claire opened her eyes and saw Calysta, the yoga teacher, tucking her IPod into a backpack and blowing out the candles; so long, hyacinths.

After a few minutes of stretches to get the circulation back into her now uncrossed legs, Claire rolled up her lime green yoga matt, tucked it into her brightly colored Vera Bradley tote, pulled a lightweight saffron-shaded Patagonia hoodie over her head, flipped free her ponytail, pushing back an errant strand of black hair from her face, and stood, looking at herself in the wall mirror.

Not long ago her thick, dark hair would have hung in an easy, professionally styled wave that grazed the shoulders of a neatly tailored, black DKNY suit. Her fair complexion and dark eyes would have been expertly enhanced with the aide of Mac and Bobbi Brown. An Hermes scarf would have draped elegantly at her neck, a black leather briefcase holding her laptop in one hand, a coach handbag over her shoulder.

“Who the hell are you?” she asked herself.

“What, Claire?” asked another woman, packing up beside her.

“Nothing, sorry, talking to myself again.” Since when do I talk to myself? she thought. She walked out the front door to the yoga studio and stood, looking up at the Bookcliffs of Mt. Garfield’s mesa facade, towering over the Grande River valley, home to Colorado’s wine industry. “Since you moved here,” she whispered to herself.

(photo courtesy

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Feeling the Loss of a Friend...

James Horner wrote a wonderful piece for The Field of Dreams called The Place Where Dreams Come True. I love that movie. The music always reminds me of life’s great possibilities and that there is something or someone greater at play in the universe. It’s one of those things I turn to when I need to be reminded that there’s a bigger purpose out there…whether I know what it is or not.

Time and events take and give from the cavernous spaces of the heart that hold our dearest memories. But they can’t rob you of the best of them and a gentleman named Mick will always hold one of those spaces for me. 

Mick was my friend, though I never had the delight to meet him in person. We met as writers on one website and eventually became friends on Facebook. Foolish people say the friendships you make on Facebook aren’t real, but who are they to define friendship. My apologies to those who might think me presumptuous writing about someone I knew so little. I'm sure there's much about him I never knew, still what I did know mattered to me. When I heard last week that he had died I was shocked…and so truly sad, for myself and also for those who loved him. 

I’d always expected to meet him in person one day. We have mutual friends.  My heart broke, knowing I’d never have that pleasure; never see another one of his silly conversations with squirrels he met in the trees he worked on, never another wise comment or response, never read another one of his insightful and often touching columns or see one of his incredible landscape photos again; never another one, never the next thing.

That’s what the end is like for those of us on this side. We are left to treasure what’s left behind and, from my perspective, my friend left a great deal. He wrote with a spare and often elegant prose about a life lived fully. He roamed the open spaces of the Palmer divide with his camera and dog and took such lovely photos I hoped one day he’d make it possible for us to hang them in our homes.

He built his own home from logs. He climbed the tallest trees-and killed them.  He biked across the country and stopped along the way, recording his adventures in a blog that was funny and perceptive. He saw the things many of us pass by without notice. Mick noticed and he told us what he saw and how it affected him. He had his demons, from too many beers to too many squirrels, but it was clear he had humor and love, and family and friends that added great joy and value to his life.

Today I’m feeling the loss of a friend. I’m listening to Mr. Horner’s music and thinking of what dreams are coming true on the other side for Mick. Maybe I’ll get to meet him there, one day. For now, the Lord got the better of the deal. are dearly missed, my friend. 

(Photo by Michael 'Mick' Rule)