Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lucky March: The essentials of luck

Hi, folks, this is the last in my Lucky March series. I'm a novelist as well as a picture book author. I am especially fortunate that way, lucky, if you will. I am half a century old and over the course of my journey, the nature of luck has been made clear to me. I'm exploring the wonder of luck in our lives.

Today I'm going to talk about the essentials of luck. Ah, who doesn't want to be lucky. Keep that four leaf clover, that lucky baseball card, and that favorite number, but be aware that there is no magic amulet, no handy spell or any lucky charm that will work.

 However, there are four essentials that will help luck find you. Here they are:

Discover Opportunities -- This is about finding favorable circumstances. It's tough to find alligators in the desert.  To discover opportunities you have to find or create an environment that is favorable for them. Think about where your opportunities thrive then head over or terraform where you are.

Heed Intuition -- Intuition is the ability to know something with out conscious reasoning. This ability comes from making many tries.  This repetition imbues you with knowledge that will support you in future events. Follow your feelings, Luke.

Foster Expectations -- This is all about belief.  In spite of what you have seen, keep believing. This is the pathway to success. Reach out to people who cherish your dreams, Let go of the rest. Those lucky charms? Put them in your pocket. Whatever gives you  expectation, cling to that.

Nurture Resilience. -- The journey to intuition is fraught with missteps and failure. Flexibility in dreams, hopes, and plans is a big piece of the resilience pie. Dusting yourself off when you fall is a huge part of moving forward. Durability and elasticity are gained  by being willing to try again and again.

I hope you seek the essentials of luck. I hope loads of luck finds you! Next week, I will begin a series about my PLUMB CRAZY writing journey. Maybe my steps will encourage yours!

Here is a doodle! Make a wish!


A quote for your pocket

Diligence is the mother of good luck.  Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Lucky March: Write your verse

Hi, folks! I'm a novelist as well as a picture book author. I am especially fortunate that way, lucky, if you will. I am half a century old and over the course of my journey, the nature of luck has been made clear to me. This month my series is Lucky March, where I'm exploring the wonder of luck in our lives.

Oh, March has brought waves of luck to my life. My book Plumb Crazy is almost ready to be released again as an ebook and in paper for the first time.  It will be under my alter ego name: Cece Barlow! I'm traveling to Washington state to visit with dear friends in April for a writing retreat marathon. I feel grateful and happy.  I am just glad to  be part of the verse.

This week I will respond to Walt Whitman's poem, "Oh, me! Oh, life!"  Go here to read his genius words. 

Here is truth to me. I don't really understand myself, and life is so far beyond me--like the stars to a speck of dirt. And yet I'm caught up with the mundane of my species. I see multitudes of people gossiping, slandering, and back-stabbing. I live with folks who share knowledge to ends of the Earth and wonder: has it helped? Art has lost value, faith is fading except for the worst of it, and foolishness flows over the edges of every vision, in this  ad-driven, branded, socialized bumper sticker world. The sideshow prophets declare that written words are dying.

Don't think I'm not caught up in it all. I am in that multitude, my head turning toward the visual nonsense, the profane silliness, and the unholy devaluation, when I could spend this moment being so much more. Yes, I am just as faithless as the rest.

Here's the thing. I want light. I want meaning, I want purpose, but I am mired in empty useless years that I wasted for no good reason.  I did not open my eyes earlier, so I must open them now. I am woven in the fabric of my times. I am asking, shouting really, at the great universe, struggling to not let the waves of sadness overcome me.

What good can I do?  I look out but those words fall on my beating heart. Life! What good can I do? My hands curl into fists,  and I shake like a leaf being ripped by a storm wind.

The answer comes to me, whispering, still, soft. A voice!  You are here, dear one.. You were born. You breathe. You are. This is the great poem, and you are allowed to contribute one verse to it all. Write your verse. This is the gift of life.

Lucky me! Lucky you! I hope you think about the verse you are writing. I pray that you do the most with what you have to offer.  We all need you to do that. I will be back next week with more Lucky March.

