a non-stop read

george-review-mary-guarino-clark-papa

What makes a book a non-stop read?

In the case of my book, Making Room for George, my readers tell me it’s that they can’t wait to find out what happens next.

This book is not a thriller and the only crimes committed are those of the heart, but there is plenty of suspense in what’s happening between the characters nevertheless.

 

ed-kohler-dumpster-via-cc

image:  used with permission of the artist, Ed Kohler via Creative Commons.  Rights reserved.

 

For example, the time the protagonist, Bet, gets a call from her father-in-law’s neighbor saying, “George is in the dumpster!”

 

lovers-via-cc-marius-maehlen

image used with permission of the artist, Marius Maehlen via Creative Commons.  Rights reserved.  This edition of the photo was adapted from the original by Courtney Carmody.

Or the time Bet and Steve first meet on a double-date and steal a kiss plus a whole lot more in the yard between the houses while their dates sit drinking wine in the living room.

rubbermaid-expandables-cc

image:  “Rubbermaid Homefree Series Closet Kit 3H11used with permission via Creative Commons & RubbermaidRights reserved.

Or the time, many, many years later when Bet moves out of the closet she’s always shared with Steve and into a room of her own across the house from him.

anno-malle-via-creative-commons

image:  “housewife” used with permission of the artist, Anno Malle via Creative Commons.  Rights reserved.

And most suspenseful of all:  what Bet does when she can’t take her life the way it is anymore!

Making Room for George is FREE to Kindle Unlimited users, 0.99 for Kindle & $9.99 in softcover.

 

 

 

 

 

If you like to read a book in one or two sittings…

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double click the screen shot above for a larger, legible view

Making Room for George is the book for you.

 As I’ve explained in a previous post, I created a new edition of Making Room for George this year and I will soon be taking the first edition out of print.  Here I’m continuing with the capture of my 5 star reviews from Amazon so they’ll all be in one convenient place for readers since Amazon is unable to do this for me.

If you’re curious about why I moved my novel from it’s original publisher to the new one, you can read some of that story here.

changing-directions-matt-newman-ccimage used with permission of  Matt Newman via Creative Commons.  Rights reserved. 

 

If you like finding love in unexpected places, look no further.

on-a-rainy-day-hartwig-hkd-via-creative-commonsimage used with permission of Hartwig HKD via Creative Commons.  Rights reserved.  By the way, this is one of my favorite photographers on Flickr!

 

If you have ever cared for an aging loved one, you’ll understand all the conflicting emotions of this strong, female protagonist.

hands-of-87-years-cc-image-byimage used by permission of Gary H. Spielvogel via Creative Commons.  Rights reserved.

 

If you are a #formidableWoman with heart giving your all for your family, KUDOS!   You will really get this book (and muchisimos halos in heaven)!

salinas-grandes-nicaragua-cocinandos-via-cc-by-chiaraimage used with permission of the artist, Chiara via Creative Commons.  Rights reserved.

 

 

Free for kindle unlimited users; $.99 for kindle; $9.99 softcover

 

 

truth or dare: on the writing process, fact v.s. fiction & what’s next

 5 minute Q&A with the audience,Malvern’s Books, Austin, Aug. 11, 2016

  • This is fiction.  Right?
  • Will you write a sequel?
  • How long did it take you to write the book?
  • What are you working on now?

Do you have a question to ask that I didn’t answer here?  For example, if you have read Making Room for George, do you have a question about whether a particular part is fact or fiction?  Ask me.  I’ll tell…or…get the book now! 

It’s free with kindle unlimited.  Then come back and ask me.  You’ll want to.  I promise!

 

If you liked Olive Kitterage…


You will like Making Room for George

Notice on the screenshot from Amazon above that there are only 6 reviews showing for George

In reality, The book has 23 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 reviews but 16 of them are assiciated with the first edition (Balboa Press, 2013;about to be out of print ) and thus Amazon is unable to link them to my second edition (Moon Shadow Sanctuary Press, 2016). 


So… I am capturing them myself! Isn’t that Super-Indie of me?

This reviewer compares the book to Olive Kitterage and Dinner at the Heartbreak Restaurant. Cool!

