The End of My Writer’s Retreat

ANNICE

ANNICE

I never expected to finish the revision of 25 chapters in five days.  Of course, I must admit I’ve been revising for ten years so I guess it’s not all that surprising.  But who cares?  It’s done – 311 pages.  Now, all I have to do is make copies and give it to my devoted writer’s group for one last look.  I can tell you they’re probably sick of it but they’ve never had all the chapters together to actually read it through like a real book.  I know there will be changes, albeit minimal ones.  I’m terrible with comas and sometimes I get mixed up when to use italics for newspaper quotes and when I should just use quotation marks.  I used to know those things but have learned to rely on my group for that.  As for commas, Peggy is the comma Queen so she’s got that covered.

bird eggsIf you recall, there was a dove nesting on a planter on the steps of the condo where I’m staying.  Yesterday evening, when I was leaving, I was delighted to see the dove resting on its nest.  I tried to be quiet when I closed the door behind me but apparently I scared her off, and she flew away leaving behind two perfect white eggs.  I don’t know much about birds but prayed she wouldn’t view me as a predator and abandon the nest.

The next morning (Day 5) when I arrived, I was a little apprehensive about what I’d find.  Thankfully, the dove was back on its nest incubating her eggs.  While she still has a ways to go, I couldn’t help but see the symbolism in this bird’s nest and the finishing of my book.  So, here’s to hatching birds or books or whatever else that needs hatching.

The End

The End

Day 2 of My Writer’s Retreat

Annice

Annice

Day two of my writer’s retreat.  Well, that’s what I’m calling it even though it’s not exactly what I planned.  I was supposed to go to Bowers House, a Writers Retreat and Literary Center in Georgia, but given that my husband is still recovering from major back surgery, I felt uncomfortable being so far away – just in case.  So, feeling deprived and sorry for myself, I decided to take the week off anyway and just write at home.

It’s not that I can’t write at home, I do it all the time, but I also do the laundry, organize drawers, clean the closets, clip my dog’s nails – you get the drift.  Did I say I also check my kitchen cupboards to see if all my exotic spices are still in the house just in case I get inspired to make an amazing Indian dish?

While I was gearing up for my make-do “retreat,” my writing mentor and dear friend, Peggy, was going out of town to visit her children the exact week I had to cancel Bowers House.  I know Peggy’s place because my writer’s group meets there every other Tuesday.  It’s only ten minutes from my house but it feels like miles and miles away.  It’s quiet, serene, with cream colored furniture, and best of all there is Gracie,  her pure white cat who thinks she’s a dog.

Gracie

Gracie

Wouldn’t Gracie need someone to take care of her?  Yes she would.  What an amazing swap.  I get to write at Peggy’s place all day and leave when I’m ready.  So far, I’ve been going around 10:00 and returning around 7:00. Gracie is happy and I’m ecstatic.  In two days, I’ve revised 12 chapters, and hopefully, I can finish all 25 of them by the end of the week.

In addition, I have given up all household chores, including cooking, so we’re either eating out or bringing in, and the only thing I do in the morning before I leave is walk Terra, our dog.

Oh yeah, look at this little jewel I see in the morning.  A dove has decided to build a nest in a planter near Peggy’s front door.  I’ve watched it grow in just two days.  What a perfect metaphor for my writer’s retreat!

Creating a Nest

Creating a Nest

I’ve Slept Through the Night 3 Days in a Row!

Jane This is a quick post in praise of sleep! I have had three nights of sleep in a row!!! For the first time in several years. And, here is what finally helped me: MELATONIN! There are going to be a lot of people out there who will say, “I told you so!” And it’s true that several friends have been telling me for years to try Melatonin,but it never worked for me before. Here’s the secret: I wasn’t taking a big enough dose!!! I should have known! I tried Melatonin several times in the past, but it never kept me asleep, and I usually ended up with a headache. The other night I was just desperate enough (after about a week of restless nights with 3-4 hours of sleep each night) to try doubling the dose from 3 mg to 6 mg, and, low and behold, it worked! I slept through the night!!!!!

melatonin

So, apologies to everyone who recommended this wonderful solution in the past. And apologies to all my friends who have been trying to help me over the years. I love Melatonin! But keep checking back! I’ll let you know if it continues to work over a long period of time. IBad news:  on the bottle, it says not to keep taking Melatonin over a long period of time or it could have bad side effects!  Help!!  What do I do now?  I guess I just bet caught up on my sleep and then have a few more rough nights.  In the meantime, how about sending in your favorite sleep remedies? I know some people have submitted them before, but I could use help, especially since any kind of real drugs hasn’t worked for me in the past!

 

The Thrill of a Second Chance

Martha Carr, author

Martha Carr, author

My fifties started with a bang.  I jumped out of a plane, following behind the person I was interviewing for a book.  As soon as I was clear of the plane I felt myself relax and one clear thought came to me, “You’ve done it now, you might as well relax.”  If I was going to hit the ground, I might as well enjoy this last minute.

I landed successfully and stood up with another clear thought: Stop doing anything that isn’t working.  There was a long list.  My entire way of thinking up to that point was to try and make sure everyone else liked me, no matter what the consequences.

By the time I turned fifty, I was more of a chameleon than a human being and I had no idea what I liked to do.

As a writer, I was all over the map.  Fortunately, it turned out I had some talent that over time became stronger.  But as soon as I was headed down one path, someone would point out how I could be getting ahead faster if only I changed direction.  Doubt would set in, and I’d let go of the plan that I had and set out again.  Frustration and resentment built as I blamed others for why I wasn’t getting ahead in my life.

However, just a few months after that skydiving trip I was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given one year to live.  One month later, an unrelated cancer was found that took a good part of the skin on the lower part of my face.  Suddenly, all of the outward need to please others fell away and I was able to give myself permission to say what I was really thinking, and stick with it.

The cancer didn’t spread any further, something the doctors only have ideas about but were never able to explain.  No matter, the entire episode, which included having to learn how to walk again, transformed my way of thinking and then my life.

I started out in life being told that I was part of American royalty. I am the great-great-great-great-niece of Thomas Jefferson, named for his sister, Martha Randolph Carr and with that came a certain responsibility.

I interpreted that as a responsibility to look a certain way but had no idea what would be the most acceptable or virtuous front.  Over the years it became whoever I admired or at least saw as successful and I’d change to match their vision of me, as I saw it.  I wasn’t running my own race as much as playing a part in a lot of other people’s lives whether they even knew it or not.

2ndchanceGetting a second chance at being alive changed that and as usual, it’s reflected in my writing.  I finally started writing a thriller series, The Wallis Jones Series that focuses on a woman a lot like myself who’s doing a pretty good job of building a life until she finds out that she’s part of a legacy she can’t just leave behind.

In The Keeper, the second in the series, Wallis finds out just how deep those family ties go and realizes running away won’t work anymore.  There are a lot of people who have an idea of the right thing to do but Wallis has to find out for herself her own definitions.  It’s going to take faith in herself and those around her like her husband, Norman and her tween son, Ned to find peace again in the middle of a dangerous situation.The Keeper front cover

The legacy of finding out that our roots are legendary is not to try and appear as if everything is alright.  It turns out that my fifties gave me the gift of learning how to live up to the past by creating my own future, even if it doesn’t look a thing like anyone expected, including me.