NO doodle this week! But here is a sneak peek at my book cover for PLUMB CRAZY! I am so excited to share this with you!  I hope that you share it too!



Here is a an excerpt from PLUMB CRAZY for you to tuck in your pocket.

"The basic hidden thing that every Loser Girl knows—she has value, like every person, star, whale, rock, and slug. The whole universe has its share of risks. Slugs get stepped on, whales are hunted, stars explode, and people, well, people are fragile, easy to break. She was a secret unseen commodity, like di-lithium crystals found on planets that few would visit and even fewer could endure. Riches hid inside of her. No one had found them yet. But they would. It was just how the universe was put together."

                                

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lucky March: Life is full of surprises

Hi folks, I'm a novelist as well as a picture book author. I am especially fortunate that way, lucky, if you will. I am half a century old and over the course of my journey, the nature of luck has been made clear to me. This month my series is Lucky March, where I'm exploring the wonder of luck in our lives.

First, some lucky stuff coming up. Today is PI day, and this very morning at 26 minutes and 53 seconds after 9 a.m., we passed a date and time represented by the first 10 digits of π. How lucky is that? And how about this, on March 20 there will be a total eclipse by the vernal equinox sun. That happens about once every 19 years! So lucky. 

If you go searching through the books on my shelves you will find quite a collection (not just books). I tuck four leaf clovers, owlet feathers, interesting seeds, fortunes, weird money, leaves, flowers, candy wrappers, drawings by my kids, and whatever other little bits I find in the pages of my books. When I reread my books, I always laugh when I come across one of  my lucky treasures. These bits remind me life is full of surprises. 

What is all this about? One thing my parents instilled in me is to never lose your childlike wonder of the world. My 80-year-old dad still gets down on the floor and plays make-believe with his 5-year-old grandson. My grandmother taught me to knock on wood to help good things along.  I still wish on bales of hay. I will never be too old to play. I keep my eyes open  to the world around and embrace the lucky gifts it has to offer me.  I believe this practice enriches me and enriches my writing.  I am ready to believe  many impossible things before breakfast. I hope you are too. 

Don't listen to those who scoff at the salt over your shoulder, your love for the number seven, your Maneki-neko collection, your bamboo plant on your desk, or that huge helping of black-eyed peas on the first day of the year. Luck is about our lack of control, our need for meaningful coincidence, our hunger for Divine providence. Like the three brothers of Serendip, forge a path that mixes sound judgement with the lucky happenings of your lives.

I hope you stumble upon many lucky things this week and that your life is filled with wonder. I hope you try and find ways to express this wonder to others. I will be back next week with more Lucky March.  

Here is a doodle for you. 

Finally here is a poem for you pocket from Ella Higginson(1861-1940), a poet from Washington state.  

Four-leaf Clover by Ella Higginson

I know a place where the sun is like gold,
And the cherry blooms burst with snow,
And down underneath is the loveliest nook,
Where the four-leaf clovers grow.

One leaf is for hope, and one is for faith,
And one is for love, you know,
And God put another in for luck—
If you search, you will find where they grow.

But you must have hope, and you must have faith,
You must love and be strong – and so—
If you work, if you wait, you will find the place
Where the four-leaf clovers grow.



Saturday, March 07, 2015

Lucky March: I do what I love

Hi, folks. I'm a novelist as well as a picture book author. I am especially fortunate that way, lucky, if you will.  I am half a century old and over the course of my journey, the nature of luck has been made clear to me.

Some lucky people are born into wealth and privilege, giving them freedom to follow whatever whim they wish. Some lucky people win the genetic lottery and just have more brain power than the rest of us. Another group of lucky people stumble into the right circumstances: winning a big prize or getting that big break. One more group of lucky people just have excellent connections. Then there are the people like me.