Here is what she has to say:

Take this journey. 
(click here to read it on Amazon) 

By sandy foster morrisonon June 30, 2015

I love this woman. Guts and grit, and grace under fire…until a reckoning was due. We know this story. Or know of it as I do from writing my own memoir about life in the Piney Woods. Especially if you share history with East Texas, the sights and sounds, struggles and redemption, ride back on waves of memory stifling as summer heat. My heart felt bruised and I was pissed from the first lines. The tension of small gestures. That particular brand of Texas men. Their unconsciousness. And still the feminine automatically – foolishly? – by nature, holds nurturing space for them to be. And still…the extraordinary power of love seeps up through the cracks in even the meanest of circumstances.
As I read Making Room for George, I was reminded of Dinner at the Heartbreak Restaurant and Olive Kitteridge. George is equally large in creating an immense, aching tension through the small cuts of disappointment. I feel the Bet’s insides…the small diversions…taking the top off flammable circumstance. The sleepless mind on spin cycle. The clueless man. Universal female understanding and automatic, inbred response to clueless men. That sense of entitlement. The wifely service rendered always…no matter. Until a lit match ignites the gasoline spill inside the gut.
This is a love story. But not as you imagine. The reflections shared touched me deeply, and brought me squarely home to myself: “I spent hours swinging in the shade of the elm, under the summer sun. I wrote in my journal, drank iced, herb tea, and tried to think what karmic act, what law of attraction, what principle of Quantum Theory I had set into motion that had shifted my life so dramatically in just three short years.” If you have accepted that change is the only certainty in life, and you are willing to look at yourself honestly, you will feel supported and alive to possibilities as you read this impelling story.

Readings! Two in August & Poets Needed

 

visual diary flickr cc
image:  courtesy of the artist, marcel van den berg via creative commons.  Rights reserved.

 

save the date!:  August 11, 2016, 7PM

I’ll be reading at Malvern Books in Austin again!  This time, I’m reading for their monthly event, Novel Night from my novel, Making Room for George, Moon Shadow Sanctuary Press, 2016 alongside Marcia Feldt Bates, the author of The Oys and Joys.

Earlier this year, I read at Malvern’s during an event they hosted featuring Tupleo Press 30/30 Project Alumni (a fundraiser for the press during which poets wrote 30 poems in 30 days).   Here’s a link to the July, 2016 30/30 poems.  If you’re a poet, consider volunteering for a month coming soon!

save the date!:  August 10, 2016, 6PM

I’ll be reading for the Voices de la luna poets in San Antonio from a chapbook of poems written during the 30/30 Project last March. The reading is free and open to the public:  Lynn Belisle Studio.   To tease you into coming, here is the April 17, 2016 poetry reading at Malvern’s:

 

 

catch & release…reviewers alert!

Create Space George High Resolution Front Cover_6020780 2 2 16Buy your copy here!

Change is good!

I’ve just released the second edition of my novel, Making Room for George (Moon Shadow Sanctuary Press, 2016).  TADA!

This love story, based on real events, was first released in 2013 by Balboa Press & has 22 five star reviews on Amazon which you can read here.  That edition will soon be out of print.

The second edition is improved because (this is a secret), I have removed many song lyrics used in the first edition (without permission; mistake of ignorance) and gained permission for the use of the few lyrics still in print in this edition.  It was this Book Baby Blog post by Chris Robley that helped me understand how to use song lyrics in my novel legally.

In short, song lyrics (written after 1923) are NOT in public domain and do not fall under the fair usage policy.  YIKES!

So, I got to work doing research I should have done before releasing the first edition of the book, but honestly, I thought lyrics, as long as I didn’t claim them as mine, could just be quoted.  Wrong.

I’ve changed the font.  The cover has been redesigned.  But otherwise, the book is the same.  So why did I change from Balboa Press to Create Space?

Money image bill cut up Tax Credits on flickr

image:  used with permission of the artist Tax Credits via Creative Commons some rights reserved. 

Money.

Indie authors have to pay.  For everything.  Themselves.  And we have to do it all:  write, market, read, network, & run a business.  I’m TERRIBLE at running my writing career like a business.  I’m getting better at networking.  Mostly, I tend to hole up and slink back to my studio where I’m friendly with all the paper & pens and color, and this slinking usually takes place after too much effort at “marketing,” or too much time at the PC.

I need my swing and the palpable sweetness of natural things.

bench swing on formidable woman 4 13 16 ccimage:  used with permission of the artist, Chaim Zvi via creative commons

I’ll let you do your own research if you are considering becoming an indie author.  For me, knowing what I know now, Create Space makes more sense.  I can choose the price of my book.  I’ll make more of the money I have spent on the book back (as long as readers buy directly from my e-store).  There will be no additional pressure disguised as “marketing help” to spend any more money for anything.  I can conduct a book giveaway at an affordable price.

Which brings me to my point!  I’M DOING A BOOK GIVEAWAY!  As soon as the Kindle version is ready which should be in about ten days, I’ll be gifting an e-version of the book to the first thirty people who follow this blog and opt-in to my email list starting now!  Whoohoo!  There is no obligation, but I’d sure love a fair and honest review.  I’ll send that info along with your copy.

For your chance to win, scroll down to the bottom of my About Me page, click “follow” on the right sidebar and add your name to my email list on the contact form (be sure to click “I want to subscribe to your email list.” Go here now!

 

please share…& thanks with Big Love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Poetry Month: 30 poems in 30 days

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What to do first?

Once, a writer friend, visiting my studio, viewing a bronze sculpture of mine (still sitting on my hearth today) said, “It must be hard for you to decide what to do first when you get up in the morning!”  She said this because I paint, I’ve done some sculpture, I write (poetry, a novel, a blog…sometimes) and I do body & soul work with private clients.  She was thinking all that doing and going in so many directions might be causing me some conflict.  She’s right.  But I don’t seem to be able to stop.

I’ve been working in this circular way as an artist for twenty-five years, each media delightfully informing the other.

However, last month (March, 2016), I agreed to write 30 poems in 30 days for Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Project.  This very creative way of raising funds for the small press was a wonderful challenge that, as you can imagine, kept me quite focused!

It was a thrilled to see my DAILY work “published” on the Tupelo 30/30 blog pages alongside the other six accomplished poets who also wrote during March.  The poems are still “up” through the end of April,  National Poetry Month  & you can read them here.

Pick up the pen…

This coming Friday, April 15, 2016 from 7-9PM, I will be very happily reading in Austin at Malvern Books, with other awesome Tupelo 30/30 alumni from previous months and/or years:  Robert Okaji, Christine Beck, Pamela Paek, Katy Chrisler, D.G. Geis, & Ronnie K. Stephens.

Yesterday, I re-blogged a post by Rober Okaji:  How to Write a Poem.  The reason I like the poem he posted so much is because it beautifully describes how poetry happens for me as well.  I do just what he says to do:  live and let the words come.    But during March, I picked up my pen.  Every day.

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image: used with permission via Creative Commons by Antonio Litteri0

 

The pen is the difference between simply living a life and living a writer’s life, the pen, the art of listening, and a strange penchant for recording everything!

One of the most interesting things that occurred to me during this writing exercise is that as Naomi Shihab Nye says, poems are everywhereBut you have to be listening.

I didn’t want to “cheat” myself out of the chance to learn this (again!), so I decided that I would wait, each day, for the prompt life would provide.  Life did not disappoint.

 

windshield wiper in the rain cc Kezee

image:  used with permission via Creative Commons photographer, Kezee

Have you ever prayed for rain?

Close to the end of day #24, I still had not written anything, but on my way home from the grocery store, I stopped at the intersection, turning left to go home.  Here is the poem that stop prompted:

 

stopping

 

at the intersection

i nod

 

allow

the cement truck

to cross

 

—huge tumbler

rolling

 

i think      about

ingredients:

 

shells

shale

 

limestone

 

too much

or

too little

 

causes

 

—disintegration

 

~

 

the day       you

announced:

 

i’ve joined the army

 

how i thought

this        might

 

harden      you

 

how it did:

 

pills for rage

pills for sleep

pills for pain

 

~

 

too much

 

for years

 

you wouldn’t

look up

 

your back

to every wall

 

~

 

have you    ever

 

prayed

 

for rain

for a job

 

for a soul

 

      ~

 

today      you call

 

full

overflow

 

of the old      you

the one     i knew

 

mama

 

i want

 to tell you

 

i have     

so many

ideas

 

      ~

 

i think      about

intersections:

 

of faith

of mistakes

 

how i

came to

call you

 

my son

 

by making one

 

~

 

i think      about

 

the time      you

& i         prayed

 

for our lives

 

—perpendicular

roads

 

in front of

the cement plant

 

that day

the tornado

 

turned up

trucks

 

only yards

from us

 

~

 

how we shook

how the deluge

 

(almost) overtook

 

how we bow

 

to a god

neither of us

 

understand

 

d. ellis phelps is the author of Making Room for George, A Love Story (Moon Shadow Sanctuary Press, forthcoming 2016.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

i wish you every gentleness

The Cloak Brandi Strickland

“The Cloak”  18X18″ Mixed Media Collage.  Image courtesy of the artist, Brandi Strickland.  Used with permission and gratitude.  All rights reserved.  Please visit Ms. Strickland’s website here to view more of her work.