How do I tap into luck? I mean, I live in suburbia. I drive a decade old minivan that needs some work. I live in a college town that has a university in it that is all about engineering and business. Artists don't flock here. There isn't an independent bookstore for almost a hundred miles. I did not attend an exclusive high school or college. I was a below average student. No prizes. No big breaks. And did I mention that I live in a place "scourged by fire ants and choked with bull nettle." People find me odd here. Many say, "You're so strange." My lucky secret: I do what I love, and I basically do it for free.

Doing what you love for free is complicated. I volunteer some.  If you are not being paid, folks doubt  your professionalism and don't respect your work.  Once upon a time anyone could write, but now people with MFAs have a real edge. There are other downsides: someone is always pressuring me to give up this low pay madness and get a real job. I hide at parties when people rave about the luck that has led them to overwhelming financial success. My year end balance sheet is beyond dismal, in spite of my high hopes and hard work.

And yet I feel oh, so, lucky. I write stories every day. I have joined a journey that mankind has been on since before our fledgling species could write words. I create provocative beginnings, middles, and ends. I've gotten better when I thought I couldn't. I have had the opportunity to work with awesome writers and love it. I feel so lucky to live a creative life. So throw away the bank statement and define your life however you want to.

In closing, I'm going to update my current work. At the end of March I'm going to rerelease PLUMB CRAZY. It will be available in paperback and as an ebook. It will no longer be written by me but by my alter ego, Cece Barlow.  I hope that if you had not a chance that you will give my book a read.

You might also want to check out cecebarlow.blogspot.com, the new home from my work for young adults and the young at heart. It's still in the prelaunch phase but it is getting there. Please come back next week for more my Lucky March series.

Here is the doodle:  Happy.



A quote for your pocket.

Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.  Ray Kroc

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Golden Advice: Musings on Aldous Huxley's Essay "Sermons in Cats"

Hi folks, this is my February series on Golden Advice. I like to spend the month of February digging into the wisdom that has come my way, and that guides my art, my craft and my life. I find having some wise stuff in the soul helps me write stories with purpose. This week's thoughts are my musings on Aldous Huxley's essay: "Sermons in Cats."

I've had author crush on Aldous Huxley since my teens. He wrote books like Brave New World. I read it, and we became best friends. He wrote screenplays: Pride and Prejudice (1940)and Jane Eyre (1944). He wrote essays, poems, travel journals, and even (gasp) a children's book. (You are making me look lame, bestie.)

This week I'm musing about his essay "Sermons in Cats." A young author once asked Huxley how to become a novelist. Huxley encouraged the young author to buy lots of paper, a pen, ink, and write. The young author was not satisfied with this answer and begged Huxley for his writing formula. Huxley then urged the young writer to go to a fancy university and study writing. The young author was still unsatisfied and asked Huxley "did he keep a notebook or a journal," did he jot things on napkins or did use cross indexed cards, did he read novels exclusively or be well read across all subjects, and more questions.

Finally Huxley had enough and he offered this: "My young friend," I said, "if you want to be a psychological novelist and write about human beings, the best thing you can do is to keep a pair of cats."

The young writer left disconsolate. He wanted some magic formula, but Huxley put some heavy truth on the table instead. What makes stories interesting is when we look under the veneer of "manners, conventions, traditions of thought and feeling." Cats are malcontents. Imagine the marriage of two Siamese cats. They are at each other throats and fur flies. It's no fairy tale. Watching the behavior of cats will keep you from banality and untruths that parade as true relationships.

I have two cats and they are true characters. They are friends one minute and sinking in fangs in the next. Those twitching tails indicate perverse plans in the future. They are also affectionate, nuzzling and rubbing, and then out of nowhere, biting. My cats will moan like the world is coming to an end at night outside my door, and then purr like motorboats when I let them in, and then scratch me a few seconds later. Yes, Huxley has something here. Some big sermons for writers are hidden in the lives of cats.
I hope that this series helps you no your journey. I will be back next week with my Lucky March series.

Here is a doodle for you:






A quote for your pocket: 

The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which mean never losing your enthusiasm. Aldous Huxley