Today is the thirtieth day of the season of non-violence–a sixty-four day block of time between Jan. 30 and Apirl 4 (the anniversaries of the assassinations of Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King, respectively) which is set aside annually & was originated by Ghandi’s grandson.

Why designate a season of non-violence?  Of course, it is a celebration of the contribution these and other modern day public figures who have lived out their lives passionately, teaching the way of non-violence.  But most importantly,  it is one way to engage ourselves in a conversation about the power of gentleness.

I have never heard nor have I ever spoken these words:  Happy season of non-violence!  And though I think, Happy season of gentleness! evokes more of the resonance I personally want to create in the world, these are not words that have ever occurred to me to say.  Hmmmmmm….

There is a season in which everyone walks the streets wishing everyone else everywhere merriness and joy and P.E.A.C.E!  Culturally, however, we only give ourselves permission to show this much good will publicly for the thirty days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The rest of the time, we might say, “Have a nice day,” or “Be well,” but these phrases don’t carry quite the same message.  They don’t really speak to the practice of non-violence the way, say, May you know gentleness today, or I wish you every gentleness might.

I write about gentleness, confessing my own need for it, my own need to practice, practice, practice, confessing that I lapse into violent thought and sometimes (still) words and actions that come from habits deeply imbedded in my neuron-pathways from pre-birth.

I write to watch myself.  I write to know myself.  I write to change myself.  I write, hoping that what I have experienced will move others into their own way of being present to themselves and their own needs to watch, to know, to change.

What follows are excerpts from a talk I gave to women gathered for the Diocese of South Texas Episcopal Women’s Spring Gathering at Camp Capers in Waring, Texas, April 4, 2014.  I share it with you today, celebrating my own season of non-violence, celebrating how far I have come, celebrating my own willingness to carry on.

bend them with gentleness meme flickr

image:  meme by Brett Jordan.  Use with permission via Creative Commons.  Rights reserved.

Part I:  Why Am I Here?

 I started writing Making Room for George because I needed to tell the story of what was happening in my life.

But as I wrote, the writing morphed from a simple account of the events in my life into a journey itself–through my life’s history and choices– and as I wrote, it was much like taking an inventory, bearing witness, explaining, and grappling with the transformational journey I have been making from the person I used to be into the person I am.

After I finished the book, I realized that I would be speaking to people about the book.  I had to decide what it was I really wanted to say besides, “Buy my book.”  And as I asked for guidance and began to receive it, I had great resistance to the clear message that surfaced.  But it was so clear and so profound and it scared me so much that I knew this was what I was being called to do.

So this is what I have come here today to say:

The woman sitting next to you  in church every Sunday, well-dressed, intelligent, raising a straight-up child, holding a good job could be the very woman whose husband sitting beside her threatened her life and the life of her child the night before.

Statistics show that as many as one in every three of us has experienced some form of abuse by an intimate partner.

We must realize this is happening, maybe even to the woman sitting next to you right now.

We must talk about it openly.  We must hold the door of our hearts wide open so that disclosure can happen.   We must proactively educate ourselves and our children as to what constitutes a healthy relationship.  We must teach each other how to practice respect and gentleness.

peace is every step cover tich nhat hahnimage:  “Peace is Every Step” (Book cover) by Thich Naht Hanh.  From my suggested reading list & a favorite of mine.

We must tell the truth. We must heal this abuse. We must stand together, become formidable, and thrive toward a culture of gentleness.

Part II:  Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?

As an adult, I asked my mother why she didn’t just leave my father.  After all, she had a job.  This was her answer:  “Because he said he’d kill both of us if I did.”  So my mother risked her life and sacrificed her happiness to save our lives.

That’s valid.

As it turns out, this threat is a common one made by many perpetrators.  Sometimes, in spite of such a threat, women summon the courage to leave and succeed, finding new lives in other cities or carrying on where they are, but with restraining orders in place, finding that their spouse’s bullying behaviors subside once they realize she has finally, really left and isn’t coming back.  Sometimes, the perpetrator hunts them down and carries out the threat.

A woman who lived across the street from one of my friends in an affluent San Antonio neighborhood was being held hostage by her husband, locked inside and not allowed out alone. None of the neighbors suspected anything was wrong until her sister called one of them to say there was going to be an intervention

Sometimes a woman has children and no job and no idea how she would survive and care for her children, so she tells herself after every beating or insult that he didn’t really mean it and that he won’t do it again.  In fact, that’s what most perpetrators do say.  They experience and express real remorse, but somehow cannot keep their aggression from surfacing again and again.

Sometimes, the woman is well-educated and has an excellent job and could easily care for herself and her children financially, but she has been brainwashed into thinking that the whole mess is her fault and if she would only do this or that differently, he wouldn’t lose his temper the way he does.  So the woman jumps through hoops:  taking cooking classes; losing weight; changing her hair; never going out; clinging; not-clinging; and so on and on and on…

The other reason women stay is because they love this man and because they would rather stay and risk a broken arm than endure a broken life with a broken heart.  My mother loved my father until the day she died and I love my husband despite all of our difficulties.

what on earth am i here for flickr Cc

image:  “Good Question” by Bob Jagendorf. Used with permission via Creative Commons.  Rights reserved.

Part III:  You Can’t Get There From Here

Have I experienced violence at the hands of someone I love?  Yes.  I am one in three.  But why did I choose a man who slapped me to the ground and treated me with such disrespect and why didn’t I just leave him?

Einstein is quoted to have said:  “a problem cannot be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

I can speak most authentically to this point by telling my own story.

I cannot leave the place I inhabit unless I leave it consciously, by first identifying the energetic pattern-cause and then by practicing the vigilant work of choosing again and again a new way of inhabiting my world.

D. Ellis Phelps

In order to move on, I must embody a new energetic pattern.  Otherwise, I will simply find myself back in the same circumstance or with the same kind of partner who may be slightly more or less abusive because that’s the kind of energetic space my consciousness inhabits, because that’s what’s familiar, because that’s what I’m attracted to subconsciously.

So when I found my husband, what kind of energetic-pattern did I embody?  What were my deepest systems of belief?

From as early as I can remember, I learned that violence is a way of life.  That it is part of loving someone.  That it is the way to handle anger, disappointment, and frustration.

I watched my father become enraged with my mother, hit her, knock her down and bruise her.  I watched her cry and mourn and grieve and then I watched them reconcile and stay together for twenty-eight years.  I heard my mother say repeatedly that she loved my father, so I learned that this is how you behave when you love someone.

I learned that violence is funny.  I watched the Wylie Coyote and the Roadrunner do territorial battle on Saturday morning cartoons.  I watched the Roadrunner drop the big rock or anvil on the Coyote’s head and squash him.  And then I watched the Coyote spring back and do it all again and I watched this week after week along with many other cartoon characters who did the same things, smacking each other in the face with skillets and brooms and the like.

Implanted in those cartoons was the notion that these kinds of violent actions do not hurt, after all the Coyote never died.

And the same idea was implanted in my experience because though my mother was sad and I was frightened, no one died.  So I became accustomed to living in tension and because I didn’t know better; I couldn’t know better.

Love and Hate by Mai le via CC

image:  “Love and Hate” by Mai Le.  Used with permission via Creative Commons.

I agreed subconsciously with the idea that violent action, tension, and pain are all just part of the landscape of love.

My psyche studied the roles:  the aggressor rules; the victim submits; and the belief system:  when there’s been an attack, pass judgment, figure out who’s to blame, and punish them by attack.  This belief system implanted itself into every cell of my being, into my psyche, into my emotional blueprint, and therefore into every future relationship I would have, especially into the relationship I have with my own self.

I decided early on that to survive, I would be perfect.  And I vowed that no matter what, when I grew up, none of this would ever affect me.

I graduated high school, President of the Drama Club, Student Council Officer, in the top ten percent of my class, an outspoken, upstanding, virgin, non-drinking Christian who attended church beside my parents every Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon and Wednesday Prayer Meeting.  I looked like a young woman who was just fine.

When I got to college, I started drinking, having fun, and enjoying freedom–until I wasn’t having fun anymore.  Within four years, alcohol had released the rage within me to the degree that I had already blown through two serious relationships and I had become spiritually bankrupt, anorexic and suicidal.

So, I had left home, but I had failed to leave what I learned there behind.


Do you live in an emotional landscape, longing to be in a different place?  What ideas, patterns or habits might you need to relinquish in order to move on? 

Are you one of the one in three?  If so, call for help: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

I’ll be posting more of this story over the next few days.  Click the follow button to the right to get my updates in your email inbox.

d. ellis phelps is the author of Making Room for George, a love story.  Balboa Press, 2013.